Chapter one of a futuristic dystopian story I have been working on.
The vast expanse of Siberia stretched out in innumerable miles in all directions from it’s center, but it was not as it had once been. Over the past three centuries since the turn of the second millennium, the world had been changed. It’s rural areas had been urbanized completely, it’s bodies of water had been transported to containment and utility plants, the dry land then urbanized itself. The Earth at the beginning of the third millennium had become a city-planet, it’s atmosphere controlled by satellite systems and it’s resources constantly replenished by new technologies invented to “clone” inanimate matter developed over the past three hundred years. The world’s animals had all been relocated to zoos or experimentation labs, or otherwise eliminated to make room for urbanization.
The only common life form on Earth was humanity. Thirty billion people lived in the city-planet, and ten billion more lived in the extraterrestrial planetary settlements, called the Territories, which had been colonized over the past three centuries, consisting of most planets in the Earth’s solar system and many otherwise uninhabitable planets in nearby systems, transformed into livable homes by terraforming.
In the very center of Siberia, surrounded by city, was a domed half-sphere building, completely black in it’s exterior and invisible from the air. It was guarded by some of the most advanced technologies humanity had ever produced, such as light-bending cloaking shields across it’s dome, communication signal dissipation fields, reactive plasma burst defense turrets camouflaged by cloaks, and many other methods. But all of that protection was perhaps more unfounded paranoia on the part of the structure’s inhabitants than realistic caution.
The building was one of ten galactic bases used by a secret organization, unknown by almost everyone in the world outside itself, called the Guardians of Liberation, or simply the Guardians. They guided, prompted and protected most of the city-world society of humanity, though it’s people were mostly unaware of them, making sure that they remained in the culture the Guardians wished them to be in, which they had been guiding humanity towards for millennia, gradually eliminating other cultures and influences and pushing with just enough force, but not a revealing force, to assure a steady path of the city in the desired direction. The Guardians were not a military, however; they preferred subtler methods, such as sabotage, infiltration, and surveillance.
The Guardian base in Siberia was one of two bases used to keep watch over Europe, the other being in what used to be Alexandria, Egypt, but was not simply the region called North Africa. While the African base specialized in making sure the Guardians remained unknown to Europeans, the Siberian base specialized in subverting any deviance from the desired course Europeans might try to make.
Within the Siberian base, in a secluded room usually used for storage but not specifically used to remain inconspicuous, a group of four Guardian agents and one senior agent had met to discuss a preemptive strike mission to serve as a prelude to the biggest operation in Guardian history, and perhaps the history of humanity, called the Cleansing.
One of the agents in the room was an average height, athletically-built woman, named Rose Vasile; not her birth name of course. Those born in the city, as almost all humans were by the twenty-fourth century, were only given surnames, from their parent, not a first name, direct products of the single parent whose DNA would serve as the design palette the person would use to order their new baby. Rose stood with her arms crossed to the right of a long table in the middle of the room. She stood behind two other Guardian agents called to the meeting which she knew from past work experience with them, Abbot and Allende. Though she only knew Allende from her time training in the Guardian initiation base on Venus, she respected both of them as Guardian agents, but she disliked Abbot personally; his haughtiness, she felt, made him incompetent in actual situations, speaking from experience. She and Abbot had once performed a mission together for the Guardians to take down a small but dangerous sect in China that had begun living in a monarchical society, protected by a military, something humanity had not seen in decades. Abbot almost ruined the mission when he impatiently and arrogantly decided to charge into a soldier barracks used by the sect’s army and take it down personally. Fortunately, Rose was able to help him eliminate all the soldiers before they alerted the sect’s capital, but she never forgot his error.
The senior Guardian agent in the room stood in front of them, a hologram projector sitting between himself and the table in the middle of the room, currently projecting the Guardian symbol, rotating slowly in dark red hologram lights. “As you all know, we’re here today to discuss the first phase of the final Cleansing, which will be a personal, undercover infiltration of their society,” the head of the team, Senior Agent Sellers stated in his clear voice, deep with experience and zeal for the Guardians.
