[master post]

People come here to do business and get a job done. They're usually looking for something in particular, or have a vague idea of it at the very least.

The acres of parts, and places to put them in, don't have much rhyme or reason to them, as far as organization goes. It means you need to either have a lot of time on your hands for exploring, or to know who to ask to find what you need.

Over in the shipyard section -- it's one big open space, made of poured concrete, where captains can land their ships to take on repairs while their passengers go have fun. The people over in the shipyards generally aren't having fun, and they probably won't take too kindly to visitors nosing around.
[master post]

Portions of the marketplace are covered. The vast majority of it isn't.

Given two days you could probably see everything, if you hurried. If you wanted to take your time... maybe a week.

Anything you're looking for, you can likely find. Like most of Santo, it's got its good parts -- its high-class parts -- and the parts that are not so good. People here speak all kinds of languages, though English and Mandarin are the two most frequently spoken. You probably shouldn't assume that everybody you meet will speak English. (Some of them will speak Basque.) One thing that holds true, no matter the section of the market you're in -- swirls of bright color, and crowds of people.
[master post]

On Santo, nobody has heard of the Delicate Flowers.

Some of these similar institutions aren't run nearly as well. They're not as high-class.

Could you get a Companion on Santo? Maybe. The vast majority of men and women will have to try the regular old red-light district.
[master post]

This is what Santo is known for.

The resorts are huge complexes, with the expected divisions and outlying areas: pools, rooms, a spa, theaters, courses for games (golf is still around, but it's not quite like it used to be), and others.

Those others include casinos.

Some are nicer than others. Some are glitzier than others. Some are more dangerous than others. None have an interest in letting any guests make any real money.

Still, they're worth a visit, if you're into that sort of thing.
[master post]

The point of parks is to give people a place to meet, to play, to relax, under a bright blue sky. There are even breaks of forest in one park -- meadows, too.

And playgrounds. Really good ones. And fountains for playing in, and statues for posing with.

Also, ice cream.

And shrubbery.
[master post]

Over on the west side of the metro area, and about ten klicks from the ocean, there's a group of stately buildings on a wide avenue.

These are museums. You'd be surprised what people think is worthy of conservation these days. Admission tends to be either cheap or free, so why not take a look?
[master post]

You have to walk down a ramp to get to the sand. The ramp stretches over sand dunes, with sea oats dotting them, blowing in the near-constant breeze. On the same level as the ramp: a boardwalk, dotted with places to get sketchy-looking fried food, to try your luck at a number of games of chance, to watch performers, to ride roller coasters of the future!!!!

When you walk down the ramp, it's all white sand and blue water. Down about half a mile is a pier that juts out several hundred feet.

It's a nice beach. Not too crowded.
Before the war, Santo used to be a playground for the rich. Now it's just a playground.

Tourism still drives the economy -- focusing on the people who need to get in and out. That means a thriving urban center where nobody actually lives. The suburbs are still full of people, and on the weekends, they'll go to the beaches with the visitors to the coast. They're smart enough not to spend too much time on the boardwalk, though -- unless they're either bored, in the mood for a roller coaster, or in the mood to be fleeced. (Or to eat something fried.)

Sometimes they'll head, instead, to the museum district. You'd be surprised to see the variety of places here -- people think all kinds of things are worthy of conservation. There are also several parks scattered around, at least a few of which feature swingsets.

Other kinds of playgrounds include the resorts, complete with casinos.

(Also, brothels.)

Most anybody's material needs can be met in the marketplace, which caters to an astonishing variety of needs. It's pretty big.

It's a little separate from the shipyard and salvage yards, which are out by the train station that's the longest way out on the line.

A ways beyond that, there's a ship. A little old, maybe, and in need of some repairs, but still in good shape.



(OOC questions go here!)
Daniel is nearing Whittier, maybe 5 hours out, when he sends the wave to Serenity. He isn't sure how far they are, or if the ship's outdated comm system will send the message right, but he has to try.

"To the man calling himself Malcolm Reynolds. It is important that I speak with you. I have questions that need answers. If you land, I can come meet you." He chuckles dryly. "No weapons, I promise. If I miss you on Whittier, I'll keep tracking you. As someone who claims to be a browncoat, I'll expect you to do me this courtesy. You'll be hearing from me again soon."

