The Ancient Chinaman
Hao Shue came upon a soup skiff circling a jade green planet, owned by an ancient Chinaman who was also from University City. They became close friends, and Hao Shue found himself staying in one place for the longest time in years. The old man’s wonton soup was delicious. Often Hao Shue would help in the kitchen, amid much laughter, and serve wares to the tourists who came for the jade planet’s floating mountains. “Your wonton is genius,” said the old man.
One day the old man lay dying in his cot behind the kitchen. Hao Shue held his liver-spotted hand. “You are the son I never had,” the old man said, then with his final breath, “Everything that was mine… is now yours.” Hao Shue wept.
So Hao Shue gained proprietorship of the small wonton soup shop. Business was always good, and patronage swelled until war extended into the quadrant. Then it was only refugees and the occasional defector, whom he fed for no charge.
Then the engines failed, and the skiff fell into a decaying orbit towards the jade planet.