However, this is no ordinary guide. This is a guide for the traveler who is looking to visit locales that are a little more off the beaten path, a little more wild and unpredictable. This is OBSERVISTDARK, your trusted chronicler of the systems, planets and stations where safety is not guaranteed.
Today we travel deep into the heart of the Stanton system, where near a moon of Crusader (Stanton II) drifts a station formerly known as Green Imperial. A Housing Exchange (HEX) built by Everline Structures Incorporated soon after the system’s discovery, it was intended to house the influx of miners coming to work the asteroid belt surrounding Yela (Stanton 2c). Like other HEXs, it was economically built into a hollowed asteroid using the signature honeycombed, prefabricated housing pods, providing a clean and affordable, if not exactly comfortable, living option to the scores of workers arriving everyday. Unfortunately, when the mining opportunities in the belt began to dry up a few decades later, the station began to take a turn for the worse.
As the jobs in the area went away, the station began declining, and so did the clientele, slowly transforming Green Imperial from a temporary housing unit into a market for contraband, drugs and petty crime. With no real economic Grim HEX incentive to maintain it, it was too much of an insurance nightmare to try and clean out the unsavory element that had taken root. Stating that it had become a liability, the Housing Exchange officially closed the station in 2938, and the few remaining legitimate residents and stores hastily cleared out. Abandoned, the station quickly fell into decay.
That however, is not where the story ends. Squatters, transients and people with nowhere else to go began to take up residence in the abandoned station. A new economy began to emerge as folks brought scavenged and black market items to sell, so it wasn’t long until word spread that there was a place in Stanton away from the watchful eyes of the authorities, where people could go to enjoy themselves or do some more illicit shopping. This influx of visitors has given the station a new life in recent years and along with it has come a new name.
During its years of disuse, many of the signs around Green Imperial became damaged, including a prominent central screen that overlooks that main atrium. The display glitched in such a way that it displayed only some of the letters in the station’s name: GR___ IM______ HEX. Someone must have noticed that the accidental title fit well with the station’s current appearance, and the name stuck. Today, pretty much everyone in the know refers to the outpost as Grim HEX, and even all the rest of the signs have been hacked, scratched and spray painted to match. You’ll want to make sure you use the right name when you’re asking for directions.
And if you’re looking to meet some colorful people with varied and interesting life experiences, go shopping for products that are hard to find anywhere else in Stanton, and watch a dangerous bareknuckle race, then you’re definitely going to want to learn the coordinates for this out-of-the-way stop.
Probably one of the most difficult things about any trip to Grim HEX for most law-abiding people is finding it. Nestled into a nondescript section of Yela’s asteroid ring, the station can be hard to spot until your ship draws close. Don’t worry about finding authorized parking, as it is pretty much a free for all, just grab any spot you can find. The system’s antiquated auto-storage system should take care of the rest. Once you touch down, it’s a good idea to activate your ship’s security protocols. While the local gang who currently controls the area, the Nine Tails, enforces some semblance of a truce among those who frequent Grim HEX, if you dangle yourself out as easy pickings, anything that happens to you is considered fair game. Same goes for personal security. It would not be out of place to carry a firearm while visiting. But all that said, if you keep your wits about you and don’t wander into some of the station’s cordoned off and disused cargo areas alone, you can reasonably expect to have a safe and successful visit. After all, too many of their customers dying is bad for business.
Your Home Away From Home
From the landing area, you will go through the airlocks to a large lounge area. And while you may see a few strung out patrons hanging out up here, I would recommend heading straight for the elevators so you can go directly to the lower levels where most of the real action is happening. Once you travel down to the main atrium level, you’ll find rooms for rent, various substances to purchase and imbibe, and a rotating selection of sellers looking to unload their goods. Since it’s hard to say who might be selling what by the time you visit, I am going to stick to highlighting a few of the more long-lasting sellers of interest.
If you’re on the hunt for a new look or maybe a severe discount on whatever cargo an unfortunate hauler was moving through the area, make your way to the small hallway off to the right of the elevators. There, past the dumpsters, you’ll find a clothing stall called KC TRENDING, a name that’s stuck with the store from back when the station was still legit. A mismatched collection of offensive band shirts, leather coats, and stolen Casaba cast-offs — there are some good finds waiting to be discovered if you’re willing to dig around. Be sure to check clothes for tears and blood stains before making any purchases, and be careful not to trip over REEDY who can often be found sleeping in a small nook in the back. The KC Trending Employee of the Month photo on the wall indicates that he’s been working there a while, but during my brief visit, it wasn’t quite clear if he was running the place or just living there.
From there, if you head back into the atrium and up near the large display you’ll find a back area that is home to ARMORANDWEAPONDEALERS. A shifty guy named SKUTTER was eager to show me the assortment of weapons he had on hand for sale. Beyond the impressive and deadly array on display, there were a few locked crates around that he promised held “some real serious s**t.”
If shopping isn’t your thing, there is plenty of entertainment to be found if you know where to look. The original HEX bar is still up and running, serving honest drinks to a less so clientele. Named the OLD ’38 after the first owner’s prized 2838 Origin racer, the place is run by TREVOR ‘GUS’ WHEATLEY, who’s been here since nearly the beginning. He’s weathered the highs and lows of Green Imperial and seems dead set on sticking out this low and keeping the place going. As he often reminds his patrons, “I don’t care who’s buying the drinks, as long as they’re buying.”
And while Gus may not be willing to chat with you, there are plenty of others willing to share if you’re buying. For the price of a few bottles of beer, I learned how to tell the good WiDoW from the bad, how to load a P4-AR with one hand, and where in Grim HEX I should go if I wanted a decent grilled cheese. I also bought a drink for an elderly man who apparently runs the local used computer parts kiosk. He didn’t say much, and spilled his beer from the shake in his hand, but a lot of the other patrons were buying him drinks, so I figured I would follow my own frequent advice and ‘do what the locals do.’ I’ll admit that it warmed my heart a bit that even out here in the darker parts of space, you can still find kindness.
My last stop, and probably the biggest draw on Grim Hex, was to the RACINGPIT. Here (self-proclaimed) numbers whiz LUCABRUNT runs the book and organizes the races through the ‘clutches’ that drift close to the station. These large stability rings are left over from the Yela mining operation that used them to anchor drifting asteroids while they were being drilled out. Today, they’ve become a makeshift course that offers some real thrills to watch, and for those brave enough, to fly. If you do intend to make a wager while visiting, be aware that the Nine Tails take paying off debts very seriously.
Let’s just say that even losing a bet at Grim HEX was a pretty thrilling experience, something that’s really worth traveling to observe for yourself.