[City center of lands of Aleksithimia – Nion’s apartment, 7PM]
Nion woke up from a long sleep. Slowly and reluctantly, she uncovered her face. Streaks of sunlight that penetrated the glass window before had disappeared. Her eyelids opened to the empty unlit room. No daylight, no gentler breeze that was present earlier, just a cold wind whispering, calling Nion to wake up. Next to her bed, the pointless alarm clock, glowing red, 7:02 pm. she was unable to tell for how long she was sleeping but it felt like the mysterious dream was finally over. She was confused about its nature and more importantly the meaning behind those last words she heard in her sleep, the words that for some reason got stuck in her head. Nevertheless, she felt surprisingly relaxed, awake, perhaps more awake than she had ever been.
The memory of a dream will eventually fade. Sometimes it might take longer, and sometimes people are not lucky enough to remember what they were dreaming about at all. Short resemblance of good or bad, if that was a stressful nightmare that may be created by a simple feeling of “leaving something behind”, that can reflect actual trauma or an unresolved crisis, although these types of dreams are most of the time are a wakeup call to learn to let go of something from the past.
Human imagination can create a whole world or scenes, based on a memory stored deep within our memories. Most of the scenarios and images that one is witnessing during the dreaming cycle almost certainly will not reproduce in real life. Thus, dreams do not have to be directly connected, neither visually or auditory, nor give a rational sense straight away as the subconscious is taking over. Imagination is one of the parts of dreams as it collaborates with the existing ideas and memories of the host where the dream projection will happen. Each person sees the dream differently, some, using it as an astral science and taking some scientific approaches for further researches. Some are having uncontrollable flashbacks that are horrifying to the host by creating hallucinations that sometimes may collide with real life. Some others are having a perfect balance within the spiritual and physical self and are able to speculate the dreaming scene while remembering every aspect that occurred during the astral projection.
Occasionally, in order to overcome certain mental barrier, the host goes into what is called the “Cosmic Dream”. Usually, these are considered life-changing experiences. Precognitive clues are pointing to the future and retro-cognitive clues leading to the event that happened long ago. It transports the host from the inner to outer reality, where he or she can observe at once a familiar and an unseen world. During the astral projection, the brain forces the host to revisit all potentially unpleasant topics filled with a balanced contrast of symbolism of overcoming inner barriers by projecting specific images as well as sound messages that have a profound meaning that only the host can decipher. Different to everyone, sometimes it can take months, perhaps even years until the host comprehends the meaning behind…
Nion (Talking to herself, while stretching her left arm):
- That voice, “Embrace Us”…
- What does it mean?
- None of the faces looked familiar…But…There was something else…?
- Argh! So bizarre...
Nion sat up facing the entrance door, dragged her feet off the bed, and rubbed her knuckles into her eyes while her legs were dangling slightly above the floor. The soft breeze coming from the slightly opened window and sweeping inside the silent room made her turn around her head. Nion looked over her shoulder and noticed that there is someone who is sleeping at the corner of her bed, face enrolled in the white blanket.
A tangled mess of smooth curls as dark as the charcoal was covering the person’s face. Nion closed her eyes, dwelling only on the familiar flavor of single malt that was coexisting with the fragrance of the rose bouquet. There was no doubt that the person who was quietly sleeping on her bed was none other than Aleksithimia.
Nion gently moved his hair away. In the silence, she could hear the wind sweeping around, serenity was plastered across his face as he slept. His face was as fresh as a dewdrop, making gentle snuffling noises as he breathed. Ruling over a country of more than ten million people; this man had challenged three other continents for independence and managed to earn worldwide respect after the transformation and reclaim of the smallest country in size compared to the three other lands. He was the one who transformed a small country to the worldwide leader in the domain of technology and science. On the other side, he was the most feared out of four prospers as he was considered as the modern tyrant and dictator, not only by his rivals but also by those who surround him, afraid to contradict him and awake his wrath. Who could ever imagine that that man looked so cute and angelic while he slept…
Nion (Gently touches Aleksithimia’s hair):
- What part of you is the real you…?
His features were much softer in sleep, he looked peaceful. The only movement was the slight rise and fall of his chest. The beauty was about to wake up from the slumber, he uncovered his face and checked the time on has hand watch that left a rectangle mark on his face because he used to sleep on it. The only couple of seconds after he woke up, he raised his head to look up and saw that Nion was awake.
