A/N: This is all my original work, please do not repost/copy as everything is mine. But do please read, enjoy and review; any and all feedback is greatly appreciated!
By the time the train arrived at the Heart of Arcadia, it was nearing dinner time and Eric was famished. But he didn't dare ask for any food because it seemed the agents were trying to keep a schedule that he didn't know about. As soon as they had arrived at the train station, the two agents had already gathered their things together and were ready to get off the moment the door was opened for them from the other side. With a quick command from Agent Ryan, Eric quickly followed the two agents.
Unlike the two capitol's he was used to seeing, one from his town and the other from his parents' town, the set up at the Heart of Arcadia was different. The train station seemed to act as part of the tall wall that divided the capitol building from the rest of the town. One half of the station was accessible to the public and the other half was strictly limited to government agents. The public half was busy, just as Eric would have assumed the capitol of his country would be. The government side was eerily empty; only a small handful of other agents were there aside from the two Eric was following.
It seemed the government, in order to make sure there was no forgetting which side was which, decorated the two sides differently. The government's side was decorated just as darkly and modern as the inside of the train had been. The dark decorations lead to the eeriness of how empty, yet clean everything looked. The public side had definitely seen better days as the constant traffic had aged it. But it was decorated no differently than the other train stations he had seen. The only difference was that there was only one side the public had access to instead of being allowed to both.
The two agents lead Eric to a gate that had a posted guard at it. Without saying a word, both agents showed their badges and Agent Ryan handed the guard some papers. After a minute or so of going through the papers he was handed, the guard stamped several places, pressed a button that opened the gate and allowed the trio to walk through it. The total silence in which the entire transaction was conducted made Eric nervous but he trusted his government. He was sure that there was a very good reason that the government building seemed to be heavily protected when all the others weren't. It was an historic site after all; it was where Arcadia was founded and Eric was sure that the government only wanted to make sure that the iconic sight never faded from history.
Beyond the gate was what looked to be an upscale hallway with sparse decorations and doors on either side. Eric had just been allowed inside the gate of the Heart of Arcadia and his heart swelled in pride that he was one of the few, if only, civilians of his generation to be allowed inside. He had heard rumors about how grand the Heart of Arcadia was. He wasn't disappointed. There were few pictures on either side of the long hall they walked down that depicted scenes from World War III that had taken place many years ago. They were pictures of a time before utopia, before Arcadia. He had seen the pictures in his history books from school, but Eric was willing to bet that these pictures were the originals; done by artists who were long dead, that had lived through the scenes they had captured on canvas.
At the end of the hall was a single, wooden door. There was nothing that gave away what was behind the door, but Eric had assume whatever was on the other side was more important that was behind the other doors because the other doors seemed bland compared to the last one.
Without bothering to knock or signal their approach, Agent Carlson opened the door and walked into it. Agent Ryan motioned for Eric to proceed her, to followed Agent Carlson. Walking inside the room, it wasn't what Eric had expected. He wasn't sure what he expected but what he saw was still a disappointment. It was a small room with one arm chair and a small table with just a handful of magazines on top of it. On the opposite side of the door the trio had entered, there was a secretary waiting behind a desk and typing away on a computer. Just off to her side, barely fitting the length of the wall without overlapping the secretary's space, was another door.
"Can I help you?" The secretary asked, not looking away from her computer.
"We have Eric Sanders with us." Agent Carlson answered, seemingly not put off by the secretary's cool indifference. "We're all set for him to meet with the director."
"Wait a moment." The secretary said as she picked up the phone on her desk and talked in a clipped manner. "They're here."
The secretary put the phone down and continued to type on her computer. The two agents continued to patiently wait while Eric fidgeted in his spot, unsure of what was going to happen with him now that he was in the capitol. Thankfully, after only a few moments, the secretary told them they could enter.
