“People like to think war means something. What can you learn from your opponent? More than you think. Who will master this love? Love might be the wrong word. Let’s admit, without apology, what we do to each other. We know who our enemies are. We know.” -Detail of the Fire, Richard Siken
Before: Using the Earth u was inevitable, people were prepared for it when it happened, and when she finally gave out they moved. They terraformed as many new planets and moons as they could. There were hundreds of them at first, all with different climates, different people and different problems.
More centralized planets formed the Alliance. They considered themselves to be more civilized, more worthy of power over all of these little colonies. All because they were richer, and filled with newer technology.
The outer-planets disagreed with this idea. The way they saw it, it wasn’t fair for an outside government to control them when they didn’t even know their struggles. They didn’t trust a government that wanted to stick its nose into things that they had been handling on their own for years.
People that didn’t welcome the Alliance’s “help” called themselves the Brown Coats (Joe Toye and Bill Guarnere were among this group,) and fought against what the Alliance wanted.
They lost after three years of fighting for their freedom. It left a bitter taste in their mouths, the kind that lingered.
After the Alliance got their way things didn’t get much better for the outer-planets. Most were left dirt poor, trying to make ends meet by farming, trading and owning small shops. The only thing that had changed for them was now, every once in a while they had to answer to a government that wouldn’t give them the help they needed.
Others never went back to living on a planet. They decided they would rather live in space, where the outer-planets couldn’t control their every move. They would rather live on a ship than have their freedom taken away by a government that didn’t know jack about struggling.
After: Joe Toye spent years building up a crew of people he could trust. He pulled them from all over the system, taking some from unsatisfactory situations, others from loving families. He never felt guilty about picking up strays, it was something his mother did often when he was young, and it just felt natural to him. Like it was the one good trait he picked up from her.
Buying Light was based solely on a gut feeling. The second Joe had seen her there was a pull , like she was the home he had been looking for all his life. She was in need of a good wash, a few repairs and a fresh coat of paint, but she stood there like a beacon of hope in his life.
Bill Guarnere, Joe’s best friend and second in command, complained about the ship the second he saw her. And Joe knew he would.
(“It’s a bit… Rundown don’t ya’ think?” He asked, a smile tugging at his lips because he knew somehow Joe would find some luh-suh ship that looked like it wouldn’t even get off the planet, let alone handle well out in space.
Joe just shook his head, trying not to roll his eyes, “Shut up, you haven’t even seen inside her yet. For all you know she’s a beauty on the inside.”
Guarnere did roll his eyes at that, “Yeah, I’m sure she looks better than this inside.”)
Joe and Guarnere had grown up together. Well, together as you could be when you both lived on ranches miles away from each other. Joe was raised by his mom and a few farmhands what she had taken in when he was younger. Guarnere was raised by both his parents, and even helped them raise his two younger sisters. .
Neither of them had much of an education from growing up on an outer-planet with parents that didn’t have money to send their kids to school every day. Not when there was a farm to look after. But they both had a knack for getting into trouble, though their parents thanked God it was never anything too bad.
The older boy, Guarnere, was like a firecracker, and was always willing to back Joe up on anything. It was something that always drew them to each other throughout their childhood. That’s why they ended up going to war together, and lost their legs together.
They were brothers, even if it wasn’t through blood.
Joe never heard a complaint from Guarnere about the pilot he hired.
Frances was a small girl who had a fire in her eyes that made her look hungry, though Joe wasn’t sure what for. Her hair was a mess of black curls that never seemed to stay in the ponytail she tried to keep it in. She had a temper that matched her eyes, and even challenged Guarnere’s.
But she was also sweet, and fell in love with Light as soon as she saw her. Joe trusted her right away based simply on the fact she wore her feelings on her sleeve. There was something brave about doing that, especially in their line of work.
(“ Please call me Fran. Only my mama calls me Frances,” Fran had laughed as she shook Joe’s hand. “Would you rather I call you Joe, Toye or Captain?”
She spoke fast, and it threw Joe off at first. “Toye or Captain. There’s only a few people who call me Joe when they’re not holdin’ a gun to my head.” Fran laughed again at that.)
Part of him knew her and Guarnere would end up together. And he prayed he wouldn’t lose a damn fine pilot if their relationship went sour. What surprised him was when they decided to get married.
And he would never say it to Fran, but sometimes he wishes they hadn’t gotten together at all.
Picking up Ronald Speirs was more of a surprise than anything else.
The man was scary even to Joe, who was used to being the scary one. And he was pretty sure the man was about to kill him and his crew. (If you could call three people a crew.)
But the guy was clearly a talented mercenary, and the men holding them up in that moment really weren’t paying him enough to be doing what he was for them.
(“You’re a damn talented gunner, where’d you learn to shoot like that all the way out here?” Joe asked, trying to ignore Speirs’’ current boss in the hopes that he wouldn’t just kill him right there. “And what are they payin’ you?”
