1.61 - Welcome to Tortuga

1.61 - Welcome to Tortuga


 

Space stations, you either love them or hate them. A lot of people live their entire lives on them. Some of the stations I’ve been on house over a million people. They’re complete with their own interior ecosystems, grass, trees and everything else that make them seem like real planets. We’re supposed to be doing this deal on Tortuga Station. I’m told it boarders the space between The Draconian Empire and Revrell Republic so it gets a fair number of visitors for both and is a neutral ground for many unsavory deals. You’ve seen one space station; you’ve seen them all. That’s how I felt until I got a glimpse of Tortuga as we approached for docking. The station is a massive sphere, bigger than any station I’ve ever seen before. A large ring encircles it and jutting from the ring are eight more giant spheres. The entire structure is probably larger than some planets I’ve been on. It’s certainly larger than moons like Enceladus, yet everyone else seems to think of this as typical as we make our approach.

“That thing is huge,” I speak up.

“Yes, it most certainly is. It has a very interesting history as well,” Nastas speaks up. “Originally it was built by The Revrell as a modern marvel, a testament to what their scientific advancements could do. However, it was overrun by several species attempting to escape Revrell Rule. I’m told the battles breaking out across the station were extremely bloody, and eventually culminated in all of The Revrell being executed or expelled from the ship depending on what their supposed crimes were. Stop me if I’m boring you.”

“You’re boring me,” Edan spins around to inform Nastas.

“I like history, so I’d appreciate hearing more.”

“Thank you Efrem,” Nastas smiled.

“Losers,” Edan says with a sigh before continuing to spin in the copilot chair.

“Well, the station could not remain in Revrell space, so it was moved to Draconian space over several decades. However, species fleeing Draconian control attempted to take control of the station as well. Once again, bloody battles took place. However, when the two sides spoke, they realized they were both struggling through the same torment. Those escaping The Revrell had been under the impression that every species in The Draconian Empire pledged absolute loyalty. Eventually they settled the station here. A place where Draconians nor Revrell would peruse. While the station was built for show, and much of it was empty over time the population has crept to twenty million and every portion seems to serve a purpose. It is the place I call home. My people, The Meteorians were one of the keys to escaping The Draconian Empire. We had attempted to settle many planets but none of them were suitable. The station truly was a blessing,” Nastas speaks lovingly.

“We’ve got permission to dock,” Janet loudly interrupts him.

I love to discuss history but Nastas alters his speech pattern so there’s never a way to interrupt him. It’s almost as if he wants to constantly keep you off balance. There’s never a natural way to jump into the conversation. He implies you’re rude then you’re stuck for another five minutes. I hate people like that. They’re always hiding something.

I’m curious about all the different kinds of ship docked here than what he’s hiding at the moment. I exit the ship first, not because I know where I’m going but because I’m excited. I’ve seen some nice docking bays before but never one with waterfalls. I know the sky above is just a digital image, but it’s incredibly detailed and lit well enough to appear as if I’m actually below a shining sun. Waterfalls run down at various points, there’s grass, actual grass growing inside not the artificial kind. There’s a massive shipping bay here, but it’s also a park. I’ve been all over Sol and several other systems but I’ve never seen anything like this. I can’t help but wonder if the rest of the station is as impressive.

“Hey, let’s split up and meet later for the job. I’m going to take my awestruck brother on a tour. It’s not every day I get to see him actually amazed by something,” Edan jokes.

Crossing from the docks we reach the market, a massive market. Tents and shops seeming stacked to the ceiling thousands of feet into the air with everything you could ever want. I attempt to use my wrist comp to get information about various species, and merchandise I’m witnessing but most things return nothing. The information about different species is limited. I’m sure I look like I’m some kind of obnoxious tourist.

“We need to get you a new wrist comp,” Edan grabs my wrist. “I’m glad you didn’t go with the implant, I didn’t either. But this thing is old and outdated even by Sol standards. Let’s go check out some tech,” a smile creeps over his face.

“Who’s amazed now,” I joke.

