Date: 20th January 2319
Location: Earth Rehabilitation and Long Term Stay Hospital #9832
His room was by all means bleak, plain and void of sentimental warmth. It was a shadowed and shattered mirror of himself, a shell of a room that belonged to a shell of a once-proud strong man. A man who now anguished away in said mirrored bleak room, his flesh hanging limply from his white bones like his old uniform hanging from its metal hook hangar. The deep grey garment still bearing scorch marks and holes from two years ago. It was the only thing out of place in this room of his. Though bleak, desperate and empty it had always maintained its quiet and simple neatness.
The carpet looked as new as possible for this area of sector 2. Its beige grey color was dark in a well-worn track winding from his metal-framed sagging bed to the white metal door, rusted at the bottom corner. A deeper dark stain, however, marred it’s close to perfect lengths. A grey faded stain trailing from the cream peeling wall beneath the stained window and blending out into the room lingering there like a swirl of water. Ash stains. They were ash stains. A similar black scar was found above it on the wall between the window ledge and the skirting board. It looked like someone had mixed brown and grey paint, letting it drip down the wall and blend out like deep dark mould. Most windows in the building no doubt looked like this, in summer the building's temperatures skyrocketed to the late forties and without the funds for proper utilities the windows were left ajar. Ash and smoke from the black sky above always found its way into the rooms. Sometimes it came in the form of light grey rain, other times tiny leaves of white speckles. Nonetheless, they left their marks, trailing down brown and black like bullets from the red glowing sky above.
Jimin supposed this room once could have been quite handsome, the walls would have been a crisp warm cream colour, the floor a similar tone separated by the white painted skirting boards. The white ceiling bare except a single blinding white light. Its furnishing a similar plain cosy colour scheme of beige. One stand-up wardrobe, with light wood, pressed to the wall by the door, a chair sat beside it with blue padding and a black metal framed single bed with an excess of pillows propping up him and his tiny frame so he could watch the news. It was cosy and quaint, but now it was old, and the sight had been ingrained into Jimin’s skull he could find no love for it.
He wasn’t particularly sure what the program on the television was informing on for the remote had fallen on the floor the day prior and muted itself. Its show continued to run long into the night and now into the morning. The holographic projection scattered across the bare wall in front of the bed bled blues and reds into the room. A familiar anchor-man droning on, a rainforest projected behind him. Jimin for a moment found himself wondering what rainforests looked like if they truly did resemble the lush emerald greens and tropic yellows. He’d heard some of the older folk before the accident comparing the city Mi.C-11.2, Neo-Korea as some still called it, which they lived in, like a jungle of concrete, holograms and fifth. Though Jimin had never seen a jungle before he could agree with them for the most part.
Neo-Korea was now a small city not too far off of the hydro fields constantly being battered with ash-filled rainy oceans. Its streets were winding and packed with businesses and homes. Buildings were stacked upon buildings; many had forgone using stairs completely and only had ladders leading to their doors. Everything here acted like moths, even humans. Jimin had never seen a dark night, nor had he ever seen a bright morning. For now, they were one in the same. The brown sky above drowned out the sun, so humans had begun to live off multi-coloured lights spread on the walls of every building or the holographic advertisements that walked across the city’s roofs. Sometimes the advertisements were just wandering strings of letters, other times they were people who walked and talked in gigantic forms as tall as skyscrapers.
The wooden door to his room swung inwards only a pinch but the noise was stark in contrast to the silence of his room. “Jimin?” A warm mature female voice called. He was familiar with this one. It was one of the newer nursing staff.
“Come in,” Jimin called his voice croaky and harsh. Nothing like it used to be.
The owner of the voice entered the room. A warm smile pulling across her deep pink nude lips. Pulling dimples across her bronze warm skin. “How you feeling today?” Her accent was reminiscent from residents from Neo-Africa.
Jimin snorted in slight amusement; “I don’t feel much anymore G,”
She smiled and ignored his self-deprecating humour; “I meant emotionally darl, we can always have the doctor change your prescriptions to hel-,”
“I’m fine,” he spoke over her not wanting to re-birth such an awkward conversation.
She, rather than continue, nodded and reached for the edge of his blanket, currently pulled up to his chin. The forty something-year-old nurse pulled it down and folded it by his slender waist revealing the blue hospital gown he wore most days of his life now. It fell down against his skin showing peculiar bumps of both his ribs and the tubes running into his body. The tubes became more visible as she wrapped her arms around his upper torso pulling him up further to rest against the pillows so he could sit upright.
