This is part two only in that it comes after the section I posted previously. It doesn’t quite join up (but it will) and then I have some ideas about what comes next. Again, I would appreciate any comments. Thanks.
They say the domes of Kwa 59 are so bright you can see them from anywhere in the system. I don’t know if it’s true but they certainly looked pretty as we coasted down into dock. Of course those of us that grew up in the subsystem below are not so easily impressed. There was an old spacer that I used to run errands for when I was kid, once said it was like an iceberg. I remember that when I asked what that was he just laughed, a long croaking cackle that dissolved into a cough. He lived in a cabin down the track and I used to hang around a lot. I went there mostly because it was warm but sometimes he would start to talk and then I would just sit and take it all in. He had actually been born on Home, that’s how old he was and to a kid like me, whose only world was the tangle of the under city, it was magical. My mother tried to make me keep away, said he was a crazy, that he’d spent too long in space and maybe it was true but that didn’t stop me stowing away on a mining ship when I was only fourteen years old.
We glided on over the luxury cruise ships and then past the long rows of the sporty playthings of the rich and powerful. Like everywhere else on Kwa appearances were everything. No way a working ship like mine was going to dock anywhere in plain sight, certainly not at the prices they charge. I was just pulling up to the dock when Drd padded into the cockpit.
“Crck fruup?” He chirped and jumped up into the co-pilot’s chair.
“Come on” I mock snarled at him. “Speak human”
“Ftrrp rrt ckrh Kwa drrtfth” he replied.
“Beautiful is going a bit far” I didn’t speak Kwa beautifully, but I could get around in it. I was one of the few humans who had bothered to learn, which is probably why Drd put up with me.
When we got close Drd hit the EMT which pulled us in snug. I flicked on the com.
“Wake up, we’re in”
A tousled head appeared in the viewer.
“Out again tomorrow?”
“As long as you’re paying”
“See you then”
The viewer flicked off. Drd spun his and gave me a look, his eyes fading pink and white again in disapproval.
“What?” I said “you don’t need the money?”
Drd pulled a three-armed shrug that was weirdly human in meaning and hopped down from the chair, his movements concise as he dragged a tool bag from under the console.
“Phut rrike sprnd nrt” he whistled over his shoulder as he scampered down the passage that led to the engines.
“You too!” I replied. I stood and stretched, feeling a brief dizziness and then clenched my eyes shut. I needed shore time.
Stepping out of the lift was the sensory equivalent of a mugging. A cocktail of smells: denfr root, cooking fat and urine, overlaid the the background iron tang of blood. Coloured pools of light spilled out of the shops and bars along Main Drag to mingle with reflections of neon signs and video screens. Vidcasts, music, shouts and cries all competed to be heard over the background echos. This is the sound of the undercity, that pervasive susurration of sounds with nowhere else to go.
The third bar along was named ‘The Rocking Horse’ which sounded cute until you realised that it referred to the music and the ready availability of hard drugs. Still, they did a good meal for a low price, so I slipped in among the crowd. It was dark inside. Smoke filtered through the rays of light from the games racked up along the wall.