Shana and I are currently in the outer edges of the Charon system, waiting for an old friend. We’re gonna keep them company on a run and reminisce a bit. It sure is a sight out here. Most folks just consider Charon IV a regular ol’ ice giant, but she’s got a special place in my heart. Starlight reflects off her in a way that’s always stayed with me. Glad I made it back here to see her again.
Normally, this is where I answer some questions commed to me, but I was reading through a few and got a bit overwhelmed. If I’m being honest, many of y’all are asking for advice that I can’t provide. Either ‘cause the subject is outta my league or something I don’t feel right weighing in on, and I’m too old to start pretending otherwise.
Guess this is the long way of explaining why I picked the question I did for this show. Among the various inquiries about how to mentally prepare yourself for life on the drift, or pointers on how to avoid grief from unruly types, there seemed to be one simple question at the heart of those being sent my way… why?
As in, why in the hell did I decide to live my life like this. Drifting all alone amidst the vast expanse without anyone but myself, minimal supplies, and Shana. It sure as hell isn’t the life I planned, but I learned a long time ago that you don’t plan for your future, you prepare for it. That might sound the same but trust me, there’s a difference. Planning is aspirational. It’s what you want to happen. But preparing is practical. It’s what’s left of your plans when life knocks you off course, which has happened to me more than I’d like to admit.
This might surprise some of you, but I once lived in Charon. Built a little homestead on Charon III with the plan of putting down some roots. I’d been wandering ever since I left Vann and was ready to return to solid ground and enjoy a nice quiet life.
I found a spot in the Dellin desert that was desolate but beautiful. It was by a small oasis, which sounds more impressive than it actually was. Let’s just say the water was way too salty to drink and not even deep enough to drown if you passed out drunk in it. A few other folks lived nearby. Close enough to create a sense of community but not get in each other’s way. I hadn’t really experienced anything like it before, and I… well, I began to understand the appeal.
I fixed things for my neighbors and developed a reputation that had folks from other parts seeking me out. I even entertained the thought of opening my own repair shop. After growing up in one and watching all the stress slowly drain the life out of my ma, I had always told myself I wouldn’t live that way, but for the first time the idea didn’t seem like such a bad one. Funny how I left home all those years ago searching for something different and somehow ended up in a place that felt familiar. A strange feeling to be sure. That itch to escape had faded and I had begun planning a future for myself that I would never have believed possible.
Then a terrible drought hit Dellin. I knew they occurred from time to time, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Didn’t take long before the oasis evaporated, leaving nothing but a salt flat in its wake. Some folks picked up and left right then and there. They were the smart ones. Leave it to Old Jegger to learn his lessons the hard way.
Water became particularly hard to come by. A hauler hired to bring in regular shipments was ambushed by some desperate folks and the pilot killed. After that no one was willing to make the delivery, at least not at a cost we could afford. Lacking any other options, I began making water runs myself. First I went to Acheron but the second someone got wind I was from Dellin the price doubled. Bastards knew the terrible situation we were in but didn’t give a damn if it meant they could squeeze a few extra creds outta it.
Soon I was making runs out of system to load up on food and water. The experience provided quite the crash course on how to run your ship sigs low enough to not attract attention. Folks desperate for supplies are willing to do just about anything. It wasn’t long before I was spending more time in my ship than at the homestead. Soon, I was justifying extending my hauling runs even further out just so I wouldn’t have to return to Dellin quite so soon. And when I was home, I was missing the drift something fierce. Wasn’t long before I had to admit to myself that the old itch had come back worse than ever.
I chewed on the decision over my next few runs. Returning to my wandering ways wasn’t so easy. People depended on me, and I wasn’t so sure what they would do if I left. Finally, I made up an excuse for Langston, one of the remaining residents, to join me on a run. Didn’t take long for him to figure out that I was showing him the ropes. When we got back I broke the news to everyone else. They didn’t give me no grief and thanked me for all I’d done. They even threw me a little going away shindig. That only made me like ‘em more.
I hadn’t been back until this trip. I kept telling myself that it’d be too dangerous, what with the terrible war between Dellin and Acheron still raging. Deep down I was also worried that going back might stir up thoughts about settling down. The trip definitely triggered some strong emotions but none of ‘em had me questioning my decision.
My old homestead’s still there, barely, but all my old neighbors were long gone. Not too surprising. The water’s still all dried up and the ground as salty as a Snaggle Stick. It was good to be back, but I’m glad it’s not my home no more.
Guess that was the long way of saying that the reason why I live the way I do is because it’s complicated. It’s partly because I’m just a restless soul who prefers his own company, and partly because life pushed me that way. This life isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely the right one for me.
[ Beeping ]
Damn, has it been that long already? Sitting here, recollecting the past and enjoying a slow drift by Charon IV has sure been fun, but it’s time to move on. There’s still so much out there for me to see.
This is Old Jegger, signing off.