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 人生有希望 (Rénshēng You Xīwàng) [Arden AU#4]

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Eden Ming

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Posts : 37
Join date : 2017-11-29

PostSubject: 人生有希望 (Rénshēng You Xīwàng) [Arden AU#4]   Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:12 pm

[[OOC: Based on the Firefly universe. For simplicity, Mal and his crew do not exist in this universe.

Title Translation
Direct: People’s life has hope.

By Google: There’s hope in life.]]


2521 (10 Years After the War) || 26 Years Old

Binansuo, typically called Binan, was an odd little planet. Orbiting the Red Sun, it was too far away to be a border planet, but not nearly far away enough to sit on the rim, and therefore was in an odd position of being neither; it was also, therefore, either overlooked or forgotten by both those in the core, and those outside. Mostly uninhabitable except for an area of about twenty kilometres, in which fresh water and fertile soil could be found, possibly the best in that particular area, it was home to exactly twenty-nine people. Outcasts in their own little way, yet a community that was so tight-knit they might as well have been family, the twenty-nine people lived simple lives.

Nobody ever really talked about how they ended up on Binan. Most of the people there had either been there seemingly forever, or had turned up one day, fitting right in and generally being accepted as ‘one-of-them’. Not all had lost family in the war, although it was safe to say that none of them had been unaffected by it. It was an unspoken rule that questions about pasts were not asked, nor discussed; if someone shared, it was their prerogative, and nothing else.

The governor of the town — if a handful of odds and ends of people could be considered a town — also doubled as the restaurant cum bar cum visitor lodging owner, and was so relaxed about everything that nobody even really remembered he was the governor at times. He was, quite simply, one of them. Binan had no jail, nor need for a sheriff. Crime was non-existent, with only an occasional dispute breaking out between couples or neighbours. These were usually resolved over a beer or a meal, and the most violent crime that had ever taken place was over ten years ago, when a couple of teenagers had broken into the general store in the middle of the night, and the owner had chased them out half-naked, throwing tin cans at them.

By the next evening, it had become something of a tall tale that nobody believed, until the two teens stepped forward to apologise, much to roaring laughter from everyone, general store owner included.

Nobody, not even the oldest living resident, knows quite how or when Binan was first inhabited. Some of the elderly — of which there are only four, mirroring the number of children there are — can remember a time when there were fewer houses, and half the population, but even then there were people, and there was life. And, as they’d heard somewhere before, where there was life, there was hope.

That was what Binan was, to the motley group of people that called it home: hope. It was a home, a family, a place to belong. Exactly like its name, it was bìnàn suǒ — refuge, sanctuary, asylum, a safe haven.

Eden Ming had been living on Binan for nearly ten years now; he’d found his way there when he was sixteen, just as the war was drawing to a close. His parents had been killed two years earlier. Caught in the crossfire, he’d been told. They hadn’t chosen a side, hadn’t been brave enough to fight, nor courageous enough to voice their support of the Alliance. They had been hard working civilians on a rim planet that was now uninhabitable. His old planet had been a casualty of the war, the alliance had said, along with half-hearted apologies. It had been aired to everyone, after the war ended, the list of planets they’d destroyed, as though it was the planet itself that had mattered.

No, Eden hadn’t lost a planet. He’d lost a home. He’d lost his parents, when at fourteen they shoved him onto a vessel that had stopped to refuel, promising him they’d be on the next one out and would meet with him. There hadn’t been a next one; the planet had exploded a few hours later, shot by the Alliance because it had been a hidey-hole for some Browncoats. Eden had never seen one, personally, but if the Alliance had said so, who was he to contradict them?

He’d floated around space for a couple years, too young to be of much value, too old to be adopted by anyone — not that anyone was even adopting, not with the war going on — working odd jobs here and there to try and earn his keep. Not skilled in anything in particular, it was difficult, but he made do with what he had. He worked for Browncoats and Alliance members, treasure hunters and shady crews, good guys and bad guys and everything in between. Mostly, though, he kept to himself, not having any time or space to mourn the death of his parents. To stop moving long enough to cry would mean his death.

Somehow, he’d ended up on Binansuo. How, he could never quite remember. Sometimes he thinks it was with a Browncoat crew, seeking refuge for a night. Sometimes he believes it was on an Alliance ship, looking for supplies. Sometimes, he recalls being given a job offer on another planet by a farmhand on Binan. The townsfolk say different. They tell him with utmost certainty that it was Binan itself, calling him. That it didn’t matter how he got there; all that mattered was that he had come home, even if it hadn’t been a home he knew existed.

