Friday, November 29, 2013

A Mining Town Called Reykjaa

Fiction Friday! This piece is more of an introductory piece to a potential setting for future fiction. I envisage a small town on a backwater Matari planet. So remote its perfect for people of all races who are looking to hide from something, or worse, are running from something. Frontier town, frontier values, frontier justice. The Wild, Wild West of New Eden? I'm flying back to the UK in a few hours, hope I've not missed anything...

A Mining Town Called Reykjaa

The town of Reykjaa was located in the centre of the biggest continent on the 5th planet of M-YWAL, a small unremarkable planet deep in Matari null-security space. Whilst there was a small spaceport, visitors could be forgiven for believing they were stepping back in time. The buildings where mostly stone and wood with only a few metal and composite structures in the more outlying areas. The planet was remote so it was much easier to use local stone and wood for construction rather than import construction materials at a prohibitive cost. The central drag had tried to preserve its olde world charm, but in the end just looked dated and poor. Other than the spaceport there were other small 'give aways'. A holoprojector had been strapped to the roof of the local bar and in the evenings would advertise their wares of drink, boosters and girls. Old model hover-cars cruised down the wide central boulevard dodging the even older wheeled vehicles. Occasionally a fight would break out into something more serious and blaster fire would streak across the town square until the Law Man showed up and dispensed traditional Matar justice. Usually involving the banging of heads together.

If it wasn't for the Promethium mine which gathered the relatively rare and sort after material for use in energy storage devices, this settlement would have died out a long time ago. However, even with the value of the 'Prom', as it was known locally, the excessive transportation costs, the need for escorts against null-sec pirates and taxes meant that very few in Reykjaa were truly wealthy. It was a hard life, but it was a simple life. Most younger residents left as soon as they were of age. The monthly Interbus shuttle taking them out of system to distance space-stations where they could seek their fortune. The monthly shuttle didn't just collect passengers, it also delivered fresh blood to the settlement. The remoteness of Reykjaa and being relatively cut-off from Empire space meant that it was a haven for those running. Many of the residents of the small town had arrived that way and they accepted new comers with open arms, as long as they kept out of trouble.

Darwish, the Law Man, stood in the porch of his office surveying the main street. The sun had set and people had tomorrow off as it was the weekend. It was likely to be a busy night for him and his deputy. He watched the trails of the shuttle arc up from the spaceport as it climbed up into the upper atmosphere. Four youngsters were leaving this backwater planet to seek their fortune in Empire space. He hope they would find it. However the shuttle also meant they would be new arrivals. This was usually a mix of good news and bad news. He picked up his datapad and reviewed the logs that Kador at the port had sent him a few minutes ago. There were three arrivals this month, two Matari and one Gallente. First names included only in his report even though a scan of their ID would have been taken on arrival. Kador rarely referred to the information he got from the ID card, there was no point. Nobody arrived here on a genuine ID, everyone was running from something.

Darwish read Kador's notes. These were worth a hundred times that of a scan of their fake IDs. Kador had been working at the spaceport for decades and could read people well. He stated the two Matari men were probably low-level criminals. Either with outstanding warrants in the Republic or their boss had caught them syphoning off. He put them down as potential mine workers. The Gallente woman he summarized was probably running from a relationship. He said whilst Darwish might want to point the two men in the right direction, he was sure the woman would need no guidance and would find her own way. After reading all the notes Darwish put the datapad in his pocket, checked his side-arm and headed to the bar. He guessed he'd find the two men there. The woman would probably be harder to track down.

The bar itself was an odd mix of old and new. Most of the construction was wood and stone, but there were various pieces, like the bar itself, that were made from modern composites. The large circular bar dominated the centre of the double height room. A balcony looked down on the main bar area with numerous doors that served for lodging and 'entertainment'. The floor itself was full of circular wooden tables where various people were drinking or playing card games. Darwish entered and scanned the crowd. Before he could find the new-comers a scantily clad woman bounced up to him smiling.

"Hey Law Man." she said as she kissed him on the cheek. "Going to show me your handcuffs and weapon?"

Darwish smiled. "May be later Leela, I'm working."

The woman put on her best little girl pout and he gave her a wink before moving past her in the bar area proper.

He spotted the two new faces immediately. They were sat a a table with a bottle of whiskey. He walked over to them and they both put down their drinks and eyed him suspiciously as he approached. He grabbed a free chair from a neighbouring table and sat down at their table, uninvited with a smile. Their looks of suspicion turned to nervousness when they saw his badge.

"Don't worry boys. I'm not here to arrest you. Just here for a chat."

The two men didn't say anything. They just continued looking nervously at him.