“Finally,” Rose mumbled with a responsorial nod of agreement from the others in the room. She grinned with satisfaction from their enthusiasm, which she herself shared, burning like a fire in her heart.
“What will be our specific objectives there sir?” Allende asked, his shy but intelligent and incredibly loyal voice said, somewhat difficult to understand for Rose due to it’s Indian accent.
“This will be a preemptive strike in the Cleansing, to prepare the way for the main force of the assault next year.”
“So the Cleansing will certainly be next year?” Allende asked with a mix of happiness and frustration at the wait.
“Yes,” Sellers answered. “But now, you four must pave the way. You will be going undercover, into Ireland itself.”
“So it is starting indeed!” Allende exclaimed, and the other agents in the room jeered with satisfaction.
“It is,” Sellers said, his voice intense and serious, immediately changing the mood of the other agents in the room to suit his tone. ““You will each go individually to different parts of Ireland over the next four weeks, one per week, as converts to religion. With their usual tyrannical fanaticism at conquering some new recruit, I’m certain the Irish will welcome you freely into their society. While there, you are to learn of their developments over the past hundred years or so, to develop a map of their instillations, particularly the many military facilities I’m sure they’ve established over the years to keep their people submissive, and then subtly try to sabotage those instillations,” Sellers said.
He then turned around briefly to pick up four of what Rose recognized to be handheld electronic computers, called PHP for personal hologram projector, with the same power of a stationary computer but with mobility and an enclosed holographic monitor screen, rather than the suspended animation holograms used with stationary units. “You will each bring one of these with you, along with one weapon which you can tell them you brought along for defense against the City officials who tried to prevent your conversion, and one suit of clothes.”
“The City will be resisting this operation?” the agent Rose didn’t recognize, who had been standing to the left of the room’s single table in silence the entire meeting, asked in a quiet but ominous tone.
“No,” the Senior Agent replied. “They’re not even aware of this preliminary operation, only of the Cleansing itself, but we will send in vessels disguised as City ships to make it seem like you all are being attacked by the City for trying to convert. But, we will of course not actually damage you, and we will leave when you near Ireland.”
The mysterious agent nodded in understanding, crossing her arms and leaning against the room’s far left wall. Rose squinted her eyes in the room’s darkness, lit only by the artificial visage of the holograms rotating from the projector in front of Agent Sellers at the end of the room, to try to identify the agent. But she couldn’t seem to recall her, and the woman was obviously trying very hard not to be identified, standing in the darkest shadow of the room and wearing her hear long and straight, covering most of her face on both sides. But, she figured, she would probably get to know her better during the mission., the utility of that being more important to her than forming a relationship.
“I was about to get to that,” Sellers said in an authoritative but flippant tone, intentionally trying to exert his dominance of rank over Allende through subtlety of inflection. “You will be leaving the day after tomorrow evening at fourteen hundred hours for the port in old northern Finland. I will be transmitting a more in-depth briefing to your PHPs after the meeting. Are there any questions?”
Sellers looked around the room for a moment, his eye stopping longer on Abbot, who hadn’t spoken the entire meeting. Rose had also noticed his silence, peculiar for his personality, but he had been merely standing beside Allende in front of Rose, to the right of the hologram projector, his hands loosely clasped behind his back but his demeanor otherwise normal; for most people at least. Coming into the meeting, Rose had expected Abbot to be full of chatter as usual, and recognizing that there was another woman in the room it escaped her even more why he wasn’t trying to impress the mysterious agent.
“Yes, I do,” Abbot said in an unusual monotone, making Rose blink in lack of recognition.
Sellers coughed slightly, obviously not recognizing Abbot’s voice himself despite serving with him and Allende daily at the Siberia base. “Go ahead.”
