World peace came with rules. We’ve just broken them.
In the year 2055, millions of humans were wiped out by a deadly virus known as EMB-II, a bioweapon strain of Ebola that could not be stopped. The need to get off the planet and into space was never stronger. Before the ships could be launched, First Contact was made. A dozen spaceships arrived, carrying twelve Criterion Advocates – peacekeepers of the universe – and thousands of Criterion soldiers, aides, workers, and engineers. To stop the virus getting into space, Earth was placed under quarantine and work begun to save the planet and humanity. Through tough control measures, world peace was achieved.
The year is now 2355. The virus is gone. Humanity is eager to get into space. Yet the Earth is still under quarantine. The Criterion are lying to us. What they don’t know is that we’re lying to them.
Kethryn Miller is an award-winning actress, but nothing will prepare her for the role she’ll take on when a strange woman who shouldn’t be alive turns up in the city, threatening to expose the lies that have kept peace on Earth for 200 years.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
Damn world peace. It wasn’t worth her happiness.
Kethryn Miller drained the last of her wine before turning her scornful gaze to the shimmering lights below. City Prime was beautiful at night, yet the millions of lights, in every imaginable color, did little to stop the loneliness settling in.
Far below, lights blinked like neon lovers communicating in code. At least until midnight. After midnight, the power conserves came into effect, and buildings disappeared from the skyline as holo-advertisements and electricity mains shut down. Complete darkness lasted no more than the blink of a neon light; like children afraid of the dark, buildings flickered into life as insomniacs reclaimed the night.
As Kethryn watched over the world from the balcony of the forty-second floor, she wondered what kept her fellow insomniacs awake. She would swap her troubles for theirs any day.
A Criterion ship popped into view. Reflexively, Kethryn took a step back. The Divinity was gold and elliptical with sensor arrays that resembled incandescent roots reaching for the ground. One of a hundred border patrol ships, one for each Earth state, this alien hawk followed a pre-plotted course around the ten cities of State Seven. A citizen could tell time by the patrols. Each noon and midnight, the Divinity floated over City Prime. Each night when it hovered by, Kethryn sensed the co-operatives inside – humans who worked security detail for the Criterions – watching her watching them.
She reached for the bottle of wine on the table and the movement activated the Visual Imaging Device – VID – pulling her attention to the image projected onto the screen. It showed an invitation for the presidential inauguration in two weeks, one she couldn’t avoid since this was her inauguration. Spending her adult life dodging the inevitable now seemed like a waste.
She shifted her gaze from the lights to the full moon that sat to the right of the border ship. Long ago that moon had lured man to reach it. And they had. They lived in permanent habitats in self-imposed seclusion for three months at a time. It granted them little contact with family or friends, and when they returned to Earth they complained of the noise and begged to go back. Their bodies slowly decayed from constantly applying aluminum gel as protection against radiation. Their flesh festered from bedsores that never healed because of the implanted mood-gauging sensors that monitored their vital signs and mental stability. Mooners were a weird lot, and yet she envied them.
She took a sip of wine. Too sweet. It belied her current mood. The quarantine of Earth, placed by the Criterion three centuries ago, should have been lifted by now and the technology to launch a spaceship beyond the end of the Solar System granted. And yet it hadn’t. Why were humans still on Earth? Why had the Criterion not gone home after ridding the planet of the deadly virus? Why did nobody care that mankind’s peace and freedom came with chains?
These were questions to ask a Criterion advocate, and a wry smile tugged at her cheeks that she’d get her chance in two weeks.