Author: Spaced-out Luna PM
After losing communication with Earth, everybody in the extraterrestrial colony known as the Empire is too busy arguing to listen to anything. Alanna has become a selective mute after her brother's death, supposedly caused by a riot while he was performing on the catwalk at the theatre. She learns more about the conspiracy that is the Empire's government, as well as her own past.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Fantasy - Chapters: 12 - Words: 37,384 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Published: 10-07-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3063913
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: After months of planning that ensued after finishing Brain Dead, once August rolled around I started typing up my totally mapped out Camp NaNoWriMo story. About halfway through my characters decided for themselves that they didn't like my ideas and totally changed where I wanted to go with the plot, totally messed up all my ideas for their characterization, and randomly decided to add in elements of Shakespeare and Sophocles near the end, and this is what the end result was. I tried to edit some parts which is why I'm posting this in October (however I can't say these edits are very thorough and I may continue to make them if I can find any more spare time) and because my characters made the whole plot much darker than I had originally planned, I feel I should mention a trigger warning for abuse in chapter eight. Hopefully this turned out better than Brain Dead, and as always I apologize in advance for the thousands of copyright violations and shameless scene-stealing.
Final word count (at the end of Camp Nano, before edits): 34,510
Dum tacent clamant.
~Cicero; "when they are silent, they shout"
After losing communication with Earth, everybody in the extraterrestrial colony known as the Empire is too busy arguing to listen to anything. Alanna is a teenager who has become a selective mute after her brother's death, supposedly caused by a riot while he was performing on the catwalk at the Empire's only theatre. She thinks she's the only one who really hears anything, until she meets Stephen, a boy from an underground organization called the Silent City. As Alanna learns more about the conspiracy that is the Empire's government, she also learns more about her past, and the real cause of her brother's death.
"Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face..."
The actress onstage could barely be heard over the screams and shouts and sounds of a fight breaking out in the audience. The actress raised her voice, the fear in her eyes glistening in the bright stage lights; she was trembling, at it could be seen plainly even from fifty feet in the air.
"Else... else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek for..."
Her voice was shaking audibly as she stumbled over the ancient lines, and the audience had taken to throwing things. From the catwalk, safe from the roaring crowd, shoes, rocks, and even rotten fruit from those who could afford to waste it could be seen flying through the air.
Now the figure on the catwalk was shaking, too. She had dreamed of this moment her entire life, playing out exactly how it would go in her head. In a few moments, it would be her turn, as soon as the signal was given.
A single gunshot in the audience silenced everyone. As the body landed with a thud, every head turned to the catwalk. To her. All those days of speaking these lines under her breath, rehearsing her motions over and over whenever she found a stray pool of water to see her own reflection, everything prepared her for this.
After all, the show must go on.
With a single, loathing glance at the crying actress onstage, the girl stepped forward into the dim light given off by the stage lights just above her.
"For that which thou hast heard..."
Everything was over before she finished her first line. Maybe her voice had broken on the first word, maybe she was too quiet, maybe her accent broke, or maybe someone in the audience simply didn't like the color of her hair.
Before she could pick herself back up, show the world her passion, or even join in on the thousands of arguing voices that resounded throughout the world, another gunshot rang out, and a body of a girl, not a day over nine, fell from the catwalk.
The light bronze-colored walls exploded into flame. The fire was making its way in from the outside; the explosive had landed on the skeleton of a bush just outside the building. Soon, shouts and screams could be heard. But that wasn't any different from any normal day. There were always shouts, always someone screaming, but no one was listening to anything but their own noise they made.
There was a single flash of dark brown silhouetted against the orange flames, a single figure jumping over the doorway into the burning building, the end of a brown trench coat barely escaping the hungry fingers of the fire.
The shadow was inside. He looked around for a second or two, then starting running straight though the house, the thin cloud of smoke from the fire outside seeming to follow him. At the other end of the house, he took a rustic, silver watch from the top of a replica of an old wooden dresser, and just held it up to an unseen light source. Everything inside and out except the fire was dark in the rising night.
His face was hidden by a shadow, but his mouth could be seen even from far away, forming a wide smile. "They never hear me."
With a single kick a tall glass window by the dresser was in shards, and with a gleam of silver and a flicker of a brown shadow, the figure had melted into the darkness.
