Adam Gardner was very effective in making travel arrangements and in a few hours Tobal found himself with a full stomach, refreshed and once more on an airbus heading toward what he fervently hoped was his final destination.
It was mid April and the sun was shining brightly as the airbus flew east toward the rocky mountains. Patches of snow grew the farther they flew until it covered everything in an unbroken blanket. From the air he could see deer sheltered in valleys and herded together for protection against natural predators such as the timber wolf and mountain lion.
Hardwood trees looked like skeletal ghosts as they raised leafless arms to the heavens. There were patches of them scattered like occasional cemeteries hidden within the deep pine forests. The airbus flew low enough that Tobal could make out an occasional fox or wolf. Flying over the wilderness made him realize how far from civilization and the Federation he was going. The pines were dark green and the boughs weighed heavily with snow and blocked all efforts to see the ground beneath. It was almost an hour before he caught his first glimpse of Heliopolis.
From the air the city-state looked huge and modern. He saw one huge complex that must be the living quarters. There was a large open agricultural area and a wooded park . They were all within tall imposing walls that encircled the city itself. To Tobal it didn't look much different than any other modern city-state he had visited.
As the airbus descended he was surprised the pilot was not taking him into the city but dropping him outside of it into a snow covered courtyard.
"There you go son", the airbus driver told him cheerfully, "Take care of yourself, they're a bit strange here. Don't really see much of anybody. Haven't been here that much and I don't want to either."
The driver opened the door and Tobal stepped outside into the cold winter landscape. It was one o'clock in the afternoon on April 13. The airbus took off leaving Tobal standing in a cloud of snow just outside the high walls.
Tobal began looking for some way into the city. Not finding any, he spied a small building near the edge of the woods about 100 yards away from the wall. He waded through knee high snow toward the windowless dome like structure. There was an arched doorway with a faded snow covered sign.
The snow was so bright it hurt his eyes and he had to squint against it. As he came nearer he made out the word "Sanctuary". He recalled the letter from his parents had mentioned claiming sanctuary. Somewhat reassured, he entered the portal that opened silently at his approach and stepped inside. It was dim and his eyes took time adjusting to the faint light. He kicked the snow off his boots onto the gleaming tiled floor. To the left, he saw a computer terminal. A light on the consul was flashing urgently.
He walked over to examine the terminal more closely. As he neared it, a disembodied voice came from somewhere near the terminal base.
"Do you seek Sanctuary in Heliopolis, the city of the sun?" The same words scrolled across the screen.
"Do you seek Sanctuary in Heliopolis, the city of the sun?" A prompt flashed on the screen "Say Yes or No."
"Yes," Tobal said.