The bus felt crowded with people and Moon Guards. Their light black hoodies and skeletal tattoos made them more intimidating than I’d like to admit, but they were Patrols and I knew having them here meant safety.
“You look pale,” my sister Andrea was not one for hiding the truth. I felt pale, I felt like dying right here in my seat on the bus, but I knew I wouldn’t.
“I’m fine,” was all I could manage. I stared out the window, we would be at the testing area soon enough. Today was my seventeenth birthday. It was the day I was mentally examined to see if I would live as a civilian or a warrior.
“You don’t look fine,” Andrea turned to the window clearly not convinced by my shallow breathing. How could I be fine?
Back in 2020 the Continental Shake put most of the world’s land underwater with no warning. The survivors of America moved to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. It is merely forty four miles long and thirty miles wide. The survivors were fewer than two thousand people who renamed the land as the country of Relik.
Life used to be peaceful in Relik but now the land was split into two. The split was a result of the Civilian’s Revolution of 2025. The civilians stated that the Government of Relik had too much power and war broke out. The wall was built in 2030 as a stale-mate to the war and a treaty signed that no further war would occur. The land split Relik into two cities: Aster, the city run by a Government and Concord, the city run by its people both remain in the land of Relik, but it hardly gets called Relik anymore since the stale-mate as dreams of reuniting have almost completely died.
For the past sixty years we have completely renovated the island into a highly advanced city
That’s when the local doctors started releasing findings of rare after effects of a freak and unidentified strain of the Influenza Virus. They stated that people were finding they had the ability to bend elements after recovery. Both cities quarantined off the infected from the uninfected and studied them for years. After ten years the virus had disappeared completely. Even the strains that scientists froze died and it was concluded that the powers did not pose a threat. Now almost twenty years later they make up our defense system. The Moon Guards protect Aster both internally and if ever needed externally against Concord’s Solar Knights.
The Moon Guards could make your worst fears a reality, or read any thought you were thinking. They could turn water into ice and vice versa, they could even bend the element of air into deadly bullets or take the air right out of your lungs. The Solar Knights were rumored to be able to bend the elements of fire and ground. More recently they had been rumored to have control of electricity and even conjure poison from thin air. War would be deadly, which is why I was more than relieved to be born to Type-A parents. Mom and Dad had not been born with any powers or abilities so there was less than a one percent chance that I would pass the mental exam.
“Next stop, the Department of Guardian and Civilian Separation,” the automated female voice made my heart race even faster. I would be much calmer once I knew what company I would be working for as a civilian.
“There’s no need to be nervous, you won’t pass. It has never happened in the history of Relik, so just breathe,” the use of our countries name seemed unfitting of Andrea. She hardly talked about the two cities as the one land they used to be.
“I’m not worried about passing. I’m worried that despite my elite performance in the Academy for Financial Prospects, I won’t get to work for a bank at all,” my sister managed a smile. She grabbed my shoulder.
“Like there’s a chance of that happening,” it was sarcastic but true. My sister was already nineteen she had studied at the Academy for Criminology Prospects and now worked as a lawyer. She was well known after only two years of service, I couldn’t have bigger shoes to fill. The train slowed, we were here.
“Come on, I have to get to work at some point today. I have thirteen cases assigned to me,” I wished I hadn’t needed Andrea to come with me at all, but we were required to be accompanied by an adult over the age of eighteen. My parents were busy with their own company they had built and could not afford to take the day off at the expense of losing the Public Water and Refinement contract with the entire city of Aster.
The Department of Guardian and Civilian Separation was a very tall glass building with two large entrance doors and two smaller exit doors on either side of the entrances. I walked inside with Andrea sure that I had to be even paler by now. There was a line already at the desk, but Andrea and I were twenty five minutes early. By the time we were next in line I feel myself break out in sweat.
“Next,” a bigger lady sitting at a desk marked with the number three waives her hand. She looks less than thrilled to be at the desk. What I wouldn’t give to switch places with her right now.
“Name?” she stared at her keyboard ready to type.
“Brandon Heath,” it came out much weaker than I had anticipated it to. The lady typed my name onto her computer. I caught a glance at her name tag: Liz (Sr. Recruit Manager).
“Your legal guardian may now head to the lobby, please head to the elevator hall and take the sixth elevator on your left. Next!” Andrea walked me to the end of the lined off walkway to a sign that had Lobby and Elevator Hall written on it with arrows that pointed in opposite directions.
“Shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes, I’ll be out here when you’re done. We will get something to eat after. There’s no doubt that you’ll be exhausted,” Andrea kissed my forehead lightly and headed right. I turned and faced the hallway to the left. There must have been twenty elevators against each side of the hall.
