Monday, 27 September 2010

The Artefact. Chapter One.

The alarm clock had been buzzing for several minutes before Foster managed to hit the 'off' button. As soon as his eyes were open, so the pounding in his head began. Like a hangover combined with a cricket bat, everything started to hurt.

Sliding his legs out from under the blanket and over the side of the bunk, he looked around, trying to get his bearings in these unusual surroundings, the memories of the where and why overtaken by the jackhammer behind his forehead.
The room was charcoal grey, minimalist in design. Besides the bed, there was a chair on which Foster's suit and briefcase were laid neatly. There was a screen on the wall facing the chair, and a table in the corner, on which were Foster's ID wallet and PIC.
It was dark through the tiny, thick framed window, but as Foster placed his feet on the floor, he knew where he was.

There was a gentle vibration coming from the thinly carpeted floor, betraying the artificial gravity plating that Foster had come to recognise and hate. It made the muscles in his legs ache, and this was only made worse by his current condition.

So, I'm in space, Foster thought to himself, instinctively spotting the other clues surrounding him, the emergency Evac suit and helmet, the food dispenser, the decompression warning labels near the door and window.
That explains this hangover too, he noted, peeling the EZ-Sleep TENS device pad from his arm. Electronic and chemically aided deep sleep wasn't known for it's pleasant awakenings.
Foster made his way to the bathroom and relieved himself, then he splashed ice-cold water on his face.

He looked at himself in the mirror, he looked as bad as he felt, his face was drawn and he seemed to have lost some weight. Must have been asleep a few weeks, he guessed, feeling the slight stubble on his chin, normally smooth thanks to his weekly 'Shave'-cream.
In a last-ditch effort to get rid of his headache, Foster went to his briefcase and removed a small yellow pill bottle. He swallowed two pills quickly, and winced as they seemed to scrape down his throat.

The effect was almost instant, as his headache began to clear, he could focus his eyes, and the humming from the floor panels no longer made his legs muscles ache.

Feeling human again, Foster went to the table and picked up his PIC, his Personal Information Centre, a pen-sized communication device.
Pressing the button button on the top of the PIC made the end light up. Foster drew a square in mid-air with the PIC and instantly a holographic screen appeared, projected from the small device.
Using the PIC as a pointer now, Foster clicked on the various images and buttons that appeared on the holographic work surface.

First, he checked his messages. The disembodied head of his boss, Doctor MacDonald emerged from the holographic screen and began talking.
Foster was used to this type of message, wishing him luck on his mission, and chose to leave it playing as he got his breakfast from the food dispenser.
The food was passable, being a few flavoured shapes of protein & nutrients, that gave a pretty good impression of Bacon and Eggs.
When the doctor's message ended, Foster clicked his PIC off the messaging service and checked the date and time.

It was 01:04:21 on 25th October 2186, Foster had been in deep sleep for six weeks.

Foster set his PIC to play some music, and it began to play a classical orchestral score that he couldn't identify. As the music played, he got himself washed, got rid of his stubble and then got dressed. His suit felt two sizes too big, and Foster swore to himself that the moment he arrived at his destination he was going to binge on some unhealthy snacks.
Opening his briefcase, Foster began looking through his files, detailing his mission and providing background details.
As soon as he'd started though, the main screen in the room came to life and the Ship's Captain, Brewer appeared on screen.
"Good morning sir," He said, his plummy tones reflecting his pristine uniform and manner. "Just to inform you that we will be arriving at Dutch Square in approximately twenty minutes. If you could get all your belongings together, we can get you dropped off in no time at all."
Foster nodded in acknowledgment, and put everything back into his briefcase.
"I'll be down by the gate in ten, sir." Foster added, trying hard not to echo Brewer's posh tones.

With that, Brewer disappeared from the screen, Foster closed down his PIC and put it in his pocket and the ship began to vibrate as it began docking procedures. Foster took a deep breath, readied himself, then stepped through the sliding door out of his room.

As he walked the short corridor to the docking gate, Foster caught a glimpse of Dutch Gate out of the window. It was a massive rotating donut of technology, over five miles in diameter, with various ships and drones operating on all areas. Foster had never been here before, and had to stop himself from staring out of the window for too long.

As he reached the gate, there was a loud, satisfying CLUNK as the shuttle docked with the massive space station. Foster ran his fingers through his hair one last time and prepared to board.

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