Aleksithimia (Realizes that Nion is awake):
- How do you feel?
- I am alright.
- You look better than a couple of hours ago, that’s great. You were unconscious when Seànn brought you back, do you remember?
Nion (Looks away):
- Not really…
Aleksithimia (Touches Nion’s front head):
- Do you remember anything about what happened?
Nion (Breaths out):
- Not sure what was real and what was not.
- I guess it was a good decision to ask Seànn to look after you.
Nion (Breaths out):
- What do you mean?!
- Remember, the last time we met, you acted pretty…unstable, I would say, so I took the initiative and asked her to supervise you for a little while. The decision was based simply on security aspects.
- I am not sure if I should be pleased with what I just heard or not…
- It is not a matter of me pleasing you. I am aware that you are constantly exposed to danger, Seànn being on your side was just to ensure your well-being.
Aleksithimia, turns on the mobile device on his wrist, creating a small hologram displaying the report of the latest raid on the Eastern Borders.
Aleksithimia (Shows the report to Nion, then continues):
- Four people deceased, and the rest is gravely injured.
- How shall I explain that the special force that was assigned to cover their back and protect them just disappeared? Have you forgotten the importance of your role?
- Of course not!
- This is the second time you disappear in the middle of the mission. This time consequences are far more important. I am sorry, but I need to know how you are going to fix this.
Nion (Touches her hair and realizes that half of it is gone):
- Wait, to fix what?
- Let me reformulate my phrase, how are you going to deal with your mental instabilities or whatever is in your head? I cannot allow more of this.
- Wait a second! What are you talking about? I’ve saved dozens of lives and found out the reason for these recent invasions! Isn’t that more than enough to justify my actions for you?
- All that has nothing to do with your assignment. I’ve assigned you to the border control duty because you are…were perfectly apt for it. Perhaps…I am starting to question if you can keep up with your duties. You should understand that I am not trying to lecture you,
- The fact that you have deserted your post for the second time in a row raises my concerns about your comprehension of the importance of our current situation.
- I do comprehend that.
- Do you really? According to Seànn, you lost consciousness on our ally territory. You must understand that in your position, situations of this sort should never happen. In fact, you mentioned some abnormalities that were occurring on the other side of the border and I did disapprove your investigation mission, didn’t I?
- Whatever happens in Elpida is not our concern. Neither yours nor mine.
- How heartless can you be to summarize the whole situation as “This is not our concern”?! We are the most advanced country, our “Electric Market” is the greatest in the whole continent! We do have enough provisions and space to welcome these refugees. Just out of the city center, we have a dozen kilometers of empty villages and spaces full of grass that are useless! What are you going to do with all these empty spaces anyway? And yet, “YOU” decided to isolate us from the external world as if these people are bothering you every day!
- People are dying out there…Everyday! Relentlessly trying to survive while living in fear of what will happen next. I saw these people, I even talked to them and guess what, they are like us, they have a brain, they can communicate, and they "DO LISTEN"!
Aleksithimia (Closing the window):
Aleksithimia’s bodyguards (Calling him from behind the door):
- Is everything all right sir?
- Yes, I am fine.
- These raiders, or whoever they are, these animals, massacred people and then burned the whole village. If you would have allowed me to investigate that area sooner, maybe we could have prevented all this… Maybe we could have done something about it!
- Young lady, you are out of your mind… Save them from whom? Their own people? Who are these raiders you keep mentioning? Your whole story is just a mess.
- I am not confident to tell you about the identity of these raiders, yet…
- So, I presume, you decided to meddle yourself in a quite complex situation that happened across the border, where you knew nothing or very little about each side, and based on purely human instincts you made the decision of interfering in their conflict and took the position of the victims?
- Should I have just pretended that nothing happens around me? Unlike you, I can’t abandon people.
- That’s what you have done until now, and I have never abandoned my people, I don’t care about what happens outside, period.
- I have had enough of that mentality of caring only about yourself. I cannot pretend to have a correct life in your glass like universe.
- I do not recall asking you to pretend to do anything, neither am I interested in your opinion or your feelings about your duties, this discussion is taking too long…
- Well, that’s just damn rude! Pardon me, prosper I know everything.
- My instructions were clear. A Tsuji member is responsible for the second line of the local border control. The official visitors and other guests who are allowed to access our lands should have an invitation of rank four to five or a special mandate that explains whatever reason they came here. These visitors can only access our lands from the principal gate that is connected to the Clogwyn tunnel, that’s the only official way to get to the capital. By the way, the principal gate was completely destroyed during your absence two days ago. We’ve had more than thirty casualties during the raid… Explain to me, what is not clear about that?
