Chapter One: Aglaia

November 1st, 2004 by Mabel
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Two years ago, I was a scientific officer of the Caelestis regime. It was not a position of power that came from achievements but one determined by and at birth. My parents were Immortals – an economist and a researcher, both key players in the regime. What made them different from the others like themselves were that they were chosen by the Council to pair together and bear children. Children that would one day be incorporated into the regime as officers. In my blood, I carried their superior qualities – logic, rational, and the power of science – and nothing else.

That is how it is in Caelestis. People were known for their gifts and never their appearance or their personality or even the many wide variety of human emotions possessed by their ancestors. We were a scientific, rational and logically species.

Nevertheless, science and logic could not still explain the strange phenomenon of desire and curiosity – characteristics we found were inherent in all humans, even Immortals. Whilst it was normal for a Mortal to love, lust and explore out of curiosity, thus attributing his or her discoveries to fate or luck, it was quite uncommon for an Immortal to even think of such things.

At first the Council thought that such anomalies in the make up of an Immortal was a genetic defect. So they tested various different pairings of Immortals and their children only to find that their results were inconclusive. They observed the environment and behavioural patterns of each Immortal child and yet, they could not still figure out how it came to be that an Immortal could display Mortal personalities and emotions. What was more startling was that these unique individuals were gradually becoming a growing population. Luckily for the Council, while Fallen Immortals – as they are now called to symbolize their drop from the sacred position of an Immortal –
displayed many ‘human’ characteristics such as aging faster than they would as Immortals and a kaleidoscope of emotions, they still retained one basic genetic marking of an Immortal – they were sterile.


The Fallen Immortals were exiled to a neighbouring planet whereby they had little to no contact whatsoever with the regime except for an occasional administrative visit. They were self-governed and self-sufficient thanks to some of the scientific and technical gifts retained by several of their peers.

And so, Ancile grew despite the poorly-planned and quick exile plans administered by the regime.

Me? I spent the better part of my life at The Academy for Higher Learning where my gifts of scientific rationality (now that I am here on Ancile, I wonder if there is ever such a thing in the first place?) and logic were – in the words of my parents and the Council – put to good use. I became a psychologist, specializing in the study of Immortal behaviour and thought. Never mind that I had to become an extremely emotional-less individual in order to try and maintain an objective viewpoint on my test-subjects. God, how I hate that word. Test-subjects like the rabbits and mice my Earth ancestors used in their scientific experiments. The regime saw everything without compassion and emotion – without…humanity. We saw everything from a scientific, rational point of view.

At that age, at that time, I never questioned, only accepted. I saw everything just as how a perfect Immortal was supposed to see things – the Caelestis way. I was no different from my other peers. Yet, I could not help but wondered to myself then how things would have been if some of us had these defects, these emotions…feelings. Would the world be different today? Would people be divided? Would we challenge the past? Or even the future?

Because I could not say all these things out loud, I said it silently. I thought of it silently…and I wondered alone, in secret like a man already guilty of a crime.

Ironically, it was how I rose to power in the regime. The only way one could get very far in Caelestis was to be what the Mortals affectionately termed ‘a cold-hearted bitch’ – the more rational you were, the bigger the obligations, responsibility and duties you were entrusted with.

But I grew careless. My musings began to grow a voice of its own after many years of muting it. It began to grow a life.

And at one point in my life, I feared the worse could come true.

I feared wrong.

29th Day of the year 3031 (29th January, 3031)

It was just like any other normal night at the Psy-Lab on Caelestis. Yes, night for work at the Psy-Lab never ended. It was not too long ago that the night shift came to replace those who were busy at work during the day. The rather medium sized stainless steel framed, glass covered psychiatric lab was the base for many studies – research or practical applications – on the over-all personality and thought patterns of the human, irrespective of whether they were Mortals and Immortals. It was also the place of work for nearly fifty Immortals who specialized in psychology, cognitive science, gene therapy, and personality disorders as well as criminal and civil profiling of all humans, even Fallen Immortals.

Amongst the bustle of people busy at work, one creature stood out from the rest. Her stature conveyed a sense of refinement, power and authority. She was Chief – for the night at least and as known to several of her colleagues – a slender, cherubic looking female with hazel-honey brown hair and the darkest of brown eyes from the House of Arrius – one of the Elders of the regime. A fresh graduate from the Academy only but a year ago, she rose to this position through a chain of reactions that could somewhat be seen as amazing for her age and skills. Nevertheless, despite her young age of twenty-five, there was a certain air of maturity and sadness in her that made it easier for her to command a team of twenty-five people researching on the brains and personalities of humans.

