Thursday, September 28, 2006

So, What Happens to Callahan if We Win Again This Saturday?

I promise I'll get back to my story shortly (this week!), but I just want to get some things off my chest.

Jayhawks vs. Cornhuskers
OK, the inescapable truth is that we're taking on Nebraska again on Saturday in Lincoln. I say inescapable, not because I'm dreading it. More so, because our college message boards are S-A-T-U-R-A-T-E-D with posts about the upcoming game. You'd think this is because our loyal Jayhawks are just as excited as a little teddy bear about the upcoming rematch. Well... wrong again.

Our KU ATHLETIC BOARDS are seething with... Cornhuskers? Check it out for yourself. I'm not kidding. And they've been there in noticable numbers since Monday.

Jeremy has been roaring up a storm from our computer room every evening before bed reading Nebraska commenters on our boards. It kind of makes you want to mention: you guys are all aware that we're not playing until the weekend, right?

Note to the Cornhuskers: Maybe it's time to accept this. Last year, we beat you. I mean, we CRUSHED you. And this doesn't make you bad people... it's really going to be OK. And you're going to get a chance to redeem yourselves.

OK, but seriously: I think this may be a bitter pill for the Cornhuskers. Because our northern neighbors will have to come to terms with one of two things ->

1. Nebraska will have to admit that KU has a decent and improving football program these days, and they lost, fair and square to the better team.

- OR -

2. KU still sucks... and thus, Nebraska has devolved into a program that sucks worse than we do.

And before you recant me, I already know:
Chelsea Cornhusker says to linux_chick(me):
"But, but... we were rebuilding last year. B-because the West Coast offense. And-and we beat Troy last week. So, we're almost back to winning National Championships like in the '90s... because we beat TROY!

DA*@#$*@@!! WE BEAT TROY!!"

Linux_chick to Chelsea Cornhusker:
Thia and Jeremy at KU v. Nebraska
I know this is killing you. It's going to be OK, Chelsea.

Now I'll sign off on a more serious note: Good luck to you, Nebraska. I know I'm looking forward to Saturday :)


Sunday, September 10, 2006

Chapter Four: Darkers

“Mother, where do the Darkers come from?” Marta asked as she assisted Veppa setting out dinnerware.

“Sweetheart, you learn all about where the Darkers come from in Nurturement.” Sweetheart had been a term from the ancient times her mother had passed down to her. Veppa had promised to pass it on.

“No, Ma,” Sardin retorted, flipping on the media switch. “Nurturement teaches us where the Darkers are. They're up in the atmosphere, just out of reach. Marta wants to know where they came from, their history.”

Marta, seeming to understand that she had been mocked, stuck out her tongue in protest.

“Little one, what causes this curiosity?” Veppa asked.

“They want us to kill them, right?” Marta asked.

Veppa paused, turning from the cooking food. “By Highness! No.”

“If I go to the Academy, I would study how to kill them,” Marta pushed.

“Why do you think that?”

“The questions, on the pre-aptitude,” Sardin cut in. As if reading each other's thoughts, Sardin and Marta made eye contact before Sardin continued. “It's the patterns in the questions: given a small piece, how can we solve a large problem, or finding weaknesses in unbalanced situations to ensure victory when you're at a disadvantage.”

Veppa wasn't sure why she was surprised anymore at either of the twins's responses. Their eight-year-old analytical minds were growing at an astonishing rate. And now, they were interpreting the methods of tests as training. They had turned the questions themselves back against the interrogators in hopes of understanding what the Institution was searching for. Veppa had little doubt either of her daughters would pass Delta examinations.

“Well, remember that there is a military mirror of the our class system."

Sardin, losing interest, returned to images of war flowing from the media. “We know, we know. There's Legislation Alpha, Beta, Delta, Bedouin, Taper, Common and there's Military Alpha, Beta, Delta, Bedouin, Taper, Common.”

“I'm saying that they may be testing you for military leadership. Bit I believe that if our legislative leadership is good, there won't be a need for war.”

