Lena turned the corner, headed to the elevator along the left wall. Other resident hallways extended to her right. She called the elevator and waited.
The door slid open to reveal an empty, blue-grey interior with a single, round overhead light. She stepped inside and pressed the button for the plaza floor. As the doors slid shut, she leaned back against the side wall. Hesitantly, she took another bite of her meager breakfast. It was strawberry and oat flavored. She couldn’t tell if she hated strawberries, or just strawberry-flavored foods.
She swallowed hard as she told herself for the hundredth time that she would begin prepping meals for the morning. The elevator made it to the plaza floor without any more stops.
She entered the more populated hallway, passing several people on her way to the tram stop. The ceiling opened up and the air stirred with overhead motion. Balconies of the A through G floors encircled a community plaza, bisected by the tram track. Overhead, drones zipped back and forth carrying boxes and small shipping containers. A few people sat at the tram stop awaiting the arrival of the 10:15. Lena took the final bite of her bland breakfast, crumpled the wrapper and tossed it into a recycling chute. She sat on an empty bench and went over all the tasks she would need to accomplish today in order to stay on schedule.
By the end of the day, the magnacycle needed to be operational. That left time to test-drive it tomorrow. She would have Friday as a buffer to fine-tune any minor problems. It had to be race-ready for the weekend.
Although she had worked for Zedd for nearly five years, the last month in his shop had been brutal. They were rebuilding the bike he raced in the three previous Lightyear Festivals.
However, this year was the final Lightyear Festival, dubbed “Arrival Festival”. This year, Zedd was putting forth everything for the last Magna 200.
The Magna 200 was two hundred laps around the Sidewinder, nearly 5km long, sprawling along the topmost floor of the Duskrider. It was the race that kicked off the week-long celebration of their arrival at Zarmina. This would be the last time most of the inhabitants of the ship would see each other. Every passenger had toiled for weeks in to prepare for the last big event.
As she made her mental list, an overhead red light flashed. Ahead of her, at the far wall of the plaza, the tram track disappeared into a tunnel underneath the G floor. A gloss black, three-car shuttle glided silently around the corner. It slid to a graceful stop directly in front of her. The double-doors of the middle car parted to an empty carriage. Standing up, she strode into the car.
She sat down on a metal bench seat across from a couple that entered after her. Neither paid her any attention, both enthralled by the glow of their own celltabs. There was a light buzz and a red light pulsed overhead. The doors closed silently and the tram slid forward. Its rail line led out of the residential zone. It then had three stops in the commercial district, three in the shopping district, and finally its last and only stop before reversing its course at the industrial district.
By the time she got to her stop, she was alone on the tram. Coming to a smooth halt, the doors opened and she found herself in a wide, bustling hallway, free of the advertisements that congested the commercial and shopping districts. This particular hall was flanked with garage doors on either side, each housing teams that were working on their own magancycles. Overhead, in the high, dark ceiling, exposed ventilation ducts and piping snaked in and out of various workshops on either side. As she continued through, she slid an elastic band from her wrist and twisted her hair into a tight bun.
All incoming orders had been closed the previous week, and unless there was a direct order from ship operators, all shops participating in the race were working on their own projects.
Walking down the street to Zedd’s shop, she could see nearly all the bays were open. Workers carried buckets, welded, and applied finishing decals to their rides. Small robots zipped about the shops carrying tools and parts to the different workers. The sound of torque wrenches, welding torches, and music drowned out the shouted demands and requests that came from each garage. The street was alive with tension and excitement.
However, some teams weren’t taking any chances. These shop doors were covered with long, vinyl strip curtains. Riders and mechanics had been known to borrow ideas from each other. These shops weren’t about to lose their innovations for free. Every edge a team had could mean the difference between tens of thousands of dollars.
Upon arriving at Zedd’s shop, she saw he had put his garage door down today. Zedd usually preferred to hear the other mechanics work. He said it was the sound of motivation. Since they were nearing completion of Vela, a three-year old model V45, she figured he wanted to hide the final product for race-day. Good thing, because he and Lena had spent nearly every day of the past three weeks busting their asses on Vela. The Arrival Festival race was everything to Zedd, and Lena understood why. This would be Zedd’s last race before he retired.
Lena turned right down an alley separating their garage from the one next door. The side door to their garage was located about ten feet in from the alley entrance. Next to the door, mounted on the wall was a small yellow keypad. She pressed in the six-digit entrance code. A mechanical click sounded within the wall. She slid the metal door sideways into its chamber.
It was dark. There were no windows, and no light source with the bay door closed. She fumbled on the inside wall for the light switch, finally connecting with it after several waving smacks of the wall. The room woke with a flash.
“Lena?” she heard from the other side of the shop.
“Morning,” she grumbled. To her immediate right, the bay door towered above her. On her left, two large work tables were stationed in the front corners of the room with a central path to the back office between them. She continued into the shop, searching for the source of Zedd’s voice. She noticed the bike was off the lift. No. Fell off the lift.
“What the hell happened!?” she yelled. No answer. She was trying to make sense of it, but she couldn’t decide what type of upset she should be.
She stomped towards the center of the shop passing between the work tables and the various engine components, chassis parts, and wrenches strewn across them. Then she saw it. Behind the lift, in the back corner of the room, lay Vela. She was contorted and twisted on the ground, with visible scratches and dents. Lena walked around the lift to assess the full damage but froze immediately at what she saw. Her eyes brimmed with tears.