Tu's Story ~ Part 1 ~ Properly Introducing Tu
2050 & seeing children whilst out & about in the built-up areas of the known verse is a pretty unusual occurrence. In the cities, the child-friendly elevators & trains transport directly from the family habs to the child zones, keeping youngsters isolated from the rest of the inhabitants and passers-through. On rare occasions, you might catch a fleeting glimpse of a parent with a child closely in tow rushing through a space station, but this was likely out of absolute necessity for complete lack of a better option - because opportunistic marauders made space stations & unattended children a dangerous combination.
Most children are brought up in the homesteads, constructed painstakingly from the ground up when colony ships such as the Pioneer are still only a promise & everything needed had to be painstakingly transported in. These homesteads, often called homing-hubs, were built for the sole purpose of bringing up children safely away from the madding crowd. Some homing hubs could run for generations, others preferred to disassemble from time to time for various reasons.
These family colonies, scattered throughout the peaceful, further regions of planets & fiercely protected to the hilt are generally considered off-limits to anyone other than the inhabitants & just not worth the risk of interfering with.
This was Tu's upbringing. Growing up in the safety of her hub, nestled in the lakeside woodlands of a beautiful valley somewhere on *redacted*. Like most of the children growing up in these isolated camps; as soon as they were able to fly, most, though not all, left to explore the skies that had been tempting them all their lives so far.
Tu was one of these youngsters. Like most preparing for their first independent journey off-planet, she was 'encouraged' not to go alone. This had been fine by her because she & her friend Eyla, who lived in the dome next to hers, had been planning the adventures they would have as soon as they were able, as far back as they could remember. Nothing much excited Tu more than waiting with all the other basecamp kids in the Cartography Deck of the Carrack dedicated to schooling, as the ship fired up & the hollow viewer came to life. Transported by the stars & planets holographically suspended before them, she loved to listen to intriguing stories of the system around her and beyond.
As Tu & Eyla wandered around the community shipyard, where all good ships go to die & eventually be reborn & where her father Iken, was usually to be found deep in the belly of a space ship draped in greasy metal entrails. The girls would plan their future escapades.
Fast forward a decade or two and the two friends are packing Tu's Terrapin. Grandpa Bob, after giving up on trying to interest Tu in managing a weaponised ship, had at least been able to talk her into a heavy-armoured Terrapin instead. But Two loved her Terrapin. She had watched her father bring the well worn, close to salvage ship back to life, learning as much as she could at the same time.
"Watch as if your life depended on it, "Her father had said to her seriously.
Which had seemed a bit extreme at the time, but she did anyway. A thousand test runs later followed by an eternity of flight training & the day had come when Tu was to become spacefaring.
Tu watched as the last of their escort party, which included most of the community plus mum Ebe, dad Iken, grandpa Bob & granny Rebel, which was customary for the occasion, slowed down in their wake & fell away to become a few distant specks far, far behind. Caught in a cocktail of emotions, the two young women were heading for New Babbage MT.
A few months later, Eyla, having fallen in love & paired up, had moved into a hab in Adira Halls, Area 18. Consequently, Tu lost her travel companion & found herself, 'Lonewolf' as granny Rebel of Earth descent would call it.
Though Tu was alone, she wasn't lonely, she had made a few other friends on her travels so far & she stayed connected with her family at home via the abundant friends & colleagues of her extended family or network that Bob & Rebel had encouraged (on the verge of insisting ), that she connected with. Tu found it surprising & somewhat perplexing how dynamic & robust this network was, but some extra sense told her this observation was probably best kept to herself.
She was also surprised when after returning to ArcCorp from that forsaken Day of the Vara journey to visit Eyla, to be contacted & instructed to visit a woman said to be a friend of her mothers.
This woman, who Tu recognised as a frequent visitor to her homestead, told her that her folks had asked her to tell Tu to head home as soon as possible.
"Everyone is safe," the woman had said whilst pouring them both a coffee, "But there's some stuff that they need to speak to you face to face about...oh... & don't tell anyone where you are going."
This was where Tu was heading now. She just hoped her Terrapin was going to make it & not be taking her to anymore abandoned labs. She was sure her dad would be able to get to the core of her navigation issues.
Her heart filled with joy at the thought of seeing her family again, Tu cranked up her playlist & as the stars sped past her, she was in her element.
This is an excerpt from Deep Space Crew ~ An Ongoing Story ~ By The Slingshots.