Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Atlas Reborn, Prologue, Draft 1

You may have read the Trivia section by now. Originally, the beginning was set to introduce the time, place and characters in the same chapter. This proved to be complicated. Then one may wonder – why include this in the blog and burden the readers anyway? I merely want to show one-tenth of what goes into crafting the first draft.

Prologue

Landmarks

Year: 2082 A.D.

General Ruth Thorne’s log: Locating Terrortech base

Status: Searching…

Ruth Thorne’s Personal log: Must finish this operation, or else I’ll miss my son’s play tomorrow

As the sun was setting for those who lived on the Pacific coast of the erstwhile United States, a jetcopter hovered above the violent ocean currents. Inside the chopper, there were two people: a boy and a lady. The latter was obviously the superior officer because she issued the orders. General Ruth gave directions to her pilot. “Private, move to Aquapolis. There are no terrorists here.”

The young man obeyed her instantly and contacted the nearest waterborne airbase. “Private West to Aquapolis. We need clearance for landing.”

The voice on the radio said, “Aquapolis reading you loud and clear. No room. Go to the next base. Repeat. Go to the next base. Over and out.”

Before the young pilot could utter anymore, General Thorne had an insight. “Let’s actually scan the whole city. Private, go to the Bridge of Hope.”

“Roger that, General.”

The jetcopter circled around Aquapolis once and soared over the bridge that connected the island to the mainland. It stretched for five miles. At the end of this Bridge of Hope, there was an imposing goliath-like entrance into the mainland. At the top of the structure were some inscriptions in Gothic script:

Gateway Of Eden

“No place like home. New Eden, sweet home.” Ruth smiled with all her heart.

The Gateway of Eden revealed a fantastic city. It looked breathtaking in the evening. As the lights came on, the city began to resemble a galaxy. The streetlights in particular gave the impression of precious jewels to air travelers. General Thorne started a conversation with her subordinate. “Did you know that my ancestors helped build New Eden?”

“Yes, General.”

“What else do you know, Private?” Ruth seemed to conduct a deeper enquiry.

“They gathered the people and inspired them to build this place.” His answer was immediate, and honest as well. This impressed Ruth Thorne.

“Very good. Knowing your history will serve you well after you complete your training as a Solar Guardian.”

Observing the scene from above, she told him to lower the altitude. “I want to see the Aryabhatta University. That’s my alma mater. But terrorists have no mercy. They target the youth. Sometimes they brainwash them against the system.”

The Aryabhatta University campus provided a serene atmosphere for its residents. Students and teachers would have a breath of fresh air before they retired for the evening. Nothing disturbing occurred, and General Thorne heaved a sigh of relief. “Private, go to the north. They’re experts in guerrilla warfare, so they could be hiding out in the Eve National Park. Avoid the Seth Valley. The government has forbidden everyone from entering that airspace.”

The gates of the Eve National Park were being closed for the day. There was no terrorist activity there either. She told him to return to the Southern region.

At another corner of New Eden, the posh Hollywood Enclave’s nightlife began. Crime rates had been steadily increasing and extremists could strike anywhere, so the jetcopter maintained its course in the layout. Then they proceeded to hover over the military quarters. She let out a comment. “I was here in Paradise Meadows before marriage, with my brother’s family. My brother and sister-in-law died in an accident. Their son is studying abroad. My husband died shortly after our honeymoon. I stayed in the defense quarters my whole life. I’m planning on early retirement.”

Then, to change the topic, Ruth asked her pilot, “What is your name, lad?”

He promptly responded, “Private Jerry West, General!”

“You can calm down a bit,” Ruth hmphed. She went further. “Tell me more.”

“Our race has been the victim of Apartheid II. I intend to break all those barriers one day, General.” He bit his lip, realizing that General Thorne was fair-skinned.

She agreed with him. “Being a Solar Guardian, you are limited to doing your duty, and not doing what’s right. I was speculating on this for a long time. That’s why I chose you for this mission. I hope you don’t feel like killing me or anything.”