Walking through the door, following Agent Carlson into the new room, Eric was instantly impressed with what he saw. The room could make any businessman jealous. It was a large and spacious room that held two small couches close to the door Eric had entered through. A few feet away from the small sitting area was a large desk with two elegant looking chairs in front of it. The man sitting behind the desk was dressed in a very nice dress suit and Eric could imagine that the gentleman was used to living a very good life. He fit in perfectly with the rich setting of his office. The man seemed to be losing his standard brown hair and with the hard lines of his face, contrary of the warm smile he had, he seemed to have lived a long and stressful life.
When Agent Ryan closed the door behind her, the man stood from the desk with a welcoming smile on his face. He rounded the corner of his desk before the trio could make it past the sitting area. He held his hand out towards Agent Carlson while he was still a few feet away.
"Welcome back Carlson." The man greeted happily as he shook Agent Carlson's hand as soon as he was within range. "You as well Ryan." He didn't move to shake to shake her hand, but she didn't seem to mind as she clasped her hands behind her back. "You two have to go check in now, right?"
"Yes we do." Agent Ryan answered for the two agents. "We're done here though, right?"
"Yes, yes. You two are good. I'll take over from here." The man said.
"Good luck Eric." Agent Carlson said as he turned around and then shook the confused man's hand.
Agent Carlson swiftly made his way towards the door to leave and after Agent Ryan nodded in farewell towards Eric, she followed just as quickly behind her partner. With the click of the door, Eric was left with a man that he knew nothing about. He had to assume that since he was seemed to be at least be important, if not in charge, he would be able to tell Eric exactly what was going on with him and help him. Eric assumed he would at least be able to get some information.
"Why don't you have a seat Eric?" The man said as he sat down on one of the couches. The man gestured with his hand for Eric to sit on the other couch. "Now, I'm sure you have a lot of questions, right?"
"Yes I do." Eric answered right away, but before he could ask any of them, the man started talking again.
"While, I'm the man to answer them. My name is Robert Lark and I'm the one in charge of the project that you've been elected to be part of."
"Project?" Eric couldn't tell if he should be happy that he was about to get answers or if he should be worried about being elected for something that he had never opted to be a part of. It was a government official telling him all this, so he had to assume that whatever they needed him for, it would be okay. It had to be.
"Yes." Robert said with a nod of his head. "It's something that's been going on since Utopia became a free country after the last world war. Within the part of the government that know about it, we like to call it 'Project: Forgettables'. It's a very distinguished project that allows our country to keep on living the way have since Arcadia was founded: in peace. You should feel honored to be chosen to be a part of it."
There were so many conflicting thoughts racing through Eric's mind. He wanted to believe that since it was the government pulling the strings, he would be more than safe. He wanted to feel proud that he had been picked to help his government, his country, in maintaining their safety. It was something every Arcadian wanted; it was something he would have called home right away to tell his parents. It was something that would have made Monica love him even more.
It was those thoughts that lead him to some conflicting thoughts that were starting to pop up more and more in his head.
The biggest problem that stood out to Eric with what Robert had said was that he would be able to help protect Arcadia's peace. What would they have to protect Arcadia from? As far as Eric had been taught in school, the last world war had wiped out everyone but Arcadia. He had been thought that Arcadia had only survived because of their peaceful nature; it was why the country had become a utopia. Eric wasn't against helping his country, but what could possibly exist that wanted to harm Arcadia?
"Help how?" Eric carefully asked.
He didn't want the director to think he didn't want to help but at the same time, he very much wanted answers. He wanted to know what was going on as from what he could tell, something in his gut told him that what was happening wasn't good. That it wasn't normal or good.
"You're going to be in for quite a surprise." The smile Robert gave made Eric feel queasy. The smile made Eric anything but easy. But he was a government agent, so Eric ignored the feeling and continued to give the director his full attention. "I hate to say this, but us higher ups in the government have been hiding something very important from the citizens of Utopia."