He keys the message off and hits send. All he can do now is wait.
It's evening when Daniel lands on Praxed, the main streets of the town crowded with workers heading home for the night, shopping for dinner ingrediants, socializing and gossiping in doorways. It's a pleasant night and people are in the mood to be sociable. A good night for a man to sniff out information.
Turns out Daniel has an old acquaintance on Persephone who deals in small spacecraft - ironically, another old Browncoat. He wonders to himself if he's purposely surrounded himself with these people to torture himself, then shakes it off and passes over the credits.

It doesn't take him long to familiarize himself with the small craft - his teen years helping his dad with crop dusting coming back to him as his hands clutch the throttle. He eases back the controls and enters the atmosphere, shoulders tensing as he guides the ship on track towards Praxed. He probable won't find Reynolds there, but it's a good place to start.
Daniel is sitting with an older man, his silver hair glinting in the light from the lanterns scattered around the tent, drinking beers. They’ve been here for almost an hour, not really talking past the initial hellos and catching up. Daniel’s the quiet type; he’s not sure how he wants this conversation to go in any case.

Arthur leans back in his chair and gives the younger man a long look. “You look like somethin’ big crawled up your butt, Dan. You ready to tell me why you flew all the way from that shitheap you call a planet to see me? I know it ain’t the beer and I doubt it was just to see my pretty face.”

Daniel doesn’t really smile, staring down at the bottle in his hands, rolling it back and forth. After a couple of seconds, he sets the bottle down firmly and looks up, meeting Arthur’s eyes.

“Had a puffed up fella in a brown coat approach me in the bar couple days ago. Told me somethin’ about a law being passed, some Senator wanting to recruit former Independents to form militias on their planets. He also said somethin’ about having a trusted source with that info.” He gives Arthur a thin smile. “I thought about the only person I knew who might be able to confirm that story, and you are that lucky guy.”

Arthur sits up a bit straighter. He takes a swig from his bottle, then nods. “Yeah, I guess I am. And it’s true, Dan. I’ve got it from a good source that Tam, the Senator who wrote the law, has a lotta support. He figures the Alliance owes us.” He snorts and takes another drink.

“I keep hearing about this source,” Daniel says as he leans forward, his voice intense. “Who’s word is good enough to convince the Browncoats to believe the gŏu pì the Alliance is feeding ‘em?”

Arthur leans back again, looking at Daniel seriously. “You ever heard of a fella named Malcolm Reynolds?”

Daniel looks surprised. “Yeah, I have. Sergeant, his brigade was at Serenity Valley. So was mine.” He looks down. “We all knew each other after a while.” He takes his bottle and takes a long drink. When he looks back up, there is a hard, disbelieving look in his eyes. “Are you tellin’ me that Mal Reynolds is your trusted source?”

“Looks like,” Arthur replies. “That a problem?”

“Would be a problem for you too if a dead man was callin’ people to a fool’s mission,” Daniel retorts.

Arthur almost chokes on his beer, and coughs for a few seconds before sputtering, “Zhè shì shénme làn dōngxi? What do you mean, dead man? I spoke to Mal Reynolds at this very table about this 8 months back. Didn’t seem very dead to me.”

Daniel shakes his head stubbornly. “Mal Reynolds never left Serenity Valley. And besides, no one who fought there would ever trust the Alliance, never mind try to get people to join up with ‘em. He must have lied to you.”

Arthur shrugs uneasily. “Guess it’s possible. I haven’t known Reynolds long, and he was recommended to me by other, uh, disreputable men. Maybe they were fooled too.” He stares down at his bottle, suddenly looking much older, the lines in his face showing stark next to his white hair.

The bottle in Daniel’s hand thumps back down on the bar. He looks at Arthur, the hard look dominating his features. “You have any intel on where this Reynolds might be headed next?” He gives a harsh grin. “I think I need to hear about this from the man himself.”
Daniel Hobbs is a simple man. He works his job mining phosphates during the day, and at night he reads, or tends the small garden behind his house. A couple times a week he goes down to a local bar for a beer and a game of darts. For the most part he keeps to himself, lives a quiet life.