Abbot paused for a moment before asking his question, glancing at Allende beside him who did not look back at him, and he then turned to look back at Sellers. “Will we be participating in the Cleansing itself, or will we leave after our sabotage?” The most intelligent thing he ever said, Rose thought amusedly to herself.
“Yes you will be participating in it, all four of you. After you perform your duties in Ireland and signal to us that you’re finished, you are to make your way to the southeast shore of Ireland, where the Guardians will meet you in force. We will be the leading army into Ireland, performing the warfare part of the Cleansing to remove any militants the Irish might give, then City people will clear Ireland of the rest of it’s inhabitants, doing what they wish with them.”
“Which hopefully will involve complete execution this time,” Rose said with indignation. “The religion eugenics in the past were too gentle, what with the prisons and such.”
“True,” Abbot said, speaking for his second time in the briefing. “They do not deserve the life we have allowed them to keep over the past two centuries.”
“Yes!” the others in the room shouted in agreement, and Abbot simply smiled. Rose wondered if his passion for the Guardian cause had finally blossomed and overtaken his haughtiness and immaturity. She sure hoped so at least.
“You are all dismissed then, if there are no more questions,” Sellers said, smiling brightly after the exhortation. After looking around the room once for confirmation there were indeed no more questions, he shut off the holoprojector in front of him that had previously been simply displaying a rotating image of the Guardian symbol, an eye topped by a scythe and anvil floating above a pyramid, all in different shades of red and black, and then turned to gather his things.
As Abbot and Allende began to walk past Rose to leave, she jumped in front of them and smiled casually. “So, Abbot,” she said in a flippant tone, intentionally trying to call up his usual personality, to test if his transformation to maturity was genuine or an act just for the meeting. “What’s got you in a different mood? Bad day or something?”
Abbot smiled and chuckled without humor. “No, Rose. I have finally realized the true importance of the Guardian cause, and the evil of the religious Irish. They must be eliminated, and until then we cannot rest or live casually. I have been childish in the past, but no longer.”
Rose’s taunting grin immediately sank into a more genuine frown of seriousness. “I’m glad to hear it, friend. You’re right, they must be removed; they’re an insult to the Guardians and the City alike. And only through our good infiltration and sabotage can it be done effectively.”
“It will be, don’t worry,” Abbot interjected in the same attitude as with his question to Sellers. “The truth will not fail.”
Rose nodded and smiled with zeal, then shook Allende’s and Abbot’s forearms in the customary Guardian gesture, then turned to leave the room, followed by the others. Though her official base was Siberia, Rose had been working for the past year secretly on the old Moon prison colony that had held the religious dissenters arrested and sent there during the eugenic cleansing conducted by what was then the Humanistic Union between twenty-one fifty-five and twenty-one ninety-four, the Union eventually developing into it’s current form, the World Eugenic Project, which began and expanded since twenty-one eighty-five. It eventually began exterminating not only religious but also genetically impoverished, the poor, sick, elderly, and generally unwanted and marginalized people, teaching that those people hindered the progress of globalization and so the actions were freely welcomed by the City, which was the name given to the anarchic democracy replacing the worldwide federal democracy that had been called the New World Order, in twenty-one sixty.
But, Rose remembered the Siberia base very well, having worked there daily for eight years after she joined the Guardians at age sixteen, twenty years before, when she left her City parents in her home of France, their extreme indifference making them not even notice her departure. She left the room and turned to the left down the long hallway that extended down the entire western length of the complex, constructed in the shape of a half-sphere with a smooth ceiling to give it stealth properties similarly used by military jets. She heard the others turn to the right from the room, a path which she remembered leading to the cafeteria. She guessed the others would be eating dinner since it was six, but she had already eaten on the flight from the Moon to the base two hours previous, so instead she was heading towards the base’s research and analysis center. She figured she would see if any new information had come in about Ireland since her rather secluded investigations on the Moon during the previous year.
