Clarke's Third Law

The Waiting

Spacestation2It is 7pm as you step out of your terminal on to the High Port Starports at Tobia.

You stretch your legs and arms, happy to be off of the passenger ship that has brought you here. You are impressed with the newness of the Tobia High Port; tall, twenty foot ceilings, with clean, white metal surfaces, reeking of imperialism, greet you.

You can see down the clean hallways the immigration processing center. There are no individuals in line, which pleases you as immigration processing can be quite time consuming. There are security cameras mounted high on the walls, but you don’t see any guards.

The walls are simply adorned with Imperial messages and instructions: “Customs –RIGHT”, “Restrooms – LEFT” and “IMPERIAL TERRORITYLAW LEVEL 5”.

An older man, dressed in an imperial immigration uniform, greets you, “Welcome to Tobia” he says without emotion and hands you a flyer. Immigration officer1

The high-gloss flyer contains the following on the front:

  • The Imperium welcomes you to Tobia, the capital world of the Tobia Subsector.
  • Tobia is THE trading mecca in the subsector….all manner of goods and products from the farthest corners of the universe are here for your shopping pleasure.
  • Tobia is the home of the Sector Ducal Palace! Tours are available.
  • Tobia is home to many of the subsectors most important corporations. If you are a representative of a corporation, please meet with our Chamber of Commerce office on High Port to learn how Tobia can partner with your operations.
  • High Culture and Arts of all types available for your pleasure and leisure. Be sure to visit our office of Tourism on High Port for the most current listing of shows and events sure to please all!
  • Our Class A Starport offers only the highest level of services and quality.
  • Our Down Port offers various manufacturing, warehousing and shopping districts and is the gateway to your our friendly 20 billion population; each waiting to make your visit special!
  • While on planet-side, our thin atmosphere is breathable by all and our wonderful natural wonders will provide the most restful shore leave.
  • Be sure to visit our travel center for more news about tours, shopping, accommodations, shows, and other leisure activities.


  • Tobia is an Imperial Sector Capital and the local government is run by Sector Duke Thomas Tyrion (Feudal Technocracy)
  • Law Level 5: no concealed weapons, no heavy weapons, no energy weapons, no explosives. Most narcotics and anagathics are considered illegal.
  • Text “HELP ME” to summon law enforcement officers.

On the back of the flyer, you see a number of advertisements:

  • Introducing the all-new, BMWW 750X Luxury Yacht “The Playboy’s First Choice” Preorders now for 65 million credits. Text “High Tastes” for more information. By General Development Company “When Luxury Matters”
  • “Looking to earn some cash while on Tobia? Look no further… we have short-term jobs for all skill types! TOP PAY GUARANTEED!”, contact “TempForce” for our latest listing of short-term and long-term work available NOW! Text “I need credits” for more information.

Crown princess* “See the very best of Tobia….enjoy the ice blue glaciers, abundant wildlife and soaring mountains of Tobia in our Crown Princess (the largest sea vessel on Tobia). Only the Crown Princess offers such a spectular variety of cruises and land and sea vacations, bringing you all the attractions of Tobia you most want to see! From 6,000 credits per-person (double occupancy) for 10-day cruise. Discounts for retired Imperium employees. Text “Escape Completely” for more information. Bookings by Travel for Life, Inc.

Laser rifle1

  • TravTech is proud to offer our patented “TravTech Regeneration Introspection Projector IV” (the TRIP IV)… using a computerized modulation suite attached to the focusing chamber of a bulky laser rifle system, this weapon emits a power multi-wavelength laser that scans, adjusts to and appropriately blasts a target all at once. By automatically configuring, using TravTech’s patented “Death-CHIP IV”, to the substance the laser is striking, say the body armor of your target, nanoseconds after the laser is emitted, the beam adapts to better disassemble the target on a molecular level. As a result, the TRIP IV ignores 1d6 points of the armor of your target and has cumulative effects with consecutive hits on the same target (2d6 on next and 3d6 on third, etc.). PRICE: 19,000. Text “TravTech TRIP IV”. Brought to you by TravTech, a division of the Florian Trade Company

Isu logo* Interviews for long-term assignment with the Imperial Science Union are being held Down Port, at the Imperial Academy of Science and Medicine. All skills and trades needed…. Gain the freedom and power you deserve, join the ISU to help expand the Imperium’s knowledge and power. NOTICE: With great risks come great rewards. Only the brave and bold should apply. Are you willing to venture a little way past them into the impossible?

You review the facts on the planet, obviously prepared by the tourism department and of course failing to mention the, well, under-society and culture that exists in every star port… high port or down port.

Your eyes are drawn to the ISU advertisement on the flyer… this is the exact reason you have traveled to Tobia. The allure and promise of fame or fortune, or both, has drawn you.

Tired of your previous endeavors and employment, you are drawn to the immense funding and the grand history of the ISU. The stories of prior ISU projects and endeavors are well known in star ports throughout the sector. The individuals responsible for those projects and endeavors are household names…. Doctor Steven Roh and the WORT breakthrough….Jessica Schaeffer surviving the “worm hole anomaly” at Camoran…..Dr. Howard Aschwald discovering the lost Vargr civilization in the Borderland subsector.

You hunger for your place in history. You hunger for excitement. You hunger for fortune. You also just plain hunger…. its been awhile since you last ate.

The Imperial customs agent tells the gathering crowd of disembarked travelers that the immigration office won’t open until tomorrow morning so you are restricted to the terminal until 8am tomorrow morning (its 7pm now). Over your moans and protests, he raises both hands to calm the crowd and says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can do. While you won’t be processed until tomorrow morning there is a lounge, which offers the choicest Tobian foods and beverages within the terminal area, it is called “The Waiting” and is just down this hall.” He points behind you.

“I’m sorry that there are no berths available within the terminal but there are some comfortable…… errr… chairs in the waiting areas next to the gates. Good night and welcome to Tobia!” With that, he turns and leaves, exiting through the immigration stalls, which are closed behind him.

Bar3 The crowd of about 15, begins gathering their luggage and heading off towards The Waiting. Upon arrival you can see that almost all the tables are taken as many other travelers are “enjoying” Tobia. You struggle to push your way through the crowd in the restaurant, which does have a large bar, and find a seat at a half-filled table. After asking politely if you can join them, you find yourself sitting at a table with each other. After the waitress takes your order for drinks and food, which are 3 times more expensive than you expected, you are left alone to make small talk.


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