Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Starlight Chapter One

By J.D. FarnWorth

(072111) All rights belong to that of Joss Whedon, Fox and whoever else would lay claim to the Firefly and Serenity Verse. Don't copy or use this material without the permission of myself AND someone holding the copyright. It is for entertainment use only.
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Out past Jubilee and Greenleaf, in the sector of space that was once know as New Vegas, floats a station like no other.
The sector, like its name sake was once a Mecca for the elite and the down trodden alike. It was a place that men could lose themselves in a perpetual night to remember; out of the prying eyes of law enforcement it was quite the destination.
The Starlight’s casino was known ’verse wide and only matched by the great casinos on Londinium. The food was excellent and the lodging was compared to the great companion houses on Sihnon. It was a wonder when they closed the station to the public in 2497.
The Red Sun Corporation took control of the Lexus in September of that year and by years end the station had gone dark. It had been rumored that the Red sun corporation had been losing money in the resorts on Mel Bourne and Greenleaf and for no other reason bought the Lexus Corporation to close the station down. Only a hand picked crew remained.
The station’s communication array became vital in 2502 during the hostilities on Jubilee so much so that Alliance command nationalized the station and replaced most of the hand picked crew with laborers from all over the verse. The later being cheaper and should something happen no one would ask any questions about a few missing lower rung employees.
Two years later, the skeleton crew resides over its systems. They fight the boredom of living aboard the behemoth station that is slowly falling apart around them.
Chapter one
Starlight station, module one, Deck one, July 12th, 2504, 09:10
The control room was dimly lit by the flicker of the three large monitors above the main board. With 12 station consoles, the room was once the hub of every decision made on the station. Through the neglect of years and lack of a repair budget, only two control consoles remain functional.
It is a lonely post for communications officer Gabe Smith, a fat man more at home in a card room than employee. It is more than a rumor that he lost everything on Mel Bourne and was giving his job as a chance to work off his debts. When the Lexus Corporation was sold to Red Sun his contract went with the deal.
Gabe leaned into the microphone and flipped the switch. “Can anyone hear me?” He was hungry and tended to whine to get his way.
The intercom crackled reminding him he would have to repair the damn thing before it fritz out completely.
Jenny Horn's answer, sounded distant with a bit of a Londinium accent, “Yeah? What you need babe?” Every one knew she was from the inner Core originally but she chose never to talk about her past.
He keyed up her location and put her image up on the main screen. She was in the gym of all places. “For God’s ‘sack’! Does she ever work,” he thought.
In fact, like Gabe she also had gotten into a bit of trouble and was transferred here as head activities director for the station. Being that there is not much use for her skill set on a mostly abandon station she spends most of her time keeping fit and waiting for the call to return to New Melbourne.
Jenny, love, I haven’t had breakfast. Can you sit watch for a few?” Gabe strummed the console with his meaty hand awaiting her response.
Can’t you get someone else?”
The Core accent was too much for the fat man handle this early in the morning. Gabe leaped from his chair which fell back to the deck making loud noise that interrupted the Com channel for a few seconds. He paused and waited for the feedback to subside.
On the boarder of losing the rest of his patience he asked, “Well, who would you suggest? I just called out on 300 intercoms and you are the only one that bloody answered.” His own Core accent always made its way to the surface when he got upset.
Another tense pause, Gabe watched Jenny on the main viewer. She was making no effort to move toward the command center.
Gabe,” a deeper voice of Adam Stark answered. “I will be up there in a minute.” He sported that educated hillbilly accent use on many Border Worlds.
Thanks, Adam,” Gabe answered joyfully.
He switching off the intercom and turned the main monitor back over to Cortex to continue to watch a replay of the Rufflesteins, an animated program popular 15 years ago in the Core Worlds. He could hear the airlock open and close, down the corridor from the command center.
Adam strolled in and managed to miss the piles of food containers scattered across the room. “So, you look busy,” saying this as he ran his finger through the layer of dust covering one of the malfunctioning consoles.
Never said I was busy, Ta ma de, I said was I was hungry,” Gabe answered grabbing his bulk and swung it around.
Adam looked on at the display of the gross dis-portioned man without responding.
Gabe smiled as what he perceived as discussed and announced, “It takes a lot of fuel to keep this ship flying.”
