My PR agent (not that I’m supposed to tell you I have one) tells me that it would be a good idea (I’m not supposed to tell you it’s his idea, either) to write an autobiography. Because ‘The People’ (a group to which I apparently no longer belong) are interested in my dark-space origins. Unfortunately it’s not as interesting as you may have been led to believe. The darkness between the stars really is, as the military keep assuring you, largely empty. I lost my arm when a console blew from a slow-leak, not from fighting off Crawlers. And no – that part of the story is at least true – my parents didn’t accompany me to Terra Infirma. But they didn’t stop me going either. Apparently there’s some rumour that my arm could have been saved had my parents let me jump soon – and that they didn’t because they didn’t want me to drop off the trail. Bullshit. I dropped off the trail years before that. My parents might be trail-nuts, but they’re not monsters. They let me jump as soon as I could. There’s just not a fat lot anyone can do with an arm in that state. Not even the healers of Terra Infirma.
My parents themselves haven’t jumped in decades. Some star-gazing neanderthals saw patterns in the stars – grouped them together, gave them names, and told stories about them (I promise, this abrupt change of topic will make sense momentarily). Some superstitious neanderthals decided those stars could tell their future – governed their fate. Humans have always liked collecting things (this one, too). Since Antipater first listed the Seven Wonders people have ‘collected’ them by visiting them all. Mountaineers have ‘collected’ mountains by scaling them. In our age, people ‘bag’ stars by visiting them and orbiting them.
Orbit each star in each constellation: the Zodiac Trail. My parents’ life ambition. Some people just jump to them all, spend the day in orbit, and off they go to the next one. But that’s not the “proper” way to do it. Oh no. Real space-Hikers don’t jump. They do it all sub-light. And my parents are real hikers. Hell, if they could somehow walk the trail instead, I think they would. They were on this trek long before they had me. I was born in the dark-space between Cancer and Leo.
I’m hardly the only child of the dark-space. Some families have been hiking for generations. The kids missed the earlier stars and constellations that their parents visited so they just carry on ‘round again even after their parents have technically completed the trail. Yes, there are romances that never leave the Zodiac circuit. Hell, the trail has it’s own micro-economy. My parents made money selling home-grown produce to other hikers. They converted every available space on the ship into eco-globes. Business was so good on Algieba (Leo-Gamma) that they spent an entire year in orbit. That’s how they earned enough money to pay for me to go to school, and to get my arm replaced.
Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t have to fight with my parents for permission to jump from the ship. It was their hike, not mine. They understood that. I went to school on the Atoll Cloud-base whilst they were in orbit around the stars of Libra. I vacationed with friends on Auld Nova while they traversed the dark-space between Scorpio and Sagittarius. I jumped home to visit them, and jumped out again to go to school, visit friends, and find out what the rest of the universe was like.
I haven’t talked to them in just over a year now. We get along just fine, but they’re not interested in politics and I’m not interested in hiking. As far as I know, they don’t yet know that their daughter is Consula Universalis. I don’t think they’d particularly care even if they did, unless I quarantined Aquarii-Beta.
SilverFire Writingfolio 2