Jan 27

Brimstone

Brimstone1graphic

Hey INNers, check out Marksman’s new series:

Brimstone is an industrial arcology on the in-game world of Leir-1. A colony of roughnecks on the front line of Vanduul space, Brimstone suffered a horrific and mysterious tragedy. If you imagine the bastard child of Detroit and Stalingrad, then add a dash of Hiroshima, you will get Brimstone. A modern-day Nassau, Brimstone is a lawless, war-torn haven for pirates and thieves. Beyond that brief invention, Brimstone is rooted deeply in game lore; from systems and races all the way down to weapon designations. It weaves Star Citizen elements like the break-away Outsider government or the violent clash of superpowers, in tales that sound like today’s headlines. Numerous threads stretch between the episodes; some overt, some barely visible. But if there is one thing you can count on in the alleys and tunnels of Brimstone, it is that everyone has an angle and everything is connected. If you like your sci-fi dark, violent and gritty, you might find a home in Brimstone.

Part 1

“FIRE AND BRIMSTONE”

LEIR-1 Bravo
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They promised they could protect us from anything the Vanduul threw in our direction. That’s what governments do; make promises. Pundits were spouting the party line right up to the moment the bomb went off.

That was three years ago. To this day we still aren’t sure what the hell it was. We know this much, it wasn’t high explosive, it wasn’t some amped-up fuel-air device, hell it wasn’t even a nuke. Those things we understand. This was something else, something… unnatural.  Lacking anything better to offer, the science-geeks coined a name for the device; called it a ‘thermoplasmic’ weapon.

‘What?’ proved to be only one of the many unanswered questions. ‘Why us?’ was a close second. Leir-1 Bravo — second site on the first planet of the Leir System — was just another no-name industrial arcology; a spot-welded sprawl of roughnecks and heavy machines that covered about eighty square kilometers of this barren, un-terraformed planet.  No military presence. No agri-base. Hell we were so bad off we had to have breathable atmo shipped in.

What we did have was four working mines; an ant-maze of tunnels and shafts that barfed up a continual stream of strategic metals, graphite and crystals. This in turn fed a chain of refineries, foundries and factories. An outer ring of housing and human amenities wrapped around it all; pretty much a city of airlocks and pressurized hamster-tubes. Still, by any measure we were just one of a number of mining towns in Outsider space; far from the biggest or most prosperous. Any way you looked at it, attacking L1B made no sense.

Living here now means getting used to a lot of shit that doesn’t make sense. Like several square kilometers of burned-out ruins that, after three years of non-stop winter, still simmers like a cast-iron stove. No fire, no radiation, just… heat. Figure that one out.

Those ruins used to be City Center. It has different names now; the Nekropolis, O’lik shahar, Urbem mortuorum… but in any language it all means pretty much the same thing. City of the Dead. If you’ve ever walked through the rubble there you’d understand.

For those who haven’t seen it, well, the bomb did more than pulverize the Nek, it… changed it; transmogrified steel and flesh like some hellish trick of alchemy. When that searing mass of energy filled the sky, physics came unglued. Solids became un-solid, things blurred into one another before returning a moment later to solids of completely different chemical structure. Today the Nek is filled with wide-eyed corpses that stand like the dead of ancient Pompeii; draugr of asphalt and obsidian.

Most everything in the Nek was fused into a seamless, lava-like crust.  A crust, it turns out, that never cools. To this day a greenish steam seeps from cracks in the shell, belching a rotten-egg stench of sulphur laced with the garlic reek of phosporus. It was that hellish smell that finally gave L1B a real name: Brimstone.

Not everyone touched by the fire of that night died. Several thousand outside the Nek were exposed to shades of thermoplasmic hell. You can tell by their scars which way they were facing when it hit.  Pebbled textures were branded into flesh. Eyes that gazed on the blast were seared as well, irises charcoaled. Today the blind and the maimed are common in the streets of Brimstone.

As you might guess, there was an immediate rush to get the hell outta Dodge. But with equal speed the UEE slammed a quarantine on transit. Given the immigration crisis playing out all across the Vanduul line, refugees — especially those exposed to some unknown alien event — could not be allowed to scatter among the populated worlds. In back-channel comms that the public media would never hear, UEE politicians, long-chafed by the Outsider government’s isolationist stance, told Mya they could take their crisis and shove it. The UEE spent more time setting up blockades at Jump Points than they did trying to help.

