It was a particularly bad day to be in Prom. Not that the spaceport ever had 'good days,' but today was especially rough. It wasn't quite lunchtime, and already there were four bodies. A low-life con man on the run from the Balterenn system ended up cornered in the marketplace by the bounty hunter on his tail. The thug made it out, putting down the hunter, two travelers refueling their ship and a local produce vendor. Nobody saw where he'd gone, and nobody much cared. On a bustling day like today, the local businesses couldn't afford to take a break. There had been a minute or two of confusion and shock following the shootout, mostly from those passing through, but soon the merchants were yelling their wares, and all returned to normal. Two of the other merchants pulled the bodies out of the walkways and dumped them in corners. Corpses were bad for business.
Some of the travelers didn't know the reputation of the place, and even those who did had no idea just how much of a hellhole it was. Local Law had given up on the town almost four years ago. The last two Chief Enforcers had quit the post in fear of assassination. This was no place for a family man, even with hundreds of soldiers under their command. The best the law could do was to put warning signs up in the atmosphere telling travelers to be careful or simply avoid the place altogether. Some, however, had made their lives here, running the refueling stations, bars, brothels, or the produce stands in the marketplace. These things were hard to come by on a dead rock and one could make a living shipping them in from other worlds. People need to eat when they have four days to spend drinking and playing cards until their next job. The street merchants made the closest to an honest living that you could get in such a rotten town. If you don't become an innocent bystander, that is.
Saeera Baillien sat at a corner table at the Red Prince Tavern, sipping a Ten Cancha and watching the new broadcast on the video screens. It was night-time in Siet, and the streets were filled with thousands waiting for the Incorporation festival. Two hundred years of war, she thought. Billions slaughtered, and this is the only way these people's lives changed. They get fireworks once a year. She stared back into her drink and swirled it around in the glass. She'd been waiting at least an hour, and her man wasn't here yet. Somewhere in the other room, a glass fell and shattered, and the bar went silent. Saeera stood up and reached for her gun. She waited a moment for any sign of a brawl, but after a few moments, the bar calmed and the dull hum of conversation resumed. Saeera sat down. The door on the far side of the room swung open. Van Guiscard. It was her man.
Van was not suited to Prom. He was always one to back down from a fight, his life the one and only thing more important to him than money. He scratched his nose and stood in the doorway, scanning the room. He saw Saeera in the corner and made his way through the room towards her table. He looked down at her, expecting a greeting, but received only a glare. He shrugged at her, confused.
"Do you have to be so obvious?" Saeera asked him.
"What do you mean?"
"That you're looking for someone?"
"What, nobody here knows us, we could be just...on a date?." His attempt to be cute was unsuccessful.
"Sit down." she snapped. Van slumped down into the wooden chair. He noticed the scar on Saeera's face, running from the corner of her mouth up to her ear.
"Is that new?" he asked, dragging his finger up his cheek. She ignored the question.
"Where is it?" She was getting impatient.
"What's your deal Sae-" Saeera leaned in and slammed a fist on the table.
"I'm not here to talk, Van. I'm here to do business. I paid you good money to get me that code, not for the goddamn conversation."
"Ok fine." Van sat forward, reached into his pocket, pulled out a black card and gave it to to Saeera. She took a small device out of her jacket pocket and inserted the card. After a series of beeps, she removed the card out and put both back in her pocket. She looked up at Van.
"So we're done." she said and stood up. She started to walk towards the door.
"What's that gonna get you?" Van asked. "Nobody except the force knows the inside of that place." Saeera turned back to Van.
"I know it," she said. "I was a squadron commander." she turned back and walked out.
"Oh....shit...wow." Van said to himself. He grabbed the remainder of her drink and knocked it back.


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