Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

She came from the First Cities. I suppose that’s why we all thought she was stuck-up. Our whole office gave her the cold shoulder.

Not that she acted like it. She was just quiet. To our fertile and vengeful minds, she appeared haughty and aloof. Too good for us. Looking back on it, she was probably just terrified of our overt, racist ignorance.

With each day that she failed to figure out a way to make friends, our opinion of her cemented.

Not that any of us walked forth with an offer of coffee. God, I hate looking back on those days.

It was the damn colony ladder social formation. “A combination of royalty and democracy”, they called it. “Screw those who had the bad taste to be born here out of wedlock”, we called it. The families that landed first made the rules and made provisions for their children.

It wasn’t long before the first bastards were born. It’s harsh setting up a colony. Those bastards were put to work and stripped of their last names. So were their parents.

The seven First Cities (New Omaha, New Minsk, New Albion, New California, New Vancouver, New Singapore, and New New Delhi) still maintained strict adherence to original colonization dogma. They preached abstinence before marriage and were obscenely rich off of the original patents set up by their fore-fathers. The last names that came out of those cities were known world-wide as the ruling class.

They were also the keepers of The Needle.

That was the communications array that kept us in contact with updates from what they called our Home System. The updates were centuries out of date when I was a child. I still remember the day that The Needle went silent. On all of the screens, the First Cities Networks showed the faithful in the streets, wailing, not knowing how or why their god had gone silent.

My father simply said “Well, that’s that.” and got up to get another drink. Our whole family was fifth-generation bastards with no last name like our entire neighbourhood.

The First Cities were outnumbered. Their only strength was their stranglehold on the economy and their status as keeper of The Needle. Now that The Needle was no longer talking, a lot of the rest of the population of the world became increasingly concerned about the unfair distribution of wealth.

A rebellion was brewing. Sides were being chosen.

All this was happening when the First Cities girl joined our office. I got trapped in an elevator with her. We shared a few nervous hellos at first and then I launched into a tirade about why I hated her people.

Astoundingly, she agreed with most of it.

I listened to her talk about what her parents had told her about keeping the rest of the planet in line and how she didn’t like it.

She’d run away. We pretended to keep hating each other but over the next few months, we ended up sleeping over at each other’s apartments. It was only a matter of time before people found out.

My friends disdainfully said I was really ‘coming in first’ and stopped calling me after I broke one of their noses on a lunch hour. They washed their hands of me. I shouldn’t have been surprised that it happened so quickly but it hurt.

We’re both outcasts now and we couldn’t be happier. We moved in together. The rebellion’s coming but we’ll worry about that when it gets here.

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