A sharp pain shot through Alanna's head as she bolted upwards, resurfacing from the deep pond of her dream. She recoiled backwards and hit the back of her head against the unforgiving wooden floor.
With a shake of her head, Alanna opened her eyes to find herself on the floor below the bunks of the Governor's School. It wasn't surprising she had hit her head, she had too many desks and chairs and bookcases cluttered in her small corner to count.
Her dream… Alanna stumbled over to the smallest counter beside her bunk and crumpled pieces of browned paper were tossed everywhere until she pulled out a small leather book. She needed to write it down before she forgot it. The same dream, every night. Or at least, the same figure, the same clock, and the same words, always in a different place.
She thought wildly about her dream, struggling to keep it in her mind. This time it had been in the theatre. The Antigone Theater, the only theatre in the empire, was burning to the ground. After scribbling down an outline of the scene on the next empty page in the tiny leather book, Alanna flipped back to the previous night to re-read what she had written. Last night it had been the Governor's School, and last night it had been exploding. The night before it had been the Capitol Building, and it had been flooded. Always important buildings, always disasters, and always the same man running straight towards the danger while everyone else screamed and ran the opposite direction.
At first, Alanna had thought that the man was her brother. But Devin would never smile like that. He may run into a burning building, but his voice didn't sound that brooding. Devin wasn't that tall or that old, and thanks to the government, he would never be that tall or that old.
The girl on the bunk above Alanna's, Tara, would be waking up soon. Her muttering in her sleep had stopped, probably at the sound of Alanna's movement. Everyone in the empire talked in their sleep, everyone except Alanna.
Alanna pulled a pencil stub out its holding place- holding up her messy bun in between her rubber-band hair tie- and quickly scribbled down the dream in short-hand. She knew nobody would ever read this book, even if they got a hold of it, but it was just as much for her own peace of mind, and it was more convenient. Alanna gently closed the book and nestled it in a drawer of one of her dressers, not even bothering to close it all the way. Then she silently slipped by the sleeping, mumbling forms of the residents of dorm 2B12.
The rooms were supposedly organized by age and how long one had been a student at the Governor's School, but there were always arguments, so everyone just bunked with the people they could talk with for the longest. Alanna stayed in 2B12 because it was closest to the Outlet, and Tara didn't talk any less than the rest of the population, but her rants had the least continuity by far, and Alanna almost found it calming to listen to them. Tara also didn't seem to care if anyone was listening, unlike the majority of the world, so Alanna stayed with her.
For speech class, a highly favored class and profession in the world, every student had to keep a log. Almost everyone in the world already did this, one way or another, but for Alanna it was a pain. She developed a schedule to perform this required task by using the school's Outlet every morning, usually around four when her dream woke her up. No one would ever hear her speaking at that time. Then again, no one in the world would hear anyone else speaking either way.
Alanna's bare feet glided silently over the cold, marble floor of the hallway, but whispers and even shouts could be heard from sleeping people in their dorms. Just across the hall from 2B12, the Outlet was the only soundproof room in the whole school, usually reserved for upper-level speech classes. Alanna's assigned alumni was highly regarded, so if Alanna was ever caught in the Outlet, she wouldn't be reprimanded. However, during her six years at the school, Alanna had never been caught. Or talked to.
The door of the Outlet closed with a muffled click behind Alanna, and the room slowly faded to life. There were wires and mechanical devices littering three of the walls, from the ceiling to the floor. One entire wall was devoted to monitors. Alanna let out a sigh of relief as all the sounds from outside were shut off with that click. In that room, at four in the morning, was the only time Alanna could hear herself think.
She let herself savor the moment for a second, then touched her left thumb to her right wrist, and the mechanical bracelet she wore snapped itself off. Alanna put the mini-USB that made up the bracelet into a slot on the wall, and one of the cameras zoomed across the ceiling on a cord until it stopped directly in front of her. Alanna now controlled the entire room with a chip implanted in her brain through the USB bracelet every human in the Empire wore.
As per her usual routine, a single keyboard and monitor set followed the path of the monitor and extended themselves to her. Most people used multiple cameras for visual appeal, and all spoke their reports. But Alanna knew no one would ever look at her reports, so she used one camera for convenience, and she typed her reports. Ideally, Alanna would have just used a keyboard and monitor, but it was Empire law that the reports must be filmed to prevent impersonation.
