I've arrived at the interchange terminal - carrying such a big suitcase here is tough, but the hotel isn't too far away. The connections between buildings are narrow and fast-moving, and I don't have a ticket for the travellator so I'm just going to have to grin and bear the walk. I've heard you can end up bruised from being shoved around by the sheer number of people passing through, it's a good thing I packed some ointments. You have to try and avoid looking up too much here because the buildings are so imposingly tall and cast a rather bleak looking shadow over everything. I can barely see the sky at all - the white light is thin and doesn't provide much visibility. Everything is so grey, the blinding artificial lights just add to the greyness. The architecture reminds me of a city called New York, back home on Earth, although the underside of this place has a lot less character. Earth feels like a lifetime away - it's actually thousands. I've been travelling for so many months now and I'm still only just reaching the first border crossing.
I'm finally approaching the accommodation. It's nothing fancy - I'm on a tight enough budget and can save the crystal mojitos for somewhere sunny, hopefully somewhere I can also take a couple of days' break to consolidate what I've written and collected so far, and also for a bit of mental rest. The accommodation is, like the rest, a tall, imposing square building with tenement block windows and Manhattan staircases on the outside. I walk up to the terminal and drop my suitcase for a moment. Amidst the commotion of alighting I've buried my license somewhere in my rucksack - I fumble around, being careful not to drop anything from the overstuffed bag. Finally, I feel the slim metallic ridge of the card, cold against my sweaty hand. I slide the license into the slot and wait. The terminal suddenly buzzes to life, as if waking from a peaceful sleep. The screen crackles and fizzes for a moment, finally settling on blank white light. The terminal operator's logo flashes up, followed by the logo of the solar regional government. I've quickly come to despise these constant document checks - the machinery is extremely dated and modern intra-galaxy data transfer is much smoother and quicker.
After a few moments, during which I'm being pushed in all directions by passers by, the red check mark appears, with an automated voice speaking English about the terminal. A push-button keyboard slides out from the wall, the markings on the keys have been worn away - it's a good thing I can touch-type. I'm prompted to enter some details about my reasons for travelling, my date of birth, name, where I've travelled from and current home-world. Most places don't have this sort of tight control over travel but this system is renowned for being quite conservative and, dare I say, irrational. Of course there's also the safety element - there's a lot of dangerous swamp regions around the border and it's cheaper for the rescue authorities to avoid searching for people that aren't actually lost. The terminal emits a loud tone and ejects my license, with another, blank white card following. "Journey Ticket Dispensed: Please Enjoy Your Accommodation". Metal doors slide back, and I enter.
The lobby is fairly bland and barren - the walls try to be cheerful with a coat of green, but it ends up coming off as tacky and a bit unsettling. Like a hospital corridor, maybe. There's a row of transparent glass lifts in what I can only assume is a nod to the cyberpunk revival movement on the Whitestone belt a couple of years ago. It also reminds me of a film I used to like when I was younger, a very old English novel adapted into a children's film. This place isn't chocolate factory cheery, though - it's mostly quite sad-looking. I insert my card into a slot next to one of the lift, a screen lights up - "BROOKLYN C918". Okay, the New York references are getting quite obvious now, but it's a nice reminder of home. A hatch opens sharply for my luggage. It's nice to be able to throw my case in, freeing me from dragging it for a few minutes. The doors whoosh open and I quickly jump in, the system quickly closing them again before I even have a chance to turn around. The glass glows green and a seatbelt light appears. You have to sit down in the lifts here because of how ridiculously fast they travel. I'm surprised they don't provide sick bags - I'm sure someone must've had an accident in one of these things before. I clip the belt tight and wait. Seconds pass, and I'm far above the clouds. Good thing there's a high atmosphere here.