On the Edge of Eureka

To be a utopia, one must eliminate the wrong.

To eliminate the wrong makes a dystopia.

Eleutheria is a paradox.

Dalia is at the pinnacle of human evolution. In a world where entire populations can be subdued with the touch of a button, she holds the key to destroying the planet- or saving it. Leading a double life, she's the picture of a perfect leader- and a perfect rebel. But when her childhood best friend joins a dangerous movement that goes against everything Dalia stands for, it all goes south.

Warring political parties demand change for all the wrong reasons. A planetwide revolt ends in tragedy. And life from beyond the solar system slowly inches closer, but their intentions are unknown and they themselves are dangerous.

Dalia finds herself running with people she'd never thought she'd meet, shooting down people she'd never thought she'd hate, and fighting against a city she thought she'd always love- and in the end, it might not even matter.


15. Divinia Est Filia


"Coming! Just give me one minute, please-"

"Estella, I am not in a joking mood. Get over here and gown up this instant."

The girl groaned and pulled up her mask. A Medica was one of the worst castes to be a Suffragia to- and being a Suffragia alone was enough to make her want to throw herself off the building and into the depths below. This insanity- the needless fighting, the incessant riots- was just making everything worse, and word was something had happened in Elysia, but no one would tell her what exactly. The dead girls on the street had just made her boss ever more demanding- Lidyana e Hestia, Medica Pathologica. A doctor of the dead. And as her Suffragia, Estella was stuck with her and her team of Nutria- her nurses- as a sort of shadow. If she weren't bound to a doctor, she'd have long fled instead of stuck around like this.

It was best to be in the middle, Thea had said. Estella had always known her mother to be optimistic, idealistic to a fault, but this time she grudgingly had to admit she was right; Ciphers and Generalises were dying left and right, and Cantators and Servum were being slaughtered in the streets. 

"Estella e Thea, Suffragium, kyrie elison, get your-"

She stood quickly, not wanting to risk being caught idling. Lydiana mumbled something about her as she grabbed a handful of tools from the table and slammed them down onto a metal tray. The Nutria were already there- Lypsa, Aleena, Halé, Saylah- she could never remember them all, and she got the feeling Lydiana couldn't be bothered to keep track either. To her, everyone above her was a goddess and everyone below a slave.

Estella didn't recognize the corpse on the autopsy table much this time, which was good. Last time it had been some sort of high-ranking Auctor. It was much easier when she didn't know the dead- if they were familiar, Estella could never get the look of their cold, unseeing eyes out of her head. Her mother stood at the corner of the room holding a similar tray, blending into the walls, just as Suffragia were supposed to do- nameless, faceless assistants.

"Stelle," she warned in a whisper, "do not tick her off right now."

"I know."

A Nutrium picked up a scalpel and handed it to Lydiana. Estella closed her eyes as she made the first cut into the body- a Y shape from the chest to the hip. She could probably recite the steps of an autopsy by heart by now, since her first one at age six. Regardless, the first cut was always the worst. It was beyond strange seeing someone that should be moving, flinching, yelling in pain- and wasn't, because they were beyond this earth. 

The doctor mumbled something about Aleena. They were talking about her- she was dead, or missing.

Oh, Estella thought. I liked Aleena. It was not the first death. 

She closed her eyes once more and held out the tray for another Nutria. Silent as always, like a shadow, she listened. At hearing the telltale squelch of the pelvic organs, she suppressed an urge to cover her ears too. 


"Dad." Cressida stuck her head into the farm room. "Hello. Dad."

Lost in thought, David spooned some dirt over a potato.


"What?" His daughter's voice snapped him out of his reverie, a clear, loud sound in the dark, silent utilitarian room. 

"I went to the cafeteria today and tracked down a Suffragia," she said. "She said she remembered a Thea."

"What?" David asked. "I doubt she was the same one, your mother's probably-"

"Dead, I know! But I looked it up in one of their computing machines; there are some records of dead Suffragium named Thea but none that have a daughter named Stelle."

"There are trillions of people on this planet-"

"Yeah, but listen! Do you remember her second name?"

David thought. "I don't know."

