The Electrotelepathic Community bound Henri to the Unity and brought news of the Unity’s many victories against its galactic rival, the Tiánquán… and the Unity would never lie.
Henri’s son Luc, only six years old, remained disconnected from the Electrotelepathic Community. Disconnected, Luc could see in the central tunnel of their worldship things the Unity wanted its citizens to never see.
An unsettling flash fiction from the author of New California and The Confederated Worlds series.
Sample of “Worldship Triplets”
Instead of the fourth wall, one side of Henri’s living room opened to the rolling plains of New Zimbabwe. The breeze warmed his face and neck and rustled the tall yellow flechettegrass. Burrs scritched across the tight spandex sleeve on his upper arm.
As he went further, his steps buoyant in New Zim’s lighter gravity, avatars manifested around him. Women, men, machines. Impossible to judge from appearance whether the others came from another part of the worldship or someplace distant.
No matter. All belonged to the Unity.
Also belonging to the Unity: the rebel press officer. Speaking from a platform raising him above the flechettegrass, khaki cap at a jaunty angle, yellow-brown irises against his eyes’ stark whites, the press officer’s smile sounded in his voice. “Thanks to our friends in the Unity, our forces advance on all fronts against Tiánquán ground forces and New Zim’s puppet government. Soon—”
”Papa, Papa!” Luc said from behind Henri. “Come see!”
Henri scrunched his lips together. What did the boy want? Over his shoulder, seen through the yellow stalks, Luc stood at the living room’s picture window, fingertips on the plasma pane. From his rapt profile, he watched activity in the worldship’s central tunnel. Probably a maintenance robot crawling on the tunnel’s far side, 1200 meters away. Trivial, against news from one of the galaxy’s many battlefields against the Tiánquán.
”Papa, come see!”
Luc’s seventh birthday, when his brain would finally be nanolinked with the UEC, the Unity Electrotelepathic Community, could not come soon enough. Now, Luc was too young for the UEC, too old to be fooled if Henri let a software assistant guide his body while his mind remained in Virtual.
A thought slotted into Henri. As the Unity is to its people, so parents should be to their children.
He heeded the UEC’s wisdom and went to his son.
The living room surrounded him with conditioned air and self-healing walls, proof he’d returned to full Verity. “What do you see?”
”The worldship is giving birth to triplets!”