Raize Darkstone was born to a small Sekan Clan in the Lower Cataracts in the city of Sophia on the planet of Illiyun. For fourteen years, he was raised communally with the other minors of his community, taught the basic education to which every person is entitled. He proved to have a natural gift for engineering and understanding how things work, and spent much of his free time tinkering with whatever machinery he could get his hands on. Soon after his 14th birthday, Raize was pledged to a Clan in Anshan as part of a diversity exchange. While he was sad to have to leave his kinsmen, Anshan would be a welcome change from the Lower Cataracts and the more-than-occasional harassment from Hellions.
The day of the diversity exchange occurred during a Sekan gathering and trade fair in Anshan. Many vendors and craftsmen were peddling wares, Deltans and other locals gathered, and even a few Nejmeh arrived in their ships to trade. It was one of these Nejmeh ships which drew Raize’s attention. While nobody was watching, Raize wandered into the cargo bay of one of these ships. Inside the bay he found a pair of run-down strike craft and his curiosity took hold of him. He began to take apart one of the thrusters of one craft, inspecting the components and eventually finding some fried parts. He noticed a crate nearby and began sifting through it, looking for something he could use to try and get the machine working. He replaced the components, and continued on like this for nearly an hour.
It wasn’t until Raize was about to connect the final electrical wires that he noticed the Nejmeh standing in the cargo bay, watching him silently. He stood well over six feet tall, and wore an eye-patch over his right eye. It was clear from his posture and expression that this man was the owner of the ship Raize was trespassing in. Realizing what he had done over the course of the last hour, Raize dropped everything he was doing and began bowing and apologizing profusely to the man and asking forgiveness.
The man held a hand up to quiet the boy. He then simply asked, “Does it work?”
Stunned by the man’s reaction, Raize replied “I-I think so…”, to which the man responded, “Show me.”
Raize moved back over to the thruster engine and connected the wiring. He then moved over to the cockpit of the craft and attempted to power it up. The thrusters hummed to life and held strong. With an excited smile, Raize looked back to the man, who nodded and said, “Very good. You seem to be quite skilled with machinery. I could use someone with skills like that.” As Raize climbed out of the cockpit and walked over to the man, he continued. “Tell me, young man…Do you yearn to see the stars beyond this world? I can take you away from here, in this ship. You can work on the machinery all you like, and I can teach you so much more.”
The offer shocked Raize. “I would be honored, sir, but I am pledged to an Anshan Clan in exchange for one of their own to my old home Sophia Clan. As I am a minor, I cannot go without their blessings.”
“You may call me Charles, young man. And as I understand it, we are in a place of trade, which means your exchange may be substituted with enough material goods. I’m certain we can find an agreement benefiting all parties involved.”
For the next four years, Raize served as apprentice to Charles Maeka aboard his ship, the Urania’s Mirror. Charles also had an adoptive son, a boy named Zhair. Together, the trio wandered the stellar systems, delivering and trading goods throughout every governing body but the Central Collective. Charles taught Raize all manner of things, from the basics of piloting to cooking. Charles was also quite the storyteller and historian, recanting centuries-old tales from Earth or telling tales of the Reconquista and the War of Ascension that Charles had gathered from his travels. Charles even oversaw Raize’s completion of repairs of the two strike-craft stowed in the cargo hold and even allowed Raize to use the one he had been repairing when they first met.
Zhair became like a brother to Raize, as the two were only four years apart in age. However, if Raize could be likened to ice, Zhair was fire. An extremely happy, energetic child, Zhair was almost as much responsible for the problems on the ship as he was for the solutions. Zhair and Raize often got into fights and arguments over little things, but when put to task by Charles the pair worked surprisingly well together.
Raize decided to enter the military shortly after his 18th birthday. Since he was a spacefarer and had no official home system since the age of 14, Raize chose to enlist in the military of the Serene Enclave of the Virgin Star. Their neutrality meant he would not be likely to face any major issues with other governments, and Raize hoped he could be attached to a good engineering corps, possibly giving him a chance to study jump gate tech up close. His enlistment meant required retrograde enhancement, as typical Sekan physiology was not sufficient for a modern soldier. Raize elected to undergo " Martialis " bio-enhancement, as he doesn’t particularly trust cybernetic augmentation or nanotech flowing through him, a holdout of his Sekan origins.
For the next three years, Raize served on several Engineering detachments as part of the VSF. When Raize was finally given the opportunity to request a posting, he had only one thought on his mind: Home. Raize messaged Charles stating he wanted to come home and was being given the opportunity to select a transfer. Charles reply was brief but direct, and contained an attached personnel liaison request that Raize was to send to a specified officer, one Charles had connections with. Raize’s submission was pushed through the same day, and by morning Raize was heading back to Urania’s Mirror in a civilian craft headed for Rimward space. Once he reached the system the Mirror was in, he took a private solo civilian craft to the site.
What Raize arrived to was not an open welcome, but the aftermath of a battle. Urania’s Mirror was heavily damaged, and another craft was attached, likely a boarding crew. Raize sneaked his craft over to an external service entry hatch and boarded the Mirror from there. From within the service tunnels Raize made his way through the ship until he overheard unfamiliar voices. He peeked out from another hatch and spotted two men who could only be fittingly described in one word: Hellions. Between Raize’s intimate knowledge of the ship layout and his military training, they stood no chance. They were dead before they hit the ground and never even let off a single shot. Raize began clearing out individual Hellions as he made his way to the bridge. If Charles and Zhair were going to hold up anywhere, it would be there.
Raize continued through the service shafts to the bridge. When he finally made it there, his eyes widened. Standing in the middle of the bridge was Zhair with a ring of Hellion corpses around him, and a line of several more leading out the bridge door into the hall. Zhair appeared to be in a trance, which he snapped out of when Raize called out to him. He asked Zhair where Charles was, to which Zhair began to well with tears, and he pointed to Charles’ body sitting along the far wall. Raize rushed over to him and quickly examined him to see if he was still alive. Charles was barely breathing and unconscious, shot in several places, and had lost most of his blood. Zhair came over and kneeled, sobbing and crying. He explained that they got a hailing call matching the signature Raize used to contact yesterday, so they assumed it was him approaching on the ship. Instead the Hellions showed up, blasted the ship until it was disabled, then boarded. Zhair continued, stating that once they took the bridge they demanded something to Charles and threatened to kill Zhair, but Charles jumped into the line of fire, shielding Zhair from the damage. Something inside Zhair snapped, and he blacked out. He came to when Raize called out to him and he saw all the dead Hellions.
Charles awoke at that moment. His eyes looked upon Zhair, then upon Raize. A smirk formed on his lips, and he whispered, “Did it work?” The two looked at each other, then at Charles, and nodded, unsure exactly to what Charles was referring. With a sigh, Charles smiled, his eyes closing, and he said, “Then my time has ended. I leave it all to the two of you, as my Testament.”
It has been three years since Charles died. Raize and Zhair have spent the majority of the time traveling in and around Delta Pavonis and the Federal Commonwealth section of space, taking odd jobs and deliveries but only really doing enough to get by, scavenging whenever they didn’t have the money for what they needed.
It would take something big to bring back the motivation and spark that Raize had the day he first boarded this ship and met Charles.