September 5th, 2249: My assembly date.
The preceding month felt like a dream. Maybe bits of it were just that. To be honest I still have a difficult time discerning between what was really occurring and the demented fabrications my drug fueled imagination was cranking out. Transport sedatives tend to fuck with your head, and it was a lengthy trip. Pair that with being rapidly unloaded and immediately placed under an anesthetic and your result is seven hundred twenty hours of beautiful, nightmarish delirium.
We’d been shipped off-world for our procedures to circumvent Earth’s strict cybernetic augmentation sanctions. The Ares Defense Corporation would be fitting us with the latest and greatest at the expense of a fistful of liability waivers and thirty days in a tube: Not a bad deal for an ExCom like myself. My last truly lucid memory was preparing for takeoff. After having been escorted to a locker room just outside the loading gates I peeled off my worn, sweat and dust encrusted clothes and pitched them into the trash. Even if I made it back to this location they were well beyond their usefulness. This reserved the locker space for my thick canvas duffle full of what I’d deemed valuable enough to stash. Then I walked naked through the first gate into the decontamination hall. When the door behind me closed I heard the locking mechanism clunk into place followed by three evenly spaced beeps indicating the rinse was about to start. I closed my eyes and held my breath as the warm, bitter smelling fluid blasted my body from sprayers in every direction. After a few seconds of being doused the sprayer nozzles whistled as the pink streams of decontamination fluid retreated to a trickling finish and steam rose from the floor and my body. The fluid slightly burned my dry skin as the air hit it again. I wiped the excess from my face and made my way to the second gate.
“Don’t get that shit in your mouth,” a staticky voice crackled over a heavily corroded intercom near the door, “Burns your tongue raw. Hurts like hell for weeks!” I was more hung up on the nauseatingly sweet, detergent smell it left lingering on my skin. “Releasing the locks on gate two. Proceed through.” said the intercom attendant. A metallic clang echoed from inside the heavy door beckoning me to push it open and step through into the transport’s human freight deck. Now, there are two common types of interplanetary transportation: commercial and human freight. Commercial can be expensive because you’re awake and will require food, drink, sleep and entertainment for the next thirty days or so while in transit. All the necessities and more are available and, depending on the transport company, can even be quite luxurious I’ve heard, but its also quite easy to rack up one hell of a bill. The cheapest way off the ground is to be flown as human freight. Several people can be loaded into the ship’s freight pods, or “tubes”, and placed under a heavy sedative while being supplied basic nourishment and hydration intravenously for the trip’s duration. Muscle atrophy and the potential for lingering neurological effects aside, it’s not too bad of a way to travel. Besides, it limits your flight expense to just a ticket and maybe a tip for the freight deck medical attendant depending on how smoothly they put you under and wake you up.
It wasn’t much to look at. There were metal grates for floor, masses of ductwork sprawling across the walls like vines and large polymer containers shoved into most every space that wasn’t occupied by the freight pods. Everything was plastered with Ares’ branding of course. The lighting was particularly dim and limited to the ultraviolet emergency floods and the glow from the LED control panels on the tubes which combined to create a sort of otherworldly ambiance. The air was warm, dry and slightly stale smelling. As I was standing naked in the open doorway stretching and appreciating my lavish digs I caught my first glimpse of my co-passenger and instantly became uncontrollably fixated on her. This girl could’ve easily been mistaken for a fashion model from Avalon’s Halo with her tall, buxom physique, fair skin and waist length platinum blonde hair that so gracefully swished side to side. Further South her flawlessly sculpted ass bounced playfully with every adjustment of her hips while she struggled to tie the fasteners of her complimentary Ares Corp. examination type gown behind her long, blemishless back. Her appearance radiated a delicateness that was both mystifying and intimidating.
She picked her head up from her extreme concentration in trying to tie the gown and rotated it towards me with convenient enough timing to catch me awkwardly staring at her exposed backside. Apparently my years drifting through the Waste eroded what little social tact I had to begin with because I found myself unable to so much as reply to her gaze with an apologetic grin. So there I am, stark naked and staring deadpan into the deep, forest green eyes of the most attractive woman I’ve seen in my adult life after having just been caught in the act of peeping and... she’s smiling? A normal girl would’ve been startled and attempted to cover up to escape my gaze, but the female passenger reacted by flashing me a mischievous grin and abandoning the act of tying her gown so that it fell open revealing her soft, luscious hips and trim midsection. She then gathered it seductively towards the middle of her body so that it folded and hung between her legs covering only her most sensitive parts and arched her back in an explicitly sultry fashion while biting her lower lip. I was mouthing to myself the words “what in the fuck...” with my eyes glued to the performance before me when she abruptly decided to end the show by pulling her gown back around her body and seeing me off with a wink and tongue out gesture. Any illusion of fragility her appearance portrayed immediately dissolved, betrayed by her actions. Realizing I was being teased I forced a half smile and nodded at her only to have the wind knocked out of me by a man thrusting a balled-up hospital gown into my diaphragm.
I began to spin towards the man with a killing intent when he caught me off guard saying, “How ’bout you put that on and get comfy and we’ll give you a little something to knock that hard-on down.” I heard the female passenger cackling as I glanced down at my own engorged genitals and snatched the gown out of the man’s hand. She made no attempt to hide the sadistic enjoyment she took in toying with men. I turned back to whom I was assuming at this point was the medical attendant and he began to speak again. “Ames, right?” he said. I nodded in confirmation and he continued, “My name is Smith, and I’ve been so privileged as to be appointed as your attending medical officer for this flight.” You could easily detect sarcasm in his exasperated tone. Smith was significantly shorter than I was so he had to crane his neck upward to speak to me, which you could tell only added to his irritation. He had messy black hair combed over an obvious balding patch and a stout physique. His narrow, squinty eyes were complimented by a thin and patchy mustache, and his face wore an expression of exhaustion.
