II. Life in the Metrodome

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It was the 29th century. Old Terra, a shadow of its former self, was filthy and scarred, devoid of much of the life that had existed on it for millions of years. Instead, it teemed with thirty nine billion human beings, the organisms that had made it this way. Its atmosphere, a stale remnant of the past, was gradually becoming unbreathable. Wretched, choked, abused Old Terra.

Mars sat several hundred million kilometres away, looking upon it with a shallow pity. Home to less than ten thousand people, only the richest and most privileged of humanity found refuge in a new idyllic Mars; sometimes known, gallingly, as New Terra. Over a century of Psyionic Terraforming had turned Mars into a paradise far surpassing the cradle of humanity.

Even Lunar, moon of Earth, looked on disinterestedly. Home of the military and the government of the Solar Federation, it had never been terraformed but supported an artificial enclosure that was quiet, comfortable and exclusive.

So it was here, on Old Terra, that the most downtrodden remained. In the 'Wastes, for example, the barren lands between Metrodomes were home to the "junklanders". These heathens still lingered, trying to re-ignite their sinful ways and defy the authority of the Municipal Council. Needless to say, they were always extinguished wherever the Council found them.

Over ninety-nine percent of Terrans lived under the Council's direct jurisdiction in the sprawl of the Metrodomes and their outer zones. In the poor slums of Tyran, where possibly the most oppressed and desperate of all people resided, there might still be hope. The Metrodomes rested on rotten foundations. They would not last forever.

This notion swirled around the mind of a young girl, sitting at her window looking out to the central city from those outer slums.

Her name was Ambra Feenix. She was an exceptionally unusual girl, not only because of a wit and intellect in advance of her years. She also had a very unusual ability: she could look into the essence of all living things, into the flow of the mind. She could channel the essence of life energy.

She was a Psyion.

She'd been woken by a dream, a shapeless dream of pure emotion and violence. It was a complaint indicative of her kind, which was precisely why she'd learned to keep it to herself. Her kind were not appreciated.

The pain! Her head still swam just thinking about it. The colours, the blurring shapes, the screams of anguish and the violence. The violence without bound, reason or form. Pure motion. Slicing, pounding, slashing, shaking in and out and around her. The dream. That damn dream.

She sometimes dreamt like normal people do. She once had a dream she could breathe underwater. In another, she dreamt she had two A.I. cats and lived in a little villa on Mars with her mum and dad together again. Ambra turned to look at her room, comparing her reality to her fantasy.

Her room consisted of the perimeter of her bed and an extra square metre or so left over. The door slid sideways, so did not intrude into the space, but it was a strange shape, in the corner of the apartment. She was seventy floors up from ground level, but she didn't like to think about that. She'd read enough about collapses to know better than to dwell on it.

'Shut the hell up!' came her mother's yell from the next room, followed by thumping noises.

Ambra reeled momentarily. Her mind tried to figure what she'd done wrong, but a second later realised that had been directed at the neighbours. It didn't matter a whole lot which. They all seemed as noisy as each other. The walls were like the tin of a soda can.

It was cold in her room. Sometimes the cold seemed to move around the room as though it were animated by some spirit, others it would just hang there and somehow muffle everything. Yet by day it was stuffy and warm. Temperature regulation was hopeless outside the 'dome.

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