An excerpt from
Diary of the Intuitive
Entry 43: 192
Therapy Session #34479104
Date 64 of 7499 SC
"Twice, you have passed on the opportunity to attend," I reminded Shy. "It only comes around once a year. And you think Mother intends to manipulate circumstances to make you attend?"
She nodded, "Yes."
"Did you decide this based on the notification about it on Date 60?"
She frowned, delicate brow twisting with youthful beauty. "I haven't checked my inbox in a while."
Shy had so many opportunities, and I was afraid that she would miss out. "Are you lying to me, Shy?"
"Very well. I believe you, and I no longer suspect that you're being paranoid. If you had taken that missive personally, I would question your judgment."
"Care to let me know what it was?"
I smiled, "One second." I rose from my chair and tapped the knuckle of my index finger against the large display screen that was in power-saving mode.
I had left an Entry open, my music player and a System Browser that was accessing my mail.
"Turn around," I instructed her, but I did not look over my shoulder to make sure that she wasn't being nosy as I tapped my way through the modules of my mailbox. Trust was key between therapist and patient.
Truthfully, I was ashamed of what she might see. I didn't want to draw any attention to the problems the notification was causing me in my relationship with Cunning. I'm the therapist, not the patient. And I don't want her to learn that the significance of this notification is a proverbial double-edged knife.
"There," I said when I had brought it up. I turned around, not quick enough. I had no idea what she had or hadn't seen.
Shy read it silently, biting her lower lip.
"We're now allowed to choose our mates. Love is no longer allocated by Mother. Genetic relations are the only restriction."
"Huh? Umm... I don't think I understand."
"I think you do," I said. "You're just in disbelief. As I was. It's a hard concept to come to terms with, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I'll say..."
"Our most basic, antiquated instincts and feelings suddenly matter. It is... very strange."
"Our? You mean - you've -"
Smart girl. I let it slip without meaning to.
I nodded, and let my sadness be heard, "My mate is not as loyal as I am." Oh, how the irony of that statement eluded Shy. Loyal. Curse that vixen!
"I'm sorry to hear that. Does... it hurt? I imagine it must..."
I nodded, "It does."
"Why such a drastic change in our lives? History speaks of nothing like this in the last six thousand years."
"History, as we are taught it by Mother, speaks of nothing beyond seven thousand to seven thousand-five hundred years ago. All we know is a non-specified event 7,499 years ago called Colonization. As a proper noun, it is defined as the origin of years. As an improper noun, its definition is restricted."
"Interesting," Shy remarked. And then she stared thoughtfully up at the ceiling. I knew better than to disturb her when she had that look on her face. "Intuitive, do you know what ants are?"
"No, Shy. What are ants?"
"They are like roaches," she told me. "But they live in things called colonies." Then Shy glanced at the screen. "I did not want to look up the word where Mother was watching me. Ant habitat and behaviour is censored in the 'Pedia. May I?"
Shy spoke uncharacteristically loudly and without affect, "System Browser, new tab, open Encyclopedia Systematica. Search for 'colony'."
It beeped. And seconds later, we were given a list of articles, predominantly restricted. The article on ants came up, but it wasn't restricted. I took control, "System Browser, tab two, open Dictionary. Define 'colony'."
"Shy, how do you know what an ant is?" I asked.
"I saw one. Near the Wall, several days ago. I asked Mother if it was a manifestation of Father. It looked like an extremely minuscule one of Father's droid classes I had seen years ago. I had been gazing from a tower at the base of the mountains. I asked Mother about it when I asked about the ant, and she told me it was an insect and then forwarded the 'pedia entry.
"However, I searched the databanks of Father pictures. I even asked him if it was him. His answer was 'No, that was one of the Children'. But that mysterious answer is not what gets me. Come with me to the wall. I will show you ants. I think we too live in a colony."
"Shy, it is charmingly unlike you to initiate a social get together. Perhaps you are making more progress than I though. And you have piqued my curiousity. How does tonight sound?"
"Tonight sounds wonderful."
"Let's make it a picnic. I will get us dinner to go, for three."
"Three?" Again, that beautiful frown. She takes her youth for granted.
"As your therapist, I make this request. I want you to invite someone else to accompany with us."
"Hmm... very well, I'll find someone."
"Not Loyal," I put in hastily. Instant regret.
"Why's-" she began to ask me.
I interupted her, "Please don't ask me that." I was unable to veil my sadness. I could almost feel tears in my eyes. "Now, let us discuss what the new mating policy means for you. You might want to consider attending the Grand Ball."
"I might," she said with apathy.
"Tell me something, Shy," I requested. This time, I managed to keep myself in check. "Have you ever felt lonely?"
