1. Serin
Serin Servus was an odd, 23 year-old Ravus. She was rather plain looking and yet, just didn’t seem to fit. She didn’t seem to care much about how she looked – about how others thought she looked. Her clothes were old, not torn or tattered, but well worn and obviously of a past season’s fashion.

Even her name was more than it appeared. It was rumored her conception was not planned, that her mother, a lower-class Ravus, was impregnated during a random sexual encounter. It was said Serin’s full first name was “Serendipity” – that her mother had named her this as a result of her unplanned arrival. As it was not custom for a birthing license to be granted to a lower-class Ravus who had no documentation identifying the father or his class, the resulting pregnancy of such an act was often terminated. On rare occasion, a pregnant woman would leave the protection and comforts of the city, Aliustera, to give birth in the wilderness. Although it was rare for such a woman to ever return, it was rumored that Serin’s mother had done just that. As Serin’s mother was said to have died when Serin was only a few months old, Serin had no way of confirming or denying the rumors.

Leaving the city was dangerous for any Aliusteran as water was scarce throughout the planet. Aliusterans had developed a method for maintaining a limited water supply for the city. Access to water rations would not be made available to anyone outside. The act of leaving Aliustera would have been particularly dangerous for someone like Serin’s mom, as a result of the Ravus’ vulnerability to sunlight. The Ravus breed spent very little time outdoors as their pale gray skin made direct sunlight almost unbearable. The Crocos, on the other hand, spent most of their free time outdoors, within the confines of Aliustera, of course. Their red-colored skin made sunlight a pleasant experience.

DCPO was a part of everyday life for a modern Aliusteran. DCPO chips were implanted into infant’s brains the moment each infant was born. DCPO (Digital Channel for Personal Optics) chips created images and sounds right inside a person’s brain. This was particularly useful when it came to teaching an infant about his or her new world. Further, these chips enabled legal authorities to monitor the activities of potential security threats. The tracking feature of a DCPO chip was introduced as a security measurement for the governing authorities’ use and could only be activated directly by the CEO (Custodian of Elite Operations) of the Pollex. This ability for Security Patrol to track individual Aliusterians worked to ensure a first-time offender rarely engaged in a second offense.

It was said the act of implanting these chips was, at one point, saved until a child was old enough to want one. Of course, this all changed when the tracking feature was added. Either way, life for a 23 year-old Ravus would be rather mundane without the semi-constant feed of media streaming over DCPO waves being pumped directly into his or her brain. Every Ravus and Crocos had a DCPO chip. But the Ravus rarely had an experience of DCPO similar to one a Crocos might expect. A Ravus wouldn’t be interested in topics in which a Crocos would be and DCPO was programed to stream media of specific interest to the individual.

The way Ravus saw them, the Crocos were undignified, barely Aliusteran. The Crocos had dark red skin and often wore their hair in long braids down their backs. They had little shame, as evidenced by their refusal to cover their nudity. It was rare to see a Crocos wear more than a vestis, a small garment used to cover a Crocos’ genitals. Male and female Crocos rarely wore garments over their chests and stomachs – Absolutely vulgar. Still, they served their purpose.
The Ravus, on the other hand, wore formal, modern attire. Clothes made of colors ranging from black to white, the Ravus knew the importance of dressing to impress. The Ravus’ light gray skin contrasted beautifully with their black, gray, or white garments and silver or white hair. It was common for a Ravus to wear his or her hair short, no more than a few centimeters in length. This was the proper length for an adult Ravus. Serin looked at herself in the mirror. Lips cracking from dehydration, she looked with disgust as the tips of her hair made contact with the dry, flaking skin on her forehead. It was time for a haircut.

“Let’s go” Serin’s roommate, Timi said with an impatient tone. It was time to begin their shift with the Aliustera Security Center (ASC). “Fine” Serin said with an insincere sigh and playful tone. Serin loved her job and Timi knew it. To the dismay of Timi, Serin enjoyed visiting the Crocos sections. Sections A, B, and C, the Ravus sections of Aliustera, were kept cooler than sections D, E, and F, the Crocos sections. The Ravus sections were too cold for Serin’s taste. As a result, she often wore a coat when out in the Ravus sections. On patrol in the Crocos sections, Serin felt more comfortable.

Serin took pride in protecting Aliustera’s water supply from potential invaders. She knew her place in Aliustera was just as important as the place of any Crocos. The existence of the Crocos was very important to the Ravus as it was the job of the Crocos to manage the crops. Likewise, the Crocos relied on the Ravus to protect Aliustera’s water supply. It was understood that Aliustera’s water supply was highly coveted, as the planet was largely covered in desert. Although no living Aliusteran had ever seen a visitor from outside Aliustera, it was common knowledge life outside did exist. The Security system required the active engagement of one-third the adult Ravus population at all times in order to function at full capacity.

The Crocos and Ravus alike took pride in their work. The fact that the Crocos’ work yielded more apparent results was no concern to the Ravus. The Ravus saw the lack of evidence of a potential invasion as proof that the system was working. Although a Ravus’ DCPO chip often worked as means of social connection, Serin preferred to use this resource as means of educating herself. Serin heard stories of life beyond the walls of the city every day. Her DCPO knew her better than she knew herself. It always knew exactly what stories would interest her – what information would be useful to her. Serin loved stories of far away lands. She found the primitive cultures of the Carinus particularly fascinating.