Marta glanced to her sister, but didn't follow. “Go ahead, Mother. I'm listening. Tell me about the Darkers.”

Veppa began setting the drinks. “Well, they were just like us.”

“Human?” Marta's eyes grew wide.

By Highness, what were these children being taught in Nurturement?

“Yes, human. They are human... kind of.”

“That's amazing.”

“Before the era of Genetic Identification we live in today, there was the era of Breeding. We had just interpreted our DNA and society as a whole decided to identify genetic traits preferable for specific societal roles. These roles were identified and then eventually bred for.”

“Mother, that's aweful,” Marta protested.

“No! It's boring!” Sardin eavesdropped.

“Remember, this was before the Institution,” Veppa continued. “At that time, it was believed that the framers of a global Government needed to be highly intelligent if our planet could ever realize world peace. So, the world's most intelligent individuals were bred, genetically altered and over time, developed into a new people.”

We bred the Darkers?” Marta was fascinated.

“Well, Sweetheart, they were all volunteers. The breeders and the bred together believed they were doing a public service.”

Sardin re-entered the conversation. “So, what happened?”

Veppa shrugged. “It failed.”

“The Darkers failed?” Marta asked.

“Yes. No, well yes and no.” Veppa faltered. “The Darkers emerged as the intellectual elite. That worked. They continued the breeding work on their own and applied genetic alterations to themselves. Future generations became astronomically intelligent, telepathic, telekinetic, increasing in abilities at an exponential rate.”

“So, how did it fail?” Marta pressed on.

“They didn't act as the rest of the governed initially expected. One day, the Darkers left. They just vanished into the sky. They didn't govern, they didn't say why. Every few years they attack us.”

“Why?” Marta asked, puzzled.

Veppa was out of information. “No one knows. That is quite the mystery.”

“So, the Institution rose out of the governed,” Marta resolved.

“Yes. Genetic breeding halted, at least on the surface and below—who knows what the Darkers are doing? The governed began searching the naturally born for advanced capacities of ethical reasoning. The pursuit of highly evolved Morality replaced the pursuit of intelligence for the framers of the Institution.”

“Why do we call them Darkers?” Sardin asked.

Veppa applied the final touches to dinner. “The genetic alterations modified their appearances. They were human-like, but grew taller, elongated features. They stopped growing body hair of any kind and skin pigmentation was almost always near pitch black in color.”

Sardin shrugged. “I don't mind if we're supposed to kill them. I hope we do. I hate them.”

Veppa accepted defeat. “Many people do.”

Marta finished the last of the dinner placements and after some thought, returned to Veppa's side. She placed a small hand on Veppa's wrist. “Mother,” she spoke softly. “If you want me to perform badly on my Delta examinations, I will.”

Veppa pulled back, a little afraid. Could it be that Marta was capable, and at such a young age? Even so, how could she know Veppa was doing the same? It wasn't possible.

“I love you, Mother,” Marta whispered. “And if you ask me to do anything, I will do it for you.”

Chapter Three: A Briefing with On High

Max could see Hardton was riddled with anger as Veppa closed the door behind her and returned to the conveyor.

“What is the meaning of this? It's outrageous!” Hardton fired.

Max could tell Hardton was an easy pick for his position. His stature alone proved highly intimidating. He displayed above-average intelligence, even for a Taper and clearly was quickly brought to remedial action under circumstances of concern. Unfortunately, he was also obviously in love with Veppa Wallers. This fact, Max guessed, had caused Hardton to overlook growing morale issues erupting within his shipping department.

“Let me remind you that I was invited here by you-” Max started.

“To investigate substance trafficking Not to eat alive one of my best employees who is not even a suspect here.” Hardton cut in.

Max was growing more impressed with the Taper. “My apologies,” Max bowed. “It's important that I understand how your department is managing to catch nearly all smuggling before they reach port.”

“Are you quite finished?” Hardton pressed.

“Of course. I'll deliver my assessment to you in the morning.” It wasn't a lie. Max had, in fact, finished his assessment.

