Casual Play Astrogation

Delta Uulame Qua-Fiit 16b (Bion)

Even before you see the twin gas giants, your ship's integrated intelligence picks up the chatter of audio traffic, most of it advertising automatically triggered by your arrival. Half interested, you scan through the offers, give each only a moment to unfold. The majority are cheap phasedrive refueling offers from independently-owned refineries clustered here and there throughout the upper atmospheres of the two worlds, but there's also a hotel of sorts, a bar, the various comforts necessary to make the miners who live in the system more likely to stay. None of it really appeals to you– as thoroughly integrated into your body as it is, your ship provides pretty much everything you could ever want or need.

A quick sim-run– thirty seconds. That's all it takes to live out a week's stay in the hotel without ever actually setting foot in the hotel. The experience unfolds entirely inside your mind, but it feels real, looks real, smells and tastes real. The beds are standard issue, hard and self-sanitizing. The floors are clean where people walk, dingy and full of shining magnesium dust where orange carpets meet walls and corners. The food is flavorless, the drinks strong, and the entertainment minimal– just two-dee, staticky feeds piped in from some aging entertainment relay suspended in the void between stars. The people who live at the hotel are all grimy-skinned, all just tired shadows, some of them with minds wired to run on remote, their souls sleeping while they trade decades of their lives for the promise of a decent retirement. After four days, the whole environment gets depressing. After six, you're ready to unplug, come back to the stars and the void again.

When you rise back to your ship, back to the body that exists like a fuse amidst the plastics, wires, metal and vatgrown organics that surround you, you settle for the neural simulation of a good halluci-juice bender at the bar while you cruise to the cheapest fuel refinery. The integrated intelligence handles the transaction, works with the refinery's aging computer to top the tank off, then turns the ship back toward the stars, spins up the phasedrive in preparation for another jump to whatever awaits you in the endless depths of the cosmos.


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