Blacker than Energy

 

A story of caution by Javier R. Romero

 

It wasn’t long ago that physicists ramped up efficiency numbers for solar panels. It seemed to be a material engineer’s dream. Exotic materials were being created based on nano-technology that had just been prototyped. Bleeding edge technology for a bleeding edge world. Like software, video games, and cellphones, now the energy sector was releasing “Developer level” technology to the public. What’s cooler than being in on beta testing? Well… alpha testing obviously. The newer the better! Who cares if you get cancer? There’s a new experimental drug for that out now anyway.

 

But I digress… solar power!

 

Triple-junction cells were just the beginning! While studying what the energy transfer looked like in those cells they found something strange happening. In areas of the cell that were darker than others things seemed to be bi-locating. That is to say in layman terms one particle was in two places at the same time. Even more fascinating the waveforms were harmonizing in these areas but as soon as they left the darker regions the waveform collapsed. What did it mean? It didn’t take too long for the fringes of society to start worrying that scientists shouldn’t study the phenomena. If we listened to them we’d still be sitting in caves because fire is dangerous.

 

Needless to say, everyone got to work on making a perfectly even distribution of those darker areas until they managed to produce a perfect 350mm x 350mm panel. The scientific world rejoiced just because they were able to create the panel, it would be 7 months until they were able to test it but that was the hard part. In order to pull energy from the panel we had to rethink the way we interface with solar panels. Unfortunately the only person who had come close to explaining the process was a disgraced electrical engineer. He was the guy who blew up a power-plant because the “gnomes” said it was bored. Don’t ask me how a power-plant can be bored. Normally no one would’ve paid attention to him but he locked himself in on one of the meetings and forced everyone to listen to him… at gun point.

 

After a 2 day hostage scenario the scientists came to see that Englebart knew exactly what he was talking about… this time.

 

After coaxing 5 million dollars out of the federal government for “Renewable Energy Technology Development” Englebart got to work. He locked himself away in the warehouse and any attempt to get inside by the scientists was met with frantic yelling about disturbing the “Quantilis”. Even when the power went out he calmly walked outside, started up the generator trucks and went back to work. The phrase, “A man possessed” was too perfect. At the end of it all he wheeled out a 10 foot tall behemoth of wires, glass tubes and a board with at least 14 different knobs on the front.

“Don’t touch the knobs they’re for the song. You have to sing in tune or else it will get dark. Not colour, dark in, in, in, feel. Everything will change… feel different. Change isn’t good, not this kind. Don’t touch the knobs. Gotta sing in tune. A…A sharp should be good. Sing once, first song, final song. No change.”

 

He only agreed to and was able to get one interview despite the constant push for him to become the face of this new technology. The other scientists said he would be a sympathetic personality for people to connect to. Englebart knew they were making fun of him.

 

“So, finally Mr. Englebart…”

“Please, Timothy. Call me Timothy, I like Timothy.”

“Well then, Timothy. Why is it that you’re so intent on having your… tuner set to A sharp?

“Energy is important. Runs through the wires like a, like a hum. 60or 50hz. Boring sound but ok for cavemen. A sharp is alive and happy.”

“I see. Well Timothy, is there…”

“Music makes people happy. When you hear a good song you smile. When you hear a bad one you feel bad. Electricity is waves. Waves have sound. Make good sound, make good energy. Make bad sound… Bad sound bad. A Sharp happy.”

“Tell me this Timothy, what would happen if your tuner fell out of tune?”

 

It was at that point that Englebart started crying uncontrollably. Newspapers would go on to call him a freak and a weirdo. The other scientists were quickly branded as “The minds behind the future.” No one ever understood what he meant. All they needed to know was that he made the tuners and once the first one was set the others were automatic because of his “Quantilis”, whatever that was. No one knows because they’re locked inside the tuners.

 

Needless to say, with the oil reserves nearly dry, the world was holding its breath when the first test occurred. In actuality the theoretical numbers were so good they were already in talks for retrofitting existing solar farms and manufacturing single home units. It was impossible to stop the machine of commerce now.