An automated alert bong filtered through the room. “Emergency transmission from the Transport bay.”

“Continue,” Hardton seated himself.

“Hardy? It's Markus.”

“Go ahead.”

“We've got a problem with transport four,” Markus

Obviously frustrated, Hardton massaged a temple. “Highness! Again?”

“One of the tanks is saturated with Substance Q.”

“You caught it before shipment?”

“Just barely,” Markus added.

“That, at least is a relief. Ready the tank for the Authorities. I will be down directly.” Hardton ended the transmission and directed and agitated glare to Max.

“I can see you have a day. I'll leave you to it,” Max bowed and exited.

“I'll look forward to your report,” Hardton called out sarcastically.

Max smirked as he was leaving. A Taper, growing precocious with a Bedouoin he himself had contracted. Under different circumstances, Max believed he and Hardton would have been friends. It was regrettable that this was near impossible now. Especially given the man's apparent love for Veppa, the Common. No, Max resolved that it was far more likely that Hardton would need neutralization before any advance was made to Veppa... if it came to that. And Max believed it would.

As Max exited the compound, he activated his headset and took a few deep breaths before speaking. It's one thing to interrogate a Common, a Taper, even. But his findings this time were to be directly reported to On High, not an Alpha or Beta, but the leader of the Institution and the Global Government himself. Most would never learn his name, let alone hear his voice or speak to him.

“Oh High, I've completed my analysis,” Max reported.

“Nice work. What's your status, Sir?”

The humility of On High surprised Max. “I believe competitive Commons have regrettably been employed in the same sector, leading to discontent.”

“Please, continue.”

“My findings are that Commons possessing similar competitive genetic traits have become adverse to one another for limited duty praises. The strife has lead to pursuits in illegal activity in disillusioned hope of attaining a skill superior to others in the sector.”

“And this continues, even when illegal efforts are frustrated,” asked On High.

“Yes. Given the genetic analysis of the guilty Commons, I believe the frustrated attempts may have only intensified the determination of future efforts, On High.”

“Interesting analysis, Sir.”

Max waved his embedded ID chip in the base of his forearm over his transport sensor until the doors unlocked. Max buckled his lap belt before entering the destination and giving the order to drive. “With all due respect, On High, they are only Commons.”

“Did you find anything else of interest?”

“As you suspected, Veppa Wallers may be a problem,” Max admitted.

“How smart is she?”

Max was surprised. He could not answer how On High might have assumed Max was concerned with her intelligence. Of all the attributes of concern in the aptitudes: Integrity, Physical Endurance, Intuition, Management... Intelligence is not even primary. The governed had long since given up defeating the Darkers through intelligence. Max answered, “Intelligent enough to fake the aptitude tests.”

“You're certain she's faked low scores?”

“My intuition leads me to believe that she can not only pass intelligence problems, but can infer how many to solve correctly so that her scores repeatedly result in Common – Average,” Max responded.

“How much of the intelligence aptitude can she pass?”

“I would say, On High,” Max cleared his throat. “All of them.”


“On High, if I may ask a question of you,” Max knew
this was highly inappropriate, but resolved that the success of his investigation rested on his resolving of a simple dilemma.

“You may, Sir.”

“I had believed, as all of us are trained, that the
Methods are unbeatable. My findings, then seem incorrect?”

“Do you believe your findings to be incorrect?”

“No,” Max responded honestly.

“Then, what do you need from me?”

Max continued, “If I knew of a flaw, it may help.”

“I know of none.”

“Then my findings are impossible. I only mean, how can I hold that the Methods are sound, and my hypothesis is accurate?”

“But you do this everyday.”

“No, On High. I admonish logic in my investigations and honesty, int-”

“Why do you, a Bedouin, established in knowledge and integrity, secure yourself when traveling by transport?” On High responded with a question of his own.

“Because it feels safer,” Max conceded.

“Even though,” Oh High continued. “Now that all transportation devices are automated, there have been no traffic accidents for centuries.”

