Trope-a-Day: Bad Soph Bar

Bad Soph Bar: There’s one everywhere, typically right in the middle of startown. Even in most of those places which are, otherwise, quite a long way from being Wretched Hives, or anything like. Oddly enough, they never seem to be closed down, or attract much of a response from law enforcement unless something quite extreme happens.

One might, if one were a nasty suspicious type, think there was some sort of conspiracy to keep the type of soph that form the regulars in this distinctive type of bar away from the decent, upstanding folks who might otherwise wander in. Or maybe even a well-concealed franchise.

But who would possibly be involved in that sort of thing?

Things to See, Places to Go (4)

Teralu Startown: The single-system Teralu polity, in the Magen Exodus, once signed a contract with the Empire to maintain a starport on the populated world of their system, Teralu Actual, making the usual concessions with regard to starport extrality and to freedom of passage. Later, after the coup of 5942, the new Teralu government – now on unfriendly terms with its large neighbor – no longer wished for the arrangement to continue, but were unable to repudiate the contract (good for several millennia); the Empire, as ever, holds what it has.

Hard times, though, were thought to be incoming for Teralu Starport, and for the downport, that turned out to be the case: the new regime had much less use for interstellar commerce and those who engaged in it, and Teralu Down remains today a stripped shell of its former self.

The same, however, cannot be said of Teralu Orbital. Positioned as the Teralu system is along the Mercantile Corridor, and at an intersection of local stargate routes, the ciseflish entrepreneur Rilman min Kinethill rented – at a remarkably low rate – many of the now-unused vast transshipment warehouses of Teralu Orbital, filling them with used freight containers eminently suitable to be cut and refashioned into prefabs, and provided them with independent utilities at his own expense, before offering these volumes for rent at low rates.

Thus, Teralu Orbital now plays host to one of the most flourishing startowns in the inner Worlds, offering in addition to standard starport services everything in the lines of taverns, caravanserais, hotels, flophouses, gambling, trading both speculative and slash, hiring, brawling, negotiable affection, hedonics, junk dealing, street food, scratch medicine, and other such services that a jaded crewsoph’s heart might desire. This is no Nepscian red-market, though: personal security and contract enforcement are vigorously provided by min Kinethill’s chartered mercenary company, the Gray-in-Gray Cloaks. Min Kinethill himself retired from hands-on management some years ago, but maintains ownership of the operation and continues to keep an eye on local affairs from his personal aerostat on Cerise (Banners).

It’s well worth a visit, both to take in the thriving – and often sweltering – atmosphere, and to see the unique architecture created by the local residents. Don’t bother with the planet below, though: the locals are unfriendly, and the local color dull, at best.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Ecumene

Club Fightin’

“Those visitors unfamiliar with local custom in such matters should avoid those bars and other drinking houses displaying above the entrance a knotted wooden club, or a spaceman’s marlinspike.  Such establishments thereby indicate that they are “brawler’s bars”, and as such, establishments which tolerate a nice friendly brawl between their patrons as long as no weapons are drawn and no-one’s actually trying to kill anyone else, without the usual legal and often lethal consequences that would attend trying to start a fight anywhere else.  Fighting is not organized or obligatory – and indeed, may happen relatively infrequently – but entering an establishment so signed is considered informed consent, for legal purposes, to being propositioned for such an affray, and/or caught up in one that starts while you are present, and all consequences resulting therefrom.”

“(Members of any gentler sex, race, clade or caste which there might happen to be for your species are also advised that Imperials take a rather ecumenical view on such matters, and as such, while it may be possible to observe, there can be no guarantee that observation will not lead inexorably to participation.)”

“If this is the sort of thing you’re looking for in your evening’s entertainment, however, most brawler’s bars have good on-site medical support for routine traumas, and more sophisticated medical services on-call in the event of an accident.  However, as with everything else in the Empire, these must be paid for, so make sure that your medical, tort and/or travel insurance policies are up to date and offer appropriate coverage before visiting.  You should also familiarize yourself with the relevant sections of the Common Social Protocol – again, like everything else hereabouts, a nice friendly brawl has rules.”

– A Visitor’s Guide to the Empire: Startown and its Denizens