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Kings of Infinite Space: Chapter 1
CHAPTER ONE: SUCH DREAMS AS THESE
The last fingers of daylight gripped the horizon in their scarlet grasp, slipping and falling into space as night crashed over one emboldened world, drowning it in a cool spring breeze. Mordekai Mond, seated in a great leather chair and leaning over a pile of reports scarcely noticed the night’s beautiful advent. A great propane fire in the heath opposite his desk protected him from the season’s harshly pleasant breeze. Such bitter pleasantries were of no use to him, a distraction from the current reports from the Western European Hatchery and the consent forms for the Department of Social Entertainment to release the newest feelie.
Only the sharp, familiar tapping of metal heels against the smooth concrete stairs that lead to his office jarred him from his work. His face rose, a premature frown forming on his lips as his large fingers moved to push a button on the underside of his desk. His office door swung upon, and one Emmeline Owen walked in, her locks of long auburn curls bouncing about her shoulders with each step.
Emma had a pretty face, even judging by the lofty standards of an Alpha Plus – the highest ranking social class, to which they both belonged. Her body, however, was small and lithe, and despite numerous attempts to fatten her up with various Omega-3 surrogates she was still hardly pneumatic enough to pass as a normal Alpha girl. But then, there was little normal about Emma. After all, she had been selected before artificial conception to be his successor, the World Controller of Western Europe. World controllers were the government. They made every decision, shaped the society of their region of the world as they saw fit, having only each other to answer to. The shape of her body mattered little; her pretty face and pending title were more than enough to have a line of Alphas waiting for any sort of attention on her part. Unfortunately, though Emma – like any self-respecting girl her age – had already had several men, she was hardly promiscuous enough to be socially acceptable.
That had been the first problem, the reason he had taken her aside and lectured her on the strict responsibilities that an Alpha, and a future world controller at that, had when it came to promiscuity. For a while, things had seemed to be normal. Emma had taken their discussion to heart and was being perfectly promiscuous.
But the problems following had been much more troubling. She had begun to take an interest in science! Not just technology, which was all good and vital to society, but actual scientific theory! Even worse than that, she had started perusing his library. Next thing he knew she was going on about Shakespeare and morality and philosophy. He had explained to her that, while World Controllers had more wiggle room when it came to banned books and subjects than most people, she had crossed a very fine line and should be careful about doing so in the future.
Her reaction had been less than desired. Stubbornly, she had continued with her eccentric studies and continued debating with him about things like morality. So he had given her a decision – the same decision the previous World Controller had given him: She could relinquish her childish infatuation with knowledge or be exiled to one of the islands.
Now? His eyes narrowed questioningly at her approach. What would be her answer? Two large green eyes stared at him, filled with that passion she always had when she had made up her mind about something. Whatever her decision, he would not be able to dissuade her from it.
“Good evening, Emma,” Mordekai’s voice sounded hollow, reserved.
“Is it?” She asked, a coy smile playing over her lips.
A grin broke over his face. Whatever her faults, Emma had a perfectly contagious smile.
“We shall see, I suppose.”
Her piercing gaze moved to the window behind him, glancing out into the sea of stars that lay beyond. For a moment, wistfulness stole over her face before she recovered her composure.
“I have thought on your ultimatum,” she said, her eyes never moving from the window.
Her eyes snapped back to his with a vicious intensity, lips curling into a playful pout, “And, you know how I so detest ultimatums.”
If he did not get to the point, she would evade him all night, “Emma, I have a lot to do… here,” he gestured at the stack of papers on his desk, “What is your decision?”
Her smile vanished, “This world that we have created stifles me, it chokes my freedom and leaves me gasping for fresh air. The walls of this utopian prison haunt me like many a nightmare, and I fear that the longer I remain here the tighter they close in on me. ‘O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space—were it not that I have bad dreams’.”
Mordekai smiled. She had been reading Shakespeare. A long pause passed between them, before she looked back to the window, distant from him again.
“I’m leaving on the Intercontinental Helioplane tomorrow.”
His smile dropped into a mask of passiveness, “So sorry to hear that. Where to?”
She shrugged, “Right now, I’m planning on Nova Scotia.”
“Ah. I take it you are interested in their research labs?”
Only a slight nod was offered before she turned around and walked back out the door, “Bye, Mordekai.”
The door shut.
“Bye,” the man said gruffly with a frown. For a moment, he wondered what would happen to Emma, wondered if he would ever see her vivid green eyes stare at him with such passionate intensity again.
He turned back to his paperwork.
The man laid in a large green meadow, gazing up into the sky. A slight breeze stirred the long blades of grass around him, enticing them into a languid waltz. Above him, the clouds moved in rhythm with the green surrounding him, slowly dancing through myriad shapes. His sun-kissed skin was golden in the bright spring rays, evidence that he was no stranger to the outside world. As he slowly breathed in and out, he was no more than a speck in an endless wilderness, a pulsing concentration of nature’s energy.
Above him, the air filled with a faint buzzing. Eyebrows rising, he scanned the skyscape. In the distance a helioplane zoomed over the water through the sky with great speed, cutting the dancing clouds in its wake. A pulse of thought scanned the vehicle as it tore through the blue expanse, and a playful smile formed on his face. He rose in a fluid movement, his muscles rippling like some great cat rising to stalk his prey.
Eyes still fixed on the moving plane, he waved his hand in a lazy motion across the horizon. The fluffy white clouds blossomed into dark gray monoliths, weeping torrents of water and slamming the ground with brilliant bolts of lightning. The breeze became a violent wind, rocking the trees and causing the helioplane to sputter and fall for a moment before catching itself.
He grinned. What frail people these were, that they tried to dominate the sky with their metal cages that burned the air with such disgusting fumes? Was the rest of the world still living in such fear of truth that they used their technology to close themselves off from the world instead of using science to embrace it?
The winds gently lifted him from the soft grass and into the torrential skies.