Way Station 9

It was a very strange place, but it was a strange place that he’d gotten used to rather quickly. How many years had it been? More than a few, but not that long. It was very possible that it was the best job that he ever had.

gray and white robot
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He’d been a little bit more important maybe a little more relevant in years past, but now it all just didn’t really seem to matter. He had no boss really. The biggest incentive was just to take care of the customers, maintain the facility and keep the residents happy.

It was 6 o’clock in the morning. They used Earth clocks because why not? He ran and worked out a few days a week. Today was one of his running days.

The  atmosphere was strange. It depended really on where you were on the planet. The poles were incredibly wet and contributed to retaining the atmosphere. The rest of the planet was basically desert with an occasional oasis here and there. There was no real smell. It was a clean smell actually. In fact the entire planet was hypo-allergenic.

Of course, there was the underground. From all he had heard, it was a very rich environment that had been very carefully built up over the years with massive underground structure. Oddly, not a single  structure existed anywhere on the surface.

The only structure on the entire surface was Waystation 9. Back in the day it would’ve been called an airport, and like all other airports, it started out ad basically a small airstrip.

I suppose that you could say spaceport but that’s just a little bit corny, isn’t it? At any rate, it was time to run. He had his own building. One story, full gym, water cistern, food cabinet, kitchen, refrigerator, theatre room, extra bunk rooms, technology room, design room, meeting room and more.

The radiation meter was down to zero, so he could leave his quarters beforehand he unbuttoned the complex.

He put on his shoes, shorts and T-shirt and he went out to the track. It was always cool and dry, always about 55°F. It almost never rained down here. Rain was an event.

He took off Running. The track was actually his idea, they basically said ‘look if you want to try build yourself a track make yourself some deals for materiel and build yourself a track.’ The sand had a slight crunchy feel. It wasn’t dusty unless there was a sandstorm.

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He was one of the two site managers. There were always only two site managers and it was the same way every day, eight hour shifts overlapping by four hours for twelve hours coverage. The opener opened the spaceport’s radiation shields, the closer buttoned up. Then it was eight hours of bizarre radiation.

During the storms, people did maintenance, fueled up, worked out, went to one of the clubs, workout studios, art studios, galleries, restaraunts. Inside it was like a gigantic beautiful multi-level shopping mall and series of hotels.

The spaceport could only be open for 12 hours a day and it was closed for 12 hours  a day. That was the rule. There was some kind of strange disruption in the atmosphere that created radiation. This radiation storm went on for about 8 hours a day, so Waystation 9 had to be buttoned up.

He was going to run 5 miles today. It was pretty much flat everywhere you could see. There were mountains way up to the east but he had really not explore that much. At some point, he figured he would get out there.

He had his cycle so he could peddle out there, but of course distances were much longer than they appeared to be. If you got stuck out and you didn’t have supplies in that environment and you got caught in the radiation storm then that would not be a good situation.

Oh you could survive out there, there’s a special little kind of tent that you could bring if you were going to bicycle for a day out there but you better bring extra tires and extra supplies maybe even a second bike.

He once tried a journey to the foot of the mountain, but he never climbed up, he just took a look around, camped out in the cave, waited it out for 12 hours and then pedaled back

It didn’t have to be a monotonous job, you could find ways to occupy yourself, ways to stay interested. He actually had fairly good relations with the residents. They were known as were known Holeans.

Holeans were genuinely nice people and why not call them people? They were intelligent beings like us, sure they looked a little bit different – almost like the typical aliens as we imagined from Area 51 but a little more robust, a little more hair but they were an attractive and interesting people.

The Holeans had one favorite interest: curios, antiquing we would call it. They did not like to leave their own planet. I don’t know that any of them ever did very often. Maybe every now and then a few of them would travel by freighter to go visit somewhere.

I know there was a few that were buyers of goods who traveled a bit, but they preferred to let the merchandise come to them. You see, they ran an exotic import-export business and that was the deal. They get the import-export business, while the visitors get the spaceport.

Holea had plutonium-platinum pellets – don’t ask me how they work, I’m not a chemist but I will say that the pellets were incredible for powering spacecraft. They also had water as I mentioned before.  All you could possibly need: the poles were essentially a mixture of giant oceans and swamps.

Underground, there was an enormous amount of water. The Holeans lived above the water in their structures down beneath the surface. I always imagined that they had some type of boats or maybe even ships under the surface, I don’t really know how it worked.

