Sunlight peaked through the shutters on Aurora's window, gently caressing her out of her dreams. She opened her eyes. Mornings were still cool, despite the warm temperatures that would consume the day. I suppose it's better than living at the Zurich base. Snow all year round.
She sighed and tapped her computer keyboard, already knowing what it would display.
No new messages
"I love pancakes!" Aurora mumbled as she gracelessly shovelled them into her mouth.
"We know." Her Mum laughed, smiling at her wife, before glancing at her daughter. "Slow down or you're going to choke on a strawberry!"
"Can't slow down. Too delicious." Aurora mumbled between bites. Aurora listened to her mother's chatter about the new breeds of plant life growing and the grey water filtering soil being developed, adding her opinion when she felt necessary, but never really participating, her mind too preoccupied with the transceiver blinking gently in her bedroom. Her mind raced from problem to problem. Maybe they'll track the extra radio waves. What will I do if they notice the extra energy output? Could the message get sent to the wrong receiver?
Aurora rose from her chair when her plate was empty, stretching slightly before clearing the table.
"Thanks sweetheart." Her Mum called.
"It's okay, I'm off. I've got classes and an agriculture meeting. I love you both!" she called back as she walked out the door.
"We love you!" Her parents chimed back.
I'm early… first time for everything I suppose.
Aurora gently pushed on the recycled-glass door of Agriculture Dome 1. "Hello?"
Her voice echoed down the empty corridor. "Is anyone else here?"
Aurora stepped inside the corridor and cautiously shut the door behind her. She could see the glass wall at the other end, letting in light and warmth, displaying the doors clearly. Her boots clicked comfortingly as she walked towards room 11.
These meetings always made her nervous. They were routine; a way for the Elders of L.A.N.D 1 to monitor community progress and young people's management skills, but Aurora always felt uneasy in front of the three Elders. She watched the carved room numbers pass her and felt her pace slow.
Just three more rooms. The knot in her stomach began to expand, slowly filling the empty space her breakfast wasn't taking up. With a deep breath and a tug at her clothes, Aurora rested her hand on the cool aluminium handle before she heard faint mutterings, whispers. Pulling her hand away as if she'd been burnt, Aurora slid away from the door, flinching as her boots squeaked against the wooden floor. She stopped a metre or so from the door, straining her ears to make out each syllable instead of insensible sound.
"I don't know what's causing it, it could be someone or just a normal fluctuation." That was Elder Dong-Min. His voice was hushed as usual.
"There are fluctuations in energy out-put and the radio signal every night from nine until midnight. We have to figure out who is sending messages and stop them!" Rutesh's voice was slightly louder and filled with frustration, never losing its gruff tone.
The two men began to argue, their voices getting louder and louder, filling the silent corridor where Aurora stood.
"Quiet." Matilda's voice was crisp and clear. "We need to stay calm and stay in control. The populace doesn't need to know any of this."
Doesn't need to know? Aurora frowned.
"It'll send them into a panic."
If they aren't telling us about a few fluctuations, what else aren't they telling us? Aurora clenched her fist, her brow set, her quick burning temper making her cheeks flush.
"Tonight you, Dong-Min, are going to track the signal, whilst you, Rutesh, are going to intercept and decode the message. You'll notify me as soon as you have all the information and I'll deal with it. Swiftly." Matilda stated crisply. Aurora was frozen in the corridor.
They knew. They knew there were messages being sent.
Her heart was pounding and her hands began to tremble as a strange blend of fear and anger pumped through her.
Breathe Aurora, just breathe. They don't know who is sending the messages or why. You are going to be okay. Aurora's breath remained shallow but sounded far too loud in her ears. She waited a moment, until the leaders began to discuss more innocuous subjects. Taking a deep breath, Aurora began to walk, making her footfalls heavier, hoping that would alert them. She stopped outside the door and lightly tapped.
"Come in, kids."
Aurora frowned. If I'm a 'kid' why can't you track my messages? Aurora attempted to mask the contempt she was feeling. Resting her hand on the cold handle she pushed the door open.
"Aurora! You're early." Dong- Min stood, his stocky frame tense, his large short fingers rubbing the scalp of his shaven head.
"First time for everything, hey kiddo?" Rutesh laughed as he walked over to Aurora. He was tall and lean; his salt-and pepper-hair was cropped, but still longer than most men's. A smile decorated his clean-shaven face but it didn't reach his dark eyes, which still seemed to glare at Aurora. She smiled and nodded, not trusting herself to remain polite if she spoke. A quite chuckle came from the corner of the room.
"Leave the poor girl alone, Rutesh. You've never been on time a day in your life." Matilda sat still, her willowy body poised, as if ready to attack. Her angular, sun-kissed face turned up slightly, staring at the occupants of the room. She shook her head, her white curls bouncing slightly. Aurora managed a nervous chuckle before she sat in the centre of the semi-circular table. Moments later the rest of the youth management team filed into the room and the presentation and update began, allowing Aurora's mind to wander back to her home, into her bedroom and to play with ideas of hiding her message.