Dad told me to stay away from the Reunification Commission. The service had cost him a friend, killed for nothing on a distant planet. Why Mom hated RuComm wasn’t clear. Her past was shrouded in secrets, half-truths and lies. I’d been raised on them, never sure what to believe. So I defied them and hitched a ride on a RuComm starship bound for Bodens Gate, central depot for Union traffic to the more distant worlds. It was there that my dad’s true love had died and I was born, and where I hoped the sprawling slum called the Warrens might whisper the truth to me from its violent, garbage lined streets. And the smell. Did I mention the smell? Why does truth hide from me in garbage? “Truth is a journey, Mala Dusa,” Father Ryczek told me, “the path between where you are and home.” I guess my path leads through the smells of sewage and burning trash. And Mala Dusa? It means Little Soul in the language of one of the murderous clans of the Warrens. A cute name for a little girl, but not for a sixteen year old woman. Maybe I’ll change it while I’m on this journey to something simple and common, like Joan.