It had been five years since Gregory Andreivich last saw Earth from this altitude, and almost six years since he'd seen this side of the globe. Only a 'quirk of career', one that had him now reporting to the Director of External Action, had made such a journey even possible.
As Deputy Director it was now Gregory's job to liaise non-military operational departments working outside the New Soviet and report to the Supreme Soviet on his findings. It was a prestige position that allowed him direct access to front-of-line services back home but Gregory never indulged in that perk.
This was because Gregory Mikhail Andrevich was a true patriot and took his place alongside his countrymen, fully committed to wait his turn as part of the vast social contract. Yet, he could not help but be reminded now, how far a cry it was from his earlier days.
He shifted from the larboard window, reluctantly tearing himself from the increasingly spectacular view of Earth, a sight that he'd longed for lo these many years; and shifted over to the starboard side of the spacecraft. There he saw the Network station Lagrange Five, looking pristine and graceful, exactly as she had been six years ago when he left her.
And sixty degrees ahead of 'him', for Gregory's culture imbued machines with the masculine gender, was Luna. Earth's Moon was an emotional sight for many Russians but none more than himself. It was on Luna nearly seven years ago that his Space career came to an abrupt ending, and closed his countries border to outside influences. It was Luna and that be-damned 'Gubachen Project' that had nearly cost them everything.
The dark cloud lifted as Gregory climbed forward in the tiny craft and entered the cockpit. He was still authorized for such places, thankfully the High Command hadn't removed his licenses, but as he slid into the open Pilot's seat Gregory knew he'd never fly combat again. Just looking out over the nose-cone of the vehicle as it approached the Transfer Station sent his pulse racing and made his breathing draw short.
Transfer Station Georgi T. Dobrovolskiy didn't have the symmetrical gracefulness of the Network's Lagrange facilities but that's because they weren't meant for long-term habitat. Dobrovolskiy, as with all four of the New Soviet's H.E.O. Platforms, had but one purpose: To advance the Motherland's natural right in her continuing domination of Space.
The truth was more practical, and humbling. The primary duty of an H.E.O. Platform was the rapid turn around of deep space vessels so the New Soviet could maximize the operational impact of their dwindling space fleet. Thankfully Gregory knew it was a short-term goal.
They had the ten remaining years on the service cycle for these stations to either build newer ones, or negotiate a workable partnership with the rest of the planet for the sharing of the Asteroid Belt, Mars and the whole Galaxy. It was the driving force behind the recent reforms, reforms that led directly to the journey Gregory was on.
The Station Master along with a trio of senior station officers piped Gregory aboard with an unwelcome flourish of pomp. Gregory scowled, who did this stocky little northerner think he was greeting, a Political Officer?
But it wasn't everyday someone from the Kremlin arrived in H.E.O. space and because the Station Master, Nikolayie Asimovich Glebov, wasn't sure what the correct protocol for welcoming such a distinguished visitor should be he chose to err on the side of caution and show a little flash.
Gregory brushed past him with little concern. It was the one perk of his office he would exercise. There were very few fools above him now, and he wasn't required to tolerate those below him. Instead he moved to the nearest large viewport and took in a sight that nearly brought tears to his eyes. It was a field of vision that held nothing but Earth and the stars. He sighed, how many years had he waited to see that again?
Glebov pulled up along side him, "We're not in view of the Rodina, Comrade Deputy. Not for another five days. I'm sorry."
There was no reason for the apology. If Gregory had wanted to peer down on the Motherland he would've gone to one of the other H.E.O. stations first. He was more interested in what was coming up below them, North America and specifically Buffalo Commons.
He half turned to the Station Master, wanting to give what he said emphasis but without taking his eyes from the view, "there are special packages in the aft of the shuttle. Have your people carefully," he stressed that word, "remove one and take it to your Central Communications Center. Tell me when it is in place so I may get to work."
"Yes, Deputy Director. At once, Deputy Director, sir."
Gregory ignored the grubby man's pandering while he continued to eye his prize. Strange things were going on below them, an untamed frontier, and unguarded portal to their greatest threat, and an opportunity for them, if they were both quick and smart enough to use it.
He'd seen their internal bickering at the last United Earth Conference; he'd seen with his own eyes how ruthless they could be towards perceived threats. He was relaxed so long as they went after each other and his job now was to ensure they continued to do so because the weaker they were, the stronger position his side would be in when full planetary union did occur.
Gregory smiled, it was a pretty world and it would work so much better under New Socialist rule. It was a glorious goal that would begin here, in HIGH EARTH ORBIT.