ACT02:- Dingo Egret, Ken Marinaris

The crew quarters was just a small, well-lit room with a round table placed in the center, the walls lined with old metal racks containing everyday items from junk food to electrical appliances to porn mags. The mags were leftovers of the second drilling team. Despite the scattered papers, table ornaments and the sound of humming engines which originates from two floors below, the room was actually the second best area to be in, the first was the communication deck. The center of attention of the room was the 19-inch monitor display fixed onto the wall which shows the view outside of the ship. And since they're traveling via the catapult, all Dingo could see from them was an array of fiery lines moving rapidly. Although it was designed to look like a window, it actually looked more like another PC's screensaver on the monitor.

"Coffee, Dingo?" Dingo looked up from his seat to the offering voice of Angie's.

"Nah, no thanks. I've spilt enough today."

"That's because you don't drink any."

Dingo chuckled at that. He'd definitely spoilt the tanned skin girl way too much with his jokes, so he decided to give it up before it gets deeper, and accepted the warm cup of coffee. Angie then took her place on the opposite side.

"So watcha gonna do when we get back home?" Asked the curious Angie as she brushed the bangs of her hair aside to her ears.

"Well...Eat, drink, watch TV, sleep and repeat. Nothing of interest."

"That sound so awfully boring..," Angie commented.

"I have to admit, I am a boring guy," Dingo replied, and as he sighed, he turned to look at the "window" on the wall.

The lines had started to slow down, and pretty soon he could start to make out the outlines of the receiving end of the catapult. A gigantic structure, the catapult was another construction used to exploit the potentials of the Metatron ore, which reminded him of many unpleasant things. Metatron, a mysterious ore which was used as an excellent alternative energy source, was first discovered on Callisto during space colonization in 2067, following the announcement by the United Nations that fossil fuel had dried up. Along with the LEV, this "mineral" was considered as one of the two essential components for the discovery of space.

The Metatron replaced the now extinct fossil fuel and was also a great material to be manipulated for military purposes. With its mysterious properties being researched and put to use over a variety of different ways, an anti-earth organization on Mars had secretly developed gigantic humanoid weapons called "Orbital Frames" using Metatron. Knowing this, the people on Earth felt threatened, seeing the overwhelming power of the Orbital Frames. On the contrary for the Martians, Mars colonists finally have enough power to match that of Earth. They have been inferior until they obtained these Orbital Frames. This ultimately led towards the Deimos Incident in 2167. From what Dingo had gathered, the incident was an act of terrorism committed by an officer belonging to the anti-earth faction of Bahram. The officer captured the Orbital Frame being developed with the utmost secrecy at the time by Bahram, and when it was used to attack UNSF officers, where the waystation on Deimos became tragically involved. The Orbital Frame became a public property, and since this incident the tension between Earth and Mars has increased dramatically. And that was just a part of the dark history concerning Metatron.

The ship went past the receiving tube-like structure of the Urenbeck catapult, built on Jupiter's Moon Europa on L2, marking an end to the space compression journey. Angie felt somewhat refreshed when she saw the Antillia Colony again, with the dirt-clouded planet in the background. Although part of the colony was still under heavy reconstruction; the aftermath of the bloody the Antillia raid in 2172, the floating giant somehow looked pleasantly calm.

"Home at last..."

The ride wasn't exactly what she would recognize as comfortable, but at least she could get a few naps before waking up to the announcements made before and after the ride through space compression. Looking outside, she could see the colony of Antillia, where her father fought his final battle as a Bahram soldier. Her thought wavered back in time as the shuttle docked itself at the station. Her father, from what she remembered, was once a laborer working in the mines of Jupiter, excavating the huge resources of Metatron and Helium 3; most of them were transported to Nereidum Universal Technology (NUT) on Mars, which was the largest producer of LEVs and also the original developer of Orbital Frames during the late 30's. That was, of course, before the Deimos incident.

