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, 2131 | Sunday]

“Good morning, Citizen 1,498,372,” my Nanny chip said; it was six in the morning. “Happy birthday.”

“Thanks.” I didn’t quite mean it, but Nanny didn’t pick up on my tone.

Don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for the birthday wish. And as much as I always knew the Nanny was an AI, programmed to remember my birthday, I still appreciated the well wishes; touches like that show you just how much YutopiCorp cares about its citizens. But it was also a reminder that the day marked the first anniversary of me losing my parents. I was in the dark about their fates, and every time I’d asked the question over the last year was met with the same answer: “That’s classified, Citizen 1,498,372.”

I understand my parents’ attempt to kidnap me made them enemies of the state. And while it was indeed a dreadful thing to do, especially to their only child, they were surely misguided. They allowed their fear of the future, their fear of the unknown, of something different to how they were raised, cloud their judgement. They risked their lives in a bid to make contact with enemy forces who would remove us from the country… that would remove us from the City’s protection. Not a single attempt to make it to the enemy has been successful; there was no way they couldn’t have known that—it was cast all through the Conscience Feed, after all.

“Citizen 1,498,372, please remember you will not be needed in the education centre today,” Nanny begins. “Instead, please report to the medical offices on level one hundred and twelve, where your Nanny chip will be replaced by a Conscience chip.”

“Thanks, Nanny.”

“And thank you, Citizen 1,498,372. It has been a pleasure serving you.”

“I’ll miss you, Nanny.” As I say, despite always knowing that Nanny was just an AI, not a living, breathing soul, the chip had been with me for years, through thick and thin. It was if they were a guardian looking after me through everything I’d been through.

It was my fifteenth birthday. While I didn’t feel like celebrating, I couldn’t just dwell on it being the anniversary of losing my parents. No, it was a momentous occasion. The day they turn fifteen, every citizen of the City and the Heart receives a Conscience Chip. Much like the Nanny chip, it is an AI that interfaces with your brain. Unlike the Nanny chip, it plugs directly into the brain, rather than acts wirelessly, which allows it to interface with any cybernetic enhancements we are eligible to receive when we come of age. Most excitingly to a fifteen year-old me was that it also provides full access to the Conscience Feed.

I climbed out of bed and headed straight to the bathroom for a shower before moving into the kitchen for breakfast. The apartment the City provided sat within Freedom Tower A. Before the City took control of Toronto, this tower used to be an office block, but in the midst of war, there wasn’t much call for offices. People were either fighting for the City, or fighting against it. While the apartment was smaller than the one I grew up in with Mum and Dad, it was a modern build, decked out with the latest technology and holoscreens. Far more state-of-the-art, not to mention comfortable, than my parents had been able to afford.

I had full access to the building, which included the education centre, where I was able to complete my education in person, along with other children rescued in the City. It also included medical offices, as well as retail establishments and cafes. As a ward of the state, I was given an allowance which gave me the means to enjoy some of the perks the tower offered its residents.

Granted, I didn’t have the same freedom of movement that I did prior to YutopiCorp’s arrival. However, this was only limited until they had full control of the country; it was still dangerous outside. In Freedom Tower A, the citizens were protected. We were safe. And, as the tower’s name suggests, we were free.

“Be your very best self with the latest cybernetic enhancements! The Freedom Tower A Medical Suite is now pleased to offer cutting-edge gene splicing, all available from YutopiCorp at a budget designed to suit you. Payment plans are available.” As I read the medical office’s holoscreen, I couldn’t help but smile: only three short years. As I waited to be seen, I was amazed by the variety of augmentations available. Cybernetic arms, legs, eyes; they allowed for any part of your body to be upgraded. Better still, we could splice our DNA with various animals for heightened senses and reflexes, or just because they look cool. I was always partial to tiger stripes. I have plenty of time to work out what I want; they wouldn’t provide enhancements to anybody under eighteen.

After waiting for about fifteen minutes, a droid entered the room. “Citizen 1,498,372?”

I raised my hand, and the droid beeped in acknowledgement before approaching. A light on top of its head scanned my retinas. “Identity confirmed, Citizen 1,498,372. Please follow me.”

The droid led me to the operating theatr,e where I was greeted by a doctor. As I took my seat, he offered a warm, reassuring smile.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Citizen 1,498,372,” the doctor said before outlining the procedure. It’s a fairly smooth operation, he advised, and I would be up and about again by mid-afternoon. He also explained to me that owning a Conscience chip is a massive responsibility, and was my first step into adulthood. With the aid of my new AI companion, I would need to work with my educators to determine the course my remaining scholastic endeavours would take.

I smiled and nodded, and did my best not to tune out. I had been given the same lecture by my educators every day for the past six months.

“Good afternoon, Cas.”

Wait? What? “Cas?”

My mind was suddenly filled with imagery. Me, my parents, my life in Canada, before YutopiCorp. That’s right, ‘Cas.’ ‘Cas’ was my name; in the four years since I received the Nanny chip, the City had simply called me “Citizen 1,498,372.” ‘Cas’ just sounded so foreign.

“Cas …, date of birth 12 July, 2116. Daughter of … and …. Alias Citizen 1,498,372.”

Wow, hearing my name, hearing my parents’ names, whatever they were, it all felt so strange. And also another reminder that it had been a year, to the day, since my parents had used that name.

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