The Cold Dark. That’s what the scavengers, fringers, mercenaries, and smugglers on the edges of civilization call outer space. When you’re out there, surrounded by a frigid, ebon blanket of nothing, shot through with countless pinpricks of light, the universe stops caring about your health, your job, even if you live or die. That is, if it ever cared to begin with.
Since the war ended, life’s tough everywhere, but it’s toughest for the unspoken and unseen victims—all the civvies who suffered at the edge of explosions, shrapnel, EMPs and radiation poisoning. The Knights of St. George have their ideas how to clean up the galaxy. So do the Ghosts of New Beijing. Most people think very little has changed since the bombs started to fall. So those who can have taken to the eternal night, buying, conning, swapping or stealing ships as they can and trying to eke out some kind of living out in the Cold. Those who do—those like you and your crew—take whatever work they can find, be it legal or illegal, up-front or under-the-table. But everyone has standards, and everyone who wants to stay human has lines they won’t cross.
Hunger and running low on fuel, of course, push and stretch those lines to near breaking, so when you’re offered a simple courier mission to transport fifteen large crates to a border planet and drop them off, you take it without question. Sure, you’ve got doubts when the pay seems exhorbitant for the job, and you’re more than a little concerned that the crates are computer-sealed and locked, and the contents listed as “need to know,” but this haul could end your problems for a long time. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
…You should know better than to ask that question.