Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

The fist that passes over my noggin ain’t much smaller than my skull. The knuckles are ridged with bony plates. I see them facts register with the moke who was threatenin’ me just before his face disappears from view with a sound like a sledgehammer hitting a door.

“Boo.” Jared’s voice is deep; sounds amused. He’s nine-foot eight barefoot, and I’ve seen him toss cars like they was apples. His mama and I have no idea what his papa was, except a whole lot more than the goodfella from Marsville he claimed to be.

Jared plucks a serviette from the counter and wipes his fist: “Uncle Roy, why do they keep coming back?”

I flick a glance at Wanda, Jared’s mum. She nods. True story time.

“Long time ago, we came here from a place called Little Italy. Back then, Earth was a hellhole that we swore this new place would never become. We had our guilds and our bosses, our made men and cradle-to-grave. We could make a new world.”

“Mum’s a made man, isn’t she?”

Listen to him! No accent. Crisp English. I love this kid.

“She is, Jared. Me, too.”

“What about me?”

“I don’t think there’s a fool left in this system who’d consider you anything else. They call you ‘Walking Omerta’, you know that?”

“I only do what I learned from you: trust in blood. Everyone else, cash or obligation.”

There’s no arrogance to him. Just a purity and clarity I ain’t seen since Sister Maria left us, God rest her. He scares me more than she ever did, but in a good way.

“You do right by everyone, Jared, no mistakin’ that. Now, after our forefathers got here, we had an outbreak of politics. Shouldn’t have happened, but little men and big rewards breeds cowards and liars. End result is the set-up we have now: whole damn planet mortgaged to the Federati so lily-livered scum can keep their hold on powers the families rightly deserve. We’ll get ‘em back, just need someone we can all get behind. Politics is insidious. Softens the spine, divides familia. We need someone to lift us out of the muck, so we can see the games for what they are; realise the lies that keep us at each other’s throats.”

I watch my adoptive nephew work out a whole lot from the brief I given him. This kid’s gonna be gold.

“Those are Federati stooges that keep coming, aren’t they?”

“Yeah, Jared. They think you’re gonna be the man to lead us.”

“I’m a bit more than a man, Uncle Roy. You know that.”

Wanda bursts out laughing: “You’re Jared Montana. Named for history: both past and future. The fact that no familia can claim you is what makes you strong.”

“That’s why you and Uncle Roy never take shelter, and we spend the holidays with a different familia each year. No favours. No honour debts. Extended Omerta.”

The kid gets it! I see tears in Wanda’s eyes.

“Jared, you want to come with me on my next job? Meet some made men without family, people your mum and I think you should know.”

“The start of our familia. Building from clean ground to take the stars.”

Dammit. Kid started me cryin’ with that line.