Chapter 0:

A Disposable Meteor Shower.

A Reverie for Another Eternity

“What would you do if your reality was to fall apart?”Bookmark here

-Unknown NamesakeBookmark here

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Two figures argued in the distance amidst the field of crimson spider lilies, the heat haze slowly distorting their figures.Bookmark here

Illuminated by the black sun, the boy slumped against the tree, watching.Bookmark here

As the boy yawned, he could see the two figures walk further into the sanguine fields out of his sight. However, from the sparse words he caught, he knew their conversation was about him but never quite understood what they truly said. Perhaps that was for the best.Bookmark here

His eyelids drooped as the field and figures burned in black flames, the smoke swirling around him until eventually, even the sky was blackened in a dark ink of lost remembrance.Bookmark here

An alarm blared through the minimalist-style room, with dust that layered the unswept steel floor and dressroom drawers.Bookmark here

With a routine slap, the sound stopped.Bookmark here

An incessant tapping from the rain could be heard; his disoriented self was brought back from a dream.Bookmark here

Wide awake, the adolescent attempted to recollect the remnants of his long-lost past as he laid still; it was an ever-repeating dream he’s been having for a few days now. Too tired to shrug his actual shoulders, he pretended to do so in his mind.Bookmark here

No use overthinking itBookmark here

Takumi took a glimpse of the outside while under the covers. The darkness of the sky overshadowed the ugliness of the city with its unproportional housing cubes stacked together with wires. Overproduction of technological and chemical waste lay everywhere.Bookmark here

From afar, it was an amalgamation of futility this world had to offer - a testament to the little time the earth had in its lifespan.Bookmark here

Although the outside weather certainly complemented the dusty room, filling it with hazy uncertainty from repetitious, ordinary days.Bookmark here

Slowly making his way to the floor from under the covers, his feet lightly landed without making a sound.Bookmark here

Naked in front of a mirror he sees what would be normally assumed as an average 17-year-old guy: black crew-cut hair, slim but somewhat sharp nose, tall but skinny build covered in various scars, and cold dark brown eyes that were somewhat dulled by the morning clouds.Bookmark here

He was never the one to look at himself for long anyways.Bookmark here

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After donning his black uniform and shoes, he swallowed a couple of food pills and left for the door.Bookmark here

Outside, the drenching downpour disguised the pungent chemical smells. The streets were polluted with small animal carcasses and abandoned weaponry from a time long ago.Bookmark here

“Gmornin’, Takumi!”Bookmark here

A person clad in steel and glass emerged from the clogged filth below, fully equipped with a heavy-duty bag filled with trash and cleaning supplies.Bookmark here

“A good morning to you too, Tomi-oba. How’s cleaning been so far?”Bookmark here

Her frightening steel mask was lifted with the mechanical whir of cylinders and various pumps, revealing a wrinkly old woman with sharp eyes, ashy hair, and a wisened expression.Bookmark here

“Oh, it’s nothing compared to what you young folk’ have to look forward to. As usual, us oldies are taking time to clean what’s left of our community.”Bookmark here

“Thank you for your service ma’am.”Bookmark here

He saluted, but the old woman just shook her head.Bookmark here

“We’ll do what we can for you guys so y’all can do the same for us in the future.”Bookmark here

Her mechanical arms groaned under the weight of the debris as she cast them aside onto a slightly more organized clutter. She smirked with a sense of pride after.Bookmark here

Takumi looked around the grotesque scenery in hopes of finding that red flower. However, all that met him was its artificial smells, watery hellscape, and the low buzz of fried wires dangling above; it truly was a disgusting sight. He stood silently, wondering about what hopes could be made in an incongruent wasteland of inorganic carcasses where people are born for their dreams to die.Bookmark here

Above the wilted plants, he could see the various alien-like megastructures far beyond the reach of the clouds, elongated and stretched around the very curvature of the earth like an ouroboros, waiting to constrict and spew garbage onto the very earth it sat upon.Bookmark here