“Yes,” Max understood the train of thought and already regretted asking his question.

”It could be pointed out, that it is even impractical to elect security belts, as they cost you some time when traveling from place to place.”

“Of course.”

“Although, you are perfectly free to use them if you wish.”

“I apologize, On High.”

“It could be argued, then, that you yourself hold some mistrust for our present day systems, the Methods, Sir,” On High accused.

Max recognized this had quickly become a disaster. Max had a choice to make: blaspheme the Institution or disobey On High by refusal to answer. For a member of the Authorities, this was no choice at all. Max incriminated himself, “That would be a fair assessment, On High.”

On High paused a moment and laughed. “This mistrust is precisely why you were selected for this mission. Good work, Sir.”

On High was gone.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chapter Two: Veppa

Veppa Wallers eyed her terminal carefully before activating her headset. She hated giving bad news.

“Greetings. Transport and Shipping, thank you.”

“Make it quick,” the voice engaged.

“Greetings, Markus. It's Veppa.”

“I'm en-route, hurry up.”

“Apologies, Markus. I think we're going to have a problem with this shipment,” Veppa waited until the termination of terminal-tapping on the other end indicated that Markus was finished pulling up his report.

“V. I'm staring at the details right now. It's all cleared.”

“I know,” Veppa admitted. “I looked at it too, but you really should check all the tanks in transport four.”

Markus was annoyed, “We'll miss deadline.”

“I understand. It's your call, but I'm certain,” Veppa asserted. She knew it was the third stop this cycle. The regular persistence of shipment schedule issues would start to weigh on vendors soon.

“How do you know this?” Markus asked.

Veppa always blushed when she had to explain herself. “It's the weight. Transport four looks light to me, maybe .5% lighter than the others. Check the hoses for a leak, or else one of the tanks may be sabotaged again.”

Markus yelled over the transport bay, “You heard her, transport four. Mark them all again and check the weight this time!”

“Thanks, Markus.”

“Well, you're never wrong,” Markus sighed and ended transmission.

Veppa lowered her headset and caught the sight of Elsa Clark making her way to Veppa's desk. Elsa was Veppa's long-time best friend. Elsa had in fact, gotten Veppa her job as Quality Assurance managerial specialist at Neutronic Atmospheric Transport, even though Veppa was only a Common. They had grown up together on one of the old-fashioned surface rurals and when Veppa's mother died, she had moved in with Elsa's family. Veppa ultimately received tutoring at Elsa's class level, Taper-minor. Now, Elsa was making her way with a purpose to Veppa's desk, carrying a myriad of food and drinks.

“My Highness!” Elsa cursed. “Did you see the media today?”

“Uh, no,” Veppa admitted.

“Here, take this,” Elsa dropped the pieces of nourishment on Veppa's desk and began furiously tapping at Veppa's terminal.

“Greetings, Elsa. Please help yourself,” Veppa offered sarcastically.

“Oh, stuff your face, I got you a rice muffin: your favorite.”

“Actually, I hate the muffins, it's the rice scones I like,” Veppa corrected, examining Elsa's drink options.

“Pss. You know, I can never remember what you like best. You're always changing your mind.”

It wasn't true. Veppa hadn't changed her mind since Nurturement, but then Elsa did have trouble remembering. Veppa gave up the argument when Elsa succeeded setting the terminal to media mode.

Veppa offered Elsa one of the earpieces from her headset as sounds and images of tragedy bombarded through the feed. 5,000 were dead. An entire Quadrant destroyed overnight.

“Isn't it awful?” Elsa spoke over the broadcast. “It's another Darker attack. The second this cycle, must be some kind of record.”

Veppa pulled the earpiece from her ear. “Why do they always assume it's the Darkers?”

“Veppa!” Elsa hushed, quickly eying if anyone had heard. “Who else would it be? Who else could do something like this?”

Veppa shrugged.

“These are dangerous times, you know, Veppa. It's not like when you and I were kids,” With that, Elsa took a bite of her scone.

