Kicking my feet up onto the titanium work bench, I leaned back in the comfiest roller chair I could find in the research wing. That was no small feat, mind you. I ran my fingers through the thick, long black hair I'd come to despise for it's impracticality. Always getting caught in the fibers of my lab coat. My bangs liked to dangle right in front of my eyes most of the time.
I tried to focus my eyes past the video I pulled up on my Augmented Reality feed. The improvements to the UI faded the image out as I changed focus. Sure enough, despite having tried to keep it all behind my head, a few strands of hair had rested directly in front of my right eye. Hard to notice when I'm watching cat videos on an AR linked directly to my vision.
Putting my feet down with a heavy thud, a tinge of red caught my eye. Peering out the window into the void of space, small bulbs of energy refracted on the windows surface. Red, two dimensional circles of energy danced across the window like laser lights at a rave.
A chime came through the loud speaker, indicating the AI was creating a response.
"Report compiled. Is there a specific area you would like to inquire about Rey?"
Her sultry voice always got me. She sounded like a woman with a past to hide. Not sure why they made her that way, but it was strange talking to an AI that sounded like it could carry out a full conversation.
"What's with these red lights on the windows? Ley anomaly?"
She didn't answer right away, which was strange. Didn't she already compile the full diagnostic report?
"Scans indicate Ley activity is increased in this sector. It is not interfering with warp travel, however I have picked up a nearby beacon that indicated we are reaching the outer ring of Pangean explored territory."
We're leaving Pangean space? Wow, Dokk is really throwing me out there. Cause, you know, losing my family and all my friends wasn't enough. As the red lights slowly danced on the window I couldn't help but think about what's happened. Thoughts of the COM center back on station six. Li and I had taken a trip there one time, just to see how they all differed.
It certainly was different from the gardens we had at station three. Six was notorious for being... eccentric. Art was a mainstay of their culture, so when it came to decorating their spaces they went all out. They had hung a model replica of the first warp capable Ley-Cruiser, The Event Horizon. It was actually really cool how it floated in the air near the glass dome that covered the COM center.
"Rey? Are there any further inquiries?"
I spaced again. Go figure. I tend to do that a lot.
"No Rig, just let me know if there's any trouble with systems."
An icon appeared in my vision. A new document had been sent to my AR.
"Attached is a full report of areas that require work. Main systems are running at full capacity. Can I be of any further assistance Rey?"
Leaning forward in the roller chair, I rolled it up to the desk terminal. It was easier to open messages with a real screen in front of me. The report she sent me was filled with minor repairs to random systems. Most of it could be taken care of with a simple tweak to Rig's self-repair protocols.
"No, that'll do for now Rig. Thank you."
The familiar chime through the loudspeaker told me her subroutines took her to managing the ship again. As I sifted through the report, I couldn't help but think how strange it was to have an AI as my only interaction. This ship was evacuated and all that was left was her. Seems kind of a waste to leave all of this tied up in dry dock.
Major repairs needed on the security deck's training room. Holographic projectors lost integration to the host crystal. Red Light district lost connection to the COM grid. That's strange... Red light district? Looking out the window into space, the red lights continued to shift across the glass. Shapes of differing sizes and types, slowly crawling across the grid-like panes like amoebas.
Ley-Lines certainly caused some strange phenomenon. I wonder if they've done any proper research on it. Guess that's more reading for me to pick up on later. Now it's time for me to find something else to occupy my time. I can't spend all day learning how to reconfigure warp coils for a crystal engine. Not that I'm really able to follow much of it anyway.
I stretched my arms and arched my back, letting my hair fall behind me. The ceiling was plain. White steel. The smell of polished metal and somehow grease had been a friend for a while. That's basically what Yuri smelled like every day. Greased up riding his platform around. I remember one time I had...
Yuri isn't here. I know this. It's been months since all of that happened. Yet I can't get what happened out of my head. They're all just gone. I know now it doesn't do me much good to dwell on it. Dokk had made it clear that life wasn't going to be easy moving forward.
Still... Being out here, alone. It takes it's toll on a girl. I suppose I should find something to distract myself... I'm told working out is a good distraction. Pulling up a list of civilian utilities was all I needed. There were facilities for just about every kind of passion on this ship. Even if there wasn't, it's possible they just used holo-rooms to facilitate whatever they didn't have.
Sure enough, near the Recreational district was the health facilities. Oh hello there, what's this? There is a wing that says it's locked. Security Personnel Training Facility. An entire training facility for security? What does it have that the civilian facility doesn't? Nothing I would need I imagine. No matter, it's simply a twenty minute walk from the research wing.
Would be faster if Rig would unlock use of the security carts. Although it's not like I have anything but time right now. Willing my legs to take on my weight again, they did so with little protest. Hopefully soon they'll be protesting loud enough to make me forget what I lost.
A heavy warm mist lingered in the locker room where I decided to take a shower. The smell of eucalyptus reminded me of Li's gardens. Every noise made a lonely echo in the room lined with tile. My locker shutting as I threw my lab coat back on over my leggings and tank top. The COM station near the exit beeped with confirmation of a bottle of water I requested. It made the whole room sound so empty.
Loudspeakers turned on and a gentlemanly voice began reading an automated message.