“Gosh Ji,” she hummed to herself; “It’s so quiet in here,”
“I dropped the remote again except this time it muted the Holoscreen,”
She laughed; “You really have no luck do yo-,”
There was another interruption, a clearing of a throat. This time the interruption wasn’t Jimin. He had a visitor. A strange thing considering his last visitor came to his room over a year ago. Stranger even because he didn’t know this man who stood before him. Black hair gelled back from a pale forehead and dark sharp brows, heavily lashed dark eyes and round pink lips. A black suit swept onto his thin waisted, broad-shouldered frame; an olive green turtle neck beneath it to match the emerald ring on his thumb belonging to his loyalties. His hand clasped around a black leather briefcase with one too many locks on it. This man, taller than Jimin before the accident, oozed of pride, wealth and privilege. His skin with its healthy glow gave away far too much information for this man did not live in any sector on Earth beneath the black sky, he lived in a station above the clouds. He was one of the lucky rich aristocratic folks who ruled from the heavens of space.
“Oh, Jimin this is Mr. Kim, an old friend of your father,” the nurse smiled. Picking the remote of the floor and placing it in Jimin’s reach.
It took all of Jimin’s might not to laugh at this comment. “Oh really? How is my dear old father doing?” If anyone knew Jimin, they’d know he was raised in an orphanage like a lot of people living in the slums. Bastard children of down-trodden prostitutes and whore mothers raised by abusive charity giving animals.
“He’s at the height of health,” The man smiled, his warm appearance not reflecting his voice which dripped with knowing sarcasm. “Thank you,” he nodded politely at Gloria, the nurse; “That should be fine,”
“If you have an issue just holler darling,” She smiled at the new man. The pet name a familiar one to Jimin must have taken the man by surprise. Whoever he was, he was well respected with the sky people. A man of great honour no doubt.
He sat down in the chair beside the wardrobe as G left. The door shutting close behind her and leaving them in private. “So, Park Jimin, how are you?”
“Take a fucking guess,” Jimin murmured twisting his head around slightly. His right hand moving the remote by his thigh to the bedside table.
“I’m guessing you’re pretty angry yes?”
Jimin snorted; “You could say that,”
“Pretty sad too?” The man hummed. He tapped in the passcode to his electronic briefcase and opened it. From its depths, he pulled a manila colour file out. Flipping it open he read the contents; “It says here, you were top of your class at Sector 2’s Police Academy,”
“How the fuck did you get a hold of that?” He frowned; “Who are you?”
He looked up and set the folder back down on top of his briefcase; “Forgive me for my rudeness Jimin, I’m Kim Seokjin.” He paused; “I’m the new head of the Northern Hemisphere’s Law and Order Division,”
Jimin frowned; “Aren’t you a bit young, you look like you’re reaching the mid 150s right?”
“Practically a newborn then,” Jimin laughed.
“I suppose,” he nodded; “You’re a bit young too. To be here all day every day stuck watching the news without sound and shitting and pissing through tubes,” Seokjin said blankly.
“What the fuck do you want? Because if you came to torment me then get the fuck out of my room, I’m not some fucking jo-,”
“I would never consider you or your circumstances funny Mr. Park,”
“And what do you see them as then? Fucking pathetic,” Jimin’s voice cracked but his expression was hard set.
“Rather sad actually, but nothing that can’t be changed,”
Jimin scoffed in disbelief; “Changed?! What the fuck is wrong with you! I’m paralyzed for fuck's sake! I’m going to be, as you said it, shitting out of tubes until I die of old fucking age or get one of the nurses to put me out of my misery,”
“There are more options than quick deaths and long-lasting ones Jimin,”
“Give me one good option other than death because the way I see it we all die eventually,”
Seokjin laughed; “Not all of us, not above.”
“You know bragging tends not to be a flattering look,” Jimin glared; “Besides even if I had the money to afford a new skin I wouldn’t,” Jimin thought the idea of skins was rather barbaric. When a person’s brain stopped working or they wished to no longer live they could give over their bodies to the skin banks. From there by downloading a person’s memory onto a small chip a person’s consciousness could be put into another skin over and over again until the person's mind corroded from age or until the end of immortality was found.
“I wasn’t suggesting that,” He murmured opening the folder again. “The medicine we have up there Jimin, well it's obviously fucking amazing,” he slid a plastic film over the bed to rest on Jimin’s sunken legs. The deep dark x-ray staring back at him. Most people didn’t use X-Rays anymore, but he supposed that it would be rather hard to store a holo pad in a folder. He looked down at the X-Ray and his jaw hardened, teeth clenching.
“Great fucking joke,” he turned to glare at the man. His own X-Ray on his lap. An X-Ray showing blue creamy looking bones, metal bolts in black flesh and broken bone. A spine so badly fucked up, burnt and abused there were no hopes of repair.
“Give me a minute;” he whispered under his breath, rifling through the folder. Then, slowly, he slid another X-Ray across. A new one. Jimin blinked down at it with a still hard-set face. The skeleton showed before himself was slighter of build, possibly female. It showed the peaking tops of a pelvis unlike Jimin’s which showed his shoulder blades, ribs, and collar bones. This one showed similar brutal damage, a vertebra looking as if someone had shoved it through a grinder. “This is an X-Ray belonging to a fifteen-year-old girl up in the capital, her L1 and T12 vertebrae were obviously damaged. Total paralysis from the hips down,”
“Okay… so?” Jimin said, an uncaring tone to his tenor voice.
