MAIN BALLROOM, 20:31 HOURS

The dress I wear feels heavy on my shoulders, feeling more like a prison garment than an exquisite ball gown. I watch from my place on the back wall of the room, seeing the others swoop and swoon as they swept onto the dance floor, prancing like a bird in mating. Instinctively I touch my latest read's hard leather cover, and it sooths me, beckoning to be opened. But I know the consequences of that action here, so instead I turn to the window, and watch the clouds float by. A tap on my shoulder arouses me from my thoughts, and I turn to see my sister, Kay. Her face is flush from the dance, her blond curls contrasting sharply with her dark blue gown. Panting slightly, she begins to chatter about the dance.

"And, oh, it was wonderful! I hope he'll be my partner! Or maybe the one in red, see him?"

I acted as if I was listening, nodding in all the right places, but my thoughts were elsewhere.

We live in a place we call Zen, though the Underworld calls it 'vol de mort'. Flight of death. Also a villain in an ancient fictional text.

The Underworld used to be a place called Earth, according to ancient writings. It was filled with glittering buildings, dense forests, and arctic wastelands. Rich and poor lived together, as one. Then the Great Plague came. It divided us, and as the rich took to the skies, the poor were left behind.

WASTLAND DISTRICTS: SECTOR A-5, UNIT 36, 05:00 HOURS

The sharp crack of the whip brings me sharply out of my light slumber. Immediately I stand trying to ignore the blood slowly trickling down my back.

"SS825, why aren't you at your post?" the monotonous voice behind the helmet asked.

I scowled, wincing. "Because my section commander kept me late doing cleaning the press." And I can't survive on two hours sleep, you bloody machine!

"What was that, SS825?" Aww crap!

The droid let out a beep, and bound his hands. "You will be taken to your section commander for offensive thoughts ageist authority. Make the slightest move I do not wish you to make and you will have resisting authority added to your charges."

"Yes, sir." I hissed through gritted teeth.

I stand before the section commander, hands still bound. The droid roughly pushes me forward to kneel, sending a fresh wave of pain from the wound on my back.

He looks up, from the datapad, and his eyes flash with something. Satisfaction? Anger?

"Ahh, I see you have been acting up again, SS825." He purrs, his long pale figures stroking the throne like chair. He looks at the droid. "What offence is this?"

"His forth, sir."

"Ah. Well, I believe it's time to… decommission you."

I've pushed it too far. I am to die.

7 DAYS LATER, THE GRAND HALL, 1200 HOURS

"We gather here today to witness an important deed that must be done- the execution of a traitor."

The crowd roars, along with my sister.

They push a man onto the stage, battered and blooded, at the lash of a whip. He growls, and then whimpers. I here all the stories I've read, all the heroes I read about, telling me to save him. But I don't. As the crack of the gun fills the hall, I stand there. And as they throw him of the balcony, his broken body traveling faster and faster to the ground, I feel nothing.

Nothing.