Advanced Neuronics Astrogation Mastery Initiative.
I would live this life and no other, until the end of my days when my body may carry me no more.
I thought fondly of days before the implant. The days on Kelvik.
Kelvik was part of a collection of systems commonly known to outsiders as the Skyworlds.
In my mind, Kelvik was the most beautiful and stunning.
I remember it well, the last day I would soar the skies with my white feathery wings, the winds of higher altitudes whipping through my golden hair.
I lived in a smaller country called Poerl. It was an island, with highlands and cliff faces meeting the open seas each and every way. My home was founded upon the precipice of a lush, grass-covered cliffside, in a complex we called the Glimmershire. Solar shingles blanketed the roofs, which were curved artistically and faced in such a way that our Sun always shone upon them during the eighteen-hour days.
Elevators extended down the cliffside to the lower parts of the complex that served as the piers and docks.
I often found myself over the docks. I would perch somewhere on the rooftops at the highest points of Glimmershire, then dive down, tucking my wings in, gaining speed, until I opened them just centimetres from the surface of the sea. I would even push off it with my feet, just to say I was so close to making a fatal mistake.
And then the day came. Behraan came.
As if in just a blink, I was rendered like the rest of my kind on that world. My wings were forcefully removed by their surgeons. They locked me in rooms so dark that even my own eyes could see only the pitch of black--for so long that even my Kelviki mind, one so difficult to break, shattered, as if a crystalline chandalier, the chains that bound it to the ceiling weathered away by a dimunitive leak of water.
We were angels, they said. And we would all be made to fall like so.
And fall, I did. Removed of my wings. Removed of my mind. Removed of my home.
My brother, Makus. My sister, Lilia. My parents.
My only safe harbor within me was within the deepest recesses of my dreams. I dreamed of a world, far away from here, a world of two worlds. One place, was a city as ancient as the desert that encroached upon it. There seemed to be no water of any kind. The stars there shone far more brilliantly than even in the starry nights on Kelvik. The moon felt so close that I could almost reach out and touch it.
And then there was the world below. Not devoid of water as the surface was. Yet devoid of any natural light. Devoid of the beauty of the stars and the moon. Another city resided there in the underworld.
Both worlds seemed otherwise utterly barren, lifeless. Yet it was there I longed to be. It was there I felt my dreams told me to go.
The dream came back every night--that is, if my sense of time had not diminished from starvation and encasement in utter blackness.
"She's waking up," said an unfamiliar male voice. Was this part of my dreams? I never saw people in my dreams.
I never had the throbbing pain in the back of her skull during those dreams.
I opened my eyes, eyes that burned from the light that had been absent for so long. I tried to flex a wing to shield my eyes, only to remember that my wings were long gone.
Slowly, the white operating room came into focus, my eyes adjusting enough to see.
Two tall, fair-skinned males in white gowns stood over me, closely examining me.
"Welcome back," said one in my own language.
"Where--" my voice was weak from neglect, "where am I?"
"You're on the Daunting," said one of the doctors, "safe. We have restored you to full health."
"Yes," said the same doctor, "we're taking you to Behraan. You have been handpicked to participate in a very special project--"
"How long? How long was I in there?"
The doctors looked to each other. The second one then spoke, "ten of your years."
"Ten!?" I gasped, my voice scratching still from lack of use.
"Things have changed for Kelvik," he continued, "since your occupation, Kelvik had been allowed to become a vassal state. It has had nearly all its rights and freedoms restored, in exchange for pledging allegiance to Behraan willingly."
I shook my head as heated rage summoned within me, "you could not restore my wings. My family. My home. You took that from me. You all did. All of you!"