 

On the big day Englebart was nervous. He kept saying the weather was bad, but that’s because he was struck by lightning in the past, hence his mannerisms. Clouds always made him uneasy. He made sure everyone was standing far enough back as not to disrupt his tuning. After 4 minutes of him humming to himself on national television he yelled in triumph, startling some of the people around him. He said before they started that “When I say you can make toast it’s a success.”

 

Everyone held their breath as the numbers on the power meter rose, 30 volts, 60, 120, 240. The camera pans over to the other side of the tuner and the screen said 30 amps. When the numbers stopped rising a reporter walked up to Englebart curious about what the readouts on the myriad screens meant.

 

“So Englebart, what do these readings mean? Is it a success?”

“Well these numbers are for each line and when the lines are used there are 14 in total. Cut one of them in half and you have the others singing fine through the wires to, to, to, to your toaster. We just have to let the tu, tu, tu, tuner… You can make toast.”

 

It was at that point the reporter slapped Englebart on the shoulder in congratulations. The reporter walked in front of him and motioned the camera to zoom in on the screens.

“Please be careful. It has a few more seconds to set.”

The reporter waved at Englebart and walked back down the stairs talking into the camera as everyone else was rejoicing. Finally, we have an alternative to oil that was cheap and easy to access. The wire on the reporter’s backup mic was now coiled around Englebart’s feet. With each step the wire was pulled taught, eventually making Englebart lose his balance. His hand landed on one of the knobs and a look of horror fell over his face. However the cameras were now focused on the more photogenic faces of the scientists Englebart had held hostage. His tuner made the sound to let him know the frequency had been set and Englebart fell to his knees.

 

It wasn’t until 4 years later that Englebart had his last interview.

“… Don’t you love how everyone is smiling now because of the green, cheap and affordable energy you helped provide them?!”

“Smiles hide mean thoughts. I don’t like the smiles. Everyone mean outside now not just inside… I said A sharp… this isn’t A sharp.”

 

It was slight, only visible for a flash of an instant but it was noticeable. The interviewer glared at Englebart with a murderous intent.

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Winter’s Reach

Even with the heat on, as I was sweating, winter stretched into my room and lapped at my arm. I glared at the window before I got up to check it, just to make sure the top window hadn’t crawled it’s way down a few millimetres. I pulled the curtain away and saw nothing but the pure whiteness that was the blizzard’s aftermath. The window was solidly closed, the latches were locked as well. I grabbed the curtain to pull it shut again but I froze in place. There was a figure standing in the street outside my new house. The tall dead trees of winter looked like they were quivering with anticipation behind them. I tried to pull the curtain but I wasn’t sure if moving was the best thing to do at that moment. My mind however, was free to race.

“I can’t tell if it’s a dude or a chick.

Aren’t they cold?

Why are they standing there?

Why are they looking at me?”

8920426131_160d913bd3_b

Photo by Adrian Smalley, https://www.flickr.com/photos/smalleyphotography/8920426131 used under Creative Commons 2.0 No changes were made to this image.

 

Then I noticed the snow around them was melting and as I looked away from their face to focus on the pool of water under their naked feet, a voice pierced my mind.

“Ektrazeh nuk, talemnasool. Ikst bjall talemnashadh.”

I stood there, the voice echoing in my head as they started walking toward my front door. I couldn’t move. Thinking back on it I don’t know if it was fear or something else that petrified me. All those years of learning to defend myself vanished from my mind. Street fighting, shooting, gone. They say your life flashes before your eyes before death, well I’d always been early and getting a head start on things. As I heard my front door torn off it’s hinges I took stock of my life. Rocky childhood, abuse, drugs but then when I was finally on my own I’d gotten good jobs, paid my way through college and I’d just bought this house…

And now I was going to die in it.

The front door sailed across the street and hit a tree, knocking down the snow. A bright flash appeared amoung the trees but then I heard steps on my staircase. I whipped around and each step seemed to fall with the weight of my life, shaking every fibre of my being. I was sure I’d stopped breathing but my heart was trying to get away by bursting through my chest… It’d never beaten so hard. The person reached the top of the landing and their steps paused as if they were trying to figure out where I was from where they saw me outside. Then it seemed like someone whispered in my ear.