“Elsa,” Veppa spoke cautiously. “I've noticed your nail-polish lately.”

“Oh?” Elsa was playing dumb, Veppa knew. The Authorities were really starting to crack down on Substance Q abuses and it was conventionally known that consumers hoping to hide their habits had begun injecting at the fingertips and coloring their nails dark in concealing efforts.

Fine, Veppa thought, I'll come right out and ask. But she instead opted the safer approach. “Is everything alright?”

“Everything is perfect. Speaking of kids,” Elsa changed the subject. “Are you, Seevan and yours still coming out to watch Raffball tonight?”

To be fair, Veppa wasn't sure. “You know, I reminded Seevan this morning, but he had to work.”

“You know I hate going alone,” Elsa complained.

Veppa conceded that she would do her best to make it.

An automated lockdown alert chimed on. Veppa startled, as always. The friendly feminine voice did little to calm her. “V. Wallers. Please discontinue all productivity and report to managerial services directly.”

“For the love of Highness!” Veppa cursed. “Can't I go just one cycle without getting on level?”

Elsa laughed. “You're just lucky Hardton likes you.”

“Yes, it's obviously doing me so much good,” Veppa responded sarcastically. “Well, my conveyor is here.”

Hardton was unusually sensitive, kind, for a high-ranking Taper. Appointed managing Chair of Neutronic Atmospheric Transport for innate genetic ability and high aptitude scores managing large projects with high attention to detail, he found himself both respected and coveted by even fellow Tapers. Veppa knew a softer side to Hardton. She had always been a source of fogginess in his world of order. He'd taken a chance, hiring a Common, and he never took chances. And then there was the affair.

No. Veppa waved Elsa away as she stepped on the conveyor and resolved to push all memories of her past with Hardton out of her mind. This was about business. He hadn't called for her in that way for over a year and all parties involved would do well to forget the event. Veppa decided to do her best to do just that.

Within moments, Veppa had arrived at Hardton'
s office. He was standing in his usual dignified manner, but with his back to the door. Veppa cleared her throat as she entered the office.

“Wallers,” Hardton's greeting was uncharacteristically distant. Veppa understood when she cleared the door.

They weren't alone. In the opposite corner sat a man clothed in red. Veppa had never seen a member from the Authorities in person, but assumed the mysterious figure fit the description.

“Is something wrong?” Veppa asked, alarmed.

“No, no,” the man stood and bowed. “Veppa, my name is Max. I'm from the Authorities. I've been asked to observe this question and answer session today for several members of the Q&A staff.”

Veppa shot Hardton a confusing look, “I'm not sure I-”

“Please, Veppa,” Max continued. “You're not in any trouble. I'm only here to observe.”

Veppa swallowed hard. His response sounded unlikely, but she knew members of the Authorities were bound to truth. Such members were genetically tested for traits of integrity and honesty, perseverance, specifically. Any testimony against individuals of the governed, like herself, help up by members of the Authorities were regarded as evidential truth and convictable. In fact, convictions and criminal investigations were the only mechanisms under which Veppa had ever heard of the Authorities's involvement.

She nodded politely and Max sat.

“Wallers, your department is experiencing high levels of efficiency,” Hardton's voice trailed.

“Sir?” Veppa didn't understand. Hardton invited a member of the Authorities to give her professional praise?

“Your immediate supervisor thinks highly of you, Wallers. She seems to attribute a large portion of your department's success to you.”

“Sir, I'm glad my management is pleased with my performance,” Veppa grew agitated. Was there going to be a criminal accusation or not?

“Your aptitude tests, Veppa,” Max stood and cut in. “Seem to contradict your level of success with your duties. Please excuse the frankness.”

“Am I completely lost to something? Since when is scoring badly on aptitude tests a crime? Isn't that kind of the point: for the Methods to place people where they belong?”

“You wouldn't be,” Max paused, but spoke pointedly. “... performing under your abilities, would you?”

“Of course not. That's impossible anyway. The Methods are proven,” Veppa regurgitated.

