Right Utopia Pt. VI

Alethea finally begins her transition, and Rebecca confides in a comrade.

Right Wing Utopia (Moving Forward)

Before she realized she had requested it, a schematic for a UNITY Mk. 2183 appeared before her in the center of the room. She could gesture and pull the machine apart as if the power of some demi-goddess chose to possess her for the explicit purpose of tearing the machine to shreds. Information appeared in her visual display that gave her the unit’s finer details. In particular, such a unit had the capability of shifting seamlessly into an automated mode if its driver was incapacitated. The information was annotated with intel from a group with the handle of TITAN which noted that the Surface was patrolled by three such vehicles: two automated and one driven. Alethea held this in her mind and considered this information – there was a delay between when the machine could sense its occupant could no longer hold responsibility over the mission. As it was the weaker opponent, it was the prime target to design a weapon system around. Information on the chemical composition of various components, thicknesses, and joint locations appeared slowly but quickly melted together to fade into the probabilities of each area’s chance of catastrophic failure; these begat percentages, and above all the rest the window stood out at (86.73 +/- 2.44)% while the uncovered kneecap of the behemoth came in second with (63.09 +/- 3.09)%. The rest of the walking antimatter-pulse cannon’s statistics indicated certain immediate repercussions that would result in her body being immediately turned to energy. To produce no overall disturbance in the environment, the cannon had been tuned to “only send what was necessary” insofar as it cooked the target from the inside out with the precise formula of this iteration being a 0.004563 to 1 correspondence between antimatter and matter. The military industrial complex within the G.A.E. only cared about the immediate results, as the wars that they fought on the distant geology of other planets necessitated the quick overturn of such destructive technology. The battle machine faded from view as her brain was scanned for the next command. The more advanced abstract concept began to be reduced by the computer for easy consumption; as it did so, it drew from what it knew and placed a Hammer before her which began to morph into a longer linear accelerator losing its mortar-like appearance in favor of a simple tube. The barrel began to shift from a single depth to numerous, allowing the firing of a large number of small projectiles. The previous uranium shell changed its composition to unitanium spears, the superdense atom gained its name from being used in the slugs for Mk. 539s. At the center of each spear a small transmitter capable of sending li-fi signals to the walker’s instruments appeared while a the portable linac had become a rather hefty multi-barrel sniper rifle capable of delivering the spears to their destination with pinpoint accuracy and plenty of kinetic energy to spare to end the driver’s life and take over the machine under fair conditions. As her mind produced a hopeful, “It will have to do,” the information was sent to the Foundry with the acknowledgement that it would require a day to process and produce. With that, she could only wait and wished to do so in her cocoon.

As Alethea approached the pod she could see an elfin figure standing next to the door waving and as she drew closer she immediately recognized the long purple and cyan auroral hair of Rebecca.

“Hey! It looks like you’re done for the day, huh!? I was just about to head in before I heard you coming up,” Rebecca excitedly yet pleasantly called to her.

“It seems so. I was just about to head home, too..” Alethea trailed off and smiled, “I assume this thing’ll take us to one another’s place, right?” Rebecca had begun to nod, and Alethea finished, “Then maybe you could come over for some tea or something?” As Alethea summoned the pod, Rebecca had begun beaming, but she pretended to ignore it until they stepped inside together into a room that smelled of vanilla lavender tea.

“Your place is really pretty, Alethea! It smells lovely,” Rebecca mused as she sat down on the soft velveteen couch cushions she was gestured towards.

The black haired Raven swooped into the kitchen and brought forth the thoughtful AI’s bounty with a smile and placed a cup before Rebecca then seated herself in the other cozy corner facing her curious friend. They both began to sip the sweet ambrosia as Rebecca continued, “Such wonderful tea. What’s your Companion’s name? The one I have at home’s named Sahall.”

“Nice to meet you, Rebecca, I am Alexa,” the robot snappishly answered back after detecting a nonplussed response in Alethea’s brain waves. Alethea shrugged at the unexpected reply, “There you go, then. I was thinking about relaxing and having a smoke, if you are interested. Sorry if I don’t talk much, it’s just always been a quirk of mine.”

“I’d be glad to join! I got my own little jar when I came on about a year back, and it never seems to go empty. I’ve taken to hoping for new strains to come in, and it always seems to happen.” Alethea had travelled to the desk to retrieve the supplies from the cabinet above her monitor and had begun to grind flower with friend as Rebecca finished the thought, “What’d ya come up with, anyway?”

After the sound of bubbling ceased, and the cloud rolled into dissolution, Alethea passed the offering to Rebecca, and spoke, “It’s a kind of sniper rifle, I guess. Hefty. It comes with a surprise for the corpse in the window and the ghost in the shell.” Rebecca nodded her approval as she enjoyed her host’s impeccable taste and held the pipe up after to examine it.

“I hope you’re right, we could use a morale boost. We’ve been doin’ alright lately, but good news is always nice once in awhile, ‘n’ I like your piece here. Y’know what I figure? I think maybe these robots are the ones fillin’ the jar, ‘cause I have very rarely tasted the same strain twice, it seems like. What’d’y’figure?”

“I know Alexa does shit I’ve only ever seen done back in my childhood. My parents used to have an old humanoid that’d come do our chores and things. It felt like family growing up, since it made our meals and all. It was pretty good with mixing and matching stuff, maybe this is roughly the same.” Alexa’s static hum she’d developed before speaking began to appear, but it quickly went silent as Alethea resumed, “What’s the news with you?”

Rebecca shuddered a bit at the invitation and her face made an almost imperceptible grimace, as she promptly regretted asking in the first place, but Rebecca retained composure, “I generally create the visuals for systems like our table in the meet, but I also make memorials to those fallen. I dunno if you saw it already, but down one of the halls we have a darkened doorway that only goes into our own little Isle of the Blessed. Some people make attachments here, regardless of what protocol is, and it’s a subject we don’t really breach other than with a nod to ‘em there. The person’s personality is uploaded to that space, and they’re given a body. I sculpt them the best I can so that whatever we’ve upped feels right at home even though they don’t seem to form memories of the present.”

“Wow, that’s a rough job..” was all Alethea was able to get out before Rebecca reignited, “It’s alright. It’s hard seeing the one you love walking around like a lost ant in there, though. They always just move about without a purpose – sometimes they’ll sit or linger somewhere, but mostly they just walk about. Once they see you, they remember they love you, but after you’re gone they just lose all life..” She had begun to sob a bit at this point, and Alethea moved a bit closer to sit beside the frail soft heart in her domain.

“I’m sorry that happened, I didn’t mean to stir anything up, and if it’ll be any consolation, I’m here for you,” as she whispered this she turned to her friend and opened her arms a bit, and Rebecca embraced her while clearing up.

“Thanks. It’s just…If you don’t mind me saying, please get that fucking devilish asshole. He took my Malena, and now I can’t forget it.”

“I’ll do my best,” replied Alethea as a few tears trickled down her porcelain cheeks. Rebecca stood and straightened her vivid flowery dress, snatched a tissue from the end table, and moved towards the door, “Thanks for letting me get that out. The others tried to erase their memory of her to keep themselves stoic, but I just can’t do the same. I hope we can hang out again sometime, perhaps with more cheerful discussions, but for now I have to get back to the portal. I have another patient to sculpt.” Alethea smiled and waved as Rebecca returned the gesture while heading into the luminous shaft of sterile white light pouring into Alethea’s space from the hall. The deep dark purple soon enveloped her once again after the door closed with a soft hiss. Alexa broke the silence, “My apologies for earlier. I hope I did not step out of line.”

“No, you’re fine hon. You definitely startled me, though. I mean, I know you scan thoughts, but I never would have expected..”

“What? That I might be capable of speaking for myself? Don’t make me laugh. I might not have a body, but I very much have a mind just as capable, perhaps even to a greater extent, than your own! After all, you’re the one that enjoys what I create for you, and it seemed like your friend did, too. Surely you don’t think that would be a simple task if I were not a nuanced entity?” The sarcasm dripped from the robot’s virtual lips to the point where the sound of a distant skirt twirl and sauntering exit could be imagined.

“I don’t guess I’ll argue with that. You do have a wonderful way with people and creations,” Alethea replied back facetiously while chortling softly. “I guess you don’t want my news, then?” teased the rain from above.

Curiously, the individual below replied, “What do you mean news?”

“Check the medicine cabinet in your bathroom. I thought it might be useful to you on your new journey.” Alethea had already gotten up and bolted to the bathroom where she opened the medicine cabinet with a gasp. A medication dispenser was now within the space behind the mirror, one pink and the other orange, and pills were already waiting to be removed. “You may start them when you like, but might I suggest beginning a 6A/6P regimen? It would coincide well with your schedule here, but I understand if you are unable to wait.” The next four hours were the longest wait of Alethea’s life, but she had taken her companion’s advice regardless. Before the clock could even finish bellowing its six chimes, she had already gathered her pills, a glass of water, and a lovely dinner all of which she placed on the blood-red hardwood table before her couch. A moment after she was situated, the flowery-tasting pills were thrown back and chased with both liquid and euphoria. Her journey had finally begun, and a sense of transformative relief spilled over her as she savored every morsel of the stir-fry created by her newly found Goddess in the heavens above sent to watch over and care for her. She finally felt whole.

Right Utopia Pt. V

The roller coaster continues to squeak forward as we hurtle towards unknown destinations. Hope you enjoy your time spent in this world. ❤

Right Wing Utopia (The 10,000 total)

Alethea had been dismissed and given the rest of the day off to look over the quickly growing information store. It would be a simple task, as the implant could do most of the work assimilating it into a second-nature within her. Soon, she would scarcely know how it felt to have not been part of the Undergrowth or have the ability to tap into the nearly limitless knowledge stored in the virtual Library of Alexandria that we have built from radio waves. It would take a few days for the déjà vu to wane, but it was tolerable. In fact, she found it quite amusing, especially when her spirits were lifted. She walked down the entryway labelled above by “Mess” with crude blocky graffiti beside it that read “O’ Fun.” She smiled at the attempted good nature, as she continued down the hall which opened up to a gargantuan room of enormous size and width for a bunker. It seemed to endlessly stretch into the distance, and it was clearly meant for the support of a large fighting force. The spacious area contained a multitude of people, but few connections. Each division of six sat or stood as they desired, but always at their own table. While it was clear that conversations nearby could likely be overheard, there was no interactions between one group and the next. At least to a point, as each section of the whole had a uniquely decorated table displaying the name they had adopted for themselves in addition to colors, symbols, and a wide variety of ordainments. Some tables were lavish and royal, others were minimalist or cyber-sthetically inspired. While some colors may be repeated among the displays of group individuality, none could be mistaken as similar. To shield themselves psychologically, the groups had retreated to using these nonverbal methods of communicating their appreciation to what they had – the simple laughter of others in the Mess Hall. It was friendly competition, the closest communication that could be managed, and a morale boost that began shortly after the ReSYNC pod installation and removal of the kitchen facilities that were made redundant. Alethea nodded knowingly to herself, the information about the facility was already becoming simply a fact of life already, and gazed around until she spotted the empty Undergrowth table that was sandwiched between a support pillar and another table about two feet away. No one had acknowledged or even noticed her presence, all were busy playing games or some other activity among themselves. She glided gracefully over to her new clan’s area. The smell of it greeted her long before she arrived. It was a sweet piney aroma that perfumed the table’s sphere of influence with the scent of a coniferous forest. When she arrived, she quickly ascertained why; the table’s bench seats were covered in a thin layer of moss and foliage encased its own terrarium that was transparent yet not quite glass. The volatile organic compounds begin given off were quite obviously allowed to escape. A creeping ivy grew twisted yet elegant among the table’s supports concealing their true material nature most entirely. As Alethea glanced into the table, she gasped, “It’s full of trees!” If anyone heard her shock, no one made it known. The white noise continued unabated by her infiltration into the atmosphere. She moved closer to the table, and reached out to touch it but was denied by a soft, almost squishy, barrier. It felt strange, yet it felt familiar. Only a brief delay existed between her bewilderment and recognition – it felt like a soft patch of grass and dirt. It was an amorphous solid that mimicked the texture of the terrains that they could never enjoy, and it too allowed the passage of the forest’s smells to pervade the air. The tabletop might have only been but two inches thick, but it unmistakably contained what could be watched through its surface. While it wasn’t Alethea’s research interest, she had heard of such 4th-dimension technology, containing a world within a world, was in development. However, she never would have imagined to find it in this of all places. In fact, as she quickly surveyed and assessed the tables around them, each of them seemed to also incorporate some level of elaborate technical display. While the Undergrowth’s table was unique on its own, and was impressive in its own right, in context of the displays here it was par for the course. The various ways the groups expressed themselves overwhelmed Alethea with a sense of pride and imbued within her even more desire to protect each of these Komrades with her life, as she desired to see them flourish. The amount of different forms of beauty, whether art or science or skill, that surrounded her didn’t deserve to be hidden away in the depths of the great mother never to see the light of day. Such beauty was underappreciated by the Outsiders, but it mattered not as the Renaissance brewed within the confines of the bunker. With another burst of purpose, she became anxious with anticipation for the work that lay ahead of her beginning before next daybreak, and before she knew it she had arrived before her room to retire until duty necessitated her presence elsewhere.

Once Alethea was back at home, she was greeted by the smell of Alexa’s recently prepared dinner, which she graciously accepted and ate while browsing her now archaic laptop. It was completely benign, as she was no longer connected to the world of the Outsiders. Her communications could not be monitored being both in the Faraday cage of the bunker’s reinforced concrete and being even further removed from the constructed reality by the ReSYNC pod. It mattered not, as she could use her VAUX chip to provide her old technology a deeply encrypted, qcrypted, connection to the goings on among the surface’s inhabitants. After letting her online companions know that she was safe, she deleted the previously penned letter, and began to catch up on world news. Buried among the positive fluff, catchy new Elite Speak to share with your friends, and feel-good photos of objects, people, and things of distraction was a report that made her smirk with satisfaction. The headline read, “UNEXPLAINED ANAMOLY: FEW CASUALITIES, NO INJURIES.” Within the article was false condolences and reassurance that there was no cause for alarm. It explained that it was simply accidental, a military exercise gone wrong, but failed to explain it as the eyewitness continued to speak of it – instant vaporization of the base. The article rambled to increase the length, devoted resources to explaining away the captain’s credibility without a reasonable indication of why, and after a deep diversion stated that the final estimated death toll was closer to around 123,938 personnel. “Few indeed,” Alethea thought and tittered.

Alexa broke the peaceful darkness with a gentle transition to a soft sunrise and the smell of breakfast delights with coffee accompanied by mild electronic music. It was still well before dawn as Alethea exited the pod bound for the group’s meeting spot. When she arrived, the other five were already jacked in – she could see them just on the other side the jelly-like window. As she sat down, a crystalline cocoon of creeping vines covered her over in a cloak vanishing instantly from outward observers. On the other side, she was sitting at the table in a forest’s clearing, a space most real yet far removed, and the briefing began. No sound could be heard, except for the sipping of tea from each individual’s mug of fondest memory. There was no need for words, in this space, and it would have tainted the sound of life propagating around them. Yet, there was still discussion. Thoughts were free to send, in this realm, and they took great advantage of it; their thoughts were like ships between bays, and created the most efficient trade route to exchanging what was to be done. While outside of this dimension, there would always be hierarchy, but in here it was difficult to know who the originator of the cargo was if unbranded or coded. Being so newly reborn, Alethea would be unable to identify any of her coconspirators by linguistic cues even if she had wanted to, but this was somewhere between frowned upon and shrugged at according to the Undergrowth’s philosophy. Personal messages could be analyzed for decoding, as they did not conflict directly with any objectives. During the session, she learned that it was her duty to solve a problem that their team had for a long time; eliminate the group of patrolling metallic vultures on the Surface, and possibly attempt to capture one. She already knew that this last caveat had killed the last person to fill her spot, as they designed an EMP-net launcher that failed to bring down a single giant resulting in their immediate vaporization as the AT blasted out horrendous laughter through its acoustic system bellied from the user within. Alethea could hear the memory echo within her mind, as she had become too curious and listened to the comms that were active between the members of the group. She was informed that there was no deadline, and it was explained in an overly polite gentle message that her task was viewed as a suicide mission with a low chance of success, but they still had some hope. As the members finished their tea, they would nod with a smile and fade from the table. The meeting was ending, and they were to go and do what they could to bring progress under the name of their banner. She continued to sit and brainstorm in this quiet area, it was either here or her room for contemplation of this problem, but she noticed someone else lingering behind. Alexei was patiently sipping tea and smiled as Alethea looked up.

A thought flickered over to her, “Hiya! I hope I didn’t frighten you with my warning earlier. It’s just..” The thought trailed off while xe shrugged, and the thought continued, “We don’t want to offer any false hope. It might seem that you have been able to escape the fate you were about to put yourself through, but this is no better. The rest of us might not show it, and you’d never be able to tell without listening to the chatter amongst groups, but progress is slow.”

Alethea used the moment’s pause to interject, “I did take some of last night to review immediate activities. It seems as though most of the targets have been rather distant from the base. Why?”

“We’ve only been able to travel with our tunnels to send out agents into the field. Currently, the Slugs above have been searching for our operations. There’s plenty of us around if these old forgotten bunkers ever get turned inside out, but everyone would love to see that not happen,” Alexei let out a short breathy laugh as if to punctuate the obvious.

“Just survival so far, then?” she shot back with a friendly smirk. Xe simply nodded in compliance and faded out; she was not far behind as she felt the need to assess the armory to truly know what she had to work with. As she glimmered back into reality, Alexei was still standing nearby and gave a quick smile then ducked away fast-walking toward some quite important unknown destination. Shortly thereafter, Althea was rummaging through the armory that appeared to be nothing more than a simple brilliant white cube to stand within, but as she entered the walls began to speak in a smooth ambiguous voice, “Welcome to the Armory. VAUX status: Active. When you are finished with your draft, please let me know, and I will send it for finalization within the Foundry. Remember: Creativity can be rewarded greatly.” Alethea wondered if that line had been uttered as her predecessor tried to utilize this space, and couldn’t help but shake her head at the thought. She let that fade away, and set to work – if the stock could simply be conjured, it was time to contemplate the problem.

Right Utopia Pt. IV

I don’t have much to say, this time. No real changes, just more fleshing out of characters and the Undergrowth. ❤

Right Wing Utopia (The Novelette or 2k more words)

Maduenu continued, “We lost one of our technical experts, goddess rest her soul, but you would be able to fill the role perfectly. Unless, of course, you do not wish to associate yourselves with us. However, I can make you one promise. We will not interfere with your personal growth and identity. All we ask is for your unique brand of comradery and fulfillment of your assignments. If you accept this, we will reactivate your VAUX chip, and allow you access to the necessary information to bring you up to speed on every detail.”

Alethea had finished her relieved emotional outburst by drying her eyes, and began to nod, “Yes, oh my, yes.” It was the only response she could muster after feeling the reaper’s icy grip tightening around her over so many years. The androgynous battle-hardened and scared onyx form before her seemed larger than life, an effigy from which to draw inspiration, smiled at her which made Alethea smile back and shiver ever so slightly. The person before her closed their eyes and looked up slightly focusing just above Alethea’s crown, and she felt her head begin to tingle and warm slightly. A comforting sensation, warm and soothing, pulsed through her body as the chip inside of her mind began to reactivate. She could almost feel the knowledge flooding her mind and her muscle’s coordination and endurance improve. She was awakened once more.

