Shorts smartworld

The Liberation

Where, following the war that started when they were a small child, Citizen 1,498,382 reflects upon those days that came to define them. The days when YutopiCorp’s forces landed in her homeland and liberated her—and her entire country—from the tyranny of political rule.

[16 September, 2127 | Tuesday]

The name “Ottawa” is derived from the dead Algonquin language, taking its name from the word “adawe,” which means “to trade.” It wasn’t until many years after my eleventh birthday that I learned the sanctions Canada placed on the City and the Heart had destroyed the country’s ability to trade. To be certain, there were other like-minded countries across the world, but over time, an increasing number overthrew their political overlords, and they too, suffered similar sanctions. By 2127, Canada’s major trading partners were Greenland and the Russian Federation. Sure, Russia forcibly seized control of its neighbours, but as it too was ruled by a government, and as distasteful as much of the population found dealing with the Russian Federation, Canada’s politicians were fast to decry it as the “lesser evil.”

During the lesson where I learned the meaning of “Ottawa,” I also learned the meaning of “Toronto,” my home city. “Toronto,” also taken from that dead language, is derived from the term “where there are trees in water.” In more recent years, the trees gave way to turrets submerged beneath the water’s surface.

For my birthday, my parents took me out for dinner at a restaurant overlooking Toronto Bay. While my memories of my parents are hazy, as is my recollection of the dinner, despite my parents’ misguided belief in political rule, I can only believe they did their best to care for me. They still hadn’t found jobs after the economy crashed, but they did their best to ensure I never missed a birthday celebration.

As weak as my remembrances of that dinner are, I still remember how terrified I was by the ground suddenly shaking. I felt my mum’s—or maybe it was my dad’s—hand reaching for mine as those monstrous turrets rose from the water. The monstrous weapons took aim at the sky and unleashed a rain of ammunition. Soon, fireballs were hurtling down from the sky above, crashing into the water and exploding against the street. I don’t know how they avoided the restaurant’s tower, but if they were ten metres closer, I wouldn’t be here, telling you my story.

My ears were soon ringing from the sound of sirens blaring through the building, telling us it was time to leave the safety the building afforded us and evacuate. As we made our way outside, our senses were assaulted by the cacophony of seemingly celestial objects plummeting from the sky. Many of these objects crashed in a blazing glory; sacrifices for our freedom. Others hovered in the sky above us, mechanical combat suits created by YutopiCorp, or simply: mechs.

I didn’t know it then, but the arrival of those mechs marked the beginning of our salvation.

Maybe if I was equipped then with the knowledge I now have, the screams of people scrambling to safety wouldn’t have haunted my dreams. Through the barrage of gunfire and explosions, those screams have stayed with me, nightmares ensuring I rarely get a full night’s sleep.

As the chaos unfolded, Dad grabbed my right hand while Mum gripped my left. As they dragged me through various streets and back alleys, trying to avoid the violence on display, I was absolutely certain they were going to rip my arms out.

“We’ll get to the car and then we’ll get you home. We’ll be safe there,” Dad said. “I promise you, everything will be okay.”

At some point in every child’s life, they learn that their parents are not infallible; that they can be wrong. On one level, Dad was right; everything was going to be okay. But his definition of okay was Canada’s armed forces stopping YutopiCorp’s warriors and everything going back to the way it was. Nothing changing, nothing improving.

We made it to the car; he was at least correct about that much. I don’t know how well my eleven-year-old self knew my parents, but I feel she always felt safe with them. I am certain she would have seen them as caring people who would look out for others. Instead, no doubt a product of living within a corrupt system that teaches people to look after themselves and themselves only, they pushed through injured people, stepped over the dead and dying to get to the car. I remember pleas for help, and I remember being yanked away from the people uttering those desperate pleas.

After about an hour sitting in the car, we made it out of the carpark and onto the street, which was so packed full of traffic that it barely moved. I remember we were driving in a terrain vehicle; I expect that after my parents lost their jobs, they couldn’t afford a skycar. Though I’m not sure we would have moved much faster if we did have one; the skylane was so congested that it blacked out the sky. Barely any sunlight filtered through to blackened streets; instead, a combination of headlights, fluorescent city lights, and explosions provided all the light we needed to see.

“It’s going to be okay,” Dad promised again.

And once again, his assessment was correct, but not in the way he was thinking. The car’s engine died, and the surrounding headlights and city lights went black. The explosions illuminating the city only intensified as the cars in the skylane plummeted to the ground below. More fuel for those nightmares.

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