I sent it in for Montage, but it was rejected, and I strongly suspect that whoever viewed this piece might have been punched in the pancreas by a robot and hence hate anything related to it.
So you shall read this and tell me how awesome this is!
Story is strictly fictional and 100% copyright under Kira! No ripped or reproduction of any parts of the story will be condoned. Be warned, copy it and I shall sue you to no end!
Academy of Manipulated Intelligence (A.M.I.)
1. The Congregation
The Pythaerine heaved with subdued excitement as the Manipulated Intelligences (M.I.s) filed into the well lit space in neat single files through the posh corridors. Oil paintings in heavy gilt frames lined the cream colored walls of the Pythaerine, the heart of the academy where the Congregation was held. In the center of the flawlessly white ceiling, a sparkling chandelier took its place and threw dazzling shards of light on the faces of the MIs.
At the first glance, the MIs looked like any other human beings. Only upon a closer scrutiny will one realized that something was not quite right about how strikingly similar the MIs looked, all because of one common feature. All of them had pale blue eyes, just like the color of the sky on a very fine afternoon. It might be due to the memory cards surgically implanted into the brain of the once normal teenagers, or it might be due to the process of modifying the brain such that it could now co-exist with its mechanical counterparts. Nervous impulses and electrical impulses, they meant to co-exist in the first place. Somewhere during the reconditioning of the body and the enhancement of the brains, the irises changed color. No scientist could explain this. Blue eyes have now become a symbolic color of the part-human-part-mechanic students of the Academy. It was the color of the cyborgs, which are now endowed with a unique name.
And yes, you are right. I am a MI too. Nice to meet you.
As we silently and swiftly took our respective seats, the headmistress looked on with an unfathomable expression, her arms akimbo and her grey eyes as cold as the winter snow. She glanced at the watch on her wrist and her jaws clenched, for the briefest second, before she leaned back in her posh looking armchair. Perhaps it was the lighting, or perhaps it was the way she positioned herself on the stage directly in front of the hologram of the shimmering gold pyramid with a single eye at its peak, the headmistress seemed to radiate power. And authority.
A short silence ensued.
The headmistress then lifted herself off the plush armchair with ease and elegance. She walked with deliberate steps to the podium and her eyes met those of her audience. The intensity of her stare felt penetrating, as though she was scanning through each and every one of the MIs, seizing them up and reading their thoughts. A normal human might have cringed and broke the eye contact. Not I, or any of the others. We stared, unfazed, into the faded winter of her eyes.
Blue into grey. The waves lapped against the cold snow.
The silence dragged on. I struggled against yawning.
“You took two minutes forty-one seconds to assemble. This is unacceptable,” the headmistress’s voice rang out in the muted silence of the Pythaerine, commanding and authoritative.
A low murmur, almost like a hum, broke out within the masses. Some bowed their heads. Some looked displeased. Most of us simply stared on unmoved. I fidgeted very slightly in my seat and cast a glance at my best friend, Joy Cole. For a split second, our eyes met, and Joy raised her eyebrow a fraction of an inch, as if to say, there she goes again.
The single word resonated in the spacious hall, and seemed to bounce off the cream colored walls. The effect was instantaneous. The stifling silence returned and the faces of the MIs slipped into the emotionless masks once more. I swallowed a sigh of discontentment. The Headmistress was one of the few people I loathed the most in the Academy, the Quarter Head, Professor Boyle, being another. They were commanding, inflexible and exceedingly authoritarian.
“Professor Mynaheast will now be addressing us regarding the Biannual Tournament which is held in commemoration of the founding of the Academy.”
A polite round of applause broke out in the hall. Professor Mynaheast, a short, plump woman in her mid-fifties, stepped onto the podium which the Headmistress just left and looked at us expectantly.
“The Biannual Tournament is held once every two years in commemoration of the founding of the school, to remind the students of the sweat and blood our forefathers put in to provide you with such lovely environment to maximize your potentials. To remind us of our core values: Diligence, Loyalty, Trust, Truth and Self-control. Five M—students, one from each Quarter, will be selected through a series of compulsory tests and exams to participate in the Tournament. The Tournament aims to test each of the participants on their intelligence, speed, mental flexibility as well as endurance through a game that seeks to push you beyond your comfort zone, and your self-set limits.”
Professor Mynaheast smiled down at the crowd of faces, now identical masks of discomfort. They all knew what was going to come next. Though their physical and mental functions have been enhanced, the MIs were, after all, human beings with emotions. Tendrils of fear curled coyly around their mind, and they held their breath for the most familiar yet dreaded sentence.
“Five can play at a game. But only one will survive.”
Behind the headmistress, the hologram of the golden pyramid dissolves in a swirl of flashing gold light, and is replaced by neon green letters falling into their places against a black backdrop. The green letters glint and flashed as the animation ceased and the letters told their places, shivering and trembling.
YEAPE OAMUD ULALO ASNAN ROITE
(Try your best to decode it man! I bet you will fail, if you can uncode it, comment in comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)