Authors: Dayton Grey
The two walked through hallways teeming with other children and met with Allea and Kumuki outside their next class.
“Wait till you guys have your CE1 class today” said Sabien. “It’s really powerful stuff…”
“I heard about it.” Nodded Allea. “I just saw Jilma and she looked like she’d been crying!”
“Her and about ten others,” replied Sabien. “That class is going to be really interesting. I guess they figure we’re at an age where we can handle this kind of thing. And truth be told, it
important for us to know these things. You just never know…”
He and Allea looked over to Geon as he nodded in understanding. They turned and walked through the sliding door of their next classroom.
The rest of the day flew by as Geon attended his MechTech, NextTech, and Energy/Harness classes. All day he anxiously waited for afterschool activities. He didn’t know what JetSurf was, but the thought of some sport—
sport—excited him. He had a genuine appreciation of all things competitive and active and could barely contain his excitement to see what it was. He tried to pry more information about it from Sabien multiple times throughout the day, but only received infuriating shrugs for responses. It was only when we he was near his breaking point of anticipation that the last “ding” finally rang from their cuffs, signaling the end of the day.
Geon nodded and with an excited step, he and Sabien quickly headed out of the classroom building and toward the school exit. Kumuki was waiting there already, a broad smile on his face and anxiously squirming to get moving.
“Where’s Ally?” Geon inquired.
“She’s seconds behind us. She’s going to stay here to work in the lab for the competition. There she is!”
“Hey, guys!” Allea came bouncing up to the three of them and put her arm around Geon’s shoulders. “Sooooo, how was day one, brother? You probably learned so many things! Did you enjoy Professor Tinashe more or Professor Keiran? What about Professor Tran? He’s incredible! Did you enjoy NextTech better or MechTech? What about—”
“Allea! Let the boy answer!” Sabien interrupted. “G?”
“It was, well,
. It’s all a lot to process. But yeah, honestly, I
The three smiled from ear to ear, seemingly pleased by Geon’s response.
“I mean, there’s so much we don’t know. So much we
know. And so much at our fingertips. I feel like, well, even one of
could help change the world, make it better for all of us!”
Allea nodded and smiled. “I feel that way too, G.”
“Of course, the food was gross, though. What else is new. But I was wondering, with technology so advanced since I last remember, why even have schools at all? I mean, why not just learn everything digitally, from home?”
“Good questions, G,” Allea answered. “For a while CARE did try that, but they realized that the learning wasn’t progressing in the way they wanted. They realized that while you can certainly impart knowledge digitally, there just is no replacement for human interaction. Knowledge without experience isn’t enough to prepare us for this world. You know?”
Geon understood and agreed. “Well, either way it was a good first day. But now I’m dying to find out about JetSurf so can we
“Okay, guys I’ll see you either at the waterways or back home. G, good luck and be safe. Sabe, keep him
“Aye, aye, captain Allea!” Sabien responded with a quick salute. “We’ll sync later.”
As Allea headed back to the lab in the school, the three of them began quickly walking with a group of other excited students. Geon noticed that almost every student appeared to be skinny and fit, with athletic builds. All except for one. He was a short, dark-skinned, round boy who was waddling just ahead and to the right of them. His thighs appeared to be rubbing against each other when we walked, so to compensate he had to walk with his toes pointed inward and swing his hips outward with each step. He had a large container with a red liquid in it and appeared to be slightly out of breath. Kumuki saw him as well and yelled out to him.
“Chiah! Come meet our new, um, old, um, I mean… our
The boy turned to look at Geon and with a grimace, came hobbling toward them. He said nothing, but surveyed Geon from head to toe, sipping from his drink all the while.
“Geon, this is Chiah Armu! He’s got family from parts of Sri Lanka and parts of North Africa! Well, formerly Sri Lanka, of course. He does all the scoring for the JetSurf matches. Chiah, this is Geon Shay. He’s Allea’s brother and our ado-brother!”
Kumuki appeared to be more excited than usual as he gestured wildly between Chiah and Geon.
“Ado-brother?” Geon quietly said to Sabien.
Sabien smiled and quietly responded, “Adopted, G. Don’t worry. You’ll get all the terminology soon enough.”
Geon nodded and smiled at Chiah, attempting to back-five him. Chiah looked at his hand awkwardly and grunted, looking back forward again and slurping his drink. Geon turned and looked at Sabien inquisitively, wondering if his timing was off with his back-five attempt. Sabien responded with a wry smile, shaking his head from side to side, as if to say, “Don’t worry about it.”
As they walked, Chiah bumped into Geon a few times while swinging his round posterior from side to side.
“So, Geon.” He spoke in a deep mumbled voice with a heavy accent and ran the words together without much space between them, “Soyou… coolshoes.”
“Oh. Um, thanks,” Geon responded, confused by the random comment. “They’re the same as everyone else’s, of course.”
“YeadatswhatImeant,” Chiah hastily snapped back, sipping quickly from his drink and staring ahead of them. “Imeant… I like… allourshoes. Wehave… coolshoes.”
Geon politely nodded as Sabien stifled his laughter next to him. Kumuki nodded furiously in agreement while looking at everyone’s shoes.
As Chiah nudged Geon’s body a few more times, he attempted to make some more small talk while sipping his drink and breathing heavily. “So… yougonna… jointheteam… thisyear… JetSurf?”
Sabien jumped in before Geon could answer. “Not only is he going to join the team, he’s going to be my prodigy! I’m going to teach him everything I know. I
what you’re all thinking. To teach another human
I know would take millenniums… eons even. But you gotta realize, I’m not just any other human. And that it’s
doing the teaching. Give me a week. That’s all I need.”
