An Excerpt from Arcana Aeternum

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The Part that isn’t the Concert, but Should be

At each end of an Eco Shell’s axis lies a massive dome used to process and store matter as fuel for the entirety of the Shell. These domes complete the Shell’s spherical shape. The entire Shell rotates end over end, the two fuel cells orbiting each other, in order to reduce strain on the Shell’s metastructure. The exact floor plan of the domes is not a matter of general knowledge, but it is known that a dome will detach from the shell and make landfall on any stable celestial body, and the matter harvesters located around the extreme perimeter of the dome will begin to strip mine the planetoid, converting it into osmium, until the dome reaches capacity.

Osmium was chosen as a fuel source for its unmatched density. Iridium was an alternative possibility, and for some time a few of the more stable radioactive elements (and one or two super dense molecules) were considered for their proximity to useful materials, but ultimately this fell in favor of the compact, already spherical configuration of osmium.

Each dome can carry a ball of osmium one twelfth the size of the moon. Between the two, this is a total mass roughly equal to that of the Earth. The fuel cells are never substantially expended. From full capacity, the station could theoretically run for ten billion years.

It is not policy to mine any planetoid above class four, where life is a mathematical possibility. It is not policy to mine a star system for longer than it takes to fill the Eco Shell to capacity, in case the Shell is forced to backtrack. It is not policy to approach a star system with evidence of a class seven, intelligent life bearing planetoid. Policy can be overridden by a quorum of the Consulate or by direct order of the Primus, either of which can be petitioned for by the populous.

The Part that isn’t the Concert, but Should be

The floor of the concert hall was so tightly packed that the kid had entirely given up on navigating by sight, opting instead to rely on his heads up overlay to keep track of where his friends were meeting. The system wasn’t very good for manipulating data like the terminals were, but was perfect for displaying maps and translating or referencing information. At the moment the kid was using a top-down map which represented people using small circular icons, for simplicity. Folks the kid didn’t know had more generalized icons that kept folks in categories, mostly to separate patrons from staff and so forth. Just a quick duck between two clusters of concert-goers and he was in the small food court outside a taco stall. The icon representing Hector winked his salutations, and the kid let the overlay fade into transparency.

“Hey, little man, nab yourself a seat.” Hector was not the oldest, nor the most wealthy, but he was certainly the one with the most disposable income. Of the entire group he was the one to change his appearance most often, from buying a new outfit every few days to getting exotic body modifications every few months. Currently he sported a hooded fur jacket with vertical stripes of brown and black, and a pair of large cat-like ears poked through slits in the hood. His hands and feet (both bare) had heavy, claw-like nails. Hector was also one of the more immature of the group, pretending to be an animal or a monster to get attention or get folks to laugh or smile. Presently, he was sitting on his heels in his seat, stuffing his face with a walnut salad like some kind of treeborne rodent.

Next to Hector was Samantha, who wore a lot of tight-fitting layers of multicolored clothing and countless redundant accessories including a collection of bangles that covered half her left forearm. Sitting splayed across her lap, feeding her little churro bites, was her roomate-of-questionable-relation Cataryn, who wore mostly contemporary men’s formal wear in cool pastels.

Salazar, who still wasn’t present, was more of a hobbyist Fleur, in the same sub-category as Sam. Gallants or Charmers they were sometimes called, more into mature forms of levity than the childish glee the others so enjoyed. Salazar frequently missed out on this sort of social event. As part-owner of a performance empire that encompassed half the Shell, the man was busy.

"What's the plan, Hector?" the boy sat in one of the small chairs and crossed his legs under himself, "Do we plan on actually going in this time, or were the tickets just to lure Sal down from his office?"

"The tickets are bait, kiddo, but they're not for Sallizard. I don't really care if he shows. No, they're to catch the gallies' eyes." Hector proceeded to gnaw on his fork.

Cat leaned in over Samantha to speak, her voice was deep and silken, reminiscent of Slavic or Russian women of earth, "I am known to the sort who would love a beastie like you Hec, and she would love you no more for your back. stage. pass."

The kid snickered quietly behind an over-sized sleeve.

