Authors: Dayton Grey
It did feel incredible. For just a moment, it was like flying
Only minutes ago he desperately wanted to get off the board and back on dry land. Now, there was an alluring urge to experience it all over again.
he thought to himself.
Once practice was over the three of them walked back to the Glidewing with Chiah following closely behind.
“Chiah, did you see Geon today? It was incredible!”
Chiah responded in between sips from his drink, “Coolcool. So….didyouhear? Some… wildanimals… loose… fromthezoo… inthecity.”
Neither Geon or Sabien knew how to respond.
Back home, Allea was waiting for them as they walked in. As Sabien told the story of Geon’s exploits, they could see her beaming with pride. Her smile grew bigger and bigger and at the end of the story she grabbed Geon in a tight hug and told him how proud she was of him. Soon after, as the realization of the danger of the event hit her, she began to tear. Then she smacked Sabien in the arm with the back of her hand and lectured him about keeping Geon safe and being the responsible one in the family. Geon smiled, realizing how emotional and fragile Allea was toward him, even though she seemed so confident and strong at other times. He realized that he was feeling a sense of happiness and hope that he hadn’t felt in some time.
All in all
, he thought,
today was a good day.
Morning came easily as Geon gently awoke, feeling rested and curiously content.
What is it?
Why do I feel so happy this morning?
The memory of his JetSurf exploits the day before came rushing back and he smiled, half out of pride and half out of embarrassment, picturing himself flying through the air and bending in every which direction. His body slightly twisted in his REMpod as he relived the moment in his head.
He realized that now he really
have to learn the sport well, else he risked letting down his new friends and family. With a deep breath he opened his pod and jumped out. Allea was gone already and Kumuki was still fast asleep. Just then, Sabien’s pod opened and he jumped deftly out with one hand on the bottom lip of the pod and the other on the top, landing softly without a sound. He smiled at Geon, as if he knew exactly what was going through his head.
“Feel good this morning, eh? It’s a natural high when you please your fans. Imagine living with this high 24/7!”
Geon laughed as Sabien stood proudly posing in the center of the room, smiling from ear to ear, hands on his hips.
“All right, kid. It’s time to get you into
is the Excelerator!”
As he pushed a button on his cuff, a panel in the ceiling opened up and a strange contraption dropped down from a pole, bouncing and swaying as it stood hanging a couple feet above the ground. It had multiple limbs of thin shiny rods that bent in like human joints and resembled a metal spider, spinning down from its silken thread. The two walked over to it, and Sabien helped get Geon strapped in. With all four limbs and his midsection secure, Sabien announced, “Level Three. Start.” Suspended in mid-air, Geon hung there not knowing what to do next.
“Geon, there’s no rule to using this device. You can run, you can swim, you can punch, kick, squat, thrust, shake, wiggle, jiggle, giggle, or anything else you can think of. It provides resistance and weight in every direction on every limb. The harder you work, the more difficult it gets, and the more points you get. Remember, CARE monitors how much you do, so you need to log in at least 700 points per week. Go ahead, start moving.”
Geon nodded and sheepishly began an awkward set of mid-air running, punching, kicking, and flexing.
He looked at his LifeCuff and could see that it was indeed counting the points that he had earned thus far. Within only seconds of this rigorous movement, he began to perspire and was short of breath. He noticed that as he moved faster, the machine would instantly recalibrate itself and make it more difficult for him to move. Each time it did this, it would provide beeping cues to alert him that it was changing.
“Keep switching up your body motions. Try to focus on as many different body movements as possible. No, that’s not it at all. Stop it. What are you doing? That’s not a… you’re just…
. Stop it, G. What in the galaxy? You look crazy, G. There you go, speed up. Mama V could probably do this level, though I’ve never seen her on the Excelerator in my life. That’s strange, what are you doing now? That’s new—is that a dance? Okay, to each his own, keep going.”
Geon laughed as he focused and tried harder and harder to overpower the machine. The harder he pushed or faster he moved, the more difficult it became. He felt his muscles burning in every part of his body. As the machine beeped and clicked itself into a more difficult level, he realized the machine could be tricked
. I just need it to think I can’t finish this cycle
. Testing his theory, he began to slow down and pretended to struggle against the motion and resistance of the spider. Sabien looked at him, dumbfounded, trying to figure out why Geon was having such a hard time. The Excelerator immediately beeped and decreased itself to an easier level. Geon smiled and finished off his cycle with ease.
“Stupid machine,” he said with a smile, as he unstrapped himself and hopped out.
Sabien, realizing what Geon had done, exclaimed with joy, “Well, I’ll be! You’ve only been awake for a few days and you’re already teaching
new things! We’re going to make a good team, you and I, G.”
They got ready and met the rest of the household at the breakfast table. Allea had already filled in Mama V with some of the details of the day before, but Sabien wanted to start from the beginning and tell her everything in detail. Mama V stood beaming as Sabien described the first day on the waterways with his “protégé” Geon, and how Geon pulled off one of the most difficult tricks in the sport, just to “prove a point to Coach Aquila and Shiv Barron.” As he told the story his hands and arms gestured grandly and he stood and demonstrated the JetSurf motions on the ground to the others. Allea, Kumuki, and Geon all laughed at Sabien’s wildly exaggerated depiction of the events, but Mama V didn’t seem to care. She grabbed Geon in a tight embrace and told him how proud she was of him. Allea jumped in and told Mama V that Geon could have been hurt and that he should be more careful.