“Take two steps to the right or I can’t help you.”

First I heard a random voice in my head and now, “no one” is whispering in my ear. I raised my right arm as if trying to distinguish between my right and left and fought with myself about whether or not moving was a good idea. Maybe the thing in the hall would think I bolted and they’d leave. As I had that thought the footsteps started again, as if my thinking tipped it off.

I realized I’d started breathing again. Fast, chaotic breaths were dispelling cold clouds from my mouth into the air. It’s fingers wrapped around my door frame followed by it’s head, peaking from behind it’s hand like the most terrifying game of peekaboo. Their eyes were empty yet full of hunger. Golden iris’s with pinpoint pupils were looking at me as if I was dinner. It’s mouth opened and it was breathing heavy and fast. They looked filled with as much anticipation as I was filled with fear.

It walked in the room disturbingly fast and as it was about 5 feet away from me I didn’t take two steps, I lunged to the right. My eyes were fixed on their golden ones and as they turned toward me my window imploded into the room. I saw blood splatter from the person in front of me onto my bed. They grabbed at their shoulder and roared while turning towards the window, sounding like some kind of lion mixed with a crocodile. There was a flash just like I saw earlier amoung the trees and then someone else just appeared in my room. In the blink of an eye there was a long sword sticking through Gold Eye’s head and it’s body went limp.

The new person in my room walked to the window and looked around for a few seconds before walking over to his sword, which was lodged in the dead persons head. He put his foot on it’s mouth and grabbed the handle of his sword.

“The problem is, there’s no fuller on this blade so it gets wedged inside em every time if I stab rather than slice. Thing is, with my blink, it’s easier to stab.”

He grunts loudly as the blade pulls free and he wipes it on the dead persons clothes before stowing it on his back.

“Well, it was only one tonight. But there’s no way to tell if that one was connected to the hive mind or if it was paying roaming charges. Either way you got two choices. You come with me now and I’ll get you somewhere safe or you can stay here and tell the police about these two crazy assholes who broke into your house. That the crazy asshole with a sword killed the other crazy asshole who was going to kill you; by the way, this guy tore your front door off. Then, when the police are gone, either another lone wolf will come by since you’re marked now or maybe this one’s hunting party finds out their sibling died in your house. Me explainin this to you only happens if we leave tonight, right now.”

I stood up and looked at the pool of blood pouring out of the dead things head into my green rug and shakily walked to my closet, threw my coat on the bed and pulled out a lock box before answering.

“My shoes are downstairs. Can I bring my shotgun?”

The Opposition

It was his first time going to a carnival or festival, or whatever this thing was. All he knew was that there were rides and booths that would cheat you out of your money for trying to win rigged games. Jameson Rodriguez always wanted to go to a thing like this. His sister came home from one when they were younger and she told him about a ride where you stand inside of it while it spins faster and faster, pinning you to the wall. Jameson wondered how that would feel, he wanted to try and lift his arm as the ride spun at max speed.

“What’s the name of the ride?”
“The Whirley-Gig.”
“That sounds lame… You sure it spins fast?”
“Yeah it’s the only one that’s designed to spin as fast as it does.”
“How fast?”
“Jamie, I, I don’t know! I just know it spins faster than any other one, like 2 times as fast I think I heard.”
“You never know anything.”
“You ask too many questions Jamie.”

She stuck her tongue out at him, ran ahead and playfully elbowed her best friend and boyfriend in the ribs. Jameson’s girlfriend kissed him on the cheek and giggled.

“That’s why you’re going out with a scientist.”

“The group continued walking down the country road and enjoyed the ups and downs seeing the festival appear then disappear from behind the hills. By the time they arrived the sun had past it’s zenith and a cool comfortable breeze was blowing across the grounds. The line to the “Whirley-Gig” wasn’t as long as he expected. They only had to wait 8 minutes, although the group had to be split up. It didn’t matter, Jameson, his two best friends and his girlfriend all got to go on at the same time.
The buzzer sounded and the Whirley-Gig came to a stop, the sound of the electric motor winding down sent chills of excitement up Jameson’s spine. His sister got off and immediately fell over from dizziness. She laughed as she stumbled down the rest of the ramp, holding onto the railing for dear-life while swearing she was fine. Jameson  and his group all stood at opposite points so they could see the looks on each others faces while trying to man-mode the ride. The people piled in and filled up every position of the Whirley-Gig. As the door closed the light-bulb blew out.

