August 17, 2019… Washington DC… Formerly High Drone Command of the United States Armed Forces…
A video was running yet it felt real to people who can imagine it, and it started with that scene: Flames were existent all around the High Drone Command perimeter and they were on wrecked cars, burnt out corpses and buildings. Drones were also wrecked but most of them were outside the base. Soldiers from different corners of the world, human in nature, were walking in the compound, alert of their surroundings and their weapons raised. The video kept playing this and it later panned to a ruined air control tower. And around it were two 16-foot cannons of sorts. The image slowly fades to black, signaling that there could be another scene.
An image suddenly appeared on the screen, which showed that this place used to be a battleground between men who had rifles and machine guns, facing off against an alien threat who had high-powered automatic weapons themselves. And eventually, more images show up, playing some sort of story in the form of a slideshow.
There were images of the dates at the corners, ranging them from April 12, 2017 to July 16, 2017.
The next set of images were dated two years later, and they were showing that it had become a battleground once again, but the pictures symbolized hope. Prisoners, with humans mostly women and children, and some groups of androids who were part of the alien race's citizenry were also rescued, terrified but felt safe.
The pictures shown this time was dated in 2019 with pictures lasting for 3 days.
The last set of images after the two previous sets was a very large vessel with a size equivalent to two football fields. Images captured from the air suggested it was on fire and it was split in half… The video showed from earlier had two large cannons and in between them was a ruined air-control tower. It was briefly shown on the images. To others who are seeing this, they could tell how it happened and how this came to be. Others didn't speculate and simply ignored the fact that the obvious is stated on the picture. Soon, the screen went blank.
The class room was eventually lit up afterwards and there were 50 people from 15 to 21 years in age seated in a well-spaced classroom. The desks were white while the chairs were made of wood. And the classroom was styled all the way to the back to be a staircase while on each step was row after row of chairs.
"Now…" the woman said this in front of the students as soon as she faced them. Then she had everyone's attention before she spoke. "The moments that happened in those two years were very crucial as to how we adapted to the situation. The kind of animosity the Sy-Tren showed us was the only thing that gave us the clue. Their first shot… was actually a radiation poisoning event, which made us spark up.
"And now those years have passed and the war was already over, we've been given the chance to repair. Come a century later, we finally see to it that these moments would never be forgotten. The centennial celebration of our victory against the Sy-Tren is teaching us that wherever we would go… we would always find trouble around the corner. While individuality is not enough to conquer what is evil, striking together is what made us strong. And even got us to claim their technology but not without thinking of the consequences. There were conservatives who thought that if we used their technology, it would change us forever. We took that risk, and here we are.
"I'm glad to finally end this school year with the centennial celebration, kids." The woman smiled, expressing confidence in herself as she looked at her audience listening attentively. "Some of you will be moving through bigger moments, so I want to give you all advice: Be better than the last second. If you can't do it quick, nothing should rush you. You're all looking forward to your journey, so walk with your chin high."
November 16, 2119... 100 years later… State of California, United States of America…
St. Mary Guerrera's University… Classroom 8H…
Miranda – And that was about the last time I heard Miss Stinton speak about history in that year. It's sad, really. She'll be ending her career and move on to Toronto to spread the word more. Canada is a nice place, really. But I like Beverly Hills, since it's where I live.
This class… her open mind and the way she speaks… It isn't boring… but it was meant to be a general message for everyone. It made sense… at least to me. Can't tell what the others think, but they just keep a straight face. I know however how they're lying to themselves.
My name is Miranda Pierce. I'm 15 years old, and I was a college student in Enhanced Biology. I'm not really your typical Grade-A student. More like Grade Double-S if you ask too many people around me…
The school bell rang and Miranda herself sighs the moment she hears it. "Finally class is over," she thought.
It wasn't a regular day… especially for me since I was excited. There was something else besides the centennial remembrance of the victory from that war… Dad's coming home from Mars. Apparently he had special leave because of him being deserving of it. And that was what I was thinking most of the time… Everything else was just blurred out to me.
And Miranda started to leave the school like the rest of the students. But just as she already took steps off the classroom, a brown-haired blue-eyed 19 year old girl shows up. "Well you're eager," the girl said.
