Leaving Earth

Part 1

“Flight from Arcturus now arriving at Gate 17. All new arrivals please proceed to customs for scan and registration. Reminder: Do not leave your luggage unattended. Please report any unattended luggage to your nearest C-SEC officer.”

The digitized voice on the PA system was the first thing that greeted Yan Sun as she stepped out of the docking tube from her flight, into the busy arrivals area of the Citadel spaceport. It was almost weirdly normal, something which actually reassured her a little as her gaze fell on the crowd in front of her, all streaming slowly from their gates towards the long, long rows of customs checkpoints. The crowd was a diverse collection of people from all over Council space. Turians, salarians, asari, even some elcor standing tall above the crowd. She’d never seen so many aliens before. She’d never seen many aliens at all, truth be told. As a hanar floated by from the neighbouring gate she couldn’t help but gawk a little before catching herself.

Gah! Stop staring! Don’t be rude!

Embarrassed by her own lack of tact and a little overwhelmed by the sights and sounds around her, Yan Sun took a deep breath and tugged at the straps of her backpack, rolling her shoulders before heading towards the customs, holographic indicators breaking up the crowd and herding her into one of the many lines. Up above, the voice on the PA came to life again.

“Flight from Serrice now arriving at Gate 41. All new arrivals please proceed to customs for scan and registration. Reminder: Stay on alert for synthetic infiltrators. It is all our responsibility to prevent another geth attack. If you believe you have spotted a rogue synthetic, please alert your nearest C-SEC officer.”

Yan Sun couldn’t help but roll her eyes a little. She had heard that security had tightened since the attack in ‘83, but she knew enough about geth to know they don’t infiltrate, and if they did, they wouldn’t be going through the spaceport anyway. Paranoia was universal, it seemed.

The checkpoint up ahead looked a little different than the one at the Hong Kong spaceport - the scanner seemed considerably more elaborate, especially when viewed with some vision filters - but the basic concept was the same. There were two people manning the checkpoint. A bored looking human woman in a C-SEC uniform at the scanner terminal, and an intimidating turian in a full C-SEC hardsuit in the scanner tube itself, keeping a close eye on the line and exchanging a few words with each arrival processed.

As the line slowly, slooowly, so excruciatingly slowly crawled forward Yan Sun couldn’t help her mind drifting away from the new sights and sounds and back to her situation. The situation that she had just left behind. Every step closer to the frowning turian with a pistol on his hip got harder to take as she started to wonder. They don’t know, right? There’s no way they could know. She had made sure before she left. There were no warrants. No sign that they’d left any identifying information behind. Still… what if? This wasn’t Hong Kong. This was unfamiliar ground. No inside knowledge. No tricks up her sleeve. How fast would C-SEC know? If PubSec had a warrant out? They’d know about the flight. were they waiting to catch her? Yan Sun could feel her heart speeding up, sweat making her clothes stick uncomfortably to her skin. Was this it? Was her attempt to run away from her troubles going to end before it even had a chance to begin? What would they do? Send her back to Earth? What would her parents think of her? Would they care? Help? Feel vindicated?

Stop. Calm down. You checked everything before you left. You made sure. Nobody knows.

Yan Sun forced herself to take a deep breath, shaking some of the nerves off. Luckily there was still plenty of time to get her vitals back to less conspicuous levels before it was her turn at the scanner. Worst case scenario, she had a program for that loaded on her neural interface. It… hadn’t really been tested in a live situation yet, but still, it was an option.

Distracting herself with thoughts of a soft hotel bed to stretch out on and a chance to unpack her setup and catch up on things seemed to serve well enough to calm her, at least according to the monitoring overlay she’d added to her HUD. Yeah. This was going to be fine. After the last person in front of her was dismissed by the turian she was called up. He nodded towards a tray on a conveyer to the right. “Place all computer devices on the tray, and then proceed through the scanner.”

Yan Sun let out a sight as she swung the backpack off and unzipped it, tugging her laptop and holo-emitter out and placing them on the tray. She slipped the bag back on before turning towards the turian with a frown, lifting her left arm in a little half-wave. “Uhm, I’ve… got an integrated tool?” she explained, letting her cybernetics light up a little for demonstration.

The turian nodded matter of factly, gesturing for her to step through the scanner. Blue lines swept across her body as the scanner activated, leaving her standing there awkwardly for a moment. The human woman at the terminal looked over the data, no doubt making sure it matched her paperwork, before nodding to the turian, who in turn unclipped a hand-held scanner from his belt, running it slowly up and down her arm. She was well aware of just how those scanners worked, remote access, picking through your digital possessions for anything incriminating. She also knew how to fool them, of course. Most of her data had been locked away in a hidden piece of storage, leaving an innocuous front. The kind of omni-tool you’d expect from a young human on her first off-world vacation.

She flashed the turian a small smile, mostly to cover her resurfacing nerves To her relief, it wasn’t long before he nodded and gestured her along. “Welcome to the Citadel, Ms. Sun. Please be sure to inform yourself of local laws and regulations, and if you want to make any changes to your planned stay, contact C-SEC. Avina, the station VI, is available at any public terminal to answer any questions you might have.”

Phew.

Yan Sun just nodded slightly in response, moving on through the checkpoint to collect her things.

So far so good. Time to find that hotel…