The hallway she traversed was brightly lit, despite the complete darkness of the base’s exterior, by almost imperceptible nodes attached systematically to the walls on either side of her, nanotechnologies that were capable of being calibrated to emit any particle desired, currently being used to radiate photons. Humanity’s science had advanced with incredible speed over the past three centuries, something every member of the City, especially the Guardians, took pride in; not so much for the science itself, but as the symbol it represented for them, a triumph over faith - and weakness. And, Rose believed, science specifically overcame the weakness represented by the faith held by religious peoples, the only remaining semblance of that plight to humanity living on Ireland. The mere thought of it drove her to a deep rage in her heart, but as her mentor had taught her during her Guardian initiation training, she suppressed the rage, for a better time.
She eventually came to a door to her right, after passing several doors leading to rooms and other hallways on both sides of her on her way, with a hologram sign over it’s window reading “Research and Analysis”, so she carefully opened it, trying not to disturb those within. She immediately recognized the familiar rows of desks lining the walls of the long room that extended to her right to encompass fifty total computer niches, most of which were occupied by fellow Guardians researching something. She could identify most of the agents there, having gone through her initiation with many of them, but most agents tended to remain solitary during their actual Guardian work, with each person’s task being unique to their specialties and usefulness.
Rose moved quietly to one of the vacant units closest to her right and sat down in front of the computer. The actual computer unit itself appeared in the form of a cube no bigger than the light nodes in the hall she had just left, but with as much processing power as the brain of a tiger. Despite their attempts, often even fusing organic tissue with inorganic, City and Guardian scientists had been unable to make a computer anymore powerful than that of a feline, for some reason. Scientists had estimated a computer with as much power as a human brain within the first century of the millennium, but every time they tried to go further than the cat-like computer invented in twenty-one thirty-two, the unit would either generate massive self-destructive viruses, complete shutdowns, or the hardware itself would surge and be unusable, so they had just invented technologies compatible with that speed of computer. The most popular new technologies being nanotech, such as used by the light nodes and computer units, and dark energy manipulation, which gave them a sort of anti-gravity to propel ships as fast as desired with no inertial effect, which had allowed them to explore the galaxy and settle many solar systems beyond their own.
Rose, in habit, put a hand up to her right temple where a small disk was attached and pressed one of several buttons on it. The biotechnology enhancement, another popular technology, emitted an electronic pulse corresponding to the thoughts communicated by synapses in her brain that were then received by the computer and given a direct telepathic link between her mind and the computer. No buttons or other tools were needed to operate the computer; she merely thought, and it was done. The hologram monitor on the desk beside the computer unit, essentially a slightly larger version of her PHP but smaller than the projector used in the meeting room before, changed images quickly, calling up different pages her mind desired to see. She telepathically began a search on the computer for aerial scans of Ireland taken in the past year and she examined them closely, leaning forward in her chair and putting a finger slightly to her smooth chin, the image moving slightly down, then to the left, then up again as she focused on another part of it’s layout.
Ireland appeared to be only sparsely populated, and with the bombardments they had done against them over the past two centuries she expected nothing less. Five prominent settlements existed, one at the very north-west corner of the region, it’s second largest town, then another on the farthest west point, the largest town; then one monastery at the very southwest tip, and another monastery at the very southern tip. The only other settlement was odd in it’s location, closer to Britain, on the far southeast point. They had not been able to identify what type of settlement it was, whether town or monastery or some other community or function, but due to it’s few structures they figured it was nothing important.
Although Ireland had once been an island, but in twenty-two twenty-four, the World Urbanization Project, which later became the Galactic Terraform Project, completed it’s goal of removing all of the bodies of water on Earth, including oceans, rivers, lakes, etc., thus allowing for the entire world to become a city, a project they completed in twenty-two fifty-nine. But, for miles around Ireland, the water had been extracted, but had been replaced with flat concrete and no structures, the City people wishing to distance themselves as much as possible from the Irish. The empty concrete land around Ireland then became known as the Flatlands.