There was no other place for the trash to be conveniently dropped off and left forgotten in a disposable manner, and so they polluted every inch and crevice of the slums. From a generations-long ordeal, they’ve successfully stayed afloat in the sky, far out of the reach of those below. As a prerogative of their birthright, they effortlessly destroyed the very environment the meager people have tried to make habitable.Bookmark here

Cleaning after them was a risk Tomiko and various others took to physically maintain this harsh world. It was a task given for those who live on the ever-degrading planet: to provide proper maintenance so possible opportunities and futures could be available for future lives.Bookmark here

A fitting role for the miscasts of a society standing on its last legs, placing their hopes and dreams onto others to fulfill in their place. How selfish.Bookmark here

However, The prospects of living such a lost life weren't so bad.Bookmark here

Or perhaps he simply didn’t understand what the word “good” entailed.Bookmark here

He stifled a laugh.Bookmark here

It’s hilarious really. What could I even do in a world as broken as this?Bookmark here

Suppose that he could make a change in this world, a change so great that it’d allow for anyone to fulfill their immediate desires without work, akin to one of those gods that the people prayed to or those titans from Greek mythologies. Something that can pave a path towards the destiny of their choice.Bookmark here

For once in his purposeless life of simply living for the next meal, Takumi half-heartedly gave thought to how such a world could be saved.Bookmark here

“Oi, you there?”Bookmark here

The old woman’s grating voice interrupted his thoughts.Bookmark here

“Don’t forget to take Miyori with you, you hear?”Bookmark here

With her back turned against him, she disappeared into the pollution below once again.Bookmark here

On queue, a young girl with disheveled, dirty-blonde hair came tumbling down the stairs in the unit next to his own.Bookmark here

Well, it could’ve been worse.Bookmark here

Realizing that he had witnessed the entire process, she quickly got back up and brushed off the bits of dirt that got on her. Her flushed cheeks and emboldened eyes feigned innocence - as if to say that nothing truly stands in her way.Bookmark here

“Hiiiii, can you give me a lift again, Ta-chan?”Bookmark here

Her confidently stupid face irked him.Bookmark here

“Walk to school yourself, idiot.”Bookmark here

Her large, blue eyes began to water at the undeserved reprimanding. Bookmark here

“Doooon’t say something soooo cold...”Bookmark here

She continued to pout as the pair walked towards the alleyway where an abandoned hoverbike was parked.Bookmark here

“I’m surprised such an old thing still works.”Bookmark here

“Beggars can’t be choosers, especially since this was all 'thanks' to you.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, you only found it ‘cause of me haha.”Bookmark here

He had grown used to her constant beamings and jabs thanks to her escapade on that day.Bookmark here

Not being one to pry others’ secrets, he never really understood the situation nor the reasoning for the day it happened, only that her family was desperate to find her.Bookmark here

Takumi winced at the thought of having a family that cared for him as he put his hand to his chest.Bookmark here

Looking back, he saw her back turned and her golden cowlick flicking back and forth in a satisfactory victory.Bookmark here

Even beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to having a family.Bookmark here

Maybe I should charge her for the ride.Bookmark here

He quickly shook off his envy and pulled out the hoverbike that leaned against the side of the alleyway.Bookmark here

Proceeding to get on, he felt a heavy thump over his head as his field of vision was slightly obscured.Bookmark here

“Don’t forget to put on your helmet ta-chan. You have to stay safe, you know that?”Bookmark here

Behind him, her face wasn't visible through the darkened glass, but he knew she was serious behind that chirpy tone of hers.
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"Right right."
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Content, she wrapped her arms around his waist as he revved the engine and went soaring past the ruined buildings. The seemingly mismatched puzzles steadily left behind them.Bookmark here

Making their way through the jigsaw of decaying buildings and hollowed-out roadways, Takumi saw objects of various sizes burning up in the atmosphere in the distance, far from the housing cubes of slums. It miniaturized with every mile it covered, crumpling up until it finally dissipated.Bookmark here

So even trash isn't allowed entry on this God-forbidden earth.Bookmark here

"Look, look! they're dumping trash again."Bookmark here

She took a pause, her right index finger lightly tapping her chin as her hair flailed in the high-speed winds.Bookmark here

"I wonder, would the falling trash be considered as meteors? Trash meteors... hmmm."Bookmark here

