“DESTROY IT! DESTROY IT!”
“LET US IN!”
“FREE THE MAGIC! FREE IT!”
Darius tried to ignore the shouts. The sheer volume of the crowd numbed his hearing partly. With his cold and shaking hands, he continued with applying a yellow cream on a wound on policeman’s forearm. It prevented infection and had healing properties.
“Alright, that’s enough. Go find others,” said the man and got up from squat. Darius closed the cream, put it into his uniform’s pocket and took out a simple bandage. It was only emergency treatment but still better than slowly bleeding out for hours. The policeman checked the bandaged wound and nodded. He then took his battered shield and went up on the barricade once again to stop the protesters from breaching it.
Darius quickly found the next wounded police officer. But before he could do anything..
“ASSISTANTS! GATHER UP!”
“Here, take this, share with the others,” pushed Darius the cream and bandage roll into policeman’s hands. He then quickly ran to the square center, not waiting for the response.
Assistants from every side gathered in less than a minute. In the square center was a half-ring of shielded soldiers, ready for whatever was about to come out of the floating special light. On the other side of the ring was a reinforced metal wall. Two heavy tanks were pointing their main guns at the light over the heads of soldiers. It wasn’t much, but the military needed to have forces in the other bigger cities too. If it wasn’t for the massive army purchases after Program’s arrival, Darius’s city probably wouldn’t have even a single tank.
“TEN MINUTES!” yelled military officer, not looking away from his stopwatch. Darius could hear the whispers of assistants around him, as well as the shouting crowd and policemen. The police used tear-gas, but the protesters countered it with masks. The water cannons were also being countered with multiple home-made “shields”. If the police tried to push back the protesters any harder, there could be casualties.
The police could not push any harder. That was not a problem for protesters. The risk of breach was being higher and higher with every minute passing until Program enabled the choosing of focus.
There was a sound of helicopter passing above.
The group that was supposed to test the safety of whatever the Program made humans do arrived. It consisted of nine people. For each option there was one young, mid-aged and old tester. If something bad happened during the choosing, they would be the first to suffer. If everything went without problem, they would obtain massive fame, at least in the city. There were rumors that many powerful families tried to have their members in the group.
‘And the role of PA is to find any hidden danger,’ thought Darius, understanding why they were the ones testing it but he still felt uncomfortable.
The assistant’s slowly stopped whispering, knowing that a historic moment was about to occur. The soldiers were looking completely emotionless, but they hands couldn’t help but grip the guns firmer.
The Program’s light bulb stated slowly rotating. One of the nearby photographs took a quick photo of it.
‘Who knows what will be the headlines to that photo. Hopefully not “A seconds before the biggest disaster the humankind has ever known”, that would be truly unlucky,’ thought Darius.
‘Should I change my choice of focus? Ugh, I need to stop thinking about this, no dumb last minute changes that will affect my whole life.’
‘If we all died in an explosion, I wouldn’t need to worry about on which magic to focus first right?’
‘But mum would be sad. We better not die.’
A massive cone of radiance shot from the glowing net in the sky. In a second, it connected with light bulb and with a bright flash that temporarily blinded even the soldiers wearing special glasses. The air stilled and Darius got goosebumps. Everything was silenced.
Nothing happened. The bulb, now connected to the net with a column of energy, continued to slowly levitate about a meter above the square, not reacting to the many eyes that tried to burn they sight into it.
No one dared to move too much, still looking for any traps that could follow.
“The start-up has been successful. Welcome to the Blu_Gree_Shtty_Pla_0-1. Please choose your focus. Red stands for Body, white Companion and blue Control. Further explanation will be given after every living being chose or was given one,” announced the Program politely, and continued to broadcast the announcement in another language.
The square finally started breathing. Some “FUCK, that was something” were heard but mostly ignored, the higher-ups were probably feeling the same.
The tester group moved to the bulb. First to touch it was a young man in twenties. He blinked several times.
“I will now choose the Body, “ he continued. And nothing happened.
“Verbal commands are not taken into the account. I even tried to think about it.”
The people around went either into great confusion or deep thought.
