Iris Blue

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Iris Blue, a tale about our bleak future with uncertain outcomes.

The main protagonist, Anns, is about to face something never experienced before, a contact no one could have foreseen coming that will shape the evolution of the species and the space-time continuum in itself to a degree that will render our understanding of the future, useless...

Dive in the fast paced first act of Iris Blue, so far a short story I'm planning to convert into a novel later on, depending on the events that follow.

Happy reading!

Submitted: July 14, 2015

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Submitted: July 14, 2015

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 - Iris Blue - The First Act -

 


Prelude

 


 The unbearable brightness... 

 A foul smell in the air, instantly reminding myself of the calamity that's been haunting my thoughts. 

 What I vividly remember, this... 

 This stench. 

 How in the name of Infinity am I still alive?! 

 Ended up on the floor, powerless and face-first in these muck-infested alleys close to a desolate Field Reactor.

 I remember holo-captures..., video streams regarding its creation and how it affects the surrounding areas. Old Tokyo, just before the entire controversy started. How it's infecting the earth with a magnetic wave which unbalances the chemical structure; in turn making it infertile and highly toxic to all living things. 

 A spark so conflicting, it ignited an entire civilization to fight itself close to extinction...

 But the energy it provided by colliding atoms, endlessly refueling itself, was simply too much of a stake for the Global Authority.

 So they did it, they created it and infected the entire zone around Tokyo Bay. Trying to evacuate the perimeter and all the old jazz, which didn't exactly go as planned... 

 In the end, the detractors were right. The world went to shit. 

 We ended up as refugees on our own planet, stacked away high above the ground... 

 Building the Citadel Cities took some effort and determination, the way they were conceived to contain the last of the human race, how it helped us to rebuild our society from the ground up. 

 A new set of rules... 

 This shitty reactor...
 
 A shitty reactor to me, maybe, but this shitty reactor's no doubt still responsible for: 

 -''Keeping the comfortable, comfortable and the ignorant, ignorant.''- 

 Or something of the sort.

 It also helps, in concealing the unfortunate truth of our society's fate - how I'm able to drown in this forsaken muck, I'm in, in the first place...


Act I - Chapter I

 


-- Honey?! What day is it?  

-- Tuesday, beautiful. In fact, I know we should've been ready by now... You know... 

-- Yeah... Keeping track of days and never on time. That old habit faded away generations ago. It's silly and pointless! 

-- Why would you even ask, unless... Oh, I see. You're checking up on me, keeping me on my toes and my mind sharpened, attentive to the finer details of the given situation. My dear, that's exactly why, I love everything about you!


 Companionship, it's what they call it these days... 

 The old concept of dedicating one's life to another - Union was it called?! - Long since it perceeded us. Humanity acknowledged that life's not worth the stress it provided. So it's been decided to act less on emotion and more on the life-long advantages of it.

 Which is all crap, if you ask me.

 Seems like, as much as we force change, as much regress forces back. 

 Mir and I tried to keep it simple in our relationship with Jules. Our closest friend. 

 We're all a team... 

 We think and act alike, with minor deviations in personality - that circumvent the flaws in our characters. If one is bound to fail, the other's bound to succeed. 

 Efficiency's our strong suit. 

 It's a good relationship...
 
 Actually, I am pleased with things between Mir and I. In the Age of Nanotechnology, the Age of Expansion and great evolution of our species, disease eradicated and our life prolonged, people living in the Citadel Cities on top of the Old World...
 
 The Age of Possibility, as a more dramatic Jules would call it.

 There are days when I wish the world didn't change as much.
 
 Having the possibility of Terraformation at our fingertips, a curse to some, an accomplishment to others... 

 The Martian Replenishment Endeavour we call it and a lot of hope put into it... 

 Stress and time... 

 Simply too much at stake. 

 The Board otherwise would not waste resources. Not on Jules' CEE division. Not in the current state of events, where preservation is the top priority.

 It's making my life a mess.


-- Buns?! Hey, you here? 

-- Oh, stop it!

-- You and your over thinking! Never gets old. Any new revelations? 

