Banging. Ace’s lack of subtlety worried the others. The screen beside the airlock flickered to life.
“Verification codes please… Hang on. Who are you?” The voice obviously had eyes. Ace hadn’t planned for that but adapted.
“I’m LTCU052, Ace. We need to get a look at your transmitter.” Ace spoke with confidence.
“Well Ace. I don’t have you on our records so…” The pause gave them cause for concern. “Please step into the airlock and wait for it to cycle.” Midpoint and Curves looked to each other and then to Ace.
“Do you need our ID’s?” Midpoint shouted as Ace moved towards the airlock.
“That’s a good point. ID’s please.”
“LTCU034.” Midpoint stepped back.
“LTCU022.” Curves moved her hand to her sabre.
“None of you are listed so welcome in. A guard will meet you at the entrance. Welcome to Serenity Point I guess.” The speaker crackled before cutting off.
The three of them entered the airlock. Although not necessary, the airlock cycled; replacing the cold with treated warm air. In its final stages, the group were misted with anti-septic cleaning fluids.
“Welcome to Serenity Point. Follow me.” Their voice was somewhat muffled by their helmet and wasn’t as intimidating as their look would suggest but their rifle compensated for that. They followed the guard through a street of gawking onlookers and through to a building at the base of the transmitter. “Wait here.” They gestured at a cluster of chairs positioned before a desk. The clones obliged.
“Not exactly what I was expecting from a group called the Remnants.” Midpoint began.
“What were you expecting then LTCU034? And thank you for that entrance line.” A woman emerged from a side door and sat opposite them. “You three don’t appear on any of our records so I have to ask who are you and why are you here?”
“I’m Ace and we’re here to ask if you have received the updated maps of UPC-052?” Ace was surprisingly calm.
“Ace. Not a human name. You’re not from the colony are you?”
“We’re clones from the undercity. We were sent by Lore to get the updated maps.”
“Ah, the undercity. And by Lore you wouldn’t be referring to former Inquisitor Loren would you?” They caught a glimpse of the woman’s angular face for the first time. “We can get you those maps.” The clones sighed with relief.
“What is going on here? First you find out we aren’t in your records so you let us in now we claim allegiance to a disgraced Temporal Agent and we’re given exactly what we asked for?” Ace was displeased by the logic of their current situation.
“Ten years ago, the Temporal Sciences Guild ordered that the Illia transmitter be reduced to essential transmissions only as an experiment. We Remnants stayed behind to monitor the non-essential transmissions and ensure that the city got their orders while also monitoring the city as a part of the experiment.” The woman took a sip of her drink. “The data we’ve collected has been used throughout The Protectorate to predict and plan for communication loss between colonies and the effect of isolation on colonists for years.”
“You purposefully set a colony back ten years to study how they would react?” Curves moved towards the desk, closing the gap within the blink of an eye.
“Yes. We created a parallel society as ordered to observe the differences between stagnation and progress. What you see around you is the newest technology the UEP has to offer. Your taser here is the equivalent to a stick in the citadel.” The woman scoffed. Curves smiled.
“This isn’t a taser.” With that she ignited her blade. A collapsible rod extended from the main body of the sabre; burning orange plasma erupted from the hilt engulfing the stabilising blade. The woman stepped away from her desk and applauded.
“Well, I wasn’t expecting that. Quatarrian weaponry, non-human names. Even a city dweller could complete this equation. Set the weapon aside and you can have your maps.” Curves obliged returning the blade to its safety settings and replacing the hilt at her waist.
The woman returned to her seat and vaguely gestured at the table’s touch screen. She produced the map’s record and displayed the associated image.
“How would you prefer the data? Disc or holotransfer?”
Ace held out their wrist and downloaded the file. The woman studied their armour.
“If you had just waited an extra day or so you would have saved yourselves the trip.” Ace feared the worst. “The experiment’s over. Ten year study was all they needed so the transmitter and Serenity Point are both about to be transferred back to the ownership of the city. Undulia is no doubt going to be over the moons. She hasn’t stopped messaging us since this thing began.”
Ace turned to the others as they frantically looked between themselves. “Lore!”
“Sir, we have another set of unidentifieds at the door. Should I let them in?” The same voice who had let them in interrupted their group panic.
“Friend of yours? LTCU037 and Destiny.” She turned the holoprojector on.
“What are Magpie and Destiny doing out here?” The woman activated the airlock allowing them to enter. “You should go meet your friends. You have full reign of Serenity Point for as long as you need.”
Ace thanked the woman as they left her office and returned to the streets. Now that they knew the truth, the city did look different to the one in which they had grown up; the clothes were different, sleeker and cleaner, fewer blacks and greys, more whites; the vehicles were different too, smaller and quieter. They reached the gates and united with Magpie and Destiny.
“What is going on here? Is this another planet?” Destiny joked. Only Curves laughed but that was enough for her to smile about.
“Where’s Lore? We’ve got a problem…” Midpoint and Ace shouted over one another. Undulia.