A/N: The words in ALL-CAPS are names/details that I need to change/revise/review/research. Also the parts in [[double brackets]] are the parts I'm considering taking out. They are likely not going to stay. I apologize for how absolutely info dumpy this is. I'm awful at first chapters.
Also, warning for some gross stuff involving skin? Like, medical issues. You'll see what I mean, but don't tell me I didn't warn you.
“And they didn’t give any further updates to their ETA, did they?” a councilwoman asked.
Kerra said that no, she had not been made aware of any updates, and she resisted the urge to say, “If they had said anything, wouldn’t I have told you?” This was a common urge at these meetings between her and the Council of ABYSSIA. One might think that the government of what was left of the entire human population would at least have it together enough to not ask stupid questions.
The councilwoman frowned and narrowed her eyes at Kerra, as if she were to blame. “At the rate they’re going, we’ll be lucky if they even see the planet before their initial food and oxygen stores run out.”
“Then it’s a good thing they prepared triple that amount, isn’t it?” said a cool voice from Kerra’s left. “Thank you Kerra, as always. You may go.”
Relieved, Kerra slipped out of the windowless conference room, past the secretary in the foyer, and into the relative cool of the Upper Mains.
Neon-hued signs advertising anything and everything flashed and blinked at her from all sides. It was a little after 1 PM, so all their colors and flashes were set in daytime mode. By law, all lights had to be dimmed at night time, and no white light of any kind was allowed. Kerra, dizzied by the flashing, leaned against the walkway railing and looked down. Below her stretched about a mile of city, full of light that turned to pinpricks toward the bottom.
Kerra liked to imagine that the swirling vertigo of lights looked somewhat like stars. Although, she’d never seen stars, and likely never would. ABYSSIA was a city built underground after the surface of the earth was made uninhabitable by sub-atomic weapons and biological warfare. The city was built like a three-dimensional grid: the buildings were pillars that reached all the way from the bottom to the top, reinforced by horizontal beams that acted as walkways to travel between pillars. Kerra supposed it was beautiful in its own logical way.
She sighed and pulled herself away from the railing. She’d have to pass several more pillars before She reached the central elevator hub. She could think about the structure of ABYSSIA while she walked. Most of the pillars around here were government facilities, but occasionally, Kerra would pass a restaurant, a convenience store, a bar. Now she was passing one of the top-secret government facilities with mirrored windows. A blue light caught her eye, and Kerra stopped dead in her tracks.
She had left her hat in the conference room. Kerra gritted her teeth and stared at her reflection. More specifically, she stared at her skin. Even more specifically, she stared at what was under her skin. Circuits and wires glowed a bright blue. Kerra always tried to hide them when she was out in public. She always wore closed-toed shoes, high socks, pants, a trench coat, gloves, a scarf, and a brimmed fedora-like hat. Sure, she looked odd when she wore it, but she’d rather be thought of having an eccentric fashion sense [[or an anomaly that made her body always feel cold]] than the truth.
[[She wished she had an anomaly that made her constantly feel cold. It was always hot in ABYSSIA, especially in the Lower Downings, where she lived, and constantly wearing so many layers made Kerra practically miserable with heat. But that was better than the looks and comments she got when people saw her skin.]]
It wasn’t really skin at all, really. It was synthetic. She had been born with an anomaly that had caused her skin to constantly slough off. While doctors had been able to slow the process and lessen the pain, it was clear Kerra wouldn’t be able to have any sort of a normal life without cybernetic treatment. So, in an excruciating series of invasive procedures, all of Kerra’s skin was removed and replaced by a prototype of synthetic epidermis.
But these days, the few people who had synthetic skin didn’t also have glowing circuits and wires beneath it. That was a feature only the prototype had, to allow the scientists to better understand where problems might arise. But these scientists were long since dead. Kerra’s body was a piece of archaic technology, thanks to her second anomaly.
How did it go? Everen asked, breaking through Kerra’s thoughts. Everen was one of Kerra’s identical triplet sisters. She was currently 2.5??? LIGHTYEARS away, on a ship bound for an earthlike planet. A ship that a certain councilwoman didn’t think would see its destination before it ran through its initial food and oxygen supply.
Same as ever, Kerra replied. They asked stupid questions, I responded politely. She didn’t have to talk to communicate with Everen or Shandi, her other sister. Her sisters were always just a thought away.
This was her second anomaly, one shared with her sisters. No matter how far apart, they shared a telepathic connection through which they could share thoughts, emotions, and even visuals. It was for this reason that when they were 18, the Council of ABYSSIA approached them and asked if one would like to join the PLANET colonization effort while the other two stayed and acted as human walkie-talkies.
“Asked” would be putting it politely. The Council had practically begged on their hands and knees, promising them anything. Eventually Everen had relented and volunteered to go. It’d always been her dream to escape the city and see the sky, and there it was being handed to her. This was about 250 years ago. The triplets and their mother had all been put in stasis while the ship travelled.
It had been three years since they had all awoken, and Kerra still wasn’t used to how much everything had changed. Not to mention, all the people she had ever known were dead. Shandi had moved on easily, joining a gang and calling them her new family, but Kerra was left to grieve quietly, knowing deep down that what she was doing was for the greater good, but still missing her old life anyway.
She’d reached the central elevator hub by now, trying hard to hide her face and avoid as many people as possible, though the central elevator hub was always crowded, no matter what level you were on. She received a few curious stares, a few disgusted ones, but overall it was alright. Everen was prattling in her mind about the drama happening on board her ship. Kerra half-listened as she stepped into the elevator and watched the world collapse into bright streaks of light as the elevator plummeted the mile to Lower Downs.