02 December 2015

Travelling in Light. Chapter 1 and 2

Because there is still no news from the editor about the result of editing translated chapters. So here a bit of something I had written half a year ago.
A bit of science-fiction about a group of mainly female newbies (1 robot and 1 going both way) joining a ragtag bunch of misfits spaceship crew and have an adventure that didn’t about saving the world but about deep space trading.
Set in “CORRIDOR” a section of galaxy where numerous small independent space polity entities became the buffer region between the expansionist Commonwealth of Independent Stars (CIS) and it rival expansionist Union of Free Suns (UFS) where they conduct proxy wars, frequent skirmish and coup-recoup to expand their field of influence. Joining in the fray is the newly arrived major power Stellasphere Union (SU or just Sifir) and it close ally the Merosia Corridor Treaty Organization (MACTO) that sway many of the independent polity to join with them. While in the background the existence of superpower Huios Grand Communion (HGC) and the old New Reformed Stellar Federation (NRSF) are the only reason why the CORRIDOR didn’t fully became warzone.
But this didn’t concern our protagonist day to day life.... supposedly.....
Btw... The world setting lack aliens (although they had sentient dolphins, non-human primates, whales, ravens, etc. but it of course recognizably of Earth descent – although the population didn’t know about it). Oh, and magic (called with many name)  is real but it can’t beat the pure technological development in quantity nor quality, although some polity incorporate them into their technology. Pure magic civilization usually never achieved spaceflight and usually got beaten down by mixed or pure technology civilization via orbital warfare.

So here is Travelling in Light. Arc 1: The Immanence Ghost

Prologue. Somewhere in Solitude

How long since it last strolling by its own motives under the stars gaze? The year changes to decade as decade changes to century.
After a millennia passed by, even it existence is forgotten as time distorts the fact into legend and legend to myth.
Silently, it still dancing alone in its immutable orbital motions.
Enduring in seemingly endless solitude, it still persistently beckons its looping garbled ethereal message.
“Here... *psst* ...beseech an assistance... *psst* ...in dire si... *psst* ...anyone... *psst* ...this is [Immanence]... *psst*”

Chapter 1. Artificial Space Habitat Marhet-1. USY 696.170.


The realm outside is dark, but it’s not ‘night’ even if there are uncountable stars surrounds me.
In the first place, it was hard to know it is night or day in here as it was irrelevant. The people just arbitrary assume it was day or night using a clock or time measuring device and claimed that it was night or day based on the time measured. Of course, day and night or even hour length is varied by what standard you’re familiar with. The Universal Standard Day maybe is 24 Universal Standard Hours, but for me a day length was about 26 Standard Hours.
I mulled about this as I look at the infinite darkness that span endlessly beyond the rather thin wall from metal that is the only thing separates me from the cold dark void outside. Of course I am not really looking at it directly. Different from the ship that threads air or water, a voidship didn’t have a lot of glass windows for various safety reasons. The ‘Window’ from which I see the space is actually an electronic display that renders what a camera seen outside in real time. It doesn’t mean that there are no glass windows in a void ship, as I heard that the observatory deck on a large cruise voidship had a glass dome covering it, but the ‘glass’ in actuality is not a silicate amorph, but rather a giant transparent diamond reinforced by nanosized tube and metal crystal. Of course I don’t have any luxury to enjoy such expensive cruise trip that only affordable by the affluent, aristocrats or capitalists.
The Voidship I take is only a regular commercial line that serviced several Systems taking passengers and cargo before making a back trip. So other than a common room that is no bigger than a small park the 300 or so passengers had to content with digital audiovisual media archives (which is a lot) and analog or electronic game for their entertainment in the 5 days long trip. I content myself in reading the digital copies of various medical treaties and general knowledge book. It is still too much for me at least.

“Attention passengers. This is Chief Steward Mahtur speaking; I gladly announce that we had arrived at Marhet-1 vicinity and now have been preparing to perform docking procedure. Please return to your room or seat and fasten any loose objects. Thank you for your cooperation.”