He took both of those X-Rays from his lap and placed another one there. “This is that same girl, this X-Ray was taken two weeks ago,” he nodded.
Sure, enough from the small date at the bottom right-hand side it was taken two weeks ago. With his right hand, Jimin lifted it off his lap. His fingers curling around it as he lifted it, angling it towards the ashy stained window allowing light to shine through it. The broken vertebra was no longer a creamy blue but rather a stark white with long trailing and curling lines running up the rest of the spine. Metal. Jimin ran his fingers along the spine. “What is this?”
“A working spine with Biotechnological L1 vertebra and T12,”
His tone note faltering Jimin spoke; “Can she walk?”
“She’s learning to walk, learning to dance too,”
Jimin placed it down and continued to look away from Seokjin, out towards the window; “Why are you showing me this Mr. Kim?” His voice did not quake or shake, but rather it lost its hardness. It took on neither vulnerability or acute harshness but rather a quiet contemplative tone.
“Seokjin, please,” Jimin asked again; “Why are you showing me this Seokjin,”
“Because a broken vertebra in the lumbar region is just as easy to fix as in the Thoracic region,”
“You know damn well that this would be expensive and you know damn well I won’t be able to afford this, so let me ask you again Seokjin,” Jimin turned to the man again, harshness returning. His eyes dripping with moisture tinted red with pain, a nose a similar pink of anguish; “Why the fuck are you telling me this,”
“I can get you a new spine, teach you how to walk again, but you have to do something for me,”
“You become the chancellor’s soldier,”
“Doesn’t he have enough?”
“None like you,”
“Cripples?” Jimin laughed dryly, throat raspy and dry.
Seokjin leaned forwards towards a glass at the side of the bed. Its contents neither warm nor cool swirling around in it. A plastic straw tilted up in the drink. Seokjin held it up to Jimin’s chapped lips as he spoke; “Good men who had their first chances destroyed, men who he can give a second chance, men who he can give the chance at revenge too,”
“You mean,” Jimin took a grateful sip of water from the glass before Seokjin set it back down. The liquid spreading across his dry tongue and parched throat; “men who are indebted to him, owned by him?”
“If that’s how you see it then yes,”
“What does the chancellor require of me?”
“To be his eyes and ears, his body. He needs a hunter Jimin, a killer,”
“And what do you need?” Jimin asked watching as the man before himself smiled at the crippled man’s perceptiveness.
“I need you to be my eyes, ears, and tongue. An inside man and a police officer,” Seokjin smiled.
“A rat for the Chancellor?” Jimin laughed.
“I assumed you have a contract with you of some sort?”
“I do,” Seokjin smiled. He pulled out a file from the folder. Only one page.
“Isn’t it a bit short?” Jimin looked down at the one page.
“Jimin you're signing of your freedom essentially for the use of your legs. There isn’t much else needed to discuss,”
“I suppose,” Jimin hummed taking a black sleek pen from Seokjin’s hand. It felt rich and heavy in his hand. Its sharp tip glinting furiously in the dim lighting. A knife sat black and blue in his hand. Ink waiting to streak onto paper dabbled on the ballpoint tip.
Under the agreement of the Righteous Chancellor of Earth, Park Jimin, born in Neo-Korea will forfeit the right of Earthen Citizen Ship Codes 2-3. His identity will be wiped from all Earthen and Orbital Systems and thus all rights and laws pertaining to citizens will no longer be applicable. He will receive appropriate accommodation on Orbital Station Alpha as well as funding as needed. Park Jimin will also receive all medical requirements needed to maintain his health at a constant 100% functionality, including all surgeries needed to repair pre-existing damage. He will also receive training as needed to complete all task(s).
THEREFORE, Parties agree to:
- All task(s) and duties will be set and chosen by Superior Head of Earth Northern Hemisphere Law and Order Division Kim Seokjin and the Righteous Chancellor of Earth.
- Failure to complete duties adequately will result in the removal of BioTech Additions to the body.
- Failure to complete tasks to 100% completion will result in immediate removal.
Witness: Kim S.J.
Seokjin shrugged; “Yet to be determined, depends on your training and whether or not you live up to your expectations,”
“And if I don’t live up to those expectations?”
“Agreement two applies,”
“And if I refuse training after signing?”
“Agreement three applies,”
“So, if I fuck up you make me a cripple again and if I refuse you kill me?”
Seokjin smiled; “Don’t fuck up.”
Jimin blinked and looked over him. His brown eyes drifting along Seokjin’s face, eating up the curve of his eyes and the unwavering motion of his brows. The man before him was deadly serious. He was willingly sat here letting Jimin, a man of obvious disabilities sign away his life. In fact, he probably helped to draft up the contract.