So that was the deal, we get the fuel, we get the water, we get the spaceport and they absolutely get their pick of the import-export business. Sure, they were interested in occasionally exotic foods but they were mostly interested in the merchandise: Strange  woods, interesting metals, intricate carvings, coins, objets d’art that could’ve been thousands or tens of thousands of years old nobody knew.

I think they had more pleasure running their various family kiosks in stores than they did in collecting. I’m sure they had things under ground maybe museums and galleries places for curios, but they like the little cubbyhole stores that we go back as far as possible, little circular staircases to get from one to level to  an other.

But when you walked in, you had a feeling that the import-export stores and been there for decades or maybe even hundreds of years, actually I don’t know how long they were there… could’ve been hundreds of years but as you know, these things grow up over time.

Jean-Claude Deblois, the runner, was the morning concierge, or you could call him a site manager, the other concierge, her name was Francine Chantal Delacroix. I don’t know how they both ended up having French names but I think that’s just one of those things that happens.

They didn’t really get along and they didn’t really not get along. I think they were just the only other people that they could talk to. Both kind of viewed the world same way, but were very separate – almost like it a brother and sister that had grown up and moved apart for 30 years and then moved back together.

He kept running, the track was nice – not yet covered with sand. The surface was excellent with a good grip, it stayed in very good condition despite the radiation storms and it seemed to never buckle very much and it never wore out or cracked.

My name is Pochemu as you would Pronounce it. I am a Bolean. Boleans are from the twin planet in synchronous orbit with Holea. I lived with Deblois. This was my first tour of duty. Boleans provided security for the Holeans. Holeans are a religious people, we view them as a nation of priests. We look alike, but they are more white and we are more blue.

Boleans are violent, industrious and highly intelligent. We have been at peace for a long while, except for a few minor skirmishes around the edges of our region of solar systems called the Aal Mog grouping.

I am an officer in the Royal Armed Forces of Bolea. I suppose my career is stagnant which is why I volunteered for this post. I miss my wife and daughters, but other than that it’s good duty. This story isn’t about me though.

Working with aliens is cool. Yes, you reading this are outer space aliens to me. It’s cool because my boss isn’t here. As long as I facilitate for the concierges, the guests and the Holeans, I’m solid. I fuel a report once a month. We use your months, because why not? Systens work if everyone agrees on them.

DeBlois. He’s a cool guy. I run with him some time. Boleans Run, our cousins, the Holeans don’t. They swim.

Eepoporque is my counterpart. She’s only a Captain. Ambitious and snotty. I wouldn’t want her in my command, but I’m her rater on her BAER: Bolean Army Evaluation Report. She is DelaCroix’s facilitator. We don’t tell the concierges what to do, nor the Holeans. We just report and keep the peace. Imagine… Boleans as peacekeepers. Thank Lord Khufu my dad isn’t alive to see it. Oh well.

It’s a long way across the spaceport. There’s a lot of hangars. I think it’s actually 45 miles square. We use your miles, too because.. why not?The enclosed portion is like a giant covered City about 20 miles wide Running South .to North. The morning concierge lives on the North end and the evening concierge lives on the South end.

Funding, yes. Every planet, every civilization runs on the almighty, wait for it… dollar. The Waystation is funded by a non-profit: Hwardjionsczenz. They ran the first space ports, hotels and restaraunts. You can get a used spaceship from their rental division. My brother and I bought a small Kyrellian cruiser. We fixed it up. The new ones suck, the old ones used good materials.

I went outside to run with DeBlois. He was easy to catch. Boleans who are in shape can run a two minute mile at Earth gravity. We’re just different. I slowed my pace to nine minutes to chat with DeBlois.

”JC! What’s up Blay?”

”I’m really roakin’ – eight minute mile today.”

”Copasetic, earth-man.”

”Pochemu, you ready for your shift?”

”As ready as you are. There’s a new Kapoolian Coffee shop that just opened up. Imagine when a Bolean walks in, they still hate us from the Sadérrhillian conflict of the Difth Cluster Vortex, back in the Schamponian epoch.”

”Listen you big blue bastard, everyone’s making money now, they don’t car who’s ancestors were man-raped and pillaged.”

”Yeah, no drama anymore JC. We Boleans love drama, but here I have orders: play Everything low key.

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