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...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Part 1 of SCUM by J. A. Johnson

Simikus Giff sloshed through the waste deep sludge of Omega Station's sewage treatment plant. Each hand held a low-voltage prod with which he shepherded the highly prized ka'frindi fungus into the floating collection bins.

He had come to work in Omega Station's sewage plant almost thirteen standard months ago. And he might have lived that miserable period under some illusion of contentment had it not been for a moment of enlightenment during his second cycle on the job; a moment in which he learned that the slimy film he and his co-workers were forever cleaning from the sludge tanks was not simply sewage scum but rather the valuable ka'frindi fungus, renowned as a food additive for its flavor enhancing and endorphin releasing qualities.

The major export—in fact, pretty much the only export—of Omega Station.

From that fateful moment on, the irony of his station in life had not been lost on the Nicovan, and harvesting the valuable delicacy—a mere gram of which sold for more than he earned in a full pay-cycle—had become both the bane of his existence as well as the promise of a better future.

That future, he decided, was just about to begin.

Simikus's work shift would end in another few minutes. He surreptitiously glanced around for the plant overseer's patrolling surveillance drone. He caught sight of the floating machine just as it drifted off into the neighboring tank-room.

Now was his chance.

There was only one other crucial detail to confirm. He looked around through the fetid vapors rising from the sludge, his anxiety mounting, until he saw the next part of his plan.

"Ograd!" he hissed. "Over here."

 Ograd, another a Nicovan like himself—nearly all of the plant's workers were Nicovan, a laxly regulated, cheap labor force—stopped pretending to herd the still yellow fungus and squinted his black eyes to see through the gloom.

"There you are, Nub," growled Ograd. The nickname referred to that fact that Simikus's left hand was missing its third finger. Simikus grinned, though the expression held anything but humor.

"Be quiet. Come here." Simikus kept a nervous eye out for the surveillance drone as Ograd splashed towards him.

"I want my money now," demanded Ograd without delay.

"Sure, sure, of course," said Simikus readily enough, though he made no attempt to produce the credits. "Does anyone know you're here?"

"Of course not, I snuck in. Nobody will be looking for me for another ten minutes, when my shift begins. Now where's my money?"

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