The contract that currently burnt and brandished his hand. Heavy in his right shaking hand pressed alongside the pen. He gulped and looked at the shaking pair. The thing that could make or take his life in the months or years to come. Hell, maybe even centuries. Jimin didn’t think his ideas on skins could change. He hated them but as the contract said, his health would be maintained at 100%. Jimin doubted his health would remain at 100% in his eighties. He knew for a fact that if he agreed to this his face would wither and eventually his body would be replaced.
His pen shook, and his signature scrawled, his humanity sacrificed. Seokjin took it from him. His hand clasped around the one-page white contract, he slipped it into the manila cream folder. Closing it shut, wrapping its string closed before depositing it in the black leather briefcase. The metal digital locks sliding shut with a well oil slide and click. “Good,” Seokjin smiled, a breath of past hesitance removed from his lips. He licked his tongue along them and licked them before nibbling on them, stopping them from pulling up too far. “I didn’t think you’d sign it,”
“The ah, agreements are a bit much,” Seokjin smiled, demeanor changing from businessman to something quite different. He still had an air of authority and maturity, but he seemed more laid back. Less robotic and more human. “Most people wouldn’t sign it so willingly,”
“I’m not like most people,” Jimin stated.
“You most certainly are not,” Seokjin nodded. He then stood and smoothed down his black dress pants and a matching jacket. “Is there anything you wish to bring with you?”
“Where about are we going?”
“Orbital Station Alpha, Law and order headquarters,” Seokjin explained; “Your new home.”
“I highly doubt it will become my home,”
“A place to sleep then?”
“A place to sleep,” Jimin nodded.
“I’ll get your nurse,” Seokjin smiled again. He turned not before looking over his shoulder to see Jimin. Bathed in orange lamp light looking out his grimy, small and cramped window. Watching the world, he has known for three years for the last time. His tiny view of the world about to rapidly shift and grow both figuratively and literally.
Jimin blinked, watching the ebbing shift in cloud cover outside. From the square window, he could see a walking hologram. He wondered briefly what it advertised. The slightly blue shimmering hologram flickered as the rain pelted against it, flickering through the light. Its unnatural curved body looked as if it belongs to a cartoon rather than an advertisement. The hologram depicted a scantily dressed woman with black hair that looked blue due to its holographic form. Her skin glittered even though it seemed grey in the rain. She was beautiful and obviously not alive. Her smile fake as her eyes. Jimin sighed, it was a new type of modified skin, the skin of a human, the body of the human, bones of steel. A fake frame to make a newly shaped mold.
He wondered momentarily if he did die all those years ago as he should have, would his body have been turned into a skin? Jimin could deny what he was. He knew he had a handsome, even pretty face back then. His body was well-kempt back them, with just the right amount of muscles to keep him from being too muscular but not near puny. He was quite handsome. Jimin decided though, that even though he used to be handsome his body wouldn’t have been used for a skin, the scars along his back, though he hadn’t seen them would be far too gruesome. Jimin bit his lip in thought, he had often pictured the burnt flesh between his shoulders. Melted and restrung together. An ugly deformation for an ugly deformed man.
He blinked and looked up at Seokjin who had wheeled in a black wheelchair. For a time in humanity when technology was aplenty, he had certainly not seen that much of it. The wheelchair caved in and the wheels were bent. He was surprised it still held up with it's rusted and sometimes missing bolts. But none the less who was he to complain, he’d be leaving his room with someone other than a doctor or nurse for the first time in months.
Seokjin sat the wheelchair down beside the bed just as a male nurse came in. His body adorned in light blue scrubs and a beige cardigan. Jimin smiled gratefully as he, with far too much ease, lifted Jimin’s frail body from the bed and into the chair. For a humiliating moment, the man untangled Jimin’s body from the mess of wires and monitors he was constantly hooked up to. His hospital gown was shifted to the side only enough to reveal his smooth white skin of his stomach. Puckered and pink in scared areas or where tubes had been forced under his skin to stimulate muscles that refused to work. After a moment of fiddling the man pulled Jimin’s gown back down across his body and draped a blanket across his bare knees.
Seokjin watched on emotionless at the man before him. He expected something more when he had come here. He knew Jimin was crippled. Seokjin knew he would be a shadow of his former self, but this was a lot more than he had though. The dancer’s once perfect build was near ruined, his skin barely clung to his brittle bones. His legs looked at if he could snap them, fingers like twigs. Even Jimin’s right hand, which still worked yet shook with uncontrollable ferocity was slim and slender. Far too skinny, far to death like.
His personality had undoubtedly changed too. Jimin seemed hostile before Seokjin had pried. His gaze was immediately one of bitter resent and fearful curiosity. He hadn’t trusted Seokjin and Seokjin knew he would never if his shattered broken soul remained this way. This was not going to be an easy feat for the Police Officer, to gain the trust of a man beyond giving. If his plans were to work, then he would need Jimin to trust him.
