Authors: Dayton Grey
“Huh? Vat. Okay.”
“Hello, Chiah, how’s your day going?” Geon added.
“Okay. Vat? YawelldunnogottagettostorerunsomerrandsIlltalktoyoulaterokay.” Geon, confused by Chiah’s response and sudden rapid movement down the hallway away from them cried out to him, “Oh. Well… NICE SHOES!”
As they entered the lab, Geon was amazed by what he saw. Students around the room each had incredible and intricate structures in front of them, some made of raw material, metals, and polymers, and some were just holographic and digital formations. Each student was working on some sort of new innovation for the TechSci Concours competition. They were helping each other and bouncing ideas off each other to improve everyone’s projects as a whole.
“I’m surprised everyone is helping each other,” Geon quietly said to Allea as they made their way to her station. “Isn’t this a competition?”
“It’s the spirit of the TechSci Concours, G. It’s not just about winning, although that’s important. It’s about innovating and advancing our species forward. With how much we’ve lost, something made in this room could one day ensure the survival of all the inhabitants of this planet. It’s so much bigger than a competition, you know?”
Geon looked at his sister and smiled, seeing the passion and care in her eyes.
She truly cares for this world and everyone in it.
“Okay, sis. Show me what you got.”
Allea excitedly pulled Geon over to her station where a medium-sized, rusted, metal box sat, the front and top of it covered in dials, buttons, and gauges. It had multiple wires hanging off of it, one of them going straight into the station where it sat, which was synced with Allea’s LifeCuff. Projected off the side of the table was a series of confusing graphical data and numbers, none of which Geon could make any sense of.
“Impressive! So, um… what is it?”
Allea laughed and pointed to the box. “
is a rare artifact, of which I’m only being lent for this competition. It’s a microwave radio relay system. It was a communication device used over one hundred years ago!”
Geon looked at it and shook his head. “Wow. It’s sooooo… primitive. So, how’ll this help you?”
“Well,” Allea responded, her eyes twinkling with excitement. “So you know that the sky is filled with satellites right? All of them are completely defunct now. Well this device was capable of communicating with satellites many years ago. I’m reverse engineering the technology and trying to figure out a way to utilize the now-defunct satellites to enhance global communications. This way, all the isolated groups of people around the world that have no way of reaching out to each other to learn and grow and survive together, will now have a way to do so. If I can succeed in making it happen, it could help the survival of so many people, simply through the power of
I knew she was brilliant, but she never ceases to amaze me.
“Ally, you are truly amazing,” he said. “Well, keep doing whatever it is you’re doing. Can I help in any way?”
Allea sighed as she swiped through his holographic board. “The issue is that I’m missing a piece that I really need. You see, this type of technology requires a direct line of sight between it and the object you’re trying to relay information to. And that can’t be done without a parabolic antenna. And that’s something I just don’t have.”
“Yes, exactly. It’s shaped like a large bowl. I don’t know where we could get one. Perhaps I could make one, but that would take a lot of time and there isn’t much left before the Concours.”
Geon wanted to help Allea but wasn’t sure where to begin. “What about… is there a place we can go? Like a junkyard? A place where old trash is left?”
“That’s a good idea, G, but I thought of it already. Most of the trash is either destroyed or recycled by CARE. I don’t know. I’ll keep working on alternative options. By the way, you should know Shiv has an entry in the competition also, so he spends time in here when he doesn’t have JetSurf practice. So, be on your toes.”
Geon wondered how Shiv had the time to excel in Jetsurfing and make a new innovation for the Concours. He spent the rest of the afternoon watching Allea tweak her project and talking to the other students in the lab. He and Allea brainstormed together on different ideas and spent some time helping the other students with their own projects. After learning about all the amazing things these students were doing, Geon couldn’t help but feel somewhat ashamed of himself.
While I’m off racing around the waterways with Sabien and the other riders, doing nothing for humanity, Allea and these students are here, working hard to help ensure and progress the survival of our entire planet.
At that moment, he was truly appreciative of Allea, and was thankful to have her in his life. He wanted to figure out a way to help her, but he just didn’t know how, yet.
The next few days went by without much excitement as Geon and the others kept themselves busy at school and with other projects. Geon spent his time focusing on classes and helping Allea with her competition project after school. He also spent some time looking around the lab at all the other projects from other students, including Shiv’s which was arrogantly described as an “incredible three dimensional duplicator,” which would “allow people to scan, duplicate, and create objects in mere seconds in any shape desired.”
On another occasion Geon went to JetSurf practice after school to watch Sabien and the others, but made sure to sit in the back of the stands with his hood pulled over his head to hide from Coach Aquila. He noticed that Shiv seemed to be performing better and better since Geon had been sidelined. He wanted to get back into the game, but was torn between his desire to compete and his fear of what happened in the last race.
During school, Geon had also begun spending more time with Vaya. They had lunch together on two different occasions, but he was still shy around her. There was something about her that intimidated Geon, but something that excited him as well.
After school one evening, Geon and the others went for a pizza dinner, which turned out to be more of the same fishy food, this time in a thick paste form, spread out on top of a round flat stale cracker of some sort. Kumuki enjoy it, of course. As Geon slowly forced the pizza down his throat, he thought about their talk at the clinic and realized that the momentum to try to uncover the underwater mystery was slowly fading. Geon wanted to know more about it, but he too was confused as to what the next step was and questioned if the others were still on board with him.
Maybe it was nothing,
he told himself that night as he fell off to sleep.
Maybe it’s for the best that we don’t know. Maybe…
Geon awoke the next morning as he felt someone’s hand on him.