Just like what the Chief Steward said, it looks like the ship I ride had arrived at the destination. I can look at how the ship slowly proceeds as the electronic display window in my room can be selected to display the ship bow view.
The white dot in the distance slowly become bigger and transform in what I know as an Artificial Space Habitat (ASH). An artificial construct that enable human to live on the void without needing a firm ground base. I read that the most of Commonwealth of Independent Stars (CIS) core members is not really interested to construct the artificial habitat and held a notion that planet, satellite, or natural asteroid habitat are more desireable. Only in the fringe systems like this that lack hospitable planet that this kind of ASH is popular. Even so, on other Polity like Stellasphere Union, ASHs hold the substantial numbers of their population.
Marhet-1 is a medium sized ASH that shaped like a large 3-kilometers spoke wheel with a very long shaft on the axle. On one of the end of the shaft is the spacepier where the ship will perform the dock procedure.
As the ship cast out the unneeded velocity and synchronize it relative speed with the spacepier, the voidship I ride on had docked successfully.
With the other passenger I carry my luggage. It was not heavy as they had turned off Artificial Gravity (ArG) function on the whole ship so I gently swim in the weightless sea. Even after several times experiencing it I still found it distressful. It must be the gravity familiarity that had been imbedded on my body.
After passing several corridors I arrived at a place where there is ArG function. Some passengers awkwardly fall when they pass through the transition zone, even when they posted “Gravity Direction Here ↓”. Even if the place is different, the sad fact that there is people that disregard the word of warning is always exist, is still same.
I then enter what can be described as sterilization zone, where they sterilize your body and luggage. I never found myself comfortable in this shower-like room, because you need to be naked as the various spigots bathe you in water and aerosol antiseptic solutions. It’s unpleasant.
After the sterilization procedure I still need to be interviewed by the Local Immigration Bureau personnel as I’m not a Commonwealth citizen. Being a foreigner is really inconvenient.

“Miss Shiori Nijiroto Hoshi No Miya?”

My interviewee asked me from behind the thick glass partition as she checked about my information from her hand tablet. At least the interviewee is a rather beautiful lady.

“Yes, that is my name.”

She had some difficulty pronouncing my name because my name is very different from the name common in the Commonwealth.

“Is Miss Shiori an acceptable moniker?”
“Yes, it is acceptable.”
“Please answer this several questions clearly. Miss Shiroi, do you come from Planet Midori-no-mori of Nijiro System in Amaterasu Empire?”
“Yes. That is correct.”
“Miss Shiori, what is your purpose to visit Marhet-1?”
“It is to attend my prospective employer final aptitude assessment. I believe it’s was written on the formal referral letter my company had forwarded to Immigration Buerau.”
“Yes. The Sardou Free Trader Cooperative is right? The branch office had affirmed the authenticity of this letter. Is the content of your personal cargo is listed correctly on the following manifest?”

She forwarded a display paper to me that listed my cargo in detail. After checking it carefully I affirmed that here is no missing or any additional article.

“Thank you. Please take this card to reclaim your personal cargo. Welcome to Marhet-1. Enjoy your stay.”