Alanna let out a small breath, her ears tingling at the small, resounding noise, and with a single word spoken in her mind, a light appeared on the side of the camera and her face appeared on the monitor. A tinted brown complexion, long and straight but messy black hair, and wide dark green eyes started back at her. Alanna quickly turned away from her image and began her log.
April 21st, 2306. Alanna Delta, age 16.
The video logs from my alumni have arrived. Beth says she will take all her omnes out of the school for a day each to go to the Antigone Theater. I would like to see an experimental silent play, but Beth says there's too much danger of a riot.
Alanna paused. Usually people just ranted about their days, or their opinions, but simply had nothing more to say. Then something else came to mind. Alanna would be given her first pendant when she turned 17; everyone in the Empire got a pendant for their bracelet for every child they had before age 18. If by their 17th birthday a person had none, it was assumed they would forfeit their personal life to serve the Empire. That usually meant politics.
This law led to a sickening profession involving 17-year-olds who didn't want a job in politics paying men to father their child, one way or another. But, as with every other issue the Empire faced, all anyone did about it was argue, so nothing was solved and the process continued.
When I get my pendant, I'll be moved to level 50 of the Governor's School. Maybe I'll become a throat surgeon.
Alanna switched off the camera before she could decide if that was a serious goal of hers. After a pause, she stood up and walked to the other side of the room. She unplugged her bracelet USB, stared at the wires and plugs on the wall for a moment, then ripped a single cord from the wall. It was a fake Alanna had planted there her first year at the school; no one ever paid attention to anything long enough to realize it was there.
She plugged one end into the wall socket hidden behind the wire, and the other directly into the back of her head. When Alanna had been institutionalized seven years ago, the hospital had made a direct implant to her brain for quick access to the chip. Alanna hadn't reminded them to take it out, and she had stolen the cord they used. At the time, it had simply been her way of retaliation, but it came in handy when she was sent to the school.
Alanna's personal logs, all stored in the deepest places in her mind, were in code form on this cord. A single camera, one specifically for the professional, level 50 speech class projects, the most competitive class in the school, swiveled to face her. In a blink of Alanna's eye it was recording. She swallowed once, and spoke with a smooth, slow voice.
"April 21st, 2306, 4:10 AM. No human interaction since last report. Or the report before that. Or pretty much since Devin's birthday, when..." Alanna's level voice broke, so she took another breath and continued. "Beth's taking all the kids she's getting paid for to the Antigone. It should be in three months' time, but Beth's too important for schedules.
"The test week for my level is supposed to be the week of July 31st. I'll be in this room again that day, they'll look at my logs, some guy with a permit in practical psychology- the biggest joke if you ask me, all those pompous freaks do is talk about how talking affects our thoughts- will talk to me for hours on the importance of talking. I'll just stare at a wall and then eventually they'll let me type my answers.
"Seventeenth birthday's coming up. They'll disregard Devin's psychological and physical profile of me and lecture me again for hours on the importance of talking and childbirth, and finally, after more wall-staring, I'll get my pendant. August 31st. I've always hated my birthday. I remember this one year, Devin was a real jerk about it, too, he..." For a second time, Alanna's voice cracked. She paused again, then continued speaking with more urgency.
"The dream's the same, no change there. They've only been around since the first day of this year. No use researching it, every result is some video logs of a person with a permit in practical psychology talking about their own experiences. I feel I should know the man from somewhere, or maybe I shouldn't, but I... I almost feel I already know him, even if I haven't actually met him..." Alanna cut herself off. That was the problem with talking too much: you start making less and less sense.
"This time it was the Antigone Theater, and it was burning. This time the man took a fob-watch. And... and I think he said 'they never see me.' I don't exactly remember if it's new or not, but for some reason tonight it stuck with me." She switched topics again, her voice grim as she concluded her log the way she always did.
"If... if anyone finds this, or on the smaller chance they're listened to, know that I stopped fighting because of Devin. I'll do whatever I can to make his voice heard. While everyone else clashes swords, I'll slip by them on the sides of the battlefield. I'll find whatever it is at the front of the enemy line, and when they finally hear me, they won't be able to stop me."