Chapter One: Part One

-December 31, 11:50 pm-

“Come on it’s almost midnight!” a male voice called out from inside the dorm. A sigh escaped Ari’s lips.

“I don’t want to.” Was his only response to his friend. Footsteps sounded against the reinforced glass floor. He closed his eyes right before Jett got to him.

“You promised me that you would watch the ball drop this year!” Ari still didn’t budge.

“I promise you a lot of things, don’t I..?” 

The steel and glass balcony was cool against his body. It was comforting. It was one of few places he could go to get away and stay away from anything. Anything except his roommate, that is.

“Yes you do and I expect you to keep them.” The auburn haired male next to him said. Another sigh escaped his lips as he stood, picking up his uniform jacket as he did. He stood a good half head over the shorter teen, slight irritation in his dark eyes.“Fine.”

Jett smiled in response and walked back into the dorm the two shared. 

“Why do you insist on seeing this..?” Ari asked and sat down in one of the two slightly cushioned chairs.

“Because it’s the only glimpse of New York we can get anymore!” Jett replied as he looked at the medium-sized floating screen in front them. The quality was clear, but the picture was in black and white.

Ari frowned. “They’re using drones to film this thing.”

Jett wasn’t listening though, and instead sat entranced by all the different events going on. People were gathered in what was left of the commercial part of Times Square. 

Things had really changed since they were kids. New York City wasn’t the hectic, Broadway studded capital as it was in the past. As technology had progressed, the actors began to lose their jobs. The people were slowly replaced by holograms that could do show after show, no sleep needed. In a way, this was a huge step forward for humanity, yet an even larger step back. The famous venue itself was encrypted into a file and loaded into a program for on demand viewing as the theater was needed for military use. Now, going to Broadway was a dream for some for another reason. Only the best were sent there because from there, they would go anywhere. England, France, Spain, and Greece were only a few places that there were thriving academies for becoming a “Hero”, more or less. Each country had their own divisions of Fliers, Runners, and Gunners. 

 “Ten! Nine! Eight!” Jett’s voice jarred Ari from his thoughts as the countdown for the New Year began. “Five! Four! Three! Two!” 

 “One.” Ari caught himself murmuring along with Jett’s excited shouts. “2200 is here! Ari, we’re in the 23rd century now!”

Ari leaned back in his seat, not understanding why Jett was so exuberant about something as simple as the beginning of a New Year or century. It just meant another training regiment and more classes. The Military only gave the thousands of cadets two days off a year. New Year's Day and Christmas. Every other day, it was drills, strategy classes, sparring, and then lectures about performance. They continued that cycle endlessly. That was their life. 

He could hear Jett get up and go to a little box, that Ari learned about few months ago, where he stashed stuff for "special occasions". The lid of the box was replaced then pushed back into its hiding spot. Jett walked back over, holding two bottles in his hands.

"Here.." he said in a slightly hushed tone. 

Ari craned his neck to look at them. "Root beer..." He said and sat up.

Jett held one out to him as he studied the glass bottle.

"But... That's the last from your care package..." He muttered as the bottle was pushed into his hand.

"I want to celebrate, so cheers!" Jett smiled and replied.

"Thanks..." Ari popped the cap off and held the bottle up about eye level. "Cheers"

Jett clanked his bottle against Ari's before taking a swig of the beverage. Ari did the same but caught himself nursing the drink. Strangely, Jett seemed to be doing the same.

"I'm going back to the balcony" Ari announced before standing. He took another, substantially larger swig of his drink before walking back out there. He kicked off the military's standard issued boots and socks and leaned on the railing. The metal had an icy bite against his arms as did the glass against his feet.

Jett merely watched as Ari settled into his nightly routine, with the addition of the root beer. He had a habit of just staring at the artificial stars built into the circuits of the dome that covered the whole compound. It was hard to understand what was going on in his head anyway. He was one of the best Gunners in their squad be he acted like he didn't care. All that he really paid attention to was in simulations where they were paired up. Run and Gun. They would suit up, Ari in a more bulky, weapon friendly one and Jett in one that seemed to be made of carbon fiber or something light like that. The training grounds would change based of the particular "assignment". Everything seemed to change around them because that's just how the dome seemed to work.It kept all the cadets in and in the dark about where they were. They weren't allowed to have information about where the training facilities were in case they were captured and tortured for information. Then that would be the point that Ari would scoff and say "Fat chance." 

The possibility of him actually giving anyone any sort of information was pretty slim all in itself. Ari didn't really share that much about himself, even to Jett. They had been partners for about a year now, and Jett know practically nothing about him besides the little quirks and habits that made him such a pain to others at times. But Jett trusted him. Ari had never given him a reason not to, not even in training sessions. He was always safe with Ari.

The End

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