How Do They Neglect It? - I

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Shouting erupted through the air as the crowd of people rose up once again at the general and accompanying soldiers on the stage. Hands raised trying to calm them down, as soldiers closed closer to the general.

"Now, we all need to calm down." The general spoke out as the arguments rose again. "The State has everything under control, they know exactly what's happening and the have complete control over this situation. There is no need for harsh tones and drastic measures!"

Voices then became distinguishable from the viscous crowd. 

"Are you kidding me!?"

"The State can't help us! They're all a bunch of-"

"Give me my husband back! There's no use for a war where people can't use weapons!"

"A spy could be anywhere among us! We demand a house search! We could be living next to the spies for all we know!"

"How come the State aren't doing anything!?"

"Have we won the war yet? If not, you need to pull the forces!"

"Kill their forces! Destroy them! Why are we attacking them with all our forces!?"

"This is the opportunity to strike!"

"What's happening? The State must know! Why are they keeping it a secret from us? We're the people! We're part of this country! We have a right to know!"

Flags flew through the air, branded with harsh words and brutal images. Jeers, complaints and insults fled from their lips as knitted brows and clenched fists soon followed.

In a fit of rage, the general stepped forward, pushing a deep and commanding voice into the ears of all present. "Enough!"

Silence fell and movement slowed. 

All soldiers came to attention as, in an instant, the tide was turned.

"Thank you." The general dropped his hands. "To all listening out there, to every person in this despicable crowd, I have a question to ask you: Do you loose faith in your government this quickly?" Heads dropped as guilty eyes avoided his piercing stare. "Is this all it takes for us to fall before our enemies, to surrender to them?" Small murmurs floated through the crowd and skepticism landed on their shoulders. 

With another step forward, the general planted himself, becoming a powerful statue to where the people looked. "This is a hard time, a hard time for all of us. These events that have taken place are unholy, unbelievable and incomprehensible. Something this fantastical shouldn't be possible, and I'm sure you've all wondered if this is a work of fiction. 

"You've all tried for yourself whether something like this could be possible, that suddenly something we once all knew could abruptly vanish from our knowledge, from our world, from our reality. 

"First bombs, then guns, then all weapons and then finally smoke. Yes, we can no longer use fire to cook meals, to keep ourselves warm and people that have relied on smoke for recreational purposes now face such withdrawals that some have turned to less conventional means and thus affected the lives of those around them. Yes, we have no way of defending ourselves as anything we may use to attack others instantly vanishes, save our hands. And yes, the war has turned into a fistfight. 

"But look above us! The sun is shining, the sky is clear, we are still able to use electricity so we will stay warm and be able to continue on in our lives; and our brave, heroic State has everything under control. They've assessed the situation and, after hearing the cry of millions of our comrades, millions of our country's population, they have decided on a course of action that would best benefit us all!" 

By this time, the general's words had begun swaying the people to his side, and each of the crowd listened with a fierce intent. 

"The State already has leads on the people who performed this viscous act of treason, and they have sent their best spies and assassins among us already. We, as a people, are safe! The vigilantes are the only ones in danger and soon, they will be brought to justice!"

His face turned hard. "They have asked me to announce to you all: if any of you have knowledge of these vigilantes, of spies among us, of any potentially helpful information regarding the opposition who have damaged us so, come forward. Report your information to any of the eight war generals stationed around, or any high ranked soldiers under them.

"We are strong, we are great, as a nation we will triumph! The State has everything under control and it will keep its citizens safe. So we must calm down, we must stay alert, and more than anything, we must owe gratitude to the State that has governed so generously. Service to the state; service to the country; service to the war. Ave Publica!" The general turned his gaze towards the camera recording him for the eyes of billions to see. His determined, lifeless eyes stared into the souls of all watching, somehow calling them into false recognition and safe faith in both their government and military.

The crowd broiled, voices rising as one they echoed, "Ave Publica!"

And with a single speech, the general had won over the billions watching over the giant country belonging to the fierce empire of the State.

Richard scoffed, turning away from the crowd and 'rousing' speech that had caused a chaotic frenzy. 'After hearing the cry of millions of our comrades, millions of our country's population', yeah right. They haven't heard anything, they haven't paid any attention to the millions and billions of people clambering for attention from their 'State'. With an empire that had taken over half the world's population, the rulers only cared about power. Gaining more power from the few countries that had refused their rule and had enough power of their own not to bend. 

Caring for actual people? That was an ability impossible for the State to gain. So, Richard was sure that the new development of these vigilantes had surely frightened them beyond belief. And when the powerful government was scared, it did the only thing it knew how to do: eliminate. 

And, honestly, Richard was scared for what would come next, what this new development would bring. 

His pace quickened as he headed towards his small apartment - used for the first time in several months. Stepping up stairs, climbing ladders and quickly bolting himself inside a windowless, single room, white-walled space that equaled his apartment, his shut himself off, discarding all thoughts of the noisy rioters consuming the streets.

As much as people paraded the devastation of all weapon and smoke's disappearance, the world was benefiting from it. Pollution rates had decreased, the rate of death had decreased, the war's pace was forced to decrease. If anything, this group of vigilantes had done a beneficial thing. This said, Richard was quite aware of the downsides and, although seemingly against the war and the State, these vigilantes had taken quite a risk.

Of course, he was still unsure how they did it, but he had quite abruptly come to the decision that finding them was of the utmost importance, and it needed to be done soon.

With a sigh, he strode over to a desk in the center of the room, flipping open a device displaying a raised button and pressing before brushing a tired hand through his tangled, red hair. 

Multiple clicks called out around the room and all electrical devices fell silent. Another click came from the door he entered as its locks came into play, bolting the door from any intruders. Completely undisturbed and unwatched, his hands moved to his face. In a single smooth movement, his glasses were placed beside him and his shirt was loosened, creating a relaxed and breathable composure. Staring intently into the mirror, he held open his right eye and removed a brown contact to reveal a bright blue iris before placing the contact in a container. 

Leaning forward, he pulled his hair back, staring intently at the glints of brown roots displayed under the mass of red on top of them. A groan quickly followed before he collapsed back on his bed, staring at the ceiling. 

His mind wandered, once again returning to the strange girl with dark hair and grey eyes: Pea Fortbec. He smiled. He would see her tomorrow. And he was sure, he was certain, they would have a very interesting conversation.

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