- Anyone who is not willing to collaborate and refuse to enter our country by official standards is considered as a criminal and should be executed at sight. You’ve been doing this for more than two years, so it is not clear why all of sudden it is a problem for you…
- I refuse to do that then!
- Be careful of what you are saying, even though you are my relative, maybe it is time for you to learn about the world balance in a hard way. You are living in “my” world, that “I” have created. I gave you everything you need and as long as I am concerned, you are not lacking anything. I cannot ignore this kind of attitude towards myself.
Aleksithimia (Stand up, and goes to wash his face):
- Perfect! Then maybe it is time for me to get out of here!
Aleksithimia (Exiting the bathroom):
- Be careful what you wish for young lady.
- What are you going to do? Ban me from that “Hollow City” of yours?
- Enough. I came here to ensure that you are feeling better, so it looks like. The conference begins in one hour, I have to get going.
- Is your people’s safety is less important than that conference of yours?
Aleksithimia (Putting his jacket):
- I believe that you are making a mistake… Whatever is going on at Lands of Elpida, Slagveld or even Zenith is none of our business. The concern that you are trying to raise is about our ally’s lands. Elpida is also a prosper like me, so let him do his job.
Aleksithimia (Walking toward the door and then abruptly stops):
- Tsuji Sesto will take care of the Eastern Border until a new order.
- Wait, I am suspended from my duties? And who is “Tsuji Sesto”?! Why I am learning about this new member only now?
- He is the first subject that was following the “Mitera Talent Mastering” program. I also believe that this is the best option, at least until you recover.
- I am perfectly fine!
- You did not look as if you were fine when you were spacing out in a bed full of blood.
- What happened to all these villagers who reached the second borderline that night?
- That information is classified for the moment.
- I have to leave now, we will discuss that later; The doctor said that you have to rest, so don’t do anything reckless.
- Would you mind cutting out with your “later”? You are here standing in front of me. Tell me what are you planning to do with them. I’ve promised their safety!
- You promised… Quarta Tsuji, what makes you think that you are allowed to engage yourself in a verbal commitment with anyone from outside when you don’t have the necessary power to accomplish that?
Furious, Nion walked towards Aleksithimia and slapped his face. A brief moment of silence followed an atmosphere that got extremely dense. Both of them were looking straight at each other’s eyes.
Aleksithimia (In a cold tone):
- If that can empty your frustration…
- GET OUT!
- Technically, I cannot get out because everything around you belongs to me.
- I DON’T CARE!
Aleksithimia (Stepping out and slowly closing the door behind):
- One more thing, Seànn said that you have to contact her as soon as you wake up. Anyhow, I am glad that you are all right. Bye.
Nion (Hysterical scream):
[City center of lands of Aleksithimia – Nion’s apartment 7:30 PM]
Nion was resting on her bed, reading news about what happened during the last two days when she passed out. Her wrist hologram device received a message on the top of the headline “One hour until the beginning of Prosper Aleksithimia’s speech”. The message reminded her that she had to contact Seànn.
She called Seànn while getting undressed before she entered the shower room. The first two attempts of connecting with Seànn failed, so Nion decided to leave a voice message.
- Good evening, I tried to reach you but seems like you are unavailable. First off, I would like to give you my sincere apologies for what happened. I’ve remembered the events back in the village, not everything, but, I guess things that I had to remember. I am out of words on how to express my gratitude for your patience and that you took care of me. Needless to say that you have saved my life, as I cannot imagine what would happen if I was left alone back there.
Nion (Takes a deep breath):
- From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
Nion (Searching for words and making humming noises):
- So… Looks like I am currently being suspended, so I guess I have plenty of time to enjoy stuff that I’ve never done… Anyway, I am getting ready to head out to do something before and then we should meet! I am waiting for your reply, take care!
She entered the bathroom and noticed the half-closed bin full of bloody bandages. Repulsed by the image, she closed the bin and entered the shower.
Seànn (Voice message):
- Good evening Nion, hope you are doing better. No worries about what happened, it is already in the past. When we were in Elpida you mentioned that the brother of the deceased child was in the city hospital. Since you were unconscious I took the initiative to locate him.
- The good news is that I could pick up the child and now he is under my care until you arrive. The bad news is that due to the cerebral shock he lost his memories prior to whatever happened to him.
