So I’m sittin quiet, minding my own juice down at the Sowing Season. You know the one. Best mugbar in The Bench by my reckoning. Just the right shade of dank with a nice warm cast and none of that horrible flicker that plagues so many of the other pubs.
All abrupt-like, this cleanface drifter shades the hatch and just stands there leering for a beat. Rightaways I peg her as a freshie. Look at this kipper, I says to myself, must be lost cuz ain’t no cleanface ever grace the ole Sow by choice.
But despite her shine, she thrusts forth, moving with intent, straight to pinch the space right beside my own. She flags a mug without so much as a glance to the barkeep and fixes gaze straight on my dumb box. A strong first brush. Stronger than I ‘spected. It’s not often I call em wrong, but her manner had me guessing my read.
I asks her business and she chants something lofty of merchandise, which straightshot just means she a smuggler. And if I know smugglers, it’s never just one trade. But twas her next query that had me chicking spittle. Treasure maps, she says, presuming I knew of such things.
First I laughed, but then she chants of some rustler named Mito and his load of brember and the ole box felt a shudder. Twas a thought long-faded, but the phonics rang true somewheres down deep. Then the coin she slid across the bar cranked the starter and it all started coming back…
Mito. Crossed the poor rustler in that dump of a pub on Earlie Prime. This was seasons back. Back when I was prospecting fresh claims for that treacherous Round Power family. He had a skiff and was looking to chisel some ore. A rustler tale old as Chanko. Small time. Just him and a young ward.
They’d scored big in brember in the Rocky Cloud over Skarem. Take any rustler’s claim of payload and cut in half to tick closer to the truth, but Mito here was chanting of crystal fountains. Filled an exo-can and went back for more. No matter how you cut it, that’s a life’s load.
In all my cycles, I’ve found fortune always be seeking equilibrium. Over time, a glut of good always yields bad in equal measure. Fringe be like that. Though not often so swiftly nor thoroughly as in the case of Mito the Rustler.
Soon as they punched squares back to market they thread lines with a pair of Roving Terror craft. When it comes to pirates, the Terror are the creamiest of the bunch. Not who you wanna scope with a bloated exo-can on the belly of your skiff. Must’ve looked like a paunchy-ripe ginge melon.
Credit due, Mito and company strapped a tracker to their can and dumped it down into the Scablands. A fast thought for rustlers so young in tradeyears. The simple transponder would grant them the right squares to reclaim their bounty and the dumped mass allowed them to skirt away from a Terror-ful fate.
Loads-free for the time and fuel still in the tank, these two rustlers go circle back for another round on their brember font, but this time - as fortune flows - the enforcers were on patrol. Horvo Mineral hires some mean mercs to hold their sway in the Rocky Cloud and Mito was jumping their claim.
In the scramble to scramble, Mito’s partner got the chain break. It happens. You punch the mag-miner off a mite too heavy and the shock snaps your tether, tossing you flapping out into The Void. Kip move. But the bad luck here was that those Horvo mercs were dropping in hot. Mito was forced to flee for his life while his partner became a floater…the truest form of drifter, I reckon.
But here’s the real rubber. Partner had the receiver for their brember can on his person. Without it, ain’t no way to track down that treasure. Mito circled back once the sector cooled, but boy was nowhere to be found.
There be a trove of brember fit to upgrade a whole clan buried in the Scablands of Skarem and the key to it all is likely floating the cloud, frozen to a corpse.
I reckon Mito still be out there asking anyone who’ll turn ear if they seen his boy, too full of regret to admit he’s dead and shattered. What was the boy’s name again?
Started with a G…