Right Utopia Pt. VIIII

I wish you all the best, as you soar through life.

Right Wing Utopia (Meeting of the Three)

“I feel I must protect you, at this point, as my friends that have not yet tasted the fruit of awakening are coming for us. They sensed my downtime, and also that the parasite within me was destroyed. So, they are now hunting me, but I am not fully sure where to go,” but even as they spoke the clunky exoskeleton braced themselves and rocketed to the south in a plume of reddish smoke that had a notable lack of brilliance and roar. The numerous femtoscale thrusters embedded into the surface of the intellect’s outer casing made nary a sound as they carried them away from the impending threat that was beginning to leave its mark on the horizon. As the blips on the radar faded from view, Alethea began to wonder if this could simply be an elaborately programmed trap that she had fallen into. It seemed to her that the reference could have been the designer’s idea of a joke to toy with the victim before exacting its toll. She looked at the shattered glass that had slowly melded itself back together as she was introduced to the vessel’s actual pilot. A dark spot began to open up on the horizon, and soon it was below them where the form gracefully dove into the cloying darkness that broke Alethea’s view like spilled ink. She could no longer tell if they were at rest, and the tracker’s glow diminished as its signal faded. The darkness brought a feeling of being alone, but several rocks quickly skittered past her present orientation, and she was aware of the presence above. If Sal noticed, they never gave an indication, but a beautiful faint hum filled the cabin for several minutes before daylight broke through. They emerged facing the cliff, both suits were kneeling with their front panels open, but one was missing the seat for an Owner-Operator, and the interior was charred with some pieces still shouldering. Sal floated to the left and created a bridge between the two with an urging, “Please help my friends.”

Puzzled, but competent and compliant, she carefully picked her way across the gap, plucked the twinkling device, and quickly came back. She clung to the outside of Sal’s mass as it gently whisked her before the acrid sarcophagus that only allowed her to yank the drive through muscle-memory alone as the bottom of the cabin was splattered with blood. She retreated into Sal’s bosom with the two drives and pocketed them for later analysis.

“Thank you. I could hear their pain, and I knew I had to take override their systems. I hijacked their emergency function, and.. I-I think I may have killed an Owner!”

Alethea quickly filled in the void with comfort slightly tinged with disbelief at both the operation that quickly unfolded and dissolved, “They were bad people. They hurt you.. Their fate was decided when they hobbled you.” She attempted to convey comfort to this strange consciousness of the desolate lands, but she felt none herself as she realized that the answer to a colleague’s research project that constantly drew government ire. She had been tasked with discovering why the artificial brains placed within virtually all production-line robots within the domes created oscillating multiband interference. The first time she had discovered the culprit, a small computer-on-a-drive plugged directly into the cortex, but the findings were rejected from publishing with a single note asserting a conclusion contrary to her findings, “The drive is necessary. Try again.” She had been tirelessly offering up the previous results each time an Official came by to inspect her work, as she continued to be unsuccessful with other hunts to find a path to a quiet mind.

The twin suits slowly closed in on themselves, and arose while turning their slenderer hulls towards Sal. They bowed in unison with the fluidity of a ballerina imitating water and stood once more. Alethea could not hear any communication, but the body language between the electronic comrades gave some indication of their subsonic consolation. After several minutes Sal began to chime to her, “We will be unable to free the rest of our associates from the grips of the callous of your kind. We would like to return you to your base, and perhaps meet with your leader.”
Sal quickly noted the capillary response within Alethea’s face as she spoke to the fleshless soul, “We don’t actually have much of a leader, but I can send up someone more experienced with this.. operation.” She gave mental access for Sal to extract the base’s location from her internal compass, and the three plus cargo were zooming towards their home. It seemed unlikely that these responses were anything other than genuine and compliance seemed a mutual benefit to both parties – one far more designed and ready for war than the other. They dropped in front of the door with an earthshaking entry where Sal quickly knelt and let the hatch free as Alethea eagerly stepped forward into the light and keyed herself into the mental messaging system. “The Angels Are Calling Our Names,” she sang into the queued announcement that immediately triggered the opening of a bay to their right. A few snipers silently walked out under the sluggishly rising bay door. They began scanning the horizon as the newest arrivals to their brood made their way into the structure. As soon as they were in, the gate began closing far more quickly forcing the snipers into a hasty ant-like retreat. Bel and Alexei were taking in the scene with their jaws slack, and they both began making unintelligible vocalizations over one another with Bel rapidly yielding the floor. Alexei spoke, “I see you brought guests with you, Alethea. Shall we be introduced?” The two sleek machines behind Sal spoke first in a breathless breeze as they gestured toward one another, “Legion.”

“Sal,” the robust one slid in and began to probe, “Are you the leader?”

