The radar pinged once again as a large mass passed by. I peered out of the window, vainly searching for the frozen hulk of a dead planet. As the small planet passed beneath without a trace I returned my gaze to the main portal of my pod. Framed in the center of the portal was a single speck of light growing ever larger as the moments passed. As the single light of Station North grew, additional lights blinked in and out of existence, branching like webs from the central spire. I switched over the comms, donned my headset and prepared for landing as my pod coasted closer to the fluorescent end of the spire.
“Pod beta nine five requesting docking clearance from Station North, lower docking tower, over.”
“Request acknowledged, pod beta nine five you are clear for docking. Lower pad gamma four open for docking, lower docking tower out.”
I tapped the thrusters and my pod drifted forward. The glow of the station enveloped my pod as I into the docking bay nestled between two larger vessels. The docking clasps locked on to the exterior of the pod, slowing it with a gentle shake. The door slid open and I stepped into Station North.
I stood for a moment blinking in the harsh light as the pressurization of the small chamber gave off a light hissing noise. After a moment, I stepped through the loading bay and into the maze of brightly lit hallways towards the central living areas. As the hallway I was traversing slowly converged with the larger corridors, large groups of people passed me. A soft yellow light began to filter in from the archway ahead and the foot traffic grew steadily heavier. The tunnel opened into a large courtyard with rows of flat, tan buildings extending up to where they connected to the ceiling above. Several windows looked out over the courtyard. Surrounding the buildings was a variety of low plants and flowers. I looked up to where the buildings joined the ceiling to witness a scene similar to the one surrounding me. Above, similar to those surrounding me, people moved about, winding between the buildings. Framing the buildings was a sunset glowing brilliant shades of red and pink. A gentle breeze brushed the leaves of the low plants as well as my hair as I made my way through the crowds toward one of the buildings marked with a sun above the door and flanked by two guards in official black uniforms. As I stepped up to the door, I reached into my pocket and pulled a rhombus shaped card of thin metal. The guards nodded their assent and I passed through the door. Upon crossing the threshold, I was greeted with a broad, white desk in front of a set of glass elevators. Occupying the desk was a guard with the same attire as the guards outside.
“Find anything out there?” he asked.
“All there is to find” I replied with a smile.
“Best report to the colonel then”
I nodded and continued around the desk into the glass elevator. The moment I set foot upon the elevator it began to rise gliding up to the sixth floor. The doors opened to a spacious anteroom with an aluminum coffee table in the center, synthetic leather couches against the right and left walls, and double doors on the opposite wall. The double doors opened to a large, open wood paneled room dominated by a large wooden desk presided over by a large figure. I stood straight and saluted as the colonel looked up at me.
“At ease,” I dropped my salute “any news?” he asked
“Several category six planets of which scans indicate could yield structural resources as well as biological samples” I declared.
“Alright, I’ll get someone on it,” he said nodding “anything else?”
“One thing you might want to take a look at sir” I replied while pulling a glass tab from my pocket and set it on the desk. Upon it was imprinted the image of a single pinprick of light surrounded by a faint nebulous glow. The colonel’s eyes widened.
“Well why the hell didn’t you start with that? Here we are drifting through the emptiness of space surrounded by millions of dead planets and stars and you stumble upon one of the few remaining stars. I feel like that should have been what you led with!” he said with his eyes transfixed upon the speck.
“Does that mean I’m getting a promotion?” I asked with a faint smile.
“You smug son of a…. Go buy yourself a drink, you’ve earned it. We’ll be in touch” he said collapsing into the chair.
Minutes later I sat in the corner of the nearest pub, oblivious to everyone around me, gazing into the emptiness of space crossed by the bright trails of pods. My view out the window slowly shifted while the station rotated in place. As time passed my glass emptied, along with the pub. Soon the lights inside dimmed and I stood, straightened my uniform and wandered out of the pub. I lingered, standing in the center of the courtyard. For some time I simply stood, gazing up at what was now a simulation of the night sky, with a sliver of a moon hovering just above the buildings. The dark sky soon grew lighter as the moon sank behind the buildings and a faint glow began to illuminate my surroundings.
I turned from the buildings and once more began traversing the halls through which I had passed earlier. The halls were lit by a softer light and now empty, allowing me to move quickly. Soon I arrived at my pod. I typed a few commands into a console on the wall and my pod door slid open. I entered my pod with the door sliding shut behind me and sat down at the controls. As I sat down the docking arms began to extend, propelling me away from the station. I gently weaved my way around the pods around me until Station North was only a modest speck in the distance. A small indicator showed up on my communications array. I glanced down, it was a transmission from the colonel. I pushed the thrusters forward, ignoring the call, coordinates set for what might be the last star in the galaxy.