After the not so tedious routine interview, I retrieve my luggage from the Retrieval Section. Then I board a commuter train that will take me from the Commercial Dock section to Central Shaft section. As the ArG is turned off outside the Passenger Dock Area, I once again engulfed by the weightlessness sensation.
The commuter train speed is not that fast as it operates in a zero gravity environment (imagine if the speed is high, the sudden high inertia changes will be very inconvenient and even harmful), but it beats walking (or floating?) to Central Shaft in the passenger corridor although they provide movement assistance belt.
I read the train schedule on the notice board. There are still 5 minutes until the next train arrived. I had since noticed that people around me is stealing looks at me. I can guess because the ‘Fuku’ that I wear is an uncommon clothing style in the Commonwealth cultures. When I first arrived on Commonwealth territory, I was uneasy with the attention on my clothing choice. But after spending half a year becoming the center of attention, I didn’t let it bother my mind anymore. After all, I’m not wearing an indecent outfit and I wear it as a sort of symbolism of not forgetting my birthplace. Ah, as the ‘Fuku’ is already modified, it won’t cause any problem in zero gravity environments.
After boarding the train I arrived at the Central Shaft, where the High Vertical Station is located. There is a semblance of Gravity as it is a rotating sector. I enter one of the large elevators that can take me to the habitat surface. It takes about 10 minutes as the elevator descent one of the spoke (pillar) to the habitat torus.
After the elevator arrived at Low Vertical Station, I check at the time on my hand communicator (handcom). It is 22:15 on Universal Standard Time (UST) that also adopted by the local community as their Time Standard. If I’m not wrong the Final Aptitude Assessment is conducted on 09.00 UST tomorrow. I need a place to sleep. Fortunately, The Sardou Free Trader Cooperative had already had prepared accommodation for the participant at the Yuria-Sarta Hotel. I heard that the Yuria Hotel Chain is always provides first class hotel service, so I had high expectation on it.
I check my current location and the location of Yuria-Sarta Hotel also the location of the Cooperative Headquarter on the Information Service Terminal (IST).
From what the map say, Marhet-1 habitable area is divided into two by a 200 meter wide Central River into ‘North’ and ‘South’ Sections by assuming the direction of torus rotation as ‘East’. In actuality none of this term relate to magnetic pole. The North Section contains the Residential District-A, Business District-A, and Agricultural District-A and B. The South Section contains Residential District-B, Business District-B, Industrial District and Park District that also function as the place where they place Life Support facilities like air and water purifier. Connecting the South and North junction is several large bridges that can accommodate vehicle traffic and trains.
My current location is on Low Vertical Station at Pillar No.8 that located at the junction between Business District-A and Agriculture District-B. Both of the Yuria-Sarta Hotel and Cooperative Headquarter is located on Business District-B. As the local train stopped operating at 21:00 UST, it looks like I need to rent a Taxi Service.
After copying the map data and local guide’s information into my handcom, I exited from the Pillar No.8. As it already considered ‘night’, the central mirror arrays that illuminate the colony inside during ‘day’ is slanted and only reflects distant star lights. But the air is warm and not cold (the temperature is well regulated) and on the city business districts lights can still be seen on certain parts of the city that refuses to sleep so it not that dark.
The city on an ASH is built inside surface of a torus, different from a surface city, on an ASH city the horizon didn’t end and slowly curved to become a part of the sky. The distant city lights glitters like a jewel on wall-like skyline. I remember how surprised I was when I first arrive on an ASH. That ASH is even bigger than Marhet-1 and you won’t realize that you are in an ASH if you ignore the land-like sky.
I go to taxi service terminal to summon a vehicle. An unmanned electric car then arrives. I enter the coordinate of Yuria-Sarta service and let it take me to the designated destination. I’m more familiar with vehicle with drivers and engine sounds so I found the unmanned electric car that silently cruises the Marhet-1 roads, very eerie. But that is just my preconception.
After passing a bridge that spans the Central River and zigzagging in the main streets I finally arrived on Yulia-Sarta Hotel. It was a building in an Old Imperial style with numerous glass windows and fa├žade decorated walls. After admiring the architecture I enter the hotel lobby.
After checking in at the Hotel and put my luggage in the room, I quickly go to bath. Maybe it was just the habit that I shared with my fellow countrymen but I can’t sleep if I didn’t have proper warm bath.
I was in the bath for 30 minutes before I decided to get out, I wear my nightdress and tidying up my luggage.
It had been very long and I come very far from where my hometown is located.
I think about My Honored Father and Honored Mother, also my Dear Siblings and Friends that I left behind. My heart is full with longing but I will preserve. I will pass the Assessment tomorrow and become an employee; this will be the first step to complete my dream.

Chapter 2. Artificial Space Habitat Marhet-1. USY 696.171.

