She doesn’t remember a time when the world wasn’t like this, no-one does, not her father, or his grand father, or even his great grandfather. But she tries not to think about what the world would have been like, as darkness surrounds the circular landing platform, suspended 60 stories above the slums on the ground. Colours of green and blue reflecting off the wet surface from the aurora high in the sky, whirling, almost breathing. Ushered towards the sleek black shuttle, and directed by small red lights, she climbs the boarding steps, hardly noticing the the large S carved into the obsidian coloured heat shielding. Looking around the minimalistic interior, already packed with people, she starts making her way towards the rear struggling to find a free seat eventually settling for a place near the tinted rectangular window, beyond the window is colony-S0001. Her home.
As the shuttles engines fire, they send vibrations throughout the craft, pushing the shuttle off the ground, and up. She gets pushed back in her seat by the extreme acceleration, not that she wasn’t ready for it, she’s flown many times before. She leans over, trying to get a better view of the sprawling neon metropolis that she’s lived in all her life, appreciating the strange beauty of it, and saddened by the fact that she may never see it again. She wonders, whether she would be able to complete the strange and seemingly impossible task, and regain her status in the company. There is no room for failure, she tells herself, and thats why she is perfect for the job. The shuttle AI, comes over the loudspeakers, its humanoid voice sternly asking everyone to prepare for a 30 second, 4g burn. She braces herself as shuttle turns on the spot and accelerates away from the metropolis, towards colony-S1313.
An hour into the flight the AI made an announcement, stating that they were going to be escorted by armed aircraft and that their flight plan had changed in order to save time. They were now going to be travelling on a more direct route and were to enter the restricted quarter in order to save time. A strange deviation, but she knew it was because she was on board. There was a reason why they now had escorts, ships had be known to simply disappear, like they had never existed, even government shuttles. No-one was safe. Just two days ago a transport ship carrying thousands of contaminated refugees, disappeared traveling low and slow, it was an easy target. Everyone knew what happened to it, but everyone knew better than to say it. They would now have to rely on the escorts for security. She heard an elderly lady in-front of her start praying. Rising in altitude her shuttle accelerated faster through the night.
Looking out the window as the shuttle flew through the quarter, she saw only darkness. No she saw silhouettes. Silhouettes of buildings on the horizon, abandoned like shells on a beach. Ghosts. Suddenly bright flashes lit up the night sky, distinctive and in short bursts. She knew gunfire when she saw it. Her mind raced, people alive in the restricted quarter? That was something unheard of. Leaning closer to the large window that ran down the length of the shuttle, she squinted to try see what was going on. The ground was covered in a dense low fog making it difficult for her to see, like a carpet but the colour of lead. The only things visible were the rhythmic flashes penetrating the fog and seeping into the clear night sky. Perplexed by the gunfire she sat up very straight in her seat and decided to strap herself in, just incase decompression occurred. The lights went out, and the shuttle gently decelerated, the AI was trying to reduce the shuttles heat signature, incase the people on the ground had heat-seeking technology. She heard the escort craft divert, the howl of hundreds of seekers being launched, and then silence.
She doesn’t remember a time when the world wasn’t like this. Moving silently through the night, she finally had time to think. Think about how she had ended up here. The injustice of it all. How the black ties on the board had forced her hand, exposing her weaknesses, rendering all of her attempts to take back control of the company her father founded useless. Turning everyone she had called friends against her, men with automatic weapons had escorted her out, men that she hired, that worked for her. Out of the company that she had helped build, that she was entitled to, that controlled everything. Thats why she was here, to try set things right. Once and for all. Suddenly the lights came back on, and the shuttle decelerated quickly, throwing her forward in her seat, her belt stopping her from flying into the seat in-front of her, eventually coming to a stop. Hovering above the landing platform, the craft pirouetted, and she heard the landing gear retract, sending shudders through the shuttle. The craft decreased in altitude until she heard the familiar clunk of metal landing hear on concrete, then silence. ‘WELCOME TO COLONY-1313’ the AI announced over the speaker.
Stepping off the shuttle and glancing up at colony-S1313, she wondered what the people felt like, knowing that they lived in the worst colony on earth, were they ashamed? She knew they were angry, angry at the company. That was why she was here. The skyline was dotted with decrepit high-rise, somehow still standing, even though the Russian ICBM’s focused on this place. Shanty houses hung precariously from every available surface, but none on the trinitite covered ground as the soils were yet to be decontaminated. She likened the houses to leaches, relying on the high-rises for life, but not understanding that they could collapse without warning.
Looking around the landing platform she noticed an old, post-war sign, somehow still standing. Welcoming them, but using the old name for this colony. New York. She looked up at the surrounding high-rise, taking in every detail and focusing in on the ginormous black, diamond like structure standing high above the high-rises that dominated the skyline, smooth and shiny like the shuttle she had just disembarked from, projecting a pure white logo onto the dark clouds above. Sempervium.
Thats where she was going.