Chapter 1: War of the Underworld

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2nd July 2309 12:00 EST - "USM Freighter Pioneer, you have clearance to docking bay 12; set course for 275-25-18, set speed to 50kph, and bring her in steady."

What was once the cold bleak dark of space around the Pluto satellite, Charon, had now become a beacon of one of humanity's greatest achievements.

The absence of light could not hide the two-kilometre orbital station whose blinking lights lit up the sky like artificial stars, while the sun's tame rays attempted to reflect the metallic hull from the satellite's shadow.

Man had not conquered the stars, but they had embraced the sol system.

The station provided logistics and support to the mining operations down on the ice planet for the fearless miners that were enticed by the pay relative to its hostile environment. Built to gain resources for propulsion systems in some of the most technologically advanced warships, its stature was small, but its importance was not.

The station's skeleton bridge crew of three were tasked to oversee the various automated systems while providing a human voice to those arriving from their long trips from other hubs around the Sol and Alpha Centauri systems. Their jobs, though, were normally trouble-free and mostly unsupervised.

As he placed his feet next to the console where he was working, a nonchalant young man gave the final instructions to the escort fighters."USM Freighter Pioneer coming in on final approach, Osprey 2 and 4 return to patrol pattern delta."

Ignoring the screens with various displays of data, he turned to one housing images of different cards. Looking at them, he sighed before staring at the ceiling." Anytime now!" he grunted.

A young woman from across the room looked up at him. Unlike her counterpart, she was trying to make an effort at looking like she was interested in her work. "I am working, you know. It's not as if I come into work every day with the idea that I will be playing gin rummy."

Turning to her screen which consisted of her card selection, she placed her hand on a card and swiped it onto the top of the pack.

The guy chuckled to himself "Yet every single shift you do."

"I'm surprised the boss hasn't commented on us playing this game." The woman replied, returning to the various consoles she had around her.

Still looking up in the air, the man nonchalantly swiped his hand over the card game taking the next card into his pack. Despite not appearing to be interested in what was going on around him, he'd already planned the move in advance. "He's more interested in his reports. Besides, I doubt he even knows what goes on in the bridge. Not that anything happens here anyway."

Shaking her head, the woman just smiled at his comments. She looked longingly into the blackness of space, drawn in by the void left by Charon as it blocked out the sun. She embraced the feelings of peace, serenity, awe and terror, as how only a few metres of metal and glass stood between them and the various forms of death space provided. The fear mixed with the joy of watching the unknown brought an adrenaline rush like no other.

Yet the adrenaline was short-lived, pulled down like the weaning off a narcotic when remembering that in all her time on the station, the closest she came to death was slipping up in her bathtub. Rarely anything would happen in this part of space.

Bringing herself back to reality, she sighed "Yeah you're right, nothing happens. This place is rather boring." She said exasperated.

The guy looked over at her with a wide grin on his face. "You are joking aren't you?" he replied, "I could have worked on the command deck of any space station and I was even offered a position on Io."

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