"Of going home, yes" replied Miranda who scratched her head while heading down a hallway before turning to another. The girl was behind her. "Millie, ya done with your class? It's a little too early."
"We've been dismissed early thanks to the celebration. Not too exciting, huh?"
"I beg to differ," Miranda replied just before she sighed and stopped walking. She knows that on where she was on that part of the hallway, she was alone with Millie. "I think everyone's gonna be in high spirits. Class is over and the vacation's starting which only takes a month. And to think others are gonna be out of this forever. They don't have any idea of what's gonna happen the next time." She chuckled just before she continued and encountered a staircase before moving down with Millie behind her.
Then Millie became curious. "Miranda, what exactly do you mean?"
"Though Miss Stinton is leaving, someone much stricter I believe is gonna replace her. The senior history class won't be too happy with this one. And… You're a senior." Miranda said this with a smirk.
And Millie was anxious already, even evident as she panted. "Well DO TELL ME! I don't wanna get bad marks! I already flunked two quizzes, you jerk!"
Miranda only shrugged in response. Eventually, the conversation had to halt immediately. She saw someone annoying as she got to the ground floor with that staircase. Approaching the two was a white-haired male in his early 20's wearing a black sweat shirt. This one had a height of six feet flat. When he walked at the two girls, he could only smile.
But Miranda stopped just in front of him with arms crossed. "You are a real jerk for standing me up last night." As Miranda said this, Millie winced in surprise.
The boy's smile faded quick and made a gesture with two hands in front of him to protect him. "Now, now… I think we all just need a break from."
"No… You need a break from your stupid alcoholic beverage experiments which obviously don't get you anywhere. I appreciated the invitation to a hotel, but finding out you've been drinking alone at Sally's really just made me doubt about how you do with other girls, Jack. So good thing I'm not that angry."
"Wait, you're not?"
"No. From now on, you and I are just going to remain friends. Not a step higher than that." Miranda sighed after speaking and kept walking, not minding if he followed or not. And when she DID sense that he was behind her, she continued. "You got what you need for that portfolio?"
Though Jack felt down being disliked by Miranda, he at least felt he was given importance. Hearing Miranda's question, he's able to answer. "Yeah. I got enough for us. And… I got my individual shit laid out."
"Good. Millie, you all set too?"
Millie hummed "Mm-hm" then spoke, "If nothing's gonna stop me from taking a lot of pictures in Italy, then I think we got a big break when it comes to the travelling portion of the work."
"And of course, I'll be handling the safeties of travel. Looks like things are in order." And Miranda led the group of three just outside the university gates. A few Hover-cars were lined up, but a limousine was able to get to the gates just in time. She stopped and looked back at the two of her friends. "Jack… Millie… You two better not be strangers. A month of vacation doesn't mean we're gonna be totally lazy. Still… I can't thank you both enough for standing tall." Then she looked at Jack. "And about that night you stood me up… Just make sure you don't do that to another girl. I'm making sure you and Millie got room if ever you decided, but I was welcome to entertain you last night."
Jack blushed a little knowing this subject is embarrassing. It's a good thing the three weren't close to other students leaving the campus. Scratching his head, he made his response. "You got quite the words to say it…"
"I know. I could have been your first," Miranda said with a half-glare. "You got Millie anyway."
And Millie blushed like a tomato before she pouted. "OH HELL NO! COME ON, MIRANDA!"
"I was just suggesting," Miranda simply said. "Well, I better get going. Jack… Maybe we can talk later."
At that time, Jack was looking away. When Miranda got his attention, he smiled a little. "I… Yeah, I appreciate it."
Miranda raised an eyebrow while turning her back on them. "Don't always count on a smile. Take care you two." And she walked towards the limousine before the rear door opened by itself. She helped herself and bent down before getting in the limousine, pulling the door close. She sighed, knowing she was alone. "Take me home," she said. And the limousine started to move forward. A small screen was in front of her and it showed her usual driver. She then smiled upon seeing him. "You took a while, Fred."
"Sure I did," Fred replied while keeping his hands on the wheel and on short-range comms. "I had to get my daughter to the airport for Berlin. Apparently she's found a good university she'd get used to."