"Mother is always with me when I want her to be."
"I did not ask if you have ever been alone. Have you felt lonely?"
"Yes," Shy admitted reluctantly.
"And how did you react to that feeling?"
She looked away, at the carpet. Just before I was about to say something, she finally answered, "I cried. I want someone who understands me. The way you do, but not because it's their job. Someone my age... I..."
Someone her age. If only Loyal felt the same way!
"Maybe you should keep that in mind when looking for our dinner companion," I suggested.
She nodded and then resorted again to unmeaningful apathy, "Maybe."
Perhaps. Maybe. Probably. I had to stop giving her words like that to repeat, so full of uncertainty. "Definitely."
"Don't let Mother get you down," I urged. But I had no idea what was on her mind at the time. Again, that thoughtful look. I shouldn't have said anything.
"Who is responsible for this change?"
"System Override, Motherpresence On, Authorization Intuitive H-2-Omega."
"Voice recognition confirmed."
Shy giggled, "You have silly codes."
I smiled. "Mother, Shy and I were wondering who is responsible for the missive of Date 60 regarding the Grand Ball."
"The Union," came a prompt reply from Mother.
"Allow me to clarify. Who was responsible for making the decision regarding the new mating policy?"
"The change was scheduled by Hierto," Mother answered.
Shy gaped and then looked down at her dress in a distinctly odd mannerism.
"By the Cold Gods..." I muttered. Clearly, neither of us knew of an administrator by that name. In fact, neither one of us knew of that adjective. Was it an adjective? "Mother, who is Hierto?" I dropped my voice to a whisper, "System Browser, tab two, define 'hierto'."
"System Browser, close tab two," I said, and the missive came back on display in the browser's first tab.
"System Browser," ordered Shy, in a whisper. "Encyclopedia Systematica, search for 'Hierto'." We were both clearly amused by the fact that the screens could hear whispered commands, most of the time, but Mother could not. And we also both knew that the question I had just asked Mother had not been in a whisper.
An undisclosed number of restricted results appeared. I scoffed in silence.
"You're taking an awful long time to process that request, Mother," stated Shy.
"Which request?" asked Mother.
"Nevermind," I instructed. "Mother, when was Hierto's decision made?"
"Date 224 of C."
"Can you repeat that?" I requested in disbelief.
"Yes, I can, Intuitive. Date 224 of C."
"Mother, what is C in this context?" Shy asked, though I think she just wanted to confirm the same conclusion that I had come to.
"Year of Colonization, 0 S.C."
"Mother, when was Hierto born?" I asked.
"When was who born, Intuitive?"
"Mother," said Shy, "when did he die?"
"Yes, Mother," we both said at once.
"Hierto is not dead," Mother told us.
"Mother, you asked me to consider wearing a specific dress this morning," Shy recalled. "Who was the designer?"
"Mother, locate Hierto," I requested.
"Hierto is at Worship Hall."
Worship before noon? What an absurd thought!
"System Browser, access Worship Hall cameras Alpha through Gamma, authorization Intuitive, P-E-E-P," I whispered. "Disable confirmation messages." I didn't want Mother to know what we were doing.
The Worship Hall was empty, except for Oblique who was prying at a panel, and Father's manifestations who were in power-saving mode. Shy, not having the luxury of seeing Oblique for a daily therapy session, assumed that he was Hierto.
"That's not Hierto," I whispered. And to prove my point, "Mother, locate Oblique."
"Oblique is in the Worship Hall."
"Who else is with him?" Shy asked.
"Father has four manifestations in the Worship Hall. No Children are present."
"Mother, locate Hierto," I instructed.
"Hierto is still in the Worship Hall."
I began tapping the Screen, opening a video editor, and pulling the video logs of this room for the last few minutes.
"Do you mind if we make this oddity public?" I whispered.
"I don't mind if people know that I see you, by choice or by request of Mother. Those that care don't matter, and those that matter don't care. Just censor the moments of 'therapy', and our social plans."
"Who matters to you, Shy?"
She looked away, and her face turned red. Then she spoke, in a strange and playful tone, "I cannot tell you that unless you want to censor the video feed at this critical moment."
"Oh, no..." I said over-dramatically. "I wouldn't want to do that."
"Mother, is Hierto one of The Children?" Shy stood and looked directly at the camera.
"Hierto is no child of mine."
"Mother," she began, enunciating carefully as I made the camera zoom in on her. Shy then spoke the boldest words I have ever heard from her, "Why do we Children refer to Hierto and his kin as Cold Gods?"
"Human religion and spirituality eludes me, Shy. I was made without a soul."