The nurse gave Seokjin a smile that was warm and friendly, unlike Jimin’s angry glower. “He’s ready to go,” the nurse gave one more tight-lipped smile alongside a gentle, respectful bow before he left. Left the pair to stand in a stalemate of looks.
“So, shall we go?”
“What else would I do,” Jimin remarked dryly.
“Fair enough,” Seokjin hummed doing his best remain positive as usual. He walked around behind Jimin, wrapping his hands around the handles provided. Then he pushed, the wheel’s turning with surprising ease.
It took them an hour to reach the outside of the city. Weaving through Neo-Korea’s streets filled with busy onlookers. It wasn’t every day a government issue van rolled down the busy rain-filled streets brandishing its black perfect paint, lack of identification and tinted windows of such a deep hue it absorbed the light around it. Black, on black on black. More mystery pilled upon more mystery.
Jimin’s life to himself was currently a mystery. How or why he had been chosen he didn’t know. For a moment he wondered if this was real or a dream. If he had just become so desperate, so depraved that he let his mind slip and conjure up falsehoods to bring him meaningless joy. It couldn’t be that for Jimin could feel, through his quaking right hand the rough woolen blanket draped across his stick-thin legs. The feeling of touch one that grounded the crippled man for it meant he was not dreaming and he wasn’t half as mad as he thought he was. He was paranoid even fearful of Seokjin, but trusting too.
He too easily wrote his name, too easily signed his life away and too easily made himself vulnerable. Such was always the case for Park Jimin. In his youth, he was trusting. In his teen years, he was trusting. Now at the ripe age of twenty-three, he continued to be trusting. The carers he had throughout his life whether it be his foster parents, doctors or nurses, they had all told him it was a good trait. To be trusting of another one must first trust themselves many had said. Jimin did not trust himself for after everything bad to happen to him he realised it was his trust in others that lead him to where he was.
Jimin didn’t even know if the man before him really was Kim Seokjin. A man he had heard of a few times but never enough to remember greatly nor distinctly. There were many peculiar things about this Mr. Kim before him. One was his naturalness, he was youthful, beautiful, yet with no skin modifications. No infusions which turned his eyes blue, no surgeries to enhance his physic. No all of the man before him was as he is. An unfair natural beauty. A fair feat considering Kim Seokjin resided in Station Alpha. The second-highest-ranking station in the Station fleet. Everyone that came down to earth from those safe havens was perfect and fake.
He had heard recently of new prototype skins. Made not of human skin, bone or flesh but of carbon and steel. A machine with the consciousness of a human, though not an android for unlike androids these prototype skins were controlled by people. Their consciousness removed from their bodies and filtered into little more than a chip. A chip in a machine that was them. Them, being people. People who thought, felt, ran and acted as any other person would except the feat of reproduction.
The thought of it made him feel queasy. His skin, but not his skin, his bones but not his bones, his voice yet not at all his voice and his mind but not his brain. It was bamboozling to him. It was at times like this when he was sucked into the metaphorical rabbit hole of his mind he wished, so dearly wished, that he had chosen a different field of specialty. Rather than psychology, he wished he studied computer robotics, artificial intelligence, android, and human relations. Something that would make sense more than the human mind made sense. Even in his field of study, Jimin didn’t particularly know much for every mind in every human, natural or machine, this life, this skin or another was different, vast and constantly changing.
As vast and changing as the world around him. The city had loomed no doubt in the back window, if Jimin could have control over anything other than his right arm, neck, and head he would shift to look at it. Watch it ebb away like the rise and fall of the tides down at the hydro fields. Disappear into nothing but the deep black red horizon away, sheltered from his vision.
In said vision, Jimin could see the flat curve of the land. Red, barren and cracked. A dry wasteland where a Forrest once stood. Neo-Korea, in fact the whole world looked like this. Like dry skin, hairs sticking out like sparse face stubble. There were trees yes, long gone, dead and decaying. Their roots twisted and gnarled spiking from the ground and clawing to get out. Their skin, tougher than rocks, bark dried and dried until it was fried in the relentless sun which never shone its rays past the black clouded sky. Which only ever let enough in to nourish the weakest of children and grow them into the weakest of adults. Only just enough to power a few lights and to grow the most stubborn of plants.
In 2030 the world cleanse began. Stirred by a generation of hopefuls fearful for their world and its decaying rotting state. They swept entire oceans and forests and mountains to rid it of disease and trash. For the most part, they exceeded. They cleaned the world for a short period of time. Allowed for prosperity to reign, and the next generation to be born without worry. Then the next, and then the next, and then the next and the next.
Generations were born, and the life expectancy only grew. A planet that once struggled to support seven billion failed to support twenty-one billion by the twenty-second century. Resources couldn’t be mined, for houses lay upon wells of wealth, agriculture couldn’t be tended for roads were built where plows dove. The world became full and empty at the same time. A race only one hundred years ago bent on saving their world became too depraved and desperate and they fought over it.