The compliment threw everyone off, and Joe heard Guarnere mutter a warning. That of course he was going to ignore.
“I taught myself,” Speirs sounded like he was trying not to brag, but he had the right to. “They pay me ten percent of everything.”
Joe snorted, rolling his eyes, “Work for me and you’ll get twenty, and your own room.” He said, ignoring the threats from the other gunners.)
Even after Speirs joined the crew he and Joe had their differences. Especially when it came to getting into fights with people they had no business fighting with.
Finding George Luz was part happy accident, part pain in Joe’s ass.
Their first mechanic was always flakey, and even though none of them knew anything about fixing an engine (or most things on the ship for that matter,) they were pretty convinced he was on the same boat. Sure, the first kid was likable, but he wasn’t too great about thinking about things before he did them. Which left the crew in bad situations more often than not.
Joe found Luz one afternoon sitting on the floor tearing apart his ship’s engine, the actual mechanic of his ship nowhere to be found. He was too shocked and confused to even kick him off the ship.
(“I’ve been lookin’ for you for hours where the--” Joe paused, staring down at a kid who he was sure couldn’t be older than 18. The kid had the brightest smile he’d seen in a while, “-- Who the hell are you?”
Luz was up in a flash, dropping the parts he had been toying with, he wiped the greasy from the engine off on his pants before grabbing Joe’s hand to shake it. “George Luz, at your service. You can just call me Luz. Your, uh, mechanic let me in. I don’t know where he went, though,” He shrugged, dropping Joe’s hand before turning back to the engine.
“But I do know, he’s not very good if he couldn’t fix this. It’s an easy catch, even with the extra parts,” Luz gestured around as he spoke, and Joe was sure he hadn’t seen anyone this jittery in his life. “It was a real simple fix, too,” he sat on the floor again, pulling Joe down so he could see what he was talking about. “See, you don’t actually need these two parts. So all I did was take those out and then I took these wires and connected ‘em to this. These two are just there for show, mostly. Some engines need ‘em, but yours sure as hell doesn’t.”)
Luz was a whirlwind of energy, with the messy hair to match. He never knew when to quit, or when to be quiet, but that was what was most endearing about him. His eyes were almost always bright, and even on their worst days he took the time to cheer everyone up.
Joe’s never understood how he does it, but he’s pretty sure Luz keeps the ship running on positivity alone.
Edward “Babe” Heffron was a small, scrappy kid the crew found in the Eavesdown Dock on Persephone. He looked rough, clearly keeping himself alive by picking pockets, and it was just his luck he ran into Light’s crew.
They picked him up just a few months after adding Luz to the crew, which made the two fast friends. Part of it was their closeness in age, and the other part was understanding how scary it can be to just join a crew of strangers who knew so much about each other already.
(“They kid robbed us, Toye.” Speirs was still breathing heavily. After spending what felt like hours chasing Babe through streets and alleys he wasn’t familiar with. He was lucky Guarnere caught him before he was completely lost. They had to drag the kid back to the ship, and he put up a pretty good fight the whole time.
Babe had the decency to look guilty, whether it was because he got caught or not Joe didn’t really care. “Yeah, he did, but you caught him didn’t you?” Plus he’s just a kid.” He rolled his eyes at Speirs frown.
“I promise I’m sorry, please don’t take me to the feds. I don’t have anyone to bail me out, I promise I won’t steal from you again.” Babe spoke fast, sounding desperate. He was clearly scared they would turn him in, or worse.
Guarnere sighed loudly, shaking his head before turning to Babe, “Alright, how about this. You’re a pretty talented thief, especially if my friend here didn’t even feel you grab his credits right out of his pocket,” Babe seemed to preen at that, he’d never had anyone compliment him like that before, “You give us your name, and you can come with us. You’ll get your own room, daily meals all that junk.”
Babe yanked his arm out of Speirs’ girp, and for a second they all got ready for him to run again. Instead he dusted himself off, though it didn’t really help, “I’m Edward… but everyone calls me Babe. What makes you think I want to travel around with all of you on this junky ship?”
“‘Cause I got a feeling you don’t have anywhere else to go ecept back on the streets. You look like you could use a shower and some clean clothes.” Bill shrugged, “You don’t gotta come with us, though.”)
In the end, Babe decided to stay, because even though the ship looked like it could fall out of the sky at any moment, it was better than going back to sleep on the streets of Persephone. And no one had offered him a home since his mother died two years ago.
Joe trusted Bill’s judgement on the kid, and he knew if anything bad did happen, Bill would take the blame.
Joe loves his pain in the ass, ragtag family. They’re an odd group, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
He would do anything for them, and knows that in the long run they would do the same. They’ve all stuck together through some of the hardest times, and some of the easiest.
Joe knows that if it came down to it, he can trust any of them with his life.