ANI – Allied Network Initiative: during the dark age of the 22nd century, twelve major cities unite for the purpose of an economic treaty.
Underground – a defensive network arranged by a local militia within the North American continent.
Vincent’s village has long foreshadowed a time when the neighboring ANI city would inevitably expand into their territory. Because of this- an arrangement was made with the local militia and a defensive grid was built along the edge.
Initially, an ANI diplomat offered a generous trade agreement: in return for relocation, they would offer certain privileges and future trade arrangements.
The town decided against the proposal. Despite the immediate fortune that would be given to the townspeople- in the long-run, it meant that the ANI would continue to progress across the territory and the homes they had would take many years to rebuild. This they felt that the expanse would continue until the A.N.I. took over the entire nation.
The best place to stall them was here. With further support of ‘the underground’, the village became an impenetrable fortress, and a promising border between the ANI and territory. The two sides appeared to be at a standstill until a young promising sergeant came up with another idea.
“In addition to the trade agreement,” he spoke in a private meeting to the chief, “You yourself will be granted rights as one of our top ‘Elites’ – you will live in luxury as one of our head members in the ANI nation. Looking at the paper- the treaty itself seemed to be on the level. This time, the chief agreed.
“We’ll come in quickly and quietly,” the sergeant replied, “We will relocate them with care, and the villagers will be none the wiser…”
One thing spoken was true- it was quick, and it was quiet…
“Hide under this,” Vincent’s father spoke firm but sincerely as he shoved him under the floorboards of their home.
“Wait here until men in a black vehicle come for you,” His mother could give no better direction as a knock pounded on the door.
There was no time for a hug or kiss as Vincent was shoved down into hidden cellar of their home.
Above him, he heard a knock, footsteps coming in, gunshots, footsteps fading away.
He held onto his knees.
An hour or so passed when he made his way to the edge of the cellar and saw the entire village in flames. He watched on as bodies were gathered in the center. The town chief shouted something to a man in a uniform- while the uniformed man replied by shooting him point blank and then watched him crumple down to his well-polished shoes.
Another man saluted the man in uniform.
“Things are moving without a hitch, sir.”
“Okay,” the man replied.
Vincent got a look at the face. There was nothing in his eyes but greed. After hearing the update- a slight smile crept on the sergeant’s face.
“And clean this up,” He replied- pointing to what was once Vincent’s town chief.
The man dragged the body to the pile.
After two days lying in the ashes that had burned around him- a man and woman pulled up to the village. As they got out, Vincent noticed their black uniforms and crawled out from the cellar.
The woman held a hand to her mouth in shock as the man held out his hand.
The woman sat with him in the vehicle, while the man looked around the area in detail for a bit.
He got in the vehicle and started it up.
Vincent’s last look of his village driving away was that of smoldering ash and a smoke-filled sky.
The ride was silent. Vincent was old enough to understand what had happened. There wasn’t anything to say.
The vehicle came to a stop in front of a large house. A well- built middle aged man came out to greet them. The man went out to meet the middle aged man while the woman escorted Vincent a little ways behind.
Vincent watched on from behind the shelter of the woman while the two men began to talk.
The man gave a slight glance to Vincent while talking with a friendly smile on his face and kept discussing.
“It’s begun then…” the man replied, “call up the other members of the project…”
“Yes, sir…” the man replied with a salute.
“Hmm… and what about him?” Vincent couldn’t tell, but he thought the man was referencing him.
Suddenly his attention turned elsewhere, “Oh, hi, little one..”
A young girl- a year or two younger than Vincent’s own age had come up with her arms up to the man to which he picked her up.
“Hey, we have a new friend,” he pointed at Vincent speaking to the girl, “how about you say introduce yourself and say hi?”
She then curtsied in her flowery dress, “Hi, I’m Jessie.”
The girl looked through Vincent in his burnt skin and lonely distant stare. Vincent looked back. It was from that point on he would love her as much as a man could love a woman.
Michael and Kari sat on the overlook. They’d often come out to talk. Michael was a restless heart longing for adventures; Kari was the opposite. She was the kind of girl one would settle down with and make a family. The only thing that kept him here was his obligations to the town. If he had only wanted to be the man that he was now, to stay here with her, she’d have been happy to have him. But he was so restless- he wanted so much different than she wanted for ‘them’. He was always her ‘friend’.
She turned to him as he began to speak up. “You see that horizon over there?” He pointed out past across the plains to a horizon in the distance. She liked to listen to him speak. He was filled with an invigorating sense of hopes; even if it wasn’t the same hope that she held for them together.
“Somewhere over there is a whole world that we haven’t seen yet and that we haven’t explored. Supposed, there are huge cities that stretch as far as the eye can see; they travel on air on special round discs shaped like this.” He held out his arms in a circle about two and a half feet wide for her to look through.
His studies taught him things that most of the people here never gave thought to. While they were filled with life from the day to day, he spent his personal time studying a range of topics: arts, to war, science, technology, to faith. He seemed to be holding onto a dream – even if his duty to the town would keep him here.
“How is that even possible?” she said, even though she had no interest in the discs, the thought of flying didn’t even strike a little bit of adventure or sense of curiosity. She liked the basic things in life, the smell of a summer breeze and the grass in her feet. When there was work to be done in the town, the rest seemed like a waste of time and energy to worry about.
“Supposedly it works on electromagnetic energy field that transmits throughout. The discs use an electromagnetic propulsion system underneath them to hover and they control it with their feet.”
“Ha ha,” She laughed while she swung her hair around, stretched back and tried to look pretty for him, “You lost me at electromagnets.”