Eric felt his grow wide in surprise. He knew something wasn't right with everything that had been happening to him. He had known that it wasn't normal and shouldn't be happening. He had put faith into his government that they would be able to help him and here was the director telling him that something was in fact wrong. The government never lied to its' citizens; for someone so high up in the government to admit they had lied, it was very nerve-wracking.
"What have you lied about?" Eric asked, not daring to think about what it could be. If he tried to guess, chances were he would think of all sorts of horrible things and he wouldn't dare thing his government would do something that would actually hurt its' own people. He refused to believe it.
"We weren't the only ones to survive the world war." The tone the director took one was a very grave. It let Eric know that what he was about to learn was something not very good. "There are others, other humans."
"Non-Arcadians?" Eric interrupted, bewildered that there were any non-Arcadians out in the world. It just didn't seem possible to him.
"I'm afraid so."
"Why won't they live with us?" Eric asked. "Wouldn't they want to live in perfect society?"
"I'm afraid it's not that simple." The somber tone Robert had turned to more sorrowful as he continued to talk. "It's written some of our oldest documents that we offered to let them live peacefully with us, but they were too affected by the war. Their brains were damaged and all they sought was war."
"They only wanted to fight with us?" Eric asked, not believing what he was hearing. "Didn't we show them how good Arcadia is? Why wouldn't they want to live in utopia?"
Eric couldn't fathom that there was anyone around that would rather fight instead of living in their perfect society. Eric couldn't even imagine living anywhere besides Arcadia; not that he had known that there was anywhere else to go. Not even his imagination could imagine something better than Arcadia; that had to say something about how perfect his country was.
"All they wanted was to fight. From what we can tell, we had once allowed them to live with us, so show them there was a better way to live. But they brought chaos with them. It nearly destroyed Arcadia."
"That's horrible." Eric felt his heart clench at the thought of Arcadia falling. He was more than sure that Arcadia would survive forever; just like a utopian society should. Thinking that someone wanted to destroy was nearly an impossible thought.
"That's what they, our founders, thought as well. They banded together and drove those out that sought to destroy our country. The survivors made up our original head of capitol's. From there, the rest is history."
"Why would the government keep this a secret though?" Eric asked as swiped a hand through his short hair as he thought over everything that he had learned.
"It used to be taught. But people didn't like hearing about it. Eventually it was removed from the curriculum and soon after that, it was completely forgotten about except those of us who have access to the archives and can read about it."
That made sense to Eric. He was having a hard enough time accepting hearing that there were other humans out there that didn't want to live in Arcadia. Eric liked to think he was open about a lot of things; if he was having difficulties with learning what he had just had, he could only imagine how hard it would be for others that weren't as open as he was. They truly wouldn't want to hear anything about people not wanting to live in Arcadia and Eric couldn't blame; it wasn't a good thing to hear. Once again, the government made the hard choice of keeping something from when the people had called out for it. The government was protecting them when they didn't even know about. It was more example of why Eric respected his government so much. Hearing what they had done for the country's people, made it easier for Eric to ignore the uneasy feeling he had.
"What does this all have to do with me though?" Eric asked. He felt very honored that he had been made purvey to the information he was just given, but he didn't see any correlation with him and the story.
"Well, when our founders had removed all the Outsiders from within our borders, they found that the Outsiders had taken the removal as a sort of challenge. Ever since they were removed, they have been trying to destroy us."
"I've never heard of us being under attack." Eric quickly interrupted, feeling very perturbed by this information. There practically no petty theft crimes, much less a large attack meant to destroy his country. Surely an attack of that kind would be told on the news.
"We've kept it hidden. It was part of what the people wanted to keep hidden when they started to stop teaching about the Outsiders being part of Arcadia." Robert easily explained. "But, just because we've hidden it, it doesn't mean that the attacks have stopped or that we don't need soldiers to protect us."
The uneasy feeling Eric had just been able to ignore came back tenfold. If he wasn't already sitting, he would have been knocked off his feet by the sour feeling he suddenly felt.