He’s never thought about why he’s chosen the bar he has. It’s a small, rundown place. His fellow drinkers are like him, quiet, but observant, and some are heavy drinkers. He appreciates the company, however taciturn. It helps drown out the thoughts that occasionally wander unwanted into his head, memories of long weeks, hunger, blood. He’s never taken the time to notice that the majority of the patrons tend to wear brown, or that no one ever raises a toast on Unification Day. He tries to convince himself he’s never noticed it, or that it matters.

This particular Thursday is no different than any other. Daniel works his shift in the mine, goes to his house and washes off the worst of the grit, then heads to the bar. He’s hoping maybe Melinda, the woman who has allowed him to buy her a drink and take her home once or twice, will be there, but he’s in the mood for any company at all.

He takes his usual stool at the bar, nodding to the bartender, who sets a stein in front of him. He raises it to his mouth, but as he sips, the back of his neck prickles. There’s more people here than usual, and almost all have pieces of distinctive clothing, familiar shades of brown. They sit in clumps, talking quietly, glancing around at the other groups. He sets the stein down, watching them out of the corners of his eyes.

He tenses as a new man enters the bar, his steps brisk as he approaches the nearest group. The others wander over as he speaks to them and as the man shifts, Daniel notices the insignia on his jacket. Browncoat, 189th Regiment.

Daniel abandons his casual posture, staring fully at the man. Is he crazy, wearing an Independent uniform like it’s a regular jacket? He turns back to the front of the bar and begins to fumble in his pocket for a coin – he’s going to pay and get the hell outta here. As he slips the coin on the bar and turns to go, his line of vision is cut off by brown. The man is standing right in front of him.

“Daniel Hobbs? My name is Harvis. I fought with the Independents and I’m told that you did too. A survivor of Serenity Valley.” A few murmurs go up from the table behind him, a few nods from the regulars who have known Daniel a while. Daniel looks back at the man steadily, trying to keep his hands from shaking. “Yeah. I did,” he says flatly. “That was a long time ago.”

Harvis meets his gaze. “Then I guess you haven’t heard. The Alliance passed a new law, a Senator Tam’s idea, called the IIGA. They’re reforming the Independents, lettin’ us be real military again, forming teams to protect our own planets. I’m heading up the division for our world, and we could use someone like you.”

Daniel is stunned. And angry. “You would trust the Alliance?” He steps closer to the man. “You think they’re really gonna let us arm ourselves? Protect our planets? You must be fēngle.” He pushes past Harvis, slamming the man’s shoulder as he passes. He is about five steps from the door when Harvis calls after him, “We’ve got the word of a Browncoat that this is on the level. Rumor is it’s a survivor from Serenity Valley. Just like you.”

Daniel stops again, and turns back slowly. “No one from Serenity Valley would ever trust the Alliance like this.” He turns back and walks out of the bar and into the night, shaking with anger.

As he walks back towards his house, the anger ebbs away, replaced with confusion. He doesn’t read the bulletins, tries to avoid news sheets. He’s been flying under the radar for so long, maybe this is real. He shakes his head and tries to think. There is one man he knows, someone he trusts to tell him the truth. He heads into the back room of his house, pushes aside some boxes to reveal a very dusty comm. He records a short message and sends the wave, then retreats to his room. He knows he won’t sleep til he hears the ping of an incoming wave.

“Arthur, it’s Daniel. We need to talk. What do you know about something called the IIGA?”
Joshua Caudill is a very busy man.

He wasn't always busy, and his wife undoubtedly preferred it that way, but being elevated to the selectmen of the Tanizaki Centre for Modern Medicine in Tingri City, Bernadette, is an honor that she can feel the benefits of, and so she doesn't complain. It means he spends time in his office, though -- much more than he used to. This in turn means that he gets to listen to shakuhachi jazz fusion concerts streamed in, in secrecy.

This is Joshua Caudill's only vice.

(That, and the medical textbook in its second draft that he swears he'll finish. In the next five years, surely. It can't take much longer than that.)

He does spend time with patients, however -- more complex cases. Anywhere from a quarter to a third of his day is spent in the examination and treatment room or on the ward with patients.

That's where he is -- examining a patient file by the nurses' station -- when the page comes from above: he's to return to his office for an administrative wave.
Ksenya is in the process of showing Kaylee the house, which leaves Dunash and Simon in the library, with a glass of wine and an armchair apiece. Outside, snow falls -- approaching ten centimeters of it, Dunash thinks, and more before morning.