Gosh Why am I even thinking about this right now?

Shaking her past behind her, Ken grabbed her luggage and headed out of the gigantic silver bird. The cool air of the station hit her right in her face as she walked forward, sending her long hair wavering behind her for a brief moment before she went inside the complex's effective gravitational field. The Antillia Station was huge, and it didn't look as old as it seemed to be on the outside. Bright lights emanated from almost everywhere- ceilings, floors, tables, fountains. Heck, the last time she checked, even the toilet bowl had soft neon on its lid. Ken laughed slightly at the thought of that.

For Christ's sake...

Nothing much had changed since she last came, except for a few new cafeterias and an area which is closed to the public, where reconstruction works took place to amend the war-torned sector of the colony. The sight of it alone brought her the dark memories of the war, so she decided that it was a good-- NO, a BETTER idea to hasten her pace towards Residential Area B-3, where Dingo's apartment was. It had been 1 year, 3 months and 14 days since she'd last met Dingo, which was when he saw her off the Antillia Station, departing to Earth in her pursuit of her dream-- to be a UNSF pilot. Ken shrugged. The idea itself now, was pure sarcasm.

Well, yeah. It's a dream alright.

Without even knowing it, she'd somehow made her way to the steps of the Valencia Heights while being busy with her thoughts. The name of the building sounds like it came from some sort of luxury cruise or something, but to her it's more like a sick joke of contrasting ideas; the building was just as bad as the back alleys in town. Rusty metals, leaking pipes, moss-covered walls, weird smells of unknown origin-- you name it, they have em' all. It's just a wonder that this place hadn't been quarantined by the CHO (Colony's Health Organization) yet.

Better be at home, Dingo...

Taking her final deep breath of the fresh air outside the building, Ken found the courage within her to endure the worst place she'd ever been to in her entire life. She took a step forward. And another. And another. And she counted every single step she'd take. Eventually by the time she'd reach the door to Dingo's apartment, she'd counted 327. There would probably be another 100 if she'd not used the elevator, which will undoubtfully includes at least 10 minutes of nose-pinching to survive the stench. Before she attempted to push the door bell, she'd the overall surroundings surveyed. Much to her surprise, Dingo seemed to have his doorway cleaned up, unlike most of the other tenants in the block. Shiny clean floor tiles, a doormat, and a nicely painted wall.

Here we go...

Ken lifted and thrusted her finger on to the red button next to the door, pushing it for about three times before pausing to wait for responses. There was none, so she decided to give it another try again, hoping that she'd get a sleeping Dingo to wake up. And the buzzer sounded for a few seconds before she finally gave up. Dingo's not at home, and she's getting kind of sleepy, thanks to the lack of REM sleeps during the flight.

Darn it Dingo. You ought to be back by now...

She's certain that Dingo should have returned from Callisto by now, the storm was said to last for a few more days. There's nothing Dingo can dig in that harsh weather anyway. She sighed under the light that illuminated the door to Dingo's quarters, and leaned on her back against the door, slowly sliding down to sit on the cold tiles. Embracing her legs close to her, she brought her forehead to her knees and silently prayed that her visit would not be in vain. The tiles might be cold, but not as cold as the feeling of being alone.


Outside the Valencia Heights, the white haired miner gazed at his apartment building which he'd not return to for the last five months. He'd been busy mining at the mines in Jupiter's moon Callisto, and had been living in the crew quarters with his fellow friends. And all the while he'd been trying to drown his mind in his work, an attempt to erase memories of the battles he's previously involved in. Of course, he failed doing so, and there's always the scar on his chest to remind him of the past. The chain of events was horrible enough, and knowing how much it hurts when a bullet perforated your body and your lungs made it even worst. At least he can forget about all of that when he's working.

Well, I'm back. Home sweet home.

Taking a final deep breath of fresh air of relief, he adjusted the weight of his backpack and entered the building.

Man, this place STILL stinks!