The Magnet and its Failed Coup

The terminal was old. Some said older than the stars, more ancient than the existing heavens. When the ale at the drink stations flowed over receptacles, haggard women and men would place bets they’d never collect on the date of the space hub. “A million years,” a person would declare, even though they didn’t know what that span of time looked like. “A billion,” another would say only because it was the largest number they could remember.

Its glittering surfaces, immense size and circular shape was a vision of beauty to travellers who had wandered for far too long. Or plotted the wrong route in the navcomputer. Somehow, without explanation or understanding, people always seemed to find it. They may have last been in the Foglary Quadrant. Perhaps even running on a damaged C-13 engine in the Newscomb sector, it didn’t matter though—the terminal appeared. It’s not that it didn’t have a way-point, it did. You could get there and back without too much hassle, but it was discoverable. If that was something Newton would bend his laws for.

The Magnet, the most recent visitors had nicknamed the place.

Twenty-five million humans existed there, only the other consulates knew how many other sentient lifeforms. Twenty-five million, but only a single Troy.

He’d arrived four decades ago, the last remaining survivor of a pirate raid. His jutting jaw and black hair giving way over the years to something more rounded and silvery. If there was an empirical average for homo-sapiens, he would have fallen squarely within it: a single job as a spaceship repairer, two kids and a wife who had named him snugglepuss.

The only reason he is worth mentioning, perhaps the only reason one mentions anybody on a station that vast, is because he upset several important people. Not intentionally, Troy was far too civilised for that. Rather, because he practised his Tai-chi in the middle of the busy Shinjawl bay, he foiled an assassination attempt on Senator Lewis’s life.

He upset the important folk long enough, one of them threw a teacup at a glittering wall. Then went back to making himself richer.

That’s all.


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