Eric had heard of those. They were the people that fought in the last world war. It was those men and woman that destroyed the world outside of Arcadia. Why would his country want to have anything to do with soldiers? Why would Eric be involved in anything relating to soldiers?
"Yes. It's a very well off group with the best of the best equipment we have to offer." Robert said, clearly trying to assuage Eric's concerns before they could get the best of him. "They are hardly in any danger. They shoot at the Outsiders but you have to remember. The Outsiders were very badly damaged from the world war; it's why they couldn't manage to live in Arcadia. They don't know what they are doing or why. They just attack anything that isn't one of them. The Forgettable's fight against them, protecting all of Arcadia from them."
It was very easy for Eric to hear how prestigious being a Forgettable sounded. Not only did they protect Arcadia, but they have been doing it since Arcadia was in existence. There wasn't a person in Arcadia that wouldn't love to do anything they could for their country. For someone to say they protected Arcadia against outside threats was every citizen's dream, even if it was unrealistic because as they grew up they were all taught there were no threats. Now though, Eric was being told different.
He was happy to have the chance to protect his country, but he was also more than worried. From what it sounded like, protecting his country would be a very violent affair. Violence wasn't a common occurrence in Arcadia. The most violent thing people saw on a consistent basis was a parent scolding, but not yelling, a child when they did something wrong. To be asked to do something that sounded like it would include so much violence was nearly unthinkable to Eric. But it was his government asking him to do it. They were asking him to help them and he would definitely do his best to comply.
"I'll do what I can to help Arcadia." Eric confidently said.
"I was hoping you would say that." Robert said with a wide smile as he stood up from his seat. "We have a lot to do in order to get you ready to get you ready to help keep Arcadia in its' perfect utopian status. Why don't we talk while we walk?" Robert gestured towards the other door in the room, the one behind his own desk and waited until Eric stood to start walking towards it.
"Does this talk include telling me what happened with me?" Eric asked as he followed the director. He may have just been given a gold mine of information about his country and how it was founded, but he refused to let that take away from his own personal problems. He had a family and a life that was taken away from him and he wanted it back.
"As a matter of fact it does." Robert answered as he opened the door that lead into a wide hallway that reminded Eric of the old pictures from his history books that were of military bases. Those things didn't exist anymore, at least to his knowledge they didn't. To see something so militant looking, so bland and void of color or any real markings of his country, was strange.
"I hope its' good news." Eric said in a light hearted manner. It wasn't a light topic; it was one that needed to be taken very seriously. But he felt Robert could be a friend and actually be able to help him with his situation, so he was willing to be a bit more relaxed around the older man.
"Well, that really depends on what you want to take as good news." Robert said as they started walking down the curved hallway. People in lab coats and what Eric vaguely recalled as some sort of battle dress uniform that fell out of fashion after the last world war, were walking up and down the hall and going in and out of doors on either side of the hall. No one gave them any attention as the two men walked on.
"Being reunited with my family and fiancée would be good news." Eric weakly jested. His weak smile faltering when he noticed the stern look on the director's face.
"I would think protecting your country so that your family and fiancée can continue living in utopia without fear of being murdered would be something that would considered good news." Eric nearly stumbled at the words but before he could comment about the harshness and what he had thought until recently as an unrealistic possibility, the director continued talking. "The reason your family and friends don't remember you is a side effect of being a Forgettable. The name makes sense now, doesn't it?"
"But how does it happen?" Eric persisted.
If he figured out how everyone that knew him before he was one of these… these Forgettables, then perhaps he could figure out a way to restore everyone's memories. What was done could always be undone; right?
"We really don't know." Robert admitted with a huff of what Eric assumed was annoyance at not knowing. "We think it was something our founders did, but there's only brief mentions of it happening back then. There's nothing on record about what caused it or even exactly when it started to happen. We just know that those chosen to be a Forgettable because just that: forgettable. Everyone forgets about them."
