Novel description: 2 military space cadets flung to the outer reaches of the empire. To ancient an outpost. Built by a long dead race. Maned and operated by the empire and their frontier infantry. Will they survive their 12 month training rotation or will it kill them?
“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! Where are you dream girl! Oh reality why do you hate me so? I was at the good to!
Reality was slowly seeping back into my cobwebbed brain. Even as I was trying to wake up. The shacking went on like an earth quake and it was getting very annoying! I flung my right arm out to try to stop the almost abusive shacking. It was 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, and very slowly.
The low light compartment with its rows and rows of padded seats. With over head lighting and air vents. Reminding me of on old style airplane from the late 20th century. With one big difference. We were in space. With an almost empty compartment. Me and my travel companion and a few others. Not many, nor did it seem like there was many who travel this rout.
There were movies playing 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 and residency.
With that my face was plastered up against the bulkhead and the view port. Droll going down my chin on to the smooth surface. I wiped it off with my free hand. Making a contorted facile expression that confused my travel companion. She looked at me and said,”Do you have to go to the bathroom??” I just rolled my eyes at that. Then she pouted and crossed her arms.
My left arm was smashed against the bulkhead, and giving me a grate deal of pain at that very moment. The darn thing was still asleep. I am sure that is what factored in with my strange expression. I was more awake then my arm. How insulting
A few minutes later my travel companion and the pain in my side turned back to me,“Oh you are finely awake!” she said in a very cheerful greeting. Well she got over that fast. A little to cheerful and very bipoler, like a switch being turned on and off. She then pointed over my shoulder, “Look out the window! Our first duty station!” I looked up at my travel companion, and were she was pointing.
Molly Christensen, what can I tell you about her? We had been in the same classes at the academy back on Mars. The place we only had 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 building, and floor if you could believe it. Now were both on this long range shuttle to our residency to some distant outpost. I thought I would have gotten rid of her at some point in the 4 years at the academy. The universe has a perverse sense of humor I think.
She is a very slender gal and tall, about 5'8. With blood red hair down to her waist when it was not tighten up tight against her head. Long slender fingers. Even longer legs. A guys dream girl, except she was very hyper active to the extreme. As her recent mood change. 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 once told me she did not even study. Going all the way back to her pre college days, in high school and alike. I would have killed to have that as one of my skills. Instead it goes to the never ending bouncing red head. Like I say the he universe has a perverse sense of humor.
She like I were wearing our class A formal uniforms. Tailored and pressed with right creases. Even with my falling asleep in the position I did. Then we had our patches and ribbons. An ornamental side arm. An old wild 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 on our index finger. 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 had to I roll my eyes at that thought, ya right. Not with this red headed demon.
I finely unpeeled my body from the bulkhead and looked outside the port. There it was. Our home for the next 12 months of our lives. The out post looked like it had crashed into the side of the moon. With metal bits sticking out of the surface at what seemed like a random pattern. Looked like many triangles and pyramids 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 creating harsh shadows. It was a little strange and very alien place.
What I read before we boarded the shuttle to this place. The moon was about the same distance as the Earth's own 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 atmosphere about 10,000 years ago earth time. When we as a human race were crowing out from our caves and trying to create civilization. This place hit its peak. With a snap of cosmic fingers. It all went to pot. An unknown disaster hit this once great planet. A little depressing to look at to tell the truth. No water or air on the surface. Just a dead rock in space, much like its moon.
As we went further on our approach we flew close on surface of this moon. I would say about 300 feet, if that. Then into the side of a large 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. Spot lights on the outside pointing at us as we approached.
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 like ants.
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. We were here. Very anti climatic introduction to our new home. 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.” Click and with that the passengers were gathering their things.
As we were gathering our things. I thought how 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. To see if everything still worked like it should. It felt kinda nice and painful at the same time. 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. Sweet, saccharine! That will give me diabetes some day.
We followed the other passengers out. Numbering about 20. I had a feeling this was the average for this place. What else was there to do out this far from the core 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 shows we could ever want and a lot of standing around.
As we departed the space craft. We walked Into a transparent tunnel leading to the bus. We could see this large bay at a 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 digress. We made it onto the bus with out much of a hitch. Other then some rubber necking by me and some others who it was their first time here.
The bus, 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 bath tub on wheels. That happen to have seats. It even smelled old. I think I even saw a ghost, but that could be my jet lagged 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 accommodate to our new surroundings and it took off. Having unmanned buses like this was a little terrifying. You always wondered if the programmer did their job. All I can say it was a white knuckled ride ended as fast as it started. Arriving to a military issue 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. Both at once. 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 I thought. She just smiled.
We got off the bus and followed the tunnel into the airlock 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 on all of around us.
This is were we split company with the others on the flight. They scattered like many specs of dust. Us two were greeted with a uniformed enlisted man 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. I held back it would not fix anything.
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 to and not us do it. He was a Private first class. Must be fresh out of boot camp. And I and the redhead were fresh out of the academy. Only difference were enlisted and officer status. Felt kinda strange being more senior in rank.
We walked down a few halls. With no talking from ether of us. 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 dropped the bags gently on floor 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 he escorted us into the office.
First thing I noticed, it was all wood paneled. Dark mahogany, with shelves and one large window that looked out over the moon surface, and what a view. At the height we were at, I am sure it would have given fits to some who hates heights. Then in the very center there was a very large desk with a computer display embedded on its surface.
