Brightness. The clones hadn’t left Tolan’s sight since Magpie decided to swipe their keys three years ago. Their teen years had been tough on them. The three of them emerged from the undercity, robes layered over their armour and let their eyes adjust to the light.
“Wish I’d brought my helmet now.” Midpoint grunted, eyes almost completely closed and facing in the wrong direction.
“You’ll get used to it. Plus if we had brought our helmets, the authorities would be all over us. Come on.” Ace looked up from their map and gestured north.
The trio had been aiming for incognito but with their armour bulking out their robes they stuck out like sore thumbs, swollen and misshapen. Thankfully the majority of their journey would take place outside the citadel walls and away from potential on lookers so they could ditch the robes momentarily.
“Nothing like a brisk walk through a field to clean the polish off your armour.” Curves layered the sarcasm thick as the mud encasing her boot as she removed her robes. “An hour that took.” She whispered under her breath.
“What’s that then?” Midpoint prodded a scorch mark on her back.
“That’s character. Can’t polish character.”
“What’s the hold up. Come on you two.” Ace shouted over their shoulder, waving their arm in an attempt to summon the others.
Illia was originally an ice planet. Frozen to its core until humanity came. The cities of Illia existed in domes of reinforced glass with towering walls at their bases. Surrounding those walls were fields of oxygen producing moss and algae, then more glass then the tundra. The true surface wasn’t much further as Ace turned around to see their officers slowly trudging through the oxygen field. Midpoint was living up to his name with the water rising to cover his breastplate. Curves and Ace, who had barely wet their waists looked down at him and smiled.
“Must have wasted all the muscle on your arms and legs when they made you Mid. I forget how short you are sometimes.” Curves smiled, helping him out of the swamp.
“Ha ha, gods you are funny. At least I didn’t get flipped like you two.” Curves lunged at him.
“Break it up you two. You all got what was needed for the mission. Mid’s got his strength, Curves’ got her agility. At least you got something.” Ace pulled the two apart and continued on, eyes on the floor.
“Sorry Mid.” Curves nodded, once again offering her hand.
“Yeah, me too.” Midpoint accepted her offer and rose from the floor. “Wish we’d brought our helmets now then?” Together they stared out onto the tundra.
To say the surface was cold would be an understatement. According to their sensors, it was minus forty five and getting colder.
“Heaters on.” Ace calmly tapped at their wrist and adjusted their armours temperature. The others followed suit but were a fair bit more jittery in their actions.
It was silent on the planets surface. Within the domes, even in the uninhabited oxygen farms there was still noise. Life of some kind. But out on the surface there was nothing but the sound of their footsteps and the relieved breathing of Midpoint as his heating unit activated. Pillars of ice surrounded them as Ace once again consulted their map. They again gestured north. Above them, the galaxy; something they had rarely seen outside of their textbooks. Even Ace took a moment to marvel in its enormity. As they neared their first target Ace unholstered their gun. They raised their hand to stop the group and crouched down. Their pistol discharged striking a remnant off of their bike. The group quickly but quietly made their way to the body.
“Careful, I only stunned them. Mid, there’s your gun. Happy now?” Ace picked up the remnant’s rifle and tossed it to their brother.
“Suppose. What’s a remnant doing this close to the dome? Normally they stay to their bubbles and avoid being within sight of the cities.”
“From the looks of this gear, they were a scientist of some kind. Biologist is my guess. Sample containers. Oxygen cannisters.” Ace continued to rifle through the unconscious riders gear. “There we go. ID card. And they work at the central broadcast tower.” Ace pocketed the card and replaced the rider on their bike.
“We’re not taking the bike then?” Curves frowned.
“No. We’ve got a bit to go but the bike would only draw attention.” Midpoint lowered his suit’s heat shell from around his head to visibly and audibly sigh at their leaders decision.
And so they continued. Although now not travelling north, the journey had not really changed with the group walking through the planets endless ice fields. An hour passed but it felt like longer. They were finally within sight of their target. The tower was the only one of its kind on the planet. That was it’s failing. When the tower was captured by the remnants, Undulia commissioned the construction of a second, smaller transmitter but it was only capable of receiving basic requests and sending acknowledgements. This was enough to keep up appearances.
“It’s much bigger than its pictures suggest.” Midpoint looked the tower up and down. It was well over four hundred metres tall and stood in the sun as a glimmering web of metal, ensnaring the data that entered it. The remnants had made some modifications over the years to ensure they could control the information flow but as it stood, the data came in, got filtered and the stuff deemed harmless was given to the city. Fashion and sports; that’s all the city got.
The tower, which had once stood alone in the snow now had a town at its feet. A town armed to the teeth and defended by people branded as barbarians.
“Well, how do we get in boss?”
“The front door.” Curves and Midpoint laughed in unison. Ace did not join them. Reality swiftly winded them. Serenity.