‘We have arrived at Altulox System, Captain. Now switching from interstellar drives to pulse drives. ETA to Venerax Station is 10 minutes.’
Golden eyes flashed open as the starship’s feminine AI spoke through the console which sat in front of the man who the hues belonged to. Sat in the pilot’s chair was a taller man of muscular, lean build and clad with a Class-S Erisian-Tech Battle Suit, which provided enhanced flexibility and greater protection from both weapons and extreme climates alike. Black and white plates of metal amalgams and alloys, far sturdier than their weight would suggest, lay in strategic places over his body, giving him a slightly more severe appearance. His Second Skin, a type of membrane which protected the epidermis from the harsher elements of the battle suit, peeks out between the plates and glimmers with glowing lines of blue circuitry and crimson runes. Surrounding his head, a helmet with a clear visor seals him within an artificial atmosphere, just in case he needed to make a sudden escape into the vacuum of space for any reason. And, orbiting him in a slow, lazy ellipse was a mote of singularly brilliant, blue light which appeared as though it were a miniaturized star.
His shuttle was of sleek design, the body narrow and coming to a point with two wings in the rear where the thrusters and main engine were housed. Transparent aluminum in the nose of the ship made it possible to look out into space from the cockpit, allowing for a 270-degree field of view in front. Blue lights from the plasma engines dimmed as the ship shifted from hyperspace upon approach to the station. One moment, his vision was filled with nothing but a dark, yawning abyss which hyperspace took the form of; and the next, a massive structure of gray and white metals, simple in its shape and complex in structure took over his entire field of view. Venerax Station was more massive than any other station he’d approached, and his eyes scanned over the various lighted pylons whilst they blinked in some pattern which was unknown to him. In the lower hemisphere of the station, his eyes focused upon the soft glow of forcefield doors, knowing this must be the port for the station as various shuttles were queued for arrivals while others flew out and in many directions away from this technological marvel.
‘Captain, I am receiving a hailing frequency from Venerax Station. Putting it through to your communicator.’
Suddenly, his helmet filled with what sounded like an artificial, masculine voice which said, “Attention, vessel of the Allied Human Concord, callsign “Swift Prominence”. You have been granted priority clearance to Venerax Station. Please, state your name and transponder number for verification purposes.” His response was practiced and quick, as he’d performed this handshake at least hundreds of times for the last decade of his life, “This is Captain Sol Novarus, transponder code A-397611240. Is there any specific reason I’m getting preferential treatment?” He wasn’t unused to his arrivals being expedited, just not to systems he’d never been to nor when he hadn’t a bounty he was hunting already. “I’m terribly sorry, I am not privy to such information. Please, proceed to the 27th dock, hangar 19 for admission. Coordinates have been sent to your navigation computer. Welcome to Venerax Station!” the response came just before the communication channel shut down and he shrugged his shoulders. “Whatever. Take us in, Ana,” he said while toggling a few switches, preparing the ship’s docking subroutines and allowing his AI access to the landing coordinates. Swinging towards the port, the only sound in the cockpit was the gentle thrum of his ship’s reactor as it flew itself into a slow, calculated landing within the space station’s massive transportation district.
Upon his departure from the vessel, Sol was pleased to find that the atmosphere was compatible with his biology and so he deactivated the helmet, which began to collapse within the neck of his suit merely at the command of his mind. His physiology had been combined with various machines and interfaces, allowing him access to some finer points of space exploration.
His long, black hair was tied into a ponytail behind his head, which he pulled from underneath the neck of his Second Skin. He’d allowed his hair to get caught in the suit’s moving pieces once and that was enough for him to remember to keep it well out of the way.
Approaching him as he departed were two androids wearing similar uniforms, of gray and white with black geometric patterns and identifying numbers upon each chest. He imagined these were the border agents and his suspicions turned to confirmation as he was gestured to follow to a building no bigger than a small room. Entering through an open doorway, he was greeted with a desk in the center of the room, the two androids sitting across from him and a chair was presented to him on his side of the table. These interviews never took too long, but they were a little tedious at these higher security stations. He answered questions about himself, about his intentions aboard the station, and his intended duration of stay. Enduring, Sol found his mind wandering before the conversation wrapped up, after which the androids spoke in unison, “Welcome to Venerax Station!” It was always a little weird when they did that, he thought as he gave a nod and left the interior.
As part of his intake, his implants began to interface with the space station’s network and had downloaded all the maps allowed to him, as well as any other data of importance which was available to him through what was called the ‘Intellinet’. Sol was surprised to see a message in his heads-up display, with a priority sender from somewhere within the system. “Well, I can see why I was granted clearance so quickly,” he said to himself as he opened the missive and began to read through.
It has come to the attention of myself and some associates of mine regarding your impending arrival in the Altulox System. Being as you are a bounty hunter of some renown, we feel you are best suited for the task at hand. A dangerous alien has infiltrated our fair station and we can think of no one better equipped than you to neutralize this threat. As part of the bounty, we have filed an injunction with the Arbiters to allow you aboard immediately when your ship enters the station’s proximity. Enclosed, you will find the details regarding this alien and her last known location and contacts within the station. Upon completion, you will receive a payment of 325,000 Credits, standard. We hope you will not let us down.
Dr. Tremarus Stryke’
Indeed, attached to the mail were details identifying a young woman of unknown background who had abilities which she had apparently been using to harm the denizens of The Spine. Sol began reading about this district of the station, seeing it as the lower class residences and serving a few other purposes as far as storage and distribution went. His mind was flooded with the thoughts of how extremely well-funded this man must be. That bounty alone was what he would make in a year and would go a long way to ensuring his continued survival as he trekked between the stars. Resolute and determined, the mercenary began to walk towards the transportation elevators to make his way to the transportation elevators. These hangars were immense but were still a bit crowded as many different creatures and peoples made their way back and forth along the various paths and with differing amounts of cargo. Sol found himself having to push through the masses a bit, but eventually waded his way to a vacant elevator and he sealed himself inside as it swiftly brought him towards The Spine.
Soon, the door opened into a sprawling expanse, though not quite as large as the hangar had been, which was poorly lit compared to the bright interior of the docks. A thin haze was visible in the air, especially when looking into the further distances and Sol could feel an acrid, almost metallic sensation on his tongue and nostrils. “Mm...It’s a wonder anyone can live here at all,” he commented to no one in particular as he made his way out of the lift and into the throngs. People always seemed to be more present in these common areas and became a little sparse when one traveled to the lesser corridors and walks. It was down one of these corridors, where living quarters were lined into the walls like the cells of a hive, that Sol should be able to find the last known contact point of the quarry he was now tracking. As his footfalls sounded heavily outside of the door to the apartment, several sharp raps upon the door preceded him adopting a defensive stance. His mote of stellar power began to shine a bit brighter as his senses heightened, prepared to fight if he must as he was given to understand if his prey was dangerous, so might her companions be.