Part Eight: A Bland New World
Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. The saga continues. Enjoy:) The first parts can be found a few posts down.
It took two standard weeks to get to Olympus from Paradise. They could have pushed the engines and gone quite a bit faster, but Jezria didn’t feel any need to rush. They’d still have nearly three weeks on Olympus getting people and equipment loaded onto the colony ship Neptune before that final momentous departure. The ship was an upgrade from the one the expedition had been planning on using, a third again as large with space for as many as ten thousand people. Garrett had read enough of his contract to know that in reality they were only looking at about half that number, but it was still mind-bogglingly huge when one considered that Pandora was to be, in essence, a colony of naturals.
Five thousand people, many of whom wouldn’t be able to use autodocs or regenerative medicine, people who could look forward to perhaps a century of life before they died…it was too fucking depressing to contemplate.
The Neptune was an impressively large ship, even sitting in dry dock in the capitol city of Athens. The control tower directed their convoy to land their personal ships in the Neptune’s private shuttle bay. They set down, disembarked and Garrett inhaled appreciatively. Yes, there was the smell of rocket fuel, but underneath that was the sweetness of hibiscus and native wanlia in a million different hybrid colors and forms. The founders of Olympus had gotten rather carried away with their landscaping, but the place did look and smell great.
Jezria clearly had her hands full with the arrival, official-looking people practically lining up to shove their information tablets in her face. One of her staffers made his way over to where Garrett was lounging against his ship and extended a hand. “If you’ll come with me, Doctor Caractacus, I’ll be happy to show you where you’ll be staying on board the ship.”
“That would be lovely,” Garrett said with a smile, enjoying the sudden flush of color in the man’s cheeks. Jezria had warned him not to tease her people, but it was hard to resist. He pushed off the hull and followed the man towards the nearest lift. “You’re Steven Miyakawa, yes?”
“Yes, sir. You can call me Steven.” They stepped into the lift and Steven pushed a series of buttons, and they began to rise. One of the walls was transparent, and Garrett examined the details of the shuttle bay with interest. Apart from the metallic hues that were expected from the amount of hardware they had in there, the color scheme was light blue and tan, bland, inoffensive colors that Garrett assumed had been chosen to engender calm in stress passengers. The journey to Pandora itself wouldn’t take more than a month, but once they were there colonists would have to construct their new homes before they could move off the ship, which would be a process of months for everyone, even with the help of machines and modular housing. Calm would be a handy thing to have, even if it was just a side-effect of boredom.
The lift kept rising. Garrett glanced over at Steven. “Which level are we headed to?”
“Thirteenth level, sir.” As he said it they pulled to a smooth stop and the door opened. “This is where most of the officers as well as senior staff will be housed.” He handed a folder over to Garrett. “This contains your keys and your ID, which is programmed with all of the access codes you’ll need to get into the labs and other secure zones you’re cleared for. Because the ship will be transporting naturals there are a number of specialized biomedical devices that require extra security with storage, so unfortunately it will take a little longer than usual to get to and from your workplace.”
“Which level is the lab on?”
“Tenth level, sir. All of B Wing.”
“Good to know.” Garrett glanced inside the folder.
“If you’d like, I can have your things sent up from your ship.”
“That would be fine.” Garrett handed over the hatch keys. “Everything is boxed and labeled.” He’d had a lot of free time on his hands over the past two weeks.
“I’ll get it taken care of, sir. Your quarters are down the hall and through the doors to C Wing.”
“Thank you, Steven.” Garrett stepped out of the lift and checked the directions on the wall, then started walking. Five minutes later he reached C Wing and apartment 1369, and he resolved that the first thing he was doing after he got settled in was memorizing where the damn lifts were and finding a closer one.
His living quarters themselves were fairly standard. A large sitting room, with a couch and an entertainment unit, connected to a kitchen with a few appliances in case he was feeling handy and a line to the mobile mess hall if he wasn’t. There was a leaflet with food choices lying on the counter. Garrett skimmed it briefly, then put it back and walked into the other half of the apartment. His bedroom at least had a big bed, but very little closet space. The bathroom had an actual tub, but it was so small he’d have to bend himself in half to get wet all at once. He stared at his less-than-impressed reflection in the mirror. “Wonderful.” And all of it in blue and beige.
Well, that much at least he could change. Garrett scouted around until he found the color controls, located behind a picture of a vase of lilies. He smirked at the attempt by whomever management was to enforce uniformity, then manipulated the controls until his walls were the color of a red sunrise and his floor was midnight blue. He glanced around, satisfied for now, then lifted his hand from the control panel. The colors shifted back to blue and beige immediately.
“Oh, come on.” It was like having a parental control on your life. Garrett modified the colors again, lifted his hand, and…blue and beige.
“Hell with this.” Reaching into his pocket, he took out a flat multi-tool, pulled up the screwdriver and in moments had the casing off of the control unit and was rewiring it to ignore its preprogrammed functions. At least the wiring was good; it was the kind you didn’t need solder for, you could just pick and stick it together how you liked. He was almost done when he heard a knock on the door.
Garrett blinked, then laughed out loud. Fiddling with the controls had alerted security? Oh, they must be really fucking bored over there. “Come on in.”
The door opened and a young woman in a dark grey uniform entered the room. She was wearing a grey beret over short brown hair and had a slightly-apprehensive look on her cute, button-nosed face. “Sir? Your alarm was activated. Are you…what are you doing?”
“I’m saving myself from paralyzing ennui,” Garrett replied. He shifted the walls back to sunset red. “This is nicer, don’t you think?”
“Sir, the color choice is preprogrammed and cannot be changed, except with specific contract stipulation.”
Garrett dropped his hand. “Are you serious? This is actually in my contract?”
“Unless you modified that clause before signing it,” the woman said, her tone slightly apologetic, “I’m afraid it has to stay.”
At least she did sound sorry. “That’s fine, Officer…”
“Officer Brady. I won’t attempt to subvert any more impressionable walls.” He looked around and sighed. “I see myself drinking a lot in this room.”
“Alcohol consumption is also restricted,” she added helpfully.
“Naturally. Of course it is. How silly of me to contemplate otherwise.” Liquor, and a lot of it, would be bought before this ship took off. And tapestries to cover the fucking walls. Maybe he could renegotiate this part of his contract with Jezria…no, knowing her she’d just laugh at him and say, “I told you so.”
“Well. I think I’m done introducing myself to home and hearth.” He screwed the casing back onto the control panel and replaced the picture. “Do you know where the nearest lift is?”
“Would you mind showing me? I want to find the labs without running a marathon.”
Officer Brady smiled. “I’d be happy to show you the quickest way.”
“Lead on, then.” Get me out of here.