This is nothing like the market in Invicta. Everything here is out in the open and seems to be legal; there’s no guilt for wanting to buy things here. It’s the opposite, I have an urge to spend money and I don’t even know what the currency is here. We bypass the carts and head into a small shop. Inside is filled with small wooden toys and handmade crafts. Edan waves to the shop keep who points us to an elevator. We ride for a few minutes before exiting into another shop. The walls are lined with various models of tech, but Edan pulls me to a wall lined with dozens of different wrist comps.

“None of these are human models and that’s fine. I’m running the Imago firmware. It’s designed for humans who are regularly in rooms where they’re the only human. It’ll do everything your current wrist comp does and allow access to Draconian and Revrell tech and Nexus. Your translator will work a little better, you’ll be able to keep up in conversations, and Now you won’t have to look confused searching for information. I think this light weight version will work well for you,” Edan points out a small black rectangle. “But you’ll also need something heavy duty. This one can take one hell of a beating and keep going but it is a little heavier. Well, do you have any that are catching your eye?”

“You know, you can give Nastas a run for his money if you’re allowed to talk about tech.”

“I’m doing you a favor and you insult me like that,” Edan feigns shock complete with a hand over his heart.

In the end we settle on something that’s an eighth of the size of my previous wrist comp, but still rated for heavy duty. Edan says it’s a model used by the Sudalit species. He promises I’ll love them when I finally meet some. Once he’s finished installing the firmware, I’m going to look them up. As he sits at a table tinkering with the new wrist comp I try a type of Meterorian snack. It’s fried dough filled with something that I can only describe as a cross breed between chocolate and strawberries. I don’t know what this is, but I know it’s delicious.

“I got you a gift, and lunch? You get more than some of my dates,” Edan passes me the wrist comp.

“That’s why you’re still single.”

“What about you? Who’s the Renan fellow you’ve been trading messages with? Seems like there’s something there.”

“Why would you read my messages?”

“Had to keep myself busy while the system worked.”

“He’s just a friend.”

“Now?”

“Shut up.”

“You’re fresh off a break up and you’ve already got eyes for Enyolo,” Edan laughs. “You’re so greedy, still.”

“I don’t have eyes for Enyolo. You need to stop saying that.”

“Why do you not have eyes for me,” Enyolo asks. I hadn’t seen her arrive but judging by Edan’s laughter, he did. “Am I not beautiful or is because I don’t allow my loins to guide my behavior.”

I can feel all of my body heat rush to my head. “I think you’re beautiful, I just think we’re on a mission and we should keep our eyes on the prize,” she just stares at me. “Not that you aren’t a prize, I think you’d be a great prize. Not that I think women are prizes to be won in competition. I’m sorry.”

“Women can be won as prizes in some cultures.”

“Is yours one of those,” I’m surprised by her response.

“No, but I like that you think you can win me.”

“I wasn’t saying I’d try to win you. You’re not an object.”

“You’re as stupid as your brother,” Enyolo sighs and takes a seat next to me. I don’t even say anything when she reaches over and takes a piece of my food.

“Wow, you actually made her speak, and tell a joke,” Edan laughs. “Sounds like love is in the air. Wait until Nastas and Janet hear about this.”

“Do not persist on making me your entertainment. It could be hazardous to your health,” Enyolo calmly implies a threat to Edan.

“I can’t let you kill my little brother,” I try to joke.

“I understand, family is important to humans as well,” she shrugs and continues to eat my lunch.

“Wrist comp is done,” Edan holds it out.

It snaps to my left wrist and instantly begins a biometric scan, getting a baseline of my vitals. I guide it through a few different basic settings before it lands on the home screen. The location displays “Tortuga Station,” so there’s already an improvement over my previous wrist comp. Photos, music and notes to myself are all intact, but it’ll take some getting used to.

“Would you two like a tour? I don’t think either of you has ever been here,” Edan asks while sending a message on his own wrist comp.

“I don’t care,” Enyolo shrugs.

“I’d like a tour.”

A message pops up on my wrist comp, it’s from Edan. “You’re on a road to nowhere with her,” an attached image is a picture of him with his hands on his hips and a disapproving face. He gives me a smirk as I look at him across the table.

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