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.

1Likes
0Comments
2663Views
AA

8. Effugium

"Ah, Lyra." Dalia extended a hand. "My brother has told me about you."

Lyra's head spun. A week ago, and she'd been a good-for-nothing orphaned dancing girl in the stim-addled slums of ground level, and now she was on Mars talking face-to-face with a Cipher.

The escape worked better than she had ever imagined. The possibilities out there for someone who knew how to use their head were incredible.

Of course, Athena was mildly angry about the deceit, but nothing could be done for that. 

Something felt very off about the whole thing- Lyra didn't think she ever wore overalls in her life. Acidalia was in a long, sweeping dress of white, with her hair coiled in elaborate braided twists and her hands adorned with rainbow topaz and quartz jewelry. No one else was dressed so dramatically; Athena in utilitarian grey dotted with bloodstains and Carina in a too-big dress she must have taken from Dalia. Even Aleskynn wore a simple white skirt.

"Sorry I told Athena you were telling me information about the Centurion crash in a low-class music joint," Lyra said sheepishly.

Dalia laughed. "It's all right." She brushed a strand of blue hair behind her head. Then her voice suddenly became serious. "I don't suppose you've seen anything of my brother lately?"

Lyra shook her head. "No. Why?"

Dalia sighed. "It's complicated." Her heart sunk. She was beginning to doubt that he was even still alive. He would have contacted her by now. 

Behind her, Aleksynn and Carina twirled around in the rusty dirt. Leski hadn't even gotten the chance to know him. 

"Smell the air," Carina sighed. "It's so... clean."

"No it isn't," David's daughter laughed from the doorway. Cressida was her name. She was a few years older than Leski at the most. Dalia felt like she was surrounded by children- which she was. "Schiaparelli has so much smog coming from it you can see it a mile away."

"Much less polluted than Eleutheria, regardless," Dalia said. It was hard to say she liked it here. The dirt got everywhere, lumps of metal from cast-away starships littered the dusty ground and it seemed so spread out. How one could live four thousand klicks away from the nearest city and not have starships to fly to it was beyond her. And the sun- oh, she would never get used to this bright sky, the view without artificial lights and the distant specks that were the stars. 

Athena felt the same way. Mars was... raw. Unprocessed. Natural, but not in a good way. The whole place seemed backwards, like what she assumed Eleutheria of the before times would have looked like. From space, it had been beautiful- swirling white clouds, vast oceans of blue, lush land mixed with red. But it was foreign, and ancient.

"You have any laboratories here?" she asked Cressida. 

Cressida shrugged. "I mean, probably. In the city. Why would we need laboratories out here?"

"For experiments?"

"What is there to experiment on?"

"Are you kidding?" Athena asked. "A huge, open plain with acres of land, soil full of bacteria, constant sun for hours on end- what is there not to?"

"Why would we need to know?" Cressida shrugged. "Dad does crop rotation, has since I was born. We look at the sky for rain. We don't need any fancy experiments to keep in check."

"Well, of course you don't need it," Carina said. "But don't you want to know about everything around you? Don't you want to do things just to see what would happen?"

"I guess," Cressida said uncertainly. "But out here, our priority is food. There aren't any resources to spare on random science that doesn't benefit us."

"I guess I understand," Athena sighed. Great. An ancient land with little science and people who lived like they were in the 2000s. "Is there anything here but farming?"

"Not really," Cressida replied. "I'm a farmer, Dad's a farmer, my kids will be farmers if I ever have any."

"That's one thing similar to Eleutheria," Lyra sighed. "but I love it here. It's so much more... free. And bright. And... you don't get what I'm saying."

Dalia considered Lyra for a moment. 

"Lyra," she said, "have you ever heard of the Revolution?"

She shook her head. "Not really. I mean, a little, from Ace and Tee. I know you guys are Re-"

"Don't say that!" Carina urged.

"Do you know what we stand for?" Dalia interrupted. 

"Something about destroying Loyalism?" she guessed.

"Well," Dalia said, "not exactly. Aleskynn, come here. This is your history, too."

Leski scooted over to her sister and sat down. "Yeah?"

"To understand the Revolution," Dalia said, "you have to understand the Movement first, and Eleutheria. The Movement wants an oligarchy. That's when a few people hold all the power. They're a massive network of everyone from all castes, including soldiers, and they want to overthrow the current system and replace it with one in which the leaders hold all the power. The system now is, granted, not the best, but Loyalism wants to reduce everyone to slavery for themselves. It would be worse than what it already is."