“Veppa, please don't fight,” Hardton pleaded.

Max smiled invitingly and paced to the opposite wall. “Veppa, I'd like for you to submit to a full-genetic scan.”

“Out of the question,” Veppa snorted.

“It is, of course, voluntary—for now,” Max conceded.

“And if I refuse?” Veppa challenged.

“Nothing. Your cooperation is only... appreciated,” Max smiled again.

“I refuse. May I return to my duties now?”

Hardton directed a grunt of annoyance to Veppa.

“Of course,” Max bowed. “By the way, my congratulations to your children.”

“Congratulations?” Veppa softened.

“To Marta and Sardin,” Max explained. “They are both staged for Delta testing at the Philosophical Academy. I apologize. I thought both parents were informed this afternoon.”

Veppa's heart sank. Her only children, her two twins would soon be tested for Delta admission. She should have been elated. It was the highest honor handed down from the Institution to the governed. Ethical training was reserved for individuals of the highest genetic quality, the highest aptitude scores; the Philosophical Academy was training for future leaders of the governed. Occasionally a Delta may retain a high-ranking political office. But no one really heard from the Alphas or Betas after examinations. These lucky individuals were dispatched to a life of rigorous training, study and ultimately became the decision makers, responsible for legislative endeavors that promote global peace. They seemed frozen in time, regarded as Saints by the governed. It seemed no way to live, in Veppa's opinion.

“I'm sure I was alerted. Thank you. My terminal is on lockdown,” Veppa responded respectfully.

“Of course it is. If I could ask one final question of you, Veppa,” Max started.

“I'm bound by law to answer anything you ask,” Veppa answered.

“Let me assure you that your cooperation is appreciated. My question is this,” Max cleared his throat. “Why do your daughters and yourself still retain your birth name when Seevan Noble is genetically proven to be their father.”

Veppa coughed beaten and lowered her head. “It's perfectly legal in this modern era of Genetic Information to retain one's birth name.”

“Of course,” Max returned to Veppa's side and placed a palm warmly against her shoulder. “I reiterate. You've done nothing wrong. Still, the break from tradition is notable to my investigation.”

Veppa inhaled deeply. “Marta and Sardin were born when I was 16. I was not yet engaged to Seevan Noble, though it is true that they were born to him. I had also promised my mother I would retain her name after marriage.”

Max raised his eyebrows as if to express genuine interest. Veppa knew her answer sounded Common, getting pregnant so young, demonstrating loyalty to family over Institutional tradition. She didn't care. She was disgusted that members of the Authorities would demand such personal information from here while not attributing any accusation of misconduct against her.

“I think that will be all today, Wallers,” Hardton cut in. “Please return to your duties.”

Veppa fought back tears, turning her face hot. She nodded in submission and allowed the conveyor to deliver her back to her station. Her headset was already buzzing when she arrived.

“Veppa? It's Elsa. Were you just interrogated by the Authorities?!”

Veppa expelled bottled up stress to her friend. “I don't know what that was.”

“What did they say?” Elsa flabbergasted.

“Nothing! Absolutely nothing.” Veppa punched in her conveyor release code.

The feminine voice chimed: “Thank you, V. Wallers. Please resume productivity.”

Veppa mocked the voice as her terminal transitioned from lockdown. She noticed that she had no waiting messages.

“Nothing? They must've said something,” Elsa pressed.

“They asked me about my aptitude scores and some bits about Marta and Sardin.”

“You weren't accused?”

“No, I'm back at work, aren't I?” Veppa seethed.

“Thank Highness for that.” Elsa's voice sobered. “Things are changing around here. Nothing is the same anymore.”

Veppa thumbed her rice muffin before taking a bite. She knew Elsa was right.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Chapter One: Prep. Work

Sensing she may be staying a while, Lexicon signaled the bartender for another round. She had to admit, the poor drab beside her had taste. It was a nice bar: good atmosphere for a business making it on the surface, where even the Authorities are unlikely to show up these days. Sure, Lexicon had heard that businesses still existed above ground, but given the recent frequency of Darker attacks, most sane individuals went below. Lexicon herself hadn't ventured above ground since 2805... maybe '06? Nearly ten years ago. Glancing at the blubbering mess beside her, Lexicon crinkled her nose in disgust. This was taking far too long.

