(Daddy’s Place, Kora Sila Station, in orbit above Kinad III, Kinad System)
The station had only just been completed, mostly thanks to the automated construction bots the industrial ships had churned out while they harvested the resources of the local asteroid belt. Like most stations on the fringes of ‘civilized’ space, there was a frontier town feel to it, which partly explained why everyone was armed, even the kid entertaining the crowd with his blues harmonica skills up on the stage. Law and order was what you could secure for yourself, so long as you didn’t break one of the rules. This was a frontier town, but it was a Sanctuary frontier town.
Less than a year after the end of the Aprico War, Sanctuary, flush from the spoils of destroying a galactic megacorporation, began pushing outwards, sending scouts through the warpgates leading away from Earth. The Kinad System was a single jump from Sanctuary, and had been one of the first systems scanned by the scouts.
On its own, Kinad III was in the ‘barely habitable’ range for humans. Sure, the gravity was about right, and the temperature and oxygen levels were within acceptable limits, but there were pretty high concentrations of chlorine in the atmosphere, which was a bad thing for humans, and most metal, at that. But set up as an altar in the middle of the primary settlement on the planet below was an engraved obsidian plinth, with a sword stuck in it up to the hilt. The sword, one of a set of forty-eight, pulsed power into the atmosphere, creating a slowly expanding dome that detoxified the air in a two-mile radius. That was enough for a settlement to form, but that radius had expanded over time, as the secondary effects of the enchantment became clear.
The dome transfigured toxic materials and turned them into a series of elements that humans needed for a comfortable life. As the constant winds moved through Kidana City, the toxic materials fed the change, and helped slowly convert the atmosphere to something more Earth-like. It was calculated that, so long as someone helped monitor the situation and the settlers bound themselves to the artifact to help replenish the mana it used, Kinad III would be fully terraformed in less than a decade.
None of that mattered much up here on Kora Sila, of course, and especially not at Daddy’s Place, the equivalent of a frontier saloon here on this station. What mattered here was that the air was clean, people had jobs, and there were booze and companionship available for those who had the coin (or could talk someone into providing coin for them).
Chester Thomas was a recent immigrant to the system, following the first wave of colonists and looking to strike it rich prospecting for certain rare elements that were supposed to be present in increased concentrations on Kinad III (their presence is what caused the chlorine buildup, apparently). He had struck a particularly nice vein today, and came back with high-quality ore, and had already started his celebration with a few drinks.
As he walked back to the bar to get another round, he noticed a woman standing at the bar. Her back was to him, which was just fine in his mind, as she had an ass to die for. Sauntering up to the bar, he placed one hand on the woman’s rear, and leaned in to whisper sweet nothings in her ear. “You’re the hottest piece of tail I’ve seen in weeks, darlin’.” OK, so he wasn’t exactly a ladies’ man, but he wasn’t bad looking, and he had ready cash.
He also had a staggering pain in his nethers as a column of ice rose up between his legs with enough force to send him a foot into the air, before he crumpled to the ground. Fighting back tears in his eyes, he looked up at the woman, who now had a blaster pistol pointed at his forehead. “You’re the third person who’s grabbed my ass tonight, but at least they had the sense to buy me a drink first.”
The bartender, who was also the owner of the bar, sighed as he came over to look down at the man. “Chester, you idiot. Get your ass out of here, and I don’t want to see you back again for a week.” He looked over to the woman, and said, “Let him up, Mel. Chester’s an idiot when he’s drunk, but he’s not all bad.”
The woman sighed, and slipped the pistol back in its holster. “Damnit, Stephen, why do you have to go and ruin my fun?”
“Because you made me name the bar Daddy’s Place, and keep it like that for at least two years.”
“Well you shouldn’t have made that bet.”
Chester blinked, and looked at the two of them. “What, ye’re related?”
The woman looked down at him, and smirked. “Slow on the uptake, aren’t you Chester? Yeah, my brother Stephen here used to be my first mate until he decided to settle down and become a legitimate businessman. Me, I like traveling. Name’s Captain Mollen, or Frosty. Maybe you’ve heard of me?”
To Be Continued?