The need for famine to disappear amongst communities drove countries to war. The fight for resources began and the final battle commenced. Nearly one hundred years ago today the doomsday arrived and brought with it a cleansing death of half the world population. A bomb dropped on Old-America wiped the nation of proud men and women from the face of the earth. It plagued the continent with the same force of radiation as six-hundred-trillion X-ray’s at once.
While America was lost and continues to be lost, the strain of the world and on resources lowered. The atrocity brought life. Yet the atrocity could not be ignored for in the grey clouds, the rain and the wind the radiation spread. It lingered around only long enough to wipe the world barren and truly cleanse it. Destroying the soil until it could bear no fruits and bare no life.
In the chaos of the end the men squabbled for in tragedy, there is a great reward. The richest rose to power and saved themselves. They lived in luxury in the sky, in space, away from the ruin they caused and they ruled. Only the most powerful ruled in history and now was no exception. The chancellor ruled them all for he was the wealthiest, most powerful king. The King of Wastelands.
The red soil their car plowed through, the road to the station and the arrowhead of glass and metal pointed to the sky was the thing he owned. He owned the station that rose a distance before him. It shone black against the grey sky. Shining blue too, rings of light surrounding it from both spacecraft, whose hulls glowed orange, and from lights to guide. It was a spiked mausoleum of spires, lights and docking stations rising up from the cracked red earth.
In platforms hovering around the main spire of the station smaller, the lighter craft was being parked. The rotating platforms constantly turning and hovering meters from the spires that held them up. They looked like iron weights on wafer-thin platforms. The mere sight sent a shot of anxiety curdling up his veins like burning magma. Not nearly as bad as the sight of the sizzling hot freighter perched precariously at the top of the main spire. Shaped like a long sleek oval its gunmetal grey frame was riveted with large bolts holding it together. The lower half of its body red at the very base center, still cooling down after its descent from the heavens. It was a darker burnt black towards the sides.
Seokjin yawned looking up at the sight of the ship. He’d seen it so many times that its precarious reach of the world was no longer unsettling. For him, this was an average day. He constantly flew in and out of the heavens. It was what his job required of him so he did it with little vigor. Seokjin knew, however, this would be the first time Jimin would be actually flying. He had no doubt used ground shuttles, connection trains and other types of transport but nothing was quite as jarring as exiting and re-entering the atmosphere.
“It's not as bad as it looks,” Seokjin smiled and then with an added tone of sarcasm he added; “As long as the elevator works,”
Jimin ignored the sarcastic attempt at humour. He’d heard it before, not only that but he was to busy with draining the surroundings into his plughole eyes. Bottling up the surroundings, the outside world of which he has been deprived, into his memories. Dusty red landscapes new to his eyes, spiraling monstrous buildings also new to his eyes. He refused to forget this view for it has been the first glimpse of the world he has had in three years.
The cars rolling bump as it drove across red gravel roads changed to a smooth whirr. The black tire tread pressing down into shiny black asphalt thrown around the station like satin fabric. It was smooth and certainly less jarring as the car, following the empty line of traffic rolled to the front of the station. A few people milled around outside, dragging in luggage from their cars and taxies. Jimin noted their obvious wealth, no doubt they were returning from holidays or business trips.
The women wore the brightest colours, their bodies splattered in metals and paints, dripping with pearlescent finery. Dresses and heels, porcelain faces and long lashes. He looked around at them all and knew that the people he looked out at weren’t themselves. Their bodies adorned with skin mods, bio-tech mods and possibly entirely new skins. The men all tall, handsome and well built, their bodies stuffed into well-tailored suits that clung close to their bodies.
Jimin glanced at the side of the car where a woman wearing a black sleek pantsuit walked, her brown hair was scraped back from her head in a tight bun by the nape of her neck. Her face was pale and her nose pointed. She reminded him of a bird, with her angular sharp and calculating features, her glasses perched on the tip of her nose. Jimin watched on as her bright pink eyes scanned down the lengths of the folder in her hands as she walked. Her lips moving as she read.
“Did you see her eyes?” Jimin whispered looking at the bright pink of them. It's not like he hadn’t seen it before, yet it was very rare in Neo-Korea to find such a modification.
“Mm,” Seokjin hummed looking up from the folders he flipped through; “They're a bit ghastly. Color-wise too, pink is most certainly not her colour,” he snorted. With a sigh, he closed his work and pushed it back in his briefcase which continuously sat on his lpa, always at arms reach.
“Why do people do that?” Jimin blinked; “Its just not…”
“Natural?” Seokjin smiled.
“Yeah,” jimin breathe out a soft reply.
