Monday, 27 September 2010

The Artefact. Chapter Two.

The clinical white walkway of the shuttlecraft gave way to the murky, worn technology of the Dutch Gate's arrival dock. Clearly, Foster thought, this place isn't designed for recieving visitors.

Coolant gas billowed from vents on either side of the corridor, cooling exposed circuitry and pipework. A patchwork of circuitry seemed to work it's way down the corridor in no discernable pattern and the smell of burnt oil permeated the air and seemed to burn the hairs in Foster's nose.

Expecting to be met by someone, Foster stood at the end of the arrival platform and waited a moment. Noticing an access terminal toward the end of the corridor, he reached into his pocket and activated his PIC. Tapping the device against the terminal activated the screen and began to transfer his user data from the PIC to the terminal. After a moment, slower than Foster expected, the terminal displayed a message.

To: Foster, M. BDi
Please make your way to Quadrant 4, Transport Tube 33.

Feeling a little perturbed, Foster studied the diagram displayed on the terminal, and with a sigh, made his way down the corridor towards the transport tube.
As he approached the waiting platform the tube doors opened with a hiss and a short, young man with curly hair stumbled out, carrying a clipboard and looking panicked.
"Ah, there you are!" He shouted in a loud voice, that seemed to betray his small frame. "This way, Mr Foster, sir."
He motioned into the transport carriage in an over-theatrical manner that amused Foster, but also made him feel a little uneasy.
Foster entered the carriage and sat in the centre seat. His new companion bounced in and flicked a lever. The doors closed and the carriage rumbled slightly as it began it's journey.

There was silence for a few moments, during which Foster felt a little overwhelmed by his seemingly crazy new friend, who was rocking in his chair like a hyperactive infant. That moment ended all to quickly when the young man grinned then began talking at lightning speed, barely breathing between sentences.

"And so, yeah," He began. "Sorry about the terminal message, i just didn't reckon on the tube getting me here in time, what with the coil failure in Quadrant three and all that health and safety we have to follow before we can even use the bypass channels. Oh, by the way, the name's Greg. Well, Gregory Preston-Hellesby. But people call me Greg. Greg. Is my name..."
Greg held out his hand to shake, Foster took a moment to react, momentarily confused by Greg's verbal onslaught. The moment passed and Foster shook Greg's hand.
"Mike Foster," He said. "Pleased to meet you Greg."

The carriage rumbled slightly and Foster's hand went to the secur-belt.
"Oh, that?" Greg made no move to steady himself. "That's just a tube junction, they've gone a bit, y'know, wonky, of late. Something to do with the gyroscope or spatial drift or something. I dunno. I just listen in to the techies when they're getting their dinner. Oh! You'll be starving, what with all the deep sleep and those nutrition lumps..." He paused for a second, like a squirrel, interrupted when chewing a nut. "As soon as you've finished with Uncle Milo, we can go down to the Wreck, my shout."
"What's the-" began Foster.
"The wreck?" interrupted Greg, before Foster could even form the R shape with his mouth. "It's an old transport that docked in Quadrant One before it's engines packed in, Mellie, Mellie's our chief engineer guy, biiig guy, he converted it in a galley, back section got turned into a food storage place, we've got beef stored there, actual cow-beef, they make the best burgers there..."
Foster liked the idea of some real food, after all the protein shapes he'd been stuck with, but wondered how Greg was planning to eat and talk at the same time.

The carriage squealed to a halt and Greg bounced out of his seat.
"This way, Mister Mike Foster, sir!" He pointed down the corridor with two hands then disappeared round the corner. Foster had to jog to catch him up.

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