“Hah! You guys are lucky I can’t see your faces now!”
“You mean you’re lucky we can’t see yours Mr. Whiskey!”

A nickname he picked up in high school for the obvious connection to the whiskey brand. Ironically enough Jameson hated the taste of whiskey.
The an audible “clink” was heard from the motor almost as though something bounced off of it. They felt themselves rise up and starting to spin faster and faster. Jameson was waiting to feel the g-forces crush him into the wall but nothing of the sort happened to him.

“Hey guys, this is kinda lame! I barely even feel us spinning.”

After a few more thoughts to himself he started hearing some people complaining.

“It didn’t go this fast before.”
“Don’t say that, now I’m actually worried about how fast we’re spinning.”

Jameson scrunched his face in confusion.

“Are you guys serious? I barely feel an…”

He was cut off by the sounds of the other people making groaning noises. Then someone started to scream out in pain.

“STOP! STOP THE RIDE, PLEASE!!”
“Jameson! There’s something wrong! My body feels like it’s being…”
Just then the wall Jameson was connected to made a metallic groan. Jameson heard one ping then another and then a lot more. When he realized what was happening it was too late to say anything. He felt the straps loosen around his body and he couldn’t hear anything but everything looked as if he were in slow motion he saw light start to pour into the Whirley-Gig. Then, just as he felt himself completely separate from the Whirley-Gig he saw the shear terror in everyones eyes. His friends looked towards him with faces forcing to restrain the pain they were feeling, one had already passed out. He locked eyes with one of the other people on the ride and noticed there was no life in them and blood was leaking from the mans’ nose and ears. Jameson’s hearing came back just enough to hear the wind rushing past his ears as he flew through the air.
He saw the ground rushing towards him and he reflexively put his hands and legs out in front of him, as if they’d break his fall and not just be the first things to be crushed.

Jameson’s sister had regained her balance in time to see Jameson’s section flung from the ride and she caught a glimpse of his bright green shirt and screamed in terror as many other people were. Two more sections were flung off the Whirley-Gig before the engineers were able to regain some control of the electronics and they slowed the ride down as fast as they could without causing further harm to the 17 people left inside or to what was left of the rides stability arms. As it came down it dug a trench into the ground throwing more metal all over the place. It caught traction and nearly ripped out the support beams that were planted 10 feet underground. It stopped just before crushing the engineers that were attacking the electronics.

A few cries of pain were heard coming from the shredded Whirley-Gig and it took a few seconds for people and emergency personnel to run into the horror-ride.

“Please don’t move anyone, you might cause further harm to them!”

There was a media circus outside of the hospital. Reporters from the surrounding counties had shown up in front of the hospital hoping to get a chance to talk to survivors and one person in particular. Jameson’s sister was watching the news, they were playing a clip for the umpteenth time that evening. It was of Jameson being flung from the Whirley-Gig and sailing through the air. When it landed with Jameson face down everyone in the hospital room cringed then looked towards Jameson who was watching the footage, shocked as much as everyone else was. A little crater formed and the Whirley-Gig section split nearly in half with Jameson unconscious underneath it, his legs bored into the ground and his hands were propping up his unconscious body.

The towns hospital was small so when they saw nothing wrong with him after x-rays and other tests they told him to wait in the waiting room with the rest of his friends and family. He wasn’t to stand  or leave the wheel chair he had been confined to. Even though he had been bombarded with questions he remained silent. His main thoughts focused on his best friends and his girlfriend. All three had severe internal hemorrhaging like everyone else on the ride and were as unconscious as the others as well. Most of the 18 survivors had fallen into a coma. Jameson started rolling back towards where his friends were being operated on without saying a word.
“Wait stupid, you’re not allowed to wheel yourself anywhere remember?”

Anna walked over to her brother and started pushing him.

“Why did…”
“I don’t know.”

