Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4
The alien waves at a terminal screen, and and the terminal stand crawls over to us. He hands me a joystick and tells me that this is a tele-presence device connected to a similar unit on one of the prison worlds. People on the other side can see and hear me, and I can even move the remote terminal around with my joystick.
"But there are hundreds of prison worlds!" I protest. "Is this the one my dad is on?"
The alien ignores me and walks away.
I turn to the device. I see a dimly-lit cave. Everyone there wears parkas and anoraks. They seem oddly full of energy. Rather than moping in agony, they're constantly darting to and fro. I drive the remote terminal around and try asking about my father, but hardly anyone stops long enough to even let me finish my question. The ones who hear me just shrug and move on.
There are probably millions of people here. How the hell am I supposed to find my dad just by walking around?!
Eventually, I catch the eye of one man who turns to me and stops running. He nervously scans the area. "I've seen your father," he whispers. "4MV. Ask for 4MV-48G. That's his serial number!"
I want to ask him how he knows me, and if he knows where I should look, but a mob of people rushes between us, and they sweep him away, toward a railing.
I hear a splash.
Continued in Part 3