Rose continued to look over the blueprint of Ireland for a few minutes, committing the layout to memory, and to the memory banks of her temple-implanted computer disk. She then studied what the Guardians knew about other topics relevant to her upcoming mission, such as any City converts to Ireland over the past twenty years, which were none, and then converts from the Irish to the City over that same period, which were fifty. She also looked into the mission that the Irish accomplished sixty years before when they raided a City cloning facility on the western borders of old Scotland, which had gone completely ignored by the City but had been watched, without reaction, from the Guardians. The Irish had essentially kidnapped a hundred thousand clones from that facility and brought them back to Ireland, obviously to replenish their population. That event had partially been the cause of the Guardians secretly pushing the City to do a surprise bombardment on the Irish forty years after the kidnapping, in hopes of depleting some of their people, which they did by leaving only five of twenty settlements that existed at that time. Rose then called up the files of research she had extracted from her lunar prison investigation, where she had discovered that, much to her pleasure, all of the hundreds of thousands of religious people imprisoned there had been tortured and executed, none escaping.
As Rose continued to research for her upcoming mission, she suddenly felt a hand clasp her right shoulder and she jumped slightly, quickly turning to look at the person behind her. It was the mysterious woman from the meeting, who she now recognized was of Japanese descent.
“Do you need something?” Rose blurted, peering at the woman from her sitting position.
The woman simply stared at her for a moment, then raised her right eyebrow in a sort of half-curiosity. “The Guardians are about to begin the evening ceremonies. They sent me to alert you.”
“Oh, of course, my disk alarm must need adjustment,” she said without humor, tapping her temple disk slightly and remembering that she had been researching for three hours without knowing it, then rising to stand close in front of the woman. “By the way, I never got your name.”
“I never gave it,” she said frankly. “I am Dalia.”
After a wry pursing of her lips, Dalia turned and left the room. Rose felt a rush of anger and resentment for the woman at treating her derogatively, but as before, she suppressed it, waiting to release it later. Now, it was time for the daily Guardian ceremonies.
When the Guardians came into existence, they ironically developed a new religion, or rather more of a revision of the atheistic and antireligious theories of people throughout history, that attempted to be as irreligious as possible, with a set of philosophical beliefs and one daily ceremony that all participated in.
Rose deactivated the telepathic link between her temple disk and the computer unit she had been using before striding out of the room. As always, she began preparing her mind for the ritual she was about to perform, to ensure that it had it’s full desired effect - namely, to make oneself as autonomous, independent, freethinking and liberated from all morality as much as possible. She began releasing into her mind the feelings she had intentionally suppressed since the previous day’s ceremony, all the anger, resentment, anxiety, guilt and twinges of conscience or doubt she had, letting all else drain from focus except those emotions. She walked at a brisk pace towards the ceremonial chamber, located at the very center of the base, able to be accessed from any part of the complex at any time via many different paths.
The halls she walked down towards the chamber grew darker as she neared it, with fewer light nodes and narrower spaces to move in, but she was accustomed to it. She had performed the daily ceremony everyday since she joined the Guardians, and had memorized it completely. Eventually she came to the entrance to the chamber, everyone else having already come and gone, more to her liking; the entrance was a small ovular hatch with the Guardian symbol etched on it’s front, but no apparent way to open it. She knew what to do. A tiny node just above the hatch issued a movement sensor that detected if someone was standing there or not, though the sensor laser itself was invisible and did not change when it detected her presence - not visibly, at least. It’s computer knew she was there. Rose stood in front of the hatch, filling her mind as much as she could with her negative feelings, and then pressed a button on her temple disk which issued her emotions in the form of a signal towards the hatch’s node, removing them from her mind. Suddenly, the hatch door split vertically and opened immediately. Before entering, she completely removed her clothing, but not her biotech enhancements, revealing her single tattoo covering her entire chest, the Guardian symbol, given to all members upon initiation, and laid her things to her left as always. She then slipped through the slit, into the ceremony chamber.
