Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VII: Many Happy Returns

18 Summer, 1914
Gropius, Humanist Alliance

The air practically thrummed with excitement. There were only a few days left before the games would be over and the athletes and spectators would return to their home nations for another four cycles. The Olympics had been everything Lyta could have hoped for. Watching the competitions in person had been even more amazing than watching them on the trideos. She had insisted that they go to every gymnastics event being held, though Donovar coaxed her to branch out at least a little, so they had also attended cycling, wrestling, and fencing competitions, among others. Every day, Donovar was forced to drag his daughter out of the Olympic complex, and that was only after every event was over.

They walked slowly along the perfectly manicured paths that led back to their hotel. More greenery surrounded them than Lyta had ever seen in her life. Donovar had already explained that the Humanists kept their lawns, vineyards, and gardens verdant by continually supplying them with water. Lyta thought it was the height of wastefulness, but even she couldn’t ignore the effects. “It’s so beautiful here,” she said, pausing to run her fingers over the petals of a bright orange flower.

“Yes,” Donovar agreed.

“And everyone’s so friendly.”

Donovar’s lips twitched slightly upward. “Yes, they are.”

Lyta looked up abruptly. “Can we move here?”

Donovar blinked back his surprise. “Move here?”

Lyta nodded vigorously.

Donovar put a hand on his daughter’s shoulder. “Why would you want that?”

Lyta pressed her lips together, trying to get her thoughts in order. “Well… it’s so nice. You said so yourself.”

Donovar sighed. “Lyta, they don’t just let anyone move into the Humanist Alliance.”

“But you could,” Lyta insisted. “If you really wanted to. They’d let us all move here.”

Donovar considered this. “They probably would,” he agreed after a moment, “but I don’t want to. And I don’t think you’d want to either.”

Lyta put her hands on her hips. “Why not?”

Donovar found a bench along the path and sat down. Lyta followed, hands still petulantly on her hips. She stood next to the bench out of spite.

“Lyta, people may be friendly here, but they adhere to a strict standard of conduct. If we were to move here, we’d need to adopt not only those standards but also their philosophy.”

Lyta’s curiosity overcame her annoyance. “What philosophy?”

“Humanists are all about subsuming their own good for the greater good. Your place is determined for you based on your aptitudes and the needs of society. Your happiness is contingent on the nation’s wider happiness.”

Lyta struggled to parse her father’s explanation. He never went easy on her because she was young. She would learn, like Lukas had. Or at least, that’s what he always told her. “But… everyone is happy. Why is it bad if everyone is happy and society is better off?”

“Nothing,” Donovar said lightly. “The problems come when your own desires run counter to the good of society.”

Lyta cocked her head in challenge. “Like what?”

Donovar regarded his daughter. “Take, for example, if you and Lukas were to get into a fight. At our house, what happens?”

Lyta rolled her eyes at the obviousness of the question. “Whoever started it is grounded. If it’s bad enough, we’re both grounded.”

Donovar nodded. “That’s right. Now imagine that fighting isn’t just prohibited at home, but in the entire country. Imagine that if you and Lukas were to fight, it went against the mores of society.”

Lyta tried to picture this and failed. “So what?”

“Imagine that every time you fought, your mother and I were responsible for making you see the consequences of your actions. And if we couldn’t, we were able to – no, we were required to call on the authorities to help you realize them yourself.”

Lyta stared. “What do you mean, ‘the authorities’?”

Donovar waved a hand. “They have specific authorities here for that sort of thing, but let’s say a social worker. Or a psychologist. Every time you and Lukas fought and didn’t make up and apologize, not just to each other, but to me and your mother for disrupting the peacefulness of our family life, we sent you to a psychologist until you realized that fighting was wrong and promised you would never do it again.”

Lyta’s jaw hung open. “But… but me and Lukas fight all the time.”

“Lukas and I,” Donovar corrected. “And yes, you do. I have stubborn children who are convinced of their own rectitude at every turn. You must have inherited that from your mother.” He shook his head. “So think about it. Would you want to live in a society like that?”

“No,” said Lyta firmly. “That sounds stupid.”

Donovar raised an eyebrow. “And yet it works for the Humanists.”

Lyta pushed out her lower lip. “I don’t care. I don’t want to live here anymore.”

“We could go home right now if you wanted.”

Lyta’s eyes went wide. “But it’s the freestyle floors tomorrow!” she said, recovering herself. “We can’t leave right now!”

“Well… since you insist,” Donovar said. His eyes twinkled. “I suppose we’ll have to stay for that at least.”

Lyta nodded, happy that things had worked out the way she wanted. “Where are we going for dinner tonight?”

Donovar got up and smoothed his pants. “I’m not certain. We’ll ask the concierge for a recommendation when we get back to the hotel.” He began walking again along the pedestrian path. “And you need to re-braid your hair. I do believe that messy hair is grounds for social intervention in the Alliance.”

Lyta stuck out her tongue at him.

Donovar looked at her from the corner of his eye. “And disrespecting a parent would certainly require the intercession of officials. Perhaps I should let the desk clerk know when we return, so that they can arrange for it.”

Lyta pulled her tongue back in, but she knew her father was joking. He wouldn’t call the psychologists on her, and it wasn’t like they lived in the Alliance anyway. She filed the information away in the back of her mind so that she could tell Lukas later. Maybe it would get him to stop talking to her like she was a child. But probably not. He probably wouldn’t want to move to the Alliance either.

Lyta shook her head, wisps of hair sticking out of her braid in every direction, all smiles. The conversation was already receding to the back of her mind as she considered which events she most wanted to attend the next day. Really, she thought to herself, who would be stupid enough to want to live somewhere that made you say sorry to everybody whenever you got into a fight? She rolled her eyes. Ridiculous.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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