She pushed him to the door of the room he and his friends stuff were in. One of his friends had already left surgery and was now lying in this room in a coma. Jameson looked at his sister confused as to why she brought him here instead of the surgery wing.

“We… we can’t be there, you know that. We’ll just be in their way.”

Jameson stood up and grabbed his friends hand.

“This is fucked…”
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On the other side of the world, in the Swiss Alps, a group of people are reviewing the news footage and trying to figure out what to make of it.
“I’ve taken to just calling him “The Opposition”.”
“That’s cute sweety, but why?”
“I hate when you call me that Siren.”

The girl swipes at the see through screen in front of her and it slides out of her way, giving her a clear line of sight at Siren. She gives her a death glare from her red and yellow heterochromic eyes, to which Siren merely laughs gleefully.

“I call him that because his body seems to nullify any oppositional force that acts upon it, whether he’s unconscious or not.”
“So he was unconscious when he landed?”
“I’m not sure, the videos don’t show his face. It’s just a calculated guess.”
“A calculated guess from you is damn near 100%.”
“A guess is still a guess.”
“You’re right, sorry. Tyler, what do you think?”
“I think he could help us, if he wanted to at least.”
“Therein lies our problem then.”

A woman with hair that seems as if it’s changing colour taps on the coffee table in front of her.

“The three of us could go as a family, meeting some relative.”
“You, Tyler and sweety?”

An eraser bounces off the womans head as she says sweety and she laughs obnoxiously.

“Well, if you guys want to then I have no problems with it. You’ll have to make it quick though. There’s no knowing what’ll happen between now and when you three arrive. The town might try and kill him.”
“Quick and painless Siren, like your death if you call me sweety one more time. We’ll get him.”
“Ok ok, I’ll stop. For now.”

The woman says with a smile as she vanishes into thin air.

“Dad, I wanna fight her, can I fight her?”
“No. What you will do my 19 year old, is get your gear and your mothers ready for the trip, with your mothers help.”
“Fine.”

The girl swipes down at the screen in front of her and it disappears into a cylinder sitting on the floor. She grabs it while standing up and walks through a bulk head, The woman with colour changing hair following right after, ruffling the hair on Tyler’s head as she passes him.

“You’re such a slow eater.”
“I’m just savouring the meal I prepared Rachel.”

Rachel walks after her daughter through the bulk-head as Tyler finishes his food.

Act Three

“…the manufacturer has finally issued a statement on the attack of their latest shipment to Epsilon 001. Here is the audio recording.”

           “We will not stand by while our Swan Song the Airjet 25 R is abused for hooliganism and capital crimes. The latest murder that our bikes have been accomplices to in combination with the many people who died from their initial theft is deplorable and fills me with sadness., we have no choice now but to offer our backing to the Young Beast Prison Project.

          At first we thought that all teenagers afflicted by the Young Beast gene should be allowed to live a normal teenage life. Spending each day along-side the rest of us, but if this is what some of them can do while just “having fun” we cannot allow them to live on the streets with normal people. The main thing we must do is figure out what disease is afflicting our youth and some of our adult populations.

          However as my knowledge lies mainly in the racing world I am ill equipped to do anything but offer capital for different programs dedicated to helping these people. The first step we are taking towards helping is in the direction of education and containment. We have commissioned the first Hyper Security High School to be built here on Earth. The plans will be available to any other Space Station, planet, or moon that wishes to join the Young Beast Prison Project. We have been assured that even though they are called prisons, the students will be treated as humans. The main point of the Young Beast High Security High School is to prevent the rowdy ones from causing havoc and teaching them all about their affliction as we learn more.

          It is unfortunate that we must be the first ones to actively deal with the Young Beast issue. However I feel this is an important step in getting those more knowledgeable to do something and not sit by and argue about talking points any longer.”

           “Those “plans” he is referring to have been called at best “over engineered” by many human rights activists, stating that the few should not dictate how the many are treated. Still others are calling for harsher measures for anyone with Young Beast attributes, including any adults who have retained one or more of these super human attributes from their teenage years. The so called “Old Beasts” have been vocal, stating that most of them have dedicated their lives to tracking down and controlling the renegade youngsters. Some are even on their way to Epsilon 001 to further prove that they are not like their younger counter parts.”