Takumi left her question unanswered.Bookmark here

The garbage-ridden suburbs eventually transformed into a bustling urban city as they made their way closer to the center, where a colossal white hemisphere quickly overshadowed the puny city structures that surrounded it.Bookmark here

Stopping once they had reached an abandoned building in the further outskirts of the surrounding city, Takumi parks the hoverbike under the stairs with Miyori promptly following behind him.Bookmark here

And after a few minutes, they eventually arrived at a pearly white dome.Bookmark here

The gigantic dome is what connected those in the sky with those left on the ground: a haven and a place of opportunities for the misshapen individuals who were born in the wrong place and time.Bookmark here

Nothing much is known besides that it’s technically a city of progress funded by a joint effort from both the remaining government and the upper class to provide opportunities and living quarters for those under 21.Bookmark here

In the innermost part of the dome lied the academy, a school and career-maker for both the poor and the rich. A perfect trial was what this school sought to be. Hosting a competitive environment listing jobs and new innovations, it demands growth from everyone regardless of sex or status.Bookmark here

“Don’t forget to wait for me again, ok?!”Bookmark here

Once again snapped out of his thoughts, he began to open his mouth in response but was met with her back; Miyori was merrily talking on the way to their classes.Bookmark here

Must run in the family I suppose.Bookmark here

With a shrug, he walked towards his class of unit 110-d in Sector 2b.Bookmark here

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The lessons droned on as he reviewed his history notes for the last school period, which read:Bookmark here

Since the 5th technological revolution, in which information and matter are now transmutable into one another, the standards for living and technology have advanced at an unprecedented rate, with state-of-the-art robots replacing menial and mediocre human labor and-Bookmark here

And essentially the worth of people. Since when did human life become inferior to products? Even going so far as to spread this utopian propaganda when the poorest of districts are simple dumping grounds for those who aren’t in the inner circles. How comical.Bookmark here

Reminiscing the now broken down scraps of heaping metal next to his assigned home, he recalled how the upper echelon used to produce robots to help out the socioeconomically poor districts. They all eventually malfunctioned and broke away under the harsher conditions in a time prior to his.Bookmark here

If only those from around here knew how bad it was in the outermost districts, maybe then they’d clean up after themselves for once.Bookmark here

Attempting to dispel the negative thoughts, he took a deep breath and glanced out the window from his seat, watching the realistic holographic trees and their leaves flutter in the computer-generated winds, soon disappearing into the nothingness from which it came.Bookmark here

The class, which had stayed obnoxiously silent during the entire lesson, suddenly erupted as the final bell rang.Bookmark here

While everyone rushed to attend their extracurriculars, career speeches, and otherwise, Takumi stayed back in his seat, waiting for Miyori to come by.Bookmark here

Suddenly, a pair of hands covered his eyes.Bookmark here

“Ja-jaaaan. How’ve you been Takumi!”Bookmark here

“I’ve been well, Takeshi. We’ve met each other countless times after all so-”Bookmark here

So leave me the hell alone.Bookmark here

“So my mood won’t change that quickly.”Bookmark here

A burst of derisive laughter escapes Takeshi’s lips as he closes his face in with Takumi’s.Bookmark here

“A day feels like an eternity without you, my f.r.i.e.n.d.”Bookmark here

Suddenly a dangerous thought ran through Takumi’s head but he ignored it.Bookmark here

“So, Takumi, have you heard about Margedon recently”Bookmark here

“I’m pretty sure anyone in the dome has heard about them once or twice about now”Bookmark here

“Certainly, but I wanted to hear about your impressions.”Bookmark here

Takumi smacks away Takeshi’s hands from his face, as he turned towards a haughty expression with wavy, ultra-violet hair that hid a portion of his gleaming eyes.
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“The entire industry is a farce. Their so-called entertainment is dominated by lazily done precoded software and plugins made by other people, which the apes at the company managed to discover. They use the funds solely for rendering NPCs on their over-the-top computers. Personally, the projects done by Margenon aren't worth as much as people praise them to be. Beginners' luck is all it is.”Bookmark here