“G. Wake up, G!”
Geon blinked his eyes a few times, trying to see what was going on. Through the crack of the REMpod he could see Allea’s face staring at him, her eyes wide open and a smile on her face.
Geon mumbled in response as he tried to open the pod and climb out. “Oh, morning, Ally. Mmmmm, g’morning. How was your sleep… pod… time?” He rubbed his eyes as he sat on the edge of the REMpod.
“Geon!” Allea suddenly said in a loud whisper. “Forget the sleep! Listen to me. I foun—”
“GEON, ALLEA, GOOD MORNING,” Mama V boomed as she came charging into the room. “Come all of you, hurry up and get ready and let’s eat okay? Enough horsing around!”
Geon looked at Allea as she followed Mama V out and saw that there was something on her mind. He had never seen her look so anxious before, her eyes bulging out and her entire body trembling and fidgeting. During breakfast, no one said much, as Mama V sat with them and ate. Geon kept looking at Allea, who had her head down as she ate quickly. Her whole body was shaking and she seemed ready to explode at any second. Geon tried to mouth the words “Are you okay?” to her, but she shook her head from side to side and held her finger up to her mouth to signal him to keep quiet. Sabien also seemed aware that something was up with her but Kumuki was too preoccupied with his third bowl of breakfast mush to notice. They finished their food and grabbed their jackets and headed out the door for school.
The moment the door closed behind them, Allea erupted in an outburst of incomprehensible cries of excitement.
“OH MY GOD! OHMYGOD. GUYS! OH MY GOD. OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!”
“Ally, what is it? Are you okay?” Geon asked, concerned for his sister’s unusual behavior and explosion.
“She’s been acting weird all morning right, G? Kuki, did you notice? Very strange behavior, right?”
“What? I Didn’t notic—”
“OH MY GOD! GUYS! LISTEN! PLEASE LISTEN! THIS IS INSANE! ARE YOU LISTENING?”
Geon, now excited and anxious himself, found himself screaming back for no apparent reason.
“ALLY! WE’RE LISTENING! WHATS HAPPENING? WHATS GOING ON? ARE YOU OKAY? WHAT IS IT?”
“Oh my God. Listen, guys. I know this sounds crazy. I didn’t want to say anything the last few days, because, well, I wasn’t sure, you know? But I’ve been doing a lot of tracking and research on Aurora’s shadow. At first, it seemed pretty clear cut. It seemed like she had…
Geon felt his stomach sink suddenly and saw that Sabien and Kumuki were taken aback as well.
“That’s one of the reasons I didn’t say anything. But then, as I researched more, I realized that there were some other fragments of the shadow around the network. And it was almost as if, well, someone had intentionally tried to erase them. I had to write an algorithm to try to piece together the missing pieces, but yesterday… I
her. I found
Geon felt relieved that there was nothing wrong with Allea but couldn’t help wondering what had gotten her so excited.
“That’s amazing, Allea!” Sabien said. “So where is she?”
“Well, this is the crazy part. I found her, and tried to send her a message, and it was blocked! I’ve never seen anything like it. It was as if I didn’t have access to communicate with her. So I had to circumvent the standard communication tool within our cuffs and figure out a more native way to try to reach out to her. I sent an encrypted, simple, text message to her yesterday, but had no idea if it worked or reached her.”
“Like a message in a bottle!”
“Exactly, Kumuki. Like a message in a bottle. A one-way communication where you send it out but don’t know if anyone will ever see it.”
Kumuki smiled and nodded.
“But today… this morning, while you guys were sleeping…
she wrote back!”
Geon became more and more excited as Allea’s energy level rose.
“Great!” Sabien said as he nudged Geon and quickly raised his eyebrows a few times. “So, how is she? Where is she? Did you ask her if she was still, you know, glorious, to
“GUYS! You’re not understanding what I’m saying. I asked her about what Kumuki said. I told her about what Geon saw! Guys, Aurora wrote back and told me… she told me… she said…”
Geon felt himself holding his breath as he and the others stared at Allea, waiting for her to get the words out.
She said that there
an underwater world and that she lives there! Do you understand what I’m saying right now? Do you understand what this means?”
Kumuki screamed at the top of his lungs and Geon and Sabien stared at Allea, their mouths both open.
This can’t be.
What does she mean? An underwater world? This is insane.
Wait, Ally. No. Wait… this
be. Wait. Hang on. You told her about what I saw?
. Hold on. Wait. I don’t—”
“Oh my God. Geon is right. Hold on. Just wait. I mean, wait a minute. We weren’t really serious about this. I mean, were we? I mean…
. Hold on a sec. Let’s regroup. I mean, what are we talking about here, Allea?”
Allea frantically tried to pull up the message on her cuff but was so jittery she was having a hard time using it. “Guys, I know this is
. But look. Here is what she said.” She projected the message in the air in front of them.
A shiver went down Geon’s spine and the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck stood up.
“I know,” Allea said, her eyes still wide open and her face flushed with excitement. “I
. I mean… this is just… it’s unreal. If it’s true. But what if it isn’t true. It has to be true though. It
to be. But what if it isn’t?”
Geon didn’t know what to say or what to do, but he could feel the start of something extraordinarily exciting in that moment. It was a complex mix of fear, excitement, and intrigue.
“It has to be true, right?” Geon added. “What would be the point of having it so difficult to contact her, if there wasn’t some mystery here? Right, Sabe?”
“I don’t know. Idon’tknowIdon’tknowIdon’tknow. I mean, this could all be a trap. Aliens.
. Killer synths.
. I don’tknowIdon’tknowIdon’tknow.”