Thursday, October 2, 2014

CH2: Homecoming, Part 2

The train was silent as it pulled into the customs station. Mara waited, hand on her document stick. Calm. Just stay calm. They said the snakes had sensors that could measure your heart rate...

The wait was agonizing. Dee fidgeted next to her, and Mara nudged her to stop. She glanced at the others crammed into the tiny passenger compartment – a junior diplomat, a pair of trade reps from the Agronomists' Guild, several men and women in no uniform she recognized. They'd shared the compartment, bare save for bare steel benches, for the trip since Ferrograd. Their faces, all of them, were studiously, precisely indifferent – the same as hers. She wondered how many of them were wanted.

After twenty minutes, the MuniDef inspectors entered the compartment, a fat snake and a thin one, in grey uniforms with the black eyebands and gold epaulettes of the Internal Security Division. Mara was on the outside of the bench, so she handed them her docs first – the best fakes their limited funds could buy. Don't look away, be confident, look up at him. He waved the plastic stick over a wand and handed it back, then moved on to Dee, then the junior diplomat. Thank the spirit.

Ten minutes later they were on their way again, the train sliding silently out of the border post, the red landscape flicking by, broken here and there by roads, pipelines, smokestacks, the turning machinery of the industrial Guilds. If she craned her neck she could just see Elysium Mons itself, rising from the plains.

They pulled into Elysium Depot #3 thirty minutes later. Mara and Dee collected their duffels and detrained into the swirling crowds of Elysium, home for the first time in four years.

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