Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

My world is Kayden, and it is orbited by a plethora of satellites with deadly defensive natures that all look really pretty from the ground. In higher orbit, space stations and roving warships patrol like sharks at idle. No ship matches it’s fellows in anything bar a small, radiant ‘K’ sent into a single panel. It’s about the size of a human child’s handprint, and that’s deliberate, because it’s the same size as his handprint.

Kayden was born into a prosperous merchant family and was expected to eventually fulfil some minor role, being fourth son. He lived six years of privilege before the family fortunes took a tumble at the hands of greedy investors. It’s a tale told so many times since man left Earth, and identical in many ways to all the others. Except for the details. The particular detail that changed this universe was Kayden being sold by his mother. He brought in a lot of money. He was told it was his purpose, that he had done well. He smiled through the tears as his new owners closed the door.

What happened to Kayden in the intervening three years can only be suspected. When Vealoris, my great-grandfather, found him, he was vomiting parts of himself into the dust of the partially-terraformed planet that would eventually bear his name. Grandfather noted that he eased Kayden’s hurts as best he could, but the damage was too much for the wasted body. Barely three months after Nursery Guardian Vealoris found him again, Kayden went on to a place where children could never be chattels.

That is why grandfather bought this world. He specified the last terraforming stages, the fauna levels and hazard distribution. Then he started rescuing children. After a while, he extended that to unwanted companion fauna as well. He said that while this place existed, no child would be without a place to be safe and loved, among those who would understand without question. All that on a world that is best described as paradise. You can sleep under the stars for most of the year. Nothing native is dangerous to the waifs and strays from a galaxy of civilisations with ancient, common problems.

Some of those first generation rescues stayed on. Some went to the stars. A few made fortunes. That trend continued in the second generation, and so on. And it all comes back to Kayden.

Slavers and orbital pimps fear K-ships. Their crews are motivated in ways that nothing can deter. Former adoptees of Kayden can call on K-ships too. It makes their businesses damn-near bandit proof.

But there’s no empire building going on. We are a single, resilient network dedicated to a simple, too-often-neglected purpose. That is more than enough.

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