• Chapter 1

    ‘Ok! Ok! I’m up!’ I yelled, my eyes barely open and consciousness barely established.
    The screeching of the alarm occurred every morning at exactly 7 am, much to my own dismay. My parents never wanted me sleeping in too much, always said it was a sign of apathy. I always just reset the alarm so I could enjoy a quiet morning. The shrieking ceased and a small light was visibly shining from a projector on the ceiling. A woman appeared in the center of the room, she had a luminous glow about her that was a clear indication of a digital imitation.
    ‘Good morning, Jacob. I trust you slept well?’ The pseudo woman spoke. She smiled slightly as I started open my eyes fully.
    ‘Yeah, I was sleeping quite well until you had to wake me up Elaine’ as the words left my mouth I noticed what a stupid name for an AI construct that was, but that’s my parents for you.

    My parents bought Elaine a year ago and even now we’re still the only family in town with a personal construct. People used to sit in awe when I told them that I had a personal construct, if only they knew how annoying it would be to have a second mother. My eyes panned the room, until I noticed that the room was considerably dark for 7am.

    ‘Uh…Elaine, What time is it?’ I asked as I turned my head back to the projection.

    ‘It is 5am in the morning Jacob. On Monday, June third, 2634.’ She answered. ‘Your parents requested me to wake you two hours early also to inform you that they had to leave for a meeting. They seemed to be in quite a hurry.’ Elaine added.

    Well that didn’t surprise me; ever since they were contacted by a UTA officer they’ve busier than ever. I rarely even see them anymore, I thought, but my parents wouldn’t forsake family unless it was incredibly important.

    ‘Looks like another breakfast alone.’ I thought aloud.

    ‘You won’t be alone, I’ll be here.’ Elaine said obviously believing I was speaking to her.

    I grinned as I contemplated what exactly I was talking to, a projection and a series of ones and zeros. I let out a heavy sigh and began to get myself out of bed. I made my way to the dresser and started to look for to wear while simultaneously ignoring Elaine’s recommendation on what to wear according to temperature and weather pattern. I giggled a little to myself while I translated what she was saying into ‘Wear a sweatshirt, its cold outside’ but Elaine didn’t seem to notice as she continued with her weather report. I took a quick look in the mirror, I had a very fair complexion and my dark brown did nothing to help. Turning my attention back to the dresser, I found some suitable clothes and made my way down the stairs just outside my bedroom.

    My house was one of the biggest in the whole town and by far the nicest looking, my mother desperately wanted to have a antique look to our when we moved to Vorn II from Earth about ten years ago. Everything is a polished wood or a type of rock, it gets kind of drab after a while and you stop noticing the attention to detail in the woodwork. I once I hit the bottom of the stairs, I moved towards the kitchen.

    Reluctantly, I opened the fridge and got out last night’s leftovers. I argued with Elaine, while eating, over the food choices I was currently making and the necessity of ingesting a nutrient paste. After about an hour of ceaseless argument, I decided the best course of action would be to leave and go to school early. School never before seemed so grand.

    The walk through the town was a constant reminder of how the whole colony looked much like the old towns of earth but with the distinct lack of traffic and the presence of plants. The hollow streets seemed to have capitalized on the feeling on loneliness that suddenly crept into my mind; which is strange because I usually have been fine with being solitary in fact, I quite enjoy it. The school was not more than a mile from my house but it felt farther than it had before. I immediately attempted to dismiss the thoughts and continue on walking but they tugged on my mind the whole walk to school.

    As the school came into view I felt a wave of relief wash over me as my loneliness seemed subside. The school was the most modern building in town, aside from the UTA offices of course. Its sleek metallic sides extended to a glossy dome which encompassed the entire campus, which was quite large. As I approached the stairway leading to the doors, I noticed someone sitting on one of the steps a few feet away. They were messing with some kind of device and cursing profusely, which made me wonder why I hadn’t notice them earlier. I immediately could tell who it was.

    ‘Nathan!’ I called.

    He tore his face away from the device’s screen and scanned around for the source of the noise.

    ‘Oh, hey Jacob. Why are you here so early?’ He inquired, with a puzzled expression on his face.

    ‘Long story.’ I replied.

    He shrugged and turned his attention back to his device clearly seeing I didn’t want him to pursue the topic any further. I don’t like telling other people my family issues and Nathan knew that, after all we’d been friends ever since I moved here. Nathan has always been a loner and a sort of technician, usually preferring the company of constructs rather than actual people. Which is why I was not the least surprised to see his attention focused on yet another device. I took a seat on one the nearby platforms that break the steps every few feet. I tried my hardest not to ask about the piece of machinery in his hand but curiosity got the better of me.

    ‘What are you working on this time?’ I asked and immediately regretting doing so.

    He proceeded to tell me about every individual component and how one wasn’t functioning to some specifications and all his theories as to why. The only words I could make out were ‘new PND hardware issues’ and it suddenly hit me what he was messing with; the latest Portable Networking Device or PND for short.

    ‘What model is that PND and where did you get it?’ I interrupted while pointing at the PND is his hand, hoping for pause.

    Nathan stopped, noticeably thrown off by the abrupt question and interruption of his berating of PND software. He looked down at the device in his hand and thought for a minute.

    ‘It’s a model TE-74 and I got it yesterday from the UTA market as a reward for scoring perfectly on the graduation test last week’ Nathan replied.

    I’d completely forgotten about that test, the graduation is in a few days. In a few days I’ll be assigned my job for life, and just like that the nervousness that was lurking in the back of my mind made a resurgence. My mind was suddenly alight with hundreds of what-if situations blazing through my head.

    ‘I can’t believe we’re going to be assigned jobs in a few days’ I managed to speak while trying to arrange my thoughts.
    ‘You shouldn’t worry too much.’ Nathan remarked, too entrenched in his PND once again to notice my apprehension. ‘Besides, we’re still three days away and even if you hadn’t graduated you’d be assigned a job on your eighteenth birthday, so you’d be assigned a job next month. Face it, there’s no way around it.’ He added.
    That did nothing to ease my nerves but perhaps he’s right, there’s nothing I can do about it so why worry. I pulled my own PND out of my pocket, which I was now ashamed of revealing, and took a look at the time.
    ‘Hey, class is going to start soon.’ I noted, ‘We should get inside.’
    ‘Alright, let me get my stuff’ Nathan replied while sliding his new PND into his pocket and picking up his backpack that was lying nearby. He took a quick glance around and then gave a confused look.
    ‘Where’s your backpack?’ He asked.
    Ah crap.