They call our planet Bounty, but the stark red dust and rock covered surface is far from a bounty. That is unless dust, rock, and blazing temperatures are your idea of a good time. Naming the planet Bounty was more of a way to draw in settlers looking for jobs. The entirety of the planet looks the same, there is no escape, except for one place: Corliss Scot's palatial residence.
Corliss made a name for herself about fifteen years ago when she made an extremely addictive elixir that eased all the miners' inevitable woes from years of mining poisonous ore. After years of experiencing debilitating headaches and breathing issues the miners would take anything claiming to alleviate their symptoms. Corliss was and is a heartless bitch who knew exactly what she was doing. With all that money, she was able to terraform a few acres of rolling green hills. In the middle of the lush green hills she built a white farm house with a wrap-around porch. The resources it took to build the house and keep the acreage green were all a monument to her pervasiveness in this little town.
On the porch, an unassuming heavyset woman in her fifties with graying ginger hair sips at a glass with amber liquid. "C'mon up here and join me for a beverage."
I put my hands on my hips and stay right where I am. "What do you want, Corliss?"
"Is that how you talk to your mother?"
"Okay, what do you want ... mother?"
She knits her eyebrows and grumbles. "Always the smartass. I have a few things I want to talk to you about."
There's no use arguing, she always gets her way. I tromp up the stairs and flop in the rocking chair next to her. To the side of me there is a bottle filled with the same amber liquid she's drinking. I take the bottle and fill and empty glass half full then take a sip. My muscles relax and I ease into the chair and take another sip.
Corliss smiles at me. "Got that stuff from the Core Planets. We're starting to make a name for ourselves here. They can't live without this here ore we mine. Makes the ships, the computers, everything. The Consortium has taken advantage of us for far too long and I'm gonna change that. I'm gettin' old and I need your help."
My muscles tense up again and sigh, "Good lord, mamma, not this again. It doesn't really matter who's screwing us we're still getting screwed. The only difference between you and the Consortium is that the Consortium has more resources. You're just another piece of red tape the people have to go through to get their stuff."
She slams down her glass and glares at me for what feels like minutes. She slows her breathing and clinches her jaw then nods slowly. "Always the ingrate after everything I have done for you."
"What the hell you talkin' about? These?" I ask pointing at my implants. "In case you haven't heard, these black market pieces of crap make it impossible for me to ever leave this planet."
She bolts up and starts to pace on the porch. I get up from my seat to watch her performance. She silently paces for a few more seconds and stops so she's within arm’s length of me. Her lip quivers as she speaks, "What was I supposed to do? Me and your daddy didn't know about all the genetic mutations the ore could pass on, if we did..." She caresses my face. She continues, lip still quivering now this time with a tear, "No, I wouldn't change a thing you were the best thing that's happened to me, baby girl."
I roll my eyes. "Spare me. You and I know the Consortium was giving out implants to all who qualified."
Her quivering lip disappears and her tears remarkably dry up on command. Her mouth twists into a wry smile. "You are a smart one." She goes back to her chair and gulps down the last of her whiskey then points at me. "What you have implanted beats anything the Consortium would've given a poor Outer Cluster resident."
I lean on the railing and say, "And we both know that made my options for employment either working for you or myself, because any Consortium owned business, like the mine, would never hire me. But you didn't ask me here to argue about my implants. What do you want?"
She pours herself another glass of whiskey and takes a sip. "I already told ya. I need a successor. You're smart. You don't take anyone's shit and I trust you or at least I distrust you the least. We both know that shop of yours ain't gonna take off unless I say it will."
She's right, but I'm not going to let her know that. "Well, Corliss, I'm going to have to decline your offer for now."
She chuckles. "You're full of piss and vinegar, but that's what I like about ya."
I make my way down the stairs and off to my right I notice a transport full of speeders being delivered to barn a few hundred meters from the house. "Nice air runners."
She stands on the porch and nods. "Yeah, just got 'em in. Top of the line, Barchetta Class. Fully calibrated inertial dampeners and hover assist, say the word and one can be yours." I toss around the possibilities. I could join her and let Wil borrow my brand new air runner. He'd definitely qualify with a sweet piece of machinery like that. Knowing the things my mother has done and what I'd be expected to do, I can't do it.
I shake my head. "No, thanks, Corliss. I think I'll make a go of it on my own."
"Have it your way. You still owe me your dues next week. You don't get no special considerations."
"Wouldn't have it any other way."
I sidle back to my shop with a plan in mind.