Intercosmic - Chapter 12 - Transportation

I’m not the only person picked up for the ship ride this morning. None of us seem to be in a speaking mood and there’s no celebratory goodbyes either. We’re all thinking the same thoughts, no doubt about that. I can’t read minds but I see it in their eyes, body language, it mirrors my own. We may be physically fit, but mentally none of us are prepared to go back. I’m the only person sporting a shiny new prosthetic, but I’m not the only one here with wounds. They wouldn’t be here if they weren’t broken in some way, I can’t tell how they’re broken, but I know we’re all broken. None of us want to go back, but we have to.  

I spot Taffy from the window and give him a solemn nod. He returns it, an acknowledgment of me doing the right thing. The right thing; isn’t that just what we’re supposed to do? Just because we’re supposed to do something, does that mean it’s the right thing? Is getting on this ship and preparing to go fight against the unknown really what is right? I’ve never gone into battle against anyone that has actually harmed me, so why is it the right thing?

As much as I am conflicted, I follow the lead and place my luggage in the storage quarters above my seat like everyone else. The ship slowly lifts off the ground as I take my seat. I don’t even know what my destination is this time. I know I catch the ship, we probably make a few more stops. We'll hop on a bigger transport ship, hop through a hafengdan. From there we’ll take planetary transport to our base, or close to it. Then, and only then, will I know where they’re sending me to lose another limb.

Nobody speaks on the ship, we’re all focused out the windows, getting our first real view of the station from a distance. The place is massive, but as we move further away it becomes a memory. There’s nothing special about it other than pyramid like shape and number of glass windows, I suppose that’s where the name comes from. Space, looks like every other time I’ve seen space. There’s nothing out here that I haven’t seen before. A small yellow planet, likely made up of gas sits a few minutes from the station. No doubt it was the reason the station is here. I wonder what they harvest from it, because they have to get something from it.  

The hafengdan looms over the entire area, larger than the station. I wonder if they built the station somewhere else and sent it through, or did they bring it here piece by piece. I guess that’s something I should have asked when I was on the station.

The mass transport ship extends a bridge and connects with our small ship. Five or six of the others flinch when the connection is made. It sounds the same as crashing, and gears grinding as it slowly locks in place. I know I can’t hesitate, or I’ll turn back. I snatch my holdall from the overhead and make my way through the bridge connecting the ships. I present my ID badge at the doorway, and it slides open slowly, evening the pressure between the two ships.

“Welcome aboard Command Sergeant Gray,” an AI greets me.

“I’m not a Command Sergeant, just a First Sergeant.”  

“You have been promoted in your time away.”

“Thank you,” I guess.

This ship is much more crowded, no doubt we’re just one stop of many. I find a seat in the back of the third tier. Nobody has filled in this level of the ship yet, and I just want to be alone. Making my way up here, I could hear too many young soldiers eager for whatever the universe might throw at them. I remember being that way. Thinking I’d explore the universe, help fight off the Alpha Draconian threat or something like that. I didn’t expect I’d be shooting kids in jungles. I don’t know what they’ll face, but it won’t be what they expect. It doesn’t help that my arm managed to get a few stares and comments. Some positive, some negative, mostly shock.  

The ship travels through the hafengdan and my right arm reflexively seizes up in what I can only compare to a muscle cramp. My entire arm flexes and moves on it’s own. I can’t get it to release, then it just drops. A few moments later, everything works like a charm. I quickly open my wrist comp and search the cyberspace for answers to what may have happened. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds. Some lower end prosthetics can temporarily malfunction when traveling through the Bangbepunkt. I’m not a first timer anymore, but there it is. I got punked out by the gate again. Maybe I stick around until I can afford a better arm, then I’ll resign.  

Hopefully, I’m just going to do paperwork. I hadn’t considered any of that. There’s probably paperwork to be filled out. I’ve been promoted two ranks, and all I did was survive. I’m sure they’ll want to debrief me about the missions, since no one has come to talk to me. I’m not sure why I was so stressed. There’s a lot of options. I think I’ll be okay.

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