“No, General, I know that your Greene dynasty (General Ruth Thorne belonged to a family that facilitated the building of the UNEC subcontinent.) never made such a distinction between blacks and whites.” Even while saying all this, Private West never let his eyes off the jetcopter controls.

They needed refueling. So, West moved towards the roof of the World Unity Federation (WUF) building. It was heavily guarded. General Thorne mused that the WUF had a really important meeting with the administrators of the United New Eden Commonwealth (UNEC). General Thorne expressed her fear. “I alerted all the Solar Guardians to keep insurgents away. Thankfully, nothing happened yet.”

The two of them strolled around on the helipad. Suddenly, they heard a booming sound. At the horizon, they could see a rocket being launched into space from Sarabhai Space Research Center, which would carry recruits to space station Epsilon on the Moon. There, they would be trained to become the elite Solar Guardians. Their objective: destroy the militant outfit named Terrortech. At present, General Thorne and her pilot surveyed the area for that purpose alone. One of the soldiers approached them. “General, jetcopter’s ready for take-off.”

They boarded the jetcopter. She laughed. Wondering what she had on her mind, the young man cleared his throat. “General, what could possibly be amusing?”

She was in a slightly nostalgic mood. “I remember once… when I was guard of honor to the governor years ago, my little kid wanted to see me. He gave the babysitter a tough time.”

“Then what happened, General?” Private West steered the chopper clear of the WUF building.

“Nothing, he came here. All the soldiers thought of it as a state of national threat. Red alert sirens were sounded. And little Dennis just slipped through their fingers. They thought that Terrortech had sent a human bomb in the form of a child. You should’ve seen the looks on their faces when they found out that the boy was my son. The governor made him sit next to him during the international summit.”

West had to concentrate on his assignment now, and his superior officer recovered from past memories. She resumed her investigation by proceeding to one of the most densely populated areas of the New Eden cosmopolitan: Mediapolis.

Downtown Mediapolis’ giant television set called 3V was placed atop a tall tower. A group of people would always assemble at the base of the building to keep in touch with the twenty-four-hour news channel called Newsfolk. This was a major attraction in the city. Everything seemed to be peaceful, just about seemed to be peaceful.

Why did General Ruth Thorne inspect the whole of New Eden City and its borders? She had the single intention of finding the hideout of Terrortech, a militant outfit that had been causing political tension for the past seven years. The more they were suppressed, the more aggressive they became. She had a final question to ask her junior. “Who is your favorite war hero?”

His answer: “Daniel Phoenix united thousands of refugees in 2019.”

Here, Ruth disagreed with his first statement. “No, New Eden was my ancestor Madison Greene’s vision. She facilitated the building of our subcontinent.”

All of sudden, Private West raised his voice. “Incoming!”

A colossal flying saucer overtook the jetcopter and took a U-turn. General Thorne told West to stay on. She activated the weapons system. “Locked on target.”

Ruth pulled the trigger. A series of powerful photon rays were released from the jetcopter and they soon turned the flying saucer into a burning mass falling into the Pacific with a loud splash.

General Thorne spoke into her radio. “Come in Aquapolis. Please send backup. We were under attack; repeat, were under attack. There is a possibility for others to be around. Conduct a search ASAP. Plus, send relief for the aircraft that fell into the Pacific on the double. Alert the Guardians at WUF.”

The entire firefighting exercise was in vain. Ruth Thorne noted the readings of the neo-sensors. No other hostile aircraft was tailing her, as of now. Relaxing her tense nerves, Ruth instructed her pilot to go to their headquarters and thus abort the mission for the night. Then, she keyed in the following log entry:

General Ruth Thorne’s log: Reporting to HQ

Status: Base not found, resuming search tomorrow…

Ruth Thorne’s personal log: Will not make it to my son Dennis Thorne’s play…

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