Then I noticed the CO of the establishment. He 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. Almost like he was always day dreaming.
He was bowed over some forms on a large screen. I could see some of the screen. It had formal military forms. One of them had my name on it. Then it hit me. performance reviews from the academy.
We two came and stood 3 feet in front of his desk. We did the customary salute. “Reporting as ordered sit!”, in unison. All by the book. We stood at attention. He looked up and waved his hand,”At ease.” He was very informal in his actions. Something we were not accustomed to coming fresh from the academy. Lets just say it caught us a little of guard. We went to parade rest and looked at each other for a brief moment in confusion. Then we looked at at the spot about the CO's head, just like how we were trained to do.
He finely looked up from his screen, with a poker face my grand pa would have killed for. I strayed a glance at Molly again and she seemed just as bathled as I. Just a slight shrug of her slim shoulders and that was about it.
In a tired voice he spoke for the first time,” I am captain Kevin Axelrod. The commander of this depot” He just smirked with that last comment. He went on with a sarcastic tone,”I have been part of this corps for 10 years. This is my first base command” He just laughed at that last one, like it was really good joke.”As you can see you are in the sticks, were nothing ever happens. Were they send you to get rid of you for some un-spoken offense.” He waved dismissive hand around his office, “Or to send wet behind officer trainees like your selves.”
Molly and I meet eyes in disbelief at his causal disregard at custom and regulation. Almost wondered why they sent us here? Did we commit an offense and this is the corps way of dealing with it? It could not be. They could still cashier us out. We are not even officially done with the academy. No it had to be bureaucratic oversight, or the guy who was handing out deployments was throwing darts at a target and by some random run of bad luck ended up here. Or was just as it seemed, a place to stick officer trainees. I hoped it was the latter.
The tired voice went on,”As part of your training. You will take on the duties of a 2nd Lieutenant and over see a platoon each, among other duties I will see fit to give you. You have the rest of the day to get acquainted to our little home away from home. The private will see you to your quarters. Dismissed.”
He clicked a buzzer and we saluted, and he just gave us a tired nod. As we spun on our heels. The private came back in,”Sir, Mam, Come with me would you please. I will show you to your quarters.” We followed him out of the office and he picked up our sea bags as before. Not braking a sweat.
Moments later we were in officers country. A hall way with rooms on ether side. Almost reminded me of a hotel hallway. Even had some that tacky carpet on the floor. That did not help things. Even smelled faintly like one to.
We stopped at a door mid way down. He looked at Molly,”Mam, would you please slide your hand over the plate.” She reached out with her left hand and put it to the control plate on the side of the wall. With a beep and a click the door opened.
He went first, and Molly followed. From the hall I could see him set the bag on the single queen sized bed. The lights came on and then they disappeared from view. Moments later he was back in the hall.”This way sir.”
Arrived at a very similar door, a clone of a clone. “Sir would you please put your hand on the plate” I did as Molly did. I stretched out my right hand and put it on as it scanned me, and took a DNA sample to verify who I was. With the beep and click the door opened.
He went in first, leading the way into the dark room. A soft hum started then the lights came on. Filling the space with light. Stimulating noon day sun on earth. He set the bag on my bed. A standard queen sized bed, like Molly's.
The place seemed a little worse for wear. Much like the bus we rode in. It was worn in places. Chip marks in the paint. Wear and tar on the floor. Made me wonder how many people had abused this place before I came here. Like any military quarters. They were all clones. One size fits all is a common thread in the military. Has not changed in a couple of millennia and I have no dout it wont change for the foreseeable future.
The private showed me some specifics about the living quarters and saluted and left me alone in my new home on the frontier. Now let me describe this place.
There were 3 small rooms. Room 1 a small kitchen, room 2 the sleeping space and living room and finely room 3 is the sanitary room, with a stand up shower a sink and one badly fraged mirror. The kitchen was in the best conduction. Looked some what new. Meaning no one stayed in and cooked in this place. The bedroom was OK except for the floor that needed some major tlc. The bathroom was the most disturbing. It was like a mud beast lived in it. Ring around the shower. Rings around the toilet and the floor needed new surfacing.
Main part of this place of course was the sleeping space/ living room. The bed seemed like it was still firm. There was a large screen embedded on the wall. I would say it was about 52” inches. With a sensor bar under it. To the side of the bed was a small wood desk. With a computer display standing on it. One walk in closest and one control panel for life stupor and comfort. All very stranded. Only advantage from were I slept a short 24 hours ago was. I did not have to share this space with any roommates. Small blessings I guess.
What had me confused was what to do with my time. Not like I could go clubbing. None around for many light years in ether direction. No theaters or good bars. Other then the standard officers club with its cheap drinks and old salts telling war stories and shooting darts. No thanks, that would be to depressing on my first day here.
I flopped onto the bed. Then look up at the ceiling, wondering what to do with my self. I had to been a half hour and I heard knocking at my door. Brought me back to the real world with one thought, who could that be? I yelled out,”Coming.”
Got off the bed and walked to the door and opened it. Guess who was at the door? The tormentor. All she did was smile and say,” Hi want to go explore?” Then she cocked her head to one side.
“How did you know were I was? She held up her wrist unit, “It connected to the local network and was kind to tell me were you where.” She said it like I was an 8 year old. I was still a little sleep deprive OK. Give me a brake.
Had to think quickly. Do I go with her, or do I stay and stare at the walls? What was less annoying?