Deep within a lonely star system lit by an orange Sun, a comet hurls along its route. Free-falling toward the star, it begins to absorb enough radiant energy to mist. First, a small fog surrounds it, moving away from the light and, finding the shadow, drifting away. Gradually, the mist builds to a cluster of small snowflakes then hail then clumps bumbling and hurling away. This is the life of a comet, most of its time lingering in obscurity, but as its glorious coma forms, it reaches a majesty that has inspired religions and doomed civilizations. Some of them linger in a star system, others are short-timers, just passing through grabbing gravity and shuffling off some mass before sling-shotting toward its next destination.
This one was a temporary visitor, content to hurtle for a close pass with the orange orb and then wander off. The star system welcomed frequent such guests. Its wayward hyperbola inside the galaxy had been passing through a field of rocky debris ejected from a destroyed star system of eons ago.
The brilliant tail grew for a while, as it fell toward its target in a slow arc, and it caught the attention of the Prijitiin, the space-faring nomad tribes who inhabited the regions of the inner planets. Their angled cylindrical ships, crewed by familial units, hunted the comets in order to harvest the treasures contained within.
The Prijitiin clan Khentii found themselves closest to this beautiful prize. Aboard their ship, the women on the bridge communicated their claim to this one. They had been following it for several cycles, waiting for it to precipitate, making it a valid target. Compared to other clanships, Khentii had an edge in that the great mother of their clan was a brilliant woman, and was able to develop a way to detect the comets long before they glowed. This one, already named Yusei by the ladies on the bridge in their communications to the other clans, was among the largest to pass through, and certainly the most massive of any clan Khentii had prospected.
The sole male figure on the bridge of the ship, an aged man of wide stature and white facial hair, long but braided neatly. He commanded the helmsmistress to assume an intercept course to Yusei. They would arrive in a standard cycle to make their first passes.
A few decks deeper into the belly of the clanship, a young woman screamed in labor. Her pains had been building, and this was her first birth. She was attended by another woman, older and wiser, who advised her to calm. Her twin sons were not ready to come yet, and the clan had not the means to force it. They could not have known at the time these children would be born bad omens.
As the clanship neared its prey, two dozen men gathered near a jump deck in the bowels of the ship. They put on protective gear like heavy boots, armored suits, and shielded masks to keep them alive on their jaunt to Yusei. This Alpha Team was comprised of all able-bodied adult men of the clan. It would be their job to land upon the comet and plant giant tethers. The projectile launchers lacked the precision to mount the ship properly.
They joked and shoved one another. This was their duty as men. It was they who would do the prospecting and the harvesting, and bear all the risk of death by vacuum, sudden gas explosion, or fall away into the tail of the comet and die of suffocation hours later in the darkness of deep space.
The life was harsh and sometimes quick. The minerals the clanship would gather from the comet would be sold on the populated planet of Midden, second orbit from the star. Water would be gathered, if possible, but this one looked to have an outer coating of carbon dioxide ice - not nearly as valuable. Initial scans did detect hydrocarbons within, which could be very lucrative if harvested properly.
Above the jump deck, as the ship approached, the woman's labor pains intensified. As the ship closed to the sunward edge of the comet she pushed sweaty browed and screaming, a lump of flesh from her loins. It flopped, lifeless, into the doula's hands. A girl, critical for the survival of the clan, lost to the fates.
The Alpha Team jumped from an opened, airless maw, falling in almost undetectable gravity to the comet, crunching as they landed. Six spooled harpoons were dropped to the surface, too. The men, four per spool, moved to arrange them on the comet.
The energy of the distant sun caused a thick fog to form at knee height and spin around the workers. They fixed the harpoons to the surface is the right formation, each one pulling a heavy switch to drive an apparatus into the ground, and signal the technicians aboard the ship to begin the landing procedure.
Inside, the woman screamed in pain again. The ship shook and she rocked with her contractions. The doula tried to calm her, losing her own balance, as they came to rest on the comet. The ship turned still. Another spasm from the mother of the unliving.
The doula crouched near, she reached her hands between the woman's legs, reached in and extracted the troubled child. Another unbreathing mass appeared. The midwife swipe her bloody hand across the infant's face and after a few seconds, it began to wail.
A boy, a worker for the clan. The mother looked at him, his limbs were tiny, his head seemed too large, and his cheeks flushed as he screamed. "Timodjin" she named him, "Timodjin Landborn."