-- In fact... Yeah, just one, come here! Your tux is all over the place, baby...

-- Mad's arriving with his fancy Kinneticon, so we should end up just in time for the conference. I believe Jules will be expected to host the whole shebang. And Anns, you're amazing!

-- I am ready... I'm ready...

-- Bunny?! Relax a bit, we've practiced countless of times. Impossible for anything to go wrong! But even if it does, you're always there to fix it or maneuver around the issue. Plus, your hands, you know I love you when you're nervous... 


 *Breathe, Anna, breathe...*

 

Act I - Chapter II

 


-- BREATHE!!! COME ON! GET UP! We have to get moving!

-- WHO...

-- Shhh, don't make a sound, I can hear the shadows lurking in the alleys, back by the Field Generator.

-- Who... are you?

-- For now, a friend. You're able to walk?! That was quite the fall, if I've ever seen one.

-- I..., I think so.

-- We need to get off these streets, now! The Old World ain't no place for fancy people such as yourselves...

-- Wait, I need my Protosphere! I think it fell in that rubbish pile, over there!

-- That blue, glowing thing that powered your fancy suit? I have it, right here.

-- Thanks, and good point about ''powered'', as in no more...

-- SCRAPS! WE HAVE TO GET GOIN', RIGHT NOW!
 
-- What in places are those things, anyway? 

-- Quite the tale to be told that one is, quite the history lesson and the rude awakening. You're in for a bang, priviletta! 

-- I'm in for another concussion more likely... You live around here? Where did you come from, old man?

-- Old, you say? Amusing priviletta, quite amusing indeed... Now, keep silent and follow my steps!

-- Well, you look old to me... 


 ...said with half'a voice, maybe he didn't hear me, but I sincerely doubt it. What's that he keeps calling me, priviletta or some-such, and what is he doing around here? They showed detailed scans of the area and no life-forms were ever detected larger than a few scratchers... 

 Those disgusting little things resembling the rats of old. Only big and aggressive. With their skin torn to shreds, full of tumors. Their whole body mutated as a result of the reactor's proximity and the toxic environment covering the Old World after it's Divide. 

 But how could a person, possibly, live down here?

 The air feels old and thick, reminds me of the old stories mother used to tell. Of the outmoded libraries filled with antique books, actual paper books with ink scribbled down into words... 

 This place, it's all crumbled to bits. 

 Fascinating though, how even back then they strived for efficiency. The tall structures or what's left of them, organized into quadrants, wide and narrow pathways, on the ground and above it... 

 These actually seem like transport routes. Those weird looking, rusty posts must have been some sort of regulation lights, judging by the metal remains of the inscriptions above... 

 Everything is dilapidated and worn off. What's left of the metal carcasses on the road, here, rusted millennia ago. 

 I'm able to spot a few patches of green moss, here and there, piercing my gaze through the darkness...

 It doesn't make any sense!

 Glimpsing towards the sky gives me shivers across the spine, debris plunging through the ruins of Old Tokyo illuminating the darkened remains of the former skyscrapers... 

 A strong breeze blows all of a sudden, following an impact quake. Not long after, a dusty mist that engulfs the surroundings. 

 A ghastly haze flaming red all around, reflecting the catastrophe above.

 Then dissipating everything in a pitch black darkness...

 My retinal implants, make it a spectacle!


-- Hurry, hurry... Follow my steps, anta! In here come, come. 

-- Where are you leading me, gramps?! 

-- No time to explain... HEY, YOU! GET DOW...


 ...I could sense the ionizing air, the humidity creeping in and charging itself up. With quite the grab, the old fella' suddenly pulls me to my knees. The air around me became cold, freezing even. I try taking a glance upwards, only to notice a sort of particle effect engulfing the nearby area in a nervous, blue glow... 

 A wave of energy horizontally surges the layout of the street outside and electrifying the entire grid above our heads. 

 I could feel my hair becoming lighter.


-- What in the world, was that?!  

-- I have to keep this place secure! This is one of the countermeasures. You must have passed by, at least a couple dozen of'em following me in here. Hence my repeating myself.

-- Secure from what?!