"There's no hope for me to be remembered?" Eric asked morosely. He could feel any and all hope he had of being successfully reunited with his family. He wanted his life back to the way it was before everything started. From what the director was telling him, his old life would never be returned to him.
"Not that we know of. I assure you, for as long as the Forgettables have existed, we've been trying to find a cure for it. You are an Arcadian and deserve to live your life as you want and we, the government, want to do everything we can to do that. But in the meantime, you don't exist. But you still need somewhere to live and some sort of job to contribute to our fair country like everyone else."
"That's where the government comes in?" Eric asked, struggling to follow along with the director's line of talking as the older man turned down another hallway. It seemed as if all the agents he had thus far met didn't want to let his thoughts linger for too long on what he had lost. He was both thankful for the reprieve of the depressing thoughts and upset that he wasn't being given time to try and think of something to fix his life.
"Exactly. We cloth, feed and house you all for free in return for the Forgettables to defend Arcadia. We train you so that nothing bad happens to any of you and then we send you to the borders of our country to defend it."
Eric's ears perked up hearing he would be sent to the borders at some point in the future. From everything he had learned growing up, the border was a desolate place. It was a barren place filled with only sand that couldn't hold life. It was a result of the war. There wasn't supposed to be anything but the lifeless sand past Arcadia's green landscape. Eric was impressed that these supposed mentally unstable people, as a result from the war, would have been able to live in the hot lifeless sand for so long. Eric wasn't even sure if he would be able to do whatever job he would be assigned in the hot sand much less live there like the Outsiders.
"How exactly will I be defending against the Outsiders?" Eric cautiously asked.
"The only way we can that doesn't hurt anyone. We have weapons that will stun them when shot with these specialized coated bullets. Inside the bullets is a drug out ancestors developed to greatly lower their anger; which causes them to stop fighting us and to leave us alone." Robert answered as they walked into a classroom that was filled with about a dozen other people.
"We're not going to hurt anyone?" Eric asked to verify. Of course his government would come up with a way to get rid of their problem without hurting anyone. It was just the sort of thing their utopian government was proud of. Eric nearly felt embarrassed that he had briefly thought his government was asking him to hurt people.
"Not one bit." Robert assured as he pat Eric's shoulder in a way to push him slightly more into the room while the director stayed in the doorway, oblivious to everyone in the room staring at the two newcomers. "But just because you won't be hurting anyone, it doesn't mean that they won't try to hurt you. Which is why we need to train you. We want to make sure no one gets hurt."
"That's amazing." Eric said, proud of how his government was handling the Outsiders.
"I'm afraid this is where we part ways for now. I've got paperwork to tend to and you need to start your training. I believe your instructor should be here soon." Robert said, causing Eric to frown. It was as if ever since he was picked up by the police, he had only been passed off to different government agents to deal with. Never staying in the presence of one for too long. "We'll definitely be talking again before we send out for your first mission. For now though, just focus on saving your country and protecting all those you love." The last part was said louder so that the entire room could hear him. Eric assumed he wasn't the only one nervous about what was to come and that comforted him to know that he wasn't alone in feeling uneasy about what was about to come.
Robert didn't waste any more time in saying else and left the room, closing the door behind him with a click. Eric turned around to face the class and find a seat. Glancing around the room again, he noticed that the people, the Unforgettables, were all young and were both female and male. A quick count and he found there was an even number of females and males.
When Robert had closed the door, most everyone returned to their own conversations, but there were still a few that watched as Eric picked the last seat in the back of the classroom and sat down. As he sat down and the one neighbor he had sitting next to him, he was sitting in the end isle and only had a person in front and to one side of him, extend his hand in greeting, Eric felt his nerves starting grow. Even though the director had assured Eric wouldn't be hurting anyone, he was still concerned that he may end up hurt. After hearing all the gory horror stories of world war three, Eric wasn't he was going to be up to defending his country like was expected of him.