“Coolcool,” Chiah un-enthusiastically mumbled, focusing back on his drink. Kumuki and Geon both smiled, excited by the prospect.
“How much further is it?” Geon inquired to anyone who would answer. He noticed the pace of the thirty or so students had quickened.
“Moments, my boy. Moments.”
As they all followed the group of students around the corner of a building, a large level section of wetlands came into view. It had a complex array of snaking waterways, all surrounded by dry land covered in dry, dead growth. Adjacent to the waterways on one side was a tiered level of bench seating, and on the other side was a large, horizontal E-pillar, with a hologram projection of the students on the team. There was also a prefab near the edge of the water, which looked similar to their home, but smaller. Some of the students entered the structure, with boys on one side and girls on the other. The remaining students filed into the benches. As they got closer, Geon noticed unusual shapes in the water. Some looked like curved ramps, others looked like bars and hoops, and others looked like semi-circular spheres. He could hardly contain his excitement as he nudged Sabien and smiled.
“Kuki, Chiah, we’ll see you after. Enjoy the show!” Sabien said as he grabbed Geon and headed toward the prefab. “Listen here, G. The coach is notorious for being
. He barely likes me, even though I’m one of the greatest of all time, and he’s certainly not going to like the idea of letting you try out for the team, three weeks after we’ve already started practice. But leave that up to me, okay? That’s him there,” he said while pointing to a small, slender man with a very large head, who appeared to be studying a hologram from his LifeCuff. “His name is Rin, Coach Rin Aquila.”
As they approached him, Geon felt his stomach turn. “Coach Rin!” Sabien exclaimed. “Your star has arrived! Fret no longer, for the chosen one is here. And he has brought his prodigy with him!”
Coach Rin slowly looked up from his hologram, straight at Geon, eyebrows crinkled and a stern expression on his face. He appeared to be quite irritated by just the sight of Geon.
“He’s new to the school, you see. Anyway, I can vouch for him. He’s got some serious athletic ability. Innate, you know? And I know that we’ve already started practice and set the team, but I wanted to ask if you can make an exception to allow Geon to try out.”
Coach Rin, still staring straight at Geon, raised one of his eyebrows in response to Sabien’s request. After a few moments of thinking, he finally turned to Sabien with a snort and squeaked out in a high-pitched and feminine voice, all the while talking with a slight lisp.
“Sabien. I just don’t think so. Look at him. I mean, no offense, Geno, was it? Listen Geno, we have a full roster as it is and you know we don’t even have enough jetboards for everyone to practice as it is.”
He gestured emphatically as he talked, bobbing his enormous head around and swaying his body and shoulders back and forth with one hand on his side and the other pointing around.
understand. But I’ll teach him on my own time. Just give me one week to work with him and I promise it will be worth it. You want to win our zone this year right? Make it to districts? Well we
some more talent. I mean I’m good, but I can’t carry this team all the way without
Coach Rin feigned a half-smile and nodded. “One week,” he squealed. “And, Sabien, don’t waste my time. Now hurry up and get changed. You too, Geno.”
Sabien nodded and he and Geon hurried toward the prefab. “Sabien! I don’t even know what this is! How am I going to even do it? I mean, what if I embarrass myself?”
is JetSurf. You remember seeing people surf when you were young? Long, hard, flat boards, swimming out to sea and riding the waves back in?”
Geon nodded, vividly remembering watching people surf when his family took him to the beach as a young child.
“Well, you know that surfing is illegal now. The seas are far too dangerous and would be certain death if anyone tried it. And even if they didn’t die, if CARE caught you, you’d be shipped off so fast to Narak—”
He stopped himself short as Geon looked puzzled.
“You’d be in trouble. Anyway, so, JetSurf. The inlets here are safer. So about a half-decade ago, someone invented the jetboard and the sport was born. See the obstacles in the water? Those are part of the track. Wait till you see it lit up! And these…” He motioned in front of him as they stepped into the prefab. “
are the boards!”
In front of Geon, lined up against the wall, were about a dozen flat boards. They were much smaller and thinner than the traditional surfboards he remembered, and they had a symmetrical shape with rounded edges on the front and back. Toward the front and back of the board were silver magnetic footprints for the rider’s boots. The boards were just about the same height as Geon and had basic black and grey patterns on them. Most of them looked worn and all of them had chips, scrapes, and stains on them.
“They look more like the old
Sabien nodded and grabbed one and flipped it over for Geon to see. In the middle of the bottom of the board was a thicker, slightly raised platform, about two inches high, one foot long and as wide as the width of the board. On each side of the platform facing the front and back were three round holes.
“This, G, is the power.
is what makes it go. It’s all controlled by your feet and it’s completely symmetrical and can go either way. That track out there… it’s a course. An
course. And JetSurf is a
The moment Sabien said “
,” Geon got a shiver of excited down his spine. He didn’t know why, but he loved to compete and he especially loved to race. The vehicle was irrelevant. It was just something about the idea of pushing yourself to be the first, the
, that excited Geon. He smiled at Sabien and grabbed the board.
“Let’s suit up.”
Sabien brought Geon over to the wardrobe where all the suits were. They looked like full-body wetsuits with built in boots and a clear screen on the left wrist where the LifeCuffs would be. He also handed Geon a pair of thin goggles with large flat lenses that strapped around the back of his head and had another thick rubber strap that crossed across the top of his head from ear to ear.
Geon put the goggles on and Sabien pushed a button on the side of them, which instantly sucked the air out and vacuumed them to his face.
“The Aurelens goggles are waterproof, so you can dive underwater and see fine without leakage. They also provide a heads-up display of your data and statistics. They sync with your cuff so we can communicate without taking your eyes off the waterway. Lastly, if you crash—I mean
crash—the straps on the top and back will instantly discharge an air-cast to protect you.”