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Jetamors ([personal profile] jetamors) wrote2010-11-11 11:13 pm
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Nanowrimo Day 11

I took yesterday off, partially due to some RL stuff and partially so I could dream up some of the next arc of this story. The RL stuff went well, and I'm still ahead of pace, so no worries :)



The trip to Hurston Station took five days. Neither Tatiana nor Kid really knew how to harvest the hydroponics or really anything about living in a ship, but fortunately the mechanics had included helpful guides in the ship, so they spent most of their time learning to take care of the hydroponics, keep themselves clean, and perform the daily ship maintenance needed so that Hold Steady would never again be as bad-off as she was when Jerome brought her to Garvey.

It was dull, of course, terribly dull. While the ship had places for books and pads and all sorts of sensory entertainment, Tatiana and Kid had left with no more than the clothes on their backs and whatever they happened to be loaded onto their pads at the time. Much of the latter required access to Garvey's net, so on the whole they had little in the way of entertainment. Wearing the same clothes day-in and day-out was somewhat demoralizing too, even though they could be easily cleaned by the ship.

All in all, when Hold Steady announced that they were only an hour away from Hurston Station, Kid and Tatiana both reacted with a deep sense of relief.

"Hold Steady, do you know anything about the docking procedures here?" Kid asked.

"Hurston Station is habitually under capacity; we should have no trouble finding a dock. The price ranges for docking are... I do not know the price range for docking." Only parts of Hold Steady's memory were able to be preserved by the mechanics. Perhaps it was only Tatiana's imagination but she thought the ship sounded disoriented whenever she found one of these holes in her information.

"How many decks are there?" she asked. Tatiana wasn't quite sure what a deck was, but she'd heard that space stations had them.

"Hurston station has one hundred and fourteen decks. Docking is restricted to decks twenty-one through... I do not know which decks."

"That's okay, we'll try to dock at twenty-one then," Tatiana said.

"Is the station within your sensors? Can you show it on the screen?" Kid asked.

"Yes," Hold Steady replied. "Projecting."

Hurston Station looked like nothing so much as a coiled spring. There were lights winking on and off in different places, and tiny pinpoints of light swirling all around it.

"How big is it?" Tatiana murmured.

"I do not know how large it is," Hold Steady replied.

Tatiana wanted to smile at Hold Steady, but she didn't know what direction to look in. She settled for continuing to look at the space station. "We're going to find some way to restore your information, Hold Steady," she said. "Don't worry."

"Acknowledged," Hold Steady said.

Soon enough, they started to approach the station more closely. Hold Steady had switched to the unaugmented human view some time ago, so they were able to see Hurston Station grow steadily larger and larger in the viewscreen.

Kid took control during the docking procedure. "Hold Steady, can you point me to Deck 21?"

"In this orientation, Deck 21 is three levels above us," Hold Steady said. "We may have to proceed circumferentially to find docking areas."

But the docks were clearly visible as soon as the deck came into view. Some were closed, while others opened to hard vacuum.

"Do we just pick one, or what?" Tatiana said.

But just then a voice came in over the comm system.

"Unknown craft, identify yourself." The voice sounded like that of a child.

"This is Hold Steady," Tatiana said.

"Identify your origin and destination."

"We come from the planet Garvey. Our destination... well, right now it's Hurston Station."

"Understood," the child's voice said. There was a short pause, and then: "We have assigned you a dock on this level. Please proceed to the coordinates sent to your ship. A representative will meet you at the dock."

Kid groaned; the coordinates they'd been given were all the way on the other side of the station. "I'll go counter-rotation; that should save us a little time."

It was still a very long trip, however, and Hurston rotated very slowly. During the trip, they found that they had approached from Hurston's "dark side"; it orbited a small, dim white dwarf star.

"Wonder why anyone wanted a space station here," Tatiana said.

"White dwarf stars provide many valuable resources, such as... I, I do not know what resources they provide. And this star is relatively closely placed to several moderately populous planets."

"Like Garvey?"

"Garvey is classified as a sparsely populous planet."

"I always thought there were lots of us," Tatiana grumbled. "But okay. Hold Steady, do you know how many people are on this station?"

"I do not know," Hold Steady said.

Tatiana sighed. "We've really got to get this problem taken care of."

"Okay, we're there," Kid said. "Now just to lift in..."

