Andromeda streaked over a mountain range surfing through the air at breakneck speed as she was propelled by the currents that billowed against her two tachyon fields. She spotted her target as she rounded a tall spire of stone that stood above the ridge like a watchtower.
Down on a level field on the planets surface a flurry of activity was taking place. Approaching the site she could make out the shapes of a variety of ships and shuttles littered about like a small village. The makeshift streets were bustling with people, and other solar riders could be seen coasting through the skies on glowing sails like bees hovering about a hive.
She made her approach and landed just outside the busy camp. Many others outfitted in shard harnesses greeted her as she passed. Others kept close to their shuttles as they called out the value of their wares to anyone who might be listening. The rendezvous was like a mobile market catering to shard seekers such as her.
“Have you seen Tak?” she asked one of the more quiet shop keepers who sat with his chin propped in his hands.
“Ahh, Andromeda, good to see you’re still alive! Your a bit late you know the rendezvous started two weeks ago. I believe Tak arrived last week sometime. He set up shop on the east side,” the grubby old shop keeper commented.
“Thanks,” Andromeda replied turning toward the direction of his gesture.
“Oh, have you heard? Both Charles Gateway and Phalenx Co. have cut their rates by a third. The other buyers have cut by nearly twice that.” called out the trader as she walked.
“Damn,” she muttered as she continued walking without looking back.
She found Tak’s shuttle near the edge of the camp. Tak was a plump man with knobby features and unkempt hair. His eyes widened above his puffy cheeked smile as he saw Andromeda approach.
“Ande’ my dear! I’m so glad you made it, how has that lattice I made for you been working?”
Ande’, as she was called by her friends, smiled but said nothing as she approached. She ducked under the canopy and proceeded behind counter littered with various tools of the man’s trade. She plopped a large dirty bag onto the only open space on the counter and stared as Tak reached for it inquisitively.
He started to open the bag, but the smirking woman shook her head slowly, and motioned below the counter. Tak nodded in reply and stooped slightly as he unveiled the hidden object out of sight of the busy street.
His gasp was audible as his hand contacted the smooth surface of the crystal.
“My stars Andromeda!” he gasped as he flipped the bag fully open, “Where did you find this!”
“On the outer rim,” she shrugged finally letting her beautiful smile fully escape.
“You’re still searching out there?” he said softly, looking into her soft eyes.
The smile vanished quickly, but Tak hardly noticed as his attention returned to the novel shard.
“It must be a level seven or, or more. I’ve never even heard of one this size, or hue,” His eyes were wide, “It’s more than a shard; its a discovery. Even with the cuts this will ensure that you never have to wander those ‘roids again! Well done Ande’, well done!”
“I want it harnessed Tak; I’m going back,” she was resolute and did not waver when he looked up at her incredulously, his many lensed spectacles raising high on his forehead.
“But Ande’ this is worth a fortune, I… I don’t even know if I can harness it.”
“You’re the best shard-smith in the galaxy Tak, the only one who could do it.” Tak’s eyes did not leave the heavy object in his hands as she spoke. It was true that he was an excellent shard smith. His role in these uncharted space territories was to refine the energy of the rough crystals brought to him by shard seekers. By technology similar to that of the tach-rods shard smiths harnessed the shards in delicate metallic settings redistributing their energies into an even aura.
“I suppose,” he muttered to himself.
“You can do it, I’ll pay you whatever it takes,” finally the shard-smith looked up, his hazel eyes meeting hers.
“No, no, I won’t take money for this,” he looked again at the shard as it rested in his large hands. It was bigger than a dinner plate, and had a massive weight which belied its density. To harness such a shard, to control its energy, would be an honor for the craftsman.
“Thank you Tak, I’ll never forget this,”
“Of course my dear,” Tak said absently as he turned and made his way up the ramp of his shuttle, never looking away from the large crystal in his hand, “If it can be done at all I’ll tag you when its finished. You can come and have it installed into your harness then.”
Ande’ watched him as he disappeared into his mobile workshop.