An excerpt from Chapter 1 of Wherein the Faith of the Liberated? by Gaelbhan Wulf.
The sands of the Greater Amamake desert howled outside the titanium-shelled bar at the base of the Twin Mounts of Amake’Son. Luci’s Bar was never much of a spot for traders or pirates of any race, let alone the Matari and Amarr who lived in the system.
But tonight there were a dozen of each filling the small room.
“Bah, what do the Matari know of ghosts?!”
Ensign Serfh said, bolting back some Amarr brew. “I mean, real ghosts! Not the spook stories told by their fat, ugly women!”
Dour stares from the Matari deep-space traders at other tables ended the laughter from the assembled group of Amarrians seated around the table with Ensign Serfh.
Rather sinister looking spacers seated along the wall seemed to be keeping to themselves, Angels by the look of ‘em, but they were listening too it even if they did not show it.
“I’m talking about real specters” Serfh continued.
“Like the terrorist Matari clans. I heard there was another bombing run on a belt operation just last week. Blew up a bunch of soft-skinned miners. Maybe they got Ensign Castor too, ya think?”
No laughter ensued from that latest remark. This group of Amarrians had been waiting for the Ensign for over six hours, having heard nothing from him since the early morning. They couldn’t leave without him, and any more time spent here would surely corrupt even the most pious Amarrian.
“There are the Paratwa . . .” said d another Amarr, his voice lowering as that last word spilled across his lips. The wind howled, which was not particularly different on this night except that the whole of Luci’s Bar had gone silent, heightening the words.
“Yeah, there’s them,” Serfh added. He turned to the bartender, bellowing out for more brew. “And there’s the other ones too, I heard of them. The Cast-Off.”
The bartender stumbled when Serfh spoke of the Cast-Off, nearly spilling the brew onto the Ensign’s ragged, but yet finely decorated uniform.
“My apologies, Sir . . . but, we . . . we don’t mention them here . . ."
Serfh laughed, smashing his glass down on the table even as the bartender tried to retrieve it.
“Them? The Cast-Off? Yeah, I heard of them. Loners and crazies they say!”
Serfh stood, throwing his arms up and dancing in a small circle, laughing.
“The Cast-Off,” he bellowed, causing all to turn at the loudness of his voice and derision in his tone. “They were once Paratwa, now just shells of Matari with no home. How sad!
With that, he threw his glass against the far wall, past the bar where it clattered wildly against the shelves filled with alcohol. He continued to laugh at the bartender until he noticed that no one was paying attention to him at all. He turned to see the door of the Bar had opened, the howling wind barely a whisper across his ears. How had he missed the wind dying down?
A woman perhaps, Matari for sure, dressed in typical sand-wear, entered the bar and took the short path through the crowd of tables to sit at the center of the bar.
Her gear was the color of sand, and only her shape could be seen beneath the layers of leather and fabric. She even smelled of sand and earth, and the hairs on the backs of the heads those she sat next to rose as if she were charged with the electrical current that accompanies all sandstorms.