"Please strap yourselves and all possessions in their proper positions," says the electronic woman's voice, "we will be entering Mars' atmosphere shortly."
I strap myself in to the cockpit of my XS-17 Spearhead Starfighter. My ship is being carried within a much larger AO-210 ORCA shuttle. ORCAs are enormous interplanetary ships that can carry hundreds of smaller spacecraft such as mine.
As the ORCA's intercom said, our destination is Mars. We'll arrive at a spaceport just inside the atmosphere and from there all of the smaller craft will depart from the ORCA and go to their individual destinations. Mine is C.A.: M.E.L.O.T. That over-complicated acronym stands for Central Astrohighway: Martian Empire Landing and Observation Terminal. In other words, it's the primary stop for Mars on the Central Astrohighway.
The Central Astrohighway is a series of space stations that are locked on the planetary orbit paths. There is one on each planet and then three more spaced out evenly in each orbit, making 27 Central Astrohighway Ports (CAPs) in all. They were constructed cooperatively between all of the planets to make space travel easier. Instead of having to wait for planets to orbit close to each other, the CAPs serve as stopping points in space travel. If you want to go to Mars from Venus, you don't have to wait for Earth to come around for a refueling station, you can just fly to one of the CAPs in its orbit. It's a huge advancement in space travel.
"Prepare for entry into Martian atmosphere."
How rude of me, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Kryp Vell, I'm a freelance human mercenary from Earth. I'm headed to Mars because I've been recruited for a job by the Center Planetary Alliance, of which I know nothing about.
The ship starts to shake for a few minutes and then smooths out soon afterwards.
"Welcome to Central Astrohighway Port Mars."
There is a hydraulic hiss and the head of the ship slides upwards to reveal the inside of the Martian CAP. All of the smaller spacecraft inside the ORCA start up and fly out into the hangar and park, or in my case, fly out of the hangar and descend to the planet's red surface, unsure of what comes next.