On the largest asteroid that floated in a self-destructive ellipse between Fesiun and Dremuc several cities flourished. The orbiting rock was nearly the size of a small planet, and the Geshente that lived there were happy in their Geshente way to have found a place where no one bothered them. All of the planets they had tried to colonize had proved to be full of forms of life that were hostile to their machine-centrist culture. This was now their last, best refuge. It was no secret that the cities were there, but it was unlikely anyone would make an expensive space flight just to try and invade what to most life forms was only a useless chunk of space debris.

Of course, there were always opportunistic soundrels, space pirates, and refugees that ended up making the trek, risking their lives among one of the most dangerous and hostile peoples in the galaxy. Some came for pieces of the asteroid, which had been claimed by some Achewbre Shamans to have healing properties. Some came to escape the clutches of the authorities, fleeing both Bresugal and the Allied Kingdoms and taking refuge with their common enemy. Some came to steal the Geshente technology, coming for weapons and medicines and sometimes even entire spaceships. It was risky, but in many ways security was actually lighter on Asteroid 003-004 than in more populated or contested territories.

One of the latest to come was a young pilot, a hotshot kicked out of the Bresugese Starfighter Academy that had bought up a cheap little ship with what he had left and soared off into near space. The asteroid was a magnet for many like him, and he soon fell into a habit of gambling. Very soon he lost his ship and nearly all his money. Now he was stuck on Asteroid 003-004 and had no idea what to do with himself.

As he stood waiting in queue for a job prospect, he felt nervous and kept having the strangest desire for cheese. It was surreal, at a time like this as he stood behind applicants from all over the galaxy for some crap job that no one wanted anyway…and he wanted cheese. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted it; you couldn’t really get cheese off-world unless you were one of the rich.

The pilot-gambler hated rich people, and especially couldn’t stand royalty. He’d come from a humble cabin west of Vicuza, and had felt the balance of power from an early age. Still, he’d been known as a joyous child and even as a young man retained some of that undaunted glimmer.

He didn’t get the job. One more rejection. Out onto the street beyond…who would possibly hire him? How was he going to eat?

It didn’t help that he had blue skin. His mother had been Pethian, and she had who-knew-what going through her veins. Elvish? Halfling? Goblin? He’d always thought that part of his family was strange. He felt it was that bloodline that kept him back in life, as it made him an outsider everywhere he went. So when the man came up to him and asked if he needed a job, he jumped at the chance.

The man knew, of course, what sort of person Zi’Dres was. Young, cocky, stupid, far too eager to die for some random cause or another. After signing some papers and going through some bizarre tests in the basement of an old grain warehouse in Metropolis 004, he found himself on a shuttle back to a Bresugese military base. But he wasn’t turning himself in or coming back for punishment; his identiy was already gone. He was now going to serve as a sort of spy, an agent for risky, difficult missions that few would dare. This suited him fine; he felt no ties to anyone, nothing to lose, and a mind and physique built for adventure. Now he had the adventure, and a decent paycheck to boot.

Weeks of training went by in a flash, then he was on his first mission. Shipped off to Maachip to get some criminal overlord in one of the anarchist cities there to support the Bresugese Empire. It involved false identities, navigating a battlefield, and talking his way out of whatever he couldn’t shoot out of. It was going to be great.

Almost immediately he ran into trouble. He was making his way along the outer wall of the settlement, working around behind a circular building he was heading towards to avoid notice on the street. There were some random thugs back here, and Zi’Dres had to think fast to leap behind a shipping crate and return fire. A few well-placed shots later and his three opponents were killed, and he had sustained only minor wounds. A good start, he thought, and made his way around the the door.

Inside was his contact, an alient with huge eyes and a nervous way of tapping on a nearby holographic computer deck. Occasionally he would groan or cough with his odd gurgling voice as the agent crossed the threshold and approached his worktable. The deal was transacted quickly and without flair, and then a tiny implant created a holographic field that distorted his appearance, lightening his skin and shifting his eyes among other things. He could slip undetected into the cantina where the criminals gathered and hopefully talk them into a deal.

It was risky, but he loved it, and it was damn well better than being broke.


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