"Try to think, we could track her down."

"It was some sort of gemstone thing, I think."

"Come on, let's go!" She pulled her father's hand so sharply he dropped the potato completely. 

"I don't think-"

"Come on. We can at least try, can't we?"

David sighed. It was practically hopeless to even look into it, and he had no idea how Eleutheria could keep track of all those billions of people, but Cressida- he had rarely seen her so excited about something.

"All right." He dusted off the potato.

"Let's go." She dragged her father into an elevator, slammed a button, and pulled him out into another corridor. Down past doorways and soldiers and scientists, he noticed the rooms slowly becoming laboratories- biohazard symbols, girls and boys in white coats and the sounds of clinking glass and plastic. Light from computers suddenly filled the air. He blinked.

"This one." Cressida pulled a stool over to the table. In front of her, a massive monitor glowed with the lights of a thousand solar panels in the sun.

"You've adapted quickly," he observed.

"I never knew you could do all this with one machine," Cressida laughed. "You can do anything with one of these! Look, there are about six hundred thousand Suffragium named Thea, and three hundred thousand are dead. Let me-"

"How did you even do that?" David asked. "What are you doing now?"

"Looking up the most popular gemstone-related names for women named Thea."


"I'll show you later. See anything? Pearl? Perla?"

"No, not that."

"Safira, Sapphire, Zafira, Zapphira, Safarina-"

"Not Sapphire, either."

"Rubía? Rubiana? Ruby?"


"Well, what about the obscure ones? Opal was popular years and years ago, but she was only sixteen-ish, so she's probably 33 right now, right? So it's probably not that. Emerald? Amethyst?"

"None of these sound right," David sighed. "This is-"

"It is not hopeless. Do you remember anything else?"

"It was long. It had- it had an A sound at the end."


"Was it?" he asked himself.


"Wait- no. It sounded like that, though, with the A sound at the beginning, too. Or maybe an E; it was a vowel, though."


"No. More like Ametista-"

"Maybe it wasn't a gem- Aphrodesia? Aenatylla? Wait- okay, this is a weird one, and not quite gemstone-y, but sort of- Adamantina? Like a diamond?"

"Yes! Thea e Adamantina! That was her!" David's heart burst out of his chest. "Is she alive?"

"There are a few thousand Thea e Adamantinas," Cressida said. "But none with a daughter named Stelle."

"Maybe it wasn't Stelle," David said. "Can you look up similar names?"

"Yes. Look, Stella, Stellie, Zellie, Zyll, Zylle, Estella, Estelle-"

"I think it might have been one of the last two," he said, head spinning. 

"Where did you meet her?"

"Somewhere around Luceat and Terra?" 

"I don't know where that is."

"A few districts away from Appalachia. In the Capitol group-"

"Anywhere near Elysia?"


"I think I got her!" Cressida said happily. "Is this what she looks like?" She pulled up a still image of a pretty, thirty-something woman with dark violet coily hair. She smiled at the camera in what looked like a genuinely happy grin; her front two teeth were crooked slightly, and she had dimples. Her eyes were the deepest brown. David did a double take.

It was her. Really her. That girl he'd seen nearly seventeen years ago was alive, right now, this very instant. It was the first time in years he'd laid eyes upon her.


He wondered if she'd forgotten him.    


The room was suddenly quiet, calm.

"It's her," he whispered. "Cressida, that's your mother."

"And I have a sister," she said softly. "Estella." Another image popped up, a girl with dark skin and brown hair in looped braids. She looked more serious than her mother, with a quiet demeanor, but had the same dimples in her cheeks. David was instantly reminded of his daughter- something in the older girl's eyes was just like Cressida.

"How will we ever track them down?" David asked. 

"You said they were revolutionaries," Cressida said."They must be connected to the intranet. We can use a communicator to find them."


Estella's heart pumped hard, her bloodstream full of adrenaline. Blend into the walls, don't make a sound, be hidden and silent was what she'd been told her entire life- and here she was, running like a Magistratus around the sky bridges of wherever she wasn't supposed to be with nothing but the clothes on her back. She wondered if her mother had gone mad.