-- No time, we have to squeeze through there. Down that hatch!

-- Fine, mister...


 Cold darkness and putrid stench of moldy wet walls, the occasional disembodied industrial sound, in the distance and the overwhelming background of the collapsing remains, echoing the skyscape. 

 I wonder where he's leading me. I don't sense any danger or hostility from him. Even though he seems weird, I can't recall the last person in his stage of life dragging me down in an instant, just like that.

 This tunnel is pitch-black to naturally evolved eyes, no way he can see where he's going. Thank Florence, mother had me adjusted at a young age with enhanced senses and improved tissue-healing coagulation. My pupils are adapting, beginning to notice shapes of pipes, copper wiring all over the place and a control panel with blown circuits in a corner... 

 Everything is decaying...

 I wonder how these brick and lime establishments are still standing, after generations of constant decay. 

 There's a large shape of a door. On the wall, there. 

 It looks solid. 

 I wonder... 


Act I - Chapter III


 Amazing, how beautiful the horizon presents itself from the cockpit of a Kinneticon. With warm colors covering the sky as the sun goes dim, over there in the distance, in between the two enormous pillars from in front of the Science Academy. 

 It always fascinated me how the sun seems to fit perfectly in that space. Edged by the pillars, when it goes down. It's like, I was supposed to follow this exact route to the Academy, see it happen when it does... 

 It seems idyllic, seems like... 

 Like destiny. 

 Mir sitting next to me concentrating like a mad-person. He always loves to have a handle on things. 

-'Nothing can ever go wrong, if you grasp the finer detail.'-  

 Funny that I'm the one nervous, when all I have to do is accompany him and make him look proper for this meeting. To elevate his stature in the eyes of The Board with my presence.
 
 It's kind of like a mind-game, we're playing. 

 -'A pleasant reminder always helps with people's perception of you.'-

 Jules says that I have a way with people. She was quite funny trying to explain it... 

 She actually told me that I named my pheromones. It's like they have a special flavor of me...


-- Bunny? 

-- Mhm?! I got lost in the moment, look at that setting sun! Feels like we're on the Hologrid! Wait... Why are you looking at me like that, is there something wrong?! 

-- Isn't there?! You're too gorgeous! We might stand out a bit with you looking as gorgeous as you do! 

-- Funny. So, how's the discourse going?

-- Good, now that babbling is out of the question. Otherwise, I'd make quite the fool of myself trying to talk my way through this forsaken thing. Some of those words were not phonetically matched, so I improvised. That gave me tons of trouble with pronunciation. But indeed, because the words stood out I learned it faster and more precise. And it probably worked, as well!

-- Oh babe, the only problem when you're nervous, being the way you'll start explaining every trivial thing. Stop it! You'll bore them! Now, how about taking them on the journey you guided our team through?! It's important and you know it! 

-- Look who's up on her high-horse, Miss all-shaky-hands-smoking-gorgeous-black-dress, blue-eyes-Anna... 

-- We're almost there, guys! Get ready to be inundated by the crowd! And Mir, good luck my friend!

-- I appreciate it, Mads! We'll be sure to recommend you, when the chance arises.

-- No need! I'm your designated Company Pilot. Will focus on that for the time being!

-- Good man! 


 Chaos. Controlled chaos. The media, the crowd, the bright lights and noise. 

 It's a chaos I'm a master at...

 As we descend, the amorphous glob of people engulfs the shiny, red Streamwave Series Kinneticon. A warm breeze begins to softly blow the lock of dark-brown hair, covering the side of my face. 

 I feel a, sort of, readiness...  
 
 I also feel that something's not right...

 The interviewers are agitated beyond reason, pushing each other out of the way just to get close. Flashing everywhere amidst the crowd. 

 They seem to coordinate with my reactions, fascinating. 

 A smile here, a sharp look there. I have them dancing on my fingertips, though...

 I fear that actual chaos may errupt from all of this, Mir looks a bit worried.

 

Act I - Chapter IV

 


-- We need to move faster, priviletta! Straight through that archway!

-- You blind, old man?! UHGH! 

-- There you go! 