Adam pointed to the hatch and said, “You’re always hungry, just don’t take too long.”
Be back after I get some chow and I take a crap,” Gabe said as he exited the command center.
Too much information,” Adam yelled after Gabe through the hatch.  He turned back to the monitors and listened as the hatched closed down the corridor. The console was filthy. Adam cleared off the control panel and touched the keyboard.
The monitor reacted and as the Prowler program started. He watched as the computer identified each of the crew, marking each with a red circle. Gabe was walking slowly to the Caf-Deck. Acting Captain Rodney Wilson looked to be in the grav-room. Marty Hegel and Zack Hegel were in their bunks. Judy was playing draw poker on one of the working one-armed bandits. Jenny was lifting weights in the gym.
He zoomed in on the beautiful young woman until her torso filled the screen. Her body glistering with sweat made her skin shiny under the bright lights of the gym.
Adam touched the screen with the palm of his hand.  He hadn't heard the hatch close as Gabe walked up behind him and laughed at the daydreaming man.
You want me to take a little longer?” he said, as he continued to eat out of his Bento box.
The younger man turned off the monitor and stood up. Without a word, he exited into the corridor.
Gabe listened for the hatch to close at the end of the corridor and turned the monitor back on. Jenny’s image filled the monitor once more. She had risen up and her head was cut from view. He reached out as Adam had, and touched the monitor.
If you weren’t such a bitch, me and you could have fun,” he laughed at the thought of Adam. He reduced the image to a smaller window and went back to his lunch tray and the Rufflesteins.

The command center and crew docking is on deck one. Crew quarters, the gym and the Caf-deck is on the second and third decks. Module one connects to the casino module through a narrow circular ramp way. It was designed to close off the rest of the station to the nuts and bolts of the operation.
The station was built and towed out in four parts. The second module consisted of the main floor of the casino, restaurants, an auditorium and the bulk of guest rooms that lined the outside of the station. Giving the either a view of the stars or a view of the floor of the casino, depending on the taste of the individual taste of the guest making the reservation.
Adam headed down the dark corridor past the closed doors. He had once wanted to open each door and look inside. Most rooms on the station were still furnished with a nice bunk and head. The station had lost its luster since its heydays. He often compared this place to a tomb, the guests replaced by quiet dust bunnies moving along the decking with the air flow.
He slipped into his cabin and grabbed his electronic clipboard. Turning, he jumped as if he had seen a ghost.
Just a halo image,” he whispered.
When he was younger he hadn't talked to himself, but that was before coming to live on this hunk of crap in space. Every once in a while someone would see a ghost, it was said that life in the black makes your brain compensate and Halo images from ones memory will play tricks on the eyes. He hoped that they were right and the station wasn't haunted by the ghost of the visitors that came and never returned home from this place.
Adam started toward engineering, on the way he stopped to check valves and adjusting the equipment. He didn’t know what half the equipment did, but he marked it off the list and moved on. This was his job, three times a day.
Back when the Starlight station had been lit up like a star cluster, his job was performed by no less than three people. If the task wasn’t performed three times a day, an alarm would sound in the control room. After two consecutive alarms, the damned computer would send notice to Jubilee and automatically place a reprimand in his jacket. If he was reprimanded at this job three times, he would be fired and bound for dereliction of duty.
One more page,” he said, walking down the ramp way entering into the main casino.
The utility colored walls and decking disappeared in his peripheral vision, replaced by carpeted decking, which was dark purple with swirls of color. He imagined it was to force eyes up and onto hundreds of one-armed bandits that lay before him.
The casino was once the centerpiece to the station. Purple drapery and banners once hung from the tall ceilings lay here and there. Row after row of gaming machines and tables still stand like an army of thieves ready to separate guests from their wealth.
You talking to yourself, sexy?” said Judy coyly. Her accent was definitely borderland hillbilly passing her from Greenleaf.
Yeah, sorry,” he answered, Looking up and seeing Judy at her usual spot waiting for him to pass.
Why not stay a while and give me some company?” She swiveled around in the tall chair and stopping just in time to reach out as he passed to grabbed his butt.
Adam jumped and moved directly away from her. She was at least 10 inches taller and weighed twice his 150 pounds.