Seànn (Kids screaming on the background):
- He is a very nice young man, a little bit shy at the beginning. He asked me about his mother and his brother, I said that someone who may know their whereabouts is on her way to meet him. So, he is waiting for you.
- Once you finish your business, please head to Némless, it is a small village located around two hours away from the capital. I am sending you the coordinates, in the case you’ve never been to Némless, be sure to hide your Kanjöga and try to wear something casual. The population around here are mostly rebels and propaganda activists…All of them are very nice, but I assure you, it is for the best to avoid raising their attention.
[City center of lands of Aleksithimia – Nion’s apartment 8:00PM]
Nion was getting ready in her bedroom while listening to the voice message that Seànn left her. Relieved that the child is safe, yet haunted by an endless guilt, she contemplated if her actions can be explained to a young child who lost everything he ever had. Before going out, she approached the curtains and accidentally stepped on a rose that was lying on the floor surrounded by the shuttered vase that Nion threw against the wall minutes ago.
- Aleksithimia…You got to learn more about your sister. I hate colors…
- Ouch! (Removed the rose thorn); Perhaps, they hate me…
Nion (Picks up a purple silk rose petal):
- Speaking of which! He never brought me flowers before… Totally not the type of person. Seànn maybe? Hmm, the color of a rose has a specific meaning…Purple…what was it again…?
Nion (Speaks loud in her room):
- Mitera, tell me the meaning of a “Purple rose”!
Mitera Service displayed an augmented reality topic about rose colors with a highlighted text about purple roses.
Mitera (Speaks with a gentle female voice):
- The most widespread meaning of the purple rose is enthrallment, especially at first sight. And though there is no indication of permanence in this attraction, there is definitely a deep impression created. Centuries ago it also had a traditional association with royalty.
Nion moved the curtains of her windows and looked up to the grey skies above the city, it was raining outside, perhaps the rain season had just begun.
- Why do I even care…
Out on the streets, Nion wore a black hooded jacket, becoming an unrecognizable silhouette that looked like a saturated form of a shadow enveloped by the soft rain, surrounded by city lights as she was on her way to the Southern Gate. Small pellets of water were spitting on her hands as the remainder of the drops quenches the scattered puddles decorating the asphalt and the busy road. During the day, the city was usually very calm, most of its inhabitants were busy at their jobs, as due to the city policy the majority must sustain the daytime work, which always a continues as a nine-hour shift. The only small portion of jobs involved was allowed to work until late hours and during the night. That kind of city pace made the city roads almost empty during the day and busy during the beginning of the evening. As sunset came, the city would begin to live and swarms by millions of peoples as if it was an anthill.
Due to climate change, the winter season in central Europe was non-existent since 2060. The peak of the coldest temperature was 0* Celsius. The European continent had changed names multiple times, after the fall of the European Union back in 2035, the countries had split up and the continent was called “The Grand Central”.
A chaotic fragrance was spread out around the perfectly clean asphalt streets; Uprising odor of “Geosmin” quickly filled Nion’s nostrils. Geosmin was a variety of spores that were produced by Streptomyces microbes which particularly dangerous when it is raining as they become active after the long-lasting doze during the dry season. Ever since the beginning of the climate change, the spore volumes grew in number every year, until the scientists across the world had to raise awareness of its existence. Later on Geosmin had been acknowledged as a harmful bacteria that if combusted with others toxic or hazardous chemicals, such as Benzene, Dioxin and other variety of gases that can be found in the air, is an imminent threat to the human body; Specifically dangerous in big cities or industrial areas. As the countermeasure, the world leaders have issued specifically designed facial masks that must be worn during the rainy periods. Because of the rising volumes of Solar and Longwave radiation mixed with pollution that was released into the atmosphere, these began to for the “Toxic Gray Shrouds” all around well-developed cities. In the capital, Autumn had changed into a warm winter season as snowflakes melted before even reaching the surface making that particular period specifically toxic for the city inhabitants.
