Dear readers, tonight with us is a young soldier who left his bucolic world to get a taste of the bigger universe. He’s here to tell us about the people of a thousand worlds, of the technomagic that binds them together, and picking sides when the rebels are people he grew up with.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I was born in Nes Peridion, one of the newly colonized worlds in Meon Cluster. My parents came from Tarviss—well, they were brought by their lord, but quickly realized that away from Tarviss he had no way to keep them under control and got rid of him. So we lived as free people.
My parents were simple farmers and the first people to settle in Nes Peridion. It took them a lot of work to turn it into the fruitful farming colony it is today. The beginnings were especially hard, our crops and stock needed time to adjust to local soil and climate. I was born a few cycles after they settled and I think that by that time, the worst was already over. Some years were rough, though.
What did you do as a child?
There was always something to do at the farm, and we had to help since we were old enough to stand. Not the hard stuff, just keeping an eye on zeeath birds or working in the herb garden.
I have a sister and two older brothers. Well, had. My brothers died as children, taken by the diseases. I don’t really remember them too well.
My sister’s fine. She lives with our mom in Nes Peridion.
Between dead siblings and constant work, that sounds like a pretty rough childhood.
It’s the one I had. Do you think Dahlsian children have it better? They may get their education and their playtime, but they spend their lives locked in. They never feel the sun on their faces, or the breeze in their hair. They never play with living animals. They don’t even eat real food, only this tubed sludge. And when they go outside, they freak out, they go down with allergies, sunburn, and their immune systems are so compromised, a light cough can kill them.
I was never sick in my life. Drop me in a new world and I can survive, I don’t even need any fancy technomagic. I know how to find shelter, make water safe to drink, find food. I could build my own house if I had to. And I’m strong enough to carry a Dahlsi person through half the world—I already did that once, when my colleague broke her leg. She was as light as a feather.
So was it really that bad for me?
Do you have any cherished memories?
Hm. Maybe the times Aeva and I ran to the river to play. I liked making patterns with colorful stones. Aeva was always better at pretending. She also learned to crochet little dolls—I think in old Tarviss they were used for some rituals, but we just used them to play. Although mom would always undo them to save the yarn. Textiles were hard to come by in Nes Peridion.
Just the two of you?
Yeah. We were never good with other people—well, Aeva was a bit better, she even had friends. But most of the time we preferred each other’s company.
It got harder as I grew older and my brothers died. The amount of work to do remained the same, but there were fewer hands to do it. We were a small community, you know, so we had to do everything by ourselves. Not just grow food, but make houses, make furniture, make tools. Travel to the lake to fish or the nearby mountains for salt and lime. Also, there was no iron anywhere nearby so if a tool broke and no trader came, we had to replace it with a flint one.
It’s not so uncommon. All the metals in Tarviss have been mined ages ago; iron tools have to be brought from off-world and if they break, people have to use what they have on hand.
I became quite good at this. Maybe because I could sit for hours hitting rocks until they produced something I was happy with.
What do you do now?
I left Nes Peridion to work for Mespana. It’s a Dahlsian organization, but they accept outworlders. Our primary job is exploring new worlds within Meon Cluster and assessing their usefulness to the colonists. But we also had other duties. Escorting tax collectors or helping colonists with various problems.Continue reading “Aldeaith Tearshan (of The Outworlder, by Natalie J. Holden)”