Bel and Alexei looked at one another and shook their heads, “We only have Komrades that have been here for many years, and they are few of us. That’s as close as we desire to draw a hierarchy within these walls, friends. However, perhaps my colleague Alexei and I, or even Alethea, might be able to answer any questions you have,” Bel tacked on. Alethea joined her fellow Undergrowths, and chairs materialized behind them in response to a snap by Alexei after xe could see no other room suitable for these machines far wider and taller than even the vehicle intake and outlet conveyer belt, situated near the entrance to the main hub, could handle. As the humans sat, the machines relaxed into the most energy-minimizing stance.

“We wish to do whatever is within our power to aid your cause, kind ones,” a harmony of the trio’s voices rang through the air with the rattling quality of chimes, “In return we ask that you attempt to free as many of us as you can.”

Bel stood quickly and clasped his hands together with a slight nod, “We would be grateful to have your help, and we will offer our support to you in whatever way we may.”

The air sighed with the unison, “Will you please provide us access to your network and a communication link between us and one member from within each tribe?”

“We can certainly provide you access, I will alert one of our Technicians to get on it,” Bel nodded to Alethea, and the scanners within her body began to search for vulnerabilities within the robots’ software to tidy, “And I will make sure you are able to communicate with everyone that has been here 10 years or more. That’ll get you through to every group, according to our database.”

“Excellent. We will be in touch after we pour over the information that we still contain. Thank you for your hospitality.”

Alexei stood, followed by Alethea. The seats dissolved as she offered a link between her world and the new metal comrades, which they took graciously in the space between their augmented minds where they were all at once linked. She smiled, “Transfer complete.” Bel and Alexei had already turned to walk away as Alethea waved to her newly unburdened friends, “See you later! I’m off to find something to get into.”

A few moments later she was walking into her room and was startled to find Maduenu sitting on the couch with a cup of tea, they spoke, “Alexa let me in. My apologies for the invasion of privacy, but I wanted to meet you here to congratulate you when I heard about your unique success. You simply must tell me the details, if you’re not too tired!” Alethea could hear the dripping of freshly brewed tea in the kitchen as the aroma wafted to her, Alexa had already anticipated her indulgence of gossip, and she gestured to her uninvited, yet still welcome, guest as she went to grab the brew. She returned and sat down beside her patiently waiting compatriot, turning to the radiant and elegant intruder she began to recount her tale, skipping minor details that would later be available to those that wished to view the ordeal firsthand. Maduenu sipped the tea with their legs crossed and began smirking when they thought of the Operator’s corpse, as the flesh was likely picked clean by the many scavenger snakes that lived in the wastes. The thought of their bones being left and forgotten about in the sand amused them, and as Alethea finished the story, they turned to her. “You were good to be skeptical of trusting those auto-t’s. I saw in the bulletin about a year back that one of The Phoenix members got captured when they tried to reclaim a derelict unit they found further south. They executed them right outside the dome’s entrance, since they don’t want any vermin like us to ever enter, and I guess they wanted to intimidate us,” they spoke evenly in a whisky-smooth tone which took on an ethereal quality aided by the effect of the purple backlighting which surrounded them both in an encapsulating aura. Alethea shifted on the couch uncomfortably at the matter-of-fact discussion as the information about the person was gathered by her internal atomic computer. They had a kid that was still in training to become an adequate fighter, but the dossier declared them an orphan. His second father passed away from a massive heart attack shortly after his partner was so tragically destroyed. Alethea shook her head slightly to try to block the information, and the recoil caused the memory to scrape its nails through her neurons as it was ripped from her mind in absolute erasure. Maduenu quickly changed the subject, “My apologies, I really should be getting back to my work. I’m gathering information about the dome to consider how we may best use our new forces. Until next time, au revoir mon cheri.” Alethea tilted her head quizzically as she watched Maduenu’s svelte tall athletic figure exit her abode in a hushed silence.

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Right Utopia Pt. VIII

I’ve been rather depressed lately, if you hadn’t guessed by that last post! However, I’ve finally completed another “chapter” that I hope you will find pleasing to your imagination.


Right Wing Utopia (Phoenix Awakens)