‘Maybe it was a fluke? No magic then? Nah, the Program looks magical enough, he wouldn’t lie. We are probably doing something wrong.”
“Please, have a better look into the bulb. Can you see something in there?” broke the silent murmuring a middle aged woman. When they heard her, the other scientists behind her started nodding approvingly.
“I will try. Hmmm, there are some other smaller lights here, you might be right, I will just, try to…it’s like moving hands in a honey.. ah I got..” the tester paused. Then exclaimed.
The crowd went into another round of panic. A woman next to Darius fainted.
“I...well, on my way to grab a red light my hand touched a blue one and felt something. When I then touched the red one, nothing happened,” replied tester with embarrassment.
“Damn that scared me.”
"It seems that you can't change the focus once you selected one."
“Whew, he seems to be ok, Control should be safe!”
“Wait with the celebrating, we can’t be sure about that yet.”
The tester was surrounded by two doctors in a second and they quickly dragged him to the tent. Their excitement to examine his condition was visible.
“Alright, the young tester for Control will join the body testers, for now we will continue with other testers for Control.”
The middle and old aged testers all chose Control without a problem and went to the same tent the previous tester went.
Next was a young tester for Body (previously Control). As he went to the bulb, he looked somehow dejected. With great care, he placed his hand into the bulb.
“I will now touch the red light,” said the tester.
He took a deep breath and moved his hand deeper into the bulb. Then a pained expression passed through his face and he quickly took the hand out. His legs shook under him a little, like he could fall any second. A new pair of doctors quickly helped him to keep his balance.
“It’s… not bad, just like a shock. I feel a bit weak..”
“Don’t talk, you will tell us everything after you sit down,” commanded doctors and took him to the tent.
“Seems like it didn’t go as smoothly as the Control, “ commented Adrian who appeared next to Darius.
“Yes, but we were already prepared for worse. The body focus should be the most dangerous of the three,” replied Darius.
“So, you will go for Companion or Control?”
“You will see,” smiled Darius.
“Party pooper. Well, I will go for Control. I want to be able to throw fireballs, not to transform into muscular monster or to be Pokomen master. “
The middle aged tester didn’t have much of a problem choosing the body focus and commented it as tingling in his body. The old tester took it the worst, nearly collapsed on the floor.
The last came Companion focus. The results of it were not as dramatic as from body Focus, but every tester felt the same amount of slight pain at the lower back part of their necks. The doctors announced that every tester had there a small mark, which didn’t show any sights of activity but was ominous nonetheless.
“Alright! PA members, get ready, your turn!”
Darius tried to wait patiently while he stood in the queue. At the start, there were 50 members of B unit and everyone from A unit who managed to enter the square standing in line before him. At that moment, there were only 9 B unit members. Adrian has already chosen the Control and was in a group monitored by one of the doctors.
“Everyone is choosing Control, should I really go with Companion? I want a Companion so much, but what if it’s a wrong choice…”rambled a young woman with intriguing hairstyle in front of Darius for about six minutes already.
Darius sighed and gently turned the assistant to face him. The woman looked at him with panic in eyes.
“Don’t look at the others. Choose the one focus for which you have the most own reasons, not which one has the most reason’s of other people,” said Darius, already feeling he overcomplicated what he really wanted to say. But it seemed she understood what he tried to say. She nodded, then turned, then turned back to him again and thanking him before turning to the front once again.
Darius smiled slightly, feeling amused by the woman’s cuteness. He watched her step to the bulb with determined expression, announce her choice to the nearby administrators and then put her hand into the bulb, only to take it out after three seconds. After that she joined the smallest of the three groups with PA members who already chose their focus.
Then came Darius’s turn. With steady steps he came to the bulb and announced his choice. With great care, he put his hand into it.
‘It really is like a honey. From afar, the colors are nearly invisible to see. Honestly, if someone wanted to fake his choice, the administrators would need to be standing right besides him,’ mused Darius. Then he grabbed the opposite of his favourite color and joined the nervous girl’s group.
The pain in the back of his neck wasn’t so bad.