Act Two

         “The highly anticipated shipment of the Airbike Racing Series’s newest model is finally arriving at the largest Air Racing port in the galaxy today. The racing enthusiasts of Epsilon 001 are chomping at the bit to get a look at the new model in person. For more on the story we’re going to Jus Roissin, live on Epsilon 001.”

           “Thank you Hera, and she’s right, the residents of Epsilon 001 are out here in all their racing gear. Every person here representing their favourite team from each of the four quadrants. Some are even wearing their full high speed armour. The current generation of bikes can reach speeds of over 480 kph easily, 300 mph for everyone else, but the Airjet 25R is reported to be able to double that speed effortlessly and the armour looks the part. Compound curves and pointed edges offer the riders unparalleled aerodynamic protection, pressure skins underneath protect them against the G-Forces they experience while changing direction at those incredible speeds. But let’s see what these fans have to say about finally being able to see the latest in Air Racing technology. I’ve managed to corral James and Heather for a little insight into the excitement. So guys how excited are you for the…”

           Just then, the thousands of people that showed up to the dock were hit by a sonic-boom, the latest tell-tale sign of a Young Beast attack. It seems a few of those kids are able to cause massive air pressure changes and they always seemed to be the bad ones, hence the sonic-boom. When I could hear again, the cries of everyone at the docks were almost deafening. I was more focused on the fact that my ears hadn’t popped from the sound wave. Everyone around me had blood coming out of their ears, but mine were fine.

          It was then that I heard the amazing hum of the Air Jet 25R for the first time. All 9 of the Young Beasts shot over head and raced down the dock, 2 of them riding on the side of a building before they disappeared from view. All that I could hear the rest of the day was the sound of the bikes’ engines in my head replaying over and over. It was a high pitched hum that seemed to harmonize with itself without being earsplitting. It sounded like speed… and I wanted one, badly. The Young Beasts used the bikes for smash and grabs mostly. They hit banks and fast food stalls and always managed to get away. It would be a week before they crashed one into the CO2 scrubber modules.

Act One

          When I was younger there was an airbike model that caused a lot of trouble. Well it wasn’t the bikes fault really. It was an Airjet 25R, R cuz it was the racing inspired model, though unlike most racing inspired models these days, it could run circles around professional rides. The Airjet 25R didn’t resemble any of the older boring “teardrop” looking models that were designed by committee. The 25 R looked like it was designed to cut into the air, not slip through it. The 25 R was a cross between an early 21st century fighter jet and motorcycle. It looked like a fire breathing demon that you jumped on the back of, grabbed by the scruff of the neck and hoped you knew what you were getting yourself into. An airbike is an anti-gravity vehicle. A natural progression over the years from the 19’th century steam driven motorcycles.

          The advent of the anti-grav engine is what catapulted the human race into the stars. When it was first developed, earth’s population had ballooned to near 10 billion. Needless to say it was getting crowded, people left the planet in droves with no promise of finding habitable exo-planets. Most people now are still living on the space ships their parents and grand parents emigrated on, it was only a matter of time before they started modifying those ships into current day stations. Some are so large now they can’t make planet-dock.

          My home has been the space station named Epsilon 001 for most of my life. It’s also home to one of the biggest Airbike Racing courses in all the 4 quadrants. The track wraps around the station like that giant octopus from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. With it’s tubular track design and no discernible up or down it’s the fastest, most intense track built so far. These tracks allow the bikes to be driven in a multi-dimensional sense, upside down and above have become normal terms in racing.

          My name is Kelvin and for a time I left Epsilon 001 to live with my aunt, uncle and parents but after a while I found myself back there again buying a living module and having it installed on the station. It’s great, when I’m not hunting I can take my custom airbike to the track. Say… let me tell you about the first time I rode an airbike and how that and the Young Beasts changed my life. What’s a Young Beast you ask? Well the easy answer for now would be a genetic anomaly that awakens mostly in teenagers, though some people who were normal teens gain attributes, even if for a short time. The gene probably activated when we started to settle among the stars, no one’s sure yet.