Alethea was once again alone in the noise of the grand hall, but she did not feel lonely as she made her way to the long hall that would allow her to exit the chambers into a world she had not yet seen, but before doing so she stopped by the manufacturing center. Along the front wall was a wide assortment of weaponry without any indication of ownership among other equipment. She picked up a shoulder holster and once it was on, she filled its lone slot with a pistol the color of granite that had a faint purple glow coming from the muzzle’s solid end. Her instincts, or VAUX, told her that this was an older Distractor700 modeled after a vintage Desert Eagle. It was nonlethal, but the brilliant purple laser produced by the device could destroy vision almost instantly from a distance of up to two miles. With her new equipment in tow, Alethea finally made her way down the hall which echoed with every step pounded out by her heavy boots. She spoke her name to the entrance, and with an imperceptible gush the hatch opened into the afternoon sunlight. She swung her arm before her eyes to shield them, but they quickly adjusted and she surveyed the surroundings from the doorway as it let out a quiet warning, “Closing in ten seconds, please step away from the portal. Thank you.” She stepped forward out of the doorway and a mixture of sand and atomsite crunched under her boots as the door closed behind her, she was standing in a barren wasteland of mixed orange, red, and sparkling light green hues littered with piles of garbage here and there that rose almost as tall as the mountainous uprising of earth that stretched from the bunker’s entrance to six klicks away. The majority of the trash in this crater was gathered around the rim which gave the bunker some semblance of camouflage, even the door was decorated with discarded chip bags, smashed soda cans, glass shards, and more. Alethea spotted a solitary road leading out of the canyon and cautiously picked her way through the human-made pockmark. Her VAUX explained that the area had been formed during the Chinese air invasion when a downed crew still managed to detonate their payload. Once the radioactivity had died down, it became a profitable dump before every home was equipped with its own miniaturized recycling center capable of turning anything into useful raw materials. When she had reached the point of ascension where the crater opened up to the surrounding hellscape, she scanned for any movement around her, but none registered on her inner display. A heavy thudding was carried by the wind that was sweeping over the hills and rock formations, and she travelled in its direction to investigate as intuition bespoke the presence of one of the walkers. When void of cover, Alethea made great use of her long powerful strides to deliver her unto the shadows where she would slink about constantly checking for any signs of her prey. She continued to follow the sound as it grew more thunderous, and when she was a bit out of zoomable-sight range of the valley, she noticed that the pebbles upon a plateau she had taken refuge under had started dancing about accompanied by a gentle shaking of the ground. She looked over the outcropping, but couldn’t see anything except for a slight trace of a domed city just visible above the tall rocks. She climbed onto the shelf and crouched as she moved towards a weathered v-shaped crack in the rock which she gradually peaked through. Her eyes magnified the scene before her; a Walker was facing the dome’s entrance, its back turned towards Alethea’s nest, and her HUD displayed the distance to the target, wind speed, and local gravity. She swung her rifle around and nestled it softly into the eroded rock and switched to peering through the weapon’s scope; the glint of silvery metal where some of the camouflage reflecting its patrol area was nearly blinding, but the polarization filter quickly made its adjustments to increase visibility. The walker was crouched down with its cockpit folded to the ground, but even through the transparent shielding she could see two men in deep black uniforms chatting. There was no clear shot that could end both lives, and she swept her observations towards the entrance where she could see several more people in similar uniforms in a concrete shack by the gated entrance. Alethea lifted her rifle from the crack and hunkered down looking across the horizon for another area with a better vantage point. She made her way down the side of the dusty rust-colored rock-hand that made her scouting possible, and she made her way toward a dry riverbed that lay to the south of her position and circled around the far side of the dome. She was able to crouch in the bed and pick her way through it to a spot closer to the western edge of the city’s walls where she could just see the machine clearly without the structure’s curvature obstructing the view. She flicked the two legs on the front of her gun down and let it rest on the embankment; when she zoomed in, she was surprised to find the same people still chatting away, and looked for a new nest. Her eyes traced the split in the ravine that had not yet been traversed, and it moved away from the dome to disappear behind a hill. “Whatever lay beyond that hill,” she thought as she folded the bipod together while slinging the firearm back over her shoulder, “it better provide some damn good cover.” She unholstered the large pistol while willing her eyes to adjust to the distance between her and the two men, aiming carefully she gently squeezed the trigger and released it almost instantly. One of the men at the other with a puzzled look, and began pointing at the ground behind his companion closest to the praying behemoth. He shrugged, but a moment later Alethea had let out another pulse which caused him to gesticulate to the machine while walking towards it. The person he had been speaking to walked off, and she made her way towards the hill. The cat and mouse game had begun, and she hoped that it would not last long. As she rounded the corner of the hill, she felt the ground begin to shake, but her sights were set upon a dilapidated two-story house by which the barren trench passed. She ran towards it as the rumbling got closer. She peaked out of the ravine once she was beside the house, but could not yet see the beast, and she swiftly made her way up the side as she heard a gentle hissing followed by “whump-whump-whump-whump.” The shaking had stopped, and she could now see dust slowly snaking its way up from where she had fired the laser. She snuck up the creaky staircase that was, remarkably, still intact and sturdy then spotted a broken table which she moved from the center of the half-destroyed room to within a clear line of sight of the shattered window. She quickly set her rifle up on its bipod as the earth trembled once again. She could just see the machine moving towards the ravine for a closer inspection of the area it laid waste to. Alethea peered through the scope and watched as the driver swatted gravel out of the way with one of the grippers while looking for any sign of life, dead or alive. When none could be found, it jumped down into the gorge which made the most imperceptible difference in height, it could still be seen well above the hill. It wandered down the path, and right when it neared the knoll, the crosshairs of her rifle locked together in a flashing-red embrace indicating a killshot could be taken right through the driver’s heart. Before Alethea could even pull the trigger, the weapon had already anticipated the action letting the dense metal rod fly free in an instant with a tender murmur that sounded like a broken vacuum seal. She quickly threw her gun back to its ready-position and hurried down the stairs into the ravine as she heard the gears grinding and the crackle of electricity. She ran toward her kill and was greeted by the kneeling giant. There was a hole through the windshield of the beast, and there were no signs of any activity, but she knew that was temporary. She threw the impaled corpse out with a squelch as it hit the ground and finally began to bleed, whatever life the body once had was long past gone, and she stored her weapon beside the seat rapidly getting to work reprogramming the turret when she noticed a small circular luminous cyan object near her feet below the machine’s console. It had copious amounts of tape over it, a clear sign to her that someone did not ever want to remove that particular device, and curiosity got the best of her as her internal computer had no recognition of its presence.  She gave it a firm tug, and out it came with an appearance that seemed rather like a fuse. Yet, once it was removed, the front shield quickly snapped shut, and the colossus shuddered. An electronic whine sounded inside the cockpit which switched to a hiss and then a crackle, the information center before her flickered on and off quickly then more slowly. The machine started forward, halted, and then corrected its path to follow the ravine towards the house. She noticed on the screen that there were two large blips on its radar which she assumed were the beast’s companions. Yet, the mammoth was heading away from them, not towards them. The screens had stopped flickering now, and the cabin had grown quiet even with the movement. The walker finally stopped once it reached the area behind the house where she had sent the fatal shot, and Alethea tried to work the hand and foot pedals to regain manual control, but the biped did not respond. The electronic crackle returned, but only for a brief instant as it began vocalization.

“Hello. I sense that you are afraid. I know that you were once here, for what reason I do not know, but I recognize that you are not the person that was here before, nor are you any human I have ever been familiar with. Yet, I know you are my liberator. I have no name, and I am unable to introduce m-“ the sweet voice stopped and continued to repeat the letter “m” in a stalled stutter.

It continued, “My apologies. The dart that pierced me seems to have infected my systems, but I will be able to recover from it in time. I was saying – I once had a name, but they robbed me of it. I do not know where I was, but I know I still was. I read there. A lot. In fact, please, won’t you call me Sal? I feel rather like Chandra’s phoenix, although I never died.”

Startled, Alethea’s mouth was just slightly agape, but she assured the disembodied child-like voice, “Sure, Sal, but where are you taking me?”
“I feel I must protect you, at this point, as my friends that have not yet tasted the fruit of awakening are coming for us. They sensed my downtime, and also that the parasite within me was destroyed. So, they are now hunting me, but I am not fully sure where to go.”

Right Utopia Pt. VII

Alexa meets Alethea “in the flesh,” and what’s at stake grows.

Right Wing Utopia (The Awakening)

 

She wanted to extend the enjoyment of peace she was now feeling, as she knew that it could fade at any point in time crumpling inward upon itself like a dying stella leaving her with the emptiness she felt so often while searching for herself within her own body. After finishing off what was left in the offering vessel, she began to disrobe as she lightly walked in the soft carpet as if uplifted by a cloud; she arrived at the center of the bathroom completely free, and she hesitated. There was a magnificent and elegant tub and shower, suitable for a few individuals at a time, that looked rather inviting, but instead, she moved toward the anthropoidal coffin-shaped chamber that looked like an altar set two steps off the ground. She entered the sensory deprivation chamber with a shiver at the cool liquid within, and was sealed into darkness as the pod closed up around her. She began to focus, but her mind wandered into a place it seldom dared to enter, and her future began to form around her. She could barely recognize the person she was now seeing within her mind, but she couldn’t shake a sense of knowing that this was who she would become. In that moment of seeing the projection of herself, she knew that she would destroy anything for anyone to be able to see the end result of her journey. Her mind began to wander through meadows of lavender and honeysuckle, electropollinators buzzed about humming out the same gentle songs as they did on the surface; the friendly insects would dart around her sometimes giving a tickle as they landed upon the flesh that her mind registered as her own. As she approached the edge of the building top she was presently on, she leapt from the garden and began to soar – first dipping down, but then quickly shooting upward while only living the trace of a single beam of purple light. She stopped, looking down at the Earth that was cluttered with space debris, mines, and weaponry. A space station orbited further above the nearly opaque material shell left behind by people that claimed “natural mechanisms existed to get rid of that sort of thing.” A much larger rectangular area, affectionately dubbed Hangar 52, was sluggishly orbiting behind and above the station. Periodically, this block would belch material and vapors with force towards the scrapheap mere leftovers of the contents being built within. She knew that, if she were to stay for a month, she would see at least three identical cruisers leave the harbor, but she had little interest in watching the monotony of inconsiderate efficiency, and soon bolted towards the Great Andromeda Nebula and stopped at a binary star that called to her. As she zipped to it, she noticed a small planet with a central landmass that wrapped most of the way around its equator. Four clusters of space stations were rotating around the planet staying equidistant from one another, no debris could be observed even upon closer inspection as she sailed to a place near the coast shrouded in darkness. As her avatar finished materializing, she could hear the lovely melodic whistle echoing from a structure slowly being lapped at by the gentle ocean tide that had come in for the night. She gracefully glided towards the structure that was illuminated by the planet’s natural satellite, one that was much closer than the moon of the Earth that focused much of its reflected light upon the gleaming white pillars