"Ah, I heard. Classic-21st Music Linking?"
"Pretty much the short description, but you got it." Fred chuckled a little before changing the subject. "So… Up in the air we go?"
"Yeah," Miranda replied while putting on a seatbelt over her hips and torso and strapped herself in. "Take us up, Fred. And… Put Station-JH on the radio." And when she was given what she wants, some 21st century Alternative music was played at half its loudness.
The Hover-Limousine was eventually engaging its Vertical Thrust-Boosts. It was lifted off the ground for several seconds just at the same time while small sets of wings appeared on the sides of the vehicle, while Forward Thrust-Boosts made it fly forward. Soon, it was flying forward and upwards.
It took a while for the Sky-Limousine to level itself and join the Aerial Freeway where there were other vehicles in flight. Miranda told Fred at this time that she'd like to take her time to relax and followed her. Fred made sure to stay on the Freeway and was quite aware he can get back easily to the Pierce Residence. He was right in his thoughts that Miranda must be thinking of something.
Miranda didn't mind if some of the sun's rays enter through her windows since she had other things running in her mind. She was using a View-Tablet to view some events she missed.
A news anchor was speaking from the Transparent-Framed tablet as a series of events in the view of videos were played. "In other news, the Centennial Celebration while giving the day smiles, also gave frowns especially to multiple activist groups who were still upset of the petition that was denied entry into Congressional Review. The matter related to the Bio-Copy Act of 2092 that allows authorized research facilities to make genetic human copies was widely controversial, but this was said to be the only solution amidst the problems of decreasing birth rates and under-population of multiple Asian countries."
The bad things never stop piling up in the news, even after the events of first contact with the Sy-Tren several decades later. What I've learned when it comes to people: They either make the good or the bad choices that shapes everyone's lives. I'm not one to completely ignore the horrible results to those choices. But at least in the long term, everyone's given a better chance than the previous second. Some clones become different people and some are played as the same person until their regular lives come due. Good thing the ethics communities are able to at least get through to the minds of corporations…
Oh… I think some elaboration's due.
Dad's more focused in work. He'd been pursuing great research in relation to Reproduction, since humanity unfortunately is having a problem with birth rates. We're losing the value of what makes us human: Remembering importance of how we came to be. That's what motivated him to step up and restore normal reproduction and the research was key.
The years might have been productive in my view, but other things will soon hit my face, especially later that fateful night…
The news of dad coming back from Mars made me excited. I heard he was in a Hover-Taxi which was driving back to Beverly Hills. That time, I was baking some lasagna the old-fashioned way... using an old-century oven after getting a mix of cheese and macaroni for ingredients. Mom was the cook in the house, but I took the lead in prepping the Welcome Home dinner...
Pierce Residence, Bolens Neighborhood Residential Compounds, Beverly Hills California...
Miranda took her time baking in the kitchen using an old-model oven. It was dependable even when it was being used 100 years ago since it took longer for it to heat anything that's baked.
There was a small mirror just by the oven, and its main purpose was to check if the baker has been exhausting one's self too much it could signals to take a break. And she looked at her fair complexion, dark olive-green eyes and her loose smooth black hair having a few strands out of place. She was wearing an apron over her chest as what she also saw. Other than what she saw herself as, she didn't feel the stress and smiled. She continued to observe the oven cook the lasagna.
Mom was the one who taught me how to cook and bake ever since. She's Hilda Pierce, my loving best friend and great supporter before I went to school, while my Dad, whose name is Harold, was my mentor.
Anyway, advanced technology already taught us to easily take 10-second pizza to be cooked by microwave. Pretty neat, huh? Not really. See, I was able to look at how food is, and some of the chemical-based pizza had ingredients that could cause cancer in long-term, faster than other foods. And to think those in my age group didn't care... Sure they're clean on other things, but they gotta at least be aware. I made this aware towards Millie and Jack, but it seems Millie's the better listener. Jack's more of a drinker whatever time he wants and he laughs at the thought of pizza being rigged with bad chemicals. He doesn't need to worry since I'll attend his funeral. Crap... That's a bad death joke…
The oven bell dinged just before Miranda put on oven mitts and held the handle. Gently pulling down the oven door, she can sense the heat and the smoke from the lasagna now readily baked while still in the aluminum foil. She made sure to breathe a few times to ready herself and put the mitts on the aluminum before pulling the dish out. Putting the aluminum case full of melted lasagna on the black hot plate on the kitchen table, she gently lets go of it before quietly moaning in pain. She recognized it wasn't pleasant since it was hot.