The room was completely dark; she couldn’t even see her hands in front of her, if she tried. But she anticipated, and longed for, the darkness of the chamber. Though she couldn’t see it, she knew that the room consisted of a cross of narrow walkways on the ground, with deep pits in the open areas that would kill anyone who was foolish enough to be ignorant of the floor layout. The center of the cross was a circle large enough for twenty people to stand on at once. On the ceiling, high above the floor cross, a massive computer node was built into the structure, invisible like the rest of the chamber. The cross and walls of the room were designed, though it could not be seen, with the symbols of the various organizations the Guardians came from, including their own symbol, in a weaving pattern all around the participant.
Rose took exactly twenty steps forward, knowing that she would then be standing on the central circle of the room. She stood straight, her arms relaxed at her sides. The emotions she had felt before had been released when she entered the room; if any remained, the ceremony would be ineffective. She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, completely removing her mind of focus. Forgetting the meeting, her interpersonal social interactions of the day, her memories of other people in the past, her thoughts of future encounters, and all other thoughts or feelings relating to others. She was left only with a focus on herself - her thoughts, her feelings, her emotions, her desires, her beliefs, her goals, her.
She focused on herself utterly, nothing else her concern. All else melted away within her but herself. She meditated for an hour, but time was something else she kept out of her mind during her ceremony. At the end of the hour, the length of every daily ceremony, she received a gentle thought, given telepathically from the computer in the chamber’s ceiling to her temple disk, calling her mind back to reality. She took in a last breath and released it, then turned around and left the room.
The world she sensed around her seemed frail, empty after the ceremonial meditation. It seemed naught but an illusion, or delusion moreso, something blinding her from what was truly important - herself. But the world has it’s usefulness, as did her body, and she would use it to accomplish her goals, pleasure herself, and bring to her possession all that she longed for.
After putting her clothes back on, Rose strode confidently down the hallway through which she had come to the ceremonial chamber. She then followed a series of paths and halls and elevators till she came to the bedrooms of the complex, constituting the fifth, final and smallest floor of the complex, housing the hundred people that lived at the Siberia base. Though the smallest floor, it was large, each person having secluded quarters with a bed, nightstand and chest drawers for their few belongings. Due to their secret nature, they had neither the space nor the capacity to own many possessions individually, but they all hoped that that would change someday, that the City people would regain their old twentieth century fervor for atheism, liberalism and secularism that they all followed so zealously. And though the City was indifferent towards them, it was essentially ignorant of their existence, and they could not risk persecution with their small numbers and necessary existence.
Rose found her quarters, near a person to her left and right, neither of which she knew personally but had only seen in passing, nor had she ever tried to know them. She interacted with others out of practicality, not desire. Her quarters were very orderly, nothing extraneous strewn about, her clothes neatly in place in their proper drawers, her nighttime utensils situated on the nightstand beside her small clean bed. With it now being eleven at night, most others around her were already asleep, but as she removed her clothes she was not concerned by onlookers. She then put on her pajamas, the most comfortable silk she could find, and got in her bed.
Her mind was still alight from her ceremony, it always providing a rejuvenation to her psyche, giving her focus, resolve, and the proper prioritization of her goals, oriented towards herself as they should be. As she laid on her bed, pondering the ceremony, she remembered that unusually, she had not had sex that day, so she unscrupulously masturbated, expressing her pleasure freely without worry about what those around her might think about it. As she masturbated she thought about herself, how much she deserved the pleasure she was giving herself, how that only she knew how to properly give herself such feelings. She wondered why she ever let anyone else have sex with her, but realized that the other person focusing on her was perhaps even more pleasurable than her focusing on herself.
As she finished masturbating, she slowly fell asleep, her mind remaining fixed on the ceremony, even unto her dreams.