Prologue

In the beginning there were dark and light - two clans that didn't mix. All a result of the eternal twins for their being had brought them into existence. The two elements have been balanced for millennia but now they are changing…morphing…growing stronger…

Especially the darkness.

Chapter 1: The End And The Beginning

I remember the first time I died. I was 12. My friends and me were all very tired from the big party that night. We drove home in Fee's Levi2 it was fairly new and she was pleased that she'd managed to save up enough to buy the latest hover model. Unfortunately she didn't have enough pixels to buy autodrive for it. I suppose that was the main problem. The streets were very busy that night and we were too tired to concentrate properly. Fee fell asleep. At the wheel. Nobody cried out as we careered out of control and collided into the vehicle beside us.

Isn't it startling how life can give up on you so unexpectedly? Like a bubble you never know when a small child will suddenly clap their hands upon it. That seems so long ago now. I used up my fourth life yesterday – I got shot. I don't believe I've used up so many lives! You only live five times for god's sake and it's bad enough using up one! I guess Niina is a bad planet to live on during these hard times. I'm going to have to be so careful! After you use up your five lives that's it. Nil. End of life. Only one person has ever managed to live for a longer time than that. He is known as the Great Frey. He was a young reckless man and helped many people less fortunate than himself but he never seemed to look after his own health. He used up his lives very quickly and one day he used up his fifth. Unlike many other people he was not afraid. He was willing to go forth and accept the mighty god Jiku's verdict and the creator rewarded him an extra life for his good doing. However people even question his existence now. He is a mere legend. Or so some say. I just hope he's out there somewhere – this world definitely needs some kindness in it. Certainly now more than ever.

"Liila? Hello how are you feeling?" asked a voice.

I opened my eyes to see a nurse hovering over me. It doesn't surprise me in the least, what did I expect? Getting shot and not ending up in a rebirth chamber? Honestly!

"I feel fine," I replied.

"That's good. Everything seems to be in order, you have the right number of fingers and toes and although your nose does appear to look slightly unnatural it's nothing we can't fix. Come back tomorrow so we can check up on you but for the today you are free to go." announced the nurse.

I stretched my fingers freeing them of that numb tingling sensation I always get after being reborn and sat up a bit too quickly. The world lurched and I swayed slightly but this was just after-effects it was only to be expected. As if it hadn't happened before! I stood up and made my way to the exit of the tiny round room. I ran my hand across the cold concrete wall and stepped outside. I swore quietly to myself. The Enchamberment was like a stone maze, so many rebirth chambers it was so hard to find the way out again. I asked the nurse for directions and began to walk down the corridor. The Enchamberment has always scared me slightly with its dark, silent corridors where my footsteps echo despite so many people coming here each day. Although it is a place of rebirth that means people must have died to get here so it always seems sinister just because of the things that happen. The Enchamberment is huge and takes up a whole quarter of Niina and although politicians can decide what they want at some point they'll just have to face facts – too many people die here. Sometimes it's even too many for the Enchamberment and they end up effectively using up their fifth life when they're only on their second. Stupid civil war. Stupid cults. Everything here is stupid at the moment! Ah here's the exit! Finally. I'm going to have to try and shake myself out of this trance; I'm always like this after being reborn – very thoughtful. I don't have time to be thoughtful. I need to concentrate. This is my last life after all.

I step out onto the street; it feels nice to be out in the open again. Nice to be in fresh, if polluted air. At least it seems fresher than being stuck inside. Hovercabs and cars are whizzing by at the speed of light screeching to a stop at the traffic lights, the shops are lit up as bright as ever their colourful decorations reflecting off the wet pavement and nowhere is quiet. It's funny how Niina seems to be a nocturnal place - everything comes alive at night. That's a problem. It means the shadows are creeping closer – the darkness in everyone's heart is…enough thinking! I need to get home and forget about the stupid civil war for once! Fay is going to be really mad with me for staying out this late as it is.

Fay is one of my best friends. She acts like a mother to me and the others I live with. In a world where you are reborn all the time you cannot have any biological parents, just Jiku who you never meet properly until you die so you replace them with friends. I live in a small flat with a selection of my best friends: Fay, Fee, Iowa and May. Most of them are the same age as me – I think. Or the same age as I used to be. You are born into the world equipped. You look like an adult but you may be only 1 year old depending on when you were reborn. Few people here celebrate Birthdays, it's just too confusing too keep track of. The system here is perfect but over the years it's been falling apart. Too many people die here, there is not enough room in the Enchamberment for everyone and it certainly doesn't help that…what's that?

I saw this green glow out of the corner of my eye. It looked different to the other city lights…maybe I should go check it out. I walked around the corner of the Enchamberment to find what must have once been a dark alleyway like in the films but now it was no longer dark. A huge glutinous mass of florescent greenness lay in front of me. The colour is so vibrant – it doesn't fit in with the rest of the city and is it me or is it…pulsing? Does that mean it has a heartbeat? Is it alive!? I felt a sudden urge to reach out and touch it and I began to but then I drew back. If curiosity killed the cat I'm sure it could kill me too. I need to make the most of this life! I turned around and walked back to the street. Just looking at that thing had made my eyes sore – who knows what might've happened if I'd touched it! I was back at the road. I tried to whistle for a Hovercab but my lips couldn't seem to harness any strength to blow. I was slightly puzzled, I felt exhausted. This had never happened in my after-effects before…oh well, I'll survive. Home isn't that far away to walk to. I stepped out onto the road carefully everything looked blurry and I now had a splitting headache. I staggered on barely seeing where I was going. I looked to my right and only had time to think one thing in the microsecond I had – oh shit!