Across the traffic lights, taxi lines with infinite ques of white umbrellas; Customers were patiently waiting for their turn. People, in a hurry on their way home, were stuck in the traffic as it always happens when it rains in the capital. All vehicle transport was completely automated and managed exclusively by “Mitera System Public Transport Services”. This traffic system had been implemented to reduce chemical waste. Only electric vehicles were allowed to enter the capital premises. During the evening it looked like vehicles were floating over the ground, soundless, slowly advancing with the traffic flow to their destination. Along the wet flickering asphalt street, small groups of people were gathered in front of big publicity screens that were disposed all around the city that were usually presenting flash news. Multiple augmented reality holograms that were visible only with Kanjöga collar were disposed everywhere on the streets. Each hologram was promoting its own products, starting from the brand-new body augmentations and its upgrades, cosmetics, food, online retail stores and many more.
During the Slagveld War, the “Prothesis Market” had been submerged by demands, since the number of amputees grew in numbers every day. Small companies that were specialized in manufacturization of artificial limbs became overloaded with incoming demands. This was when young Aleksithimia had revealed his first and one of his most successful public inventions, the first ever fully controlled “Cybernetics Arm” during the “Technology Summit” conference. He quickly had gotten recognition and his project had been selected by the Elders from the Grand Central, and later on, he had received the white card with limitless resources and the title of the “Head of Technology and Inventions Department” across the continent.
Later the same year, the “Cybernetics Researches Department” had been created. The first publicly released prototypes were made exclusively for hospital use, these were a variety of human-shaped limbs that were impossible to distinguish from the real body parts, the skin tissues, the color, the solidity, flexibility while sustaining its main functions and most importantly it could directly communicate to the host brain. The main goal of these products was to help and allow debilitated or injured individuals, mainly army soldiers, to regain control of their body and sent back to the war zone. The project was an amazing success and replaced the “Prosthetic Technology” within a couple of months from its initial release; That invention had changed the outcome of the war for the “Grand Central” as they could sustain and defend the continent from invasions of Eurasia and Nordic Continents. Young Aleksithimia had earned multiple medals and been acknowledged by the Elders as the most talented man of the century. One year later, he released the “Cellular Biohack Prototype” that worked by hacking genetic code by using all three types of “Stem Cells” combined within the cyber prothesis limb; The first “Body Augmented” prostheses were born and later became something that the public could acquire in specifically designed stores.
The hooded young lady almost a foot shorter than everyone else moved along in the thick crowd, surrounded by fierce footsteps and the clicking of polished heels, the city of a million of lights was slowly waking up from its daytime doze. Nion’s apartment was located within the business district in the heart of the city. The area counted only a few living accommodations as it was mainly surrounded by office spaces. Out of her apartment, she was on her way to the closest overground station that was located a dozen minutes upfront. Despite the clear sky above, dazzling rain was escorting the sunset that was hiding behind the wall of skyscrapers. The last arrays of sunset were reflecting on the transparent glass windows of offices above her.
After the Slagveld War due to the multiple bombings that ravaged The Grand Central continent, most of the underground tunnels that were used for metro and other underground services were heavily damaged and could not be used ever again since the majority of the stations collapsed due to the artificial earthquakes. Henceforth, metropolitan “Subway” has been replaced by “Overground Rails” public transport. Pollution and other dangerous chemical substances spread all around underground sites that were completely abandoned after the end of the war. Years later, out of sight of Mitera Servers, small groups of homeless people and illegal immigrants who could make their way to the capital began populating and reconstructing tunnels to create living spaces. The tunnel population grew bigger every day, the old abandoned metro stations were reborn as underground villages all around the capital. Each station had its own population and ethnicity groups, some of them didn’t really get along with each other and occasionally disputes escalated to major conflicts for the rights of territory.
Everything the body wanted, and nothing the soul needed, the perfect slogan that would describe “Metro”, the name that local people gave to their underground kingdom. Metro was divided into three underground zones, called accordingly Zone One, Two and Three. “Zone One” was considered the richest yet the most dangerous area because of the presence of the “Black Market”. Underground “Black Market” was growing up at an incredible speed: Drugs, weapons, alcohol, prostitution, and other services that were not available on the surface could be found and purchased there. By 2075 the “Body Augmentation, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality” became the part of everyday life. The “Body Augmentation” in particular spread out through entire continent, despite the best efforts and restrictions put on the produced volumes the product, became the “Most Wanted” in black markets. All kinds of customers were frequenting the market, starting from people who came all the way from “Provinces” outside the capital all the way up to the “Upper-Class”, coming down from the city center for illegal substances or prostitution services. “Zone Two” population was mainly composed of the low-class citizens who could not afford to live in the city center due to its extremely high standards. To survive, they had no choice but to descend underground and begin a new life there. “Zone Two” was also considered the most balanced area to live with a minimum income and less violence comparing to two others. “Zone Three” was the one that was connected to the outskirts of the capital and was served as the industrial sector for “Black Market”. Majority of the population were homeless, injured or disabled people, rejected citizens from the zones above. The inhabitants of “Zone One” were considered as cheap manpower rather than human beings. Because of massive poverty, that area had another name, “Slow Town”.