          The best of anti-gravity racing, the Airjet 25R was outlawed in 2115, as well as any other airbike that followed it’s design philosophy. Back then a gang of Young Beasts got a hold of the first shipment to our station and had a joyride all over every inch of it. They terrorized us for a week with those awesome machines before they were caught. Epsilon 001 was the first purpose built station, designed mainly to replace the Epsilon ship that the original colonists came out here in. Epsilon 001 was the first station built to be a city in space… meaning it had lots of open space inside to run about in. Two of those teenage psychos ran a bike into the CO2 scrubber module section and the bikes power-plant detonated, we had to leave the station for weeks. All 500 thousand plus of us were stuck on some nearby freezer unit of a moon, Antarctica II, I got into a bit of trouble there but that’s another story. Of course the Young Beasts were fine… freaks of nature. It took 5 days to find the last one after the module blew… 5 days in space, commonly known as the vacuum. Some of the Young Beasts can exist perfectly fine out there though. The worst this kid got was frost bite on his right foot and hypothermia.

          If you were to listen to one of the many vocal scientists on the matter, they’re the next step in human evolution, the Young Beasts that is, I call fecal on that. Why do most Young Beasts lose their abilities when they become adults? Isn’t evolution supposed to make permanent changes? I was a normal kid. Well ok, maybe a little smarter with reflexes that were faster than expected but pretty much normal. It seemed though, that being smart didn’t stop me from trying to get my hands on one of those Airjet 25R’s. I’ll admit, back then I thought the Young Beasts were cool… childish stupidity. Since then I’ve realized the threat they can pose and I hunt them down for a living. We can kill them, they aren’t immortal… but that isn’t the goal of hunting them. We’re paid to capture the dangerous ones and invite the level headed kids to the high school, that’s the job. The high school I work for was one of the first to start the Young Beast Prison Project, a project that, without the Airjet 25R incident, would have probably never started.

The World That Once Was.

The planet you call Earth used to be different. In fact the entire inner solar system never had so much as a speck of space debris in it, let alone floating around as there is now. We used to be able to control the paths of comets, meteors, and asteroids. The inner solar system was a safe place and so was our planet.

The confines of our atmosphere were not so close to the surface of Gaia, floating islands were encompassed and everyone could travel to them without the smallest problem. Things like pollution were horror stories, told by the wise to keep children in check. If they could see what the planet had become they’d probably keel over in an instant.

Magic and science as you call them were the same back then, there was no distinction. Almost anything we could think of was possible and our engineers made it happen. But we weren’t as perfect and infallible as we liked to believe.

Chaos came to our part of the galaxy, a test in a way that all civilizations must pass in order to continue to exist in this universe. We lost the War of Entropy, and with that loss, our planet fell from her glory. We lost the war, but somehow we managed to keep our lives. We haven’t been able to find anyone who was allowed to remember why either. As a result of our loss our minds were thrown into chaos, now you would call it a mental break, or some form of psychosis.

The words I speak are the words I was allowed to remember, my curse from living after the war, immortality. At the moment we lost, the last shot was fired, and our final defence was breached. The enemy disappeared and an ocean of chaos swept through the inner solar system.

It was not long after that the atmosphere started to recede. No one knew what was going on and billions suffocated and died violently from being exposed to the vacuum of space. Meteors came into the realm previously occupied only by Gaia and her floating islands, and we were unable to redirect them. All the islands were destroyed along with the people that lived on them. The only island left is what is now referred to as the moon. However it too is as cold and as dead as the rest of them are, it’s just that the others have been pummelled and destroyed, some even wandered into the asteroid belt and even to what used to be the gas farms, know known as the outer solar system.

Maybe that was our crime, maybe farming the Gas Giants was immoral.

It doesn’t matter now I suppose. We paid the price for whatever crime we committed, but we were allowed to make the climb back up to where we once stood in terms of knowledge and technology. We cannot however, reclaim the floating islands or the lives we lost.

Modern religions talk about a purgatory or hell being a place the soul goes to after a life of ill will. That must be where we are. This “Modern World” is a disgusting and terrifying place, far removed from the society of Gaia we once lived in.

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