"Hello, may I take your order?," the woman behind the stand asked. She was wearing an outrageous pink beehive and a shirt that said McBloxxer's in big yellow letters. MaxR3d frowned at the selection. He frowned some more.
"I'll have the Quadruple Cheezburger Super Special Meal for A Big Big Man, if you please," Max said finally.
"One of those?," the woman said. "Sure!" Four cheeseburgers appeared out of absolutely nowhere, along with some crispy bacon fries and a milkshake. Max frowned for the third time. "I never ordered a..." He thought about what he was going to say, and instead said, "Oh, never mind," and set the ship on autopilot. As the stand zoomed away behind him, Max sighed. Four cheeseburgers. He was almost resentful at his brain telling him to share them. Well, he decided, stick with whatever your freakin' brain tells ya.
Grean opened his eyes. A hum filled the area around him, like the Overseer Ship's tele room except closer by.
"Wha..." His vison swam. The red mist on the corners of his vision wavered and slunk away, leaving his sight still blurred but useable.
A copy of Warriors with a red bloxmark in it sat by his bed. Grean picked it up, read, lost interest, and threw it against a wall. The bed beside his moved a little bit. "Grean...," a girls voice said reproachfully, and a head stuck up out of the covers. The girl's name was Blackrose. She had been Grean's companion for a long time now. Tough with a gun, amazing with the reflexes, and with a sense of humor like nothing Grean had ever seen, she was a little killer angel.
Right now, however, she was ticked off.
"Grean! Don't just waltz in and wake me up!," Blackrose yelled. This woke up Ketsuban, who had apparently slipped from his bed and was now in the corner shaking his head.
"Where are we?," he asked, panic charging across his features.
'I have no idea...," Grean said.
"You're on the R3d!," a voice boomed out of the shadows. A light clicked on, and revealed was a man who could have ruled the server. "My name is Max! I'm your host for today." He held out a plate of cheeseburgers. Blackrose hesitated.
"I don't eat cheeseburgers," she said.
"Nonsense, girl, cheeseburgers rock," Max said jovially, holding the plate a little lower so that Grean and Ketsuban could each get one.
"I DO NOT eat those things!," Blackrose said. "It's my diet! I NEED to keep it up!" Max backed away, hands held out in front of him.
A small red light beeped on the door, making use of the GUI as well as the sound system.
"Oh, time to disembark!," Max said. "Well, c'mon, ya lazybones!" With a bound he ran into the docking room. The large ramp was down on one end. On the other end, a rack of jetpacks stood waiting. When the other three users arrived, Max motioned to the jetpacks. "This may be your first time on the asteroids around Venezia. You'll need these babies to get from one asteroid to another." Grean hefted a jetpack over his shoulders like a backpack.
"Okay," he said after Max and the rest had donned the flaming packs. "I'm ready."
With a whoosh they took off. The inky blackness of space that the trio had been used to was different. Hundreds of planets lined the area around Venezia. Between each was a swarm of asteroids. Merging with the flow were massive freighters and smaller interplanetary ferries.
The asteroids ahead were teeming with life. There were more than a thousand subservers on the largest asteroid, by the looks of it. On this asteroid was a large, roughly conular building, from which jutted spikes of outlying apartments and research stations.
Max reached out with his hand to this grand monument.
"Welcome to Base 13."