"Been a while since you baked," a female voice said to Miranda.
And Miranda took a view at its owner while removing her mitts before smiling. "Mom? Hey. You're home."
"And you're early. School ended early?" Hilda asked while she looked at the oven door and promptly closed it herself. "Dear, next time don't forget to close it."
"Hm…" Hilda was inspecting the lasagna and smiled at it. "This is nicely done. Finally, you got it."
And it took a while for you to appreciate that, Mom.
Thanks to hearing Hilda approve, Miranda smiled while glad. "I worked hard at it. How to get the right timing to let all of it melt in places seemed confusing at first. This is YOUR way after all. And… It really needed a hundred-year old oven."
"One that's restored and maintained thanks to support from your father," Hilda replied while putting on her own pair of mitts over her hands. "He always supported my decisions when it comes to remembering the past. It's… how we came to be. It's what made him more aware of what today brings to us unlike back then when it was simpler." She then grabbed the lasagna-filled aluminum case with two hands holding opposite sides of its length. "This age, to him, is not a joke. And I believe him. We have to be very careful," she spoke more just as a nearby ringing tone was heard.
And Miranda knew the ringtone came from her smart phone. She was wearing that Bluetooth earpiece attached to her right ear and pressed a button on it. "Hello?" She then listened a bit and sighed after a few seconds. "Wait… It was THAT crowded? Then where are ya? Hm… Okay. Well, what time are you coming?"
Hilda could understand Miranda's way of talking to her father and decided to pick up the aluminum case and walk off. "I'll be at the dining room!"
Miranda nodded hearing her mother's statement while listening intently to her father Harold before she spoke up. "You really had to use the Hover-Taxi instead of a Sky-Taxi? Could have been quicker, Dad."
Harold sighs at the other line. "Well I cannot say I'm not tempted. Just these days, President Jones is alerted to false fare hikes made by drivers. I thought I'd use the hover-travelling routes instead."
"Jeez… Let the professionals handle it. Traffic's not your game. Deep research is."
"That's what's annoying. Saving cash is what I'm doing. I'm a tactician in saving."
"Sure," Miranda muttered and snorted. "Heard about Mike's test scores?"
"I heard. Goodness, he needs to do a little better at his math… It might be complicated but it's already mainstreamed for everyone. Anyway… I should give him pointers when I do get back. I just got off the lower freeway point."
"Hey! You're pretty close then!" Miranda was excited at her reply and decided to climb to the second floor using the emergency stairs. Opening a hatch to and stepping on the small balcony above the kitchen, she's got quite a view of several houses and a good view of the roads. Hover cars can be seen at a distance with their headlights and taillights. She knew however that if she sees something different, she'd know what it is. "And it's the view I need," she thought. "Dad… I'm looking forward to see ya. No one's using the roads at this time… I… It's been a year since you were last at home. I'm excited to actually see you. Last time you were out… was it seven years?"
"As I remembered it yes," Harold said in a more calm tone. "Did you really miss me?"
Miranda was seeing a distant Hover-vehicle using headlights and taillights at a far road travelling as it turned at an intersection. She can recognize it was a white Hover-Taxi. "Yes. Mike too." And she chuckled at little before she attempted to tell a story. Before doing that however, a sudden flash from an explosion came to her sight just before she saw flames engulf the Hover-Taxi, making it slide and stop on the road. The sound of the explosion came half a second later while a minor force was felt through her senses. The shock made her look at the explosion and realized what happened before she check in with Harold. "Dad? You there?!" And she waited a little while looking at the distant flames over the wrecked Hover-Taxi. This was also when she heard from the phone that the call had been disconnected. "No… No, Dad…! DAD!"
Several moments passed as Miranda was running on the road. She dulls out the sound of her mother calling on her just to rush to the same road that Hover-Taxi was. So many questions were on her mind… like what happened to the car that exploded. She also feared something else… the safety of her father.