The next morning I wake up at 05:00 UST, as there are still time before the Assessment I think I will get out from the Hotel and check the Park that located in front of the Hotel. I think it’s called Hersela Park. Even in the ASH that had limited habitable space, it was refreshing to see that people still have a high regard for nature. There are several flowers and tree that I didn’t familiar with so I become interested it. As the Park is located in business district sadly there are not many people in here, it looks like most of them is guests that resides in Hotels near the park.
On 06:30 I come back to Hotel and eat the breakfast that was provided by the Hotel staffs free of charge. Even if it’s only grain gruel with cheese and eggs, it still very filling as the portion is generous and the taste is delicious. I am humbly giving my gratitude to the hotel staffs for the food.
On 07:30 I tidied my luggage in the room, take a bath and change my attire to the uniform that is described in the Cooperative Manual. The Cooperative uniform color is marine blue base clothes with pure white and deep red accent. Of course I had previously modified it to ‘Fuku’ style, the previous branch manager that I meet say that the ‘Fuku’ uniform that I made is acceptable, so I think the Regional Headquarters will not had any objection at my attire.
I then ask the front desk for a Taxi service. When the unmanned electric vehicle arrived, I board it and go to the nearby Cooperative Headquarter. It take less than 10 minutes, I think if I walk it will be about 45 minutes? So it’s time saving, not because I’m tired walking.
The Cooperative Headquarter building is very simple. It was in the style that like the other Cooperative building I had met before. The Cooperative insignia, a circle made from two ropes, adorned the building front. An electronic panel displays ‘Sardou Free Trader Cooperative – Sarta Branch’ in Union Script and several other script. Of course, I don’t see Kana script on it.
I walk through the automatic glass door and greet the receptionist. When the receptionist see my attire and my name placard that I wear she guided me to the Hall Room where several rows of chair is neatly placed in front of a podium and several people that also wear the blue uniform already seated on it. It looks like they are my fellow employee candidate. Somehow this reminds me to the Entrance Ceremony back when I was still in school, only the ‘students’ here are mostly 20-40 years old.
I take my seat beside a very young girl with long brown hair that looks like was still in the middle school. I thought that the Cooperative had a minimal age requirement for their employee. But maybe the girl is just a very young looking adult. I mustn’t quick prejudice as the space is very vast and the people that reside it are very diverse in appearance and culture.
The girl seems to not pay any attention to me as she was busy with her Hand Tablet. So, I carefully avoid bothering her and just scan my eyes to see my fellow employee candidate. They must be come from different places as I can see various shades of skin, hair and eye. I can’t guess their exact ethnicity as I’m still unfamiliar with various ethnic characteristic, but I’m very sure that only me that have Owahito ethnicity. At the most I don’t see any people that had the three characteristic of light bluish hair, chestnut iris, and marble skin that I had.
The room soon packed with people. I guess the candidate number is about 200 to 250. The chattering becomes quite loud as people chat with each other. I also had some conversation with other people near me. They are men and women that come from various places and talk about things that I don’t had knowledge of, so it was quite hard to follow their conversation. Some people had very thick accent that my Wessent language skill can’t really comprehend, even the Automated Language Comprehension Helper in my earpiece didn’t help much. Even after the room becomes noisy, the girl beside me still had put all of her attention on her Hand Tablet. I admire her dedication. As I took a glance at the monitor, it only shows schematics, so I don’t really understand what is interesting in it.
Several people in blue suits are entering the room. I recognize them as the Cooperative Administrator (CA) staffs. The CA staffs then take a seat on the most front rows, then an elderly man come to front at the podium. He gives a gesture to the employee candidates and they gradually become quiet.
He then speaks with his voice amplified by the audio systems:

“First I must congratulate you bunches for reaching this point. Not every Yahn or Mari can arrived at where your feet are standing now. So you must take pride for your accomplishment in this.
I see that some of you had already recognized me, but I think that there are also the other poor bunches that didn’t. My name is Harryon Espierse. For you it means that I am the Sectoral Chief CA, in other words your superior. An important person like me speaking in front of you shows how high the Cooperative value you bunches.
Now some of you had questioned why the Cooperative had conducts the pointless ‘Mandatory Prospective Employee Training’ as if it was something important. Other Merchant Guild didn’t perform it. Now shove these words into the place that you considered where your intellect resides, ‘Free Trader ain’t a Child’s Play’. You think taking things from one planet to another is easy? It’s easier for my paraplegic nanna breaking a universal record in long distance running. Becoming Free Trader ain’t all crawl and walk in the park, believe me when I said if things go bad it will go worse than worst.
Other Trade Guild only had written test and oral interview? Beat it! We aren’t the other Merchant Guild. We don’t care if you were ex-space navies or Corporations ship crew, if you want to apply you must have the training. It is in Cooperative best interest to prepare you sad bunches to not behaving like mollusk if shit hit the star and you end up preserved in some life support or a memorial funeral plaque. If you are a Free Trader then we damn hell makes sure you fit to be called one. That why we had training program, it was for nothing we yelled at you for 200 days nonstop. It was to make sure you had basic skill to make sure your survival rate is not zero percent.
If you reach this point then it means you had been deemed had enough Free Trader qualification inside you by the other regional chief and so I too will accept their judgment result. After you leave this room, you are already considered an employee, a Free Trader, which belongs to Sardou Free Trader Cooperative. This Final Assessment can be considered the Graduation Field Trip, a tradition held by Cooperative since its founding some 300 years ago and won’t influence anything on your employment status.
But don’t think that you should take this ‘Trip’ easy. This can be considered your first official Job. As you are still inexperienced rookie, screw up will happens. But, screw this up badly, you won’t be fired, although you’ll end at some shuffling paper job on some office at a planet I can’t pronounced well.
The Job is simple: We will give a send a message to you. Do the task in the message with your team. What team? We had divided your lot into teams of 5-6 people. Check your team member inside the message. We are a ‘Cooperative’ after all. We cooperate with each other, so are you.
Then to put it simply. The ceremony is finished, congratulations for your employment, move your asses and do your job!”

