My name is Kemar Vannald. I just turned 24 last week. I bought this blank book with the intention of writing down, to the best of my memory, the things that have happened in my life. The hope being that in writing it down I might be able to make sense of some of it. But when I started to mentally go over my life, in preparation for writing, I found that it was the people in my life that shined brighter than any event. So ignore the previous pages of false starts and from here on read about the people in my life: how we met, how we touched each other’s lives, and how we parted (if applicable).
My parents, Kymani and Amanda Vannald: if you asked me when I was seven, I would have said that my parents had very little to do with my life. I was the first born of a “king” of the Ettarrans and as such many of my early years were spent with tutors and other teachers instead of with my parents. However, I have realized as I have gotten older that it was their very absence that has caused me to value family above all other things in my life and my most valued possession to be a family picture. It was taken a few months after the birth of my youngest sisters and the nine of us look so happy. We were never like that, not really, but I look at that picture and I remember the good times that we had. I have no idea how or even if I effected my parents’ life, and I have no way of asking them, they died in an accident about a month before my 10th birthday… but last week, on my birthday, I received an anonymous text that was just a filepath and filename in the Nearside Federation security logs. About ¾ of the way through the hour long video from one of the security cameras in the Dion station port I clearly saw my parents moving through the terminal. The video was six months old and when I checked the other cameras this one was the only one that showed their faces. I was able to determine that they boarded a shuttle headed for Muria. Looking into the passenger manifest revealed nothing, none of the IDs of the listed passengers looked like my parents. I didn’t know what else to do, I still don’t. Are my parents alive? Are they in Muria, behind that shield? Who sent me the information, and why? I haven’t told anyone and I haven’t been able to think of any other avenues of investigation… perhaps this is the main reason I purchased this book…
My twin sister, Onessa Vannald: relationships between siblings can be complicated, this is scary true when it comes to my sister. I love her, she is the most important person in my life, if she asked I would drop nearly anything to help her with whatever she needed, even now. She hates me, truly and deeply. I think that her hatred stems from the 3 minutes that separate our birth, I think that she always knew that she would be the one of us that took over for our father. She took to command and politics in a way that I never did. The death of our parents hit her harder than any of the rest of us, maybe because our father was the only person who could have officially made her the heir instead of me, but maybe that is just the cynic in me. I tried to abdicate to her once, after my 16th birthday, but she would not accept, her hatred was such that she couldn’t even take that from me. It was after that that I took the family knife and left, the head of the house never leaves without it, she would have killed me if I had left it. I can’t help but think that it would have been easier if she had killed me, but she never even tried. Funny thing is, if she asked, I would probably die for her. As it is, I just don’t go home, for her.
My brother Aliek (3 years younger) and my brother Sean (6 years younger): they are family, and I love them, but two of them were always closer to Onessa than me. I know that Aliek hates me and Sean doesn’t like me, I don’t know if those are their own feelings, for whatever reason, or if it’s because of Onessa. Aliek has a keen military mind, strategies and tactics are second nature to him. Sean is a consummate salesman, I think that he could sell technology to a Murian, as long as that Murian couldn’t read his mind. I will always regret not knowing the two of them better.
My sister Hanna (4 years younger): Hanna is the middle child and doesn’t seem to have strong feelings or closeness with any of the other six of us. In typical middle child fashion, she has always been the peacemaker of the family, trying to bring the seven of us together as a family. More than once she tried to help resolve the rift between Onessa and I, to no avail. Hanna’s skills as a mediator are sought after throughout the archipelago, she seems to derive true pleasure helping people come together and see their opponent’s side in situations. Besides my sisters Ruby and Fire, Hanna is the only family that I have any contact with, and that is only the occasional not-too-personal email, really just updates on each other’s lives, to make sure that we don’t totally lose touch.
My sisters Ruby and Sapphire (Fire) (8 years younger): The first thing to know about Ruby and Fire are that they are identical twins. The second thing to know is that they seem to share a mind. Most identical twins are separate people with different likes, dislikes and personalities; usually people can tell them apart with a little effort at getting to know them. Sometimes you get identical twins like my sisters, they seem to be the same person with two bodies. I am the only one who never calls one of them by the wrong name and even I couldn’t tell you how. They both have fiery red hair and a fiery personality to match. When they were five years old I tried to keep Sapphire’s hair dyed blue, partly to tell them apart and partly to match her name, but this only lasted a few months as we all could tell that her natural hair color and the nickname Fire fit her much better. From an early age Ruby and Fire had a great affection for me. The deaths of our parents caused the three of us to bond very closely and it seemed to have the same effect on Onessa, Aliek and Sean, leaving Hanna always trying to be the bridge between our two groups. Ruby and Fire have always treated me like I am their personal hero, perhaps because I raised them from age two, perhaps for some other reason that I may never know. I do know that I am the reason that they started working on computers. Luckily for all of us they found a real talent in computer software. Now they excel in computer programming, hacking, and information security. I talk to them by video call at least once a week.
Danielle Parta: Danielle (Dani) is the heir of the Parta family and Parta city, technically she is family, but technically my family contains numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, spread over several fan-ship cities, far too many to name here. Vannald is governed by my immediate family but the Parta family is over all of us, the lead family of six fan-ships that ply the waters of Algol. Dani is a year older than my sister and I, and when she was three years old she came to stay with us. For various reasons the Parta family heir is never raised in Parta city. So I’ve known Dani almost all of my life, we are great friends. We have shared pains and joys in equal measure. We continue to talk every week.
