“Wake up wake up!”, a vigorous shacking of my shoulder by a very female voice was encouraging me to come out of my dream state. It was in a good part too. The beautiful girl on the beach, in her two part swim suit some place in the south pacific. Then she was gone, poof! Oh reality why do you hate me so? I was at the good part to.
Reality was slowly seeping back into my cobwebbed brain. And shacking went on like an earth quake and it was getting very annoying! I flung my right arm out to try to stop the Innocent shacking. No good with out opening my eyes I was blind as a mioptic bat. The shacking went on. The only way for it to stop my sleep deprived brain told me was to open my eyes and give her what she wants. So you know what I did? Opened my eyes, very reluctantly.
The low light compartment with its rows and rows of padded seats. Reminding me of on old style airplane from the late 20th century. With one big difference. There were in space and it was almost empty. Me and my travel companion and a few others.
There were movies play on the back of some of the seats as I came to. Some low level talking from some of the other passengers. Nothing to exciting. No kids on this run. We were after all going to the arm pit part of the empire. A safe place to send officers in training on their first tour of duty and internship.
With that my face was smashed up against the bulkhead and the view port. Droll going down my chin. I wiped it off with my free hand. The one that was not also smashed against the bulkhead, and giving me a grate deal of pain. The darn thing was still asleep. I was more awake then my arm. Insulting! “Oh you are finely awake!” said the female voice in a very cheerful greeting. A little to cheerful. “Look out the window! Our first duty station!” I looked up at were this voice was coming from, it was my travel companion, Molly Christensen.
We had been in the same classes at the academy back on Mars. The place we only left a short 24 hours ago. Was it that short of time? Anyway we were in the same classes and same year and even the same dorm room building. Now were both were on this long range shuttle to our internship to some distend outpost. I thought I would have gotten rid of her at some point in the 4 years at the academy.
She is a very slender gal. With blood red hair down to her waist when it was not tighten up tight against her head. Long slender fingures. Even longer legs. A guys dream girl, except she was hyper active to the extreme. Bouncing from one thing to another. The new shiny of the moment. When she was not bouncing off the walls. She had her nose in what ever fiction or non-fiction book that had her fancy for that moment in time. Yet some how she kept an A- average. Go figure. She must have absorbed the information by osmosis, all I could figure.
She like I were wearing our class A uniforms. Tailored and pressed with creases. Patches and ribbons. An ornamental side arm in an old west style revolver in a leather holster. With old style ammo in the belt. Boots shined to a mirror reflection. Each of us with a unit ring. Dog tags around our necks with digital storage with all our records on it. Telling our lives stories or the lack there of. Yes we looked like the best the military had to offer. I rolled my eyes at that thought, ya right. Not with this red head demon.
Unpeeled my face from the bulkhead and looked outside. There it was. Our home for the next 12 months of our lives. The out post looked like it had crashed onto the side of the moon. With metal bits sticking out of the surface. Looked like many triangles and permaids were doting the surface at odd angles. All made from what looked like pig iron. Dark and unfinished looking surfaces. With light from the single yellow sun reflecting it rays. It was a little strange looking and very alien.
What I read before we boarded the shuttle to this place. The moon was about the distance as the Earths moon. The planet was as far from the sun as our earth. It was almost like an earth clone. What changed was is its now a dead planet. It lost its ampaspere about 10,000 years ago earth time. When we as a human race were crowing out from our caves and trying to making civilization. This place hit its peak. With a snap of cosmic fingers. It all went to pot. A little dispersing to look at to tell the truth. No water or air on the surface. Just a dead rock in space.
As we went further on our approach we flew to a large on the surface of this moon. In the side of a rock formation. Were there was installed an earth style landing bay. A rectangle shaped cave opening up to us, with running lights leading to its mouth. With large flood lights lighting its interior deep into the mountain side.
Both of us took a deep breath as we entered the cave as the shuttle slowed its decent. Staring out the view port. We were greeted with a large bay with military and civilian style ships. With support ground craft running around. The flood lights thankfully were not like old style hooligan that cast that harsh orange light on everything. It was bright white lighting, nice lighting.
