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(03a) The Guest Programme.

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[The following is a transcription of the remains of a glass record labeled "Interview with (unintelligible). E.O.T. Guest Programme year one”, rescued from Aden's archives. The two people talking are Mikhail Sinnilar (age 71) and Mariana Aidichi (age 19).]


-”Is that thing on?”

“It is, Mr. Sinnilar”

-“Good, let’s get this done, I doubt ya wanna hear an old man rumbling about the past, and, uh, it’s been ages since I went out. Hasn’t everything been already told?”

-“If that were the case, we wouldn’t be here, right?”

-“What is it that you want me to say, then? Y’can ask the scribes for the details of the mission, their names and the whole propaganda behind the Guest programme.”

-“I know, but what makes you think I’m here for any of that?”

-”I..” [There are some seconds of silence] “Tell me, what was your name again, lass?”

-“Mariana.”

-“Well, Mari, just… don’t say I didn’t warn ya. Where do ya want me to start?”

-“By the beginning, I guess? How do you feel about having been chosen back then?”

-“Well… How old were ya when the gates opened?”


-“It was three days after I turned two. Why does it matter?”

-“It matters simply B’cos you and your folks knew what world y’all were headin’ into. This is what you've seen, an' this is what you know. When I got chosen we didn’t have no comfort on that matter, no. It was… it felt almost like a sorta punishment, y’know?”

-“...ho-why? Weren’t the chosen ones the 10s of their classes and such?”

-“We were, but fear is sometimes stronger than reason. Y’see, I was only sixteen when the news came to me, and by that point, only twenty-four years have passed and the outside felt… wrong. It was something so bad we left it and ev’ryone but ourselves behind. Now it’s funny, but back then I was afraid and nothin’ changed the fact that despite bein the best in the business, Mikhail Sinnilar was just a scared little shit who never imagined what he’d find on the other side.”

-“It was full of life, wasn’t it?”

-“...ya did your homework, haven’t ya, kiddo? But… yeah. I expected to find desolation, o-or an ash world like they used to say it would be, but I was oh, so wrong… The counter was silent, the air was sweet an’ I was told to wear sunglasses for the expedition so the sun wasn’t burnin’ my eyes off. I-I didn’t believe jack shi-.”

-“Uh, sorry to interrupt, Mr. Si..”

-“Enough with that mister thing. Just call me Mikhail, kid.”

-“S-sorry, but we can’t swear, Mikhail. My whole class will hear this.”

-“Oh, shoulda started there, Mari. Anyway, every single thing they told me it was somethin’ I refused to believe. For example, when I was training with the suit and stuff, Rebecca would always tell me that her fav’rite part was the warmth, an’ I thought she was just naive or bluffin’ me.”

-“And why was that? You knew what the sun was.”

-“In a way. She was twenty at the time the Guests were approved, an’ to hear her goin’ for hours about how the sun felt warm on oneself and the green was all around was… it was almost alien to me, so I just thought she would be tryin’ to calm me down or somethin. Hell, I even got mad when she laughed at my best despair face and told me everything would be alright before the gates opened…”

-“...and?”

-“Well, y’said it yourself, haven’tcha? We found life. The sun I mocked her for hours on end? It was like a lovin’ mother’s hug, y’know? It didn’t just feel warm, it felt right. The same with th’ colors. Those pure greens, the trees’ browns, the blues and oranges of the sky an’ the white of the moon. It all felt like a invitation to embrace it. The fact that those scorched soils could live and thrive after so much pain was… we weren’t the ones to save the outside rather than these lands were the ones to pull us out of those vaults. I know others met people from other places when outside, an’ mine was just a mission to retrieve some shit, nothing too glamorous, but those three days meant the world to me. Heh, it was enough for me to ditch it all and...”

-”...you went on and helped with the reclamation after that, right? Why? As far as records say, you had a bright future in biology and your family could’ve gotten you a position very easily.”

-”One just can’t see this world and go on with their lives as if nothing happened, Mari. Same as you won’t find what you wanted on those archives because it was bigger than a glass record will ever be. It’s easy to get lost in the ruins, or rather what’s left of them at this point, but what we’ve done here, the people we’ve met, the city we’ve risen… it hasn’t been for nothi-.”
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