Three-hundred-thousand souls, three-hundred-thousand tiny sparks of life, captured inside an artificial world, moving through the dark expanse of space.
Charon had left a ruined Earth a little over six-hundred years ago together with its four sister-Arks. The multi-generational starships that contained the last scraps of the human race would travel until they reached a planet where humanity could start over. Designed and built by Earth’s brightest minds, the Arks were completely self-contained. They could continue the journey indefinitely, carrying with them their precious cargo.
Generation after generation of humans, living their lives inside a flimsy man-made metal tube. The tiniest crack in the hull, the slightest breach, and poof! Three-hundred-thousand lives snuffed out.
That knowledge drove some people crazy. They couldn’t handle knowing that all that stood between them and a cold, oxygen-deprived vacuum was a couple of layers of metal, glass and plastic. It was like their brains got stuck on that thought and just couldn’t process it. The Black simply took them. Took their minds, and in the end, their will to live.
Lucindo Dagate had seen it happen up close. First with her uncle and then her older sister. She had laid in her bed in the tiny, dark apartment they had shared with him and his wife, Vespera, and listened to Roul scream out his anxiety and his terror until the medics in their neat white and blue smocks finally came and took him away.
A couple of years later the medics had come back. This time for Rosinta.
The trick, Lucindo thought, was to not think about it. And the Elysium-grade stimulant coursing through her blood together with the pumping beat of the loud music made not thinking easy. She moved to the music, her hips swaying, the see-through fabric of her tight dress shimmering as she danced on the small stage.
Being born intersexed, with both male and female genitalia, had been her ticket out of the Wards, and now here she was, working as a dancer in the Peacock Lounge!
Okay, so she still lived in the Wards. But her very own Prince Charming had promised to set her up with an apartment just outside the Gardens. Maybe it would even have a view of the lake? She wasn’t so naive that she believed him when he said that they would be together forever, but she was going to enjoy the ride while it lasted.
Lucindo strutted her stuff on the stage, arching her back as the music reached its crescendo, pushing her small firm breasts out. She thought about the dose of stim she had hidden in her make-up kit in the dressing room. About the bottle of champagne her prince had promised to bring with him. About how he had said he wanted to stay the entire night. She had fucked more people than she cared to remember, but she had never woken up together with someone before.
It was going to be so… special.