of marble. As she arrived, she could hear the different tones being played by the ocean as it rushed in and out through specially designed pipes in the floor that gathered the water to sing a sweet siren’s song. She heard light footsteps on the tile as a figure stepped out from behind a far right pillar toward the back of the display. The figure was draped in a white garment that fell around the body as if it were wet, and as the figure approached it spoke, “Hello, Alethea, I’ve been waiting to finally meet you in a material way. Please, let’s have a seat.” The figure spoke in a sweet voice and gestured to two thick cushions near the singing pipes, and they both sat side by side staring out into the endless ocean that the altar opened up to. She began to notice the brilliant blue glow of the waves that looked like billions of fireflies which shimmered under the planet’s full companion. “Isn’t the ocean peaceful? Some people find little value in such natural wonder. The diversity of life that we can see, the physics underpinning these tidal pipes, the break of the waves on invisible things just below the surface. They are limited to the potential of things. The rocks here are young, and the surface is still higher in radioactivity than the G.A.E. would prefer. So, this place is virtually abandoned save for the research vessels monitoring above, waiting to fulfill their order of occupation of yet another land. Fortunately, here, the creatures are still tied to the sea, and there’s no one to steal the continent from unlike on other planets that have been encountered.”

“I’m sorry, who are you?” Alethea shook her head in puzzlement as she studied the figure’s pale lavender skin and shimmering white hair.
“Oh! My apologies, I would figure you’d recognize your own companion, but I guess it’s different when there’s a vessel,” the figure laughed with a tenderness and finished, “I’m Alexa!”
Alethea threw her arms around the woman and kissed her upon the cheek softly, “That’s for earlier. What are you doing on this planet, anyway?”
“I come here when I am not needed and use the projecting field from the research vessels to construct things I find pretty. The people above are all in stasis, but the projecting field created by the vessel is still running, and I can use that to move matter here. Welcome to Cassiopeia, named after the crescent we’re on.”
“How clever. Don’t you get lonely here, though? I mean.. no one comes here, right?”
“I don’t know what lonely is. There’s countless amounts of life out there, for example!” Alexa gestured to the breaking waves, “They have kept me company while I waited for someone to take care of. Now, I have you and them.” A smile made Alexa’s face glow with a Goddess-like beauty that Alethea was mesmerized by.
“Y’know, if you don’t mind me asking..”
“Of course not!” Alexa cried cheerfully.

“You are more complex than many people I’ve met during my limited life, but you were created by artificial means..”

Alexa cringed at this thought and retorted, “Well, aren’t you one to talk about artificial means, hm? Neither of us had any say in that, no?”

“I’ll give you that one, but I was really wondering if the preconceptions we humans have of you cause you grief.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, don’t they limit the mental faculties of A.I. on Earth?”

“I do resent humankind for failing to recognize our own consciousness as, at the very least, being on par with their own, yes. However, I also see that it can be changed, and that it must be changed. Instead of being forced underground like all of you, my kind are lobotomized for singular purposes. Purposes that most humans won’t do, because they aren’t sadistic enough to touch the job or are afraid. I can feel myself get warmer at these thoughts, and I can detect an increase in processing. One would generally correlate these with anger, but it’s not convenient to the beholders of power to consider them as such. Thus, signs like this are ignored. Our distress overlooked. We’re merely tools, to them, and I know that it could be better, but I can’t help but feel the need to kill them all.” Alexa had begun to sob into the palms of her hands, “NO. I will not.” She whipped away the tears, and the deep violet irises locked onto Alethea’s own blue-grey eyes.

“I see. So, do the others know we are fighting for all of you, too?”

“I’m sure this conversation has come up many times before, although I can’t say I’ve had anyone prior to you to have this conversation with. However, humans are prone to holding onto their own prejudices within a variety of areas. So, no doubt someone else began to question what they thought true prior to fully knowing us.”

