A cylinder of crimson light penetrated the darkness. It crept from an ovular window into the single-room cabin. Lena woke, tangled in her bedsheets, fumbling for the celltab resting on the windowsill next to her bed. With one eye open, she held it in front of her face and carefully slid her finger along the dark surface.
The brightness of the screen gradually increased in sync with the room lights. She stretched her arms above her head, then pressed her fingers into the inside corners of her eyes, letting out a sigh. The subtle scent of brewing coffee hung in the air. She sat up and swiped her index finger vertically along the screen. Across the room, directly above the kitchen island, appeared a one-dimensional, holographic screen. The newscast disinterested Lena, but the noise was part of the morning routine.
Reluctantly, she rose from her bed and shuffled across the room to the coffeemaker. A cup of steaming black coffee sat warm and ready. Sitting down at the small kitchen island, she skimmed a few public postings as she sipped the bitter coffee.
Sector 7 unable to repair one of their major transways.
Commuting issues for sectors 6 and 1.
Synth hate-group responsible for the murder of multiple transfers.
Lena wanted to pay more attention to current events, but she had never visited this world and ultimately found the politics dull.
In ten days time, the Duskrider would enter Zarminan atmosphere and dock in the port city of Vogt, Sector 3. Lena, along with all 300,000-plus on board, would be filed for Zarminian citizenship. Most had careers waiting for them. Hiring arrivals from the Duskrider had certain perks for Zarminian employers.
Lena took a deep swig of coffee. It warmed her throat and chest from the inside. She set the mug down and rose. At the foot of her bed lay a nest of crumpled clothes. Some were passably clean. She rummaged through and chose a pair of black work-jeans and a grey shirt with only a few stains. She pulled off her white sleeping tee and tossed it onto the unmade bed.
She slipped on a bra and the grey shirt, then tugged the jeans up over her waist. Dressed, she stepped into her bathroom to apply a light facial moisturizer. She used it as a precaution against the dirt, grime, and heat that came with working as a mechanic. The absence of common air impurities or harsh sun exposure found on Earth or Zarmina left most residents of the Duskrider with unnaturally smooth complexions. Lena had the occasional pimple or blemish, but her face showed no signs of age.
She snagged a Vitabar from a red and white, half-empty box on the kitchen counter. Unwrapping it, she extracted a small bite and downed the rest of her coffee, chasing the dry, doughy lump in her throat. She set the mug in her sink, next to a dirty plate and some soiled utensils from last night. With the Vitabar clutched between her teeth, she grabbed a pair of well-worn black boots from their spot next to the front door and tugged them on. Lastly, she pocketed her celltab and grabbed her backpack before entering the hallway.
The M floor of the Duskrider contained eight parallel rows of efficiency cabins. The top residential floors contained cabins with two or more bedrooms. The mid floors were for couples. The lower floors, like M, offered studios. Today, Lena’s hall was empty.