Nion ran into some people that had formed small groups, their attention was completely absorbed by the displayed content. Curious, she decided to get closer. The list of the first cycle results of the first stage exam for the “Aleksithimia Technology and Science Corporation” admissions were displayed on the screen. One of the many reasons why the “Lands of Aleksithimia” was so popular among immigrants was its unique event that was ongoing once every year. Everyone who was born, had a valid permit or was simply a citizen of the country, could participate in the annual exams that would grant the status of a member of “Aleksithimia Technology and Science Corporation”, for citizens of the “Metro” that was a huge gamble as they could also purchase the entry tickets and a fake ID at the “Black Market”. Anyone with a valid ticket could participate in the event, and if lucky, become the member of the “ATSC”. As it can be expected, this event was the biggest event of the year that counted millions of participants. After passing a wide variety of examinations, successful candidates were shortlisted to 10 participants. Selected members must present their final project of how they would innovate and what kind of future knowledge or inventions they can bring to society. The current “ATSC” and Prosper himself decided who is successful among these ten, the lucky participant was directly admitted to the corporation. Being a member of “ATSC” granted endless financial resources in order to support the future project that is fully sponsored by the corporation. The direct relative is also being included in the support program. So far, the corporation counted twelve members, “Tsuji members” were counted as the part of “ATSC”, unlike other members “Tsuji” project and their identity was disclosed to the public.
When Nion arrived at the overground station, a warning message created with augmented reality was blocking the entrance. The message was displaying the following: Dear citizens, for the security reasons, the “Central Line” services are currently being suspended until the end of the press conference of “Aleksithimia Technology and Science Corporation” Summit. Having no time to lose, Nion decided to leave the crowded street and continued her short city journey by taking shortcuts through the back alleys.
Stretching corridor, almost a kilometer long, straight and narrow line was surrounded by buildings that were too high to bother seeking the grey sky. The sound of the busy road ricocheted from one side to the other until it became an echo as Nion advanced in the tiny alley. Occasional graffiti was carved into the dark brown brick walls. The half-lit lane looked like totally another city. An emptied vessel that became the home of the underworld, perfect and clean in a way, yet so empty and monotone.
Before the third world war, that alley used to be one of the busiest street markets; Full of small Asian and Western-themed fast-food places, very popular during late hours with office employees who worked around the area until very late. It had delicious traditional food for low prices and a very casual atmosphere. Occasional drunk salaryman sleeping on the tables was not a rarity around this area. Sadly, due to the tax implementations, all these small businesses had to shut down. From the busy alley, all that was left were repainted façades and condemned doors with the interior full of dust that was abandoned by their owner ever since the collapsing of the Grand Central century.
Nion was on her way to the “Bank” station, situated in the heart of business district. Its convenience as a transportation hub that offers departures for a great number of destination around the city and its suburbs had attracted many hotels, offices, restaurants, and daily shops to the area. North and South-West gates called the “Little China” had several shopping malls, cinemas, bowling places, and an aqua park. On the opposite, the “World Trading Center” site located at North and South-East has many large office buildings and company headquarters. The buildings had been designed to meet all needs of the workers; dining and shopping are available on the first few floors of each building and a large green space had been built to give the area a pleasant atmosphere. After the closing hours, the station transformed into an anthill, swarmed by emotionless businessmen and women on their way home as soon they finish their shift.
Barely some space to move or breath, Nion was slowly advancing towards the gates trying to avoid being crushed by slowly advancing mass. Passed through the gates, she had just enough of time to sneak into the busy elevator that would take her on the top of the platform located 50 meters above ground. The wide transparent glass offered an incredible view over the city.
Slowly rising above ground, Nion could hear police sirens far away in the distance, because of the strong wind, caramel leaves coming from the green space nearby tumbled to life by briskly cold autumnal notes that roused them from slumber. Leaves took to the air in an elegant dance, pirouetting around the tree trunks to their own orchestral rustling. Clouds drifted with icy, unnatural slowness, it was hard to distinguish the pollution fog from the grey clouds as it felt as if both were merged together for this very moment, edges glowing and as white marble against the slowly darkening sky while blocking the dawn view.