And they were right. Binan was a world of misfits, of the broken put back together, of those who were still missing pieces. He was one of those. Had been since he watched from the window of a small ship whose captain his parents had bribed to take him to safety as the place he had grown up in blew up, his parents with it. But on Binan, he’d found home again.

It wasn’t a big place. The doctor’s house was also his office, and the school was where the headmaster and his wife stayed. The office for the stable that housed the four horses they had — communal, so anyone who wanted to use them to ride out to either the livestock farm or the gardens could — was also where the owner slept. There was a small swimming pond near the houses for the children and a common well for drinking water. They grew their own produce and livestock, and got whatever else they needed from ships that came by.

There was no money used here; things were bartered and exchanged with foreigners. ‘You don’t sell to family’, however, was a principle he soon learnt. Everyone contributed, and everyone gained. However Eden had arrived, he had known almost for certain once he landed that he wasn’t going to leave. At first, they had him in the general store, just while he settled in. Then, they tried him on the livestock farm, but the scrawny, shy boy of sixteen fared no better there than he would have on a battlefield, and he was soon firmly but politely told that he was only creating more work for them.

And then they had sent him out to the gardens, a whole three kilometres away from town, to help Cierra. She was an elderly lady of about sixty, and when Eden saw the disorganised patches and half-wilted vegetables, something inside him clicked and, without a word, he set to work. By the end of the month it was clear that, if there was such a thing as having a green thumb, Eden didn’t have it; he was green. The garden thrived under his careful and methodical watch, and Cierra retired quite happily, moving into the house with the other elderly folk back in town.

The solitude never bothered Eden. In fact, he rather enjoyed it, and as time went by he slowly expanded the garden from one patch to two to three. Stretching it as far as he could, making sure to stay within the invisible borders that determined which soil was fertile and which had no life, Eden’s garden became somewhat of a legend. He grew things nobody else could, oranges and cherries and apples. He even managed to get a single strawberry bush to flourish, and eventually cultivated a second and third bush.

It wasn’t long after he’d settled into his home that they came forward and told him the truth — that, while they were suppliers to the Alliance, they were supporters of Browncoats. It wasn’t a hard concept for Eden to absorb; somehow, much like he had known Binan was home, he’d known that the Browncoats were the ones in the right.

A bunker was built under Eden’s house, one of many around town. The Alliance hardly ever stopped by — it was such a small town that they didn’t fear uprising or rebellion — and Browncoats often showed up to find a place to rest, or restock. Eden’s life soon became routine. His mornings, afternoons, and evenings were spent out in the garden, tending to plants and trees and vegetables. Sometimes, he would pop by town for a cup of tea with friends, or to gather things he needed. Once every two weeks, someone would come by and he’d load up his freshest produce, and they’d bring it out to the main town, and their local pilot would fly it out to the Alliance. Sometimes he went with them, when he wanted to see what was out there, or if he needed to buy more seeds.

Every-so-often, a Browncoat ship would swing by, and Eden would pick some of his best fruits and vegetables for them. It had long since been decided — all without anyone ever saying anything — that it was either his place or the livestock farm where any Browncoats would stay. It was further out from town, and if the Alliance decided to pop by unannounced, there would be more time to get them into hiding.

Life was simple; life was good; life was complete.


**********


It was a humid afternoon, a few weeks after his twenty-sixth birthday, and Eden’s radio had buzzed, letting him know a group of Browncoats were on their way. Almost absentmindedly, he glanced around the patch he was in. Cabbage stared back at him, and automatically he reached out towards the biggest one, gently prying it out of the ground and brushing off any soil stuck on it. Carefully, respectfully, he placed it in the basket beside him, then moved down to the carrot patch, a few rows down, and pulled up three of those.

In the distance, the cloud of dust — horses, he knew — was growing bigger, and Eden pushed himself to be a tad faster in collecting the other stuff. The Browncoats that were coming were in luck; his onions had turned out perfectly this time round, and he pulled out a small one to add to the basket. Three ingredients weren’t much, but hopefully the fresh food would be a welcomed treat for them.

By the time he got back to his house, the horses had arrived, and Eden smiled a slightly warmer-than-usual smile at one of them. He wasn’t good with strangers, not usually, but the man — Ravi, if he wasn’t mistaken; he never asked for names. It was too dangerous — was someone who’d been by a few times before, and he recognised him.

No words were exchanged as Eden led them to the house. It was safer if they didn’t talk, although sometimes there were some that craved the human contact. Those Eden humoured, making as much small talk as he could manage. He let them guide it. So far, he’d only spoken to Ravi a couple times, about generic stuff like what was in their food or if he was comfortable with the accommodation.