 Woha, I could've sworn it was a wall there in that archway. Except it doesn't have the consistency of a wall. It felt, a little cold passing through it... 

 The climate here, is very different compared to what was back there in the muck-infested, drenched alley-ways. It kinda' feels warm, pleasant even...


-- Please excuse my rudeness, priviletta... There wasn't the time for a debate about the wall's consistency, as you noticed.

-- I'm sure there was none. What is this place?

-- You will see, priviletta... Oh, and how that title suits your current self, you haven't a single clue.

-- What do you mean? In fact, what does it mean? 

-- It means privileged in our tongue, or sky-people. Dunno' about the second term, but privileged alright. You could've been scratcher-fooder back there, drowning in that mud.

-- Sky-people? I'm quite sure we were supposed to be the only kind of people! I led some of the research, regarding the surviving life forms on the Old World. There was no evidence of life beyond critters and the occasional anomaly!

-- Well, there's your evidence, priviletta! Now slide down that opening vent, if you will.

-- Oh-no, NO! 

-- There's no time! Quit your worrying, it's a pressure-based transporter.

-- To where?! 

-- To your old world... Hexagran! ''Deep in the belly of Gaia we stand!'' Or so, our elders tell... Now hurry up! 


 Hexagran... 

 What's this clumsy-looking, old fella' babbling all about...

 What's going on?! How is it possible to live down here, without living any trace at all? 

 And what were those creatures back there?! 
 
 They looked... 

 Humanoid, like shadows creeping in the dark with a bad vibe upon them...

 I've never been afraid of enclosed spaces, but this tube... 

 It, kinda' reminds me of our first hyper-chamber test. Pioneer engineering into vacuum hyper-sleep technology for intermediary sleep conditions during prolonged, outer-space, discovery endeavours. Fancy terms, all of 'em. 

 Basically, we suspend the body's animation into vacuum conditions, providing the essential vitamins and nutrients, ultra-shock treatment muscle stimuli. 

 While inducing a comatose state. 

 In a tube. 

 These tests, they weren't all that eventless... 

 In fact, a subject never fully recovered to this day. Anton still needed constant medical therapy - not even nanites could cure the neurophysiological damage. 

 A shame, that all of it could've been avoided. 

 If only, I...


-- Welcome, priviletta!

 


Act I - Chapter V

 


 This has to be the biggest news-anchor, since...

 Maybe...

 Before Athens was constructed, all those eons ago.
 
 All these reporters, fascinating!
 
 Everybody wants a chance to interview the people who's brilliance shaped The Martian Endeavour into a reality. Our dream, the finest engineers and scientists that have ever sprung out of the Gagarin Academy of Science. Mir and I, are the founders of the bunch. While Jules, leads the Celestial Exploration Enterprise division, come to think of it... 
 
 Why haven't we heard from Jules, yet? 


-- Bun, we have to squeeze through pretty soon! I doubt they'll ever give up, trying to get a word out of us! 

-- Where's Jules?! 

-- I haven't spoken to her since yesterday's evening, as you recall. Now come on!

-- And you don't find it weird, that...

-- Excuse me, guys! We've been instructed to lead you through from now on! The boys will secure a close quarter perimeter around us. Follow, if you will! 

 The squad of Armistice Enforcers signaled each other through the holographic interface, in their head-gear. My retinal implants perceive a grid perimeter line, not too far from us... 
 
 All of the technical gear, within a close proximity with the grid's exterior, instantly powered down. The people in the crowd, shocked by the fact that their stuff was rendered useless in mere seconds, backed off, slowly clearing the grid line. 

 Effective technique, impressive...

-- Anns, we don't have the time! Jules's probably waiting for us by the Amphitheater with the rest of the crew, as we established.

-- Fine...


 ...and just like that, here I am, a nervous wretch all over again. Jules never does this! We're always there together, especially during something this important. Huh, squeezing through is the right term, indeed... 

 Mir... 

 He's probably exhausting himself. Gripping my hand, I can feel his tension... 

