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   Chapter 1 No.1

Humanity By EJBowman Characters: 12369

Updated: 2017-12-27 12:03


1

Manticore Metropolis or Màn tí kǎo Chéngshì: the foremost and only city on the whole of Manticore. In many ways, the planet would resemble Mars from the old Solar System, however it was habitable. The only problem was that conditions were not entirely habitable for humans. Only the natives of the planet could survive the light from the fearsome Jhard. Humans burned in the light of the powerful star, and yet humans became the primary inhabitants of Manticore Metropolis. Desperation can lead to drastic measures.

The old Solar System had become overcrowded as well as polluted and humans yearned for new planets to call 'home'. One of the arks found Manticore; home of the svellik. The svellik were a peaceful race who took the human refugees into their great city where the light from the Jhard would not harm them. After a thousand years the svellik population had diminished to almost the point of extinction. Humans were the race that bit the hand that fed them. They could not comprehend sharing the planet and so they took it by force. They maintained the high-rise buildings of Metropolis that protected them from the Jhard, but they refurnished the great city to serve human needs.

The city was split. The wealthy politicians, entrepreneurs and aristocrats lived uptown in the upper-halves of the skyscrapers while the poor wordless discards of mankind lived downtown in the lawless ghetto. With such a defined divide in the population, the most any child from downtown could dream for was to become an employee for their uptown masters. That was every downtowner's dream; escape their lower elements anguish and catch a glimpse of what it meant to live uptown.

* * *

The great star in the sky had just sunk below the orange peaks in the distance. The canyon Manticore Metropolis sat in suddenly became dark, and that was a good thing for the uptowners. The upper-city's nightlife instantly came alive. Fortunately, the days on Manticore were only nine hours while the nights were eleven. On a planet where humans, no matter their historic ethnicity, were fair skinned it was better to have more night than day.

However, the downtowners would dispute the notion. In the dark was when all the monstrous humans emerged from their hiding places and wreaked havoc. Every night was the same downtown; a non-stop riot. There was no authoritative voice of reason so there was no incentive for the damaged humans to act civilised.

In the rapidly darkening alleyway a doomed youth ran for his life. In the 21st century he would have looked too little to be eight, yet in 50th century Manticore Metropolis stunted growth due to malnourishment was common downtown. The uptown tycoons owned all food and water that went in and out of downtown. Most had decided that there was not enough profit in feeding the poor and cancelled the downtown shipments. When regular food became beyond scarce the downtowners turned on each other. Cannibalism was for survival.

He was exhausted and injured, but the little boy picked up the pace when he heard an aggressive man repeatedly screaming 'Erik'.

The little child panicked when he felt like the continuingly narrowing alleyway was closing in on him. He went tumbling when his barefoot struck a dislodged piece of the pavement. He whimpered in his own language, wishing that it would all just stop.

Slowly, he hobbled over to the old wreckage of a giant unknown contraption. His blood speckled the ground as both his nose and split toenail bled. Only a little too late did he realize the mistake he had made.

"Rarr!" a boy screamed as he jumped out from behind the wreckage.

Erik squealed and stumbled backwards before his back hit the asphalt. He heard numerous people laughing and froze.

Three more urchins came out from their metal fortress. Filthy rags covered most of their faces as they tried to hide their boyish appearances. The apparent alpha of the pack wore black goggles to make his face featureless. The metal rim of his goggles was dented while both lenses were severely cracked which suggested that they had possibly fallen from above.

" lookin' like wǒmen havsa dinna t'night, " the leader said maniacally.

It took the little boy a moment to understand what the urchin had said. He was not very fluent with their language. However, he understood their intentions when the alpha pulled a jagged piece of metal from his jacket. Erik screamed 'no' in his own language which was not understood by the boys. He scrambled to his feet and tried to run, but one of the other pack members grabbed him under the arms. No matter how much he tried, he could not wriggle free. The leading urchin dragged the shard of metal down Erik's cheek mockingly. The little boy flinched when the urchin pressed too hard and drew blood.

"Ya tryin' to run?" he hissed. "Bǎobèi, wǒ'ma hungry."

Erik whimpered when the leader lifted his ragged shirt up to examine his prey. The boy's intestines were sucked in behind his rib cage which was perfectly defined behind his sickly white skin. "Skinny thingie, aren't cha? Ah well, a meal's a meal."

Erik made an animalistic grunt when the shard of metal was jabbed into his chest. He heard the urchin holding him smirk before taking a step back and letting him drop. The small child curled up into a foetal position to protect his bloody chest as he wheezed.

"We eatin' the whole thing now?" one of the other pack members asked. His stomach had been growling for days.

"Nah." The leader shook his head as he knelt down to get a better look at Erik's suffering as he bled to death. "We'll start with a leg. Gotta lotta meat in the thighs. Bàba can put the rest in the coola for later."

Erik was in a daze and did not hear the conversation going on about him. His vision began to fade just as an animalistic hissing sound echoed through the alleyway. The urchins looked up at the source before instantly retreating back into the shadows.

