Casino was an entire planet dedicated to gambling. Cruise ships plied the seas, steamboats paddled the rivers, and each city was a monument to a different era related to games of chance. One could spend the day in the desert heat of Las Vegas then the cool nights in Macao. Neva owned it all. To understand her wealth one must know her upbringing in poverty.
A sensor array rose on its stalk and pointed toward the squalling. The discarded robo-nanny rose from the junk pile alert. Rubber treads rolled over rubble to a recess in the debris. The squalling was coming from a baby girl.
The child was bright red and flailing on a canvas of blue gray mottled skin, her dead mother. A scan revealed bacteria leaching the last sugars from her cells. The robo-nanny placed a micro-probe into the mother’s milk glands sampling. The child fortunately had been protected. The robo-nanny used the mother’s analysis to synthesize milk for the child, carrying it back to the other discarded bots of her clan.
The mech servants had been abandoned here on Nix 5.
Neva suckled happily at the synthetic nipple the robo-nanny made. Per protocol, it presented the infant to the Magistrate, but local social services were already overwhelmed. Slavers would have forced her into the mines in any case.
The robo-nanny raised Neva in the metal dump with her clan. Redundant butlers taught her dance and etiquette, tutors taught her through college level education, her nanny taught her everything else. Neva was a tomboy. As a teen, she explored further and further from the metal dump.
On a bright day, Neva came upon an abandoned mine. Her green and purple cropped hair barely vibrated in the breeze. Her hazel eyes spotted discarded tailings of vurtzdaleite. She picked up two chunks of the mineral and banged them together. This, the hardest of all substances in the galaxy, was so brittle that several shards broke off.
Hypnotized by a centimander, she failed to notice her hands were slippery and wet. Absentmindedly, she had been playing with the chips. They were cutting her hands without her realizing it. Wiping the blood on her dress, she took her gum and used it to collect the vurtzdaleite.
An hour later, she showed her friend Caleb the shards. He was not impressed, and continued the tattoo he was placing on the back of a miner. The vibrating tool gave her an idea. Borrowing one of the tattoo machines, Neva disconnected the ink, and used her gum to affix a vurtzdaleite chip to the business end of the device. Turning it on, she found she could use it to cut anything she wanted.
Back home, the robo-nanny scolded Neva for the state of her hands. It washed them, sealed the cuts, and applied antibiotic. All the while, the teenager’s eyes roamed the shelter taking in the windows the butlers had assembled for their enclave.
“What are they made of?” Neva asked.
The robo-nanny admonished, “Be specific, what is what made of?”
“Oh! Those are made from sheet diamond. Cheap, plentiful, and not much use for anything except windows here. There are some pieces of it laying around, look,” the robo-nanny answered, finishing the dressings on her hands.
“Can I take a piece? The sheet diamond, not the window,” Neva remembered, being specific, per instruction.
“Sure, just be careful.”
Neva picked up a piece of sheet diamond from a corner and went to her room. Sitting on the bed, she plucked a rough oblong emerald geode she had found previously from a shelf. Examining it closely, she laid it on her salvaged desk, pulled out her vurtzdaleite modified tattoo machine and went to work on the diamond glass.
Several hours later, she had constructed an emerald fish with diamond scales. The eyes were made from garnet, though she would have preferred rubies. Proudly, she showed it to the robo-nanny whose hollow praise, Neva could see right through.
The next day, she showed it to Caleb. He looked at it in disgust, but being young, he mashed on the point, “Junk made from junk by a junkie.”
Her face went beet red, then pale. She was grabbing for it, when one of Caleb’s customers said, “Hey, wait. Let me see that! Can I take a picture?”
Neva was still ripping the skin from Caleb’s bones with her eyes when she uttered, “Sure, whatever.”
The customer uploaded the emerald fish onto his social media. The transmission was intercepted by the Hoarder, a wealthy trader who happened to be in orbit above Nix 5. Interest was so great, the Hoarder had to acquire it and insisted on adding the fish to his upcoming auction.
Neva stood in awe as the luxurious shuttle descended into the metal dump. The mechs had never seen a yacht of such quality. The Hoarder arrived like royalty in a fur lined gold mantle.
He walked directly up to Neva offering a vast amount of credits.
“Be specific,” she mimicked her robo-nanny.
Neva realized that she had created an art treasure. The Hoarder offered an astronomical amount. In the end, Neva refused to sell. Instead, she preferred to consign the art to auction. The Hoarder, upset, agreed to accept the consignment.
The bidding became the stuff of legends. In the end, the House of Salman paid her with a planet, along with a sum of credits. Neva was suddenly the wealthiest eighteen year old in the quadrant.
Taking her obsolete robot servants, she built Casino. She left Caleb behind. He hadn’t known it at the time, but his comment had cost him a life of luxury.
Casino became the gambling hub of known space. All of Neva’s service mechs were collected and refurbished as a dedication to her nanny, the butlers, and the tutors who raised her on Nix 5.