"You see not many people come here for the amazing social life and the generous public holidays. Most people who arrive here are running. Now, here's the thing. Generally we don't care. Even I, the law around here, don't care too much about your past. We don't know what you are running from, and we don't want to know. This place is like heaven. Past sins are forgiven on arrival. However, you damn well need to be sure trouble doesn't follow you here. Justice here on the fringe is pretty swift and brutal. So if someone is on your tail you might want to think about moving on. If not, and you are looking for a fresh start, and you will be keeping your nose clean, then welcome. I assume you haven't got any work lined up?"

Both men looked worried. The law man laughed.

"Don't worry. I'm not here to lock you up for vagrancy either. That Brutor over there at the bar. That is Ogluk, he's the foreman at the promethium mine. Its hard work but it pays well and they are always looking for help. Have a word with him and you might find he's looking for a couple of good men. There are rooms here that are reasonable, unless you have enough credits to rent somewhere."

Darwish rose and both men thanked him, although he could see they remained suspicious. He was used to it. Most people on the run for any length of time develop a healthy sense of paranoia.

He walked to the bar and ordered a drink.

"So am I next for the 'keeping your nose clean' lecture?" a voice said next to him. He turned to the woman stood next to him. He knew everyone in town but this face was new to him. She must be the other new arrival, saved him a job of racking her down. He was a bit surprised to find her here in the bar. She was Gallente, late twenties and very attractive. He knew instantly she was going to be trouble even if it was just bar fights breaking out between the locals over who was buying her a drink.

"Well Miss, you appear to have excellent hearing so I don't think I need to repeat myself." Darwish replied in a friendly tone.

"Good." she smiled "And trust me, I'm not being chased. The reason I am here is just glad I've vanished."

"Well Empire space's loss is our gain. Miss...?"

The woman took a drink. "Surely you know my name already, a well informed man like you?" she teased.

"Actually no I don't. I know the name that is on the ID you showed at the port, but I wanted to know your name." he replied putting emphasis on 'your'.

The woman looked at him and smiled.


"You frightening the customers away Darwish. Sheeeee-it. Do you know how bad for business it is to have the law in the bar!" a gruff voice shouted.

At that point the owner of the bar appeared and greeted the Darwish with a laugh and a firm handshake. Wilhelm had been running the bar for six years since the last owner passed away. The bar had always only served a small selection of drinks. The local beer and whisky was plentiful but with no supply ships willing to make the long dangerous run it was hard to get anything else. However Wilhelm was very switched on and soon found a novel supply line. The crews of the ore barges that arrived to collect the promethium ore had worked out that these remote settlements would pay handsomely for things that the crew took for granted in Empire space. However, it was not a one-sided deal. Wilhelm also knew that ore barge crews liked their drink and liked their women, especially on the long and lonely deep-space runs like this one. A bottle of Gallente vodka or a few bottles of Amarrian wine would be traded for as much local beer as they could drink whilst they were here and an hours company with one of the girls. Therefore, if you had the credits, Wilhelm had what you wanted.

They traded pleasantries and chatted for a while before a small commotion broke out behind them. Darwish didn't turn, he just looked down at his drink.

"So, what's kicking off behind me?" he asked quietly

Wilhelm glanced over Darwish's shoulder.

"Looks like Onar has just lost an unbeatable hand and is getting ready to kick off. He was playing against Jahn so this could go either way."

Darwish nodded and slowly moved his hand to his hip. He carefully unclasped the strap holding his gun into its holster. He listened to the rise in voices and the scrape of wood on wood as chairs were pushed back.

"Knife!" Wilhelm hissed quietly.

The report of the gun made the room fall silent and all eyes turn to the bar. Darwish hadn't even turned around, he was still standing at the bar with his gun in the air.

"I am having a nice cold beer here. If I have to turn around and come over there, I'm not going to be a particular happy man. So Onar put the blade away, Jahn take your seat and both of you play nice. Otherwise you'll find yourselves cooling in the slammer for a few days!"

All eyes turned back on the two men who quickly sat back down and resumed their game wondering if the Law Man truly had eyes in the back of his head.

"Nice work." stated Monique who was still stood next to him. "Unsubtle and the owner probably needs to repair that hole in the roof, but effective."

Darwish gave a suppressed laugh.

"This is the frontier. A bullet is more likely to get the message across than words. Also you cannot see it, but the guy who built this place knew that and installed a thick metal plate in the roof. We law keepers are told exactly were to shoot when we take the job.".

"Well law keeper, I look forward to seeing a lot more of you and your insights to frontier life." she purred as she finished her drink. "Until next time."

Darwish watched her climb the stairs to the balcony. He almost spat his drink out when he saw her enter one of the rooms reserved for the staff.

"Wilhelm! You hired her?" The Law Man asked!

"Sure. Hell you saw here. I'm sure she's going to be really popular."

"Yeah." thought Darwish as he picked up his beer. "And a real pain in the ass at the same time!"


  1. I really enjoyed reading this story. You did an excellent job showing what a world so far away from the Empires might look like. Looking forward to reading more.