Welcome to CloudNine, an inter-solar system patroller ship. The greatest recruits from Earth and even some Offworlders have been drafted aboard. It's purpose is to keep the Milky Way in check. Feel free to hop on board, but stop and think for a moment- do you have what it takes?
The thunderous sounds woke me up.
‘No need for alarms’ I thought, the Drive engines, which activated at exactly 07:33:02:02am GMT, was all the wake up call I needed or could handle.
I opened my eyes to the white room, as I had ever day at exactly 7:33.24:04, for the past 200 days (that’s 6 months and sixteen days, that’s 4800 hours if you want to get technical, and 17 280 000 seconds if you want to get uber technical).
This is what space does to you.
I lifted myself off of my bed, and put my feet down on the lukewarm plastic floor, climbed to my feet and walked across my bedroom, towards the floor to ceiling window, out into the cold vacuum of space. The moon was visible in the corner, but the Earth was hidden from view.
I sighed once.
“Delta, activate activation of activation procedure Activation Protocol 424242…0,” I called out to thin air.
A few seconds passed before a feminine voice replied to me.
“Yes, Captain Berry,” It said.
“Good, I called back,” Delta was the AI that kept the CloudNine station above the Earth, she was all the company I’d had for the past days I’d been on this blasted station. She had absolutely no personality whatsoever, “And Delta?”
“Yes, Captain Berry?” She replied.
“Have we got any closer to changing the protocol command for activation yet?”
“No, Captain Berry,”
“Blast, thank you Delta you wet-as-a-flannel piece of blasted machinery,”
I wandered to the sliding doors of my bedroom, and tapped a dimly lit red button at the side on a panel with a small glass circle which resembled an eye staring out across the room.
“Retinal scan required,” Said Delta.
I moved my face over the panel. There was a flash, and as my eyes clear I saw the words ‘CONFIRMED: CAPTAIN STRORE BERRY, OPENING DOOR’.
Yes, my parents were that cruel. And my name is Captain Strore Berry, like the fruit, although technically a strawberry is not a fruit. A true fruit has to be developed from the ovary in the base of the flower and contain the seeds of the plant. A strawberry is called a "false fruit" because it forms from the hypanthium, which holds the ovaries. Sorry, I read too much. The name is actually alien in origin.
The doors slid open and revealed a long, empty, white, sterile looking corridor, with other sliding doors, which were filled with other bedrooms, built for the others who were supposed to be joining me.
Supposed to be, anyway.
CloudNine could hold a good few many trained ‘nauts from all around the world, even a few Outworlders from the Bluestar Federation based on Earth had been recruited.
I was the Catalyst, I was sent up with the ‘borgs who built the station, and while they put metal to metal and wire to wire, I sat in a one man Pod, with enough water and packaged food for two months until it was built, then I went in and activated all the systems and even Delta. The recruits won't have it quite so hard, the short pod flight from Earth to CloudNine is barely longer than a day. Wimps.
Now, where are my bloody ‘nauts!?