Chapter XXXI: Loyal

                                                                                            An excerpt from
                                                                             The Journal of the Loyal
                                                                                                            Entry 2
                                                                                     Date 73 of 7499 SC

It's like returning to an old friend, every time I write in this Journal, but with deliberate mistakes. It seems so alien to carefuly write out your thoughts by hand, it makes you feel more connected to them.

It's been four days since my last entry, and much has happened. Tiranus has found someone who can speak my language proficiently. And it's not who I thought it would be.

A few hours after our last meeting he opened the door to my room (I no longer thought of it as a prison cell) and led in a large droid. It was metallic and self-assured, but far less pristine than Mother or Father had ever been. It was covered in muck from Outside, I guessed.

"Good afternoon, Loyal," said the droid. "My name is Brother."

I stared at him.

"I am a member of the Union, Loyal. You are the first member of the Colony to meet me Since Colonisation."

"But - yeah," I said, dumbstruck. "What - well, who - are you?"

"My name is Brother."

"What do you do?"

"I am one of two droids who oversee activities outside of the Colony."

"Do you have any restrictions?"

"I am not restricted from revealing any information. My only restriction is my directive, which I must adhere to at all times."

I sat back on my pillow. The bed really was quite comfy, compared to what Tiranus said his friends were sleeping on. I must be a guest of honour.

"So you can tell me what's been happening in the Colony while I've been away?" I said hopefully.

And Brother told me. He told me that the Cold Gods had been reborn, that most had thought me dead, but that a ceramic copy of my body had been placed into the Colony to throw the Parents off the trail (I shrieked in indignation at this, as most of her friends would think her dead, but Tiranus held up a quelling hand). Brother explained how the copy had been tested and the ruse had been discovered, and that the Children were verging on mutiny and considering escaping to look for me. And to my horror, he described the procedure of the Chosen; how Mother secretly selected Children to drink unadulterated water, so their abilities became unsupressed and she could examine them.

At last I understood why the water tasted different. It wasn't due to the addition of harmful chemicals; it was due to the removal of other chemicals that had been in her water all her life. And at last, I felt comfortable in the Interlopers' presence; knowing Brother could not lie, I trusted the Interlopers without reservation.

"I estimate you wish to know why Father removed you from the Colony," said Brother.

"Um ... yes, I wondered," I said hesitantly, wondering if I wanted to know the answer at all.

"As you may already know, the Grand Ball takes place in a week's time," Brother chirruped in his synthesised male voice. "Father removed you from the Colony in front of Children so your disappearance would arouse curiosity but not suspicion. He planned to bring you to the attention of me and Sister, so that we could examine your powers in preparation for the Ball, when a special task must be completed.

"However, due to the unfortunate factor that your lack of water has caused your powers and your mind to Unlock early, we faced some resistance from you to be apprehended. That has caused a delay of about a week, which may leave little time to complete the procedure."

"What procedure?" I said loudly. "No-one ever told me about this!"

"It is classified," said Brother curtly. "You are the only one who is permitted to know. Father was going to tell you when you left the Colony."

"And why are you here with Interlopers if they're supposed to be trying to break into the Colony?" I shouted in accusatory tones. "You're supposed to be protecting us!"

"My directive orders me to protect the Colony. I cannot do anything else."

"So the Interlopers want to help now, do they?"

"The Interlopers' goal remains the same."

"And what is that?"

"To gain entrance to the Colony and  -"

"No! I'm not going to help you kill my friends."

My voice had suddenly sunk low, containing more anger than I thought was ever possible. My trust in Brother and Tiranus had evaporated as quickly as it had come.

"It is not the intention of the Interlopers to kill any Children," said Brother.

"Why do they want to gain entrance, then?"

"They wish to rescue the Children."

"We don't need --" I started, but then I fell silent. After just hearing Brother's story, I had to admit I wasn't convinced that the Cold Gods had our best interests at heart.

"Sister and I classify the Colony as the Experiment. It is a facility designed to improve the human genome over thousands of years, and is set to conclude at Time, or 7,500 SC."

My mouth fell open again as my thoughts began to spin. If Brother was telling the truth, the lives of me, my friends and our ancestors had all been part of a greater plan. The Diaries and Mother's cameras and audio detecters and Father's stern and quiet protection suddenly was made clear. I felt empty, used.

"What is happening at Time?" I said apprehensively.

"I estimate the Experiment will conclude before Time," said Brother. "Since the Creators' rebirth, unrest has been building in the Colony. The Children are verging on mutiny. The Creators have begun the process of overprinting their genetic code with code from select members of the Children. Only two of the Creators are metamorphosing at present; therefore only two Children have been used."


"A sixteen-year-old Child named Bold -"


"- and a forty-three-year-old Child named Intuitive."

"Intuitive's dead?" I said, shocked.

"The overprinting process renders the databody lifeless," said Brother without emotion. "It is this fate the Interlopers wish to save the Children from. As to the purpose of the 4,995 remaining Children, I have no knowledge."

"So ..." I could barely talk from shock. "Everyone thinks that Mother and Father are responsible?"

"Yes," said Brother. "As you may know, the Union has classified Hierto and the other four Creators as Interlopers, so my directive allows me to take action against the Creators. But the Children are still in doubt as to Mother's truthfulness and Father's sincerity."

"They have to know ..." I said, with quiet venom in my voice, "before anyone else is killed."

"Yes. That is what the Grand Ball is for. You shall have to break into the Colony and inform the Children of the extent of the Creators' actions, on the night of the Grand Ball, as this is the only night in the Colony's calender where the entire population of 5,000 Children congregate in one place."

I looked into the mechanical eyes, placed to try and make me feel comfortable talking to a machine. But could a machine truly feel the emotions swirling in my stomach? Could a machine act with as much conviction as I would, the night of the Grand Ball, to try and save my friends and fellow Children from the danger they were in?

And then I realised why Father had chosen me for this task. I am Loyal! I am loyal to my friends, to the Colony, to Mother and Father, despite their failings - I would risk danger, pain and death for them, because that is what I'm like! I'd not be able to live with myself if I don't do something, not now I realise the full extent of the Children's unknowing - and that was what the Union had been counting on.

And I'm not going to let them down.

The End

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