Hector bared his teeth, "That's enough from you two. Kid, if you want to go in, go on in. We're all in the same seating section, so you'll be able to find us before the show starts, unless I've got somewhere better to be."

The kid nodded and, eager to get a look around, bounced out of his seat and picked his way across the passage to the secured backstage hall. The security detail did not have to stop him to check for a pass, all his information was accessible through the net. They were probably busy confiscating contraband narcotics anyway. Mark of Hubris had an unusually strict anti-stimulant policy; they also had a bad record with crowds getting rowdy. The two were only mostly related.

The kid could feel his pulse straining in his head as he stepped into the backstage area. A small collection of collapsible tables were set up with an array of grown fruits laid out like a colorful offering to the gods. One vendor in particular was still setting out his little yellow hooked fruit as he made eye contact with the kid. He wore a buttoned shirt the boy recognized as a Hawaiian shirt, and he flashed a gentle smile as he gestured to his crate.

“You want a banana, young man? They’re not just for the band, any of the roadies or producers can have at them, we’re catering for the whole crew.” As the man spoke with his earnest and animate gestures, a small creature struggled to keep astride his shoulder.

His eyes transfixed by the creature, the kid couldn’t help but giggle at its struggles. “No, I’m just a fan. I mean, I have a pass to be back here, but I’m not part of the crew or anything. Besides, I don’t think my stomach could handle anything... at present.” The boy added the last bit as if he were topping a sundae with a cherry, an afterthought to spruce up his lackluster explanation. He was always so much more clever in his head.

A voice from across the room cut into the conversation, “Oh, all this fuss! I’m flattered, really, but honestly, I’m just a simple person.” the Jack of Diamonds himself, Nikki Starr, strode fluidly into the room as though he didn’t weigh a thing, and alighted upon the corner of the table, crossing his legs with a flourish. He wore a finely detailed silk robe and a porcelain mask, a convention the band started when they first got into body modifications—initially because nudity was an occasional inconvenience, and later, to keep the day’s ensemble a secret until they got on stage. “That having been said:” Nikki continued, “tell me you adore me, tell me you need me, tell me you can’t live apart from my divine radiance in your life—and tell me those are bananas, man alive! The last time we had fruit it was those tasteless pears, like a handful of wet sand.”

“Nik!” Gavin had also entered the room by much more subtle means, his robe and mask consisted of simpler, rougher shapes. Between him, Nikki, and the little green devil on the islander’s back, the kid was beginning to feel light-headed. “The gal with the pears is here too, stop being such an ass.” Gavin finished, reprimanding his guitarist.

Pretending to ignore his band-mate, Nikki snagged a banana with a heretofore unseen serpentine tail and started munching on it as he looked down at the fan, making him feel even more like a cornered rabbit.

“‘s this what my adoring fans are wearing these days? Toe socks and scarves? I mean, don’t get me wrong, you look fantastic, you’ve got quite a strong- eh... theme going, with the pastel vomit pallet and the silvered makeup. I just don’t follow where it hitches with our sound.”

What followed was a brief moment in which the kid wished with every fiber of his being to be anywhere else on the Shell. How the hell was he meant to defend himself, let alone his entire ideology to such an idol? An infallible being had questioned a fundamental axiom, and as poorly as he had been choosing his words thus far, the boy knew he could never negotiate the meeting of the two.

“Uhm, well, it’s all about symbols of bliss, like sprinkles on a cupcake, just the simple stuff that brings a smile to your face, and we- or, at least... like... this is all really just my... my interpretation, I’m sure I can’t really speak for all Fleur-de-lis, but I like your music because it’s not specifically about anything aside from enjoyment, just relishing life. Even when you get dark it’s a confident, cocky, careless darkness; you never do depressive stuff, or angry stuff, especially when you yourself are feeling dark.”

For a few painful eons, The Nikki Starr simply masticated his banana thoughtfully. “Fair enough. You’ve got a good head on yuh, boyo.” he said finally, before kicking off the table and sauntering off towards the stage area. Just before he ducked into the doorway, he tossed his banana peel to one side where it stopped in mid-air and disintegrated.

The effect was quite dramatic, but the fact that a rock star had a personal disposal swarm only said that he either liked the effect, or couldn’t afford littering fees.
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