Sampson looked up from the paperwork he was immersed in when one of the underworkers approached. He thought. Why is it that we still have all of this stuff anyway? Didn’t they promise that as systems were upgraded this extra chore would go away? Right! Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly he acknowledged the one standing at his desk. “Yes?”
“Sir, we just received a message from the communications hub . . . they’ve lost contact with Terra, you know one of the closer cities to our location.”
With the paperwork forgotten and with a bit of alarm he stood up. Not again! He was aware of the protocol when something like this happened. In fact they had to follow this protocol much too often in the near past, and it wasn’t the standard drills or exercises either. He signaled for attention from his underworkers here in the communications center. And once they turned to him he said, “Okay all, we’ve lost contact with another city. And we are the closest. Here’s their frequency, and their emergency codes, let’s get to it and see if we can find out what’s going on. And I need the answers yesterday.” On the screen above his workstation flashed the frequencies, and codes, and with acknowledgement he saw the team begin the emergency procedures. Let’s hope it’s just a failure in the transmitting equipment or a temporary shutdown of the power units. We don’t want or need another city to go dark.
Yes, all the cities existed inside the desolation. This land is a land of perpetual sun, and of heat that left a landscape of dancing shimmering heat waves, illusions, and little else. It is a place of no water or vegetation, a place that can fog one’s mind, and with nothing to use as landmarks, a land to become lost, to disappear, and to die. Yet, more than anything, this land is a land of refuge, a place of protection. And the cities have been here for at least a millennium, if not longer, hidden, safe, and unknown to the rest of this world. This world, this planet, and the species that exist upon its surface as it orbits around a minor binary star system somewhere deep inside the Milky Way galaxy, knew nothing beyond their world. And as far as the city dwellers, this is the way of life. And while the desolation is a place of death, it is also a place of life, and so it must remain – death to the primitives and life to them. For they and the primitives are of the same people. And theirs is an advanced society, while the fertile plains are controlled by the primitives, the clans and the tribes who fight among themselves, and if the primitives became aware of these hidden cities no one dared to think what the outcome or consequences would be. So why, after all this time of safety . . . why are some of the cities going dark? And why has there been no warning or sign of impending doom . . .
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