 Right after the large, arching entrance to the Academy grounds, the road forks into three ways, by the tall pillars. Aetheris and Magna. Symbolizing our reach for the heavens ever since we emerged from our primordial muck. Straight ahead is the over-crowded Amphitheater. I can barely hear the Deacon holding his discourse to contain the agitated mass of people. Poor fellow, he was never a one for speeches. But hey! Why is he there and not Jules?! 

 Oh Florence, why does it feel so...

 So wrong?! It's taking my breath away, just trying to figure out why the tension is amass, all around Gagarin! 

 Sun's almost set. The way our Concrete Carbon Nanotube-Fiber covers the Academy grounds, makes it shine ethereal. 

 What a view! 

 With the two main blocks left and right, while the half-dome structured Amphitheater stands afoot in the middle, after the tall pillars. The stairway down towards the bolted dome, while an antique, is a marvel of an experience during large scale conferences, like this one. 

 Crowds all around, mega-holographic projectors, flashes and just noise, ear polluting noise! 

 The song of modern society. 
 
 Must be something to this...


-- There's the team, Mister Arch Researcher! 

-- Arch?! No, no, you're the Arch one!

-- Never! Oh! You mean the part where I said that we could use the Martian soil and the polar caps to kick-start a greenhouse effect?! You're Arch! Since you... inspired every single one of us in the end!

-- Hey you, come here, everything's alright! I got it, buns, I got it!

-- Why... You always...

 As we're reaching the Dome, nearing the side entrance, the marine squad forms a larger perimiter, giving us some room to go about our tasks...

 They spotted us, the team, what a bunch! 

 Well there's Kris and Ulric together as always, in charge of the Terraforming Atmospheric Research project. Also Richter, who's leading the Ice Field Collapse Process. Get the team together in a room and you'll have your fair share of endless debates about everything and nothing. Our evenings always end up with us not remembering a thing, naturally!

 I can't seem to spot Dryanne, though...


-- Evenin'! 

-- Mir, finally! Something's up and we can't even...

-- Of course something's wrong! If it were all right?! We wouldn't be here, needing this whole stink-exchange we call a gathering!

-- Relax, Richter! Now Kris, continue with the ''something's up'' part, please. What is it?! 

-- Dryanne didn't show up yet! Jules' division is missing too, Deacon is trying to calm everyone down... 

-- Mir?

-- Anns...

-- I know, you got it babe!

-- Where's he going?! 

-- Relax, Richter! He's got it!

-- Got it?! We don't get to have a single clue! What's he got, besides complete and utter nothing?!

-- Anns, we need to talk about Jules! This is getting out of hand!

-- Yeah, Ulric! It is tensed! How come there's a whole division missing and we're hearing about it, just now?! Not to mention Dryanne!


 The mass, it calmed down as Mir began his walk across the main stage, towards the center wave-amp. Everybody expected a big team on that stage. A big discussion, about our big future... 

 Why does everything, always has to be big and important for us to do anything meaningful?!

 The way Mir moves, with confidence in every step, inspiring trust and commitment. I cannot believe how a well controlled, confident stance can calm down an agitated mass! Everyone's paying attention to him and no other. Even the flashes froze in a constant motion, as they began capturing the whole event... 


-- GOOD EVENING LADIES, GENTLEMEN! 

As, YOU ALL, WELL KNOW! THE RUMORS circulating around Gagarin, about a, certain... RED JEWEL! We began studying a millennia ago, as a species!

THE RUMORS... 

They're ALL TRUE! 

THE MARTIAN REPLENISHMENT ENDEAVOUR is well on it's way for about two full Solar-Cycles now! The studies we've gathered lead us to the conclusion that, INDEED, it IS possible for us AS A SPECIES. To colonise an otherwise, UNINHABITABLE PLANET! 

A NEW WORLD! 

WE have changed! YOU guys over there, HAVE CHANGED! OUR TEAM has changed! Call me optimistic, but I feel FOR THE BETTER!

I feel that WE, as a SOCIETY, have gotten there to that ECLIPSING STEP! 

Where we are not bound by our own little spec of dirt in the Sol System anymore! 

THE STEP! It's a step TOGETHER we must CAREFULLY TAKE!

WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS?! 