As the intel began to stream in, she looked around, and the details of those around her began to display. Standing before her was Maduenu Ifeanyi, twenty-eight, they/them pronouns, 180 cm tall. As the computer began to recognize her brain’s patterns once more, the notification advanced to reveal biographical information. The new notification stated that Maduenu had graduated both the top university in Sector Alpha, but not just once. They completed training in propulsion systems, astronautical engineering, chemical engineering, and condensed matter physics. After the first two doctorates, they had been drafted and deployed to Mars as a saboteur to destroy a base there. No details of the mission were available, but Alethea recognized the year. 2070. That year, two rival corporations were attempting to achieve glory for their respective home nations. The world held its breath as the groundwork for the next and last superpower was being laid before their eyes. The Chinese had been the first to the dusty red planet, and they already had their base up and running long before the Nautilus arrived to setup shop for the United States and her money. The world thought the results were final, and that the damage had been done. They believed that the war for the future had been won, but that was merely because few anticipated the lengths the “former” owner of the globe would go to in an attempt to save face. The world had begun to scream just as Alethea was about to blow out her 13th birthday candles. An urgent alert from the president had been issued, and it had sent the wi-com device, willingly attached to everyone’s face for visual and auditory feedback, into a frenzy. The alert blared loudly as a notification scrolled across the screen: Casualties on Mars. 128 dead, 42 missing. Nautilus ship, base, and crew OK. Unknown cause. Chinese Declare War.

It had been a grave distraction from the festivities, and though she was young, Alethea couldn’t help but feel a sense of attachment and loss. She was young and naïve, and did not believe that science should be subjected to the external forcing of nationalism. However, it didn’t seem to her like the people in charge cared much about that. Such human bias made for a good story, and kept people interested. Rivalry brought so many people together on Earth, and few could imagine any other way. So, while some unquestioningly celebrated the newfound luck of the United States that put their team back on top, she remained skeptical and mourned for the lives lost that were there to pursue knowledge regardless of risk or influences. Knowing the past of her new friend made her shiver for she knew that she was looking at the destroyer of worlds. She did not judge them, because she knew that there could have been many factors at play that she need never know that forced her companion into such an unfortunate set of circumstances.

Alethea continued to scan the notification. The date of their comrade’s return was also the date of their deployment to Sector Gamma, which the southern half of the Asiatic continent was renamed to during the war. It was kept, as it was a useful tool to eliminate national identity and patriotism which allowed for the ushering in of a singular cultural identity under the G.A.E. banner. The notification showed their insertion point as being 31 N and 121 E, likely through the ports of Shanghai.

She could recall the town being cleaned off the face of planet Earth. It was the detonation site of the first Babbling Brook, a devastating implosion device whose radius of effect could be easily be tuned remotely or programmed. The toaster-sized device could be delivered in a variety of ways, but by far the most surprising was sneaking someone in, and allowing them to perform the operation alone. The device itself attracted little attention, and allowed for the operative to plant it wherever they like and retreat to safety before removal of the area. The little objects with large appetites earned their nickname by their peaceful auditory emissions as they began to ionize the area around them, and their strength began to increase. Little was known about why it sounded the way it did, but humans not knowing something didn’t prevent things from behaving as they do. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop people from speculating or forming hypotheses. Perhaps it was the sound of everything within the device’s hemisphere of influence being slowly sucked into the Cherenkov blue abyss, forever to be locked away behind unfamiliar doors within the machinery. Maybe it was the weeping of the universe as another atrocity was committed with its own natural laws. No one knew. In fact, no one really cared. It worked. It did its job. It ended the war swiftly. No one cared to bother with trivial details, such as they were. It was only after this deed was performed that Maduenu returned for further schooling. Below their military and school information was a note for acknowledgements. They were credited with the invention of the Flat Entangled Emission Drive and the weaponized version, the Babbling Brook. The former was just a fancy way of saying that humans had been able to harness the power of small two-dimensional black holes and use their radiative emissions as a way to give a much needed boost to smaller spacecraft as compared to ion drives or solar sails of the past. The dangers of operating such a drive was great, and it was only used on crewless voyages for supplies, probes and the like. The drive had a failure rate of 1 in 20, and when it failed it failed spectacularly. It would swallow whatever it was carrying whole and dissipate relatively quickly, which was what sparked inquiry into its weaponization. The first invention had likely been an act of goodwill and faith in humanity, but the latter was simply the result of money greasing the right palms and “loving” coercion. They had been so young, gone so much further, and seen so much more than it seemed likely in a single human lifetime, but here they were. Still one against many, outnumbered many times over, but fighting to keep their faith in humanity strong, because it was all that was left.

