Chapter 3. Full of Stars (3170) Physical Gratification District 7, Spaceport 2, Trade Quarter: Leesti.
The few bright stars that could be seen from the streets of the city, span beautifully in the night sky. Izmee knew them all, her father, in several of his lucid and slightly more forgetful moments had pointed them out. Almost lovingly reciting their names; Lave, Diso, Zonce and Tionisla; where the Vidfac used to come from. You had to stay up all night to see them all as they danced round and behind the trade station hanging in the sky like a bauble. Sometimes they'd stay out, on the tin roof of their loan house, just outside the traders quarter. Watching the stars, the station, the ships engine trails and the laser battles. One looking up remembering the other in new wonder, both searching for a little peace from the hurricane slowly blowing itself out in the rooms below.
Izmee didn't remember their old house, their old life. The one that fuelled her fathers sorrowful addiction and her mothers simmering rage. She was too young to remember the good times. She did remember the fights. The constant put downs. Her father wasn't a strong man, especially when it came to mum. He was, or at least used to be, a damn good pilot, a trader and occasionally a fighter. But all that changed, it changed when Galcop fell.
Mum didn't understand. She was used to the credits that a good trader, trading under the protection of Galcop could provide. You can learn a lot about peoples lives when they argue. They'll dragging up every transgression, every regret, every wasted moment and lost hope. Craft it into a weapon and hurl it at each other. From this milee she learned that mum really liked it when dad was away, with free access to his credit balance. Even with her rather expensive tastes, she was hard pressed to dent the money he made. She was aggressively socially climbing. The ravishing wife left at home whilst dad nobly plied the spaceways. She was a name, respected and all the respected people had a corporate approved child. So the last time dad was in port she switched off her nul-concept pack.
Her timing was by her own admission, catastrophic. Scarcely 3 weeks after she'd gone beyond termin-date with Izmee, everything changed. The war had been rumbling on for generations but this was new, aggressive; the blockages, the exodus, the whispered genocide and the racism. But she was getting ahead of herself. The end had started with the exodus, before she was born.
Hundreds of thousands of zoothrope ships, ran for lave's captured moon, to use an ancient gate to escape the world. It sounded like a fairy tale. Strange creatures, the aberrant children of man and animal as she knew them. Made in a lab to further the exploration of the universe. She was taught it at school. You don't send mankind into a hostile world, you send an zoothrope, a sub-human, then tame the creature when it's work is done and the planet is ready for their masters.
Izmee was never sure about this. But that's one of the things they drum into you at school. Respect the Federation, respect the Empire, Galcop will try and provide, zoothropes are always diseased and inferior. You know, the stuff you take for granted when growing up.
So most of the animals left, taking their cross species plagues and sexual depravities with them. The military way became the way of life for the citizens of Galcop. Dad's fleet was stranded in map 7, a stones throw from Lave and safety. So he sat tight, they all did. Any day now the gates would be reopened and the fleet would come though. 13 years passed before the military admitted that the gates were shut and locked forever and there wasn't a damn thing they could do about it. Not that this had stopped mum from spending dads credits.
The arguments must started gradually, a bill here, a hidden loan there. All Izmee could remember was when it hit fever pitch and ceramics started to fly, which was towards the end, almost every day. Mum took to the Lavinian brandy and dad took to the red waga and a few other things besides. Both of them wasted over a decade waiting for a ship to come in that was already lost at sea. Izmee grew up and everything else slowly got worse and worse while they waited.
Then dad died in 64 from an overdose, less than 6 months after Galcop, under pressure from the Imperials, admitted it was now one eighth its size and had little hope of contacting, let alone re-establishing trade with the other 7 galaxies. Worse, more and more systems, seeing the writing on the wall ceceeded from the already stricken Co-operative. It was dying. The next 6 years had not been good. Izmee didn't like to think about them too much. There was the day to day to focus on. The now to deal with. Which brought her neatly back to why she was looking at the stars in the first place.
So she breathed in, closed her eyes and prepared herself for the next punch in the face.