The female passenger and I, who were apparently the only two people being transported on this freight deck, had found our seats in our respective tubes and were being prepped for launch. We sat across a narrow walkway from each other face to face. Smith was sitting on a metal stool in front of the control tablet on the female passenger’s pod entering information and preparing her I.V.’s. Her right arm, outstretched, was being fastened to the stabilizing brace attached to the pod (this ensures that when any turbulence occurs your I.V.’s aren’t torn out) when she called to me. “Hey, half-chub”, she said. I’d been zoning out on the soft blue instrument tablet until she addressed me. Genuinely restful sleep is a luxury I hadn’t experienced in some time. I acknowledged her cheeky beckoning and directed my tired eyes silently towards her. Even her voice was provocative as if every word she purred was intended to fall on bedroom ears. “He said your name is Ames, didn’t he?” She asked, still wearing her sadist’s smile and staring at me as if she might be planning to eat me. “It is.” I replied cautiously. “Almost done”, interrupted Smith as he began cleaning an I.V. needle with a disinfectant patch. The girl continued, “Pleasure to meet you Ames. My name’s Vic.”
“I didn’t ask.” I rebutted while relaxing in my seat and closing my eyes.
“Oh, I know,” She whined condescendingly, “but now I can have Sammy here tell me if you start moaning it while you sleep.” She laughed to herself, but it was interrupted when Smith, obviously offended by her referring to him by the wrong name, plunged the I.V. needle he had been cleaning into the vein in her restrained arm without warning causing her to wince and gasp. “Smith.” He grumbled while tapping on his name tag with his index finger, “Recite your passenger number please.”
“Gentle baby,” Vic growled through gritted teeth, “next time warn me before you just shove it in like that.” She winked. “Passenger ID AHF060822490102. So, Ames, where you from?”
“Just a waster, Vic. What about you? I’m guessing Avalon?”
“Ooh, a feral huh? Your guess would be wrong, ‘Ames the Waster’. I’m no stuffy Avalon prude. I grew up in the Lux.”
“No shit?” I laughed, “Never would’ve pegged you as a Luxom-Nu girl. That’s supposed to be a rough joint, and you don’t strike me as a rough broad.”
Vic giggled and licked her lips, “I’ll show you rough...”
Smith rolled his eyes and continued. “Passenger Ares 6-8-2249-1-2” he abbreviated, “I am now beginning to administer to you a thirty-day transport grade sedative called Pentanorazepine. This drug will suspend you in a non-lucid, semi-conscious state for the duration of our flight. Your destination is Mars: Ares military medical research facility. Your anticipated flight and suspense time is seven hundred fourteen hours and forty minutes. Upon waking you may experience temporary delirium and or memory loss, inhibited motor coordination, blurred vision, moderate to severe headaches, muscle atrophy and digestive complications. While in suspense your physical and mental wellbeing will be my responsibility as freight deck medical officer. In order for me to proceed I need you to confirm that you understand the risks that have been explained to you and agree to hold Ares Defense Corp. harmless for any and all complications or injuries that occur while in flight and during the boarding and unloading procedures. Do you acknowledge and comply?”
“Sure thing, Scotty.” Vic said with a sweet smile.
While gritting his teeth Smith typed a quick sequence into Vic’s panel and spun around on his stool facing me. I watched as the life seemingly drained from her emerald eyes and they rolled back into her head within seconds of Smith’s final keystroke. Her tube reclined and the bright overhead lamp transitioned to a dim, gentle red. The input keys disappeared from her control tablet and were replaced with several instruments with which to monitor her vitals. Then the surly little fuck wiggled to his feet and shuffled his way over to my panel. I held out my right arm offering it up for the needle. “Passenger number.” He barked without so much as looking up from the tablet.
“Ares 6-8-2249-2-2” I replied.
“And do you need me to review the disclosure with you or were you listening when I read it off to your slutty friend?”
“Na, I’m good doc. Give me the drugs.”
The I.V. was a convergence of three different diameter tubes, each containing a liquid of a different colour and viscosity and exiting a relatively large gauge needle. Smith quick wiped my inner arm off with a strong-smelling disinfectant pad and jammed the needle in with all the gentle finesse and care of a drunken silverback. You could see a sense of relief on his face as he typed in his final sequence knowing that any personal interaction the job entailed was coming to an end. The harsh white light above my head dimmed and turned red and I felt my body slowly being reclined as the pod repositioned for takeoff. In the crook of my right arm I felt an extreme pressure at first as the drugs entered my vein followed by a freezing sensation that slowly spread throughout my entire body. All of a sudden I felt calm. I felt my muscles relax and my neck roll back involuntarily. Breathing began to feel heavy and slow, but not laborious. The freezing sensation was replaced by a sort of pulsating warmth that eventually, too, faded along with any sort of tactile sense whatsoever. My eyes must’ve sealed themselves before I was completely out because just before losing consciousness I could hear a now jubilant Smith muttering to himself, “Alright sweetheart, seeing as you can’t seem to remember my name I’m assuming you won’t remember me fondling these double D fun bags either, will you?” His chuckles and footsteps on the floor grates echoed into a distant, distorted thrum as I fell asleep.