The Cimalian Princess: Clone
by AJ Marks
Meia waited until the doctor had finished before turning towards the mirror. She still felt a bit of shock at the reflection despite expecting it. Her normal dark blue hair was now an almost strawberry blonde. The reddish hue gave the blonde hair an interesting tinge.
“Sorry, couldn’t make it completely blonde. The reddish hue is due to an unknown reaction to the blue hair,” the doctor said.
“D-don’t worry about it,” Meia replied, fingering a lock of the hair. It reminded her of her natural hair color, and her mother’s color, at least what she could remember.
“You all right?”
Meia took several more seconds looking at the mirror before replying. “Fine, a bit shocked at how well it came out.”
“Good, you’re to report to the admiral when we’re finished,” he said to her.
“Thanks,” Meia said, as they cleaned up and she made her way out of med lab and towards the elevator passing a few people. She saw several people stop and star at her as she passed before she got onto the elevator. Looking at her reflection a picture of her mother came to her mind. There were some difference, but she looked very much like what she remembered of her mother.
The opening of the doors broke her out of her musings and she made her way to the conference room. Walking down the corridor she spotted another person she knew, who stopped and looked at her as well. She paused at the entrance to the conference room to gather her courage before walking inside.
She tried to gauge their reactions to her presence. It was a few seconds before the fully recognized her. Kim’s face showed a bit of shock, Victor had a similar look but Randy appeared in thought about something.
“You don’t like it?” she asked, fiddling with a lock of hair.
“No, we’re just not used to you looking like this,” Randy finally said.
“I thought that was the point, to not look like myself,” Meia replied confused.
“Yes, no, I mean, I don’t know what I mean,” Randy said. They both looked over at Kim’s chuckle. “Something you want to add captain?”
“Yeah, I’ve never seen you so flabbergasted in all the time I’ve known you,” Kim replied back to Randy.
Meia looked over to Randy for a few seconds before understanding he liked her blue hair. It was an interesting revelation of her but they had a mission to finish.
“We’ll need civilian type clothing,” Meia said looking at their dress.
“What type?” Randy asked.
“Plain, nothing fancy or any designer brands for obvious reasons,” Meia replied. “Everything in the empire was plain and simple to maximize efficiency.”
“Then off to the supply room to see what works,” Randy said. “Let me know when you have everything, I’d say take small weapon but don’t know if that helps or hurts your mission.”
“Civilians don’t carry weapons of any type, but we headed to a hostile area,” Meia replied, giving it some thought. “We’ll stop by the armory and see.”
“Good, I don’t like the fact you might be defenseless. One thing before you leave, we’ll have a time limit, if you don’t return in twenty-four hours we’ll be forced to leave thinking you’ve been capture, or worse,” Randy said to them.
“I understand,” Meia said, hoping that would not be the case and looked over at Victor. He stood waiting for her at the door.
Meia looked back at Randy once more before leaving the conference room and towards the supply room and armory before heading out. She looked over at Victor for a second.
“Remember, this might be a simple recon mission, but if you do something they will punish you,” Meia said. “We can’t afford to be discovered.
“Don’t worry, I know,” Victor replied.
Meia hoped he understood the severity of the situation. Any wrong move and the authorities would not hesitate to use force, even deadly at them. She also knew she could not reveal where they came from. If any of the authorities of the empire discovered they were from the Alliance, neither would live for long. She did not dwell on what might happen to her if they discovered who she was.
She walked onto the elevator focused on the mission.
Randy look on as the shuttle received its orders to launch. To him, this part represented the most dangerous part of the mission. If they discovered the shuttle the entire mission could fail. The fleet had taken position behind a moon hoping to avoid any scans.
“Shuttle away,” Aaron said.
Randy looked at the monitors watching the shuttle move away from the fleet. He could do nothing from this moment out, everything was dependent on them and their abilities.
“Scanning intensity?” Randy asked, hoping nothing would change.
“All scans remain normal,” Kim replied back to him.
Randy nodded, unsure if he should be glad, or worried about that. He remained tense until the shuttle finally arrived on the surface of the planet. He knew Meia’s piloting abilities were almost unrivaled but he understood luck had downed many such pilots in war.
“Shuttle entering planet’s atmosphere,” Aaron said.
Randy watched as contact with the shuttle was lost, and unpleasant feeling but expected. Meia had mentioned it before take-off.
“Keep the fleet on yellow alert,” Randy said. “Begin countdown.”
He knew the hardest decision would be if the time was up and Meia had no returned. It was a decision he hoped to not have to make.