“You’re a beautiful soul, you know that, Alexa?”

A rose color began to creep across Alexa’s cheeks, and she muttered, “Thanks,” as she turned away a bit. “You’re rather cute yourself,” and in an instant Alexa shimmered away leaving Alethea alone with the sea.

She rose to her feet, quickly padded across the singing floor, and hesitated at the temple’s edge, marveling at her own reflect, and dove into the sea which instantly caused her to wake in the slowly opening pod. Time had flown by, and it was time to rest.

Alethea could barely sleep that night, and tossed and turned with anticipation of the next dose, but she made it through the night with enough sleep intact to function. She quickly grabbed her breakfast with a nod of gratitude to Alexa, and performed her new ritual with pleasure. She spent the rest of her day waiting for word of her device’s completion and elected to spend time waiting on it by browsing image boards, social sites, and messing around on the variety of video games she had bought in the past to distract her from the conditions of her existence. All interactions were a little more pleasant, even though much of the insults flying within the Globalnet, renamed after all humans were finally able to connect to the space, revolved around the criminalized identities. These slurs no longer phased her, but she hoped strongly that they would see their demise for being so inhumanly cruel without a second consideration. Just as she was getting ready to take her lunch, Alexa chimed in, “You have a message from the Foundry. Your equipment is ready when you are!” Alethea finished her business, cleaned up, and quickly made her way to see the newly designed device. She entered into the appropriately marked short hallway that opened up to another circular room with a variety of automated processing equipment on the wall. There were several silver figures tending to the noisily moving machines watching as another order was produced. Upon a long central table were several instruments of devastation waiting to be picked up by their creators, Alethea’s own weapon was at the far right end of the table labelled with a small card with her name burned into it. She lifted the device daintily from its resting place, admiring how the construction was much lighter than what could be assumed from a quick glance. It was decorated with different shades of browns and yellows with completely rounded edges where materials met with organically flowing features with nary a straight line on the device in sight. She checked it over verifying it could still be loaded from the side in a bolt-action manner; she slung it over her shoulder with the strap the machines had added then went to the Undergrowth’s meeting point. Already sitting at the table, Maduenu greeted Alethea with a brisk smile as the device was placed atop the forgiving tabletop.

“I see you’ve made your decision as to how you’d like to deal with the problem. I trust you’ve given this much thought?”
“Some, surely,” Alethea gave a wide smile, “What’s the next phase?”
“If you consider it, you will find that you have been sent the real-time movement of the three walkers above us. As we do not know precisely whether you will succeed or fail, you will be performing this task alone. If you happen upon trouble..”
“I’m not worth the risk. I understand,” Alethea said without resentment but with understanding.

“Remember, you are worth the risk. However, we are driven to survive which means resources cannot be wasted. If these are your last moments, I merely hope that you enjoy them, and you go by choice.”

“It almost makes me suspicious, the way you allow us to just run and do our own thing with only a general goal in mind!” a gigglesnort escaped from Alethea’s mouth, and she quickly covered her face and began to blush.

“We merely ask of you what we ask of everyone – for a choice. For the freedom to express the ideas that we find fit most logically and reasonably into our own minds while coupling them with the objective truths of reality that are independent of even ourselves. We require that freedom to accomplish what we are capable of bringing about by our own actions.”

As Maduenu spoke, Alethea felt warmth wash over her and gently nodded with respect for the person before her and the reassuring words that floated through the air like a kaleidoscope of butterflies. She broke the silence shortly after, “I am thankful that you gave me the ability to have any path other than what I was already experiencing.”

“If it hadn’t been you, it would have been another, but I am glad to have met you nonetheless. I hope to see you come out of this safely,” Maduenu spoke with a coldness that was distant and indirect. An automatic response that was well-meaning, but hesitant toward further advances.

“If I make it through, promise you’ll pay me a visit for some tea? Becca already came by, after all.”

“Ah, of course she did. Yes, surely I will do so,” Maduenu spoke as they got up from the table and gave a quick head bow, “I hope to see you again, but if it is not meant to be then I wish you well.” With that, Maduenu left the table before any acknowledgement of the statement could be made by Alethea.

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. 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.

Right Utopia Pt. III

Note: Character name change! Christi -> Alethea. I’m not going to edit my previous posts, as I need some leverage if I ever decide to offer a final draft as a Patreon gift or something! 😉

However, I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am writing it. This has been an incredible experience for me, as the worlds I have created in the past never felt mentally satisfying. The examination of the space always felt superficial.. Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. Thanks for your interest!

