Chapter 1: Cataclysm
January 3rd::New City::
Ratonia Hotel – Roof Top
The news was getting to him. Hours spent in agonizing anticipation for the conformation of what his bones told him would be the truth: The western Brice islands had been hit by a devastating Tsunami only twelve hours earlier. No survivors. 3 large islands, a continental shelf, populated by several million people, several billion tons of constructed civilization, washed away as though nothing more than sand to the rising tide. Millions of lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye. It was disgusting. It was enough to churn Alexander’s stomach simply by fact alone, but the thought of his mother and father, his brother and his young children, the smile of a dear niece and nephew forever lost to the unrelenting ocean waters flung upon their home island by a vengeful, angered god. It was enough to numb him. He clung to hope for twelve hours, clinging to the news, waiting for some sign of survivors: something that told him…something.. anything.
In desperation he prayed. He wasn’t a religious man, not by any means of the word, and this is the first time, in a long time, that he allowed himself to believe in something higher up, more powerful than himself and his fellow man. He prayed to whatever diety would listen, in both named and nameless prayers, to antiquity and modern dieties of stone, flesh, blood, fantasy and realism. A desperate cry for some news, any news that his family had somehow survived… He felt greedy, asking for them all, but couldn’t decide on how to choose one over another, couldn’t choose. He would ask for all, but would settle to cling to any one of them again.
He stared off into the night, into the city lights below the hotel. New City was a mecca of civilization: the place to be for any up coming hot shot. It was Hollywood and New York combined. The presence of the nation’s capital gave it the regality of Ancient London, while the concentration of artists, actors, lovers, saints and sinners gave it the spirit once belonging to Paris, or Vienna. The city was a marvel, and in Alexander’s opinion, was the pinnacle of life in the world today. The city possessed everything to fill ever desire you could ever dream, and yet: for the moment it simply felt cold and empty. Distant.
Before his vision, faded letters sprang up into existence, the notification of his implant that a call was coming through to him. The notification was so subtle that an trained mind could receive it without any loss of attention, any measurable level of distraction., and it took nothing more than a thought to answer or ignore the incoming contact… he shoved the invasion aside, not recognizing the source of the incoming call…figuring it was from the government: a condolence programmed into the mainframe to express regrets to survivors of victims of the tragedies. First the fires in the Americas, and now this.
He needed to keep his mind off things. He thought the view of the city would be peaceful enough. Watching the traffic flash by below, mingling with the colors of the city lights, as though the world wasn’t falling apart all around them: as though they weren’t all simply biding their time until whatever was going on affected them: brought their perfect world crashing down to shatter around their ankles..
His mind reached out towards the contact in the way it did when initiating a connection. It was as though he could reach her with thought, but he knew too well the mechanics of it. He sent a request to the mainframe, the satellite that orbited the planet that sent and received the requests from cranial implant devices imbedded in the upper crust of society. A simple thought was all it took, and in similar fashion, a warning would cross her mind, like the faint vibration of an ancient cell phone. Answer or not. Talk with mind or voice, it didn’t matter to Alexander Gray. He simply needed someone, anyone…
In the distance the sirens began to sound, and the air began to smell of distant fires. In the night, the thick blanket of smoke looked nothing more than looming storm clouds on the western horizon, rolling over the city from the outlying suburbs.
“Crash,” Alexander whispered to the night, as he watched the western sky begin to glow, and the low rumble of what sounded like thunder echo across the azure night sky, and he knew calamity had found them before the emergency news feed had interrupted his thoughts with the whispering of a news anchor in the back of his mind, begging for his focused attention:
“Firefighters report that the blaze localized after a freak discharge of lightning struck the base of a power conduit at the New City Power Supply Station, located in 2000 block of the city…”
Paige he reached out again… searching for her amongst the multitude of sudden and breaking news reports that began to flood the system. Tokyo, Berlin, Rome, New York, Panama…. Shoving them away, trying to climb through a flooding network of disaster and panic… feeling the compression as every one of the privileged seemed to leap onto the system at once: to check on loved ones… to cry out for help.