Birthdays Part 2

((Part 1))


Amieta slipped quietly into the hydroponics bay. The years hadn't seen her frame fill out, but they had given her grace and she moved silently to stand behind the heavily built man bending over one of the planting trays. She spoke from immediately behind him, "Jan!"

Jan quickly turned, with a slow smile of delighted surprise, "Ami!? Ancestors, you nearly scared the life from me. How are you? How have you been? What are you doing here? Let me take a look at you!"

Jan engulfed her shoulders in his hands and gently pushed her back a step, "I see you're still scrawny. Don't they feed you? And whats this?"

He lifted the insignia of rank at her collar with a chemical-stained hand as she responded with studied nonchalance, "Oh, I've made corporal. Sarge says if it keeps on like this, I'm a shoo-in for OCS." With a grin, "Anyway, they feed me plenty, I just can't seem to bulk up. If I play my cards right though they'll wire me, and it won't matter. I'm getting a transfer to recon along with the new stripe, and that's a good first step. What about you? I see you're not scrawny. How do you even fit through doorways?"

Jan, eyes laughing in a mock frown, patted his modest paunch, though he was really just built wider than the tube child standard, "I turn sideways. This is all mine, now." he gestured around the compartment, then threw Ami an apple, "Here. I may not be a hero of the Watch and mother Ishukone, but in Hydroponics Bay 3A, I'm king. Well, at least if anything goes wrong, I'm the one that gets written up."

"You do good work." Ami said through a bite of apple, "Spirits, doesn't seem like so long, does it? Nine years. I wish..."

"He'd be here if he could Ami. Maybe in a year or two when he is done training they'll let him out."

"I know. It'd just be nice, the three of us together again. Maybe get into a little trouble."

Jan chuckled, "Well, we can go to the 'clash tournament tonight, party in his honor. It's inter-corporate. A bunch from KK are here."

Ami smiled predatorily, "Sounds fun."


Birthdays Part 1

((Ami in this story is Amieta Invelen, a character of mine in-game.))


They crept along the corridor with the exaggerated caution of the very young. They - the two of them, and their leader - had created their plan after lights out the night before. They had slipped away from the creche supervisors in the middle of the yearly birthday puppet show. For some reason traditional always seemed to mean boring, and though it was rumored that there was sometimes a dragon in the show, no such creature had been evident this year.

The boy was, in nearly every respect, average. Perhaps slightly tall for his age, which happened to be exactly six that day. Grey eyes, regularly cropped brown hair. Sharing with the girl, and nearly every other person he had ever seen, the pale skin of a station dweller. The girl was also six that day, slightly shorter than the boy, with blue eyes and hair cropped near as short. She was by far the more stealthy of the two.

They huddled behind a crate as a technician strode by, then dashed madly for their destination, the compartment door labeled 'Hydroponics - 3A.' Inside they gave each other a grin of shared conspiracy and were looking around the rows of closely packed plants for the mastermind behind their scheme when a voice from above called down in a stage whisper, "Val! Ami! Up here!"

They looked up to see the third member of their little gang perched in the supports well overhead, and Val (the boy) grimaced, "How'd you get up there? We'll be in enough trouble if we're caught anyway Jan. That is just going to make it worse."

Jan smiled from his spot, cradled in a convergence of conduits, beams, and struts half a dozen meters above the waving tops of the plants and upturned faces of his friends, and with a gesture to the far end of the room, "Ladder's over there. If you aren't too chicken."

Ami raced to the ladder, and Val followed reluctantly. Up the ladder, then the trip through the messy scribbled web of structural elements, assorted conduits, ducts, and tubing that spanned the ceiling. Ami attacked it with enthusiasm, Val with a pinched, slightly worried looking at odds with his youth. It took only a few minutes to get across, and Jan welcomed them to his roost, "It's pretty cool, right? Plus, I bet they'll never look here, we just have to make sure they don't see us coming down."

Jan kept grinning and looked down on the racks of plants in different stages of development with a proprietary air, pale blue eyes sparkling with excitement. He gestured to the other two children to sit, even as Val opened his mouth to voice another objection, "What if we fall? It is pretty-"

Jan interrupted him, "Who cares Val? We won't fall anyway, it's easy staying up here. They won't catch us cause no one will think of looking here. Anyway, I bet this is what it's like on planets. Look at all the plants."

Ami hung upside-down by her legs from a metal conduit, head tilted to look straight down. Val subsided, and even managed to forget to sulk long enough to stare at the floor what seemed like quite some distance below. They did manage to get down without anyone seeing them.


The three preteens slipped into the hydroponics bay. Val was still quite average, while Ami was lean and almost scrawny. Jan, who entered last this year, was of average weight, but gave the impression of roundness. Something subtle but so strong it created the conviction it was physical truth - some gentleness or underlying peace communicated in his every mannerism. Even the strictest diets the supervisors had tried had been ineffective in eliminating the feeling, in any case.

They had been too large to make it through the ceiling gauntlet the last two years, so now they just met on the floor of the bay. They were perhaps closer than any of their many siblings in the creche, and it was at this point a poorly kept but accepted secret that bay 3a was 'their' place. It was where they often had get-togethers, the first place any of them looked for the others, and Jan had even begun helping the hydro technicians, using his free time to nurture the plants that helped support the station.

This gathering was more sober than in years past, because they would find out very soon where they would be sent, and what their future careers would be. Chances were very good that this might be their last birthday together for a long time - possibly ever. They mostly talked softly, all of them acting serious for their age, products of the expectations of their corporate parent.

It was the last time all three of them were together for a birthday. Jan would stay and work on his beloved plants. Val and Ami were both transferred to Ishukone Watch and left the station where they were born not long after that tenth birthday. Neither of them returned for nearly a decade.