She was a unique creature of beauty, intelligence and talent; yet deep down inside her, stirred the curiosity to explore the world beyond the administrative land. Distracted by her own thoughts, she gazed out towards the window, her eyes focused intently and unintentionally to the North, where a star shone brightly.

“So that is all there is to it, Aglaia. Aglaia?”

“Oh. My apologies, Pirro. I was momentarily distracted by that star,” gestured Aglaia towards the flickering star. “Strange how a place desolate by imperfection could look but so beautiful from a distance.”

Pirro glared at her, his hands still clutching the reports of completed research projects. Despite her seniority and authoritative status in the lab, he knew that he outranked her in the aspects that counted and thus, knew the codes of conduct and behaviour. To him, an Immortal was not to question things such as this. An Immortal was to take things as they were and if it did not fit into the equation, to discover why it was so and how to breach the problem. To him, Aglaia’s musings sound wrong and…emotional.

“Instead of looking at it from such an emotional perspective, perhaps you could study this…phenomenon?” he raised his eyebrows speculatively at her. “Until then, could we get back to these reports? The Council needs word on it soon or else we will be swamped with more work that will probably only end the next millennium.”

Aglaia frowned and motioned for him to continue on with his reports. As he rambled on and on about the cognitive study conducted on one of the colonies weeks ago, she contemplated on her platonic, nearly fatherly relationship with this man. Pirro was a distinguished member of the Psy-Lab, having been attached to it for many decades and she often wondered why he was never made Chief. The stocky bright-red headed man was much older and more serious compared to any other of her lab counterparts. In a way, Pirro was a spitting image of her own father, General Arrius – stern and strong.

I never had a comforting, warm childhood.

When I was growing up at the Academy, we used to study archived videos of Earth children as part of a behavioural study. I would often ask myself why it was so difficult to attain a childhood with laughter and smiles. They made it look so easy, so simple…so…real. Parents tossing babies in the air gleefully, children playing that little hopping game – I think it is called hopscotch – and just the smiles on the children made it seem as if the time of a child was one that was to be laced with plenty of happiness and joy.

The New World Order never allowed for that. Neither did it allow for love.

There was no love lost between my parents. They were never in love with each other to begin with. Unlike Mortals who fall in love and participated in coitus for procreation, the Council harvested genes from certain Immortals who possessed qualities which they saw fit to be passed down to one generation.

My father, General Arrius was a firm, stern, and disciplined man. It was to be expected. After all, he was a soldier. The only things he knew were authority and how to wield such authority. Handpicked by the Council for his rational and somewhat cold disposition, he was paired off with my mother, Elora whose strengths lied in science and philosophy. She was a professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Academy; a woman with an extremely vivid personality – or so I was told.

I had none of the privileges that I now pass to my unborn child – the pleasure of being carried in my body, of knowing me personally, of growing up with me. You see, I was a test-tube baby, conceived on a Petri dish and carried to full term in an embryonic tank. The only home I ever had was a single furnished room in a dormitory at the Academy. My parents were my teachers, the resident leader and the Council. I never belonged to my parents. Neither did I belong to myself. The Council owned me like how my Earth ancestors own land, cars or property.

So how did I come to know who my parents were?

I was introduced to them when I was twelve years old. I remembered the day quite vividly; being escorted to a quite brightly lit white room by two older Academy students, still wearing my school uniform of a white shirt and black skirt, and feeling utterly…nervous and lost. Questions were going round and round in my head. Then, I was still incapable of rationalization and logic but instead feared the worse.

Would they like me? What if I look nothing like them? Would I get a hug?

I remembered looking up, staring at my father’s cold, emotionless face – I had wondered what his bushy beard would feel like against my skin, wondered what it would be like to see the world from his shoulders, just wondered in silence.

I remembered my sweaty palms grasping my mother’s hand as she shook mine. At least she was a little bit friendlier than my father, who continued to watch on, as if I was a soldier under his command. Patting me on the head, she bent down and dropped a silver chain with a star pendant onto my open palm.

