The world has changed. Skies darkened and deserts grew ever quieter. Battle cries reduced to mere whispers, murmurings of days gone by. The once loud echoes of war disappeared, the blowing wind that carried the sound became stagnant air. Bright flashes of lasers, dancing through the night, are only remembered by scorch marks left behind, even those are being buried by the sand. The previously defiant have become the most subdued. Eyes that burned bright became blind and hearts that beat strong grew weak. The desert heroes disappeared. There is no fight left in the world, only submission. BL/ind is no longer an industry, it is an empire. An empire that has conquered the towns, the cities, several states, and now their sights are set on the nation. The world is turning black and white with little hope for color. Nothing remains the same.
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA: 8 YEARS AFTER DOOMSDAY
A child is running down the sidewalk, desperately trying to make it to the bus stop around the corner before he misses it yet again. Already having missed the first three times the bland black and white vehicle stopped, he would not miss it again. He COULDN'T miss it again, his forearm was still bruised from the reprimanding as a result of yesterday's tardiness. The young boy's black hair flew back as he ran faster and faster, seeing the vehicle stop ahead and begin loading up its dully dressed passengers. His feet pounded against the asphalt, starting to ache as they hit the concrete harder and harder, carrying him to the front of the bus just in time to stick his arm through the closing doors and trip the sensors. "Mean old, Martin," as the children called him, huffed at him in disdain as he reluctantly waited for the child to board and the doors to swing shut behind him.
"Thanks, Mr. Martin..." The child whispered as he made his way past the grumpy, wrinkled, old man, whose white suit was stretched tight around his impressive gut.
"Won't happen again runt." Martin growled as he swung the bus out in to the gridlock, joining the stream of vehicles headed towards the center of the city. The chattering of other children on the bus grew quieter as the gas guzzler made its way further in. Skyscrapers reached up to the heavens, the very tips of them touching the storm clouds high above. The glass buildings had recently replaced half of Las Vegas, rising up from the wreckage of older ones that were deemed useless by the new government. Huge screens hung off the sides of each, displaying the same smiling black face on a white background, the logo for the new paradigm. The same face took up residence on the boy's uniform, sitting on the left side of his chest. All of the young people riding the bus wore this same uniform, none were different. Backpacks, uniforms, including shoes and socks, and hair style were all mandated by the school. The girls' outfits were the same as the boys, just slightly more tailored. Their hair was to be pulled back in to a tight pony tail, and if you had curly hair it was to be straightened immediately. The boys could not let their hair touch their shoulders and eyes must be visible at all times. There would be no individuality amongst them. The young boy's hair was nearing his shoulders and would have to be cut before the end of the week to avoid yet another run in with the principal, a man you wanted to avoid at all costs.
As the bus slowed to a stop behind a long, perfectly straight line of other identical vehicles, the children stood up and in an orderly fashion exited out on to the sidewalk. Standing still in an equally perfect line until their instructor collected them. The school rose above the children as they grew closer, yet the school's flag rose ever higher. The young boy clenched his hands in to tight fists and took a deep breath as they stepped through the doors in to the building.
The walls inside were just as ghost white as the outside, the doors were deep black in color and the lockers matched them. Instructors led their lines of students to their individual classrooms, doors all shutting at almost exactly the same time. The boy was always last in line and he'd purposely let his foot linger to bump the door, resulting in a satisfactory late shut. In the back of each classroom was an enforcer as the instructors called them. They wore white tailored suits, with a black belt around their waists. Their masks were the only items of clothing in the entire city that had any splash of color on them. The big gaping red mouths, displayed the white fangs of the mask perfectly, the dark pits of their eyes bore right through you. They were meant to intimidate the children, yet the boy managed to find them funny somehow. The hair of the mask sticking straight up in to the air and the bushy eyebrows detracting from those ink pool eyes, it was almost comical.
Dangerous, they were absolutely dangerous though. They held the only guns in the entire city and on occasion would find a reason to remind you of that. Vastly improved over the previous models, the white hot lasers they shot out would surely kill you if they hit their mark, seeing as they basically aimed themselves with their new targeting software. Admittedly, the older models would do the job as well but they were were completely manual. At least, this is what the children were taught in their lessons.
