Catro Makelen got up and stretched his long limbs with a yawn. He turned off his alarm, his mind still buzzing from the night before. His father, Edgar, a normally very placid man, had gotten into a heated argument with one of his colleagues from the Institute of Advance Engineering.
His father colleague, Professor Calleak, had argued that the apathy of the rueclass, and their aversion to all forms of change, was holding back technological advancement and social growth. His father had argued that it was not an aversion, more an appreciation of the continuity of things, of the traditional ways that had held their society together for all these long years. Professor Calleak's view, something removed from the "normal" thinking of the rueclass had understandably made his father uncomfortable.
Catro sighed, and glanced at his clock. He had exactly one hour before his father, the communications advisor to the government of the Bunker Cities, left for the old communications centre and Catro was going with him. He could not afford to be late. Punctuality was part of been an adult member of the rueclass. Catro was fast approaching his seventeenth name day- the day he would become a legal adult. If he wished to follow in his father's footsteps, he needed to see this place. He made his bed, and prepared the cloths he would wear for the day—dark synthetic cotton pants and shirt with black shoes, and then headed for the shower and quickly scrubbed himself. Presentation, his father's voice rang in his head, is the first step in life. Make a good presentation, and you have a good foundation.
It was always the same daily routine; Catro never let himself deviate from it. Five minutes to prepare his clothes and make his bed, ten minutes in the bathroom to shower and do all other necessities, two minutes to brush his hair into it usual neat style with a parting down the left side and three minutes to dress and then ten minutes to get to the kitchen and eat the breakfast the prole woman, Edith, had prepared, with an extra ten minutes to spare, just in case. Forty minutes from waking up to exciting the house. Now, with another twenty minutes to spare, Catro stood before the mirror after he had showered and dressed, and looked at his reflection with a quizzical look on his face.
What was different about his appearance? He had the same stiff black hair and eyebrows that curved slightly around almond shaped, dark hazel eyes. His mouth was the same thin line it had always been. His nose was not as straight as another rueclass persons might be (the result of a childhood accident that was not treated right), but this did not bother him, as he liked this little hint of individualism on a face that could be any other rueclass person at a glance.
What had caught his eye? What had made him hesitate? What change had occurred to make him feel uneasy? Then he realised. The slight dusting of fuzz on his upper lip and jaw, the first sign of facial hair that had startled him weeks before, had gotten heavier. It was only after he had shaved it, and gone down and eaten his breakfast, did he realise that maybe this was what Professor Calleak had been talking about. If something so small could disturb him, some small disagreement with a friend shake his father, was Professor Calleak right?
Catro followed his father one pace behind and to his right, as tradition dictated the eldest son should do. In recent years, communication with other bunker cities around the globe had become almost impossible. It had been difficult for several centuries, but in recent years, it had failed several times.
As Catro's father was the senior most advisor on communication to the government, he had been appointed to oversee repairs. Having been unable to find the cause after several weeks, his father was convinced that the solution lay in the old communications centre. It had not been used in centuries. Not since the city had lost contact with the surface. But that was when people had become extinct topside. Since all developments in communication were based on this place, it was the root of all success and failure his father had said. With so many bunkers across the globe, communication was vital. Together, father and son walked through the glistening white boulevard of the rueclass district towards their waiting driver, Zeed.
Zeed was a member of the prole class, but as his father's personal driver, he had a government pass to enter all parts of the rueclass district. He looked out of place in the boulevard with his stunted legs, bent back, bulging muscles and muddy eyes. Zeed was needed here however.
The bunkers themselves were vast, stretching for hundreds of square miles, and many areas had fallen into disrepair. The communications centre was at least a half hour drive at top speed beyond the wall at the northern end of the boulevard through concrete tunnels and natural caves. Zeed knew the way, however.
Zeed bowed as Catro and his father approached. With only a nod, Catro's father ushered him into the transport and signalled to Zeed to start driving. Everyone was silent until they had passed the boundary wall. The passage beyond was dry and warm with a slight breeze, but ten minutes out it was also dark. No one had bothered maintaining the lights this far out, and Zeed was forced to switched on the headlights and slow down.
"One hour," he grunted, "maybe more if road in more disrepair."
That was it for another five minutes, until Catro broke the silence.
"Father, could it be possible that our communications are been jammed by people on the surface?"
His father stiffened. Zeed looked back, as if curious as to the effect this question would have. A look of shock quickly flashed across his face, before been replaced with a thoughtful look, as if this had never occurred to him. It took him a moment to answer:
"Highly doubtful, Catro. If there was someone on the surface, why have they not got in contact? Why have we not picked up any transmissions?"
"Professor Calleak seems to believe that there are people on the surface, and that they are trying to contact us, but that the council are keeping it a secret."
Finally, they reached the communications centre. It resembled the boulevard, except it was in serious decay. The landings that tiered upward were crumbling. What remained of the old cables, those that had not been salvaged, hung from the water stained ceiling or poked up from gaping holes in the cracked concrete floor. A large crack started at the floor on one side and snaked up the wall, across the ceiling, and down the other wall. Soil would occasionally trickle through it. Instead of glass fronted shops, there were alcoves whose walls were either gone or about to collapse. The area may once have been tiled or plastered like the boulevard, but nothing remained of that except a tall heap of broken tiles and (was that plaster?) in the centre of the wide expanse.
