A New Space Iteration


    David as Padrick

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    Guest X

    Posts : 3
    Join date : 2011-06-19
    Age : 42
    Location : Far side of Reality

    David as Padrick

    Post  Guest X on Mon Jan 16, 2012 4:46 pm

    It’s strange, how cultures form. How practicality becomes habit, how habit becomes ritual, and ritual becomes tradition. People get locked into roles, and really believe they’re inescapable. All it takes is time.

    On Blackdirt, there were two kinds of people – Willies and Winnerows. It was a salt-mining colony founded almost three hundred years ago, and in that time so much had happened to turn it from a simple mining facility into a world all its own.

    The Willies were the miners. Three centuries of breeding had made them what they were today – stocky, tall, physically imposing. That same length of lack of education had also made them illiterate, regressed back into an almost medieval peasantry. They weren’t moronic by any means, but they were removed from the educational advances purported by the present, reduced to foundering for their own ways of learning. They lived poor, ate poorer, and saw salt as a life-giving force greater than any God.

    The Winnerows were the executives of the company. Three centuries of luxury, of privilege, had set them up at an imperial level. They were not regulated to backwards living. They communicated with Earth constantly, scheduled the shipping, manned the processing stations and managed the Willies. And by ‘managed’, of course I mean ‘oppressed’.

    Why didn’t anyone protest? Why didn’t someone on the outside look at Blackdirt and call shenanigans? Because it was a way of life, a culture, and no one seemed to want to change it – not the Winnerows and not the Willies. The Willies didn’t even know they were being oppressed. Or, if they did, they accepted it entirely – just like any Dark Age culture might.

    Both had their leaders. For the Winnerows, it was Falc Forewater – Comptroller of the Blackdirt Mining Company. He was lean, fair, quick and cold, like most Winnerows. He was Overseer, CEO and, informally and unspoken, King.

    For the Willies, Padraic Cleary was in charge, as much as anyone could be, at least. He was the de facto leader because he was biggest, strongest and most level-headed. He also could read and write, a feat unheard of, and one he did not publicize. He had his mother to thank for that. And something else…

    She had caught the eye of a Winnerow man. He had fallen in love with her, as sometimes happened, and braved breaking the law by fraternizing in an intimate way with her. They had nearly six months of bliss before they were found out, and then the man was shipped back to Earth in disgrace and Padriac’s mother was left alone…and pregnant.

    Pregnant and completely unaware her lover had been a Ghost.

    Padraic was not an unusual child, save for one thing – he could read and write. No other Willie could do so, and the ability came out of nowhere. As soon as he could talk, he could write. His mother, fearful of what the Winnerows might do if they learned of her prodigy, had Padriac keep it a secret.

    As he grew older, other strange things happened. He sometimes spoke of the past, but the memories he recounted were not his own, but his mothers. A favorite salt-crystal pot she had made as a child, or a funny incident from her past. He had not been alive then, but he recalled the moments with the same clarity as though he’d been there. He also had a knack for sculpting, something his mother did well. Again, his mother asked that he keep his more unusual talents a secret, and he agreed. Until he was grown, at least.

    Then, he became discontent with his life as a Willie. He worked hard in the mines, took good care of his mother and had a strong reputation among his people. But it wasn’t enough. He knew, somehow, that the Willies were being cheated of something. He just didn’t know what. And, so, he determined to teach whoever wanted to learn to read and write. In secret, if he must.

    It went on for almost two years before he was found out and brought before the now-aging Comptroller. After hearing the story and checking into Padriac’s background, Falco came to a conclusion.

    “You’re obviously a Ghost, since your father was. Do you know what that means?”

    Padriac didn’t.

    Forewater explained what Ghosts were, and that Padriac’s father, his former employee, had been clairvoyant. “My guess is that your power has something to do with psychic memory. You tap into the memories of those around you, more strongly if they’re genetically linked to you. It would explain how you’re literate – your father was. I’m sure you’ve picked up random memories from others, too. Only perhaps you thought they were your own, or just imaginings.

    “I’m faced with a quandary,” the Comptroller sighed. “I can’t really keep you here – you’re dangerous to the stability of the colony. But I don’t know where to send you. You’re at odds with the current Earth culture. I’ll see where your father is currently. He can take you in.”

    But it was not to be. Padriac’s father was dead, five years now. He had been a orphan, and so had no living relatives. Pulling strings and calling in favors, the Comptroller put Padriac on a freighter bound for Earth. His fate was his own, now. Halfway to Alhambra, the freighter was attacked by a pirate ship called the Bonnie Sue. Padriac was taken hostage, but without a family to pay ransom, he was no use to them. He was about to be executed, when the ship was picked up by the authorities. Padriac was brought to Alhambra, and got work as a custodian. It wasn’t gratifying, but he was too busy absorbing three hundred years of progress and thinking of his people and his mother to care about a career.

    And then, out of nowhere, he received an invitation:

    Mr. Cleary,

    I would like to invite you to spend Christmas aboard my ship, the Embry-Riddle. There is a crewmember here who is very eager to meet you. I enclose all of the ships’ credentials, as well as my own. I promise this is not a scam, nor anything insidious.

    Yours,

    Lilan Dia

    The information was sound. He asked around the station about Dia, and learned she was an actress, her ship a private courier vessel. It was on the level. And with some finagling, he also was able to see the crew roster. One name in particular stood out: Bishop Aidan Cleary.

    It was going to be an interesting Christmas.

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