I am busy, Judy, and if I don’t get this done it’s my ass,” he answered, waving the EC into the air with one hand to punctuate his statement.
That is what you always say,” she purred and releasing him.
He knew she had the choice of hundreds of poker machines. She only picked this bank because he walked this route six times a day.
As he reached the end of the row of machines, Adam turned and looked back. She waved her strong fingers at him and moved her lips without letting the words escape.
Adam muttered, “Did she whisper that she loves me? Yikes!” He shook the thought off and went through the hatch that leads to the third Module.
* * *
Judy watched him disappear as she always did. She had grown up on Greenleaf, in a settlement not far from Borha, the second largest city on the small planet. She was used to being popular with the men of her hometown. She left their company looking for a second chance as many of the settler’s youth where doing more and more.
Judy played another round of poker and smiled, thinking of Adam. She knew he didn’t want her, but he never came out and said so. She smiled and waved each day hoping he would return her advances.  She felt lonely in the black.
Back on Greenleaf, she had found an advisement that read. “Do you want to live the adventure of space travel?” It had been posted on the entrance to the Air-lock which was the only pub in town. On the back ground of the poster it showed men and women working together at some unnamed Space port.
Some adventure,” she said, as if having a conversation with her poker machine. She pushed the replay button one more time.
Player wins,” the machine announced sedately followed by a series of bells. The credits added to her player’s card and as stood up from the game.
If I were only a winner of men,” Judy said, walking back to the Caf-Deck.
The Caf-deck was empty of crew but had an endless supply of hot water for tea and other drinks of choose. She poured a cup of hot water from the tall urn. Water piped in from somewhere filled the urn and left a reservoir of water for a crew of a hundred.
The tea wasn’t like the coffee back home, but she loved it just the same. She took a sip and it was hot. Blowing at it, she moved round the counter and bumped her head once again into the bulkhead and yelled, “Wuh de ma.”
Aiya! Hunaile?” asked Zack as he wandered in.
She turned around, holding her forehead. “Yeah, something’s wrong! I hit my gorram head again.” She lifted her hand and exposed the red bump forming on her forehead.
Zack took a free seat and wiped the table in front of him with the turned down palm of his hand. “So, what’s for breakfast?” he asked.
Years before, the chairs and tables had been moved into the kitchen, along with signs that read CafĂ© and Dock. Sometime after the new crew arrived on board, someone had moved the letter ‘e’ to ‘dock’ and made a new sign that read Caf-Deck. The name stuck, and everyone referred to the only working kitchen as the Caf-Deck.
I can warm up some soup from yesterday, along with some of those muffins you liked.” She stuck her head in the cooler to make sure that Gabe hadn't raided the food stuffs.
Sounds good. Have you heard anything this morning?” Zack asked, glancing into the corridor.
Such as?” she answered looking confused as Marty from his cabin three doors down screamed.
Wei, what the hell! Is this piss?’’
Like that for instance,” Zack said grabbing the muffins from her hand and headed for the corridor.
What did you do?” demanded Judy broaching a smile upon her lips.
Got that wun gwo pee brother of mine back for a year’s worth of practical jokes. Now to make my escape,” he answered stopping at the hatch way leading into the corridor.
Dzai Gee‘en,” she called after him.
He waved as he turned the corner and broke into a sprint, pursued by a short man with a rather pungent odor.
* * *
The third module houses environmental controls and engineering for the station. It also would be the underbelly of the station. Waste treatment and recycling as well as Gravitation controls. Except for the deck area set aside for guest docking and reception the whole of module three was painted the same color as the outside of the station, a dull utility gray.
Adam stopped at a console marks escape lifeboats and emergency. He pulled the panel free and pushed his EC into the exposed port. It started his daily test automatically.
His thoughts turned to Judy once more. It wasn’t that she was heavy (she wasn’t), it was the fact that she just scared him. He was like a child compared to her size. He wasn’t sure what they fed the settlers on Greenleaf, but they were sure huge.
The EC unit made its ready sound and he moved on deeper into the stations systems.
Adam turned and stepped into the Grav-room. He motioned a hello to the acting captain.
Ni hao! I trust that everything is ship shape?” Captain Rod said, wiping grease from his hands and moved across the room to the other control panel.