“Admiral, we have an unknown ship approaching the planet.”
Jezic turned towards the scanner noticing the approaching craft on the monitor. He took a few seconds to back-track the course of the ship and felt certain it was from the Alliance fleet hidden behind the moon despite the tracks not heading back there.
“Smart pilot,” Jezic said, knowing only one pilot who could fly like that. “Covering your tracks like this, it has to be you.”
“Sir?” the scanner operator asked confused. “Should we alert planetary defenses?”
“No, do nothing but track it. I want to know where it lands at once,” he ordered knowing who he had to inform next. “Open a private communications to the emperor.”
He walked over to a more private area and put on a set of headphones assuring that only he could hear what the emperor said. Waiting he thought about how to mention Meia was on board without others knowing about it. If word got out she was not only alive but the true heir it might spark another revolt.
Jezic cared little for the lower classes and if they did revolt, but the loss of the workers would be devastating to the war effort.
“Admiral, you have news?” Emperor Henry asked, his blue eyes staring at him through the screen.
“Yes sire,” Jezic replied. “Scanners spotted a single craft, probably a shuttle, heading to the planet’s surface.”
“You allowed it to land?” Henry asked.
“Yes, we are tracking it now and I’ll know where it lands,” Jezic replied.
“Excellent, let it land, I’ll have the information we need shortly after it lands,” the emperor said. “Wait for my orders.”
“By your will emperor,” Jezic replied hoping this did not backfire. It was a dangerous game the emperor was playing.
Meia piloted the shuttle down to a remote location on the surface of the planet that looked undeveloped. The entire planet bore scars of quick urban development making her wonder how long the empire kept the planet secret for emergencies. Taking a glance over at Victor who appeared calm at the moment. She hoped he remained that way for the mission.
Landing the shuttle with a slight bump she knew the hardest part of the mission now would take place, blending in with the locals. She checked her appearance one last time before opening the door and heading out.
“Be ready for anything,” she told Victor, who nodded back at her and they made their way out of the shuttle seeing no one.
“Looks like we got lucky,” Victor said, as they gained their senses.
Meia looked around wondering how much the empire had changed, if at all, in the past six months. The mission was dependent on her ability to blend in with the others.
“Probably best if we remain quiet, find out who we can trust,” Meia said.
They made their way through the forested area and towards what she hoped was a Gamma or Epsilon village. It would make things so much easier for the mission. The lower classes might now know as much, but they could blend in easier with them. The upper classes knew a bit more, but were most suspicious of others.
She hoped the hike did not take long. Looking down at her way she noted the time left to return to the Akagi. She wanted to make contact with a local, and gain some information and leave.
Meia looked around the streets for a bit before coming out of their hiding spot. She did not want to appear out of the bushes, such actions would only raise suspicions. She wanted to fit in not stand out. The area appeared to be a Gamma area, a bit higher than she expected, but better than an Alpha or Beta area.
She spotted an opening with no one in sight, and looked back at Victor.
“Let’s go,” she said to him as they moved towards the open street. “Stay close and be ready for anything.”
She took them down a few streets passing several people with few looking their way. She felt some relief that they were able to fit in a bit. Meia was unsure of what the current situation was, hoping there was no lockdown going on. She could use a little bit of the invasion to start a conversation as a group ahead of them caught her attention.
“This way, quickly,” Meia whispered to Victor pulling him to the side to avoid being seen.
“Quiet,” Meia hissed, watching the men walk slowly by looking around. They were enforcers of the empire, and usually Beta class citizens. They enforced the laws of the empire, and had no problem dealing out punishments on lower class citizens for any infraction.
She waited until after they left before coming out of hiding and continuing on their way.
“Who, or what, were we hiding from?” Victor asked.
“Enforcers, the police of the empire,” Meia replied back to him.
“The police, huh?” Victor said quickly causing Meia to look over at him. Victor appeared to be thinking about something.
“Come on, let’s find someone who might be able to help us,” Meia said, continuing their walk. So far she had not found anyone who might be able to help them. She looked around for someone who might prove friendly.
“See anyone you recognize?” Victor asked.
“No,” Meia replied, not adding that she hoped not to. It would be a disaster to the entire emission. She also knew she could not waste much time looking around either.
Turning the corner she spotted an older woman looking right at her who gasped. Meia quickly tried to think if she had ever seen the woman before and came up empty before feeling Victor move up beside her. “Let’s get out of here,” he told her.
“Right,” Meia replied, moving quickly with him away from the woman hoping nothing else might happen.
End part 8