Takumi and those living in the outer districts never truly had the chance to view or play with the said entertainment. He played it by the ear by what he overheard from his classmates during their infrequent breaks between periods.Bookmark here

A vein on Takeshi’s head pulses as he circled around to the front of Takumi's desk.
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“Woah woah, really? You can’t just diss my dad like that man. After all, you know he is the CIO for the company right?”Bookmark here

I do not care.Bookmark here

Slamming his elbows on the front-most part of Takumi's desk, Takeshi's held up his wickedly warped face as he glared upwards while leaning foward.
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“If anything, shouldn’t you be complaining about your lack of a livelihood and father figure?”Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

Getting up, Takumi briskly left to meet up with Miyori, who’d usually come to get him after class. He wondered if she was lagging behind her usual schedule; her usual, monotone routine that lacked any flavor or color one's life should’ve had.Bookmark here

She did have quite a fall this morning after all.Bookmark here

Takeshi grins in the distance, unmoving from his position as Takumi left through the sliding doors.Bookmark here

“You’ll find her in the drama room, Takumi.”Bookmark here

Not wanting to initiate another conversation across the hallway about how he knew her whereabouts, Takumi turns sharply and heads down to the drama room obediently.Bookmark here

Arriving at the classroom, he could see her back turned to him once more.Bookmark here

“Why didn’t you meet up with me?”Bookmark here

She turned back around. Her cheeks were slightly flushed in pink hues, a soft smile forming under her sparkling, expectant eyes.Bookmark here

“Weeeeeeeell, I kinda wanted to talk about something in private y’know?”Bookmark here

“Wait till we go home, yeah?”Bookmark here

“It's urgent so… no.”Bookmark here

He could feel a headache coming. He sighed at this woman.Bookmark here

“Well? Go on.”Bookmark here

“Would you mind walking around a bit with me?”Bookmark here

“I thought this was urgent?”Bookmark here

“It can wait.”Bookmark here

Before Takumi could get a word in, Miyori suddenly, yet softly, put her index finger upon his lips.Bookmark here

“I won’t take a no for an answer~”Bookmark here

Her devious smile and her feminine wiles were, to say the least, annoying.Bookmark here

Being two paces behind Miyori, they both headed towards the library, and past the bathrooms.Bookmark here

Miyori twirled three times before coming to a stop, her body posture suddenly turned, facing Takumi’s.Bookmark here

Her face, a bit red with a dabble of sweat on the right and left brows, seemed to be intensified by her unrelenting feelings of something.Bookmark here

Quite frankly, this whole situation took Takumi aback since this was the first time he’s seen her acting like this.Bookmark here

His bad feelings coalesced into genuine fear at that moment, as suddenly, with her eyes shut, she began to quiver.Bookmark here

“You know, I’ve always lo-”Bookmark here

The sentence cut short as everything blacked out.Bookmark here

...Bookmark here

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Beginning system scanBookmark here

Beginning verification phase of system scanBookmark here

Verification 100% completeBookmark here

Check 1 completeBookmark here

Simulator privileges: 777Bookmark here

Authentication token: fd9d3371-4968-411f-a3ac-50baa65b0f80Bookmark here

Check 2 completeBookmark here

System O onlineBookmark here

Creating checksumBookmark here

Adding checksum to dbBookmark here

Adding dHJhZ29lZGlhbSBpbiBydWluYW0gaW5pcXVpdGFzBookmark here

Commencing virtualizationBookmark here

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Error code 0x0082: Logical allocation of subject is incompleteBookmark here

Error code 0x0023: Metaphysical manifestation is failingBookmark here

Execute individual's existence? Individual can lose all memories stored previously:y/nBookmark here

YBookmark here

Monitor individual’s existence with service 196348: y/nBookmark here

YBookmark here

Processing…Bookmark here

Bootstrapping complete. Commencing existence 27b00898355201c7ea68c78fa013eaceacd8d293af528324acae91952172b32aBookmark here

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The static pixels surrounding the newly-born individual disappear as he grimaced at the pain behind his head.Bookmark here

“Where… Am I?”Bookmark here

Joe Gold
Carter S.
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