Duty was neither to be entered upon lightly, nor to be worn as a badge of honor. Yet even in her short life, Liatris had seen both. Had done the first, as a matter of fact. Which was arguably what had led her to this forgotten backwater. She liked backwaters. Had grown up in one, chosen another to spend most of her adult life in. But this one… this one gave her the shudders. She squared her shoulders yet again, heaven forbid a Voyageur of the HBC show ought less than a bold countenance. Lifting a clenched fist, she prepared to knock at the door, only to be surprised as it swung open.
Liatris put a hand on the holster at her hip, fingering the worn leather, but not yet pulling her weapon. “Hello?” she called, pitching her voice to carry without too great a volume.
No answer came from within, and from the scents swirling about her on the air from the house, she though no-one had lived her for quite some time. Duty bound, she stepped into the tenement hall. The stillness in the air was almost complete, although Lia thought she saw and felt the ghostly movement of rodents feeling in each room as she wound her way through the rooms in a circle ending back at the door.
None within. Dusty furniture and littered floors spoke of residents at some lost date. Duty had not driven Lia to inspect the food chiller. She was unwilling to inflict that on her nose. She hesitated at the threshold weighing duty. Was her long journey balanced by this empty place where her quarry ought to have been? She sighed and pulled the door closed behind her. Overhead, rain drummed on the dome and green lightning tore through the mineral-laced atmosphere that had brought humans to this planet. A whole planet, and all the men on it packed into this squalid place. Her nose wrinkled as she looked around. Narrow streets dominated with towering tenements, each floor an apartment unto itself, accessed by grav elevators. Many of them, she had been told, could only be accessed by the previous owner’s DNA, a design flaw that had left landlords gnashing their teeth when renters refused to leave or to pay rent.
Lia pulled her toque back onto her head, affixing that badge of her status and livelihood firmly. Even in this misbegotten place, the voyageur’s cap would be recognized and respected. She set out for the nearest bar. She knew it wouldn’t be far. Every settlement on every planet in the known galaxy had at least one bar, and her rule of thumb was that the more poor and miserable the place, the more bars there would be. Her only criteria was, where would the widow of a spaceman hang out?