Dear readers, tonight with me is a master technician, formerly with the Korlune Military Research and Development. He is also the first from the diasporan population to win top prize at the prestigious Symposium.

As Nash’s time is limited, I’ve arranged to meet with him between appointments. He indicated that he is willing to answer questions about his early life and talk about some of  the difficulties he’s faced, career-wise, in a country ruled by xenophobic traditions.

Congratulations to you and your team on your recent Symposium win, Master-Tech Korpes. Do you have a moment to share with my readers?

Certainly, it would be my privilege, Assaph. I’m a big fan of your column.

How does it feel to be the first Diasporan entrant to have won this prestigious competition?

That’s not entirely accurate. My Master-Mech, Davis Trent, is also Diasporan but I think I can speak for both of us by saying it feels great.

Can you give my readers a little history about yourself? Where were you born, for instance?

Born? Just kidding. Yes, contrary to popular opinion I wasn’t hatched in a Rec-Gen lab; I had real parents, though I never met my father. He was killed in our last border skirmish with Ankoresh. My great-grandparents were among the first Tyran refugees settled in Diaspora Twelve after the final exodus. Locals referred to D-Twelve as Astel which means ‘hope’ in Tyr; my mother said it actually translated to ‘awful weather.’

By the time I was seven, my mother had become the Master-Mech in charge of the city’s reactor. She, my grandmother, my sister and I lived in a three-bedroom apartment that had been in our family since the settlement. The city was less than twenty kilometers from the coast, so we were constantly being hit by the storms that blew in from the Northern Hotari Sea; our dome maintenance crews deserved medals for their efforts.

Up until ten years ago, Astel had one of the top producing Tellium mines which employed over half the city’s population. Sadly, like most of our equipment, our air filtration systems were outdated and couldn’t handle the level of dust that was generated. The particulates that escaped created a perpetual amber-hued haze. You had to mask-up when they were swapping the filters out, or you’d run the risk of getting a lung infection.

I can’t help but notice you were speaking about your home in the past tense.

Astel was one of the seven Diasporan cities destroyed during the terrorist attacks eight years ago. Experts believe the terrorists planted the charges in advance and then detonated them remotely, just like they had at Kento Station, Parlos, Sandyn, and Junelle. As our Tellium mine was no longer producing ore, the Council saw no value in the site. Astel was listed as offline and never rebuilt.

I’m sorry for your loss. I wasn’t aware of the details. Your file lists you as a survivor of the disaster at Junelle Station?

Thank you— Wait … Korlune Military Research and Development granted you access to my file?

Yes, but it’s been heavily redacted. You don’t have to talk about Junelle if it’s too painful.

It’s okay, but first I’d like to offer my condolences to everyone who lost someone at any of the targeted sites. As to my story, there’s not much to tell. I’d been called back from leave and was on the train platform with my friend Dylan when the central hydroponics dome was breached. We were hit by the shockwave, and then Dylan was killed when the platform ceiling collapsed on us. I’ll never forget when the digi-link systems failed; I was still laying on the maglev tracks when the lights went out, and felt the vibration as the blast doors to the tunnel sealed and pressurized. Thankfully the old hard-link systems kicked in, and the emergency lighting came on. After that, things blur. Someone helped me. He got me out of the ruins, and we made it to an external maintenance tunnel, but I’m afraid the rest is a blank. I owe my life to that stranger; someday I hope to track him down and thank him properly.

Perhaps he will read this interview and contact you. What is in your immediate future?

Master-Mech Trent and I just formalized our contracts with Harlo-Fyre. We start tomorrow.

What are your impressions of Thallen Cluster?

It’s beautiful; I’ve always admired Korlo esthetics and the geometric fusion between metal and glass that’s unique to their architecture, and I’ve never been under a blue-tinted dome before. The sheer scale of the city is more than a little overwhelming though. It seems too … big. I see you frowning; Let me explain myself. Thallen is ten times larger than Astel was, and most of KMR and D’s sites are underground, so you never get a real sense of their size. The standard KMR and D room for a single Diasporan with my qualifications is roughly eleven square meters. My new apartment is almost one-hundred and twelve square meters. Too big. I may end up having to sleep in my closet until I adjust.

On a more serious note, Harlo-Fyre hiring two Diasporan to fill jobs that would normally only be available to Korlo with Rank is already starting to generate concerns. The Par Society considers this a victory in their fight for equal rights while others fear it sets a dangerous precedent. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Damn, and here I thought I’d be able to get through this interview without generating any controversy. Are you sure you want me to answer that? Okay. Here’s a question for you: Did you know that even though the Diasporan have been here for generations, we’re still governed by an entirely separate set of laws? Many of these date back to a time when conscripting Diasporan as slave labor was common practice so you can imagine how enlightened they are. People ask ‘how the deaths at the Symposium could have been avoided’ and the answer is clear; stop viewing Diasporan as the enemy.

By being hired at Harlo-Fyre, Davis and I have broken new ground in the quest for equality, but it will take effort to build on that success, especially in Lorsa and Riva Clusters. For some of my fellow Diasporan, this victory may be too little, too late. For some of the Ranking Korlo families, this will seem like the beginning of the end, but hopefully, with advocates like the Par Society and brave men like William Harlo and James Narcisco, the old guard on both sides will see the reality of the situation. It’s time for the Council to grant us equal rights; it’s time to start seeing Korlo and Diasporan as one people. It’s the only way Korlune will survive— Oh, sorry, there’s my ride. I have to go. It was a pleasure to meet you, sir.

J.I. Rogers is green-eyed, ginger-haired, caffeine addict who is currently working on ‘The 942 Series‘ of science fiction novels.
When not acting as a conduit for the voices in her head, she’s either covered by pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion or, hunched like a gargoyle over a spinning disk, forcing her frustrations out on hydrated silicates. She’s a poster child for Gen X and the Queen of most boondoggles that lead to eye-strain and tinnitus.

You can meet Nash Xander Korpes on the pages of The Korpes File.

Join us next week to meet a living skeleton, with no memories of how he got to be that way. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.