The boy deliriously croaked 'help me' in his own language as a tall figure overshadowed him before he closed his eyes.

"It'sss okay, child. Mama'sss herrre, " a soothing voice hummed as the little boy drif

ted into unconsciousness.

The last thing the little boy heard was a man still calling out his name, but now the voice was far away.

2

The Parliament House was a gigantic upside-down pyramid. Of course, human architects had not designed such a strange building. The svellik had built the enormous structure thousands of years before the ark landed on the surface of Manticore. Humans had never truly understood the purpose of the building in the time when their alien counterparts ruled. In the svellik language, Tenue, the strange grey and gold pyramid was called Knelekt. There was no translation for Knelekt in any human language. The closest synonym was 'explain' or 'enlighten'. It had been a religious monument in svellik times; however the humans had made it the home of government as it was the only true distinguishable building from the hundreds of other straight up and down grey buildings surrounding it.

Like all constructions, the lower floors were completely ignored by the uptown civilians as they were too close to the lower city. To move from one building to another without using the filthy streets of downtown, there were light-repellent skyways that linked all the buildings and created the shadow of a spider web above downtown.

The monorail system acted as the primary transportation method for travelling lengthier distances uptown, nonetheless important businesspeople and famous politicians tended to avoid the skyways and monorails as they were too public. Taking a private shuttle was more logical when you lived constantly in fear of being assassinated by a radical.

With a little over one month till the new chairman – or zhǔxí in formal terms – was elected, the three candidates were under a great amount of stress as they tried to scrape in the assured voters. Former Chairwoman Penelope Renard from the House of Dragons led with forty-five per cent of the uptown population in favour of her while the other two candidates shared the other per cent of the population evenly between them.

Like the other lords and ladies of the House of Dragons, she had no doubt in her mind that she would win the election and get another ten years in office. She did not see any way that she could lose. The annoying part of the whole electoral system was the one month in which she legally was not chairman. For that single month at the end of every decade there was no chairperson. It was up to the senate to maintain Manticore Metropolis for that single month. Penelope was over seven-hundred years old so she knew very well that the lords and ladies in the senate could not be expected to maintain a function system.

At the end of the first of three debates the candidates stood together for the short press conference that followed. All of them proudly wore their House's colours. Lady Penelope Renard was in a red and golden robe, Lord Finn Yuan from the House of Oxen was in a dark blue, grey and silver robe while Lady Fae Sonata from the House of Rats was in her brown and dark grey robe. All three candidates wore the same style robe and the same black dress shoes, pants and dress shirts.

Lord Lysander Jordanis stood by in the shadows with the other deputy chairman candidates to observe the brief press conference from the back of the room. He and Penelope had made an excellent team during their term in office. In the eyes of the public Renard had been seen as a stern woman who got things done while Jordanis had been the poster boy who did more work behind the scenes than the public realised. His six-hundredth and fifth birthday was in a few days, however he was still incredibly youthful both physically and spiritually. That was why the people loved him; he looked like a typical youthful man. His fair hair and unusual jade-like irises certainly attracted people. With his looks people thought he was just a brain-dead poster boy. They were quite surprised when the realised how wise he was.

"Indubitably?" the slender man joked as the former chairwoman walked over to him after the press conference. He was referring to when Renard had stated that she would 'indubitably' deal with monorails to make sure they were on time and more efficient. "I do not think that word has been used since, oh, I don't know, the twentieth century on Old Earth?"

"My choice of words was intentional, " she explained. "I figured it was a sincere, almost adorable word that would endear me to the public, and also assure them I would get the job done."

Lysander nodded along although he doubted Penelope was telling the truth. She had most likely been lost for a good substitute for the word 'undoubtedly' which was a word she had already used too much in that press conference and wanted some variation.

The chief of the House of Dragons security strolled over to the candidates. Neil Van Halogen, he was a six-foot bulky man who did not suit the slim-figured flamboyant lords and ladies of the House of Dragons.

"Will you be attending the dinner party tonight?" he asked in a deep voice.

"Indubitably." Lysander said with a smile. Penelope rolled her eyes – she knew he would never let it go.

The small party for the high-ranking lords and ladies was held on the roof of the Parliament House just after sundown. All candidates were peer pressured into attending as photographers would be there and it would be good publicity for them if they could be seen as casual and friendly.

Lysander never had a problem with the parties with his socialite qualities. He would make his way through the politicians with jokes, gossip and a bit of flirting. There was only one man he could not get his head around: Lord Koris Young. The man was a rookie in the game of politics. At only seventy years-old he was the deputy chairman candidate for the House of Oxen. Although he had had the anti-aging treatment to make himself appear much younger, Koris did not seem to put much effort into his looks. His face was covered in stubble and his short, yet thick black hair was all over the place. Lysander knew the young man was not a typical politician, and he wanted to know why the House of Oxen had thrown him into the ring.

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