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Ray Nothnagel

Written by Obrell Martin, July 2, 2108

Once, we had dreams. We dreamt that we would take to the stars, that we would slowly expand to Mars and the moon, to the asteroid belt, to the rest of the Solar System. When the Bactarans attacked, those dreams were left in pieces, buried in the rubble of Austin and Brooklyn and Moscow. But here we are, less than half a century later, and we now know that our dreams had been diminutive.

A little background on me is in order, I suppose. My parents, both EGF officers, were based on Hyperion Station when I was born. My half-brother Arter and I grew up in a cramped six-bunk cabin with Arter's father, and our family shared the cabin with another couple and their daughter, Dria. Arter's father was an assistant to the human ambassador to the station, which allowed him to stay and look after us when my parents were on tour; when duties called him elsewhere, Dria's mother, a scientist, would look out for all three of us. Looking back on it now, I realize that we were an odd sort of family pushed together by limited funds, but as a child, I just always felt like I had five parents.

It was fortunate that I had so many parents, because my life would have been so much harder if I'd been born into a smaller family. In 2101, I was only sixteen years old when an EGF admiral called to inform me that my parents' ship had violently decompressed after a battle at Ceres, and they were both dead. Dria's father, an EGF security officer here on the station, was seriously injured in the Bactaran riots that followed once news of Ceres reached the station. We all pulled together for support, and more than ever, this was my family.

It may surprise no one that Dria and I started dating not long after, even if it did surprise me. Though I'd been planning to join the service to follow in my parents' footsteps, the reality of war set after my own experiences, and I wanted nothing to do with it. Dria gave me something to live for, and I couldn't bear to put her through a loss like that. I started looking to other career paths, and Dria and I agreed that we had our hearts set on Herschel Station.

Arter, on the other hand, did end up joining the ESF. He'd had the opposite reaction to our mother's death, feeling that joining the service would be the best possible way to honor her memory. With the war, he was rushed through basic training, and last year at the age of twenty, he was ready for deployment, and the admirals were clearly gearing up for a major operation. Arter's unit's transport was delayed by mechanical issues at the last minute, causing him to miss the transfer window for the deployment. Before the next window came around, we got word about the disaster at the Mintaka warp bridge. I've never been so happy about a misfiring fusion actuator; if not for that malfunction, Arter would've been crushed in the singularity when the bridge collapsed like so many others. His narrow aversion of death didn't temper his determination, and he was on the first combat cruiser to what would be the new front line, the Parella System. He just shipped out last month.

I found out after the wedding that my father and Arter's had had a running bet since we were teenagers about which of their sons would end up with Dria. My father won; if only he'd been around to see it. After the wedding, we didn't go on a honeymoon; rather, we moved to Herschel Station to start our new life right away.

We now work in food trade, me as a pilot making the Othrys run, and her in sales, negotiating distribution of the produce I was bringing from Titan's surface. Our first cabin on Herschel Station was as big for the two of us as the two-family cabin on Hyperion Station we'd grown up in - more luxurious a home than we had ever dreamed we would have.

In fact, I never really had dreams growing up. I never dreamt that I'd be anywhere but our little cabin at Hyperion. After the Battle of Ceres, I discovered a purpose, a partner, and with those, a dream, for the first time in my life. And here I am, less than twenty-five years old, living the dream I never knew I had.

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