Chapter 2 - History
The golden orb appeared in our Western skies when I was still a girl. We were never told where it came from or how the Scientists managed to harness it and place it into orbit around Earth. We were never told why the orb was of such importance or why the Scientists wished to terraform the tiny drifting rock. Soon enough, the fixture in our skies lost interest for the masses. We were, after all, at war.
What happens to a nation that has managed to secure all of the resources it needs? What happens in a world of abundance and security, a world of peace with foreign powers? Do you think it a good thing? It is not.
In such a world, our attentions are turned inward. In such a world, our highest regard is for the type of intelligence that can be measured and the prestige such intelligence can earn. Technology becomes an unfortunate and cold god and belief in the things that cannot be measured is demoted to the position of reckless ignorance. We are called Believers by the generous. By the rest, we are called the Dim.
Warfare was cunning and began when the Scientists attempted by force to divorce us from our beliefs. Our places of worship, regardless of denomination or tradition were removed from our ownership, sold to corporations, destroyed and replaced. Those of us who persisted in the old ways were labeled Dim, refused entry into institutions of higher learning, honest work, housing. We were denied a life of dignity. Instead of causing us to reject our belief in a higher power, the constant barrage instead forced us underground and into an even tighter embrace with the one God they wished us to abandon. We became worse than dim. We became the hungry, the cold, the dejected, the poor.
Ramses Demine, who became president in the year 2062, ran on a platform of neutrality. He held public talks between himself, and the leaders of the Scientists and Believers. The solution? The Believers were offered the unprecedented option to begin life afresh, under our own rule, with our own laws. We were offered the golden orb. We accepted the offer and named the golden orb Segher.
In less than a year the first of the families transported to Segher. Reports and correspondence were favorable. The majority of the Believers had relocated within the next five years. Some of us stayed behind; the single, the elders, the suspicious. We heard stories about lands more beautiful and natural than Earth, waters more pure, life more peaceful. A heaven, not on Earth.
As with all dreams, there must be an end, and twenty years passed before the Believers of Segher were forced to awaken. This is around the time the first of the second generation of Segherians was being born. Some of the children, were born with duplicate organs and limbs…too many hearts for a tiny chest to hold, arms where there should have been legs, eyes where there should have been fingers. Mercifully, the lives of such children were brief. There were other children. They appeared normal, but possessed certain abilities. Most call these abilities a curse, and indeed this is what the Scientists intended, to remove us from Earth, to curse us with disease and deformity, to destroy us and wipe us from collective memory. There is a small fraction of us though, who consider these abilities to be gifts from God, the Scientist’s unwitting, self-imposed retribution.
Segher is poisoned and hardly a heaven. If we are to survive, we must return home, to Earth. We must use all of our resources to reinitiate a war we never wanted. The parents of some of these gifted children, in an effort to bring order and justice, agreed to pledge their children to the cause. Their gifts will add weight to our strength, tip the balances in our favor. Of those who have remained on Earth, some have pledged themselves to serve as special protectors of these gifted children. I am one such person, a guardian, one of a select few ordained to watch over the special ones until they reach the age of knowing and decision.
Honor is my third charge. She is the first female and the first twin to ever be offered for the work that must be done. Pledged at birth, Honor was scheduled to be delivered to me on her tenth birthday. Regarding this, nothing went as planned. The Scientists, who until that day, had never used outright violence against us, claiming it to be barbaric, used the old ways in an attempt to speed the destruction of the off-land colony. They used bombs to fire the cities, targeting the factories, schools, and places of worship.
They targeted the homes with the most gifted of our children.
Honor came to me at the age of eight. With the help of her mother, she shifted from Newton City on Segher to my home here on Earth. She was alone, and could not recall how she had come to be with me. She could not recall her own name or anything that came before that night. The distance was too far, and she was still yet immature to shift without damaging herself. That she was alive when she arrived is a testament to her strength. She never has clearly understood just how immense that strength is.
I awoke at three in the morning to find this child standing at the end of my bed. She smelled of smoke and her face was smudged with silt. I learned of the attack later, but by then, her mother was dead, her father missing, and her brother, Truth, I had always hoped, had been sent to his guardian as well. Though I could never know for sure.
Of course, it didn’t take me long to realize who she was. I’d already been waiting eight years for her. On the odd occasion when I have told Honor this, “You are my reason for being here,” she never understood my meaning. And now, at eighteen years, Honor has finally reached the age of knowing and decision, but because she cannot recall any part of her past, she will hardly understand her purpose and what is expected of her future. To be pledged into service at birth as she has been, is an honor and joy that must be cultivated from the moment that the child can speak and hear. But all of that has been lost and she is now forced to learn these things on her own. She is forced to confront her gifts, and on her own decide the course that she must take. She alone must now decide how these gifts will be used.
Over the years, I have invented stories for her about how she came to me, that I found her wandering alone and barefoot in the dump on the south side of End Row, brought her home with me and decided to keep her with my other lost children. Honor has believed every story that I created for her, to keep her curiosity and fear at bay, even when the facts seemed inconsistent and uninspired. Until recently. She has had glimpses of her life before, her future, a boy with white hair. Her time is approaching and we know this because of the visions. The intervals between which they come are so narrow now.
Her years with me have been relatively calm, except the last two. She is a young woman and it seems the natural changes that must come in a developing woman have done more than change her shape…they have changed her very spirit. She is not the scared child that came to me ten years ago, but something different. She is fearless, angry, dangerous, and wild. And I am simply too old to quench the fire that overflows in her. Besides, I don’t wish to. She has remained obedient enough to me, but she cannot seem to abide by the laws set down by the authorities, and this is the greatest danger. She breaks the nightfall curfew. She refuses to attend the mandatory school and training program. Honor will not recite the Pledge of Allegiance when the Authority Chief visits the neighborhood. And then two months ago she beat Lulu, Mad Mike’s bodyguard because he had been harassing some of the young girls in the neighborhood. She become so incensed that she shifted in public, in the light of day.
Lulu spent ten days in the ICU. He’s been released from the hospital but 300 lb Lulu barely clears 200 lbs. now and they say he may never walk again. Mad Mike, criminal that he is, is snuggly tucked into bed with the authorities, so beating Lulu to within an inch of his sorry life was mistake enough. The worst is that Honor shifted in public. It was only a matter of time before the Scientists found out about her, before they would try to take possession of her.
With the authorities and the Scientists hunting her, each for their own reasons, none of us would be safe. Honor chose to leave for this reason and because of the visions. Convinced she would find the illusive links to her past Honor chose Sinistral City to begin her search.
I tried everything short of telling her the truth to convince her to stay with me. I would have hidden her with one of the other guardians but Honor decided to do this on her own, and in the end, I could see the wisdom in it. In Sinistral City she may be able to conceal herself among the human detritus long enough to puzzle together her visions and decide which way she wishes to put her talents to use. But life on the outside is as enticing as it is dangerous. I only pray that she finds her Truth before her enemies find her.