Krennar passed through the various levels of security required to prove their identity and be allowed in to the secure holdings facility. Part of Krennar wanted to complain at the repetitive levels of checks on the three doors leading to this section, but the sensible part of their mind was glad that it was this difficult.
Krennar had not formed a good impression about the Desk Officer, Perf. There was something off putting about their manner as if they were being deliberately obsequious to manipulate. Krennar had met the same attitude before, usually on legal clerks who would clash with each other while climbing politely up the rectal passage of anyone they deemed higher up the ranks. It was probably the many years of working with similar behaviour in the legal profession that allowed Krennar to instantly spot it on the desk officer. It was nauseating.
Krennar would have thought that Hooper would be aware that there was some motive for the other officer’s behaviour, they seemed casual about the fawning nature. It was likely that this was Perf’s only route to career progression so their fellow officers took it for granted. The least talented always seemed to use this form of false flattery to ingratiate themselves. Those and the most manipulative, how did the old phrase go, ‘always smile at the person you are shafting’.
Krennar opened the door to the holding room into which Marsh had been allocated. It was a plain white room with a long couch that would transform into a single width bed. A small functional table, height adjustable and a panel for calling up services. Krennar had ensured there was ample credit on the rooms expenses so Marsh would have been able to order refreshments. However there was no sign that had occurred as Krennar noticed the screen flashed with the waiting symbol and the credit bar full.
When Krennar came into the room Marsh looked up. They had been staring at their hands sat in a semi-slouched position on the couch. Krennar noted that they seemed to be in good health on the preliminary report, but was surprised at just how different they looked. Their hair was an earthy brown and was slightly unkempt, but it was the presence of hairs on the face that was most unusual. Krennar hadn’t seen facial hair on a person that wasn’t intentionally implanted before. Marsh had eyebrows and lashes that looked as if they had grown.
“I am Krennar,” a slight smile to indicate a non-threatening position, “might I sit with you?”
“Sure. I don’t know why I was moved here?”
“That was my doing. I have had the K-tag suspended for now. There is insufficient evidence at this point to prove a crime so they were improperly assigning it to you.”
“Oh, right. Thanks. I am not sure what that means and why you would do that? Is it your job.”
“Yes. In a fashion. I am a legal. Which is to say that I work privately on legal cases. I am currently in the employ of your investigator, Drick. They have asked me to look further into the legal matters surrounding you and the incident in which you were involved.”
“I see. Look do I have to pay you or something?”
“No. That matter is dealt with by Drick.”
“I notice you haven’t requested anything.”
“I don’t know how to. I couldn’t find any way of interacting with the screen there and there are no buttons anywhere. I will be honest with you, it took me a while to work out how the toilets work, never mind this thing.”
“Ah. Yes, that was my error. Of course you wouldn’t. Drick mentioned that you said you came from the early digital age. I imagine that you have never used an implant before?”
“Nope. I am still freaking out that I have one. Tell me are you also speaking some weird dialect? I think Drick said it was Rillish?”
“No, I speak common Mandarin, most legals do. It is only people who have served in the expansion campaigns, like Drick, who speak Rillish. There are precious few of those. Though my Mandrin would be unfamiliar to someone from your age.”
“What age are we in now? And you are really speaking Chinese?”
“This is the gravity age, or that is what historians loosely refer to it as. It followed the expansion age. And no, this isn’t Chinese. It is a relation to Mandrin, but more of a lingua franca and a bit evolved containing a number of words from other Terran languages such as American.”
“You mean English.”
“I imagine so, I am sorry but history is not really my strong subject and I don’t know many of the former names. English seems accurate but I wouldn’t be able to confirm it. Are you perhaps thinking of Franco-European dialect?”
“No. Really, no. So how do I use the screen thing?”
“You simply think a question at it. Focus on the waiting symbol and think. The implant in your head will recognise what you are attempting to do and transmit to the device on your behalf. If you had retinal screens I wouldn’t be able to see this screen here as the data would be in an augmented view internal to you.”
“Do you have retinal screens?”
“I have considerably more than just retinal screens.”
Krennar watched as Marsh flicked through the menu pages. The progress was cautious at first but as they became accustomed to thinking at the device by focus on the activation symbol it speeded up. Marsh ordered coffee and a pastry type called a croissant. It was not an item that Krennar had seen before. The database of known foods and drinks was extensive and almost anything could be synthesised.
“How are you managing with the gravity difference?” asked Krennar, “I dislike it myself but I imagine for you it is quite significant?”
“It’s not too bad, I think I am a bit more used to it than at first. I felt sick and dizzy for a little while but it isn’t as bad now. Why don’t they use the gravity things like they do on the spaceships?”
“Principally cost,” said Krennar, “the artificial gravity is an offshoot technology from the engines if I recall correctly. Fitting it to the whole of this facility would mean massive generators and a great deal of cost. It would also, I imagine, attract more debris, as in meteorites due to the higher gravity. The outside of the base is shielded as this moon has no real atmosphere to cause objects to burn up on reentry. They keep the pressure inside slightly higher than what you would probably consider Terran normal to combat some of the effects of low gravity. That will also make you feel a little dizzy and sick. It is good to see you are adjusting.”
“Thanks. So what happens now?”
“Well I will allow you to consume your refreshments, they shouldn’t be long in arriving, and then I will answer whatever I can from your queries. I have one or two questions I would be pleased if you would answer. I also will be checking any of the reports from the examinations you have had to see if we can’t piece together a little more of what happened. Is that all satisfactory?”
“Sure, I mean, yes. Whatever helps me to figure out what the hell happened and how I ended up here. Because I really don’t know how the heck I got to the future.”
“Well time travel is still, as far as I am aware, impossible. Except in one direction. So you came here the slow and ordinary way, Marsh, along with the rest of the universe. It is clear though that you have been deliberately brought to this sector of the galaxy as nothing is shipped this far away from Terra by accident.”
“Just how far away am I?”
“A very long way, Marsh, in both time and space.”