Before The Divide? I would have said: ''THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!''

After The Divide?! ''IMPROBABLE!''

After TODAY? 

LIKELY!

I feel IT IS A PRIVILEGE for a species to recycle an old planet's atmosphere, GIVE IT TIME to birth IT'S OWN ECOSYSTEM!

To see it FLOURISH and BREATHE LIFE AGAIN! 

What do we accomplish by doing this, though?!

We're giving our best TO PRESERVE the LIFE we have left here ON TERRA! 

Remember the days before THE DIVIDE, THE CLASH-CULTURE, THE CONFLICT, THE TERROR... Another cataclysm will surely EXTINCT US ALL AND EVERYTHING AROUND US... -- 

-- Anns, Criss, we need to figure out where's our staff! 

-- Anna?! ARIANNA! Come girl, we need to find Jules, snap out of it and be here with us!

-- Yes, Richter! This whole thing's got the better of me there for a fraction. When did you guys last speak to Dryanne and Jules? Besides yesterday's evening...

-- Deacon said that, he spoke to Jules not too long before the gathering. Her whole division was supposed to be en-route to Gagarin, right after they finished at the Southern Branch. As for Dryanne, she was to arrive here before Deacon and co-host the preliminary speeches by our elderly Main Body Staff. Pretty much every bit of info we have...  

-- Thanks, Ulric...  We need to find Dean and see what form of transport they were using. Maybe we can figure out our next move. 

-- I'll go get Madreus to wait for us by the rear exit, behind the stage! The mass will engulf each and every single one of us if we're spotted!

-- No doubt! And be careful, Kris. 

-- I will, Anns.
 

 This whole situation is a mess behind the curtains. I'm confident in Mir's ability to contain the chaotic mass, but what of the rest? What the heck happened to the CEE division and Dryanne? We really need to find Dean, fast!
 
 Backstage was a birocratic mess. When Mir stood up alone on the stage, this whole thing took a turn towards the unknown. The Gagarin staff cannot deal with the unknown in such a hot mess. So they bury themselves into legislations and regulations, outcomes, control...

 A pretty mess made by the people, for the people.

 Ulric decided to head towards the stage, asking Mir for advice on the holo-band. Most of the staff was unreachable due to large data stream, to and from the Academy grounds. But we decided to create a Virtual close quarters Dataswap one - for cases such as this.

 Finding Dean here is a task on it's own...

 Everyone is pointing in a different direction than the previous individual. People reciting data boards, yelling left and right, this is pointless, so... 

 There's Richter arguing with the stage director! He seems to want to cut Mir out of transmission for some reason...


-- What the heck was that, Richter?! 

-- The director wants to interrupt Mir's holo-signal, it seems that it's interfering with the academy's outbound ones. We screwed up again, Anns! 

-- No, we didn't! I told them about their shitty signal and they know it! We should probably get out of here, anyway...


 Aimed for the exit, towards my former interclass boudoir. A beautiful place, behind the Dome a small terrace with a skyscape to rival some of the most amazing Cipherprocessor Imagery out there! The Academy is situated above much of Athens, surrounded by an artificial glass lake-basin.

 You can see here forever... 
 
 Such a shame the falling darkness morphs this amazing place into a nightmare, considering our current situation.

 Dean was nowhere after he reached downstage. Kris and Mads land near our current location, as expected. Maybe a little shook up, but nothing nerve wrecking. 
 
 Richter and I, signal Ulric by the terrace.


-- Is that Mir, I'm hearing?

-- On the stage, Mads! He's holding the speech alone! It was breathtaking, you should have seen it! 

-- Never was a doubt in my mind, princess! How long's this gonna' take?! We should move away from this here spot, fast! Perhaps before we get overrun by zealous anchormen again.

-- Madreus...

-- Ulric! 

-- Mir signaled me back-stage to go take care of it! He'll handle the press and other formalities, we have to find Deacon!

-- No such luck, Ulric! I suggest we go to the Communications Array and track down the last comm' Jules sent towards the Academy. Her team usually takes the tramway directly to Gagarin Dock. 