"And the Revolution?" Lyra asked.

"The Revolution is about democracy. Well, a democratic republic. That is to say, people elect representatives who decide on issues. It is not a perfect system, I'll admit it, but it's better in any case than what we currently have. It also supports some degree of social mobility."

"So I could become someone important," Lyra said.

"So I could become poor?" Aleskynn asked.

"Technically, I guess," Dalia said. "Like I mentioned before, though, the system is not perfect. It's much easier for someone born rich to stay that way, and for someone born poor to stay that way. But it's possible."

"The American dream," Lyra said.

Dalia looked at her strangely. "How do you know what America was?"
She blushed. "I mean, I don't, really, I just used to read outdated, ancient history books. They were just found someplace and- well, Cantator- well, they- we- don't get too much information. I guess I just wanted to learn whatever I could. I mean, no one else really took interest in them."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Cressida said.

"America," Dalia explained, "was a country that existed before. It was small, covering only what we know now as the Appalachia district and maybe a little of Terra, but back then, it was large because the oceans hadn't been filled and the poles were uninhabitable. We don't know much about it because this was thousands upon thousands of years ago, but it's been mentioned in a lot of places, so we assume it was influential."

"It had states," Lyra said. "Like our districts. And the American Dream was when someone poor grew up to be someone rich."

"Quite a bit different from the Eleutherian dream," Athena snickered. "'Grow up, have a daughter, obey the state and question nothing.'"

"I always thought your planet was a nice place," Cressida said, "but you all make it sound like hell."

"It sucked," Athena said. "You had to listen to your superiors, and their word was truth even if it wasn't. They could tell you six and six is thirteen and you'd better believe it. You had to do what they said, all the time, even if it was stupid or dangerous. If you're lower class, you have to avoid gangs and drugs and all that crap, and if you're upper class you have to deal with everyone breathing down your throat all the time. And you had to have kids, even if you didn't want them, and most don't, so parents suck."

"I was wondering that," Cressida said. "Where the hell are your parents? Dalia's like, the only legal adult. Barely."

"Who knows?" Carina asked. "I only know her by her first name. There are a lot of scientists. The kids were kind of lumped together and trained together. No adult wants to deal with kids when she has her own career and life."

"That's..."

"I mean, it was normal," said Lyra. "And Ciencias- that's big, I know that. There are about fifteen different subcastes, you know."

"Subcastes?" Cressida asked.

"Different scientists," Athena shrugged. "You know, we're Astronomica. Stars and stuff. Biologia is the study of life, but I think that's a kinda soft science. They say that about us, though, so I don't know. And then Physicus, which is like, gravity and stuff- they work with us more often than the others. And then Quaestiones is chemistry and stuff. And there are a lot more, and subtypes of the subtypes, like physicia quantum is the small stuff like atoms and quarks, and stuff."

"Lots of stuff," Cressida laughed. "Our scientists are just kind of jack-of-all-trades. Doctors, chemists, on and on."

"Oh, we have a whole separate caste for doctors," Dalia said. "And, like Athena said, there are sub castes and subcastes for the subcastes."

"Mars is different," Cressida said. "If you're a doctor on Mars... congrats, you're the pediatrician, and the anesthesiologist, and the epidemiologist, and the cardiologist, and the obste-"

"What's that?" Aleskynn interrupted. "Dalia, look."

Acidalia held a hand over her eyes and peered at the horizon. Small, silvery ovals filled the distant sky.

"Are those-?" David began.

"Warships," Dalia said. 

"Get inside," Cressida urged. "C'mon, go, get in."

"Are they looking for me?" Lyra asked fearfully. "Is it because I-"

"No," Dalia assured. "Me, and Leski as well. What do we do with the ship?" She stared at the Revelation. "It has some cloaking tech, but not much."

"Who cares? Get inside!" Lyra half-shrieked.

"They're gonna be able to tell she's here, then, idiot!" Athena replied. 

"What do we do?" Carina asked.

Dalia thought for a minute, weighing her options. She'd been prepared to do this from the very start, and like she'd told Tee, she'd rather die than just give up... but if she did give up, they'd rally around her, wouldn't they? A martyr.

"Go hide. It's better if I just let them have me."

"Wait, no!" Leski said. "Stay here!"

