No one comes to the Outer Rim. Most of the planets here are barren dust bowls barely able to sustain life. The only thing the Consortium deems us remotely worthy for is mining their precious ore. In fairness, even those of us born on these planets don't really want to be here. Which is why I could hardly believe my bionic ear when I heard the Consortium's announcement they would be here, on Bounty, the absolute crappiest of the Outer Rim planets.
A woman in a crisp blue and silver uniform and blonde hair in a neat chignon is displayed on my holo-hover over my workbench. "Do you want to make a difference in the galaxy? Do you want to do hunt outlaws? Come to Bounty on Universal Day 45 at 0900 and run our course with your speeder bike to see if you have what it takes to become an Agent of the Consortium. Remember only citizens with authorized bio-augmentations can apply. Bio-hacking is not only a bad idea, it's against the law."
With all my augmentations, I don't have a chance of leaving this hole, but there is still hope for some of us. As if on queue, the door to my shop opens and a tall lanky man with a mess of thick brown hair saunters in. His bright white smile stands out from his soot covered body. He leans over the workbench and tries to sneak a kiss. I push back from him and feign disgust.
"Ew, don't touch me with that ore covered face of yours. Go wash up."
His blue eyes sparkle and he nods his head. "Whatever you say, darlin'."
As he saunters to the bathroom I ask, "Did you see the latest announcement from the Consortium?" I get up from my bench and get closer to the bathroom so he can hear me. "Looks like the they're recruiting here in a few days. You should go and tryout. You can run circles around anyone with a speeder."
The water in the bathroom turns off and he emerges. His face is now his normal pasty white hue from too much time spent in the dark tunnels mining ore.
He chuckles and closes the door, "I think you're forgetting one important thing. I don't have a speeder."
As a teen, Wil was somewhat of a celebrity on the amateur speeder racing circuits. But racing didn't pay the bills, mining did. With increased responsibility at the mine came less time to play. When his dad fell ill a few years back, he sold his speeder to pay the medical costs. That's when Wil gave up all hope of leaving this place.
I flourish my hand around the shop. "Are you saying that your bestest pal in the world couldn't cobble together something among this heap?" I kick an old boxy speeder bike in front of me, "This one belongs to Renee Helton. I'm sure she'd let you borrow it. Anything to get one of our own out of this dump."
He sits at a workbench and starts to tinker with a motor to avoid my gaze. "Piper, I'm too old to tryout. I'm a good five years older than everyone in the Agent training camps. Eh, I got a good job at the mine." He lets out a wet cough and I hand him a shop rag. He dabs away the crimson staining his lips and I give him a stern look. "Ain't nothing but a little ore irritation. It'll go away soon."
"Yeah and so will the rest of your lungs. Don't be stupid, this is your ticket out of here."
He sighs, "I'm out of practice with racing speeders. I think my time has passed."
I cross my arms in front of me and set my jaw. "Some of us had the choice of leaving this place taken away from us a long time ago," I say as I point to my eye and ear implants, "But, Wil, you're the best of all of us. You maneuver speeders like no other. Dude, if you don't at least try, I'm never sleeping with you again." He stops tinkering and looks up at me dumbfounded. I sit in his lap. "Okay you know that's an idle threat. But what do you have to lose? Worst case, you'll get to do a speeder course for old time's sake. See if you still got it."
Before he can answer the door to my shop open and two burly men come in. The smaller of the two men grumbles, "Boss lady wants to see you right away, Piper."
I roll my eyes. "Tell her I have three more days before I have to pay my dues."
The bigger of the two men grabs my upper arm and says, "We ain't askin'."
Wil scrambles from his seat, but I raise my hand for him to stand down. "It's okay. She ain't gonna do nothing. She's just messing with me." I look to the big man. "Let's go. I got work to do here." I look back to Wil. "You gonna sign up?"
He gives his disarming half smile and rubs a hand through his hair. "I guess I got no choice. Do I?"
"Guess not." I wrestle my arm free from the big man. "Let's go see the boss lady. I can only guess what the old woman wants now."
Paige Daniels likes to tinker and make crazy stories swirling around her brain come to life.