-- Alright, Anns. Richter and I will get to that dock and figure things out from there. Madreus, take her and Kriss up to the Array! We'll meet back here if the way is clear or by the Aetheris Pillar if it's not!


 Madreus looks worried from where I stand, he seems more connected to the entire issue than he's letting out. This whole affair feels wrong to me... 

 I can't quite touch it, but it's there sort of deal. Hopefully the answers we'll find at the Comms Array, will suffice. Otherwise, the Armistice Enforcers will have to get involved and this whole project could be stalled for eons... 
 
 The breeze intensified...

 I feel a sort of chill going upwards across the spine, all of a sudden alone. Like a punch in the guts...

 Out of breath...
 
 Madreus grabbed me by the arm, pretty tightly! Pulled me away from the kinneticon as I was just about to reach for the ascension handle - to drag myself inside. 

 A gush of wind rushes towards us, a feeling... 

 Like the last breath of warmth left in the setting day. My skin is getting cooler as I manage to perceive this sudden air pressure - to abruptly feel violently thrown to the ground by Madreus! 

 He's trying to scream at me, but no words come out of his mouth...

 Echoes in the dark, a shimmer of light to break the sudden silence, my eyes hurt by the blazing flash of momentum that swept me off my feet. 

 I smell burning... 


-- ANNA! ARIANNA! 


 These words scorch through my skull, like they mean something. I feel a closeness to them, a familiarity, comfort. 

 I believe... 

 Wait... 


-- ARI, PLEASE! 


 --''There we go sweety, see? It wasn't as bad...''-- 

 My wound got wrapped up in a fiber cloth by warm, soft hands and a calm voice, inspiring trust and joy. Safe is what I felt all of a sudden.  

 --''Now, Ari honey? What did mommy say?''-- 

 Were the words that I recalled, Arianna is my name... 


-- ARI?! YOU HAVE TO WAKE UP!

-- Wh... my head... 

-- ANNA, SNAP OUT OF IT! 

-- What's goin... WHAT'S HAPPENING?! 

-- YOU HAVE TO RUN, PRINCESS! GO FIND RICHTER! 

-- LEAVE HIM ALONE!!! 


 He hurled me away as the violent mob scattered across campus, disoriented and confused, were trying to push for his blistering Kinneticon, in a violence unseen before, barbaric even. 

 As I got pushed over the edge of the balcony, I end up in the cold, crystalline water, the artificial pond straight beneath us... 

 The Nanites curing the water were surely beneficial for my head injuries. Regaining consciousness, a rush of emotion envelops my weakened body, I feel like going back up there!

 The watter suddenly swirls in a hazy motion... 

 The artificial glass beneath me, weakened by the fall, shatters, as the flaming, red chassis of the so familiar shape... 

 Falls through, nearly severing me! 

 Barely holding on to what's left of the ledge around the ornamental basin, destroyed by what I perceive to be, the Kinneticon in flames. Instinctively, I try to look up, but the pain in my neck prevented that delusion. 

 Managed a glimpse of the former terrace, debris falling all over the place. The whole plateau was blazing red with fume and scorching ash... 

 I feel like slipping, getting tired... 

 BUT I WON'T!

 I barely manage to crawl over the ledge, holding on to the side of the undercroft, trying to keep my balance. The breeze intensified! We kept seeing these acrobats doing high ledge crawling in countless stereoscopic captures, all over the grid. I never took into account the pressure of the wind! 

 Exhausting... 

 I feel like, what I perceive them to be, quakes from sudden explosions happening on top. The screaming ended a few quakes back!

 WHAT'S HAPPENING?! 
 
 Losing my focus nearly toppled myself over the edge. Intuitively holding on to the exposed wiring of the undercroft, saves me, for a fraction. As the ledge I was gracefully trying to conquer, cracks and tears itself apart underneath the collapsing sidewalls of the undercroft! 

 There's no way up! 

 There is no up anymore!

 Barely gripping the exposed wiring, covering the facade, no place to reach afoot underneath me... 

 OR BESIDES ME!  

 My palms are getting sweaty, debris nearly hits me again and again...

