Chapter 1

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Year: 499 SC / ~2843 CE

Wendall (Dall) woke up with difficulty to the slowly increasing sound of the alarm. It took him a minute to lift himself from the comfort of the mattress that held him so caressingly. The material gently shifted to fit his body. "I'm up, I'm up," he mumbled, and the chiming stopped. His vision cleared to the rectangular room, only about twice the size of his bed. The lighting was slowly increasing, matching his torpid emergence from slumber.

The walls gradient changed from black to a light gray. A notification appeared, levitating in the air in front of his eyes. He signaled it over to the wall in front of him. It was from his friend Fai:

Last night was fun, hope you got some sleep. Good luck today!

Smiling, Dall got up and walked over to the wall on the left. Tapping the small etched circle on the wall made part of the wall shift to the side to reveal his wardrobe. His uniform hanged neatly inside and he recalled night before as he got dressed.

They had a lot of fun last night. Drinking and dancing to the ImmerSound of their favorite band. They were his childhood clique: Toby, Otho, and Fai. Fai... He could still feel her teeth digging into his earlobe teasingly as they danced. The reason for the outing was Dall's twenty-first birthday, the day before. It was also the night before they each started their respective school year.

Snapping out of his reverie, Dall checked his physical status. Despite the copious amounts of alcohol consumed last night, the stats in front of his eyes showed his body was coping nicely, making sure he could function normally. The wardrobe cover closed and its surface turned to mirror the room. Feeling good about this appearance, despite the tiredness in his blue-gray eyes, he walked out of the room.

His mom was up and watching the news on the large wall in the living room. "Oh good, you're up, I was just about to signal your room to wake you," she said over her shoulder and continued watching the cast. Dall went to the kitchen and grabbed a cup, which he placed in the cavity in the wall where a nozzle was mounted. He signaled the unit for a strong coffee.

Cup in hand, Dall walked back to where his mom was sitting on the large sofa and gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze with his free hand. She squeezed his hand in return. "Did you have fun last night?"
"Yeah, it was good, we got to see the Capsaicins. They were brilliant as always," he replied. "Excellent."

When they stopped talking, the news broadcast audio became louder and the anchor, a pretty young woman with short blond hair named Lily Yun, was recapping the latest events:

"...This is Capital Morning News. Thank you for joining us. First, the top story: our CSF correspondent is reporting that the body of renowned scientist Funn Shexian had been found at his home on Keshi. Circumstances of his death are still being investigated and therefore have yet to be shared with the Media. At this time, the only detail released is that time of death was determined to be late last night, local. As far as we know, foul play hasn't been discussed but neither was it ruled out. Shexian was one of the leading SI scientists in the last several decades. His books and research are often regarded as seminal in this field.

This story of unexpected passing follows last week's upsetting report of a man found dead right here on Akoya. The crime scene located very close to the CSF headquarters itself. Egregious Crimes division captain Jian Hammond issued a post on his public feed determining that the victim, Anders Vance, a junior comms technician was murdered. A rare act of violence these days. Captain Hammond added that no suspects have yet to be identified.

In other stories, the construction of the newest Cloud: Cassis, is falling behind schedule. The most optimistic projections for completion set for a year from now. A BASE Company spokesman has already announced expected delays of at least twelve more weeks, citing low raw materials mining yields in recent quarters as the main cause.

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