Chapter 1 – Day of Infamy (1 of 3)

CHAPTER 1 – DAY OF INFAMY

 

{1537 D.E. (Departure from Earth)}

-Minerva, Moon of Rayden, Third Planet from the Suns-

 

As I stood there, atop the golden podium, I took a moment to absorb the feeling. Our team had won the Olympic final—for the fourth time in a row—and now I was a legend. I had made history, inspired billions of people. I had never felt so fulfilled, so complete.

There was something I had never anticipated about finally seizing that accomplishment, that fleeting and glorious moment in my life, something I had considered my greatest achievement. It passed by in seconds. Before I could come to terms with the chaotic storm of emotions brewing in my stomach, we were celebrating our victory in the great city my people had built in the sky. And I was sitting at that bar rail surrounded by the most valued people of our society, remaining almost completely silent.

I was struck with two questions that deeply corrupted my state of being: “Now what?” and “How could I possibly top what I have just accomplished?” It wasn’t until the general of the Raydenite Defense Initiative broke my concentration that I was able to burst through that stupor, staring out at the awe-inspiring view of the stars.

“I gotta admit, kid, I’ve never seen someone handle themselves so well out there. You’re bound to be a legend after your performance tonight.”

“Collin? Collin!” Coach Stephen Cado punched me in the arm, and effectively tore my attention away from the celestial beauty unfolding beyond the glass pane of Rayden One’s only Presidential Lounge.

“Ow!”

“Collin, this is General Wright. You should lend him your attention, he’s a cabinet member.”

“My bad, bro, umm sir, I mean. I’m quite . . . distracted by the view out there.”

“Quite all right, brother. It certainly is one hell of a view.”

“Yes, it is.”

We stared off into space, past those windows, where the glow of the setting suns pierced through the light layer of clouds. The clarity of the sky gave way to an ever-present planetary nebula, stretching over the curvature of the world.

Majestic.

It looked as if a bright and vibrantly illustrated ocean was directly beyond us, stained with fire, where exotic shades of orange and blue intervened. And in the center was Minerva’s asteroid moon. It was in the center of the spectacle, the star of the show.

I couldn’t help but relate myself to it, the star of the show. I mean, the president was here, A-list movie stars, legends in the PGL, but despite all of them, and the status they had gained, I was the center of attention. That feeling was something I craved for a very long time. Me, always the outcast and never too good with people. Despite how much I loved my people they never treated me with reverence, until I rose to greatness. Greatness as they had defined me, a gravball star.

 

“Coach Stephen Cado. What’s it been? Three years?”

“Sounds about right, General. So has anything popped up on your radars yet? Our people are concerned.”

“Nothing yet, that’s why they are called rumors, Coach.”

“The Kingdom of Salaras, and their king, are not particularly fond of us, Wright.”

I ignored their stupid political conversation and continued to stare out the giant floor-to-ceiling pane of glass at the sunset (or whatever you would call a sunset in space). Then something caught my eye. It was my co-captain, Mickey. He smiled to me and waved me to come over to him. I stumbled off the bar rail and headed towards him and left General Wright and the coach to their small talk.

“Hey, boy! Where are you going? General Wright wants to ask you something!”

“Another time, Coach. I’ve been looking forward to something since the day started!”

“Hey, Collin! Get back here, boy! That’s an order!”

“You can shove that order up your ass, Coach! This can’t wait.”

 

Mickey shook his head as we left the dimly lit room and strolled towards the elegant-columned hallway. “You know, man, you got some serious balls to talk to the coach like that. Got millions of people applying for captain of the Rayden Comets every week.”

“Please, Mick. We’ve dominated the PGL for the past five years thanks to me. He would never replace me.”

“Don’t be so sure, Collin.”

“Did you bring it?”

“Yeah, I got it right here. Anybody wish you a happy birthday yet?”

“Only about half of our people. Give it to me, Mickey.”

“Hold out your hand.”

I presented my hand to him and after reaching into his pocket, he placed a condenser in the center of my palm. I pressed the button on the top, the quarter-sized container expanded, and out of it fell a laser syringe. Within the canister I could see that glowing red liquid that everyone in Eden knew. I could only imagine the glowing expression that lit up my face.

“Mickey, is this . . . is this what I think it is?”

“That is exactly what you think it is. You are twenty-five now after all. The perfect age for it.”

“I’m not sure I’m ready.”

“Collin. Do you want to live forever? Or not?”

I smiled at him and swung my left forearm up to him. He took the syringe from my hand and placed it just above my forearm, directly on the vein.

“Now don’t go thinking you can dodge bullets, or survive the 200-kilometer drop to the surface.”

“I know it doesn’t make you invincible. Virgil has said he’s lived for over one thousand years thanks to the injections. I could definitely get in on this whole semi-immortality thing.”

“Just make sure you buy another one when we leave here, Collin.”

“Why?”

“Well, being professional gravball players we aren’t expected to live that long. But even if you miss your shot, get hit, and slam your head into the edge of the sphere, as long as you have another injector, it will save your life.”

“The injection can bring me back from the dead?”

“No, idiot, listen: only near death. Nothing can bring you back once you die. I know your head is spinning, but damn, you are ignorant, my friend.”

“That’s incredible. Hell, maybe it can heal that nasty scar I got in basic.”

“It will, Collin, it will cure almost any ailment. It’s the Alpha Genome, the holy grail of modern medicine.”

“Whatever, dude, hurry up. I need that drink.”

“You’re welcome. Oh, and happy birthday—jackass.”

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