Dear readers, tonight with me is a young couple, excited to have been selected for procreation by their city’s all-controlling corporation.
They have started to suspect things when their friends started to fall pregnant naturally. How long has Corporation been lying to them? Is it really toxic outside the wall?
They are here to tell us about their shocking discoveries.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
Kira: Well, we both grew up here, in City 42. My family lived quite near Archive whereas Jed’s were – are – up in the Northern part of the city. The posh part *laughs*.
Jed: Yeah, I mean we sometimes get visitors from City 15 but I’ve never gone out there. Kira and I met at school, we both worked really hard and it was a busy time but we had fun too, right hon?
Kira: We did. I mean school was school, same old same old, but Jed had all the latest tech at his apartment so there was always something to explore. That’s what encouraged your sister to join Corp Tech wasn’t it?
Jed: murmurs agreement
Kira: I mean our childhoods were the same as everyone else’s really, assigned a family at birth, school, friends and then getting funneled into our professions. I had to fight a little for Junior Historian, they wanted me to go into Corp Medical but you were always going to go to Force weren’t you?
Jed: Yeah, I mean it’s good that we all get this standardized education but I think it’s great we can really stretch ourselves when it comes to career.
Did you have any favourite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
Jed: I remember it was unusual for me to have a sister. It was very unique at school – it made us stand out from everyone else.
Kira: Mmm I remember, it was so odd that one family would be allocated two children but then your mother…
Jed: Yeah, she usually gets what she wants. I mean, it was a pretty standard childhood – we had all the apps and updates, their was a neural interface for info dumping but I preferred to learn the old fashioned way, it made me feel like I was achieving something. You were the same weren’t you hon?
Kira: Yes but that was more because we couldn’t afford the neural interface *laughs*. Didn’t they get withdrawn?
Jed: Yeah – that was Pete, my partner on Force. He tried to download the entire school syllabus directly into his neural jack. Ended up wiping his memory and being in a coma for a week. Luckily they got his memory back from before the jack attempt but it was pulled after that. Too dangerous.
What do you do now?
Jed: I am one of the youngest detectives on Force. I investigate any crime, safeguard the citizens and deal with any anti-social behaviour from Anti-Corp. Although now we won’t have to worry about thay anymore.
Kira: And I am a Junior Historian at Archive. I love my job because I get to work with all the old formats, including paper, and the wealth of information left by our forebears is just staggering. My job involves looking after the collections, cataloging and making new finds available to the public. I also run information searches for approved requests, it’s a really interesting job.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
Kira: We just won the Anniversary Lottery – it’s so exciting but so scary because it means we got Collection! I mean we’re young and people our age don’t usually get given Collection so it’s a huge honour. The weird thing is we didn’t enter did we Jed?
Jed: I still think it was your mum who bought us the ticket you know.
Kira: Well she’s not admitting it! We’ve had so much to get ready, we decided to go quite natural, you know? It’s a bit unusual these days but we think – well I think mainly – that the natural approach is the best way.
Jed: We figured it out as we went and there’s plenty of tech to fall back on if we get stuck.
Kira: I’m not using a NanNan Jed, it’s not happening. We can look after that baby all by ourselves. I was pleased that we got the boy/girl choice though, that’s what I was really hoping for.
What did you first think when your friends started falling pregnant naturally?
Jed: I didn’t know what to think – I mean I had to think about it all in terms of a Force investigation. I knew the details of the rape case and we were involved officially with Dina’s incident so I was really thinking about it all from a work point of view. I mean, that’s not to say I wasn’t worried about our friends – I think you were more worried weren’t you hon?
Kira: Yes, especially for Martha and the repercussions she had to face. She took that memory wipe but she still knew that it had happened to her, and then when the sweeps got hold of it – I felt so sorry for her. It was such a surprise to hear that four of my friends had fallen pregnant especially when we had just collected Grace. I mean, natural pregnancies hadn’t happened since before the HER war – it was an impossibility. And then when everyone started to mention the blue lady sightings, I just knew Gaia was involved.
Jed: That was really strange.
Kira: I’m so jealous you got to see her in the flesh, you even touched her!
Jed: Well I touched something.
Kira: You can’t deny it now – we have all seen her, Gaia exists and for whatever reason she chose us to help her. And we will.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
Jed: I think the scariest thing, for me, was … look I don’t really feel comfortable answering this one. Is that okay?
Kira: It’s all been so much to take in, we lost a lot – you know?
What is the worst thing about living in City 42?
