This was originally posted at http://unorthodoxcreativity.com/15minfic.php in response to the prompt 'hallow'.
Cirian stored her tools away with a sigh. It looked like this world had gone like so many others. They were paying the cost now for that hurried, nasty, cheapskate diaspora put together so long ago. This was going to be another one reverted to heaven knew what. With any luck they’d have more industry than appeared at first glance. At least this world hadn’t dropped into an ice age, that was an all too common scenario.
The first time she’d made this circuit they’d been so hopeful, building the defences against the enemy they knew was coming so far in the future, a shield of worlds to protect the rest of humanity. Too much had gone wrong in too many ways. Worlds where the guides had died or been killed, the development systems destroyed, rebellions against perceived slavery. Worlds where the climate had changed and killed, surely badly chosen in the first place. Too many pre-industrial societies when they needed space wise and hardy populations. Perhaps those development plans had been too ambitious with too little give?
It was easy to think that now, after all she had seen almost the whole program, the tightly wound genes in her mitochondria unfurling ever so much more slowly than anyone else except her batch mates. No time for maudlin now, that building should be just over the hill. She hoped there wasn’t going to be a mob, she hated mobs.
It was more beautiful from ground level than she had expected. Why hadn’t the aerial shots shown that it had the same proportions as the Hall of Culture at home on Firilis?
It was a busy location but ordered and serene. There had been no radio chatter for them to pick up from orbit but all the clothes and artefacts she could see looked...manufactured. A statue stood in front of the building, its subject somehow familiar. She hoped the language had not drifted too much, “Excuse me.”
The man to whom she spoke turned, “Yes? May I help you?” Hope, and a uniform derived from a familiar one, and tucked under the bottom of his jacket, a machined sidearm.
“I’m afraid I’m lost,” she smiled apologetically. “Where am I?”
“Very lost if you do not recognise this place,” he smiled but kindly, “This is the Temple of Serean, Watcher of Duty.”