Chapter 1: All kinds of leaks
The stars were in different places, they always were, but with a little concentration Seren could map out their location. The universe was impossibly large, but her and her people had spent time untold sailing the stars.
Hokulua was a generational exploration and protection space station. Most GEPS were crawling with scientists, soldiers, and their children. Hokulua was quiet but it wouldn’t be for very long. There were a ten million souls on their way to the station and it would be the flagship of the Starchild Family.
“State-of-the-art my ass!” shouted Mr. Plentyn as he paced around the living quarters, angrily tapping at his tablet. “More like experimental and unstable!”
“Did Hoku refuse to give you your coffee again?” Seren’s large smile lit up her face making her skin seem to glow. Her bright green eyes were questioning as well as teasing.
“No, Hokulua Station didn’t refuse to give me coffee… more than once. It’s this blasted power drain. I can’t seem to stop it. The station is using twice as much power as it should and every time I patch a hole a new one opens up.”
“Have you asked Hoku?”
“Dear child. Why would I bother asking a glorified entertainment AI something I know it can’t answer?”
“So you asked and it gave you one of those weird phrases again?”
It was Aern’s turn to smile at his daughter, he shared her dark brown skin and reddish hair but he had light amber eyes. “Yes it said, ‘Plasma Beasts are at the gates’; whatever that means.”
“Wish I could help,” she said and meant it.
Walking over to the wall and the food dispenser, she asked, “Hoku, can I have some orange juice and a breakfast number four please.”
The soft deep voice of the station’s AI replied, “That will take forty percent of your daily recommended rations food intake. Are you sure you want to proceed?”
“I’m doing a space-walk today and will need the extra energy. Please proceed.”
The food appeared in the food slot and she could have sworn she heard Hoku say, “Good luck.”
She ate in silence, watching the stars. It was the way she ate most mornings. Her father was up and fed hours before her and she liked the quiet.
“I’m here to make sure you don’t miss your first shift,” Jan stood at the door in their uniform. Their blonde, almost white, hair and nearly translucent skin glowed slightly in the dim light of the living quarters.
Seren made a rude noise and drank the last of her juice.
“Jan you know that you don’t need to wear your uniform right?”
“Just because the rest of the military isn’t here doesn’t mean I can slack off. Might as well get used to it.” Jan was officially known as Private Jan Ng, they’d graduated and passed military training a week ago. Seren hadn’t applied for the military but instead tested and passed the tests for both the engineering corps and her real passion, the archeological civilian branch. She wanted to follow her passions but didn’t want to leave her father. He’d had too many people leave him already.
“Well I’m not wearing a uniform until I have to.” Instead, Seren wore a deep red button up shirt with a pair of snug kaki pants, with her comfy dark brown boots.
“I love you, Dad. I’m off to find out where our air is disappearing to.”
Barely looking up, he replied, “Love you too. Be careful.”
“Dad! I’m eighteen!”
“The vacuum of space doesn’t care how old you are.”
She kissed his cheek and headed out.
“So, Private, are you excited for everyone to show up?” Jan’s parents were part of the advance team with Seren’s father that were sent ahead to prepare stations or sent in to repair old stations.
“Mother-of-Stars, yes! This quiet is painful; I’m so glad I won’t have to do this again.”
They headed to the nearest transportation pod. A small train-like transportation controlled by the AI. It would seat twenty when the station was fully manned.
Each pod could move along one of the arms of the station. Like all Starchild Stations, Hokulua was built with a micro-star in the centre of four large rings. Each ring touches at least touches the other rings and has four bridges connecting to the micro-star engine and power station.
Each ring is given a designation, Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta. Each quadrant of each disk is given a letter, A, B, C, and D. Finally each quadrant of each ring had a hundred floors. Each of the floors was roughly six hundred square metres.
“So we need to walk the entire alpha-ring today?” asked Jan.
“No just the top of A quadrant,” Seren said and then added, “That’s still four kilometres.” They had been hired to inspect the outside hull of the station and make sure that there were no air leaks. If there was an air leak, even a small one, it would glow a florescent orange when it hit the cold of space.
The transport pod stopped at the spaceport and they reported for duty. There were five of them that had been hired but only four had shown up.
“Just like Annie to be late or forget to come to work,” joked one of the others.
They were given their sections and assigned space suits. Seren went over to hers and something wasn’t quite right. The suit wasn’t hanging like the others, but was put together and leaning in the locker storage.
The visor was oddly tinted dark brown. She was about to disconnect it when Jan grabbed her hand. With a tremor in their voice, they said, “Your suit is leaking blood.”
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