The door slid shut behind me as I paused on the walkway. I was still surrounded by the dark Caldari steel as I slowly panned my head from right to left, taking in the surroundings. It was hard to imagine how big a station like this really was, from the inside or the outside but for very different reasons. The outside is easy to explain, it's all about scale and perspective, the stations are huge, sure but not compared to the moons or planets that they are often anchored in orbit around. Not to mention that ships move so fast that by perspective even something 50 kilometers long or wide or tall doesn't seem like all that much when you're traveling at 3,575 meters a second.
From the inside it's even harder to get your head around just how big of an orbital body you're in. Take for example the large chamber I'm currently in, which goes by the name Terminal 7. It looks to be about five by ten kilometers and, if I walk to the edge of this promenade and take a look up and down, I could guess that to be about three kilometers. Five by ten by three? That's 150 cubic kilometers in this terminal alone, and judging from the number I'm assuming there's at least seven other terminals just like it, and that's not even taking into account the reprocessing plants, the medical bays, hangers and repair yards, or the hundreds of thousands of offices. I remember reading somewhere that the station was 100 kilometers long and while not a cube by any means it's certainly not a long, skinny thing either. Anyway I'm sure you get it, it's big.
Out here there was more than just the dull hum of the stations inner workings. Despite being on the second level mezzanine I could still here some of the hustle and bustle from below, the sound of a crowded marketplace full of people browsing and buying and killing time before the next InterBus shuttle. InterBus, or IB as it was often referred to as, was one of those interesting cases where no matter who you had actually booked with, people had the tendency to just refer to it all as IB. One of the perks of being the largest interstellar transportation organizations in the business of ferrying people from one station to the next, I suppose. Out here one could also hear the occasional announcements that echoed out from the more congested areas, repeating the message three times for those who didn't speak the four main languages or have a handy translator like I did. The down side to this translator implant was, of course that I got to hear each notice about no sleeping in the terminals or the next all-important Quafe product three times.
To my right was lined with offices for the Caldari Militia with Loyalty Point stores every so often as far as I could see, so I turned from that to head toward the cafe. There wasn't too many people on this level with me, at least not by Jita standards and I slipped in behind a group of five or six headed the same direction as I was. I was trying not to become too distracted of their conversation as I kept an eye out for the telling purple sign of my destination. The group laughed as one of the shorter guys told a story of a time he was piloting some ship full of strippers who he, by his own account, had to "fight off" of him while he piloted the ship. Judging from this man's looks, vulgar descriptions, and the smell I was suffering through while following the whole group I had a hard time imagining anyone vying for his affections. Apparent from a second roar of laughter his buddies did as well.
One of the holoscreens on a pillar at the edge of the mezzanine caught my eye with a familiar sight. It was the flash of The Scope news logo as one of their quick reports started, or ended. It was the ladder in this case but the follow up was an advertisement for tonight's race. They showed a clip of each top competitor's ships in a previous race which included mine, and the particular clip they showed was of one that happened a few weeks ago. I had been flying in Hibi when-
"Hey!" I walked right into someone headed in the opposite direction, apparently in a hurry. In my distraction I'd wandered from behind my shield of stripper-toting crewmen into oncoming pedestrian traffic. The man I'd hit head on was, fortunately and unfortunately, much smaller than I as he stood nearly ten centimeters shorter than I and must have only weighed 45 kilograms. Fortunately I wouldn't be getting any sort of ass beating for this, but unfortunately I'd almost knocked the poor fellow to the ground and in stumbling back he'd dropped the datapad he had and hit a couple more people, now I was getting much more attention than I wanted. Being as he'd already caught himself I reached down for the pad instead, picking up it's thin frame in my right hand. "Sorry about that." I said as I stood up and extended my arm, offering him the datapad.
He nodded, eyeing a bit too suspiciously as he slowly reached out and retrieved the pad. Before even checking to see if it was broken he stole a quick glance back toward the holoscreen which had now switched to an ad for Egonics, a music company. "You alright?" I asked. I took a moment to actually look at him and not only did I decide he looked so truly Amarrian I felt no reason to try any other language I also noticed that he was rather young. I got a light shoulder check from someone passing me and as they did I noticed it was one of the security officers who didn't even bother to look back and see if I'd noticed his warming. We were in the way.
My real fear wasn't a fine for impeding traffic but more that the victim of my distracted wandering had recognized me and was going to out me in this crowed. Maybe I'm overreacting, it does always make me think I've become some self-important bigot, but I really just can't stand that much attention especially when I'm not ready for it. "Are you..." The young man started.
"I get that a lot." I said, cutting him off. "C'mon, let's go make sure you're data pad is working." I gestured toward the outside of the mezzanine with a quick nod of my head before slipping through the foot traffic that had been passing us by, grateful that it wasn't mid-day busy. I looked over my shoulder as he waited for a gap in the seemingly endless stream of people and I'd nearly turned to face him before he gave up on waiting and quickly hopped through the crowd. Once he was through I continued on, noticing a sign near us that just said "Diner" in faintly glowing yellow letters. I stopped out front and turned around to face the man, wanting to refer to him as a kid each time more and more. He hung back a bit from but I could feel his gaze on me as if he were inspecting me. To be honest, it was pretty weird.
I nodded slowly. "How about I get us some coffee while we make sure I didn't trash your datapad?" His eyes widened.
"What? I mean, that would be great, but it's not mine. Well, I get to use it, but it's actually my father's. I'd still like to though, I mean if you want to, but you don't have to..." His words had started trailing off after he mentioned the datapad was his fathers but eventually they became inaudible all together. I couldn't help but laugh quietly as he turned bright read.
"We'll get some coffee, you can tell me more then." I gave the diner a quick nod as I turned toward it, starting to suspect more and more that this 'man' was a lot younger than I'd originally thought as I headed inside.