And so, once docked, which took several hours to manage somehow-
The current docking command is less than sensitive to a mature vessel’s needs, Skipper explained-
Iain and the others headed through the airlock into the hive to check out what the spaceport. Apparently, the ambient temperature was a little on the low side, at least compared to the toasty temps in the Transient Void, so Skipper had provided them all some extra layers to compensate. The get-ups were kind of amusing, making Iain think they had been ordered by a customer from some cheap 70s/80s sci-fi show. Cygnus didn’t seem all that into her tight leathers, but he thought they looked good on her.
“What do you think the chances are we might be able to find a ship heading in the general direction that’ll take me back to where at least what’s left of the Earth? Or maybe someplace where base humans like me exist and not just circus freaks bent on destroying the galaxy?” he asked her as they were being cycled around to the passenger tunnel into the asteroid hive.
“Oh I’m certainly sure you’re not the only one of your kind in existence,” Cygnus told him. “I mean no one is ever really truly alone in the universe, no matter how much they might want to be.”
An odd reply, really.
He really wasn’t sure if that was a backhand dig at him somehow. She did seem to enjoy his company, but who knows what alien women thought, especially ones willing to rip apart their ex-boyfriends and tossed them into incinerators.
Gotta discuss that with her at some point.
“There might be a way,” Cygnus offered. “But not the way you think it will be. If you’re going to get back to where you started, it’s probably gonna be pretty tricky and not exactly the way you think and take a lot longer than you imagine. So in the meantime, I suggest you enjoy yourself with what very short life you have to look forward to and not worry yourself about it.”
“Yeah thanks,” Iain replied. That was totally a dig.
“Wow,” Arl said. “This is going to be the first time for me to be anywhere really interesting, I mean, you know, off the ship.”
“Don’t have to advertise,” Arc grumbled. “The whole hive will be pointing and laughing at us.”
Funny, Iain thought. This might be the first time the pair of them weren’t exactly Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber. Honestly, it was also the first time he’d ever seen either of them behave like an adult, grumpy or otherwise.
The cycling of the airlock seemed slower than Iain expected and didn’t really offer much of what to expect, so it did build up some more anticipation/apprehension. But eventually, the lock doors slid open and they were able to step into the asteroid hive proper, able to gaze down and around and up at the bunched up string of Christmas lights from the inside, and at first it was kind of mind-boggling. It took a few moments for his brain to accept the vision and he had keep his eyes on what was right in front of him to keep the vertigo-inducing vista spread out and away at bay.
Concentrate on the station that’s right in front of you, he ordered his brain.
Thankfully what was right in front of him looked a lot like the kind of space station he remembered from all the sci-fi shows he’d watched over the years with perhaps a little better where it came to production values. Which was more mentally comforting compared to the chaotic ring of parts of the station hanging overhead and moving around as well as under his feet through the transparent flooring of the place.
Back to what was in front of him. Yeah there were lots of spots in the atrium they were entering which looked kind of cheap and chintzy that could’ve been seen on any cheap sci-fi show mostly. But there were aspects of it with actually made it feel for completely real he was standing an alien space station, Even if most of the aliens themselves look kind of human with some oddities you might have a low-budget costuming and a makeup budget. At least there was one thing he could thank the ‘Zos for.
But what they weren’t helping with was the cognitive dysfunction caused by his brain knowing he wasn’t standing on a set but above him through some transparent material or force field, and below his feet, as way too much of the flooring was see-through as well.
Yes, as he had been told, they had artificial gravity; in fact, they really went to town where it came to making use of it.
Because the gravity was didn’t seem to be just on the of the floor plates, opaque or clear, but also on the walls and ceilings. So even here, he had to adjust his mind, as they entered into the spaceport proper which to be perfectly fair seemed a bit grungy, there were beings walking along the walls and on the ceilings along the exposed asteroid rock or whatever that was if it wasn’t rock.
So as much as the Transient Void seemed like a mix between an Airport and an actual spaceship, the asteroid hive certainly seemed pretty much like a mall designed by Escher combined with a heady jolt of magic mushroom-style surrealism.
“You okay there, lover?” Cygnus asked in a concerned voice, grabbing his arm as if he was about to fall, or rise? Iain was certainly feeling weak in the knees and unable to step forward. “First time?”
“You know this is my first time... on an alien space station,” Iain was able to force out.
She let go, gave him a gentle shove forwards, which he managed somehow without falling.
“Better get used to it then,” she told him. “I have better things to do than hold your hand.”
She stepped ahead of him as though it was the most natural thing to do, did a spin.
“So you boys you go and find yourself something to do. I’m going to go off and do some shopping.”
Cygnus stepped back up and patted Iain on his shaking shoulder.
“Best to jump right in, Iain.”