Ship shape and in Bristol fashion, sir,” Adam said as he joined the captain at the grav-control panel.
It is hard to believe that little control panel controls the gravity on every deck on the station,” stated the captain.
Yeah, as long as we leave it alone, it should last for years without a major overhaul,” Adam said, without knowing where the captain was taken him. He watched the captain monkey with the controls before asking, “So, what are you up to?”
The captain didn't answer and continued to work the switches and key in codes into the computer. The captain was well trained as an engineer and really knew his craft. What worried Adam was the man's intention.
He watched as the tall man, went to one knee pulled the control board marked deck four supply room, from under the control panel.
I just want to have a little fun. You might want to report a gravity malfunction on your EC,” the captain answered raising up and pointed to Adam's hand held.
Ah, yes, and what should I mark as its expected repair date?” Adam asked as he started the repair note.
Extended,” said the captain.
Adam looked up as the captain seeming to mull the situation over in his head.
Order a new board for this console,” ordered the captain.
What might I say is the reason for the new board, sir?”
The captain dropped the board and crushed it under his foot and gave Adam a crazy look. “Dong le ma?” asked the captain.
Yes, captain, I will mark it as tread damage,” said the now smiling Adam, making a note in the log. “You know that they will never send us a part to replace that, don’t you?”
Yeah, I was kind of counting on it,” answered the captain.
Just checking, Sir.”
You ready to have some fun?” asked the captain referring to the new playground he had just created.
Not just yet, I need to finish this up and upload the data, along with the tragic news of the loss of gravity in the supply room on Deck 13,” Adam answered turning and pushed the EC into the console and watched as another daily test started.
Oh, Adam, that wasn’t just the supply room, that was the buss for the whole module.”
Great... have fun captain!” Adam stated watching the EC’s readout of the percent of completion. He wondered if the captain had a touch of space madness. The stress of command seemed to weigh heavily on the leadership of this ghost station.
Woo hew!” yelled the captain as he charged down the corridor.
Why the hell did we make you acting captain?” Adam asked, pulling the EC from the port at the gravity station.
I heard that,” called the captain.
Don’t really care, sir.”
* * *
The Forth Module of the station was designed as the main storage.  When the Red Sun closed the Starlight, they auctioned off the food stuffs, and other hardware. In the end, it left the module an empty shell. The only thing they didn't sell was the Gaming machine. Most of the machines were outdated and there was a fear general that someone would want to start another casino.
Gabe pushed back in his chair and watched Zack run from Marty into the arena. He had no idea why Marty had the notion to kill his twin brother Zack, but he probably had his reasons. They didn't look like twins, Marty was much smaller. He had never taken the time to ask why Marty was a runt compared to that of his brother.
The intercom crackled as someone opened a connection, reminding him again to repair the gorram thing.
Gabe, this is Adam, I am done with my rounds, and everything looks great. I am going to head down to Deck 13.”
What’s going happening on Deck 13…?” Gabe said as he punched out the instruction to the prowler and zoomed in on camera 1309.
Great, everyone gets to have fun but me,” he whispered.
There, on the monitor, was the rest of the crew jumping off the walls and were having the time of their lives, while he had to sit here.
Wait, wait,” he said, switching from the crew and back to Zack and Marty. The little man had caught Zack and was now on top of the bigger man, beating him with his little fists.
Okay, now this is more like it,” he said, panning another camera around to watch the fight from a different angle.
The control panel for the docking airlock went from Red to Green, setting off a series of alarms all over the control room.
Warning, Warning boarding of unauthorized personnel noted this day at 0,7,1,2 on 2,5,0,4 point 1,0 point 2,9,” Stated, the computer’s automated alarm as it sent a message back home to Jubilee. It repeated as Gabe struggled to find the volume controls and locate the port of entry. He rushed back to the intercom.
We have company at port 14 on deck 1,” he yelled as he heard a rifle's bolt slap a shell into its firing chamber. He shrugged and turned around to find the same rifle aimed at his chest.


Notjustjay said...

Thank you, for the help with the formatting and minor problems. I updated fixing many problems. If you see anything else email me at or leave a comment on here. Comments, now work thanks to Jan.