Montrose was moaning, holding his head in his hands. “I'm a Taper,” he said. “Ta-per. I have in-innate managerial skills. It's simple genetics.”

In-innate? Fabulous. Lexicon determined the man was well past the point of embarrassment, but forced a smile. “Now, your duties can't be so bad, no?”

Lexicon was speaking to Montrose, but her attention was diverted out the window. A small transport was whizzing past, navigating some fearless inhabitant to this bar, that restaurant or home. The side of the transport read popular Institution propaganda: Prosperity, Faith, the Methods.

“I'm in Nurture and Development,” Montrose hissed.

“Running one of the N&D Centers seems like a very important job to me. Properly shaping today's young minds are essential for the success of the Institution,” Lexicon was still focused out the window. She found herself admiring the moon. She had remembered gazing up from her bed at it for hours as a child. Now, it seemed larger than she remembered. Big, perfect and white.

Montrose jerked alert. “Now you juss- wait! I don't mean to sound ungrateful to the Institution.”

Lexicon inhaled and took a sip of her steaming drink. That didn't go well, and now he's defending accusations of blasphemy against the Institution. Lexicon checked the time: 23:00. It was getting very late.

Montrose continued, “You've got me wrong. I have faith in the Methods. They're proven. I make all my kids submit to the Methods, and they all lead saddis-satisfying lives.”

“Look, Monty,” Lexicon cut in. “It sounds like you've had a day. What do you say we hop a transport to your dwelling?” Lexicon leaned in to seductively caress the collar of Montrose's business shirt.

Montrose smiled. “You're pretty. What's your class?”

He had to be joking. Lexicon was beyond irritation now, still realizing she had to tread carefully. She was a Bedouin. All Bedouins were proven by the Methods to be genetically superior to Montrose, by his own admission, a Taper. He might feel taken advantage of, if she told him the truth, though even in her line of work, she generally preferred to speak truthfulness to the alternative. She hoped to On High he didn't ask her occupation.

“I'm a Common,” she lied.

The bartender had made his way back to Lexicon and Montrose. He laid two drinks in front of them before retreating back to the other end of the bar.

“A Common. That's wonderful. I bet someone as pretty as you never questions her class. I bet you're happy and satisfied, prossss-perous.”

Lexicon took a sip of her drink. He was right. The combination of genetic analysis and aptitude tests that make up the Methods had never let her down. Her physical ability had landed her in the military track. She had never given a whip about politics, so between legislative and military tracks, she was right on target. Further, she had been detected as a middle-of-the-road Bedouin. Achieving the Bedouin class was somewhat prestigious, true. Bedouins are genetically regarded as superior than both Tapers and Commons, but with less responsibility than the Alphas, Betas and Deltas studying at Philosophical Academy. For Lexicon though, it was the position itself that seemed to fit her to a tee. The simple fact was that most military Bedouins were like her: assassins. A position she usually found extraordinarily rewarding, excluding of course, present company.

Montrose stumbled off to the facilities, calling back to Lexicon, “You juss- wait right there, pretty thing. I'll be right back.”

Lexicon gulped down her drink and reflected back to the time: 23:10. If she was lucky, she could wrap things up here, accompany Montrose to his dwelling, end him, implant herself with his Identification chip and be in bed by 00:00. She really needed the sleep. The next day at Quadrant 1542 Nurturement and Development was a big deal, even for her.

She glanced around before taking a sip of Montrose's abandoned drink. “Marta Wallers,” she muttered under her breath. “Should be interesting. Never killed a kid before.”

A new sci-fi story

So this is totally random, but I've decided to start a science fiction story for fun. I'll post a chapter a day as I have it completed (so not as to overwhelm anyone) I've only finished through five.

Here goes, it's been a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy :)