Thomas Whitman Moore stretched in his lounge chair and reached for his coffee. He savored the aroma for a moment and then took a sip. Excellent! The sun was just peeking above the wooded hills in the distance, lighting the broad valley below his deck. The sky was mostly clear, and a fabulous shade of blue. Though he had his newspaper folded on the table beside him, Thomas elected not to read.
"News of war on such a fine morning would just put me off of my stride." he said to himself. Stretching again he stood from the lounge and took his cup into his house. It was not overly spacious, but he didn't mind. His was a single life. His work was challenging, even demanding. It involved most of his being when he was working. It also involved a lot of people working under stress. He enjoyed his little home in this quiet valley, far from the office.
"Time to shower." he said out loud. He often spoke out loud here in his own space. And why not? He dropped off the cup in the dish washer and headed into the bathroom. Again not wanting to spoil his mood with news of war, he elected to not even turn on the radio he kept in the bathroom. He focused on shaving and showering and attending to a few other personal matters.
Soon, in his warm robe, he made his way into the bedroom to change. He opened the closet and removed the clothing for the day. Though many different suits and quite a variety of casual outfits hung within, Tom took down the familiar uniform of the office. It was required, dressing like everyone else. With a sigh he donned the simple and rather uninteresting costume.
It was time. He took one last look at the lovely day developing outside of his window, sighed, and headed for the front door. His front door was of oak, a wood polished to a deep shine and displaying the depth of the natural wood growth. It was one of his favorite design features on his home. It had cost him a lot of time and a bit of money, but it was worth it.
Opening the door he stepped out into a hallway. It was wide and tall, and sadly utilitarian. The door across the hall opened just as he was locking his own. He looked that way and observed a dark cavern within. Deep in the dark recesses he could see raging flames of a sullen red cast. Out of the shadows stepped a creature at least nine feet tall, with dark red skin, tight over formidable muscles. The creature had two huge legs, four massive arms and a head that looked to be simultaneously insectile and reptilian.
Tom waved and said, "Morning, Joe." The creature closed the door to his own living space and turned to Tom.
"Morning, Tom." it said. Tom knew the creature was not named 'Joe,' but had chosen the name since nobody he associated with could pronounce his real name. "I really do plan to have you over for dinner, soon."
"I would like that." said Tom. "I just think the temperatures are a bit extreme in your environment for me."
Joe made a sound that was intended to represent laughter. It missed by a large degree, but was a valiant attempt. "I could always reduce the temperature, Tom. The flames are largely illusion. I would, however, have to contain my skin-cleaning symbioses. I am afraid they would scour the flesh from your bones. That would make for a less than pleasant evening."
"Well, let's head for work." said Tom. "I didn't bother with the news this morning. Just not in the mood. How about you."
"Just a quick briefing from the computer." said Joe as the two began walking down the hallway. "Pacification of the primary continent and major island chains is going well. Still a bit of resistance. We have a bit of work to do today, I am afraid."
They reached the lift and stepped inside. "Gunnery deck seven." Tom said. The lift began to move.
"Another day at the office, eh, Joe?" said Tom as the lift halted and the doors opened on the gunnery station. The planet lay below them, filling the view plates and dominating space on their side of the ship. They walked to their respective stations and prepared to begin the day's work.