With skin darker than the Ravus and even the Crocos, the Carinus survived better than other species in the hot desert. Although they managed without the aid of the Pollex, Carinus craved the Aliusteran water supply. On a desert planet, water was power. Those who controlled the water supply, controlled the population. Those who controlled the water supply, held the keys to life on the planet. Aliusteran’s founders had been wise enough to form the Pollex to manage the water supply. Without the Pollex, the Crocos might waste the city’s water. Without the Pollex, no security system would exist. For a Ravus, life under the Pollex was good. Serin grabbed a grey jacket off the table in her bedroom and pressed her water rations bottle against the blue light on the front of her water dispenser unit, filling the bottle with a gust of water.

Serin and Timi exited their apartment building into the open space of downtown Aliustera. Serin’s stomach growled of hunger. Timi looked into Serin’s eyes, furrowed her brow, and smiled. Serin was always hungry before patrol. “Let’s just stop by the armarium for a second.”, Serin pleaded in a playful tone. She knew there wasn’t enough time. “We’re late as it is.”, Timi sighed with a smile. The sun glared through the purple tinted glass ceiling 120 feet above the street. It was said Aliustera was large enough to be seen from space. Serin felt pride in her kind as she and Timi navigated the streets. Images of CEO Puerilis projected onto walls throughout the city: “CEO Puerilis Believes in Auliustera!” – “CEO Puerilis Speaks for Aliusterans.” – “CEO Puerilis – 100% Ravus – 100% Aliusteran!” It was that time again – time for Eligo – time for every Ravus to show his or her support for the Pollex and re-elect CEO Puerilis.

At the Aliustera Security Center, Serin and Timi received their daily security and Mo-De (Mobility Device) assignment. Mo-De use was restricted to Security detail in Aliustera. There was really no need for them beyond Security detail. The Ravus had everything they needed within walking distance of their homes. Likewise, the Crocos had everything they felt they needed in their section of the city.

Serin helped herself to the sack of cibusplast near the Mo-De garage entry and began eating it by the juicy, white handful. Timi walked up next to Serin and scooped pieces of the pearly candy into a black sack until it was full – “We have our rations, Serin. Let’s go.” Serin grabbed another handful for the ride.

Serin and Timi rode inside their Mo-De to a Security portal in section D. They were to patrol the corridors of the outside Western wall, checking for breaches and hoarded water. Although the Pollex provided enough water for every Aliusteran to survive, some Crocos hoarded stolen water. Water that was meant for the growing of crops was sometimes stolen and hidden throughout Crocos sections of the city. One popular hiding place was within the outside Western wall.

To keep the streets safe for pedestrians, the Pollex had made it mandatory that all Mo-Des be air-born while in operation. Not that the Mo-De required any real operating from it’s occupants. Ravus at the ASC programed all Mo-De operations from the Office of Mo-De Operations. It was rumored that Mo-Des were once operated by the Aliusterans who occupied them, but this had led to unscheduled detours. It was best to leave the navigating to Ravus who had no personal interest in such detours or distractions. Air-born operations of Mo-Des also enabled Ravus Security Patrol to bypass the Security checkpoints that littered the streets of the city.

Although visiting an area of the city like section D presented certain dangers to a Ravus, Serin loved it. She smiled as the slightly warm air filled the speeding Mo-De as wind through the open vent in the top. It was exciting to interact with the lower race. Besides, the Crocos knew their place. They knew of the repercussions to be if they were to cause harm to a Ravus, to an officer of the ASC. When she was on duty, Serin held authority over every Aliusteran who was not. Timi, on the other hand, was less certain. The center of the city was safer for Ravus as the ASC had constant surveillance of activities in sections A and B. Timi shuttered as they passed a Crocos apartment building. It stretched several stories high and bore no external walls. Timi gagged and quickly closed the vent as the smell of the Crocos filled the cab. Serin looked on with interest as their Mo-De sped by. It was uncommon for a Ravus to have any business in a Crocos apartment building, even when on patrol. Pollex policy made a clear division between Crocos living space and the public area.

Serin and Timi reached the Security portal where the inside and outside Western walls met. With the Mo-De secured inside the Security portal, Serin looked out through the dirty glass inner wall, over a large recreation area and miles of Crocos fields below. Serin reached out her hand and pressed it against the glass as if to touch the particles of pollen that moved across the outside of the glass wall. She felt the warmth of the outside air on the pads of her fingers. It was a testament to the greatness of the Pollex that the Crocos could maintain such a lush supply of crops on the wasteland that was her planet. Timi exclaimed with a sharp disgust, “Serin!” Startled, Serin quickly removed her hand and looked back at Timi, “You are going to get sick doing that! Let’s go!” Timi had already opened the Security door to the outside wall. Timi stepped down the stairwell into dimly lit corridor of outside wall. After gathering her personal light beam from the Mo-De, Serin followed. Now the work would begin.

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