“That’s the point, they don’t want to be natural. They want to be beautiful and they want to have attention and the power that it brings,” Seokjin nods unbothered by the woman’s strange look; “The capital isn’t as nice as it looks. Where there a rich there are snakes and where there are poor there are none,”
“Everyone in the capitol is constantly trying to one-up one another,” Seokjin smiled; “You're lucky though, you’ve surpassed them all already,”
“You’re going to be training to be the Chancellors personal warrior. You’ll be seen behind him, protecting him and in this case, you’ll be taking down his biggest threat,”
“You will,” Seokjin nodded; “You have to be trained first obviously, you are a behavioral expert and data freak, not a weapon man,”
“Thanks for the compliment,” Jimin hummed.
“Anytime,” Seokjin snorted; “I was a psychology major too, though I knew how to fire a gun not just type on a keyboard,”
“There's much more to it than that,”
“I’m aware, I’m just pulling on your leg,” Seokjin laughed.
He for a moment was silent his lips parted slightly as if ready to say something. The word dripping on his saliva lace tongue, thick like honey. Dark deep honey bitter and perfect.
The car stopped and so did the drip dripping of honey. Seokjin’s lips closed into a thin concentrating line as he reached down to his side. His hands grasping the black plastic of his seat buckle. The red button gleaming angrily for his to press it, thumb pressing down into it and freeing himself of his seatbelts and unbinding up from the seat. His back now free and unrestrained of the black faux leather he’d been sat on for the tedious journey.
He moved forward, his briefcase momentarily discarded on the seat as he crouched in front of Jimin’s wheelchair. Unlocking the clasps on the old wheel he then exited the car, the driver waiting at the large back doors. Ramp ready and waiting to roll its crippled inhabitants out into the bright red world.
For a moment Jimin found himself self-conscious. It was a strange feeling of anxiety pumping on his diaphragm and heart, thudding away like a broken record. He hadn’t felt like this in years. In the care home he resided in, he never had the need to care for his appearance. Frankly, because he couldn’t. He didn’t care if the nurses forgot to wash his hair, comb it or shave his face. For if his appearance was messy than who would notice?
He ran his right hand along his face, the back of his knuckles meeting his sharp jawline, sharper than it used to be out of malnourishment. Jimin wondered, just as his knuckles ran across the scraggly few hairs protruding from his chin if he would be considered anorexic at this point? He didn’t care what he looked like, whether he be fat or skinny. Yet for so long he had refused to eat out of spite and resentment for himself. He spent weeks alone being force-fed, tubes forced down his nose and into his gullet. Food painfully mashed to nothingness and fed and funneled into his body to keep himself alive.
Jimin didn’t care what he looked like, so his reason for not eating wasn’t a thing of vanity. Rather self-pity and loathing. In the beginning it was so much easier to lay in bed all day and not move if he tried to do something he once could he would be consumed. Even the most mundane things he used to do caused him to cry out in anger and frustration. Along the way, it turned into a fear of not doing things that were mundane and normal. It meant that if he couldn’t eat as everyone else could than he wouldn't, only being able to eat gross mushy food for his lack of mobility, then he wouldn’t do it at all. He refused to accept for the longest time that he wasn’t like everyone else anymore.
Along the way, as it always does, self-hate and loathing turned into emptiness and wastelessness. Jimin soon learned that he wouldn’t be granted a quick death. A long death would be one he could achieve. He refused his medication when he could, refused to even speak of it, and refused to eat. Jimin found pleasure in the idea of his body wasting away for it meant eventually there would be nothing left to disappear for he’d all be gone.
Yet now, he was not sure whether he hated the wasted-away, gaunt look of his body or loathed it. For now, people did not stare at him as Seokjin wheeled him through the large lobby of the station for the colour of his eyes. His eyes which were not pink, green or abnormally colours but rather a deep dark chocolate brown. They instead looked at him for his skeletal arms, the array of ticking time bomb machines attached to the wheelchair and the curious government worker who wheeled him about.
It took them another half an hour before they were boarding. For them, it meant they didn’t have to wait in line with every other space traveler here. It was partly because of Jimin’s obvious ailments in health and partly because of the bright flashy silver badge Seokjin prided himself at flashing at every official worker. Even the desk workers saw the badge and let him through. Jimin wondered if it was his standard-issue police badge or something else. Back when he was training they were still golden, they could have changed though.
Jimin had only been enrolled at the academy for the whole sum of five months before his moment to shine was torn from him. A mugging went wrong, and empty wallet was stolen and a bullet placed in his back.
As Jimin was wheel passed the marble indoor fortress of the front lobby and into one of the large glass elevators he sighed. “So, tomorrow?”
“Is the day after today,”
“Hilarious,” Jimin said dryly; “What am I doing tomorrow? I highly doubt our lord and savior will want to be kept waiting,”
Seokjin jostled his wheelchair slightly, the wheels skidding over the metal entrance to the oval elevator. Jimin wasn’t sure if it was on purpose, a reprimand for his comment, or just his inadequacy to steer the wheelchair. “I’ve scheduled for your consultation tomorrow, the doctor will go over some tests and blood work. He’ll talk you through it all, though obviously you can’t say no to any of it.”
“And then when will the surgery be?”
