Everyone knew Irina Lan Mei. A local beauty on the Fifth Cropship of the Black Rhinoceros, she turned heads wherever she went. She was the object of affection for many a young man, but she had so far turned down every one of them. It was not that she did not want to get married, or that she wasn’t interested. She was simply biding her time. She was young. She would give herself room to be a girl before committing to becoming a woman.
This was a constant source of worry for her family. Society dictated that she simply must get married, and she was now almost twenty-three. If she left it much longer, people would start to gossip. Why hadn’t she married? Did she not like men? Did she *gasp* prefer women?! The Wheels of Rumour span, but Irina was deaf to them. Other people’s opinions had never held much sway, and so she went about her life as she wanted to, with a spring in her step and a smile on her face.
Read An Evening Out Part 1 here. She took them to the Peony Pavilion, widely regarded as the finest bar on the First Cropship of the White Crane – and one of the best in the Empire. Known for its colourful drinks and famous flaming cocktails, it was the obvious choice. Though the glow of youth left the girls with little need for Madam Wong’s special cosmetics, they had made a great effort on their hair, pinning it up with ornate clasps of gold and silver decorated with butterflies and birds, or perhaps a dragon’s head. Daisy, opting for simplicity, had decorated her hair with a single elegant feather fashioned from bronze. Sitting together in qipao of various colours, they quickly drew attention from the men in the room – but this was not an evening for talking to Read More
The girls of the Lotus Blossom Palace were getting dressed up in their finest clothes. Madam Wong had decided that they deserved, and indeed needed, an evening off. This was a rare occurrence for the lotus girls; they were in high demand on the First Cropship of the White Crane, and free time was a precious luxury that most of them could ill afford.
Many things had changed over the centuries since the Long Yu fleet set off from old Earth, but New Year remained the most important date in the calendar. It was the ideal time for the girls to take a break and Madam Wong was so determined to take them somewhere nice that she was even willing to leave the mochibots in charge of the Palace while they all went out. Read More
Mr Ong awoke as the cropship entered its daytime phase and the lighting systems powered up. In the back of his rickshaw, he sat up and drew the blanket around him. He had always been an early riser; he enjoyed that sense of being the only one present, the sole witness to events. He enjoyed the silence. But once the light grew brighter and the air began to warm, the silence faded as the first traders arrived and began to set up. Soon the docks would come alive; it was time for Mr Ong to go to work.
He’d taken a bit of a chance yesterday, but the girl’s offer had been too good to refuse. Forty kuai, she’d paid him! Forty kuai for a few dried noodles and a bit of protein concentrate! Plus a couple of mouldy cabbages, he remembered. And an onion.
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