Episode One: Liberty for all - Part OneMature

The year is 953 after planetfall. Humanity rebuilt itself away from a dying earth in the New Helios system. Of the Exodus project four nations were born; Liberty, Unity, Novus and Valiance.
In this time, humanity splintered into new forms, fought wars and was taken over by much of the sins of old earth.
But a handful make their own way into the darkness, those men and women, are freelancers...

Episode One: Liberty for All, Part one.

Captain Jonathan Alenko

The star ocean that laid beyond the ballistic glass dome of the observation deck moved slowly and getting slower by the minute as I rested my back on the cushions that littered the floor. There was always something that calmed me as I gazed into the black, it wasn't like the sky of a planet, which got obscured by clouds, it was me and the darkness, separated by a foot of reinforced glass.

At my side, the commlink attached to my belt beeped to life and the buds in my right ear ferried the message. 

"Attention everyone," Came our pilot's, Alexander, voice. "We will be breaching atmosphere in seven minutes. We have already been cleared for landing."

The ship was soon filled with a light tremor and a persistent rumbling noise that always seemed to show when we entered a planet. But it wasn't enough to camouflage the sound of the airlock door opening and that of booted feet falling down on the metal. A pair of rugged combat boot and black fatigues came into my sight, behind it in the back ground was the tanned skin of my second in command.

"You weren't answering your comm calls, sir." She said, "I knew I'd find you here."

"You're still calling me that, Cate?" I said, rising back up and stretching my arms. "I heard the message, I just thought that I could spend some more time in here." I picked up my coat from the ground and asked her a question. "Did you ever wonder why most ships come with a section like this? I mean it's not necessary and it's a weakness in the ship's integrity."

"No sir-- Jonathan, I haven't pondered that."

"You see, when people first went out into the black, they stayed inside the ships until the journey was over, but a part of us craves the outside, so they came up with the viewing bay, you put a few plants, a glass dome and voila!"

"Can I ask you a question, Captain?" I nodded. "How long has it been since you've been to Liberty?"

I stopped. "Since I left boot camp, eight years. Why?"

"Don't you think you should--"

I cut her off drily. "No. We have work to do, come on."

I pushed rather than pressed the opening key of the blast door and it opened, giving place to the hallways that contained most of the cabins and lead to the mess hall.  The room was filled with a low-level music, some old retro rock from the 20's. Sitting at the table, Chanda and Mark contrasted heavily with each other. The small bioroid doctor looked tinier than usual compared to the massive size of Markov who appeared even larger due to the elaborate set of ceramic and polymer plates that resided in his skin.

The both of them fiddles with dead air, but a quick re-sync of my glasses revealed the virtual chessboard that laid on the table, projected in augmented reality by the Nexus nodes scattered around the ship.

"Check." Mark declared, his voice bearing the accent of Valiance's native language, that came close to old earth Russian.

The doctor took a moment to examine the board before moving her bishop. "Check and mate." She declared, without any form of enthusiasm at her victory. "Captain." She said with a nod toward me."

"Doctor Kakkar, could you do me a favor? We'll be gone most of the day so could you see if you can find us a few passenger, we're going to Hera, it shouldn't be too hard."

"I believe it is within my abilities. Can I trust you not to come back and bloody my infirmary like what happened on Isis?"

"That wasn't my fault." I defended myself, drawing a smirk from her. 

"I'll do it, just go and do your business. I'm not exactly looking forward to seeing this part of Liberty."

I thanked her and began taking the stairs to go down, with both Markov and Catherine in toe when another member of the crew blocked my way. "Mr. Alenko, we need to talk."

"What is it andreii?" I asked, getting irked by the distractions.

"I need you to force Alexander into permission, he's stuck in his cockpit and refuse to get out until he's done re-calibrating the controls, which is going to take all day, by the time he's done, we'll have left this planet."

"He's your husband, Andrei... Not mine."

Something in his expression showed that he wouldn't give up so I called the comm interface and sent a call to him and put the receiving on speaker.

"What is it Captain?" Alex's voice came through the channel.

"Your husband is blocking my way, would you care to take him out to town and avoid a mutiny, which carries a punishment of spacing, in case you don't remember."

"Really, captain?" He said with a chuckle. "Alright, alright. Tell him I'll be in the bay in five."

"He heard you." I said before cutting the link and turning to Andrei. "Satisfied?" He nodded. "Just be back before twenty-one-hundred, my guts tell me there's going to be trouble and I want to be off this rock as soon as possible."

He nodded and stepped aside. The mess hall stairs lead to either the front of the craft where the armory and infirmary were located or the back where the cargo bay was, the latter was where we'd gone to. It was the largest part of the ship, rivaled only by the engines, most of which wasn't accessible beyond the engineering room, it stood at too floor high, the upper level mostly consisting of railways that lead to other sections of the ship or to the lower deck where the floor of the bay was.

A little bit of everything was stored in containers that were scattered all through the cargo hold, held in play by nylon straps attached to the floor, recharge of ordinance, food rations, fuels roods, a quad of fresh water tanks. 

"There's a shuttle missing, is Jane already gone?" I asked, seeing that one of the two short range shuttle had been disengaged. 

"She left just as I was getting you, sir." Catherine mentioned. 

"When she's back, remind me to tell her to check the mechanical filter, the cargo's air still feel dusty."

For all the cargo space we had, about a fifth of it was under the many floor panels or between to part of the bulk head as mundane cargo might have put some steady meal on the table, it wasn't what paid the larger bills. One of those hidding spot was located right next to the garbage disposal unit. Without any need for asking, Mark went to the other side and helped me dislodge the heavy metal plate from it's socket. Likewise, Catherine just took out of the hollow nook the pair of sealed metal crates. 

"Alright, we're good to go." I muttered, catching my breath.

The End

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