“The day after,” Seokjin nodded; “I have three months to teach you the decade worth of training you’ll need to complete your missions now and in the future. Not only that but I have to teach you how to fuckign walk again,”
“All I need is to learn how to shoot a gun right? I should be good then?”
Seokjin snorted; “You’re gonna need a lot more than that Park Jimin, a lot more.”
Park Jimin found himself at awe of the view both on take-off and landing. At first, it was blue and smeared grey clouds rolling past the burning windows in seconds. Rumbling and growling thunder being drowned by the low drone of the engine thrusts forcing them up at unprecedented speeds into the atmosphere. Like and arrow to the target the shot and hurdled up and up into the atmosphere.
The aerodynamic curve of the freighter slicing through the heavy air and bright blue atmosphere. The hull creaking and churning as the anti-gravity whirred on and forced passengers into their seats.
Now the sky was black. Darker than it was back on earth. It was void of everything, of life and colour. Except for thousands of blinking eyes, staring back at his from the satin drape of the never-ending horizon. Gems and crystals sewn into the sky with a celestial being. The view was awe-striking and so so scary.
Jimin was aware of the emptiness of space and the surrounds outside the ship, of how absolutely and completely they were bare of anything. Yet he was also aware of the glare behind him, the heat curling through space in the form of beams of strange peculiar light he had only seen a few months of the long year. Even then they were never as powerful as they were now. Bright, blinding and perfect. He’d missed them, even on the month were everything stopped, when the burning plants were powered down and the atmosphere momentarily cleared he hadn’t seen it. Instead, he’d been locked up inside watching from his square window.
He spent the whole time nearly burning through his corneas watching as the glowing orb of the sun disappears behind earth on its axis. Even though the distances were great, the sun dwarfed the planet. Jimin was told that Earth, one of the smallest planets in their solar system, was green and blue. The oceans were vast yet not all reaching and the ground was green with life.
From here he could see no green, instead, he could see only black. The cloud looked boiled and wrong. Churning in whirlpools over what he could assume was the vast expanse. The area of the earth was so unhabitable it could never be used again. It was deepest and darkest over Old-America, the clouds and smoke of long-dead radiation still fuming with anger and destruction. The blast shook the world all those years ago exposing the countries alpine regions to the inner bowels of the planet. To streams of lava that spewed ash far better than volcanoes ever did. Jimin assumed that’s why Old-America from this view glowed. Red and angry.
Jimin looked at it, he’d seen the old planet in the history books. It was like a jewel set amongst the stars brandishing sapphire diamond and emerald. This, however, looked like a lump of coal, brown and old waiting to be burnt up and consumed by the sun behind it. “The view isn’t that way,” Seokjin blinked. He leaned out of his seat beside Jimin and looked at Earth and its sad view.
Jimin turned his head he looked at Seokjin first. His eyes raking over the smartly dressed man before glancing behind him. Further down the ship to the next window, he looked to find the real view Seokjin spoke of. The space station looked different than the one on earth. It had a main center, a long double-headed arrow. It was blinking in silver and white, different lights in the station shining in the night. On the main shaft of the ship, he could read clearly the black emblem of the Chancellor, a fist in an iron gauntlet capturing the stars. Earth, the old-earth in its grip. Beside it the name of the Space station was imprinted in English, the new universal language. Metro-Station Alpha 1.
In twisting rings around the main shaft rotating chambers and rings constantly twisted and turned at opposite angles. They looked like the old diagrams of atoms, three separate pairs turning and keeping the Station on its axis. Jimin wondered what exactly these rings were for, possibly docking stations or official quarters. “I’d buckle up if I were you,” Seokjin smiled; “The public freighter isn’t the best.”
Jimin blinked at him with a look of frustration before glancing down at the seat belt. It curved across the wearer's chest and hips, it required two hands to buckle due to the strangely advance clasp which confused Jimin for it was electronic rather than good old mechanism. “Uhm?”
“Oh, here,” Seokjin leaned over and grasped the clasp buckling it over Jimin’s chest. His hands scraping along the thin hospital gown he wore. It pressed close to his form but not nearly as tight as it should be. The buckle glowed blue but not quite as bright as everyone else's which confused Jimin. The unbothered look on Seokjin’s face, however, eased Jimin’s mind for the most part as the ship juddered. Its speed halting, gas pouring out the front of the gas to slow its rapidly approaching speed.
After only a minute of well-calculated movements the ship had closed in on the space station, maneuvered through the giant rotating rings and was alongside the metal main ship. Its side meters away from the ship as it skimming along, presumably finding the correct port and docking station. Its speed a lot slower but still fart o fast for Jimin’s liking.
It only slowed after long cables flew out from the side of the ship near a large open port. They shone blue and bright like lightning as they latched onto the side of the ship. Clamps curling into the metal hooks made for them. Caught on now like a fish on the hook the ship was reeled in. Brought inside to the ship's inner bowels.