Adagio 9 – The Planet Dancer
I can give you rather accurate and unique insights into the planet called Dancer. I was a resident there for nearly twenty years, working first for the Pirate King, Cat Five, then for the maniacal Mechanoid, Khoolbas DiQuiri, and finally for his usurper, the Pirate King Razor Conn.
When the great explorer Martin Faulkner first surveyed the Beta-Regulan Star System, the system where Dancer was the only livable planet, he wrote it off as a place useful solely for refuel and resupply stops. The planet had a breathable atmosphere, but no land masses at all. Everything was salt water. It rarely ever rained there or had clouds in the sky. It was a lonely little water-ball.
It was part of the genius of Cat Five that he chose Dancer as the planet for his throne world. No other pirate king ever chose an Imperial Rimworld without any land surfaces as his home base. It proved to be a wonderful spot for ambushes as the system increasingly became a necessary stop for the Rimworld Merchant Fleet, Orchides’ Delivery, and GTS(Grand Transport Systems). Cat Five got obscenely wealthy off a mere five percent of the space trade. He designed the underwater city of Castle Orpheum and supervised its construction himself. Soon the master smuggler known as the Thin White Duke, Sir Carleton Keyser, moved in and made the world a key link in the “package industry”, what you and I, being less criminal in nature, would call smuggling.
As with any profitable venture, there would be those who would lust for control of it. The obese Mechanoid known as Khoolbas DiQuiri was Cat Five’s second in command. That motorized fat-thing was my boss during the worst years of my life. He was crafty, conniving, and he smelled terrible. He had been a blobby man in life, but as a Mechanoid, he was a transistorized stack of cyborg Jell-O. When Cat Five met an untimely end at the hands of the Monopoly Brigade, Khoolbas took over as regent. Cat Five’s son, Cat Six was only seven years old at the time. Khoolbas secretly connected himself into the city’s power and environmental systems, as well as the main computer. He secretly administered youth drugs to Cat Six, effectively trapping him in childhood forever. He even tried to take over the package industry from the White Duke. The fat one built an indestructible power base for himself.
I was serving as a computer technician and research physicist to Duke Keyser, the White Duke, when Razor Conn first showed up. He was a swaggering swashbuckler with a cowboy hat and a knack for winning the fights he picked. He was the one who revealed all of the plots Khoolbas was running on Dancer. With the Blackstone brothers as his allies, he made the people, especially the pirates, see that Khoolbas was cheating and using them. He found enough gifted malcontents among the spacers to form his own strike team which he named the Blackhawk Corsairs after his favorite interstellar hockey team. The Blackhawks overran Castle Orpheum and took Khoolbas prisoner all in one swift battle action. He ended up ruling the place, though he showed mercy to Khoolbas DiQuiri and a great deal of administrative wisdom in setting up his democratic government of the world.
The Thirties Gangster Culture that predominates the world of Dancer is mostly a matter of tough-guy posturing and the obsessive-compulsive design tastes of some of the powerful residents, but, corny as it all is, it works. It is a stimulating and imaginative place to live. A water-world pirate kingdom where space pirates could happily live with the fishes.