Aggi Rose loved market days. Other vendors at the market didn't love her, however. That made her love it even more.
The genehacked young woman's blue skin made the Earther traders nervous. After all, blue wasn't a natural, Earther skin tone. Aggi loved to show her custom genetically altered flesh off. When one Earther vendor tried to scare her off one Market Day because of it, Aggi came back the next week in a blue bikini top and made sure her skin implants glowed bright with advertisements of her wares.
"Halaal and blue, don't you think?" She'd said.
The Earthers kept their distance after that.
This was another Market Day at Jefferson Pod, and Aggi Rose led her stall-bot behind her. The lumbering thing jingled and thudded, covered in butchered meatsac steaks, hams, roasts and loins. She whistled, her dark sunglasses glittering in the artificial light of the orbital colony.
Jefferson Pod floated at the very end of the Nightland Colony. Nightland was called a colony the same way some might refer to the Moon or Mars as a colony. Looking at a map, you would just see that name, Nightland. But it wasn't just that name.
Nightland sat at Lagrange point 5 in Earth's orbit- at the opposite end of the System from where Earth orbited. Founded first by the United American Democracies, the colony had expanded into almost a hundred floating space colonys, all connected by gravity, cables or interconnecting mazes of pods. Aggi Rose had lived in Jefferson Pod all of her life. She had remembered living there for as long as she had blue skin.
She set up her stall, directing her Varmint of a Bot. Aggi managed to flick on a holographic projector and set up her metaputer to take in transactions. The morning rush flowed in, and always for her, crowds lined up and brought up her artificial meats.
Between waves of rushes of customers, a dark-skinned man with a large head implant, his body covered in a red leather trench coat. He put a test tube of white liquid down on her stall’s bar table.
“Whadda that buy me?”
Aggi Rose looked at the tube, then glanced back up at the man. “You don’t need to pay me in that Nich-”
The man shrugged. The drug dealer scratched his nose.
“-But I’ll take the Hypium, sure. I ain’t running low from my last visit, Nich, honest.” Aggi pulled down a large haunch. “This Sac is pretty good rib material, Nich, if that is what you are-”
“Familia don’t want no meat today, amig.” Nich pulled out a small bit of smartfabric and a image appeared on it. “Wanna take a bite out of your debt to the Familia, amig? Get us one of these.”
“My father’s dead. Why do I have to keep paying you guys off for it?” Aggi scratched her eye, trying not to take her sunglasses off. The hypium from the night before had left them bloodshot.
“Oh, we could always stop the hypium then. Blue don’t need us for that right?” Nich slid the tube of hypium back into the sleeve of his red coat. He turned to walk away.
Aggi lept over the counter and grabbed his arm.
“Fek, Nich. Hold on.”
He turned to her. Up close, Aggi could see the silvery glint of his artificial eye. Up so close, you couldn't mistake it for anything but artificial. She let go, he continued to glare at her.
“What is it? Don’t take the Hypium. I’m just tired today is all.”
Nich grabbed the haunch. He threw it over a shoulder. He extended his other arm, smartfabric producing the small image once more.
Aggi analyzed it. “Oh. It’ll take a week. I don’t have the right-”
“Five days. We need the bug in five.” Nich said.
Aggi sighed. “Give me six days and it’ll be mature. Otherwise, they might die for whatever you need pig scorpions for.”
“Six then. Make sure them bugs are hungry, ok Blue?” Nich handed her the Hypium tube.
Aggi took it. She tried not to tremble. She couldn’t help it. Her hypium addiction left her shaking. “Thanks Nich. I’m sorry for the-”
“No problem, Blue. I like you. You piss off the Earthers. Me and the Familia like that. But you owe us, you know? Keep things halaal and we’ll keep you with the hypium, got it?”
Aggi rubbed her shoulder. “Yeah. I… I need the hypium, Nich. I really do. Its the only way I can dream anymore.”
“Yeah.” Nich walked away. The Cyke tried not to look back at the blue-skinned meat vendor.