Rashaun Delar: I met Rashaun the same year that Sean was born, he was 12 when I was six but he never seemed to treat me like a little kid. He could do all the things that I wanted to be able to do: swimming, surfing, roller skating to name a few. looking back it doesn’t seem that it took very long for him to seem like a big brother to me. For years it was him that I went to meet whenever I could escape from my tutors. His father was a mechanic on Vannald and you might think that the difference in social status would have caused us to drift apart as we got older, but that didn’t happen. I’m not sure what he got out of our relationship when we were young, perhaps he always wanted a little brother, someone that would follow him around and he could teach all the things he had learned in his short life, perhaps he would brag to his friends that he was hanging around with the heir of the Vannald, it doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that we are still the best of friends and stay in pretty close contact even now. He is now a very capable mechanic on Vannald, like his father before him. He would probably be my first call if I needed help building a mekton that I designed.
Tara E’na: for the past 20 years Tara has been the chief engineer of Vannald city. The responsibility for keeping all of the city’s mechanical and computer systems running falls to her. It was her that found me fixing a broken computer at age 10. It was her that lobbied with my parents and tutors to add technology to my studies. It was her that held me and told me it was going to be okay after the deaths of my parents allowing me to do the same for Ruby and Fire. After that she became like a second mother to the three of us. Tara cared for us as if we were her own, and for that I will always love her.
Shaye Morgan: It was a month or two after my 14th birthday that I met Shaye, her family had just moved to Vannald. We quickly fell in love and had an intense 6 month romance, although romance might not be the best term for the kissing and hand holding that we did. Shaye was my first love, the first female that made me feel things. When it was over I didn’t eat for days and I felt that my life was over. It was a week after our breakup that I first saw her again, and as I looked at her face I knew that I was going to be alright with it being over and I wanted her to still be in my life. We became friends and have remained friends through everything that has happened in both of our lives.
Edward Bennett: I met Ed in my first job. I had left Vannald and decided that I wanted to take my mechanical, technical, and computer expertise and turn them to their ultimate combination, the mekton. Tara had recommended me to a friend of hers that ran a mekton maintenance/repair (M/R) bay in Elara. Ed had been working in the bay for five years before I started and was well liked by the other technicians. I suppose that every M/R bay has some kind of hazing ritual. Tthe one in this bay revolved around an old Defender model mekton; it probably hadn’t moved in years. My first week Ed told me that the boss needed me to “get the thing powered up.” I worked through my lunch, replaced seven blown conduits, and rebuilt a battery pack before I realized that I was being hazed. Rather than admit defeat and accept the hazing I installed a power converter and tied the old mekton strait into the bay’s grid. The looks on everyone’s faces, especially Ed’s, when I made the Defender take a step were priceless. Ed and I spent most of the next two years challenging and trying to outdo each other. We finally became friends after a night where we both got way more drunk than we should have. We still laugh and joke about those times. I have consulted Ed about every non-classified mekton design that I worked on.
Alexa Hunter: I had just left home, left everything that I had ever known, quite possibly the worst time to meet the love of your life… but that’s just what happened. She was the pilot of the first mekton that I worked on in the M/R bay. She was beautiful, but more than that she was smart and tough. Our relationship was always long distance. She was a mekton pilot and I was a mekton tech then a mekton designer. However, when we were together we were great. Our relationship was, hands down, the best thing in my life. We were together for more than four years, we even talked about getting married. It is to my deep regret that I cheated on her. Telling Alexa that I cheated on her was the hardest thing that I ever did, but I did, right after it happened. She might have forgiven me but I wasn’t ready to forgive myself. I ended it. She took it alright, giving me a hug and leaving. I still love her, and I hope one day to be able to forgive myself enough to ask for her forgiveness. No matter what else I say, I was weak to cheat on the love of my life, and I may just deserve the consequences for that complete lapse of judgement.
I suppose that it is inevitable, as you move through your life, you have positive interactions with others and some of them become friends; you also have negative interaction with others and some of them become enemies. Perhaps it is telling of my personality that the two people I will list here are both related to my romantic life.
Charles Rathon: Charles, Rath to his friends, was in Alexa’s squad and had apparently been in love with her for a while, although she had shut down every advance Charles made. He was not happy when we started dating, and Charles gave me the old “If you ever hurt her…” speech when we got serious. A month after Alexa and I broke up I got an email from Charles, it just said, “You hurt her, you’re next.” I don’t think he wants me dead but I’m sure that he wouldn’t mind me laid up in the hospital for a month or so.
Amanda (Mandy) Reynolds: The other woman. Mandy was hot and she wanted me, we had three days, 72 hours, of ecstasy before my conscience was able to get through to me. I ended it with Mandy immediately. Mandy didn’t take it well. At first she refused to believe that we weren’t dating. Then she started breaking into my apartment and leaving little things for me. The last thing she left was a wedding album, showing a marriage between the two of us that never happened. I confronted her after that, perhaps I shouldn’t have. That ended with her screaming at me that if she couldn’t have me no one could. I honestly don’t know what will happen if I see Mandy again, I think it just as likely that she ignores me as to try to kill me, or anything in between.