Hanako's Heart - Tomek Piorkowski
And thus this narrative begins long after an ending, but throughout this tale it shall be
apparent that the history that ended so long ago permeates this one. And the events of
this history shall, no doubt, influence another beginning, long after this history has ended.
The history of one happening cannot happen in isolation of what preceded it or what shall
follow it as a consequence. There is always a context.
So when does this history start? What number of calendar shall we assign to this
beginning? What good are calendars? - every time some new prophet comes up, with his
own fantastic version of an Almighty Divine, his followers promptly reset the calendar to
zero, ensuring that time shall never ever grow too old in years. And as for years, shall we
use Earth years? Earth has become an insignificant planet, good only for ones interested
in buying slaves to work on factory planets and in finding Abrahamic prophets. There
are now various years of more significant orbits.
But in this beginning there are in fact several calendars in use, by the various space
faring groups, each with their own version of a year. Attempts at introducing a universal
calendar have failed, since they invariably failed in adjusting to local needs. Yet one
achievement was made, in that the various types of years now approximated one another
Still, there was this vexing problem of when to pin the year zero. On Earth, this was
solved by firmly placing the pin on the death or birth or life of religious figures; but in
colonised space, in which religion multiplied and mutated into an uncountable number of
forms, there are far too many holy men to choose from.
So, as in the days of the ancient, prophet-despising Hellenes, time was measured from
the last significant political event, and in this narrative, that event occurred ten years ago:
an ending, a zero-causing event. It was the siege and final fall of the nation of Old Italy
to the Corporation.
Old Italy, so named because those people were proud of upholding ancient Italian
traditions, had been the hegemon of the colonised galaxy. With defeat, the hegemony of
a vast interstellar empire went to the leader of the Corporation, the Chief Executive
Officer Czerwon 2. It was not only a changing of masters, but the spiritual forces
governing the galaxy had changed. It was the victory of quantity over quality, of factory
over workmanship, of capitalism over dignity.
Yet the Corporation, exhausted from the war against the Old Italians, was not strong
enough to assert its control over the galaxy. Even though ten years have passed after the
fall of Old Italy, Free Traders still hold out in their Zone, unfearing pirates sail the
starscapes and various territories are controlled, not by the CEO Czerwon, but by
nominal allies, warlords but referred to as the shareholders. There are many who prefer
the new order, as well as many who preferred the old ways and are the Corporation's
enemies - of course, the greatest numbers belong to the apathetic, as has always been the
case throughout history.
We now have our zero, our context – the fall of Old Italy - the ending before our
beginning; and out of this beginning shall arise a new ending. Ever as history goes on,
calendars reset due to some occurrence or other, to new zeros. Such a resetting will occur
in this narrative.
Now let's narrow the context, to a place aboard a spacestation in a territory under the
control of Shareholder Tang Yu-lin, where an out of work smuggler is about to walk into