Tuesday, May 21, 2013

141: Gagarin's Rest

ENTRY 141: Gagarin’s Rest

On the icy moon of Pandora stands the massive Gateway complex. Through the maze of corridors and tunnels to the chamber of the Pandora Gate itself, it is a humming hive of transhuman activity. But just outside the gate room, there is a door marked by a skull; and through that door is the gatecrasher’s bar—Gagarin’s Rest. The last stop most gatecrashers take before they go through to their pre-gatecrash checks, and the first stop after debriefing coming back.

The story goes that Gagarin’s Rest started out as an emergency exit leading to a canyon-like alley out of the complex, where the first gatecrashers would come out for a quick pull before going on what might be their final journeys, and eventually some squatter made it permanent. It’s cozy rather than cramped and a couple degrees colder than comfortable for most unmodified humans, with recessed lighting and only ten seats at the bar—a stretch of laser-cut Pandora with a couple thousand scratches in it to give it character—and booths along the wall, with a couple tables in back next to the bathrooms. A flat named Dukovitch pours the straight beers and the wine, while his lifemate, a case called Illiov, handles the mixed drinks and hookahs. The ceiling is made from slabs of transparent aluminum, so that customers can stare up and see the stars—or, as Dukovitch says, so they can stare down on them.

The walls are covered with tokens of travel: bits of stone from a dozen exoplanets, pictures of gatecrashers that didn’t make it etched in synthetic diamond raising their final a glass, pieces of old spacejunk, and of course Gagarin’s skull right over the mantle, staring down at everyone that comes in. It’s probably not the real thing, though Dukovitch swears it is…and if anyone who’s scanned it has found otherwise, they’ve never posted it to the Mesh. The one morph stupid enough to try to steal it was found in six pieces on six different exoplanets.

There are traditions at Gagarin’s Rest, and parties when missions go well, and wakes when they do not. A standing rule is that any gatecrasher heading out to a new destination for the first time, Illiov will pour them a free drink; if they come back, most buy a bottle of something and give it to Illiov in return. Otherwise, the bar trades on @-rep and a little kroner, and if Illiov and Dukovitch don’t have something they’ll fetch something else—“Try, you like.” Dukovitch will say with a crooked smile, gold-on-steel teeth gleaming.

Using Gagarin’s Rest

There’s a gatecrasher’s bar at every gate, but there is only one Gagarin’s Rest. Located so close to the gate itself, the bar is a good place to do business or just socialize and pick up a few rumors. There are more mysteries lining its walls than can be counted, more practical gatecrashing experience bellied up to the bar for a quick tote of oxygen or a touch of hash oil in a shot of grain alcohol than player characters are likely to find anywhere else. Dukovitch and Illiov operate mainly on trust and good will, and they have a lot of it to spare—with their @-rep, few would deny the men anything they asked for, but they ask for very little. Good friends to have, but considerate enemies. Their clientele tends to be less forgiving.