Yaryl Rogers stood stock still.
He could hear the leader sending a voice, straight into his brain.
I know you are here.
The Century's time is coming soon.....
Mona woke up with Arril tugging on her arm.
"Five more minutes." She said.
"I'm hungry now." Arril told her.
She sat up and rubbed her eyes. Aleph was next to her, snoring contentedly. Vague images of the night before crawled through her mind. It had been a long time, she thought. At least he was a little bit cute. Then she remembered she was in her underwear.
"Get out of here!" She told Arril.
"But I'm hungry."
"Give my a chance to get dressed. Then we'll get breakfast."
They made their way up the twists and turns back to the dining area. The synthesizer prepared them eggs and bacon, with biscuits, coffee, and orange juice. Arril dug into his plate eagerly. Now that Mona wasnt starving she could taste the difference in the synthesized food. It was just a little bit off, not quite perfect to what she had had in the dome. But still, she remembered her youth. MRE's or rations, or more often nothing. When they had half finished Aleph joined them.
"Slept in?" Mona teased.
Aleph nodded. "I guess I took the opprotunity. Not a lot of chances to do that in the Guard."
"Whats on the agenda for today?" She asked.
"Explore!" Arril said.
"Thats a good idea." Aleph said. "We need a better grip on whats out here. The controls systems, the life support. As well as a ride back home."
"Thank you can drive us back?" Mona grinned.
"The flight up here was automated." Aleph said. "Maybe the one back will be as well. And if not, we can get that AI system to give us pointers. If all else fails, there might be a simulator or tutorials."
"I want to find out more about that synthesizer." Mona said. "Get that sort of tech back to the dome, we can reproduce it and solve the food problem."
"Agreed." Aleph said. "Bet from here on out," He pointed at Arril. "We stick together. And that means no running off, okay sport!"
The cheery AI led them up to the Control center, navigating the way with a constant stream of bits and pieces long forgotten. "Did you know the colony on Alpha Centauri has based their starships on Virgin Galactic! Its a fact! Also, this model of space station is often reffered to as a "Sisko" in honor of a television program from the late twentieth century? Its a fact!"
"Where is Alpha Centuari?" Arril asked. "And what television program?"
The AI beeped. "Alpha Centauri is one point two light years from Earth." It said. "And the television program was called Gene Roddenberry's Wagon train to the stars: Deep Space."
"Thats a crappy name." Arril said. "I like Star Wars."
The doors slid open and the AI intoned, "Welcome to the bridge!"
Herer Mona let out a little gasp. The overwhelmingly ordered, white, clinically clean appearance of the rest of the space station was gone. There was some sort of red emergency light flashing on and off. Between five or ten of the decaying skeletons were here, taking up several console chairs. Touchscreen panels nearby looked cracked, or displayed error messages. There was a large screen in front, which displayed the red and white font of Virgin Galactic, in broad letters across a starry screen that Mona recognized as a screensaver.
"Arril." Sgt. Aleph said, "Why dont you stay back here with Mona while I take a look around?" It was a wholly unnecesary little speech. The child was already hiding his face in Mona's shirt. Aleph slowly walked the length of the bridge, pausing at every corpse. Finally he made his way back to the elevator shaft. "It looks clear." He said.
"Is there anything we can do from here?" Mona asked the AI.
"All bridge functions secured in emergency mode." The AI answered. "A staff level password is needed for authorization."
"What about the life-support." Aleph asked. "Hows that working out?"
"Atmospheric and gravitational systems on line and stable."
"Lets get out of here." Aleph said. "No reason for the kid to see this."
The next stop was the docking bay.
"Right back where we came from." Aleph said, tapping a nearby console. "Think you can get into this thing?"
Mona spent a few minutes working on a touchscreen. "No." She finally concluded. "Were locked out of any sort of staff member authorization."
"So does it tell us anything?"
"Nothing good. Its calling the vehicle that flew us up a single-directional pod."
"What does that mean?"
"Far as I can tell, its a one way vehicle for something that flies us up here." She pointed to a nearby ramp marked DEPARTURES. "With their being an entirely different one way vehicle to fly us back."
"What kind of system was that, to do anything?"
"From what I would guess? A luxury one. An automated trip into space and an automated trip back. You could eat or drink on the ride, have fun once you got there."
Aleph shook his head. "They had so much back then." He said. "And didnt even think about it."
He pointed to an area marked MILITARY RESTRICTION. "That looks promising. Lets check it out."
The military area marked a different look to the station. The clean white interior gave way to hardened steel, made for function. When they reached a locked door, Aleph took out a keycard and swiped it. The door beeped and hissed open.
"Whered you get that?" Mona asked.
"Found it on one of the stiffs on the bridge." Aleph said. "I checked the civilian crew as well. Looks like the civvies had a different way of handling their security."
"Retinal scanners." Mona said. "I saw one on the bridge."
Aleph whistled. "Would you look at that."
Through the window, floating in a field of debris sat a starship that was clearly built for one purpose; war. Weaponry bristled off its sides and nose. It resembled nothing more than a sleek metallic bird of prey.
"I think that's our ride." Aleph said. "If we can only figure out how to get the thing to work."