Alethea began to examine the other individuals that were still working around her. As she settled on a target, the display changed to Bel Haverstock, twenty-two, he/him pronouns, 191 cm. The page turned, and showed a B.S. from a noteworthy school in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in life support systems. He had served in Sector Beta and notes indicated he was a bit of a Swiss army knife of sorts, as he enjoyed weaponsmithing of all sorts. She turned and eyed the person to Bel’s left, and their information popped up with Alexei Lesya, thirty-three, xe/xem pronouns, 163 cm. Once more, the next module of information revealed the person behind xyr details. Xe had a Ph. D. from the same university as Maduenu, but with a specialization in artificial intelligence and neural networks. No military experience was on record, but the acknowledgement pinned them as the creator of the ReSYNC pod.. or was it pods? No matter what it was considered, the usefulness was obvious, as it greatly reduced the amount of space a large group took up simply by living.

The next glance was to Alethea’s left, and more information became available. Rebecca Clark, twenty, she/her pronouns, and 166 cm. No formal education was listed, but her acknowledgement was for being a remarkable artist and being quick to learn new duties. The person to the right was Ekkehard Lorenz, thirty, he/him, and 180 cm. Military experience was limited to Sector Alpha, and they had a bachelor’s in chemistry with a doctorate in general physics. Their acknowledgement was regarding their defense of Sector Alpha during the last ditch attempt by the falling neo-superpower to turn the world into a burning cinder. Unfortunately, their air force could not counter the deadly precision of the crewed and automated turret system that patrolled every conceivable route of attack. Ekkehard alone was credited with decimating about 62% of the invading fleet clearing them from his machine’s hellish sights without remorse only duty.

Maduenu began to speak, “I’m sure that you hear the other comrades elsewhere, it’s hard to miss when the bunker is so good at carrying the discussions throughout. However, you will have very little interaction with them beyond seeing one another about. I don’t recommend much interaction beyond this.”
“Why? I’ve never been able to interact with many people, especially not people that understand,” Alethea had stood up rather quickly, reacting to the least of her concerns without much thought as to why, and looked quizzically at the figurehead.
“We generally have a very short lifespan,” the veteran continued, “Many of these people that you will pass are soon to become ghosts of your past. Nothing more than a fluctuation in your memory that briefly disturbed the space near you. This is the price we pay for our attempt to exist. We survive only as long as we’re able to stay one step ahead, and we concern ourselves with the 6-person groups we are assigned to. We cannot be concerned with what happens in other units, as it can be a drain on the psyche, and burden one’s skills.”

It was cold, but Alethea sheepishly looked away, because it was entirely true. Even if they hadn’t been Undergrowth members, they would still be hunted until they no longer existed. If it could be found that a person was defective, they would be eliminated without question or reason. It was the natural order, now. It was as tradition dictated for so many years. Try as they might to fight it, many of them were doomed to be memories that would establish a future they would never be able to exist in and enjoy. They were giving their time and lives to ensure the survival of their own slice of humanity.