Dear readers, tonight on the interview couch is a man back from a decade of exile. He’s here to tell us about a world of death, corruption, shady deals and dirty deeds — just like old times — and of the Skyway Men that set him up.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I was born on the skyland of Hassan but I can’t remember much about that because, when I was five years old, my parents sold me to the Skyway Men and I moved to Girindult. I guess they needed to money but I don’t know for sure.
Girindult is a tiny skyland that’s been part of the Last Chance Archipelago for fifty years or more, moving between Rookery Reef, High Plain and Wind Haven. It’s known for metalworking. Up top is foundries and smithies and silversmiths and what-not. It’s hot. It stinks. It’s noisy. There’s smoke and acid and a constant clatter. Endless, deafening clatter. It keeps away the tourists, I suppose, which means the real purpose of the skyland is easier to hide. Down below, in the tunnels, it the main training center for the skyway men. With all the noise above the tourists couldn’t hear the gunshots and the screams even if they were paid to.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
Favourite toy? The skyway men teach recruits to make their own weapons for some reason; I was quite fond of the first throwing knife I made. I lost that when an older boy fell off the side of the skyland with it still stuck in his throat.
What do you do now?
I screwed up a mission. I mean, it wasn’t my fault. I was young and had too many people telling me what to do and I couldn’t please everyone. But I took the blame and they shipped me off to rot on Whiparill, an insignificant farming skyland where, funnily enough, I ended up doing metalwork. I guess the training paid off after all. I waited ten years before they finally came looking for me for another mission.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
I really wasn’t expecting to be given another job. I thought if the Skyway Men ever came looking for me it would be to make sure they wouldn’t have to worry about me ever again. But when I got the chance to get back in I was not going to screw it up. It seemed to be a pretty simple job. Break into a laboratory, steal an experimental crystal-machine and post it to the local Operations Manager. Of course, if it had been simple I wouldn’t be here.
What did you first think when you broke in to the laboratory and discovered someone else was already there?
My first thought was that someone had screwed up again, and it wasn’t me, and I was going to get blamed anyway. I guess in some ways, that was the best-case scenario. Anything else and I was in real trouble.
What is the worst thing about the job and the mess that followed?
I was back in my old life, something I’d been dreaming of for ten years, but nothing was quite like I remembered. It was exactly the same, but not quite what I expected.
What is the best thing about it?
I had spent ten years working on plows, hoes and carving knives so it was good to know that I still had the ability to do all the things I’d trained for when I was younger. It was good to know that the younger me was still in there, even if he was a bit confused.
Tell us a little about your friends.
I’ve never really had friends before. Friendship wasn’t encouraged at Girindult. There was Lemar but I’m not sure if he was really a friend. He was more like a mentor, maybe. One way or the other, I let him down and I don’t think he will ever forgive me.
I’ve gotten to know Dolik and Peata since that night at the morgue. I like them and I know I can rely on them. I know I can trust them. That’s more than I’ve been able to say about anyone for a long time. Unfortunately, none of us are really in a position to just drop by for a visit. But I know where they are, and they know where I am, and that’s enough at the moment.
As for Roke, I only knew him for a few hours, really.
Any romantic involvement?
I like Lana. In some ways we have a lot in common, more than I would have thought possible, I suppose. But our differences… I don’t think she could ever settle for someone like me, no matter how far I’ve come. She’s better than that.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
The Skyway Men are a world spanning criminal organization– there isn’t a lot to like a bout them. They kill and cheat and steal and lie. They do anything to get what they want, which is wealth and power. But on the other hand, a lot of the people inside didn’t ask to be there. If I got to know them maybe I would discover that they are the worst people in the world, but it’s hard to hate them from afar when I was one of them myself. What five-year-old really has a choice when put into a place like that? What ten-year-old? And once you’re in there, once you’re grown and it’s all that you know, where else can you go? The organization of the Skyway Men should be destroyed, but it wouldn’t matter. It would leave a lot of people with nothing and nobody and in two years time there would be another group filling the void.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
When I was exiled on Whiparill I spent my life avoiding the locals– I thought I was better than them, I thought I was better off without them—so I spent most of my time in my workshop. When I wasn’t working on the stuff that made me money, I was creating works of art from metal. It was little things at first, etchings and things like that, but after a couple of years I was making models of ships from brass and entire dioramas from different metals. I never thought I could make money from it. At the time it was just something to stop me from going crazy. It still does that now, but it also gives me an excuse to hide in my workshop and scare away strangers like a real artist.
What does the future hold for you?
I intend to keep doing what I’m doing for as long as possible. But I cost the Skyway Men a lot of money. I cost them prestige. I made them look bad. I think I’m reasonably well hidden here, but if they ever find out where I am, they won’t be able to leave me in peace. I spent ten years waiting for them to come for me, one way or the other, and proved I was up to the task. I’ll be ready for them next time as well. One way or the other.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Dolik and Peata are watching Lana for me. She wouldn’t be happy if she found out but I feel responsible for her safety. I know she made her feelings clear but… Look, I like Lana.
Scott J Robinson grew up in a small country town in Australia in a time when kids had to make their own fun. His idea of fun was creating interesting worlds and filling them with fun characters. He’s all grown up now, but not much else has changed. He lives with his wife and three kids in a different small town but is still getting lost in all manner of fantasy and science fiction stories.
You can find Kade on the pages of The Brightest Light.
Keep an eye out for more mid-week SPFBO specials! Join us on Friday to meet the fourth son of the king, who instead of a life of parties found himself facing dark secrets. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.