The moment she finally turned to the road where the vehicle exploded, she was able to see the orange to yellow flames fully engulfing it the smoke was large. There were a few people near houses who stepped out just to see the car on fire. Several were scared of what happened they even decided to go back to their houses while others stayed to see if there's anything new. One of the bystanders even decided to use his smart phone to call authorities immediately.
Miranda ran to the vehicle on fire. She even shouted once again calling her father just before the car made a small explosion. She was just at car-distance and the explosion made her shield herself with her arm in the force that somehow pushed her a little. She looked right at the vehicle standing there in shock, and realized that no one can live after an explosion that kills its passengers. As she tried to deny it what's in her mind, she got on her knees after her legs buckled. Then she tried to deny it more putting her hands on the asphalt road, and told herself this isn't happening. She shook her head, not believing it at all.
It was hours later however, the police were at the Pierce Residence. Two of the policemen were talking right at Hilda who was crying out loud, while 12-year old Michael was watching her already in tears after finding out what happened. He ran straight to a corner in the house while he sat down tucked to his legs and cried by himself.
"You've got to tell me!" Miranda shouted at a detective who was near the crime scene. By this time the car's flames had already been extinguished and a police line was surrounding the area. Red Fire Department patrol pickups were already starting to leave since the flames were already put out.
As Miranda kept pushing the detective, he said the same reply as before. "Miss, ya gotta wait for the results. I already made a call on the taxi company on the footage in the cab." He said this just as his phone started to ring. He put on a Bluetooth earpiece on his left ear and answered the call. "Yeah?" And it took a while on the pause just before he winced in surprise. "Wait, what? What do you mean it's tampered?! Pixilated?! Load of bull, Nix! If ya get an image-enhancer maybe we could-! No, you're gonna go through at it again! Ya hear me?! Ask them again!" He pushed a button on his earpiece ending the call. "Damn it…"
"Well?" Miranda asked, very impatient. "What did they say?"
"The same cab company this taxi was operating under said the footage was largely pixilated, mostly focused on the passenger. Our image enhancer at the station usually can't beat a live-record pixilation process. It'll take days or weeks to get it done…" The detective's voice trailed off to the end of his sentence just before she glared at by Miranda. "Miss Pierce, right? Listen… You'll be the first to know what's happening-"
"Get my mom to know too… I…" Miranda tried to reply straight but lowered her head. "I just have to know if the body's really my father's. Please… We need to know."
"Like I said… You'll be the first to know if anything changes. Excuse me." He then went to another spot of the crime leaving Miranda alone.
As she saw two burnt bodies being carried using hover-stretchers into the coroner vehicles, she shed a tear knowing she can't even find out if the passenger's body was Harold's. It took however a day later for the bodies to be analyzed and given at least definitive appearances with less parts of ash left. The Pierce family was immediately called to attention. They looked straight into the eyes of the Chief Medical Examiner of the police department while in the morgue. And they both know he was not lying when he said it: One of the bodies was indeed Harold Pierce's body.
Hilda was the very first to at least see Harold's body off the cover with his face partially recognizable, with other parts burnt out and his flesh given chunks, proving the explosion had penetrated his flesh. The examiner also mentioned things like concentrated radiation that happened microseconds when the shrapnel from the vehicle penetrated both the driver and passengers' bodies. That caught Miranda's attention for a while…
8 days after the death of Harold Pierce…
November 24, 2119…
Miranda's eyes had closed and were opened again when she was looking down at newly placed dirt in front of her. She was in a cemetery while there were tombstones around her… She could only hear the wind around her and felt alone. It felt different to her to actually lose a loved one, and one who's especially in a good level of understanding with her. Harold and Miranda were close for as long as it lasted. She would remember in her memories that he'd show her pictures of fossils. She'd answer easily since she knows the history of life. Her intellect was something the family always knew ever since her controversy at birth…
Sighing as she looked at the new patch of dirt, she remembered that there was a funeral there. She would image herself looking at Hilda crying while the casket was being lowered at the spot. Michael was there wiping his tears while being beside her and even tried to hold back his tears. Miranda knew however she wasn't like Michael and was torn up inside at those moments. And as the image of the funeral faded, Miranda knew she can't do anything about but move on.
