- AJ -

Warm air and an equally warm breeze welcomed Madzistrale and Tom as they put their feet upon the first patch of grass since the moment they arrived in the strange city of glass. The space they found themselves standing upon was very large; grass, ornamental bushes, and small blossoming trees as far the eyes could see. The glass towers stopped short at the rim of the park, and their shadows barely touched the ground. A few hundred yards from where the siblings were standing, stood several large white buildings. Specifically-placed stone pathways led to those various buildings, and a small group of tourists were waiting on one such pathway, their cameras at the ready. Silently agreeing in one fleeting look, Tom and Madzistrale nonchalantly joined the group.
The tourists gave them bright smiles, and everyone turned back toward the park as an auburn-haired woman walked in front of the group.

“Welcome, it’s a pleasure meeting you all; I’m Rose! Now, I know you’re all excited, and let’s not mention how hot it is...” small laughters resonated, “so without further ado, follow me, and allow me to present this beautiful country that is the Uni-states.”

Rose led the tourists into the closest building, and they whispered in excitment as the interior was an open-air display of paintings and news clippings within elegant frames.

The next hour was spent discussing the various depicted battles, treaties, events, elections and such, when a particular painting captured Madzistrale’s attention.

“Excuse me,” she said, raising her hand; she pointed to the frame closest to her on the wall. “What are those seals?”

Rose came closer, the tourists eagerly following. Noticing the subject, she smiled brightly.
“Thank you for asking, I almost forgot! Those were the prototypes of Uni-states’ Great Seal, when the subject was under debate during the Infrastucture of 1789.” She pointed to each seals depicted: “Here you have the very first discussed, proposed by Adams: the famous parting of the sea by Moses. The rest of the council dismissed it, declaring it too religious-oriented.”

“No, you think?” Madzistrale whispered derisively to Tom as he chuckled. “Not too mention way too egostistical to compare a country as memorable as a biblical event...”

Unaware of the siblings’ concealed chuckles, Rose continued:
“The next prototype, proposed by Washington, was yet another religious seal. After many weeks of deliberation, Virginia then proposed this one: an eagle with its wings spread out, holding a laurel in one claw, and an arrow in the other. A powerful symbol meant to convey peace but also strength. However, it was quickly dismissed by Lincoln, as he felt the symbol contrasted drastically against the Uni-states philosophy. After all, an eagle lazily waits after its prey to die before feeding on its corpse. Far from the pacifist but also proactive feeling that Lincoln wished to imbude this new country with.
» So instead, our current Seal was finally proposed and accepted: the turkey, a symbolism much treasured by Lincoln. For the turkey will remain peaceful as long as left as such; but will be fiercely involved and will defend with all its might, even if seen as inferior, what it cares the most about.”

“The Uni-states’ Great Seal... is a turkey?” Madzistrale repeated, shocked and disbelieving.

Rose looked at her quizzingly.
“... yes, that’s right.”

Madzistrale turned her back to the group and clamped her hand against her mouth to restrain and mute her laughter.

Eager to redirect the conversation elsewhere, Tom intervened.
“If I may, we’ve heard that the presidential sector was located in this city. Is it then a major historical location?”

“Of course. In fact, we are at the edge of the presidential sector. This whole park, measuring 280 acres, was the original location chosen when all seven fractions of the colonists united to create the Uni-states.”

“What were the seven fractions?” someone in the group asked

“The Imperialists, the Loyalists, the Entrepeneurs, the Faithfuls, the Rebels, the Great Nobility, and the Nations. Their names pretty much indicates on which side they were, and fierce wars erupted in order to fashion this country toward one which the world had never seen before. It took the Seven War before the factions lost enough power to consider uniting.
» It’s not quite resolved to this day, conflicts still arise, but we can be proud of calling ourselves a nation that united countless differences and found a way to live together without tyranny and without an iron grip on what’s proper or mot.
» That, for me, is the beauty of my homeland.”

The tourists remained silent, some nodding thoughtfully; Rose smiled, and resumed walking.

Finally, after a few more demonstrations, she led them back outside, and started to walk toward the second closest building, which she revealed to be the technological advances display.

Tom took Madzistrale by the arm, and separated from the group.
“Let’s snoop around. Rose said the presidential sector is right here; which means so is the big guy’s house. Let’s see if we can knock on the door and request an audience.”

“Yeah, right,” Madzistrale snorted, but followed anyway.

When they approached the biggest building of the park, the siblings paused. Strangely, no one had yet stopped them, which surprised Madzistrale and Tom. With a determined resolve, they started once more toward the paved way to the entrance.

A figure coming from the back of the park also embarked upon the pavement, and upon seeing them, halted in order to talk with them when they approached.
“Hello, strangers,” the man greeted the siblings.

The siblings fought hard not to stare, for he was quite an unique sight. His emaciated face looked older than the siblings, yet he managed to feel youthful; he was not only very skinny, but small as well, arriving at Tom’s shoulder. His bright orange hair stood up in spikes, and his eyes’ colour were hard to define, for depending on how the sun hit them, they were either green-yellow, or gold, almost ochre. He kept on cocking his head slightly to either side, and looked straight at them, never flinching, with a disarming smile.

“Umm, hello. Are we allowed to be here?” Tom asked with his most pleasant smile. “We’re travellers, see, and many of your buildings here are unfamiliar to us.”

“But of course. The Uni-states is a completely transparent country,” the odd stranger answered, still staring right at them, his smile never fading, his head still cocked.

Red alarms flashed inside Madzistrale’s mind as she kept on looking at the stranger. Something about him felt really off, and she was silently praying for Tom to end the conversation.