After a dozen minutes of waiting in the queue at the top of the platform, she could finally get into the train. Packed to the very last bit, the train had departed in the direction of the “Southern Gate”. A lifeless vehicle, not a single voice or sound except the station announcement, the mass of people were tied shoulder to shoulder glued to their mobile devices reviewing the first cycle results.
In 2070 the prosper had decided to follow lands of Elpida and has implemented the “Social Credit” system that had been firstly implemented in China in order to rate each citizen’s trustworthiness and also to overwatch all criminal activities ongoing in the country. Each citizen wearing “Kanjöga” was in a vast national database managed by “Mitera Server”. The information that compiles fiscal information, including minor traffic violations, personal behavior, working and marital status, the daily volume of alcohol consumption and many more, was distilled it into a specific number ranking each citizen. Citizens were encouraged to flaunt their good credit scores to friends and even potential mates. Companies with the highest social numbers were the most successful and were offering the best future perspectives to their employees.
According to the prosper, "Without a system, a con man can commit a crime in one place and then do the same thing again in another place. But a credit system puts people's history on record. It'll build a better and fairer society," added with “Emotional Suppressor” local authorities can identify the culprit or someone who has or may potentially have bad intentions.
On its way to the Southern Gate, the train was so full that people were not able to sustain their balance without leaning on others whenever the train was slowing down or accelerating. Each train had multiple cameras; Due to the many cases of sexual harassment in trains, all men with a score equal or beyond average were not allowed to lower their arms below their shoulders anywhere with a condensed population. Sometimes, when they were too far from something to grab and hold themselves, they had to spend hours with hands above their head, the whole scene looked like a detention center from the beginning of the system, however many people backed up this decision which also forced people with a low score to make efforts and get out of the constant embarrassment. The good or bad score became part of everyday routine, for some, a great way to use the privilege of superiority, for others, a living nightmare.
[City center of lands of Aleksithimia – Train in the direction to the Southern Gate 8:30 PM]
Nion leaned against the transparent window reviewing articles about parenting, searching for clues of how to begin the conversation and explain everything that happened to the child who had lost everything. She was lost in rhythmic percussion of the train vibration. Her eyes were occasionally set to the horizon, face aglow with the last orange rays piercing the grey sky that was occasionally blinding her sight. The warmth reminded her of Seànn’s smell and how warm her hands felt when she touched her cheeks, random flashbacks filled up Nion’s head; Her lips bearded the semblance of a smile. The vehicle had a direct ride to the Southern Gates, despite that the train was going beyond 100 km per hour, everything inside the car moved slow and quiet, allowing Nion to stay lost in the moment of calm a little longer. Suddenly the display of her device automatically switched to the conference channel, showing Aleksithimia walking toward his seat to begin the event.
- Dear citizens of our great lands, I welcome you.- Before we begin, I would like to thank all of you for your interest and participation in our annual exam for the available seat in the “Technology and Science Corporation”. I am proud that we have so many bright and talented individuals willing to participate in the innovation of our lands.
The audience applauded.
- This evening I would like to present our brand-new project “Mitera Talent Mastering” program. You see, the world we are living right now has been left to us by our predecessors in a… I would rather say, miserable state. Despite being the part of the same ecosystem and even sharing the same race, our predecessors had countless political conflicts, geographical dominance, and corruption. Manifold religion and skin color issues within societies were created by the hatred and egoism of those in power. Wars were deadlier each time and more devastating than the ones before. I am sorrowful to admit how the past generations excelled in killing and destroying themselves. We all remember the day of sorrow when the Grand Central media broadcasted the announcement that they will participate in the Slagveld War. So many lives perished for nothing…Since there was barely anything left. Ironically, the elders are the ones who brought the “Gan” virus upon themselves, the greatest calamity of them all, that almost erased a whole generation from our planet. You are probably asking yourself why am I talking about that. So, let me ask you this, what do you think is the potential cause of wars and political conflicts?
Audience (Randomly shouting):
- Money? Weapons? Greed? Corruption? Terrorism?
- The answer is… none of these. When we were developing this project, we spent a considerable amount of time working with archives, reviewing the whole history of the “Grand Central” and so-called “European Union” that as you may know, existed two generations before ours. Up until the apparition of “Gan” virus, humankind had never faced any particular threats that were caused by other factors than ourselves. The answer to my initial question is nothing else than us, humans. According to archives, the majority of conflict is based on emotional instability, an inability of calm reflection, lack of communication and comprehension skills, in other words, our predecessors had a lack of emotional intelligence education.
