Neighbors.

Something fragile exists in the minds of people. Some delicate thing that, after exposure to living, sometimes cracks, sometimes shatters into pieces. The result can be entertaining, frightening, or simply sad. This isn’t exactly an uncommon occurrence either. Hell, it’s possible that it happens naturally, to everyone, at some point very early in our lives. We emerge from a warm, dark place, into a chaotic opening filled with bright lights and all sorts of smells and sounds that are constantly changing, and we cry out. It’s at that point that that tiny, fragile component of our minds gets its first crack. That first, ‘Holy shit, reality!’ reaction that we all have in our infancy. Then another cracked individual tries to comfort us.

Later on we meet our neighbors, other cracked individuals. People walking around with their own cracked little bits rattling around in their dome, sometimes a little more or sometimes a little less than others. In the case of Ahamad Cleaver, those bits might have been bouncing around up there a little too long, and rattled more of his other bits loose.

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Meat.

The backwater region of space around Mikunn exhibits a few oddities. The Mikunn system itself an escape landing point for two exiled imperial brothers who formed a feudal government and then expanded and won an election in the neighboring HR 7327 system. Their latest territory, being arranged as I write this, is a new station commissioned via the peace treaty brokered by the folks in Kwatee. For all their efforts at establishing fiefdoms the old-fashioned way, hiring mercenaries to wage little wars and acquire more space, all of their successes came from peaceful and democratic processes.

No less bizarre is the neighboring Sukua system. On the current galactic map the system comes up as Federation territory. Inside the system, however, there are two mining and refinery stations. Forest Depot, run by the feudal Sukua Noblement, remains independent while the other, Wang Base, an unsanctioned outpost, has a Federation allegiance tag and charge over the system but flies a pirate flag.

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Live Dangerously.

I knew a guy once who used to say that paranoia was an art. You have to find just the right level of paranoia to live effectively, happily. Too little, and people will walk all over you. Too much and you’ll get a visit from the folks in white coats who fit you with a jacket that encourages you to hug yourself and then escort you off to a room with soft walls. Shortly after I left Lugh I found myself reminded of that old advice when a strange message came across my comms panel.

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The War Machine.

When the gears of the war machine start to churn there’s some sort of an attraction generated, as if the grinding of the components create a magnetism that draws mankind; compels us, encourages us. I used think that it required fuel, a source of energy that powers the motors, such as a political or religious belief system, or simple greed. Then it needed a little something for upkeep, typically the blood of the participants and victims. Lately, though, I’m thinking that it’s a perpetual motion machine. Everything that it needs to run is already available within it. The war machine has always been running, and always will.

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Looking for a better deal.

The difference between you and me can get a little fuzzy. Hell, the difference between a person and a rock gets fuzzy out in imperial space.

I’d been lingering in Ngaiawang for a week, watching the kids ramp up for the next little skirmish out at Falisci, and running through some minor wear-and-tear repairs on the Asp, when a guy approached me in the bay.

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Choices.

There’s an abundance of choice out here. At times it can seem overwhelming, and the consequences can be rewarding, debilitating, or deadly. Billions of stars circling a massive center, and each other, the majority of them offering up something to do. Smeared out across a tiny section of those billions of stars, people carry around and evangelize their many varied designs, compounding the possible choices. In a single populated center, there’s enough to do for a full-time job. The simple surface of a choice belies the complexity and the absurdity beneath. And there you are, stuck with the choice you’ve made.

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Trying to find the words.

The Void.  Cold, black, vacuous emptiness.

Probably the most common terms used to describe what’s out here.  Strange terms to use, when you think about it.  Seems like reaching for some romantic description of space, which is a weird word anyway, a word whose mere definition is just plain intimidating.  Something that isn’t a thing, so immense that it can’t even be measured accurately, stretching out in every direction (or contracting, who knows).  In our attempts to understand it we had to call it something.  So we came up with space.  Makes sense, I guess, since there’s a lot of it in it, and it can kinda mess with your head.

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