Map of Stars: A Space Odyssey
The ship slowly descended from the starry night sky into Delirium’s military district. Through the pouring and shooting steam of the ship’s landing gear, flickering lights masked the steam with an industrial glow. Setting itself down on the thick steel platform it released its final burst of steam, which rolled across the cold platform and spilled off the edge into the depths of Delirium like a waterfall. Four armed soldiers approached the ship, rifles in hand and helmets glistening speckles of light from the red security lights above them. Disturbing the mist-like steam beneath them, they came to a halt at the end of the walkway leading to the circular platform. The ship’s boarding ramp lowered and crashed onto the platform, shaking the ground beneath them. A man in a dark leather jacket stepped down from the ramp as the backlit corridor of the ship lit him up like a silhouette of darkness. As he took a long drag of his cigarette his face slightly illuminated revealing his rough exterior; a faint scruffy appearance with a noticeable goatee. He walked toward the militants and stopped before them.
“Turn over your weapons immediately.” Ordered one of the soldiers. Dante hesitantly unholstered his pistols from his belt and handed them to the soldier on the left, and handed two more that sat under his jacket to the same man.
“Shall we?” he asked. The soldiers all spun around like clockwork, as if they’d practiced that routine all day. Dante felt honoured, but felt intimidated to be in such a heavily armed facility. They led him through a series of halls, all dimly lit with florescent lights on the four corners of the hallway. Other soldiers and workers passed by him avoiding all eye contact, likely not out of disrespect but their work had blinded them to all but their duties and their authoritative figures. They entered a large room with screens lining the walls and computers beneath them being manned by soldiers, workers and scientists of all types. The centre of the room had a large circular desk that was illuminated by a hologram of a planet Dante was not familiar with and he’d seen the majority of them.
The soldiers stepped away from him and surrounded the hologram. A man in dark grey clothing reeked of militancy and his short, white hair only added to the portrait. He turned around and looked Dante in the eyes, then examining him from head to toe like a droid. Dante stepped toward him and nodded trying to keep the formalities at bay.
“Hey, I’m Dante.” He said, but the man cut him off.
“Admiral Jasper Garland of the 1st Federate Fleet. Glad you could make it.” He said. Dante nodded ignoring the rude gesture. He made his judgement call a little too accurately about the Admiral. He expected the firm, militant type and that’s what he got.
“What do you know so far?” asked the Admiral.
“Well, I know you guys needed a pilot, and I’m the best damn pilot you’re gonna find.” He replied arrogantly. The Admiral nodded and welcomed him over to the hologram. Dante approached it looking up at the detail in awe. It’s as if the planet were right in front of him and he started calculating landing procedures for such a planet; it came as instinct to him. The planet looked primarily temperate but appeared to have little to no human interaction.
“I won’t explain everything yet, the others still have to arrive.” The Admiral stated. Dante nodded and further examined the hologram. The Admiral looked over at Dante and back at the hologram. Dante thought about when he was sitting at his home on Yuthura, reading the message the Federate Army had sent him. Being accepted into a top-secret military operation was an honour, and the amount of interviews and tests Dante went through to be accepted was tiring. Initially he had thought that a small time mercenary from Yuthura would never set foot in a Federate military base without being cuffed at the wrists and ankles. The notice Dante received informed him that he was being hired as the pilot as well as the Captain of the squad.
“Once your squad arrives we will have a briefing of your mission, we’ll have a tour of your vessel and then you’ll be off on your way.” Informed the Admiral. Dante looked at the Admiral.
“I can’t use my starship?” he asked. The Admiral chuckled under his breath and stroked his well-shaved chin.
“To be honest, it ain’t big enough.” He said. Dante wanted to take offence to the joke, but he laughed along with the Admiral in both respect, and a strange form of agreement. Dante’s ship was nice, but it wasn’t big to house an entire crew for an indefinitely long expedition. The details were very limited to Dante as all that he knew is that they were going into an expedition into hostile space; that part was excluded from the acceptance letter, but having a marksman as part of the team was a sure sign of future battles. They were all expected to be able to use a weapon of some kind, but what they were in store for was nothing they expected. At that moment a soldier walked over to the Admiral and saluted.
“Sir, another one of the crew has arrived. Shall we bring them in?” he asked. The Admiral nodded as they both waited for the next of the crew to step through the door.