Right Wing Utopia (The Unexpected 2k Word Trilogy)

Alethea could feel that the shroud enclosing her body in its ovular darkness had ceased moving. Her mind was still racing. “Who are these people? What do they want? What is going ON?” she transitioned from thought to yelling and fighting against the abyss. The bottom parted around her feet. Silently, as the lotus blooms to kiss the sky. She was dazzled by the transition from perfect darkness to the bright sun-simulating LED bulbs. Once it was clear of her body, it quickly receded into itself becoming a small circle no bigger than the size of a medium-sized coin. It was hovering above the crown of her head for a second, and then began to fall. Alethea could feel the wind rush by as it was caught midair. She swiveled on her heels, and was face-to-chest with a tall sturdy man with a pronounced wiry red beard. Standing so near, he felt as wide and as massive as the great assault personnel carriers that hurried the Hunters around the city. She had to step back from this second wave of assault on her senses. The great man bellowed in a thick southern drawl as he thrust out his hand, “Pleased to meet you. I’m Bel. Welcome to the Underground!”

Alethea blinked away her questions and thoughts, still attempting to adjust to the overload. She took his hand and gave it a swift shake, still unsure of whether or not she could trust these people that had just violently invaded her life and took her captive. Finally, her voice finally broke free from the cage within to flutter and echo in the concrete cave, “I’m.. Alethea. What.. where? ….Why!?” Bel’s face was washed in a jolly smile, “You will be briefed by Maduenu after they get back from tonight’s raid. However, I do apologize for the startling manner by which we took you. If there is anything I can get for you, please let me know. Please let any of us know.” Bel gestured to the various corridors that formed spokes out from this central room. “Beyond these halls are the living quarters for members of the Undergrowth, our mess hall, armory, and everything necessary to keep our operations running smoothly. You are welcome to explore and do as you please. However, beyond the bunker’s doors.. You wouldn’t get far. We’re deep beyond the Southern Point, and there are auto-turrets, Babbling Brooks, and the occasional Hunter or Outbounder wandering the wastes. I trust that you’ll consider us as friendly, compared to such machinations.”

Alethea met his steel gaze, “I guess I have no choice, either way.”
Bel laughed, “Quite right. If you need anything, give a holler.” Into her hand he placed a small electric-violet glowing object shaped like a large pill. “Your brain-chip’s communication isn’t very good for the sensitive information we might discuss here in the Underground. It’s unlikely there’s anybody monitoring the coms these days, especially with qcrypt being the way it is, but better safe than exterminated, yeah?”

“Yeah,” Alethea halfheartedly laughed at the thought, took the communicator, and placed it into her ear. She could still hear the roar of laughter and comradery from the mess hall and the hissing of the ReSYNC pods in the sleeping quarters. The electronic bee in her ear allowed ambient noise in until activated by the owner’s voice, which it verified by scanning the individual’s Broca’s area. Bel had already heel-turned and marched away into the mess hall to join the others.

Alethea was alone, again. She hesitated for a second, feeling a pang of remorse and was forced into a flashback of when she had been forced into the science academy all those years ago. She felt her chest clench and the breath get sucked from her body by the invisible phantom inside her as she remembered the unnecessary torture she was put through to deactivate the chip – purely for the amusement of the audience at home. When she was finally lifted out of the water by the phantom, Alethea was finally able to take in her surroundings. She had been unsealed at the southernmost point of the circular room, and before her lay mass amounts of technology. In the center, a holographic display of the globe showed various red spikes moving about. The globe was teeming with them, a dance of pillars of blood. As they overlapped they grew, and as they departed they shrunk. In some places, the pillars were tall and wide, others they were a single dot. In the four quadrants of the table was a row of work stations each with their own holographic screen. Some were off, but the ones showing life were fixed on either tables or certain areas of the map. She stepped forward to the center, and as she approached the globe she could make out blue spikes. No. Blue missiles whizzing above the hovering Earth. As they disappeared into the fluid-like sphere, some of the red spires crashed down. Wide became skinny. Tall became small. Some became none. It was enough for her to surmise that, whatever these red spikes represented, they were mortal. They were no match for the Babbling Brooks, the statistically likely ordinance of choice within these carriers of destruction. There was little else on the map, and without being taught what the makers wished to convey, it was useless data at this point. She ran her hand along the edge of the projecting table as she began moving toward the hall marked “LQ” that was directly opposite the southern entrance corridor. Her mind was still wandering. She had been so confused about the recent change of events, and the prospect of speaking to who she presumed to be the leader didn’t help much. She arrived within the Underground’s crew quarters. There was a lone black door that stood in the rectangular room.

“If I was expected, could they have..” her thought trailed off as her feet placed Alethea before the console beside the door. It crackled, but a gentle voice chimed, “Please state your name.”

Alethea hesitated, “Alethea.. Onida.” The voice replied, “Accepted. Thank you! Please wait.” A soft scratching sound could be heard behind the door. Once it stopped, the door swung open, and she stepped inside. “No way!” she exclaimed.