All this was visible because workmen had installed lights on the most stable parts of the landings. A figure detached himself from the crowed of workmen and approached. As he approached, Catro recognised Zeed's son, Maleek.
An oddity in the city, Maleek had a prole for a father and a rueclass woman for a mother. Maleek's existence would have been cause for Zeed to be prosecuted for rape, no matter what the mother said, except for the situation. Maleek's mother, Alinda, was a scientist- a rare occupation for a rueclass woman, and she had obtained written permission from the council to have a child with a prole to see if the rueclass and prole's could produce offspring, and Maleek was the positive result. After his birth, Alinda wanted nothing to do with him, except to see him on occasion for further research on his health, and not out of any maternal instinct. Maleek's face was typical of a prole's—more individualistic than a rueclass person may have had, with grey blue eyes, stiff brown hair and a slightly crooked nose. He had the height of a rueclass person, but the heavily muscled arms and chest of a prole. Catro knew Maleek's age to have been the same as his own- sixteen going on seventeen. Since Zeed was so often at their house, Catro had practically grown up with Maleek.
"Greetings Doctor Makelen. Greetings Catro Makelen. We have located what you are looking for Doctor. It is on the fourth level. Jarel," he indicated a squat prole woman, "will show you where. Professor Calleak is waiting for you."
The last part seemed to shock Catro's father, but he recovered quickly.
"Thank you Maleek. Catro will be staying here. Please explain the basic layout of the communications centre. The rest of the workers can go."
With that, he strode off, and the remaining workers, free of their duty, scurried to the far end of the ruined communications centre to make their escape down the tunnels the proles used for travel. This left Zeed, Maleek and Catro to themselves.
Zeed was the first to speak, but Catro could not understand, as he spoke in the harsh clanging language of the proles. Maleek understood though, and he grinned, and threw an arm around Catro- something he would not have done if Doctor Makelen had been around. Before he could speak, though, Catro heard his father's raised voice. The vast size of the room amplified the voice, but distorted the words, so Catro could not understand what was been said. Maleek smiled again.
"Come on Catro, we have something to show you."
They walked down the length of the crumbling bunker to the edge of the light, where a sheer wall of something rose up.
"That is the old entrance. Completely rusted on one side, but thick, and with a thick wall of stone behind it where the tunnel has caved in. But that is not what we want to show you. Come on, over here."
Maleek walked into one of the alcoves where a screen had been set up. Paper thin, with a small but powerful receiver, it showed nothing but static until Maleek started spinning dials, and then, a figure came into focus. He reminded Catro of Maleek in his height and build, except his hair was black, his eyes brown. The man on the screen looked older than Maleek. He was standing in front of a large assembly of people in a splendid marble room in front of what looked like a throne.
"When Father rose up out of the ashes of this shattered planet and united us, it was with one goal in mind. That never again should we practise the greed that lead to some seeking shelter below ground, to hide their faces from the burning rain and dying oceans, leaving us with the words that one day they would come forth from their shelters to regain control and rule us fairly and bring forth order from chaos. When the cities they called Moscow, Tokyo and New York were bombed, they did not show up. When the crops failed, and winter lasted a decade, they never returned. We have crawled through the devastation and we have dragged ourselves up from that time. We are better than we were." The man looked into the camera. "If you are listing in the bunkers, if any of you are still alive, you have a choice. You can join us as citizens, or you can stay where you are. You cannot rule as you wish too." He straightened up and looked over the crowd again. "Strength and Unity!" he bellowed, and the crowd responded with "Strength and Unity!"
Catro stood shocked. "Wh-what was that?"
"A broadcast from the surface," answered Maleek.
"Why show it to me? Why not show it to my father?"
"I do," said Zeed. "Every time they broadcast message, I show doctor, he respond to message.'No!' he say to man on television. 'We rule when we come out, we rule. You will not be Emperor anymore.' Zeed hear message many time. Your father, he tell man on television that his government illegal, that rueclass council only legal government. We show you, you tell Professor he right. Topside making contact. Want us be friends. They make contact between city bunkers hard. Need someone go topside, maybe, make friend in personable way."
Catro looked at Zeed. It took him a minute to figure out what he had said.
"You mean, my father knew, the COUNCIL knew, that there were people topside, and they said nothing?"
"Yes. They have known for years. Listen," Maleek said in a hushed voice, "meet me at the baths tomorrow at noon. It's Saturday, so no one will think it strange that a prole and rueclass youth are talking. I can explain more freely."
Throughout the party atmosphere that permeated the Lunar Military Base, a message crackled in the control room:
"Lunar Military Base, this is military transport one-zero-nine-two. Docking in twenty minutes."
After twenty-three hundred years, Earths first interstellar war was over and onboard military transport one-zero-nine-two was someone who could help Catro Makelen, though neither knew of the events that are set to unfold.
AUTHORS NOTE: Well, what do you think? Should I continue?