Friday, March 11, 2011

Fiction Friday - Series 3: Chapter 23

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9
Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17
Chapter 18  Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22

* * * * *

Stations are huge, but still much less massive than a small moon and the gravity they generate is insignificant for the most part. Thus it makes logistical sense for ships to dock inside stations and get the benefit of protection from natural or hostile forces as well as an easier time to service the ship and load/unload cargo.

Most stations have a maze of ship-sized corridors leading to docking rings and hanger access piers and capsuleer vessels have access to restricted causeways to docking levels with priority traffic overrides. They differ in some minor details (Amarr causeways being large and well lit to extravagant ship berths, Minmatar having claustrophobic and dark path ways to magneteo clamps) but they all operate the same: docking tractor beams on the sides of the ship corridors guide the ships through the station to the assigned berth.

Gallente stations, however, are quite different. Mainly for aesthetic reasons the docking levels are vast well lit  open concept caverns stretching through the length and breadth of the station. Ships and cargo containers are guided by massive arrays of tractor beams and drones to their berths, holds, and warehouses. The traffic control of these stations are powered by redundant AIs with teams of human oversight and are marvels of engineering.

One of the advantages of the open concept (beyond the visual appeal) the space can be used for moving ships or containers in an optimal route, no need for specialized cargo lifts or additional bulkheads. The downside is it requires a lot of vigilance to prevent debris from breaking off of a ship or container and floating into the route of another object. Each level has a number of AIs running small tractor beams on the look out for unsecured objects and directing them to security for evaluation and fines being levied on the irresponsible parties. Or arrest for those attempting something illegal, such as leaving a station level and trying to get to another.

* * * * *

Derranna and I made our way to level 23's docks where Blodel's ship was berthed. While security to access maintenance stairwells was always stringent and the security checkpoints for elevators to other levels was on high alert, the guards at the docks were not advised to watch for anything yet thanks to Delvara's interference on communications. But time was running out.

Derranna used her station pass to access the passenger umbilical for the Bestower, an Amarrian industrial ship. I had to present my pass to the overseeing machine but since I had not been identified as the suspect in the events at the bar yet, it had no reason to prevent me from leaving the station. We were halfway down the umbilical when Delvara said, "OK, shit has hit the fan. The level AI has gotten test and taken over a lot of the tasks I was spoofing directly. You've got to move NOW!"

"Time for casual is up, Deranna," I said as I hurriedly grabbed her upper arm and started to trot.

"Where do you think we're going to run to?" she asked angrily. "We can't depart without my master's authorization and he's dead!"

We entered the ship. I looked around for crew but none were to be seen. "Which way to the escape pods? Preferably one that exits to the starboard side?"

"Escape pod!? What the hell? We're in the station, there is nowhere to escape to," she explained loudly as if I were crazy.

I was getting angry. I was just trying to save her from slavery, didn't she see that? "Look, Dee, I have a plan and it involves an escape pod. We can get there and try to escape, or we can stay here until time runs out on us and they catch us and throw us in a jail and throw away the key. Because you know what? They're not fond of people getting shot and killed on their stations."

She had a torn look on her face as she locked eyes with me. I didn't understand why but I didn't have time to figure it out. I asked one more time with clenched teeth, my patience almost gone. "Where are the escape pods?"

She came to some sort of tortured decision and turned. "This way," she said dejectedly.

1 comment:

  1. Good one. Liked the descriptions and the action. Can't wait for the next one.