One, two, three, four, five, six, here I was. I stared at the sixth elevator on the left side of the wall. It had only one button, down. I pressed the button and the doors opened automatically. My heart raced even faster. As I stepped in the doors closed quickly behind me, quick enough to make me wish I had stayed in the hallway for just a moment longer. The ride must’ve only taken thirty seconds but it felt like a lifetime when the doors finally opened.
“Brandon Heath this way,” an instructor bowed and then headed into the only room on the floor across the hall. I walked in and took in my surroundings. It looked like an interrogation room. There was a Moon Guard inside handcuffed to a chair. The instructor took a seat and started typing on a computer.
“You have ten minutes to make the person inside the room talk, use whatever means necessary. As an offspring of Type-A parents your best method would be intimidation,” the guard pressed a button that opened the door to the interrogation room. I took a deep breath and walked in. On the table was a file that I opened.
Name: Joseph Leo
DOB: N/A (TESTER)
Crime: Joseph was said to be conspiring with some Solar Knights.
Objective: Get the details of the conversation.
Facts: N/A (TESTER)
I groaned as I read the “N/A” next to facts. Andrea told me that was the key to figuring out how to break someone down, but this was a test after all. His name was Joseph and he looked well built. The Moon Guards wore nothing but a light black hoodie half-zipped exposing their maintained bodies. The only difference was that females wore sports bras for obvious reasons, but they all wore the same pants ripped faded jeans that seemed to shape to the muscles in their legs and thighs just perfectly.
“Are you going to at least close the door?” Joseph spoke without looking at me. He was already breaking me down, an excellent defensive mechanism.
“I see no reason to close a door you won’t be walking out of anytime soon,” my voice was stronger than I thought it would be. Not a bad start. Joseph looked at me, studying. His tan skin made his brown eyes seem richer than they were. His facial hair was minimal and fit his face. I needed to break him down mentally somehow. A clock behind him was counting down from ten minutes, I only had eight left.
“Do what you want,” Joseph slumped in the chair.
“So they caught you conspiring with the enemy, and it looks like you’re not saying much. You do realize that speaking with the enemy is considered a ‘Class 14’ crime and death would be imminent if not as soon as I walk out of here,” Joseph doesn’t flinch, in fact he smiles.
“You have to make me prove I did it, you can’t just assume I did it,” he was toying with me mentally and I felt myself getting worked up. Sometimes when we were kids and Andrea made me mad I would hold onto the feeling and close my eyes. After I opened them she would be crying or screaming as if she had just witnessed something horrible. I looked at Joseph and the anger built on itself. I closed my eyes.
“Pass,” an audio system turns on and the clock resets from six minutes. I open my eyes and Joseph is white as a ghost. He looks at me in disbelief.
“At least next time bend with your eyes open, but you’ll learn,” his breathing was heavy and it was difficult to make out what he was saying. I had no idea what he meant by bend, and I didn’t want to. I hoped passing meant I could finally get the job I wanted at the bank of my choice.
“Brandon Heath you are assigned to room four fifteen next. Take the elevator down again and the room will be across the hall. Fear consumed me, another test? Andrea said it wouldn’t take long. Why did I have to take another test? I walked out of the room and pressed the down button. Again the elevator was ready for transport. This time when the doors closed I was calmer, and when they reopened I was greeted by a Moon Guard.
“Walk into the room,” he sits at a desk in the hall. I open the door into eternal darkness and stand. Suddenly the room illuminates and I am in the park outside. It’s just how I remember it was the day I went with my older brother Clyde. That’s when I see the lion. The mane is thick and just as I remember it when it killed my brother ten years ago. The lion steps out from the shadow. I turn for the door, but it’s no longer there. This isn’t possible I am supposed to be inside of a building. The fear consumes me and I close my eyes.
“Pass,” I open my eyes and the Lion is on the ground whimpering for just a second before the scene dissipates into blackness and the door opens. I walk out to meet the guard but instead I am face to face with a Moon Guard.
“Joseph?” I look at him in complete confusion.
“It’s Jozef I let them change it whenever we do these stupid tests. I have to say I’m a bit surprised. No one from Type-A parents has ever passed the test. Looks like you’re coming with me,” he turns to walk to a door further down the hall.
“What about my sister?” I imagine Andrea must be worried by now. Jozef keeps walking towards the end of the hall.
“She’ll be notified and escorted home to your family. They’ll need some time to accept it no doubt. This is the first time this has ever happened after all,” What was he talking about?
“The first time what has happened?” I know the answer before he says it, but I need to hear it for it to sink in. He stops and faces me.
“It’s the first time a Type-A child has become a Moon Guard,” I study his face for a second and then pass out.