The audience was listening in silence.
Aleksithimia (Continues his speech):
- Please, allow me to elaborate the reason behind the program. Let me use myself as an example. When I was brought to this world, I was nothing else than a normal kid, I did not have any unique abilities that would separate me from the rest of the population. The ones who made me feel unique were my parents. They taught me the values of life, guided me on the path of philosophy and science from a very young age that has later awoken the manifestation of my interest in computer science and technology, without everything they did to me, I would not be standing here for you. Our society is constantly looking for the brightest and the most talented individuals. Natural skills selection was always existing and will exist for years to come. Those who were lucky enough to seize the momentum of their talent manifestation and could focus on its development are naturally exceeding the average, are usually ending up on a stable and continuous path, that is usually referred to as a stable career.
- Most of the time, a talent can stay vague or simply hidden for years, occasionally it requires specific events to trigger its first apparition. In the majority of cases, the talent manifests before the age of twelve, but there is no specific pattern that indicates when and what should the person do in order to awake it. All researchers agree that the earlier a child starts learning and experiment new languages or activities, the better chances he or she has to master it fast. According to our science department, the acquisition skills peak is at or before the age of six or seven. Occasionally it may extend through puberty. But, it is clear that talent manifestation apparition is much harder for a child beyond puberty.
- The reason why I am saying this is that the well-being of the young generation is the essence of our future and is also the main reason that we developed this program. With the help of “Mitera Systems”, parents will be able to monitor their offspring from a very young age, keeping track of their cerebral development, and based on each individual quality and what can be considered as a potential talent based on statistics that are compared with a global database hosted by Mitera System.
- Just imagine a future where it will be possible to focus and prioritize over the development of a perhaps life-changing ability. Imagine a world where we will be able to control our future, the manifestation of interests that will be offered during the growth of our children. This program will allow each parent to calibrate and maximize their child’s interest, not only forcing to do them what you believe is right but also basing ourselves on what they like to do and their personal, perhaps secret, interests that could be sports, music, gaming, literature, technology and many more. There is a high possibility that somewhere out there, a talented young man or woman who is watching this conference, has a great and unexplored talent that would make him, who knows...We cannot reject the possibility that it could be even the next ruler of our lands and my potential replacement in the future.
Aleksithimia (Raised his right hand):
- Let’s take care of our future together!
The audience stayed quiet and immobile for a few seconds. Aleksithimia’s voice came out strong, he carried the speech as if he was born to do it. The undisputable leader stood breathless for a silent moment that was soon filled with a standing ovation.
[Southern Gate of lands of Aleksithimia – Southern Gate train station 9:15 PM]
Arrived at the destination, the second the doors opened the human mass emptied out like water from a broken jar. In an instant, the platform looked like a murder scene before the crime. An old man, dressed in blue uniform with bright yellow strips over his chest and shoulders was slowly advancing from one end to another, occasionally waking up those who stayed asleep and calling the other passengers with his husky voice to leave the train immediately.
On her way to transfer for the next transit for Némless, Nion’s next stop was located fifteen minutes walking outside the Southern Gate station. Positioned around a green field of wet grass that was reflecting the lights coming from barely illuminated lamps attached on the grey trainshed, it looked like this area was abandoned or simply untouched for dozens of years.
Night had fallen fast upon the isolated area of Southern gate station. No more than an hour ago the sky was painted with hues of red and marble orange, but all color had faded, leaving only a matt black canvas with no stars to be looked upon. A fresh lavender fragrance drifted out to meet the fresh air. Quiet chills ran over Nion’s body every time the cold wind blew towards the station. Nowhere to take cover, her recently burned hair fell loose about her face, tousled and tangled. Nion was standing at the edge of the platform, holding her hand out to feel for the movement of air that comes as the train pushes it along, waiting for the red lights of the upcoming train to take her away.
After half an hour since Nion got to the station, a couple of poorly dressed couples arrived at the platform. A feminine voice announced the imminent train arrival that was to ride to Némless. The raucous, metallic shriek heralds the arrival of the decrepit train. Once all passengers were on board, the train took a plunge, inching forward at an excruciating pace leaving the grey city behind, on its way to Némless...
TO BE CONTINUED