I've always had a fascination with fire.
When I was but a wee ruins-rat, huddling with others for warmth in the Red Zones of Tau Station, the older ones would tell us stories. Some of them, from the catastrophe, passed down to future generations. They would always start off with the tale of destruction, but my favourites were of the ones where the burning tongues of fire, consuming precious oxygen and releasing toxic smoke, swept through a station before being beaten back by venting the atmosphere and by hosing the inferno with a majority of the water supply. Sometimes though, the station didn't survive. I was enraptured by the power of this mindless force that destroyed with impunity. Could I harness this power for myself?
Doing some discreet work, I noticed that one of my employers was Aeris Tinsley, former explosives expert. When I asked her about using fire, she simply laughed. “I’m an expert on explosives in asteroid mining environments. There’s no fire out there. In fact, fires would be catastrophic where I was working. Now, do you have that package for me?” I handed over the package, got paid, and we parted ways. Of course, I would meet her repeatedly in the future, but the subject never came back up.
Paris Spatiale was an eye-opener for me. While everyone I had met so far had a great fear of fire, this station’s inhabitants were openly lighting their gas-lamps in light of the shortage of electricity. When I asked someone about this in the lounge, Le Salon, they were happy to explain to me the parallels between the lanterns and spaceship engines: both were powered by high-energy events, but the fuel flow was limited so that it wasn’t all released at once. I wondered if this fuel flow could be weaponized.
The Ghost of Mali is a fascinating place where the inhabitants seem to hate depending on technology, which was puzzling: are the plants they so dearly love not a product of genetic engineering? The fertilizers are certainly imported from Daedalus. It was not a closed-loop system; the run-off simply collected in a different, bacteria-laden, biohazardous part of the station i.e. not recycled. But the inhabitants carried sharp knives and many weapons, so I didn’t voice my concerns out loud.
What was most interesting to me was that the House of Spartacus seems to have these weapons called “firethrowers”; by shooting a jet of liquid fuel and igniting it, fire could be used as a tool. It was advertised for clearing off overgrown areas of the station, but the implications were clear: it works on humans too! While there were several kinds, the Goram in the display case stood out to me. The shiny metallic red gleamed, a tantalizing promise of beautiful fire to purge, to cleanse, brighten.
Of course I couldn’t afford it! It cost over 1700 bonds! How did I acquire one? Working. Many, many days spent as an operative, earning my daily salary of 20 bonds, overtime work, shutting down illegal water harvesting equipment set up by ruins-rat scum, hoping for that promotion so that I could move up the next pay bracket. My dreams were filled with us together, clearing everything until only sterile ashes remained…
I did it. I got it. My precious, precious…