Sol Sara was too small to be a fully colonized Confederate burg, but that was what gave the third inhabited world of the Sara System its deceptive charms. Not even acknowledged by the Confederacy abroad, it's tiny size, lack of sustainable resources, and temperamental ecosystem made it hardly worth the first glance, and too far in system to have even minimal strategic military value. Sol Sara was hot... Very hot... Very close in to the system's sun, and each breath was scalding, it was on the fringe of being uninhabitable, requiring some manner of eco gear for non-native inhabitants to cope.
Under the suzerainty of Mar Sara, it was neglected by the colonial governance and everything Sol Sara required to survive was imported off planetoid. In fact the only trade that kept Sol Sara in tact was its uselessness. People went there to disappear, and most new arrivals did just that, disappeared. Only one out of ten were said to last the first seventy-two hours in the labyrinthine bazaars and warrens. More so bizarre than this however, was the fact that there were actually credits to be made on this planetoid with no sustainable, local resources. In spite of that fact that everything pretty much had to be shipped in from off world, it was bustling with hidden prosperity.
So why did the planetoid not go bankrupt, with a great need of imports and essentially no tangible exports? Again, the uselessness; criminal elements from across the sector made use of the otherwise slack Confederate attentions, with many aspects of their operations (best left un-scrutinized) housed within, and that in turn brought in the credits to sustain the planetoid.
He sat on the stool at the bar with a lop-sided grin, his features drawn tight over that hollowed visage. The vagabond had clearly not eaten in days; rather his shabby garb and empty grinning expression said he spent all his credits on the drink. Frontier was like that, the small continent held the only space port on the planetoid. Jump city, as the shambling sprawl of shanty towns and run down trade districts cropping up around the public port were collectively known, was the place of vagabonds and refugees. It's only inhabitants were all manner of lawless patrons seeking to disappear into a crowded sea of equally rough and indistinct lawlessness.
Seated at Slither's at 300 standard in the morning, the shabby gentlemen no less so lawless, however he and every other inhabitant of Jump city found their own equilibrium in the anarchy. You kept to yourself, you didn't make eye contact, and you never spoke out of turn... those who did were bound to wake up as breakfast...! In a world where everything had to be imported, nothing was wasted… even when you killed a guy... you were obliged to see that he was 'recycled.' Else someone might notice your lack of civic responsibility after making a mess and take exception to it… filling a double order of 'recycling' in stead of just the neglected one.
Matthieu Rimes was enjoying the silence at Slither's, for there would never be something as profane music droning in the public establishment, let alone even the murmured mundaneties of idle conversation in even the most clandestine of public corners within Sol Sara. This was why, when someone tapped Matthieu on the shoulder and hissed a frantic series of whispers into his ear, the grinning vagabond went stiff in the shoulders, falling off his stool. The apparently dazed and stupid grin on Matthieu's features evaporated so abruptly it could make one question whether it had been there at all.
Such attention meant only one of two things were about to happen, and likely both options for the hazard of it. One, someone was throwing you off cant to in order to more easily kill you or… two, you were going to silence them permanently before they got the chance, and use the excuse of recycling to beat a hasty exit and evade any further unwanted attention. Once again, both options were more than likely to happen. And the situation only likely to escalate if someone didn't recycle both bodies, and rather quickly at that.
"Please…" Whispered the voice in clear desperation, the rest of the frantic words lost in Matthieu's subsequent shuffle off the stool, back now to the bar, and slip-knife in hand. Those cruel amber eyes softened somewhat in surprise at seeing a slip of a girl, perhaps twelve or fourteen, having been the one to tap him on the shoulder, only to have his eyes tighten again in suspicion and clarity. Children did not exist on Jump, those who were young of body were old of experience or… well we don't need to elaborate on what happens to the weak and weak seeming here. Matthieu studied the waif with a re-appraising glance, noting the telling bulges about the limbs and spine, slight protrusions under the skin. Cyborge.
Such obvious implants were crude, but no less effective for it. This child wasn't a nobody if she had even one such implant, let alone the many Matthieu was discerning here. "Who... who are you?" he dared to rasp uncharacteristically of a Sol Saran, the proper etiquette-dictated response being to bury his stiletto in the girl's gut and carry her off to the harvesters. However this was not a proper situation, the desperate and un-drawled accent of the girl, along with the sheer volume of cybernetic implants pointed her out as being from recently off world. Not that being from off world spared the waif Matthieu's knife, rather those aforementioned implants (where she could probably move fast enough to snap Matthieu's neck in the space of a blink) were what gave him pause.
"Eight," quipped the little girl, without missing a step; the big blue eyes (too big for that slip of a face,) fixed on Matthieu's own amber ones. It was almost a shame the girl had those implants (and not just because of the fact that she could kill Matthieu so easily with them;) those kind of antique and bulky implants meant she was not destined to live long. No maturity for this one, where her face might at last grow to fit those large, juvenile eyes. Any growth would mean tearing herself apart, which was why cyborges were so rare, the enhancements while phenomenal were also suicide, even for a full grown adult. Every body tended to reject all but the most minimal and finite of implants eventually, the body killing itself in the process… after all, the implants were more durable than the humans who bore them. The same set of cybernetic implants was likely to see many multiples of owners over the years it would take them to finally degrade and break down.
"Eight, you say," Said Matthieu uncomfortably. He didn't like contemplating this child's mortality, which was odd given he was ready to off her at the slightest opportunity of probably success. Matthieu was odd, but to him it was different. Killing to survive was one thing, mutilating the innocent and condemning them to a slow but inevitable death was by far the worse. "Yes. Eight, I said." Replied the girl, almost automatically in that harried whisper. Great, thought Matthieu, she has a number, and not a name. Yes, definitely a cyborge (even were the implant not so obvious,) and a short lived one at that.
Probably the property of some wealthy syndicate that fashioned itself couture for the superfluous extravagance in the half-life of its disposable agents. Which begged the horrible question, what did such an outfit want with the likes of one ex-colonel Rimes? Matthieu Rimes: a decommissioned Delta spook with a mediocre service record at best, and both too useless to be a ghost and too unlucky to be ignored by the Squadron. It seemed his streak was continuing.
"What do you want?" Rasped the ex-vet warily, amber eyes continuing to eye the telling epidermal protrusions with dread. "Would you be so kind as to please surrender your arms and come with me, mister Rimes." Reiterated the girl in that almost desperate sounding whisper, like she was the one in trouble. Matthieu realized what revolted and compelled him about the girl, it wasn't that pre-programmed, falsely pleading voice, or the mechanical and detached way she carried herself and her facial expressions. No, it was those damned and all too human blue eyes, like there really was still a frantic little girl left somewhere inside that empty cybernetic shell, just begging to come out. Whatever she had been before becoming this thing she was now, the fragments of it echoed in those too blue, too large, juvenile eyes. It made Matthieu's skin crawl. Damn.