"Please remember to check in at the counter before using the facilities. Lintnell enterprises is happy to accommodate every need. Help us to help you. If you have-"
I've already heard this spiel. Opening the door from the locker room, I exited into the reception area proper. It opened up into a three story room lined with digital screens that flashed between motivational posters and upcoming class schedules. I don't know who honestly becomes motivated simply by a lion roaring and a cheesy You can do it! kind of line.
You know what always motivates me? Queso dip. Maybe put a steak on there with the line Now it's just getting your protein in. Yeah. Well, I suppose if I get bored later I can make my own motivational posters.
"Do you require direction, ma'am?"
To my left was the reception counter. A well toned guy with short blond hair stood behind the counter looking cheery at me. He seemed familiar in a way. How, I couldn't be sure. I had to remind myself he was just an AI used to automate questions about the gym area.
"No, I know where I'm going. Thank you."
His smile faded slightly as he nodded and looked down at the terminal in front of him. Easy enough response I guess. Opening my bottle of water, I took a drink and began to walk out past the small trees that were planted near either side of the automatic door. Cool air blasted in as it opened up and the pressures evened out. Directly outside the door was visible space through the glass windows.
Red circles danced across a much bigger canvas. Streaks of light passed by beyond the red with black filling the rest of space. Ley-anomalys varied, I know that. But this is something strange I've never seen before. It doesn't seem to be hurting anything. I stood for a moment and realized my legs were definitely screaming at me. Wherever I was going to go, I should head there quickly.
Stretching my right leg, I rubbed the back part of my thigh where it was feeling sore. Running for an hour straight will do that I suppose. The corridor smelled like coffee and pastries. What in space is creating that heavenly smell? I thought it would be good to pull up a map on my AR to see what information I could find. Sure enough
Nearby was a small cafe. They're just starting to open too it looks like. Only 6 am? It looks like I picked a good time to come to the gym. I guess I haven't been on much of a schedule. Just kinda when I get tired, which isn't often. Ok, this cafe is about a kilometer towards aft from here. Not bad.
Strawberry overwhelmed my sense of smell. Screens flickered with advertisements on the walls. One caught my eye in particular, and that was for self-defense classes in the security wing. A moving ad of the guy from the gym counter, but wearing full tactical gear and displaying his knowledge in random b-roll fashion. At one point there was even the patented throw your attacker over your shoulder defense. Classic.
I swear that guy looks familiar. This is gonna bother me until I figure it out. Before I knew it I had reached the tiny cafe. Jackie's Nook. How adorable. I will judge thee only upon the availability of real pumpkin spice o' robot cafe. It was a strange dynamic sometimes living with COM stations.
You could pre-program a world famous dish into it, and it could replicate it down to the exact number of flakes of oregano if you wanted to. Still, it didn't quite taste the same after being reconstructed. It was filling and tasty, for sure. But it lacked a strange tangibility.
"Excuse me, Ma'am? Would you like a table?"
Snapping out of my day dream, I realized I had been approached by a rather young girl in a blue dress and apron. Her long brunette hair was tied up in a pony-tail. It accentuated her young complexion. I also can't help but notice her breasts are quite large. They really went for a class act here.
Strange though, she looks oddly familiar as well. Her face reminds me of... Lionel?
"Ma'am? Are you ok? Do you need a moment?"
Yet again I had to snap out of my own mind. I must have just been staring at her. Awkward.
"No... Sorry, you just look familiar."
Her face brightened up instantly, with a huge smile ready to emerge. Yet it didn't.
"Would you like to get something to eat? We have fresh made scones! Not even from COM ingredients, we have a garden on deck E and a protein synthesizer that my brother has learned to work wonders with!"
She giggled and sounded so happy just to say it. A wide smile slipped through as she mentioned her brother. Whoever programmed these AI was a strange person. Maybe their personality subroutines are damaged. Either way, if it's not even COM food I suppose it's worth a try.
The door was propped open behind her. Raspberry and vanilla filled my nostrils again and a vague hint of nutmeg mixed in with a strong coffee. Whatever this place is, it smells wonderful.
"Sure, I'll stop in for breakfast."
I wasn't really sure how to react. She was an AI, obviously. Yet her smile grew even wider as she hopped a little in place and turned on her heel towards the door.
"Come in! Please!"
As she walked in she clicked on the open sign, and she shouted towards the back.
"Li you won't believe it! Someone's here!"
Li?! My heart sank as I walked up to the door. A hole opened in my stomach and suddenly I didn't feel so hungry. From behind an open doorway a teenager walked through. The smile on his face made my eyes start watering. White hair. Blue eyes(verify color). A jaw line that was unmistakable.
"Welcome! Please! I just finished making a pumpkin puree. I can't decide whether I want to make syrup or a pie out of this week's harvest though. Is there something you'd... prefer? Ma'am?"
Tears started streaming down my eyes. Here I was, on a ship thousands of light years away from station 3. Everything was taken from me. Including a younger AI version of one of the only men that ever even showed a vague interest in me. At this moment I knew why the gym clerk and this Jackie girl looked familiar. They were all part of the Lintnell family.
"Ma'am? Are you ok?"
The look on his face was genuine concern. For a moment I stood and stared at him. I didn't meet Lionel until his early twenties. When he requested his post on Station 3. This version didn't even know who I was. I don't think I can handle that right now.
"I'm sorry... I can't... I'll be back!"
I turned from the door and ran as fast as I could towards aft. I had no idea where I was going. Anywhere but there.