Spacers drink where they like, but they like to drink with other spacers. The Blind Spacehound served that need in Port Royale. The bar took every currency Man used, and turned it into cheap drinks that were guaranteed watered by only the finest Saturn icemelt; the food, gloriously fried in all the ways that spacers dreamed of in the endless stretches of the Parabola; and the whores took no liberties, and would abide no liberties taken with them. Those without the spacer’s tan could enter the Spacehound safely, because business was business; but he or she soon learned to walk and talk soft. And the police only entered when they must.
The raucous panoply of spacers running everything from the Sundiver run to the Great Up-and-Out moved around Samson Black and his companion like a stream moves around a stone. Samson challenged no-one, and they returned the courtesy. There are enough dangers in a spacer’s life that they feel no need to provoke an avoidable one.
Samson considered his new companion, who had given his name as ‘Adam Khlon.’ Between the last name, the face that could have come from any of the races of Man, and the way Adam moved like an Earthworm while still reacting like a Spacer… “Are you a Gene-Man, Brother?” asked Samson, his voice genial and friendly.
Adam considered the question, and the relaxed tone behind it. “Indeed, Brother. Pensioned, Nawa Tri, Darwin Creche. Blessings to the Empress!” Adam slammed his drink back, and slapped the glass back on the table. Proprieties satisfied, he went on more normally, “Three terms in the black gang on the Gifted Gipper, until the Battle of Neptune’s Shadow. They offered the survivors a four-term pension and honorable mustering out, and I took it with smiles all around. Even the Empire blanches at giving too many Gene-Men command at once.”
Samson’s smile was as sour as Adam’s. The Empire of Terra might be screaming radicals by the standards of every monarchy in Earth’s history, but even they had limits. The Empire needed those creche-clones to hold off the Invaders, and even in these times of peace still needed the great Creches; but they found it simpler to scatter the Gene-Men back into the teeming masses of the Imperial parts of Earth. Respected, honored, and most importantly, left alone -- but born-men soldiers became surly when too many Gene-Men were promoted over them.
Some Gene-Men happily took their earned place among humanity’s number and gladly disappeared. Some showed more ambition. Clearly, Adam came from the latter’s ranks.
Adam now looked at Samson. “And you, Brother? What is your story?”
“I am Samson Black,” he said with a shrug. “All that I am, at the moment. A man without a crew.”
“Why do you need a crew, Brother?”
“Because then I can go to the next step, which is to have a crew without a ship. And when I have a ship, I will then get a history, and then I will have a reputation, and when I have a reputation and a history and a ship and a crew I will then go get what I most desire.” Samson Black tossed back his own drink. “Revenge.”