He led them into the house, a bunch of five people, some he recognised, some he didn't. Crews changed often. He’d learnt pretty quickly not to ask where certain people went; it was better that he didn’t know how they died. Showing them their rooms, he gave them the privacy they needed to do their own thing, before heading to the kitchen. They would be hungry; they usually were. He was halfway cutting up the cabbage when his radio buzzed twice, and the sound of bells met his ears.

The knife he was holding fell with a thud as Eden bolted from the room and back over to where the Browncoats were. “Alliance,” he said. “Take y-your things. Follow m-me.” There was no argument or dally, and Eden moved to one of the walls, pushed a simple painting aside, and then put his hand at a specific location, pushing. The tile moved back, and the sound of grinding filled the room as a trap door in the floor opened up. “Down here. Go. Quickly. I’ll come back when… S-Soon. I’ll be back s-soon. When it’s s-safe.”

He watched them go down, and then reversed the action, putting back the painting and pulling a rug over the spot the trap door was. Taking a few breaths to calm himself, he moved back out to the kitchen, and continued cutting the cabbage, like nothing was out of the ordinary.

Because it was, he told himself, mentally, as he worked. There was nothing unusual about his day. He was just preparing lunch, as he usually did. He wanted to work longer the following day, so he was making more he could freeze and just reheat in the morning. That’s all. Nothing unusual at a—

There was a knock at his door. Even though he’d expected it, he still jumped. Carefully putting down the knife this time, he wiped his hands on his apron and walked over to the front door. Outside stood the governor and two Alliance members, identifiable by their uniform.

“M-may I help y-you?” Eden asked, his usual stammer not bothering the Alliance. It was probably in his file, that he stammered. The first few times they’d shown up for ‘routine inspections’, they’d grilled him over it, asked him if he was hiding anything. Thankfully, there had been no Browncoats then, and Eden had looked them in the eye and told them no.

“Routine inspection,” one of them said, and Eden smiled and nodded. It always was.

The next half an hour was spent taking them around his gardens, pointing out different things and answering questions about his produce. They left with a box of things as a gift from him to them, as always. Call it a bribe, call it a present, call it whatever you wanted; if it meant they wouldn’t come back until the next year, Eden would’ve given up half his garden.

He stood at his kitchen window and watched them leave, the cloud growing smaller. They would visit the farm next, before leaving. But that didn’t mean they wouldn’t come back, and for the time being, he wasn’t going to take any chances. Going back to the garden, he quickly grabbed a handful of different fruits, then moved back to the house, locked the doors, and opened the trapdoor.

Walking down, it took him a moment to adjust to the dim light. It wasn’t a huge room, but it was comfortable enough for five of them, with blankets and pillows, and a supply of water. It wasn’t a lot, but it would last them the night.

“S-sorry about that. They… uhm, come once a y-year to check on… on the garden and stuff. It’s… Nothing to worry about. But… But just to be s-safe, uhm, y-you’re gonna have to… uhm, s-spend the night here. It’s not s-safe to let y-you out. Yet. Tomorrow. Uhm.” He paused, putting down the basket of fruits he was holding. “There’s s-some… fresh fruits for y-you. All real… I don’t know if they’re s-sweet but…” He trailed off, then shook his head. “There are only two cherries each. I’m s-sorry, it’s not a lot. But the Alliance… Anyway. There’s an apple each. And a couple oranges y-you can s-share… The trees didn’t do s-so well this y-year… Anyway, enjoy. I’ll come back s-soon with s-some hot food for you.”

He left, cussing at his awkwardness, and returned to the kitchen. An hour later, he came back, a pot of steaming stew and bowls on a tray. “I’ll leave it here for y-you. It’s uhm, not a lot, but… There’s fried chicken here. Not a lot, I’m s-sorry. It’s all I had on me… But it’s real, and fresh, and it’ll keep y-you warm… feed y-you up… The pot’s got uhm, vegetable s-stew. It’s just cabbage and uhm, onion and carrot, not a lot, but… It’s all fresh and I grew them m-myself, and I know it’s good… I’m s-sorry it’s not m-much… But uhm, enjoy.”

He rubbed the back of his neck, self-conscious, and glanced around at the people there. If only he could give them more, if only he had more… But his all would have to do for now.

_________________________________________________

Neutral/Somewhat Good || Sixteen || Healing (plant based)
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人生有希望 (Rénshēng You Xīwàng) [Arden AU#4]
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