There's a fire in the hearth, and Dunash looks over at Simon. Firelight illuminates; it also brings shadows and planes into prominence.

Five years is a long time.

Dunash looks over at Simon and says, "The feeds have been quiet, lately."
Call him a romantic -- he certainly calls himself one, if he thinks it'll help with the ladies -- but Edward Chao likes Ehrmann Square at dusk. That's when they put the colored lights in the fountains.

The Kelowna has put in for a week's worth of routine repairs; that's a week's leave on Osiris, and Diwali's going on, and the lights in the Square are aesthetically pleasing. Later there'll be fireworks, and there's also a bar that comes highly recommended a few blocks away. Chao can think of worse ways to spend the evening than with alcohol, stuff that gets lit on fire, and maybe, if he's lucky, a special lady.

-- no. If she's lucky.

Chao might just be smirking to himself a little (and giving himself a great mental soundtrack for walking) as he heads down Satyabhama Boulevard (one right at the big statue of the lady with all the arms, and the bar is on the left).

The smirk stops when the guy runs into him. "Watch it, buddy -- "
There is dancing in the streets on Londinium, on Unification Day. Literally. The Lion Dance and the Dragon Dance (Guangdong, Fut San, Hok San, and Ninghai variants) are performed in the center of every major district, and the ones in the government complex all lead toward the Parliament building and the great clock tower there, for a dance in the square with steps added to symbolize Unification. Later there is always a military parade (and newsfeeds always zoom in on Senator Fred Atwood of Londinium, the former general, who can always be counted on to have a tear in his eye at the appropriate moment), and later there are fireworks, after the Oxbridgian Scholars' Chamber Orchestra gives their annual concert. Around the city, theatrical performances of recently-commissioned works in the tradition of noh and kabuki and Qínqiāng pull together old themes to illustrate the gravity and magnificence of the task the 'verse has accomplished by unifying for the greater good of every man, woman, and child.

Sensors keep an eye on all the celebrants, as well as those not celebrating.

There are, of course, vigils at the monuments for the war dead -- vigils, and ceremonies. They make beautiful closing stories for the night's news broadcasts.

***


Often legislators take leave from session to visit their home planets on U-Day; this year, however, the Council of Seven passed a resolution asking them not to do so, as there are many things on the docket, and the time lost in transit is precious.

They are asked, therefore, to make an appearance somewhere during the day. To get on camera.

Representative Finch G. Wiley, of Three Hills, chooses to stand in the back of a children's chorus and sing along. Later he rolls up his sleeves and takes a turn making bao, just like his mother used to.

Senator Pauline Johanssen, of Chittenden, attends a vigil, stonefaced.

Senator Dorothy Fenimore, of Bernadette, takes a turn as the third man in a dragon, and doesn't trip over her own feet.

Senator Marcus Shapiro, of Beylix, participates in a conference call broadcast live at the University of Osiris Law School, and when asked to comment on the very interesting case of the Tam children, he tells the waiting faces that he's a politician first, a historian second, and not a legal expert at all.

***


As with most citizens of the Core, for Gabriel the fight for Unification had once simply meant a bitter five-year war -- one that for the most part took place elsewhere and was reported back through the filter of media spin.

His acquaintance with Malcolm Reynolds has changed that.

This year, Senator Gabriel Tam accepts the invitation to give the keynote address at the annual Victoria War Memorial ceremony on Londinium. With the soft rippling of the memorial fountain as a counterpoint behind him, he speaks quietly of what was lost as well as of what was won; of lives spent as bloody coin to pay the price for the triumph of victory; and of how important it is to ensure that never again will there be a need for such struggle.

***


Late at night, of course, there are the parties, with the sweeping staircases, and the swirling dresses, and the younger men dancing and the older men standing with glasses of scotch, the older women wishing their husbands would ask them to dance and the younger women taking their turns on the floor.

Companions stand out, men and women, jewels set in silver and gold. Companions stand out, but the head of House Aspasia, away from Sihnon for this holiday for the first time, is grander than all, and standing with no client tonight. She stands, straight-backed, smile serene and knowing.

What does she know? the dancing couples wonder; she's not telling.

At midnight, when the Parliamentary clock strikes, the guests all throw their wine glasses at a tree, and listen to them shatter. It's difficult to distinguish the ensuing laughter from the broken glass.
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