I remembered looking at my mother and then back at my father – I had wondered why their behaviour was different from the Earth parents that I had seen in the videos during class. It was then I realized that it would be the only time I would see them standing next to each other. They, no, we Immortals were very different from our Mortal counterparts.

It was my first lesson in the realities of being an Immortal – that I would never be able to feel love and happiness; that I would never be able to experience and reflect such love upon my children.

“Aglaia, you seriously need to get your head out of the clouds and back to this lab where it is suppose to be,” Pirro interrupted her thoughts once more. “What is with you today? You seem…lost. Is something wrong?”

“No, Pirro. Nothing. I am fine.” I wish you would quit bugging me about this, Pirro. You need to relax, you know. Irritation does not do wonders for those wrinkles which you so hate.

“Then concentrate. I can’t have you zoning in and out whenever you please, Aglaia. I need you to review these reports and have them approved by the end of tonight’s shift or else the entire lab is – as the Mortals put it – screwed. Sometimes it does not seem logically for someone as whimsical as you to hold an important position like this.” With that, he walked off, leaving a stack of reports on her desk and her staring at his back, feeling rather annoyed at his last statement. Leafing through the reports, attempting to concentrate on it as much as she could, Aglaia’s mind was on another matter. She could not pinpoint what exactly it was that she felt. This uncertainty, this disruption in her daily life; it was something she did not really welcomed, not at this time at least.

It was a crucial time for the Psy-Lab. With constant pressure from the Council regarding the gradual growth of the population of Fallen Immortals, the researchers were pushed to the limits of their skills and capabilities to discover the actual reason behind the existence of the defective gene in the Fallen Ones. Not only did the Lab have to contend with that, it too saw its fair share of administrative and clinical duties to perform. One of which included the more important weekly meeting with the Elders of the Council regarding results as well as updates on research projects and psychological experiments.

Aglaia was never pleased with the psychological experiments which capitalized on the allowance of Mortals for laboratory experiments. They were the new guinea pigs. Best part of all was they had the gift of intelligible speech unlike the crude rabbits and mice which were used in the past. Apart from that, nothing else had change. Blood still spilled on the floor; screams still filled the air…and sometimes the sickly smell of guilt. Her guilt. While she saw the benefit of employing such methods for the advancement of the civilization as a whole, she had often believed that the New World Order was to bring perfection, peace and modernization but not at the expense of another human.

It just felt…wrong. She gasped a little, becoming more aware of her own thoughts and the dangerous direction that it was pointing to. What am I thinking? It is not for me to say if this is wrong or not. It is the Council’s decision and through scientific evidence and logic, it has been proven time and time again that the use of human subjects in scientific experiments are not brutal, neither does it endanger the human being itself. I must understand this. I am an Immortal, sworn to assist the regime and to uphold the Codes. I must banish all forms of emotion that will undoubtedly cloud my logic.

Aglaia continued on, flipping through the reports. Occasionally she would pause to ruminate on its contents, sometimes even making a note at the bottom. However, she never questioned the ethics behind the scientific experiments in the Psy-Lab. Not for a while, at least.

When I look back at myself, I see a naïve person, a child, still unaware of the many complexities of the world, of life itself and more importantly, of the seedy nature of the Caelestis regime. Till this day, I find it hard to reconcile myself with the fact that I was once a part of the administration, part of that world. It bothers me to know that my past was stained with brutal logic, cold unfeeling rational…and the many innocent blood that passed through the doors of the Psy-Lab.

As Chief, I had the power, the resources and even the ability to change things but I choose not to. I blinded myself to the wavering logic behind it all; to the ideals that I had grown up with and yet I wonder if it was right for me to behave the way I did.

I used to ask this question: Would our future be any different than it is if we changed our past?

If we could go back in time, how sure could we be that it would be the future that we desired to have even after changing certain aspects of our past? Would changing ourselves guarantee that surrounding circumstances will not be affected? How could that be possible considering that we can only control one thing and that is us, not anyone else? Logic dictates that you can only control yourself, your actions, your thoughts, your plans. So how would changing your thought possibly change something else that is dependent not only on yourself but others around you?

Come to think of it, I still ask that question.

Nevertheless, it is nice to know that I have left that world behind me. That I have grown from an unquestioning child to a woman who seeks not only answers but new questions to formulate discoveries of the world, and of her own future.

I do this not for my sake alone but for the sake of my people. For us.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 1st, 2004 at 11:34 am and is filed under NaNoWriMo 2004. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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