“Vat is dis
? Don’t vorry… you are a child. Children are made of rubber or something! You not gonna get hurt. You just bounce off everything and get right back up again. You are bouncy boys and girls! When you fall, you bounce. Then you get right back up! Like a… Sabien, vat’s the name of that bouncy thing?”
“Uhm, I dunno, Mama V. Maybe a
“Yes, yes. Like a ball. You are built like balls! Don’t vorry, Geon, my baby, you go out there and show them vat you got! Mama is so proud of you.”
The three boys laughed as Allea looked flustered and teary-eyed, going back to studying her hologram and quietly sniffing to herself. She muttered something under her breath about bouncing off Sabien’s prodigiously inflated ego. Sabien, undeterred, talked about the upcoming time trials and getting Geon ready to make the team.
He seems much more confident than I am
, Geon thought to himself.
I hope he knows what he’s doing.
At school that day, Geon noticed that many more of the students looked at him as they walked the hallways around the school. Sabien stood next to him with a smile and one arm over his shoulder, nodding and gesturing with one hand as if he were presenting Geon to the world. Just as they were entering their first class, a voice behind them said, “So, are you enjoying all this attention?”
Geon and Sabien turned around and saw that Vaya and Vilu were both standing there, looking truly identical with only minute differences in their clothes and hair. Geon recognized Vaya as the one speaking because she had a slightly more crooked, mischievous smile, and was staring directly at him unabashedly. She had large sparkling green eyes and was very pretty. Her twin Vilu, was nearly indistinguishable, but Geon noticed there were slight difference between the two. Where Vaya was wide-eyed and bold, Vilu seemed restrained and shy.
Vaya always seems to do the talking between the two of them
Geon shrugged his shoulders in response to Vaya’s question. “I dunno, I mean I’m jus—”
Vaya interrupted Geon as Vilu giggled to herself, “Oh no, Geon, dear. I wasn’t talking about you. I meant your sponsor here. Or is it shaman? Guru? Mentor? Sabien? What exactly is your title these days?”
“All of the above, Vaya! And I’ll have you know that my protégé here will soon be showing
in the school what he can really do!”
Geon nervously fidgeted and interjected, “Sabe, I don’t think you shou—”
“G, my boy, save your energy! Flip-twists don’t just
on their own, you know!” Sabien cried out loudly, for all students nearby to hear.
Apparently they do
Vaya rolled her eyes and Vilu giggled again. “All right boys,” Vaya said with a smirk. “Whatever you say. We’ll see you out there at practice, and we look forward to your subsequent performance, Geon.”
Sabien replied loudly as the girls turned to leave, “And of course
will perform to my already-incredibly high standards, as always,
“Of course!” Vaya and Vilu both said in unison as they laughed and walked away.
“I think she likes you, G,” Sabien quietly said as they walked into the classroom. Geon smiled and felt a rush of excitement at the prospect of such a beautiful girl liking him.
There was something about her
, he thought.
She was so bold. So vivacious. Unafraid to speak her mind.
He felt as if she looked at him with honest and nonjudgmental eyes. He found her to be different and interesting and wondered if she really did like him.
“Okay, class be seated and let’s sync.”
On the board in front was displayed:
In front of the board stood Professor Keiran, the same tall, slim lady who sat in the teachers’ row behind headmaster Ulie each morning in the Commons. She had a long, slim face, bronze skin, shiny grey hair, and spoke with a Scottish accent.
“So. Gene modification. Who knows what it is?”
Half of the classroom raised their hands but Professor Keiran pointed to Chiah, who sat slouched a few seats to the right of Geon and did not have his hand up. Chiah looked startled as he nervously put down his drink, tipping it over on his desk and scrambling to grab it and sit upright at the same time.
“Um… I… it’slike… whenlikethethings… youmakethem… thesame… like… inalab… and… thenyougottagetdagenesanddenmakedatings…”
Most of what he said was unintelligible and his eyes darted around the floor as he talked. Toward the end he sort of trailed off into a mumble and a few people in the class quietly snickered while others just sat with perplexed looks on their faces.
“Well, from what I believe you said, part of that is true. Gene modification
in fact done in labs. Essentially we take the existing character-building blocks of living things, and we change them. We
them. Many years before you or I were born it was unheard of to change the structure of a plant or animal, but as the Earth diminished and resources because more and more scarce, we found it to be a necessity to make these manipulations in certain things. It exists around us in different forms every day. I will give you some examples. See that drink that Chiah is sipping on?”
The classroom turned to look at the large red container that Chiah was quietly drinking from. He nervously looked down and continued to slurp hastily from the container.
“That drink was made in a lab. We don’t have any natural fruit anymore. So that drink was synthetically produced by first taking some sort of fruit, genetically modifying that fruit to be bigger and sweeter than the original one, taking the juice from that larger fruit, then reverse engineering the basic building blocks of that modified juice to create a liquid that has both the flavor and look of a natural juice. It is, in fact, not really a juice and certainly not natural, so why drink it at all you might ask?”