It was an average morning until the warning buzzer began to rebound through the Starseeker space station. Annie’s heart was already in high gear when she realized it must be another AG anti-gravity drill. Wow, I’m glad I got out of the shower in time, she thought. She hooked the safety line she pulled from her belt to the nearest handhold in the floor.
A dozen or so others, who had been lifting weights or running the track, followed the same hook-up procedure.
The twins Trom and Trem started a passing game of spinning weights as they started to float upward. Squeals and shouts of embarrassment echoed from the co-ed shower chamber and a panicked newbie floated by through the rising obstacles of weights, towels and water bottles. AG drills gave a whole new meaning to the term free weights.
Master Teagan, the fitness instructor walked to the center of the room and planted his magnetic boots. He was a burly guy with short cropped hair and a stern face. He flipped on his ear transmitter to take control. “Trem, secure the floating personnel. The rest of you retrieve all floaters and return them to lock-down before G-force reboots.”
AG drills were just one of the unexpected surprises in her final year of cadet training on the Starseeker station. The lock-down was performed methodically by the crew, and order was established. Gravity returned and the emergency lights blinked out.
Annie and the others quickly swarmed around Master Teagan.
The pale faced newbie reached him first. “Permission to visit the head, Sir?”
“Granted!” Teagan grinned, but a look of seriousness returned as he prepared to meet the flood of requests.
Annie was next in line.”Permission to check the Tamaroon dome, Sir?”
Master Teagan checked the list of Vital Stations to be secured in emergency. “Granted,” came his resigned response as he clicked it off on the duty roster.
They all knew that requesting to do a security check was their only way out. The few who remained would have to clean the stalls in the shower chamber for the rest of the session.
Annie joined the burst of activity in the corridors outside of the gym. A round robotic orb floated behind her. Freedom from her daily routine was unexpected and a spark of excitement was in the air.
“Hey, What’s up?” a fellow cadet called as he rushed by.
“I don’t know, but lock it down.” Annie called back with a grin.
She reached the Transtube and tapped the top level on the glowing blue panel. The doors of the clear tube shut and air pressure forced her pod to shoot up to level twenty-five.
The pod opened to a round room of doors that was the central hub of the environment level. The doors were marked with the names of different planets. Annie crossed to the door marked TAMAROON Cinders of Ellen. The hand scanner opened the door to a lush green environment filled with unsettled calls of small creatures beneath a clear dome. The flying orb bleeped as it followed her in.
Annie had expected the noise and flipped on the soothing music she routinely played when she worked. Care and maintenance in the Cinders of Ellen was her assigned duty station. Nothing seemed out of place except for a nearby watering can hanging in a tree. The environmental dome took care of itself for the most part. So, Annie returned the watering can to its hook and decided to use her unscheduled break as a time to relax.
She climbed a small knoll by a waterfall and lay back on the green hill. A small bird twittered as it landed on a branch nearby. She knew her wrist band would wake her in time for her next class. A quick nap was just what she needed to cope with her late night study for the Starseeker finals.
The growth lights were cycled down and she could see the bright burning stars of the Meridian Galaxy above as they moved with the rotation of the ship. The surface of planet Treya passed into view. White clouds of snow glistened in the Nubian sun. They were no longer held at bay by the failing weather station and made the kingdoms gather in their need for warmth and food. Treya seemed very small as it passed by in the vast eternal night and the orbiting space station was a mere speck that held the hope of the people.
She would be the youngest officer to join the search for new sources of food at the age of sixteen. Though she had her Aunt Constance and Master Jordan’s support, she still missed her parents terribly. The chittering sounds in the trees and soothing music droned on as she recalled last seeing them at the age of six.