What Is Omega Station?

Omega Station, aka the Rock. A barren, airless asteroid on the outermost edge of the galaxy, home of the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor. Dotted with commercial, military and residential domes, the outer surface is the place to live for those who can afford it or are lucky enough to work there.
But the vast majority of the Rock's residents don't live in the surface domes; instead, they have tunneled downwards, moving ever further towards its fiery heart. The upper levels are safe, comfortable, secure—or as secure as anyone can be on
Omega Station. The lower levels, now; they are home to the detritus of a double dozen races and species, all living in uneasy juxtaposition, fighting, loving, eating—and being eaten.
The Rock's location in space, the last real port before exiting the galaxy, has made it a valuable commodity to many governments and private corporations, as has the addictive drug straz, which grows only in its recycling vats. Control has been taken and given in a hundred bloody battles over the years, but those who live in the lower levels—and further down, in the Depths—are often barely aware of whoever claims to be in charge.
No one, really, rules the Rock, whatever they may claim, however many weapons and warriors they throw against it.
For the Rock is eternal…and it has many secrets...and many stories...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Part 5 of UNDERWORLD by K.G. McAbee

Eversyn swallowed through a throat gone suddenly dry. He knew about ka'frindi, of course. It was the Rock's major export—the Rock's only export, officially, at least. But he certainly had no desire to put that crawling green stuff in his mouth. Then he remembered who his host was, picked up his knife and prong with a sigh, and sawed off a small bit of the bovsteak, lifted it to his mouth, and forced it inside. He chewed slowly, surprised at the rich taste but not much relishing how the fungus—Lichen? Bacteria?—felt as if it tried to escape from his grinding teeth.

"Very…good," he said at last, after he'd swallowed and sipped his wine.

"I'm so glad you like it. It's an acquired taste, I must admit, but quite popular on some worlds. The fungus grows on the lower levels here, as of course you know—here and, so I understand, nowhere else in the galaxy. I won't mention what it grows on." Dyll smirked nastily. "So, Captain, I suppose you have no intention of discussing who you were looking for just now. Secret Guard business and all that. But perhaps you can tell me this: what are the Consolidated Guards' plans for Omega Station?"

"Plans, Master—Rudof?" Eversyn coughed. "We're here to keep the peace, of course, and to make sure that the trade routes stay open."

"Of course you are. Of course. We mustn't let the trade routes close, if for no other reason than to keep my dearest papa happy—and he and the rest of my family terribly rich. But to be totally honest, Captain, those were the plans for the last, what was it, six or eight new controllers of the Rock. I had hoped yours would be different."

"Throob," commented Algensio around a mouthful of green salad. It was dripping with a red dressing that looked to Everson uncomfortably like blood.

"Yes, you're right, dear fellow," Rudof agreed. "We'd somehow expected more from the Consolidated Guard of Malpairiso Sector, hadn't we? More, at least, than we've gotten from the Red Publicans, or Inversodynamics, or…well, in short, from any of the groups who've—let's be dramatic—seized power here on the Rock in the last few cycles."

Dyll gave a theatrical shudder.

Captain Eversyn tried to slide his chair a bit further away from the Vamir, who chose that moment to grin at him, baring a double row of pointed teeth liberally coated with green and red bits.

"Yes, well, uh…I'm sorry you're disappointed, ah, Rudof. But after all, you're hardly in a position to complain, are you? In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, you and everyone else on the Rock are under my command. My command, backed up, if you don't mind my mentioning it, by my extremely well-armed soldiers."

"Yes," murmured Rudof Dyll, offering another slash of a smile. "That's too true. It's a pity, that. Complaints are useless, yes. Not to mention, you're doing such a good job at…controlling the Rock, too."

Eversyn felt his face going red. "If you mean the smuggling, that's very nearly under control. And the Depths, well, they're just a matter of time."

"The Depths, Captain?" Slash smile. "A matter of time, do you say? The Depths have beaten better men than you, for all your extremely well-armed Connies behind you. Think of it, Captain." Dyll leaned forward, holding up a bejeweled finger as he made each point. "One: an endless series of corridors, tunnels and caverns, dug from the living rock that composes our homey little planetoid. Two: groups of settlers, squatters, the lost and the discarded, tribes of children, hermits, from any species you might name and some you cannot, all thronging there in the dank dimness."


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