For a district capital, Candor has never been a highly populated world. Numbering only hundreds of millions of citizens, much of the population was concentrated in towns and cities within the temperate zone, leaving untolded expanses of wilderness to be explored, enjoyed and exploited.
You could park your flitter in the forest and walk for days without seeing another soul, knowing that the only dangers you faced were your own stupidity or the wild animals around you. For the comfortable and affluent, squaring the dream of exploring the great outdoors with the obvious dangers of doing it, created a thriving business for trackers and wilderness guides. It was a lucky break for my Dad, who had worked at Monazite Creek lanthanum mine since leaving school.
Monazite Creek was hundreds of miles from anywhere. For some twenty years, it was home for hundreds of miners, ore processors and their families. It was a small but vibrant community centred around the automated drillers and landing platform. Weekly grav lifters would land at the platform, hauling the precious metal to industry across the globe where it would be used in electronics, optics and starships.
Just after my brother and I were born however, it all stopped. A cheaper source had been found closer to Candor City, and overnight the Corp moved out along with many of the miners. My Dad was one of those that didn't want to leave. My Mom had grown up there, and my Dad didn't want to move to the other side of the planet.
The way he figured it, we had a commercial grade landing platform with streets of empty houses ready to be filled. So he worked hard and over the next ten years, built a thriving outdoor centre with all the creature comforts. People would come from all over Candor to explore the area, learn to fish, and go hunting. I'd tag along of course and soon learned how to recognise the trails and fire a gun. The Corp turned up occasionally to check the workings were still safe, but otherwise we were left to get on with our lives.
That ended nine years ago when the trade routes were cut and people lost their jobs. It didn't stop right away of course, but bit-by-bit, people cancelled their reservations and familiar faces stopped appearing. The dust began spreading from the cities and the forests started creating new horrors of their own. We kept up with school as much as we could, but seeing what was happening in the cities with their crime and poverty, Dad decided we were better off on our own.
Dad taught us how to hunt and survive, using traps and guns to make sure we could always be self-sufficient. At sixteen I got my own rifle, with a stern warning that in this crazy new world, it was now my best friend. Sometimes I explore the old town, but the crumbling walls and collapsed workings have become the hunting ground for wolves and bears, and you never know if something unnatural could be lurking there too. That's why we live on the platform itself, our very own castle in the sky.
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. We've got customers turning up; regulars, the few that we have left.
-- Mona Asuridanavan, wilderness guide at the Monazite Creek Outdoor Centre
V3 figure in Liquid Halo jacket and Shadow Dancer clothing, with customised textures. Landing platform is an original model created in Hexagon.
Scene assembly and final rendering in Vue 6 Pro Studio. Post processed in Photoshop CS2