the ryderium caper


This story now appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.


The eleventh story in the Meteor Mags series reveals the smuggler has been up to much more than just shooting people and breaking stuff in 2029. No one in her crew except Slim knows what she has been secretly working on with an old friend of the family. She has big plans she gradually reveals in the next three stories set in November 2029.

In The Ryderium Caper, Mags and her partner in crime, Ryder, discuss Gramma Margareta. Readers met Gramma in The Weight of the Universe, and Mags has talked about her in an Asteroid Underground interview. Readers know Gramma made a ton of money in billiards in Europe in the 1800s; and after the estate she and Great-Gramma built was bombed in WWII, Mags and Celina helped her rebuild it as a home for female refugees displaced by war.

This matriarchal utopia grew into a micro-society that was responsible for developing the principles of gravity control; and along with her mother’s fierce devotion to anarchist uprisings and her great-grandmother’s penchant for piracy, it has informed our villainous leading lady’s ethics and sense of justice—and her own aspirations to shape the future of humanity.

Astute readers will notice the scene in April 2029 is the same night seen from another point of view in Part One of Mountain Lions Forever.

This story now appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.


Asteroid Underground Interview III: Slim

This interview appears in the Meteor Mags Omnibus Edition.

Slim, Welcome to the Asteroid Underground.

Thanks, buddy. Glad to be here. You don’t mind, do you?

Oh, no. Go right ahead. That smells great! What is it?

Kung Pao chicken. A vegetarian version. We make it with seitan. It’s less traumatic for the chickens that way. Here. Try some. You don’t have a peanut allergy, do you? Okay, try this.

Wow, that’s tasty. Do you make all your own food at Below The Belt?

Oh, yeah. Our customers don’t just come for the loud music and sexy dancers, hahaha. We’re the only place outside the Martian Warehousing Zone where a miner can get a home-cooked meal.

Tell us how you got started cooking.

Oh, I don’t even recall when I started. I worked in Dad’s restaurant ever since I can remember.

Your dad was in the restaurant business, too?

No, no, hahaha. Dad was in the gambling business. Or more accurately, Dad was the gambling business in Chinatown. The restaurant was just a cover. A meeting place, a decent way to launder money, that kind of thing. Once he moved into imports and exports, it wasn’t so important, but we kept it open a few more years anyway. I don’t know if it was so he could always get a home-cooked meal, or if he just thought it would keep me out of trouble! Maybe both.

Does Meteor Mags still dance at Below The Belt?

No, though we’d love to have her back. She mostly dances at her own place now. When she has the time.

Is it because of the shootout?

Hahaha, no. Well, maybe just a little bit. Don’t print that, though. Mags is persona non gratis with the MFA, the Port Authority, and just about everybody else these days. So, it’s probably not a good idea for her to be in a little club like mine. She has to be more careful about hanging out now. We all miss her, though. She’s quite the dancer.

And you’ve known her a long time, too, haven’t you?

Oh, forever. Since Pearl Jam’s first album came out, anyway. I remember because she played the living hell out of the damn thing! I couldn’t listen to that album for a couple years after that.

So, 1991?

That’s right. Ah, I was just a kid back then. Good times. We still chat, of course. She’s got a new project in the works and, I don’t mind telling you, the math is pretty tough on it. I help where I can. Sometimes it just helps to have two minds working on the same problem.

A new project? What is she working on?

I can’t really give you the details. But I think it could be the most important thing since the GravGens, if we can get it to work. Revolutionizing life in The Belt, that’s about all I can say. And you know how Auntie Mags loves a good revolution.

She sure does. Thank you for joining us, Slim. Anything else you’d like to say before we go?

Yes! Come out to Below The Belt! We always have a good time, the dancers are always beautiful, and the meals are always cooked fresh to order! See you there.