We gather in the shadow of a great tragedy, in remembrance of those who died at the hands of a warmonger. Hundreds of thousands died in the Malkalen disaster, that much is a matter of public record. Innocent baseliner employees of the Ishukone corporation, largely, going about their daily lives in this station.
One hears ‘One hundred thousand’ and the tendency is to think of it simply as a number. Rather, it is countless precious and irreplaceable experiences. People in love. Parents whose children will never see them again. Children whose parents will never see them again. Workers meeting for an after work drink or dumplings or a bowl of soup. People working out. Part of the Wandering Saint hit a gym. Part of it hit a Kendu pitch. Every one of those hundred thousand people is a story, and most of those stories will never be told.
I have one story though.
Taku Izawa was an artist. According to records, he was born around YC80, on Vattuolen V. His parents were citizens of the Sukuuvestaa Corporation. His father, Masuji Izawa worked for the Peace and Order Unit in logistics. His mother, Setsuko Izawa, was a civil engineer for Sukuuvestaa. As far as I can determine, her role was to stress test internal station doors against unexpected atmosphere loss.
But young Tak, as he was known, seemed cut out for a different destiny. Fortune had gifted him artistic talent. It was spotted in his youth and encouraged by his tutors. I am told he had a particular flair for colours. One of his early renderings of the Vattuolen night sky is still on file and for a seven year old to capture colours in the way young Tak could is remarkable. I am told that Tak also enjoyed hiking, collecting insects, particularly butterflies, and poetry. He liked the old masters of Caldari Prime and their poems that captured the change in seasons and the mountains and the feel of the cold rain.
Tak’s journey brought him into the employment of the Ishukone Corporation, in Vasala. Not far from where he grew up. The Ishukone Corporation hires countless researchers and scientists and engineers and fabricators. And also artists. Tak’s first brief was in branding, redesigning marketing material for the Harpy. Though I doubt that this work made the best use of Tak’s amazing eye for colour, in his spare time he still produced traditional paintings using oils. His paintings were often landscapes of his homeworld, of mountains and waterfalls and of slow sluggish rivers. No physical copies of his artwork survived the disaster, but we have some digital copies, and also several canvases that he sent home to his parents.
Tak proved himself a useful member of the design team and after a few years in Vasala, his expertise saw him moved to Malkalen.
It was here in Malkalen that Tak met Annikki.
Annikki Sala was born on Vasala III, which the residents call Ilma. She was a citizen of the Ishukone Corporation. Her mother was Venla Sala, a bioengineer and medic. Her father was Seppo Sala, an inventor, who designed a number of key components for Ishukone designed ship parts.
Annikki was a tinker as a child. She took apart any machine she could find just to put it back together. She had an obsessive desire to see how the world worked. One remembrance of her fathers was the time she brought back a live sammak, a amphibious creature native to Ilma. Not wishing to hurt the creature while she took a look at it, she stunned it with some alcohol, and vivisected it to see how it all worked. She then put everything back the way she found it and sewed the sammak back up to release it back into the wild. But, as you may expect, the sammak had died. Annikki cried for a week in guilt over what she had done and refused to eat.
From that point forward, Annikki only tinkered with machines. She endeavoured to build things to preserve life, to make people’s lives happier. She came to Malkalen two years before the incident, to work on a number of high-end life support technologies.
She met Tak at a dinner dance for new employees. They hit it off, they danced. Both were beautifully awkward, their surviving friends say. Their first touches were a sweet, fragile thing. Tak told his mother the next day that he’d met the woman he would marry.
They were scheduled to be married in the summer on Ilma, by a lakeside that Anniki loved. There would have been flowers, and as night fell the newlyweds and their guests would have been serenaded by the broad low croaks of the sammak from the lake’s edge.
Instead, they were both while eating dinner together in their quarters when the Wandering Saint ploughed into the station. Their story ended there, along with many many others. An ocean of lost stories, of lakeside weddings that will never happen.
We do not recall this disaster to place blame. Blame is why it happened in the first place. Blame only leads to more pointless waste. No good came of the Wandering Saint only more evil. The only people who benefitted from the incident were the warmongers and their industrial complexes.
We gather here for a chance at redemption, not for blame. Another story ended here in Malkalen, another redemption stopped short. Otro Gariushi was killed here, the man who brought Ishukone out of decline and gave us our great mission.
Gariushi-haan’s story is one of redemption. It is a matter of public record that he had a chequered past to say the least. But given the chance to use his talents for the betterment of the State and of humanity as a whole, he seized the opportunity. His voice was a voice of reason in a time of great madness. And like many such voices, it was silenced.
Gariushi-haan’s redemption is a message - if you too are one who takes rather than gives, who poisons rather than heals, who hinders rather than serves, then the hope for redemption is not lost to you. The story of the Ishukone corporation is of redemption for all for the betterment of humanity.
It is in that light that we in Ishukone-Raata stand here today, in remembrance of Malkalen and of those voices silenced, those artists who will never paint again, and those weddings by the lakeside which will never ever happen.