It would change by a single phone call, however. Miranda's smart phone was ringing. That was the moment she knew it would make her snap. Instead of being calm, she became frustrated and was even quick to take the phone out of her pocket just before sliding on the screen and putting it on the ear.
"Whoever this is," Miranda stated first. "…I want ya to call back and not disturb me." She paused for a while, eventually calming herself while she was at it. "I hope you heard me."
"I can," a male voice spoke on the other line with an English accent. "This is Mister Tyron. Miss Miranda Pierce? It's good to finally speak with you."
"I don't have time for-"
"I think you could dedicate your next few minutes with what I'm about to tell you, Miss Pierce." The man on the other line chuckled, and chuckled louder clearly for her to hear it. "I have kidnapped your mother Hilda, and your brother Michael. I thought they would be nice if they cooperated, but I also expected them both to be resistant. They're a good bunch, I say."
Miranda's emotions changed from surprise, to shock, to anger as the man spoke. She felt as if he was leaving his voice of sincerity to a tone of scheming. In only a few sentences in, she was ready to jump in. And just as he paused, she gritted her teeth before speaking up. "Where…? WHERE ARE THEY?!"
"That's a good question," he replied. "But know they are safe. Even if you try to confirm, you wouldn't be able to find them anywhere.
"This will be how it will works. Listen carefully. You might even save their lives if you are careful with your next move. You already lost one family member. The bomb wasn't premature, which was what we're glad to hear. But still, we do not celebrate the death of another. It is a serious matter to us."
"You bastard… You- you dare!"
"Yes. For we indeed have reason. Now… if you're ready to proceed to my instructions, you can stop feeling bad about all this. You grit your teeth aware you can't see us. But we can see you, quite clearly. It's not your fault. This… is nothing personal.
"You move straight to the authorities, or even ask assistance at your relatives or the authorities, your family, I promise you, will appear right at the center of a very public place with them both bleeding to death, or dead if you make the situation uglier than it is now. You're standing in front of your dead father. Do you want to make me look convincing more? Or should I keep torturing you with my words?"
Miranda knew she can't just refuse him. Her emotions were starting to betray her true judgment. But how deep does this rabbit hole go? She didn't want to know. How did her mother and her brother get kidnapped so easily? They were heading back home five minutes ago, and it's a long drive there.
Then it hit her.
That time I actually had that feeling that Mom used the wrong driver. I argued a little that the driver's firm the driver had worked for wasn't the best. And if not the best, they had an expert for making other's disappear. Jester Wheel, the name of the firm, once had a wheelman who made a senator disappear. The same senator was found dead in a warehouse at the southwest corner of Los Angeles. Eventually, the firm denied they had that driver and they were acquitted anyway. It was because the firm was very dependable. The court took it too high on a Federal case for the investigation but it was never finished. Could it be?!
Miranda sighed, knowing she shouldn't push her luck and spoke up. "The driver of the limousine… was he also responsible for Senator Chance's disappearance a year ago?"
The man named Mister Tyron chuckled on the other line. "You're very perceptive, Miss Pierce. You catch things well."
"Using a wheelman who also made a politician disappear… I thought it's just a plot to remove him permanently."
"Every move has its own agenda. His time had to be cut short because of how he turned his back on your father while sponsoring the research for reviving reproduction."
"Wait… Whose side are you on?! Against or with my father?!"
"Neither. See… Chance is a politician, while your father is an opportunist through science. The two only share one thing in common and it's not because of their alliance, I can tell you that. You can figure out the rest for yourself if you look into their lives more.
"Now I think we wasted enough time."
"I don't trust you."
"I don't expect you to, Miss Pierce. Because you have no other choice," he replied.
For one thing, the only reason why he had me standing still was because he was right. He can't be alone. There's more at his side. And if I'm right, he's got hackers… lots of hackers. That's the only way he could have been able to get through our private channels, and even pierce our cyber-security… They had it all, and used it on us.
Now my family's in danger but so am I. I believed it was only the beginning. And I hate myself to be right for back then... This was different. This was something I can't return with a normal life to. The moments that came after that, are what changed the rest of my life…