The civilian response was only marginally better.  Yeah, we became the flavor of the month for a little while, the cause celebre that drove the usual crowd of attention-whores to display the blue-purple ribbons, or to flash that pinky-thumb sign of unity that had been used by countless groups beforehand. A StarFund campaign actually crowd-sourced a Freelancer-load of food and clothing that showed up early on. But soon hundreds of charity drives popped up, many proving to be scams or mismanaged debacles that brought little or no relief to ground zero. Like the victims of massive storms in ages past, our story eventually got stale and the news turned its attention to the next compelling disaster. Eight months into our survival, it became pretty clear nobody gave a shit.

Unless you count the Xi’An. Who would have figured that?

Truth be told, I don’t think they came to Brimstone expecting to help. It was almost a year after the event that Kray dispatched a token delegation for the sake of public relations, sending some mid-level bureaucrat who lacked the clout to dodge the assignment.  They offloaded a shiny little AutoMed and a few conex containers of food, then reluctantly agreed to a brief tour before they shuffled away.

Everything changed when they walked into the Nek.

I couldn’t tell you what it was they saw. By all appearance it was just another twisted obelisk of wreckage outside the smoldering maw of Mineshaft 3. But the Xi’An fell on their scaley faces and backed out groveling. Whatever it was, or whatever they think it was, serious help started arriving by the boatload. Building materials, fuel, even three atmo recyclers; everything Brimstone needed get back on its feet, and then some.

Xi’An cruisers started patrolling the borders separating Leir and Vanduul space. That really chapped some UEE ass, especially on occasions when the Xi’An backed up Outsider fleets stationed at the Jump Points.

On a day-to-day basis the Xi’An pretty much keep to theirselves. They don’t seem to have any interest in our affairs as long as they have unfettered access to what they’ve come to call the ‘Ménhù’ which I guess means holy place or something.

As a result, Brimstone rose from the ashes, a city under no laws but her own.  Despite some pointless saber-rattling, the UEE seems reluctant as hell to roll out here with muscle for fear of further galvanizing the Outsiders and the Xi’An. The politics of their own failure made Brimstone something of a steaming turd that the Imperials would rather ignore. That works just fine for us.

Over the next two years a growing body of pirates, smugglers and worse have drifted to our docks, happy for safe haven where ill-gotten gains can be traded without question. Business sprung up catering to that market, places like Roxy’s: a one-stop shop for fencing, whoring and gambling. We are not long on doctors in Brimstone, not legit ones anyway, but Mya has a proper hospital if somebody needs major re-assembly.

The Banu are underfoot pretty much all the time. Those fuckers would sell their grandma if she’d fetch a good price. Without a blink they took to Brimstone as any other underserved market. A lot of stolen cargo filters back into the rest of the ‘verse on Banu ships.

Despite our wayward ways and all the bad blood, we still do some business with the Empire. They have a ravenous appetite for strategic metals, even if those deals are normally worked through brokers of dubious repute that have no traceback to respectable firms. It turns out that once you get past all the posturing, nothing in the ‘verse is really wrong as long as it makes a profit.

Brimstone has become a place where a lot of people live, where a fair few of them die, a place where concepts like rights and law don’t survive a meter past your ability to enforce ‘em. It is a maze of cold, dark alleys and underground tunnels where we look askance at pinks, unblemished off-worlders who don’t carry the scars of that night.  At its center, Brimstone is a graveyard where the dead never fell to the ground, where ghosts and aliens roam through the ashes together.

This is Brimstone: an armpit of industry, a criminal haven, the last outpost on the edge of nothing.  And these are her stories.

About the Author:

Nicknamed the Mistress of Fiction by our very own Nehkara, she drifts through a universe of words, throwing those words into paragraphs that eventually turn into a story.

5 comments

  1. Rholliday

    Looking forward to those stories, great backstory!

  2. Saoldian

    Excellent. Very good setup. Looking forward to more. I may get a chance to record this soon.

  3. Gunza

    Beautiful set up for what promises to be an interesting and intriguing look into the universe

  4. Rock'N'Anchor

    When I read this I heard Tychus Findlay’s voice in my mind. Hell, I’ts about time!

  5. Keelhorn

    Wow! Great story. Is this going to be part of the game? I’d love to see the Nek in person. It’s sounds really cool.

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