After that the CAs is leaving the podium and front row seat. The candidates then become rowdy as they check the message on the handcom. I also check the message.

[Sardou Free Trader Cooperative]
[Rank H Trader Job             : Delivery - Assisting]
[Client                                    : Sardou Free Trader Cooperatives – Final Assessment Committee]
[Estimated Job Time            : 40 Standard Day]
[Expire Date                          : None]
[Reward                                 : None – See Addendum 1]
[Job Description:
Join with the ship SFTCS-0203 [Looking Glass] in Dock-A1-3 before 12:00.
Together with your team and the ship’s crew, go to Finist the 7th Planet of Sarta System. Together with other ship, guide the assembled ice asteroids on the prescribed orbital route to the vicinity of geosynchronous orbit of Surt the 4th Planet of Sarta System.]

[Addendum 1: As it was your first job, no monetary reward – Sectoral Chief Harryon Espierse]
[Addendum 2: You are assigned to team Newbie-13. Your team members are as followed:
Captain Apprentice             :           Katyusha Ryoshika
Pilot Apprentice                    :           To-4-Ba* (attached by Cooperation Research Board)
Electronics Apprentice        :           Elisa Parker
Navigator Apprentice          :           Kristovernalia Kampgaibellton
Steward Apprentice             :           Shiori Nijiroto Hoshi No Miya
Engineer Apprentice           :           Hosenna Nalamadhia.]

It seems that most of members of my team are female from the name sound, not that I really familiar with Commonwealth’s name. I don’t know what To-4-Ba person gender is from his or her name. I wonder what they look like.
I check the dock location on the map data I copied yesterday. It seems located near the Commercial Dock I arrived yesterday. It will take about 2 hour to get there at least. I see at the time on my handcom, 09.45 UST. Should I find my team members first or I should just go to the dock?
The other candidates, no, they are full time employee now; the other employee is now calling each other to find their teammate.

“Team 4 assembles here!”
“Is there anyone from team 22?”
“I am from team 15, who had the same team with me?”

Most had assembled inside, but it seems that a good number of people had already left the room. My teammates must have also been departed. It would be hard to meet then, it seems. As I still undecided as to wait for a teammate or just go to dock directly, my eyes are attracted to the girl’s handcom monitor beside me.

“Good Day Miss, do you also a member of Team 13?”

I politely ask the girl.

“Yes. That’s true. I am Hosenna Nalamadhia. I presume you are my team member?”
“Nice to meet you Miss Hosenna. My name is Shiori Nijiroto Hoshi No Miya. I hope we can be a good companion.”
“Sure. I’m sure it was God’s providence that we met at this place. Let us raise our praise for Him.”

The little girl suddenly crosses her hand to pray. While she was still praying I heard a voice come behind me.

“Are you guys Team 13?”

When I turn my back I see a very beautiful lady behind me. She has looks and body that can rival famous actresses in movies. Her face is well proportioned like a sculpted figure. Her long blond wavy hair is glittering like gold strings. Even if I was a fellow women, I somewhat charmed by her. I am composing myself, before answering.

“Yes that is true. Do you also a member of Team 13?”
“That’s right! The name is Elisa Parker by the way. Nice to meet you all. I’m glad that my fellow comrade is a cute girl like you and like you.”

Elisa hugs me and Hosenna. Hosenna is a bit angry because she was interrupted in her praying. But it seems that I had met my fellow teammates for now.
We then search the room for the other members, but we can’t found them. They must have left the premise. When the clock reaches 10.00 UST, we decided to just head to the docks and wait for them there.

I said before, that we head to the docks, but actually I still need to collect my belongings, after all my clothes change and personal things are in there. Fortunately, we reside at the same Hotel, so after taking our personal belongings we directly go to Vertical Station and board the Elevator to Central Shaft.


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