"ELLIOT!" The young boy's head whipped around at the mention of his name, his eyes grew wide in fear. "Would you like to repeat to me what I've just said?" He gulped, his body already bracing itself for the punishment the instructor would no doubt deliver after class. "Well?" Her beady eyes seemed to burn holes in his. Reluctantly, Elliot shook his head "no" and his fists clenched as tears began to bead up. "See me after class." She growled and continued on with her lessons. Elliot took down every note he could, for fear she'd question him about it later and he wouldn't be able to prove he'd learned anything. His instructor was known to be the cruelest one at the entire school. She had a reputation for turning kids arms black and blue, and sadly it was completely legal. Ms. Loren loved it.
Government, Economics, and Humanities were Elliot's least favorite lessons of the day. He hated listening to Ms. Loren ramble on and on about the government, how important it was that they uphold the laws laid down by their leaders and his mind was too spacey to pay attention to any sort of reading. Elliot's eyes would often glass over as his mind drifted off, transporting himself mentally out in to the middle of the desert. His imagination would always take him to this dilapidated diner that appeared to be slowly sinking in the sand. The diner's walls were covered in symbols and words that he could never make out, but was fascinated by even still due to their bright colors. He often imagined what it would be like to live in this diner, to sleep on one of its torn up benches and how he would have food and water managed, but the real world would always come crashing back when the teacher slapped her ruler across his hands.
Elliot yelped loudly as his hands were lashed. Ms. Loren was enraged, her eyes burned with anger towards the child. "TO THE PRINCIPAL'S OFFICE!" All the other children were staring at him, fear and sorrow for the boy written across their faces. Well most of them, a select few were grinning at the prospect of watching a good display later on. Elliot was frozen in his seat until the enforcer from the back of the room came up and gripped his shirt, yanking him up out of the chair.
"Grab your bag." The enforcer snarled, giving Elliot's shirt just enough slack that he could reach down and grab his pack and cram all of his schoolwork in to it before getting dragged out of the room. The enforcer was silent as he pulled Elliot down the hallway towards the dreaded Principal's Office. The boy's heart pounded faster and faster with each passing moment, images of bruises up and down his arms and chest flickered in to his mind. He feared he would be put on display in front of the school as they beat him, a public reminder of what happens when you don't follow the rules. They stopped in front of the door while the white suit clad, masked man knocked on the door and waited for a response. When no sound came from inside the room, the enforcer let go of Elliot and moved his now free hand to rest on the handle of his gun. The boy gulped in fear, afraid that since the Principal hadn't answered, this enforcer was now going to take matters in to his own hands and kill him. "Do not move." The man growled from under the mask as he reached for the door and yanked it open.
The room was pitch black, the blinds on the windows were all tightly shut, it was even scarier than when the lights were on, which is saying something. The enforcer leaned inside, taking a hesitant step forward while drawing his ray gun, when suddenly a hand lashed out, grabbed the white coat jacket of the enforcer, and yanked him inside by it, Elliot fell backwards in shock and scrambled in reverse until his back hit the lockers on the opposite wall. He could hear banging and muffled voices, fists were being thrown inside the room for a few minutes before it went completely quiet. Elliot was frozen against the lockers, eyes practically bulging out of their sockets as his heart beat vigorously. Should he run? Where would he go? Back to class to report what had happened? No he couldn't do that, he couldn't because right now he couldn't even move.
"Come in here, kid." A voice emanated from within the dark room to Elliot's horror. It was deep, gruff voice that he could only imagine belonged to someone big and strong who was capable of taking down an enforcer. Nobody he knew or had ever seen was capable of doing such a thing, especially within the confines of a busy school. "I won't ask again." The voice grumbled and sparked a little bit of life back in to Elliot's legs. Reluctantly, he managed to get to his feet and slowly take a few steps towards the door before the same hand whipped out of the pitch black and grasped the front of his shirt, drawing him forwards.