With a small thud the shuttle landed at the furthest end of this large open bay. With a whoosh and firing of the vertical thrusters. A bus quickly drove up to the side of the shuttle. As a male voice came over the intercom,”Welcome to Deep 1 and the frontier. Please take a moment to gather your belongings and then go threw the main entrance. Have a nice day.”
That voice sounded a little canned to me. What ever. Me and my companion stood up for the first time in 8 hours. Stretching and feeling our bodies. It felt kinda nice. Then we quickly grabbed our sea bags from the over head storage. She smirked, “We are here!!!!” I mumbled,” Way to cheerful!” She just smiled that smile that always annoyed me.
We followed the other passengers out. Numbering about 20. I had a feeling this was the average. What else was there to do out this far from the rest of the empire? Other then be part of the military or be part of one of the archeological digs I was told that was going on. No night life or anything like that. The best we could expect is some cheap beer and all the canned movies and tv show we could ever want.
As we departed the space craft. We walked Into a transparent tunnel leading to the bus. We could see this large bay at mans height for the first time. It made me feel a little small. I was also thankful for life support with out the suits. How I hated those suits! I degress. We made it onto the bus with out much of a hitch.
It looked old even by earth standards. The benches looked worn. The paint job on the inside looks nicked and cracked. Scratches on the windows. It felt like a large tub on wheels. That happen to have seats. It even smelled old. I think I even saw a ghost, but that could be my groggy mind at work.
We were not seated for a what seemed like a couple of moments and the tub on wheels took off like a bat out of hell. The automation on this thing was a little off it felt like, we had no time to accumlate to our surroundings and it took off. Having unmanned buses like this was a little terrifying. White knuckled ride ended as fast as it started. Arriving to an airlock. A new clear tunnel extended its self from the wall. Connecting its self to the bus.
My travel companion was very uncharacteristically UN-talkative. She would by now be chewing both ears off. I think the trip threw her off a little. It was a little nice. I am sure it wont last so enjoy it while it lasted. She just smiled.
We got off the bus and followed the tunnel into the airlock an into the human habitation space. It looked like a small version of a commercial passenger space port back home. Including the uncomfortable seating and industrial lighting shining down on us. Creating harsh shadows all around us.
This is were we split company with the others on the flight. They scattered like many specs of dust. And us two were greeted with a uniformed officer with a digital sign with our names. The red one whispered in my ear,”Oh we even get fan fair!” Sardonic tone of voice. I had a sudden urge to elbow her at that moment.
He saluted and grabbed both sea bags,” Come with me please.” I looked at this young man. He was not that much older then I. It felt odd being saluted. When we were the ones who saluted others The Private first class was his rank. Must be fresh out of boot camp. And I and the redhead were fresh out of the academy. Only difference were enlisted and officer. Felt kinda strange.
We walked down a few halls. Eventually we ended up at a small office space. Cubicles and offices filling the space. It was filed with voices and machines at work. If people still smoked like they did back in the 20th century. I am sure it would be filled with smoke. It just seemed like one of those places.
Our walk ended at an anti-office. The private drooped the bags and pointed to two empty seats,”Would you young officers please take your seats. The CO will see you shortly.” As we sat he knocked on the door to the CO's office and went in. Moment later we were shown into the office.
The CO of the establishment was in his late 20s and very bald. With a fringe of black hair covering the back of his head. His continuance was not an unkind one. It seemed more passive then anything else.
He was bowed over some forms on a large touch screen computer embedded in his desk top. One of them had my name on it. Looked when I walked in, that it was some of the standard performance forms from the academy. Not like I stood out much.
We two came and stood 3 feet in front of his desk. We did the customary salute. “Reporting as ordered”, in unison. All by the book. We stood at attention. He looked up and waved his hand,”At ease.” He was very informal in actions. Something we were not use to. Coming fresh from the academy. Caught us a little of guard. We went to parade rest.