“That’s very good to know; not many countries are as such,” Tom replied, looking impressed.

The orange-haired man kept only smiling, and Madzistrale soon realized what she felt that was wrong. His smile was hiding more than it let seem, and looking at the man was like looking at a snake; sly, cunning, cold. His head turned the other way, and he spoke again.
“You’re the guys from the Plaza, from two days ago, right? Loved the weapon. Can I see it?”

Tom looked at his sister, and both exchanged a look of worry and suspicion.

“I’m afraid we left it at our hotel,” Tom lied, with an apologetic smile.

“I see. Where are you from?” the man’s eyes were now even more colder despite his incessant smile.

“Oh, we’ve been pretty much on the road since our childhood. Our parents and us loved to travel, see as much of the world as we could, you know,” Madzistrale replied, unsure of what exact name to say.

“And at this specific moment, you’re now in our country’s capital... and here,” the man said thoughtfully.

Tom and Madzistrale exchanged another worried look. They started to walk again, pretending they were interested by the buildings.
“Why do you say that? Are we missing a festival?” Tom asked pleasantly.

“No. But you did miss our President’s election. It was five weeks ago,” the orange-haired man said carefully.

“Oh, is that this Bohm that the crowd in the Plaza were debating about?” Madzistrale asked innocently.

“Indeed.” The man turned to them suddenly, and extended his hand. “I’m Scott, by the way.”

“Tom, and this is Madzistrale.”

“Couple?” Scott asked.

Tom and Madzistrale looked at him with horrified shock, and immediately clarified:
“No, no, we’re siblings.”

Scott’s smile turned to one of satisfaction, and he pointed to the building:
“Since you’re new here, this is the Capitoline. it’s Uni-states’ second main governmental centre. You can visit, if you wish. As I’ve said, we are a transparent country.”

“So I’ve noticed,” Tom replied. “Can you explain one thing, though?”


“Why no police? No security officers, no guards, no one.”

Scott smiled even wider.
“We are in a free country, Tom. Free of everything. Free of tyranny, from both here and from the heavens.”

“Huh?” Madzistrale wondered.

“Who do you think created laws, Madzistrale?” Scott replied, his gold eyes staring right through her; the siblings startled at the stranger saying her name perfectly despite being the first time.

“Men,” Tom answered in her stead.

“Yes. And by the hand of men can we undo these laws. But where does most of the laws come from?”

Madzistrale and Tom thought hard, until Madzistrale understood.
“God. Many of the laws are religious in origins.”

“And if God doesn’t exist? What then of the laws? How can we trust laws that were born out of men’s hallucinations?”

“But how do you keep order?” Tom inquired.

“As it was always kept: Nature eliminates by herself those that disrupt her order.”

“Where is the difference?” Tom challenged. “Whether it be an abstract idea of a world ruled by God’s Laws, a being that is utterly incomprehensible yet responsible for the creations within itself, or an abstract idea of a world ruled by Nature’s Laws, a being responsible for the creations within itsef... Both requires a faith and a willingness to manifest the belief of that which we cannot ever see or even conceive.”

The siblings could have sworn to have heard Scott hiss in anger, his eyes flashing.
“The difference is one that you humans have failed to understand.”

He turned swiftly toward them, and the siblings jumped back in surprise.

“So let me clarify it for you in terms you will understand. The world is ruled by preys and by predators. Preys never survive, or when they do, they are bound to be worthless vermins. That is the one universal truth. And human society corrupted that truth, they tried to escape it.”

Ton and Madzistrale looked at one another, and they backed slowly away, for now Scott wasn’t smiling anymore, but advancing dangerously upon them.
“You, are such preys. You are disrupting the system. Two days ago, one prey was supposed to fall, to make space upon our precious planet. Yet, you saved his life. You allowed a parasite to go on.”

“And what gives you the right to know which humans are parasites?” Tom angrily challenged.

Scott approached even more, and the siblings backed away. They began to feel a pull upon themselves, something that urged them to escape as soon as possible, and quickly.
“Every life on this planet has a right to live and a right to kill, Tom. And you are right now on such a thread. So answer my questions: where are you from, who are you, and what is your mission here?”

“We are travellers,” Tom answered truthfully.

Scott snarled, and before the siblings could blink, a katar dagger slid from under his leather jacket sleeve into his hand, and in a flash, he slashed Madzistrale’s face, who let out a scream, half out of pain, but most of all, out of deep shock.

Which cut almost immediately. Scott stood still where he was, and something he hadn’t experience in a long time, fear, crept within him. Where his knife was a second ago, there was now only empty space. The sun continued to shine, the grass to move beneath the small breeze, the pigeons messengers continued to sing, but the young woman had disappeared out of thin air in a split second.

A powerful right hook to his jaw snapped him out of his shock, and he stumbled under the unusual power, as Tom glared at him with pure anger. And suddenly, he too disappeared into thin air, right in front of Scott’s eyes.

“Impossible...” he began, his body suddenly shaking.

It was simply impossible, he tried to convince himself. Yet, it seemed that the tales he had been told during his training years were true. Such peoples existed.

His fears grew stronger. If they were interfering, then it meant...

His bosses’ plans were endangered by a force beyond human abilities.

A note from MelodieRivers

The dirty-job man, Scott encounters the siblings. What he will discover, however, will make even his own cold heart tremble in fear.

About the author


Bio: I'm a writer that believes in optimistic, hopeful stories that tell a good future. A friend said: if you cannot find the light, become the light.
So if you like feel-good, kind fantasy and sci-fi stories, sometimes dark but always striving for the light, you've come to the right place.

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