Where is home.
We’ve had a few, us humans.
Earth. I guess it all started there. Earth was home; still is, to some.
But what about our other planets? What about Mars? Terra? Are they home?
Our houses are homes. Or are our homes houses?
Either way, I‘d have to have one for it to be one.
Now… my Prospector. She’s a home.
She’s my home.
Where is she though…
Who’m I kidding?! She’s right where she ought to be, under my hands, mining!
Just me and my Prospector, my Napanee, floating through space.
Just floatin’. Minin’.
Who needs a ‘home’.
There’s a feeling one has, when they look at something completely extraordinary that they’ve been seeing their entire life. The feeling someone who lives on the coast gets every morning when they wake up and look out over the ocean. The feeling the best poker player in the ‘Verse gets when he wins the Galactic Invitational for the thirteenth time running. The feeling a mother gets when she has her seventh child. The feeling a 30 year veteran gets during another Vanduul raid.
It is perfectly described in one word.
The word comes with a shrug, that kind of nonchalant noncommittal shrug that says, well… it says ‘enh’.
The word and the shrug go together, like a jam and cheese sandwich eaten by someone with no taste buds.
That word and shrug, though, they perfectly embodied the feelings running through Anoty’s head as he looked up through the asteroid field, looked up at all the other small rocks with their small domes, owned by the other prospecting families.
Dozens of asteroids of different shapes and sizes and colours, all floating aimlessly, drifting lazily, through the cold black of space. Like cheerios floating in milk when you’ve eaten most of the cheerios and there are just a few left. Except that they weren’t all clumped together like they do in milk, but kept kind of separate in the milk instead, like how asteroids in space float kinda together but not really too close.
Anoty had just started the metaphor segment of his English schooling. It was a work in progress.
He sat in his room in his house under the force dome and missed his dad.
Well, not his house, it was his mothers’ house.
But it was his dad that he missed.
He remembered his mom, four years ago, sitting him down and saying his dad was dead. That he’d taken the prospector out on a mission, that he’d got himself blown up by raiders. That the UEE had called her, said there wasn’t even a semblance of the ship anymore, or of his dad, the wreckage was so bad.
Anoty sat on his bed, thinking. Thinking about his dad, and where he’d got to. Thinking of home.
Wondering why his dad hadn’t thought home was with him.
For Anoty, home wasn’t in the asteroid belt. Here he was stuck inside a dome on a gyrating asteroid orbiting a small planetoid in one of the most breathtaking displays of orbital dynamics that human eyes have ever seen, a literal stellar stereotype, the distant planetoid hazy through its fuchsia-tinged atmosphere, the closer asteroids and their domes spinning and revolving in a gravitational ballet of the highest magnitude, all seen from a dusty dirt rock with a horizon of infinity.
Home was a place where his mom was still happy, and where his dad hadn’t left.
Shaer hated home.
Home was bills. Home was stress. Home was memories.
Home was a son who played games all day, who couldn’t get his basic schooling figured out. He’d failed English, math, astronomic, piloting, farming, law, chemistry, and every other conceivable course she could download from the central UEE home-school repository.
And every one of those downloads cost credits.
To Shaer, home was in default.
To Shaer, home was a lifeless rock, completely mortgaged out to pay for a ship for a low-life scum of an ex husband who’d taken the ship and left, sticking her with an idiot child, a worthless rock, and no way to pay the bills.
To Shaer, home was the last straw. The final blow in a lifetime of blows.
She’d wanted to go to the inner planets, visit Terra, Earth, Mars. She’d wanted to see the ‘Verse, to see where humanity came from.
She thought about that, as she smashed the control-panel for the dome, causing the power to fail and the safety-net between the house and the black void of space to come crashing down.
She’d always wanted to see Earth, especially. Learn where she’d come from; where everyone had come from.
As the air rushed away from those that needed it most, raging like a hurricane, loud as a summer storm, quiet as a whisper, and then silent as death, Shae thought of Africa, of how she’d always wanted to see it. To see where Humanity had come from. To see something that truly was home.
Anoty, in his panic and confusion, in the terrible, aching last gasps of life, thought of his father, knew that he would come back, that he would save Anoty and his mom.
Home SWEET home, Dale said, patting the Prospector on the dash. He’d dropped off a load of trellium ore at the refinery, picked up a nice young thing to keep his mind and… other parts… occupied, and was headed back into the black. He’d checked the news.
Life was good.
Home was wherever he wanted.
There was nothing left to hold him back.