Breakfast progressed as usual today- we had those mini plastic bottles of water you find littered everywhere at campsites and local children’s soccer games and packets of dry cereal. Mordern sure knows how to keep their people nourished. Everything went fine until I mentioned Liv’s defection to our side, at which point the idiocy started.
Although everything here on Miralay is idiocy, so I should have expected as much.
“Huh? Defecation?” some scrawny snot who would have been a cringey seventh-grader back on Earth snorted. “Should’ve changed her diaper.” A few other rebels laughed in response, but he mostly earned snide glances from the others. One of the people who had guarded Liv’s room yesterday actually went back and checked to make sure she hadn’t shat herself.
“No, you incoherent, she’s not incontinent.”
“That’s what you said, though-”
Someone else piped in. Alexa, I think. “How much are we talking? Willing to cooperate, or full-blown radical anarchist?”
“She doesn’t want to be the Providence anymore. That’s all I got from her.”
The room was silent for a few whole moments, all eyes either on me or Alexa or the snot. And then- I had to cover my ears- there was an incoherent mess of whoops, people slapping each other on the back, high-fiving, general glee all around. No more Providences to worry about.
“So does this mean I can un-paralyze her now?”
The glee stopped, everyone returning to their usual state. Chewing. More chewing. A few conversations restarting.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
I turned to Sully, who was beside me, scribbling away in another purloined notebook and ignoring her breakfast. Sully never eats much at breakfast for some reason. Maybe she just survives on less? I wish I had that skill.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Sully shook her head. “I’ll get on it once I’m done with this script. I’ve got to put the finishing touches on it first.”
I leaned over her shoulder, watching her penning the last few words on a two-page long script, skimming over what she’d written. I’d expected something brief with the amount of time she’d been given- maybe a paragraph or two. I didn’t know whether to be worried that she’d been too verbose or proud that she’d gone above-and-beyond.
I sound like a contrived school principal.
Dear people of Miralay, you have been sorely lied to by seven generations of Providences. There is nothing to separate the common people from those who sit in the upper echelons of government or even the Providences themselves. It is not some sort of celestial benevolent goddess watching over this colony or a mutation that causes one to be assigned to such a revolting role but Mordern’s rules set in stone one hundred and thirty five years ago.
Your doctors are all colluding with each other- as they should, seeing that we have limited medical resources here and the closest sentient civilization that isn’t openly hostile towards Miralayans is too far away to simply ship help to us in times of dire need. But what if I told you that, whenever you go to the doctor in a Providence’s twenty-seventh year anxious to see if you will be carrying our next leader, everything is already set in stone, the parents already selected?
Your doctors are colluding with our government as well. They pick the couples that are both the healthiest and the least likely to rebel. Of course, sometimes they make mistakes… Which is why your current Providences grew up on Earth away from you and are now currently missing.
Why do you think that those lucky two mothers and only they are allowed to experience natural birth while every other child is locked up in the gestation chambers? Could it be that the chemical wash designed to give every child a leg up in life is actually making them less intelligent and more subservient? Could it be that the chemical wash prevents Miralayan children from developing brain-machine interfaces like your beloved Providences?
If you don’t believe me, then I challenge you to resist the hegemony. Naturally give birth to your children that you dutifully sought permits for and see if their Providence dot develops. I assure you it will. This is the default and unmarred state of Miralayans. There are fifty of us pulsing in the underworld of Miralay, struggling for subsistence while you’re delivered three meals a day and have your life planned out for you before you’re even born. We’re illegitimate children, hidden away because there was no place in Miralay for us. All of us have Providence dots.
Some of your children may disappear in the coming weeks. Do not be alarmed. We have temporarily replaced them to prove our existence. They will be returned to you once you take steps to allow us to peacefully coexist within your society and loosen the tyrannical absolute control that Amelia Rouge, the Providences’ current second-in-command, has over you.
In all fairness, they were pretty widely-spaced pages.
Sully pushed me away suddenly, disgust written all over her face. “At least tell me first before you make a move on me.”
“What-” I stammered, flustered. “That’s not-”
Sully playfully punched me in the shoulder. “I’m joking, dumbass.” Her characteristic sneering smile flashed on her face, and then she turned back to the notebook. “So what do you think? Moving enough for even Serlis to take action?” She laughed. “Serlis wouldn’t do anything anyways. Which reminds me- why do you keep telling her to live?”
“This morning. You kept saying ‘live’ over and over. It doesn’t make any sense.”
I sighed. “It’s a name she gave herself. It’s supposed to be short for ‘Living Wasteland’.”
Sully burst into laughter, her face alight, closing her notebook before crumpling into a heap of giggles. Some of the other rebels turned her way, puzzled. “Of course- of course she would give herself such a Mary Sue name! I mean…” Sully pulled herself back together and wiped the excess moisture from her eyes. “A living wasteland. An emotionless robot. Amelia might as well have shucked her and replaced her with an android.” I shuddered. Sully raised an eyebrow. “What? Did I say something wrong?”
“Please… please don’t say the S word again.”
“What? Shucked?” I winced and sucked in a sharp breath. “Whoa, whoa, okay.” She put a hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry. I won’t say it again.”
Pretty pathetic of me to have such a negative response to a simple word. Shucked. Something about it… It upsets my stomach, diary. Makes me woozy.
“So what do you think of the script?”
“Shouldn’t you be tracking down the leader for an opinion?”
Sully waved her hand. “Nah. I thought you might be a better person to ask.”
“It’ll do the job.”
Sully shoved me. “You suck. I worked hard on this. I can’t wait for it to air tomorrow.”