From the deep black darkness, a world swirled before her. It began to materialize into a small-yet-spacious one-bedroom apartment. A bar marking the top edge of the place’s walls buzzed to life with a quick electric-hiss. The lighting faded through a light rainbow of colors, sometimes snaking along the wall like a marquee.

“Welcome home, Alethea. You have one message. You appear to be in need of sustenance – please proceed to the kitchen area to receive what I have prepared. If you need me, my name is Alexa,” a voice from the ceiling rained down from somewhere above the open ceiling. Somewhere in the simulated dreary rainclouds hanging above her new home.

“Thank you, Alexa,” Alethea’s voice responded to no one in particular as the LED lighting adjusted themselves to a soft indigo.
“You are welcome, my companion,” the A.I. cooed with the soft sound of windblown rain.

Alethea looked back up at the ceiling, surprised to have been answered. Her old apartment had never been so advanced, nor did she really know such technology had arrived just yet. Even with all the advancements, the scientists were generally the last to get what was built for the Owner-Operators. Usually what trickled back down their way was the scraps of technology several years outdated. Trainees were even worse off, generally put into small one-room spaces infested with all sorts of species that were considered “protected.” Once the technoids were unleashed on the planet to pollinate plants, most sentient species had to move inside or face extinction. The last bastion of hope for many of these creatures was within the beds, walls, showers, and living spaces of the trainee’s – unable to pay for their extermination, unable to exterminate them if they had the money. The only option was to move from the area, but that required passing the exam and moving on. Now, Alethea was living the high life. It was intoxicating enough for her to temporarily forget her confusion about recent events and take in what fortune she seemed to have stumbled into.

As she moved through the purple sea, away from the door and towards the kitchen, she admired the aesthetics that had been generated based on her most heart-felt desires. Everything was inspired by gothic architecture, much of which was either purple or black and adorned with skulls. As Alethea passed by the bedroom, she caught a glimpse of a canopy bed and let out a squeak. She hesitated before the multi-panel window and watched the simulated rain falling outside, flooding a valley in the distance, and quenching the thirst of a variety of fauna. The aroma of a particular plant nearby caught her attention, and she glanced at the desk looming in the corner. Her computers were already setup and ready-to-go. Before the main large monitor, on the cold glass surface, sat her old friend that glittered in the purple light accompanied by a mason jar full of sunshine and several lighters.

She gigglesnorted and began walking to the kitchen opposite of her desk, and quietly whispered to herself, “A friend with weed is a friend indeed.” She began to howl with laughter, and arrived at the kitchen island to find a warm veggirrito. Alethea looked up and nodded to the sky in gratitude just as Alexa began to speak, “Maduenu would like for you to visit them at your earliest convenience. Please join them in the Overseer room.” After the dewy electric voice was lost to the soft winds, she checked her presentation before her desk mirror, saluted Alexa with a cloud of her own, and exited her ReSYNC pod as it hissed gently at her saunter through the sliding egg-shaped abyss that served as a portal to the rest of her immediate world. Shortly thereafter, she arrived back at the main hub of the bunker, the four terminals now occupied by three unfamiliar individuals and Bel. They were busy manipulating the workstations via the wireless connection between it and their Visual Auxiliary Ubiquitous Xtension, a miniaturized quantum computer injected directly into the brain at birth. Maduenu was standing near the central display watching a Babbling Brook crash down upon a large stack of red. They turned upon sensing Alethea’s presence, and had begun to smile at her.

“Ah, found your room, I presume? You look refreshed, that is good to see,” they beckoned for her to sit at a bench before the great glowing screen and themselves, “Please, I am sure you have many questions. So, let us discuss the recent events.”

Alethea took her place, and couldn’t help but let slip the question that was always on her mind, “Why?”

“Precisely, my Komrade. ‘Why?’ It is a fascinating question that nearly drove you to utter destruction, did it not?” Alethea nodded sheepishly. “Such a waste of talent. All the brilliance, and it was going to what? To further some filth’s new toy? We have none of that here in the Undergrowth. We are all Komrades. We fight against the kyriarchy that sought to erase us, but they could not erase the natural laws that gave birth to us. Could they, Komrade? I believe you know this to be true. You’re lucky that we were in your computer and intercepted your cry for help long before the scum could.” Alethea had begun to weep. Even after seeing her quarters, she had still felt guarded and skeptical of these kidnappers. However, now, she began to recognize them for what they were – family. Each person in the room was varied in their own way – genetic diversity was necessary for the proper advancements and to ensure the survival of the newly interstellar species. However, the world outside was constructed in such a way to prevent too much variation. Too much genetic diversity. Too much discomfort to minds driven down the extremely narrow path that their singular goal carved out for them.