Kira: The worse thing would probably be… I don’t know really – I mean, Corporation have always been there to look after us. I like my city, my job, my friends , I’ve always felt really happy here. I mean now things are going to change, there’s a lot of things to sort out but we’ve got all the resources of Archive at our disposal. I know we’ll be able to figure it out.
Jed: City 42 has always felt to me to be a safe place to live but with the rise of the 42nd Army and that vicious terrorist attack I just don’t know anymore. I’m not sure if we blame the city, those in charge or is it just bad people? History shows us that there will always be someone trying to exploit others, you would think by now we’d have learnt how to avoid these situations.
Kira: It’ll be different now though – won’t it?
Jed: I hope so, I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.
What is the best thing about it?
Kira: The best thing about living in City 42 is getting Grace. Oh and marrying Jed of course. I’ve always felt happy here, I love my job, love my friends, my parents are nearby. In fact it’s almost a little scary knowing that we can go out and explore the world now. Part of me wants to stay here in my little bubble.
Jed: Yeah, I mean life here has been great – I made youngest detective on Force, married a beautiful woman and getting Grace in collection really felt like the icing on the cake. But like Kira said, our world has opened up now. I’m excited to see what’s out there.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Jed: Pete was my best friend. That’s all I want to say.
Kira: Are you okay?
Jed nods but does not speak.
Kira: Okay well I can tell you a bit about my friends. Martha is the daughter of the Marketing Director of Corporation. She is a made to order – rare these days but she’s so beautiful with her auburn hair and green eyes. She works in plants, she actually gets to grow them – how exciting is that? I have one of the first ferns she ever got to germinate. He’s called George. Umm Ruth, well Ruth is a History Teacher at Academy. I don’t think she really likes her job but she’s very good at it. We recently found out that she was working for Anti-Corp but it wasn’t her fault, those people – I mean honestly, the way they treated her. I still get mad about it. Ruth introduced us to Dina, she was her PhD student. Love her – she is such a sweet girl. So sad that she lost all her family, she’s from City 15 originally but was bought here after the violent uprisings – a bit before my time to be honest. She’s working out at Camp Eden at the moment, I think her and Max hit it off which is lovely, she needs someone good in her life after Ben and what happened. And then there was Ingrid but, I’d rather not talk about Ingrid if that’s alright.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
Kira: I love to read. I know it’s so old fashioned these days, especially as I like to hold an actual book. I’m so lucky that I work at Archive and have clearance to take them home. I mean I have to be really careful I don’t spoil them but we actually found the schematics for an old printer the other day so we think we’ll be able recreate it to print books again – using different materials of course. I mean we just don’t have paper anymore.
Jed: I like to cook, I don’t get a lot of time for it and rations are sometimes hard to find but I saw all the produce they were growing at Camp Eden – I’m going to get me some of that! You’ll find me a recipe for apple pie won’t you hon?
Kira nods enthusiastically.
What does the future hold for you?
Kira: Well I will be busy bringing up Grace and know we now it’s possible, maybe there will be a brother and sister on the cards? The old fashioned way.
Jed: Errr yeah, I think we should talk about that. I’ll be busy helping set up the new system of governance – I’ll still be a Force detective but the Chief wants me to be fully involved and keep an eye on Agent Deveraux. Those guys will try to take over if they get the chance. I don’t think we’ll have too much trouble. All the 42nd Army dissidents were wiped out. And Anti-Corp doesn’t have a leader anymore. Its an exciting time.
Kira: I heard a rumour there might be an expedition to some of the other cities.
Jed: I think that’s a long way off hon, we’ve got to sort ourselves out here first but yeah – could be.
Kira: I hope we see Gaia again, I feel like she’s not done with us yet.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Jed: You have to keep this between us okay – not even my parents know and Kira has been sworn to a vow of secrecy but…… Pete and Ingrid’s baby is alive.
Claire Buss is a science fiction/fantasy writer currently based in Barking, Essex. She wanted to be Lois Lane when she grew up but work experience at her local paper was eye-opening. Instead Claire went on to work in a variety of admin roles for over a decade but never felt quite at home. An avid reader, baker and Pinterest addict Claire won second place in the Barking and Dagenham Pen to Print writing competition in 2015 with The Gaia Effect and set her writing career in motion.
You can find Kira and Jed on the pages of The Gaia Effect.
Join us next week to meet a woman from Roma Nova, the sole remnant of the Roman Empire to survive into the 20th century. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right), via Twitter, or like our Facebook page to be notified when the next interview is posted.