He oriented the ship so that the top was facing the station, and they went up into the dock. As they went in, the open portal that had let them in irised closed, and then they set down on top of it. They had entered Hurston Station.

"Should we do anything to... I dunno, secure Hold Steady or something? In case someone tries to steal her?" Tatiana asked.

"I will only operate on instructions from Tatiana or Kidlat," Hold Steady said.

"She'll be okay," Kid said. He moved toward the exit.

"Okay then, I guess," Tatiana said, and followed.

They opened the door to the ship and went down the ramp. Just as they reached the floor of the station, a woman hurried toward them. Her hair was very shiny and very straight, and beneath each of her eyes were two lines of yellow paint.

"Hey, where's Jerome?" she asked. "I wanted to be sure to greet him."

"Oh, do you know my uncle?" Tatiana said. "He's back in Garvey. He gave me the ship, so we decided to take her for a little spin."

The woman's face fell, and the paint under her eyes turned blue. "Oh no! He told me about the whole retirement thing, but to be honest I thought it was just him shooting the breeze like usual. Oh, my name is Fatima, and I work for the Station. Nice to meet you."

She stuck out a hand; Tatiana shook it. "I'm Tatiana, and this is Kid. So, we don't really know how things work around here. Like, at all. Could you maybe show us around or something? Please?"

The paint under Fatima's eyes turned yellow again. "Why certainly! Anything for the niece of a friend."

"So how long did you know my uncle?" Tatiana asked as they walked toward one end of the dock.

"Oh, not very long at all, just a few months. We both had an interest in laodzu music, and we experienced many performances together." She sighed with something like happiness, and the paint under her eyes tinged purple. "Oh, he had such a knack with the zela."

"Um, where are we walking to?" Kid asked. They were heading toward a wall with nothing more interesting than a few pipes.

Fatima beamed. "You two are really from the boonies, huh? Never been in a zip tube before?"

"Zip tube?"

Fatima gestured toward one of the larger pipes; Tatiana noticed that it had a human-sized panel set near the floor. "In a station like this, rotation supplies the gravity. But it's so large, there's no point in just using the outside as a floor. Instead we have several floors, stacked from outside to in. Though be careful; the gravity on the innermost floors is less than it is here. Not as bad as space, of course, but less than you're probably used to."

"Why don't you just use anti-gravs?" Tatiana asked. "We have them on the ship."

"I don't know all the details, but I think they don't scale up well, or something. Or maybe this is just a really old station?" Fatima shrugged elegantly. "Anyway, here's the zip tube! You tell it which level you want, and it takes you there. This is level 0; on this deck, the highest level is five, I think. Or is it six? I can never remember, I hardly ever come down here."

"So where are we going?" Kid asked.

"We're going to five, or six. Whatever is innermost. From there we can take a cab to level 50, and then I can really start showing you around. These lower decks are so boring. Oh yeah, if you're going innermost or outermost, you can just tell the zip tube that. It's why I can never remember the number of levels."

The panel door of the zip tube slid aside after they stood in front of it for a moment. Fatima stepped forward, though not into the tube.

"Innermost," she said. The tube looked the same, but when she stepped inside, she whizzed up and was gone in a moment.

"Wow," Tatiana said.

"Yeah," Kid said.

"Uh... I'll go next, I guess." Tatiana stepped forward, just as Fatima had. "Innermost," she said.

Again there was no change in the tube. Tatiana considered looking down into it, dismissed the impulse as stupid, and stepped in.

Suddenly she was yanked upward. It felt only like a strong pull, not painful, but at the same time, she could tell that she was going very, very fast. She closed her eyes at first, but then tried opening them.

It was then that she saw the flickering animation in front of her. A stick figure representation of a person stalked from her right to her left, crouching and rolling behind various obstacles. It pulled out a gun, shot at something offscreen; and then there was a big blast of bright orange. Tatiana closed her eyes reflexively, cringing away; but when she opened them again, there was a stylized logo of the shooting stick person, and the words "VISIT HURSTON'S PREMIERE LASER DOME!"

Tatiana laughed; it was an advertisement! And then she suddenly stopped. She seemed to be floating in mid-air, facing an opening in the tube.

Fatima's face appeared, the paint shading into grey. "Come on, come on! Don't clog up the tube!"

Tatiana pulled herself forward and out of the zip tube; a few seconds later, Kid followed. Fatima clapped her hands in delight.

"Okay, now all we have to do is hire a cab, and then we can get to the fun stuff!"