"I can't, they're looking for me and we're all in danger as long as I'm on this planet-"

"Shut up!" Leski yelled. "You aren't leaving me alone out here!"

"They don't want you dead!" Dalia shouted back. "If they find you, they'll take you back home! The Loyalists want to use you, not kill you-"

"Well, maybe I don't want to be used!"

"Stop trying to be the hero," Dalia advised. 

"Says the girl who's talking about sacrificing herself and turning herself in to some crazies for no reason-"

"David and I are the only functional adults here, and I refuse to put children in danger."

"I'm not a kid!" Leski screamed.

"If that were true," Dalia said, "you'd understand why I'm doing this."

"You are twenty," David said suddenly.

"And you're only twelve years older. I'm a Revolution leader that would work better as a martyr, something to rally over. Get the girls safe, please." She turned to Carina and Athena. "I'm sorry I dragged you both into this mess. This isn't your war to fight."

"Maybe I want to fight it, now," Athena said.

"Maybe I do, too," Carina said.

"And me," Leski added.

"Me too," Lyra said.

Dalia didn't look at them. It would be better for Aleskynn and better for the Revolution as a whole. They'd lose a leader, but they'd gain a figurehead, and a dead one is more useful than a flesh-and-blood one. If they killed her, many would be furious; Dalia was high-profile. And Leksi would move up in the world. She'd be a pawn, but a comfortable one.

"You can't die," Leski said. "I'm going with you."

"They'll kill me in front of you."

"No one is being killed," David said. "This is-"

Suddenly dust flew into the air. Leski, Lyra and Carina screamed and ran backwards, Carina falling over in the process. Dalia stood, shoulders held high, facing the crashed ship in front of her.

They all may as well have been dead now, but at least they'd go together. It wasn't her own life she was upset for- no, it was everyone else's. Two scientists, a farmer's daughter, a dancer who wanted nothing but freedom- they didn't ask to get swept up in this.

The smouldering ramp lowered silently, and Carina whimpered. Athena shot her a glare. We die like men, she thought. 
Except, women. 

But the figure charged for Lyra instead. She yelped, but he didn't shoot her down- he lifted her up off the ground. Behind him, a soldier chuckled.

Dalia stared. "Tee?"

Suddenly, the soldier stopped twirling Lyra around and became contrite. Dalia's heart sunk.

"Who are you?" she asked.

"AX-C- actually, just Ace."

"Where's Tee?" Lyra asked, knitting her brow.

Ace stammered. This was a war, death was nothing new, but there had never been any family to tell- those who loved the fallen almost always saw it happen a hundred times before.

"He's dead," Dalia sighed, "isn't he?"

Ace nodded.

"Dead?" Lyra asked, tears brimming in her eyes. "How is he dead?"

"Because of me," Dalia said.

"Because of the Movement," Ace corrected. "There was an ambush, and we went to help."

"An ambush on me," Dalia said. "I was his sister. His older sister. I outranked him. I should have seen this."

"He's gone?" Leski asked. "That isn't fair! I didn't even know he existed! Why didn't you tell me?"

"She wanted you to be safe," David said, stepping in, as Cressida and the scientists watched the drama unfold.

"No, everyone just wants to hide stuff from me all the time! Just 'cause I'm the youngest! Hide the rebellion, hide my brother, hide my crazy mother! I feel like no one gets me!"

"This is not the time," Carina whispered.

"You don't get it!" Leski screamed. "I'm different! I'm the youngest, I'm not normal, I don't fit in, and there's a huge conspiracy theory that I don't get to be a part of now!"

"You at least know who he was," Carina said. "I have a brother. Athena, Lyra, everyone has a brother, and they're probably dead too."

Lyra clung to Ace and watched in silence. He ruffled her hair.

"I hate you!" Aleskynn yelled, to no one in particular. 

"I swear to all the great Elders, young lady-" David began, but Leski wasn't listening. She whirled around and ran into the farmhouse, stomping her feet. 

Carina stared in silence for a minute, then went to follow her friend. Lyra couldn't read Dalia's expression. It was somewhere between anger, sadness, and something unidentifiable.

"Did you recover the body?" she asked in a soft tone.

Ace shook his head. Lyra looked away.

"We should leave, " he said. "They'll be looking for you soon."

Dalia nodded and returned to the Revelation, the end of her white gown making trails in the sand.

Author's Notes

Evil, evil, evil...

Join MovellasFind out what all the buzz is about. Join now to start sharing your creativity and passion
Loading ...