A revolutionary, Thea? She'd been so quiet, her whole life; had taught her daughter to obey regardless of what she may think herself, had never done anything to go against the grain. She was the perfect Suffragia, practically invisible. Both of them were.

Yet here she was, here they were, criminals, outlaws, textbook rebels, and Estella wasn't sure if she enjoyed the feeling. On one hand, she was free, free to run in these places she'd never been to- outside; she didn't think she'd ever really been outside in her life- and to do whatever she wanted. On the other, the world away from home was a frightening and dangerous place.

Thea checked back every few minutes, and stopped before turning every corner- bodies lay in the streets and she didn't want to join them. The geotracker in her hands buzzed and blipped with government-issued warnings. She checked her comm every five minutes, looking for an update from David.


She'd almost forgotten about him. She had tried to block out the thought of another daughter from her mind, to destroy the image of that dashingly rebellious soldier she'd so stupidly fallen for in a night. But it proved impossible. 

There was so much to tell Estella, so much she didn't know... a family, a sister. The only time they'd ever met was all those years ago, when Cressida was first born, in those precious few days she'd had with her before she was whisked away to that horribly dusty, desolate wasteland hundreds of thousands of klicks away. They'd tried to sit the children down together, to give them one moment to know each other, and Estella had grabbed Cressida's arm and refused to let go and cried when they left, like she knew, even at a year old, even before she was capable of memory.

She wondered what Cressida was like. Was she quiet, courteous, obedient like Estella had been raised to be? Was she scholarly? Ambitious? Lazy? What did she think of Eleutheria? How was she raised?

She had a difficult time imagining Mars. It was so far removed from the city they called home that it may as well have been in another galaxy- all the photographs she'd ever seen had lush, blooming life, huge bodies of water, lakes and rivers and oceans, and occasional scattered tiny "cities" that reminded her of ancient Earth, miniature metropolises. No castes, but somehow she never saw anyone equate it with paradise. People said it was a wasteland compared to Eleutheria- but then again, Martians in Eleutheria only occasionally showed up, and always on business- most were too poor to find a spacecraft ticket, and with the never ending war, space travel had become increasingly less available and more expensive. Thea had never even expected to meet her youngest daughter or see David ever again, but the stars had aligned just right and here she was, running around trying to get to the base without getting killed first.
Estella panted, struggling to keep up. She wasn't exactly accustomed to running- all her life, she'd been trapped inside, and never had the chance to take a walk, nonetheless run. Even up here, she could hear the sounds of rioting from far below- thousands of people stampeding. Most buildings were deserted up here. She assumed most were hiding like normal people would, or down below fighting for their ideals. She ducked around a broken sign, sped under swirling pieces of plastic dangling by a thread, nearly impaled her feet with thousands of shards of broken glass. On newscasts, they used to show criminals fleeing from Magistratum police; now she wasn't sure which side of the conflict she'd be on anymore. At 6 years old, shed wanted so badly to be a policewoman, and would have jumped at the chance to run around outside; now Estella figured she'd be on the other side of the conflict.

A Labora in black sped past, nearly knocking the women off the bridge they were on- Thea had always told her daughter to be glad of her lot in life because they were so far above so many people. Suffragium was two castes above the very bottom trio: Labora, common laborers who often died or were severely injured before they came into their majority, Cantatores, low class dancers who had a sexualized reputation, and Servum, who were slaves in all but name. Suffragium were bound to another profession but only as assistants, with some semblance of free will; Servum had no say in anything. Thea always said that it was better to help a doctor and learn from her than it was to be a dancing girl- at least Suffragium could learn something, make something out of themselves. 

Estella jumped over a corpse. It was nothing she hadn't seen before. 

The city of Eleutheria spread out in front of her; beautiful buildings engraved in platinum floating in the radioactive skies down to the dark, crime-ridden slums of the ground. Marble streets glistened with the light of the moon and the blood of rioters. Screams from down below added to the ever-present urban noise, and people of all castes and ranks ran from place to place- Actorum in their silver, Medicas in turquoise scrubs, Labora in black work clothes- and two Suffragium, running away from the world and everything they knew into a brand-new life of a revolutionary.

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