The sprawling tendrils of light and life extend across most of the lunar surface. Towers of glass and crystal jutted into the man-made atmosphere of Luna, making the celestial satellite look less like a moon and more like a miniature model of the Earth it orbited. From above, the seven major city centers of Luna could be seen in their warm yellow and white glory. The warmth and life before him did less to sooth his homesickness and more to compound it. Seven cities, eighty-five million people, three space ports, one home. He could tell you in the blink of an eye every single statistic you might need to know about Luna. He could tell you predicted GDP for the next ten years, past, present, and future population demographics, ship movements, data-node activities, and even popularity ranked social activities in the most obscure, ethnic districts. But at this moment, none of it mattered. He just wanted to stare at his home.
Gatchen Thuss slouched in his isomorphic chair, keeping his breathing shallow and mind empty. The massive bulk of Luna raced ever closer towards him as cities, skyways, highways, and buildings races by. A small smile grow over his melancholic visage as the motion suddenly stopped over the familiar site of three identical towers jutting out from the lower city looking for all the world like a crystal growth. White wisps of cloud and mist kissed the towers as the sun rose in the distance, setting the crystal city on fire as a lunar day dawned on his home. Aramethia was by no means the largest city, or the most well-known, but it was his one and only home.
With what little resolution he could muster, Gatchen stood with a small sigh as the projection slowly dissipated from view to leave naught but the cavernous construct of the Terminal to weight down on his spirits. Realistic as its products may be, the knowledge of it all being a façade always lingered in the back of one’s mind. Baseliner, Auditor, Diver and Mer, even the construct addicted Phases knew it to be nothing but a mirage. Well, one would think the Phases would know, but then again they’re addicted so…
Gatchen put aside the impromptu social analysis and stretched before running his hand over his face and beard. Grey eyes carrying the wisdom of years accented by the faintest of wrinkles focused on the Terminal exit as he made his way out and into the Skip Ship’s hallways. The crew and socialization decks of most Skip Ships tended to be as spartan as their more functional counterparts unless one had the money to spend on upgrades. Even then, it seemed less like a welcome redecoration and more like piss poor makeup on a particularly ugly but highly efficient worker. Regardless, it served its purpose to keep minds from wandering too much out in the black. Most minds needed a break or distraction to prevent any unseemly breakdowns. Even the biggest of ships could still feel like a coffin to anyone not of the star-living factions. Five factions, nine-billion associates of said factions, 7,462 of their Skip Ships in the Milky Way, 27,101 of their FTL ships in the Milky Way, and only three wars between them all. What went on in their heads was anyone’s guess.
Gatchen rested his back against the lift walls as the capsule doors sealed before launching up through the vacuum tube towards the top decks with the rest of the waking crew. Gravitic field manipulation kept Gatchen from being crushed on the floor as the lift moved at 89.4 meters per second. As the quiet whirring of the lift system died down, the capsule doors slid open once more revealing the brighter lit corridors of the top deck of the vessel. Of the 12,431 occupants, approximately twenty were awake and moving about the ship, ever tracked by manufactured bacteria strewn across the vessel to detect motion and heat to transmit back to the Mer. This tracking method was one ‘innovation’ Gatchen could never get used to, as the idea of millions of bacterial ‘eyes’ staring at him left a feeling of paranoia more so than of security. Though human they may be, Mer and other space-living factions had may as well been aliens for all their differences and radically alternate branches of advancement.
He continued his trek through the corridor to the passenger lobby of the top deck to await word of when the vessel would reach Dingir-Gir’s south east edge before contact with the outpost there was made. From there, transportation and holding patterns would be negotiated. Once done, the long month of work in the literal ass end of reality would commence for him. Though the data may be interesting and the environment mysterious in its own right, the thought of being so far from everything made him feel somewhat uneasy. The knowledge of what said ass end of reality was bordering only compounded his unease. Why invest so much time and life studying nothing? The outpost was LITERALLY at the system’s edge next to NOTHING. A swath of black with the odd anomaly here and there was what constituted a few decades worth of work to study the so called ‘0 Point.’ All this fuss over a spot in an ancient galaxy that technically shouldn’t even be coalesced anymore to study a swath of nothing, and for what? He supposed that’s why he was where he was, to find out why investors were bothering with this place. That’s what Auditors did after all: absorb information beyond normal baseline ability, digest it, spit it out, absorb it again, and see if something new popped up. Any true Auditor could do this, even the youngest of their faction. Data was naught but a transparent, three-dimensional puzzle of pure art to ponder over….at least that was how he had it set up in his mind. His attention to detail and centuries of experience had helped him form his own personal system of analysis that just made sense in his mind. Fortunately, it created results that made sense to clients. Unfortunately for Gatchen, however, said clients decided this robustly reinforced talent should be used in the farthest reaches of the Web at Dingir-Gir as opposed to the untested abilities of a younger Auditor.
“I’m getting too old for this shit,” he said quietly to himself as he pressed on.