 


Act I - Chapter VI

 


 What a lovely scent of cave, oh and sweat of course, coupled with burned meat and some sort of rubbish. Come to think of it, I haven't sensed sweat like this ever since I was a child. These people, how do they manage to live like this?!
 
 And... 

 An old lady discretely pulling her dusty, ragged cloak off of her wrinkly face. I don't know why I was focusing on her amidst the turbulent rabble, but she managed to crack a smile upon her weathered face. Florence, how could you let this happen?! How can we just sit by all this... 
 
 This misery... 


-- Welcome to the Hexagran, Priviletta... 

-- How many of you people, are there? 

-- About a thousand heads under these parts, but from what I hear?! There are larger groups further away from under Athens. The pollution from the Field-Generation Reactor reaches deep underground, making establishments like this one difficult to set up and maintain... 

-- Organized societies, how is it possible?! 

-- Priviletta... Everything will be explained at the appropriate times, we shall let the elders decide what's best for you! 

-- What's BEST for me? And stop CALLING me priviletta!

-- You have a name, priviletta? 

-- Of course I do, my name is Anna! 

-- Anns... We have to hurry! 


 Something stirred him up when I mentioned my name, he grabs me by the arm and pulls me away from the overly-enthusiastic mob, gathering as we took a stroll through a...
 
 Sort of cave occupied by a town in shambles. Completely operational, but sincerely lacking in its design and organization. It's quite fascinating, as I believe Athens' Undercroft may look entirely like this without the shiny facade covering its high-tech clockwork underbelly...

 Oh, Athens...

 From my snippets across the crowd, I could easily spot a few Rain-Field reactors and an Ultraviolet Sunlight-Sim. The beginnings of an enclosed ecosystem. Heck, I think I stepped on a few patches of primitive moss while we made our walk through the labyrinth-like shanty town! 

 Which should have been impossible to grow in the contaminated soil, beneath The Old World.

 He rushes through a door! 

 Which, I think, he forced his way through. Sincerely believe it was the foot first, then a bit of arm wrestling... 

 Amongst other things...

 My headache is getting to me...


-- Priviletta?! 

 *SIGH* 

-- Not much of a choice, have I? 

-- How perceptive of you... Priviletta.


 As we walk through the, sort of, automatic hatch that was... 

 ...re-automated with the help of this old, hunched-looking fellow's foot. The climate change I sensed earlier, walking through the archway covered wall, resembling a door. In the gutters beneath Old Tokyo... 

 Reared it's head again... 

 This time, it was getting cooler and darker. The feeling of being exactly where I was supposed to be, but didn't want it. Enveloped my shivering self as the old guy in front of me began to fade away. 

 Automated or not, I hear the door slowly closing shut behind me. Turning around, the last shred of light that managed to brighten up the strange metallic room, faded away behind the closing hatch. 


-- HEY! Where are we?! 


 There's no answer! Percieving the echo from my voice, I imagined that the room was not, in the least bit of sense, small. The shack we entered didn't seem as expansive as how I perceived this room, to be. 

 It must be, at least as big, as the entire settlement. 

 Which makes no sense! 

 I keep trying to manage my retinal enhancements, so I can see what's happening around me... 

 No point to it...


-- HELLO?! 

-- Hello, Arianna. 


 The tone of the voice seems unclear... 

 While suffering from another concussion, I can barely hold a firm grip on the situation. The voice felt strange...


-- We, are the Hexagran... 


 This scent is familiar, the voice is familiar... Like it, always, was a part of me somehow. It was there, in my subconscious self ever since I opened my eyes for the first time... 

 It struck me in the very fiber of my being...


-- We are sorry for what has happened to your perceived reality of Athens. You are here, before us, for your very understanding of the events that have transpired there.  You are here, before us! 

-- What's going on?! 

-- That question is limited in your perception, Arianna. What is going on has been happening for an infinite number of cycles. This is just a culmination of events, that leads you to a point in time, this point in time. As you understand the concept of it. Where you will shape the core of the events to follow.

-- Why can't I see anything? 

-- Now that, is an astute observation, Arianna. But you can see. You chose not to see it because you are unable to comprehend wha


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