Stories of The 39th Midnight Squadron
Side Jobs Are Killer
1 June 2942
Terra System, Terra Prime
“Ahh Terra… You look even better than in those crappy brochures,” remarked Bellisaria as she grasped the flight stick of her 325a to maneuver from the jump point accelerator after a nearly week long journey in hyperspace. The longevity of it proved to be somewhat annoying to her since there wasn’t much to do other than read, write or watch reruns off her glas. She couldn’t really complain though, the light show of stretched space was really enticing to watch and stole most of her attention.
She flexed her fingers, almost all of them stiff from not using them for a week. For a moment, she considered doing some stretching exercises to combat the creep of a long flight, but decided against. She was approaching on one of the few unoccupied space docks that fanned out of Prime City akin to an ancient bird with its’ unfurled feathers. This reminded Bell of Ursula, who was always captivated by interesting places like the docking platform. They shared an interest in complicated structures and found parallels in architecture and organic forms like animals.
Her 325a edged closer to the docking platform of the port. She signaled the dock operators to find a suitable uplink from the already strained network of personnel and utility tubes engulfing other ships. The spectacle was enthralling to say the least; service drones scurried from their dispensers with tubes to connect to the appropriate ports. Soon as their job was finished, another wave of service drones scurried out to clean and repair damaged hull plates as well as clean any windows or view ports. To Bell, it was a symphony of chaos.
The blare of the cockpit intercom from the dock master snapped Bellisaria out of her musing as she received docking. “Armistice this is docking tower, you are cleared to dock at B-23. I apologize for the inconvenience, but our guidance computer is down and undergoing some updates to streamline docking procedures for larger ships. Unfortunately this has affected small craft as well. So we’re gonna have to do this manually. This alright with you?”
“Oh, sure thing dock master.” Bell shifted in her seat and toggled a few switches on her panel, “If you’re ready to call the ball, I’ll be happy to oblige.”
“Alright Armistice, call the ball”
“I have the ball”
The 325a edged closer to the platform and met the joining collar with a satisfying clunk signaling a good connection. Bellisaria could hear the faint hiss of air being cycled into the compartment joining the station with the craft. Bell sensed her hands started to clam up, as well as the chill up her leg to her lap. To compensate for the change in temperature, she began to rub her hands on her lap, all the while pondering the reason for the sudden uneasiness. It was probably just her being nervous since she was meeting the CEO of Hurston Dynamics for a job offer to politely silence a competitor. ‘Why Terra of all places?’ She asked herself, ‘Didn’t they have their headquarters on that other trash heap of a planet?’
She pushed back on her flight chair and rotated it to the aft compartment. She collected her travel duffle and pack, as well as her mobiglasses perched on a charging port next to a row of actual books kept for reading on a shelf. She flipped them open and pushed them onto the bridge of her nose. The glasses winked on, scanning her retina to confirm user. The base of her skill, hidden under her shoulder length velvet-red hair, buzzed to confirm connection.
Shouldering her duffle to travel up the collapsible ladder into the space station, Bell paused and surveyed her small home before she left. It consisted of a bunk, a medium sized dresser, a raised bookshelf, a nightstand for personal effects, and three hidden weapon lockers in case anyone got snoopy. It seemed like frugal living, but in a 325a it was close to a miracle she could fit all of the amenities inside. It reminded Bellisaria of a photo her sister sent of her cramped in her college dorm room, studying for her biology degree. It felt like ages since they had talked. After shaking her head and dragging out an annoyed sigh, she thought how there were times she hated being alone and began to climb through the dorsal hatch of the Armistice onto the platform.
Stepping out with some difficulty due to the duffle, she glanced back at the Origin dorsal hatch and palmed in the biometrics to lock up the ship. The docks were clearly buzzing with activity. Much like the service drones she saw earlier. Workers were offloading luggage from commercial transports and refuelers were chatting away as they fueled ships on dock. She walked up to the fueling kiosk and selected an option to fill up the tank of Armistice. Bell started to frown as the price for the fuel registered…
“God bless the UEE…” She moaned as the exorbitant price continued to increase.
Once again Bell shouldered her duffle and began to walk down the large corridor lined with souvenir shops and boutique stores. However she didn’t take in any of the sights. She felt suddenly dissatisfied with her environment. Her face visibly tensed at the thought of being alone. ‘Five damn years and it’s not enough,’ She thought to herself, ‘Gosh is this depression? Well yeah it kinda is… Clinical? Situational? I’m not sure, but I’m looking forward for work because the devil makes work for idle hands.’ She smiled at the irony of the ancient biblical expression popping up in her thoughts. Those in the business of killing typically didn’t worry themselves over the devil…
After her mental “exercise”, she reflexively activated her musiglas. The base of her skull vibrated once again with conformation of connection. Bell felt far more relaxed now, as the music coursed through her mind. Like a friend, the music was there when she needed it most.
Bell walked to one of the wide windows lining the outside wall of the corridor and looked back out at the Armistice; her white and green hull, like all the others ships, being pampered by the service drones. A blaring intercom broke her attention; it signaled that the shuttle was leaving for Prime City in ten minutes. Taking her cue, Bell turned around and gave a wave to the Armistice as if it she was leaving a friend behind, and set a brisk pace down the corridor.