Chapter 2: Office of Reason

Arron was stopped several times as he walked through the Military base wearing civilian clothes. After showing his discharge papers for the tenth time to the roving security bots as well as their human counterparts, he was finally able to exit the highly secured base.

It was just after 8 am as he started to walk to the nearest Highspeed MagLev Station. He only carried a small cloth bag that held his PT workout clothes, work uniform, and a spare set of civilian clothes.

Other than his clothes he was only allowed to take his canteen and the nearing 10-year-old military-issued 198x wrist data-pad.

The distance he needed to walk was rather short. Since the military base he was stationed at was in the middle of nowhere, the MagLev station was just a small ParaConcrete platform with a roof and bench.

Arron looked at the blue 2-d holo-sign that was projected right next to the bench.

“It only comes here at noon?”

With a sigh, Arron sat down on the bench and sorted through the recently unlocked functions on his NerViz and wrist data-pad.

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From the moment he entered training and through the 8 years he had served, he along with every low-tier officer and grunt were cut off from the outer world.

This served two purposes, it stopped soldiers from receiving news of current events, both local and global, preventing anything from affecting them from completing their duties. It also protected the military’s secret information making sure that no one could leak information to civilians which might cause problems.

Arron looked over the several options on the holo-menu that was floating above his wrist data-pad. The first option that caught his attention was the Holo-News broadcast.

‘Why not catch up on some current events. I have a lot of time before the MagLev arrives,’ thought Arron as he tapped the news button.

Three news stations popped up for him to choose from. Arron didn’t care which one he watched so he just went with the default channel.

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A small transparent 2-d holo-screen was projected in front of his face showing a middle-aged man and young woman sitting behind a red news desk. Both were wearing yellow clothes.

“Good morning to all of you just joining us. I am Pake and this is my co-host Fela. You are watching PNN. The first major news this morning has to do with the popular actress Jena.”

“Sources say that she has been accused of being a Non-believer by a co-worker. The holonet has been in such an uproar about this event that Mother and Father Immediately ordered the [Office of Reason] to look into the matter, ” said a cheerful Fela, as she read the floating script in front of her.

“I think this was a clear message from the [Party of Mother and Father]. This shows that even those at the top are not untouchable. The results of their findings will be out sometime in the next few days when they finish their interroga… meeting,” said Pake.

“How shocking to find out that such a thing like this happened, and for it to happen when she was at such a high point in her career…” said Fela. She shook her head. “But, if I am to be honest with our viewers, it would not surprise me if she was secretly a filthy separatist.”

“Ah…yes… well… I don’t think she is a… you know, seeing as she’s still…” There were several seconds of silence between the two news anchors as they looked at each other.

Pake was the first to look away and started reading off the next news topic.

“In other news, thanks to the great wisdom of the [Party of Mother and Father] and the policies they have passed, the economy is booming! We have an expert economist from the local [WHO] office to explain why the soaring boom is here to stay for good!”

Most of what Arron watched meant little to him as he was playing catch up and was just trying to absorb everything like a dry sponge. He would try to sort it all out later either on the MagLev ride or when he got home.

***

A female in her early 20’s sat at one of the hover chairs behind a white para-steel table. The sterile walls of the large room were made of the same white para-steel.

The light inside the room was extremely bright and made it uncomfortable to keep her eyes open.

Click!

At the sound of the para-steel door unlocking and opening to the side, Jena turned her head to see who had entered the room.

Three people entered the room, one male and two females all middle-aged. Each of them wore white suits that matched the room’s color.

They silently walked to the table. The two females stood at either side of the table while the male placed a large slim Holo-pad onto the table and started to tap out a few notes on the holo-keypad that appeared.

Jena silently watched the three knowing that she was not in a good spot right now. Her mind was racing. In her mind, she was going over all that had happened late last night.

The man finished typing and made a quick gesture with his hand over the holo-pad, and pushed it to the middle of the table.

A blinking red light appeared above the holo-pad along with a ticking timer next to it.

“I am Agent Real Lintern of the [Office of Reason]. These two are my co-workers,” said Real, pointing to the two cold-faced women standing to either side of him.

The two women said nothing, nor did they move at all. They just continued to stare at Jena with their cold gazes.

“As per policy of the [Office of Reason] when meeting with TROUBLED people, this Interview is being recorded. This recording will be used now or at a later time when and if needed,” said Agent Real in a dry tone as he repeated the line as if he had done it millions of times before.

“Jena Kara, F-031-2-112021, Social credit score AAA. Address: 4th level, floor 700, apartment building 320, apartment number 17. Is this information correct?”

“Yes…” said Jena. She was not sure if she should say anything else that was on her mind, but decided it was best to stay silent.

The man pressed a button on the table and a drone detached itself from the ceiling and began circling Jena scanning her entirely before returning to its original spot.

A replica of Jena appeared above the holo-pad along with all the data gathered from her NerViz cloud chip streaming up next to it. With a wave of his hand, Agent Real pushed it out of sight.

“We are in the beginning stage of our investigation. If you have anything to add, now would be the time,” said Agent Real.

“I’m not a non-believer and not one of those Separatists! I follow all of the laws that Mother and Father put forth,” said Jena, trying to plead her innocence.

“So… you are saying your co-worker is lying?” asked Agent Real. His face still showed no emotion.

“I have no idea what she said! All I know is that the rumors spreading on the Holonet and the news are all wrong!”

“Your concerns on the subject have been recorded. If that is all, today’s meeting is finished,” said Agent Real. He pulled the Holo-pad towards him and stopped the recording.

“Wait! That’s it? What about clearing my name?” asked Jena.

“As I said before, we are still in the preliminary stages of our investigation. We will be checking out every piece of information people have sent to us. If you have anyone that wants to vouch for you and your character, you can have them call us and set up a meeting. If not, we will give you the results of our finding within a week.”

Agent Real stood up holding the holo-pad under his arm as he pushed the hoverchair back under the table. He walked to the white para-steel door with the two cold female agents beside him.

“In a moment someone will come to escort you back to your apartment. I suggest that you do not cause any more problems for Mother and Father while we are investigating,” said Agent Real.

With those last words, the three white suit agents of the [Office of Reason] exited the room.


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