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It felt good in his hands. He was ready for this.
He had been given orders and was happy to obey; this was a chance for him to prove himself, for him to become something more than just another messenger.
So Aiden trekked on. Five miles left behind him, forty miles ahead, and yet he had already grown tired.
It was the message he grasped between his fingers; he was wasting to much energy pondering it's contents. Aiden had made treks further than this. He'd gone nine hundred miles once, but this was different. All those other messages were insignificant. They didn't matter. But the commander had chosen him for this, and this was life or death.
It was amazing what his people had achieved in the amount of time that they existed. Most of them messengers. Some were callers, and more recently, browsers. Only one was the commander. They were all part of this invisible, microscopic system. But even higher in rank than the commander, were the millions of humans.
The humans gave the commander messages and commander gave them to people like Aiden. People like Aiden then sent them to the humans devise.
Aiden zipped through the air. Fast. He flew over a dirty old town with smoky air that loomed over graffiti covered walls. If the people in Aiden's system controlled those places, there would be order. There would be no graffiti. And there would be air as clean as it ever had been.
Now he was passing fields with rolling hills, and now farmlands covered with young corn, now a small city with skyscrapers that reached into the sky. Aiden weaved in-between them, moving towards the next land.
Twelve more miles. He flew, faster than he ever had. It was hard work, but he kept fighting, kept going. He was nearing his destination. Buildings and trees blew past him as he lowered his altitude to be level with the devise.
The collision was sudden. The message transferred into the devise. The devise vibrated from impact and the human looked down at it. She was a middle aged woman with dark brown hair and worry wrinkles strewn over her face. She gasped.
Aiden would never know what was in the message or what it was that had made the woman so horrified. All that mattered was that he had done it, and he had done it better than anyone else could have. But even in all his glory, all he could do was turn around and head back, head back and deliver another message.
It wasn't that he didn't like being a messenger, he loved it, but being a caller made you important, it made you someone for others to stop and envy. Aiden was ready for it, he knew, but he had to prove it to the commander, because only the commander could change his position.
Aiden was one of the fastest of all the messengers, he had more accuracy and precision than most of them did, but there was more to it than that. Because caller messages are verbal, being a caller allows you to hear the communication between the humans, and some callers couldn't handle that, because you can tell no one of what you heard.
If you told, the commander sentenced you to be a trash mail eliminator, an awful job where you are forced to sift through deleted messages, destroying them.
It was a heart breaking job only given to the undesirable people, the outcasts. Aiden knew, because he had started there, and he couldn't go back.
He sped through the air, nearing his destination. His hopes rose as he grew closer. He saw hundreds if other messengers streaming out of the dome like building they called the system center. He landed in front of the doors and placed his hand on the scanner pad. It tickled his palm as it read the skin.
"Access denied" it said.
Aiden was taken aback. He placed his hand on the scanner again.
"Access denied" it rang out.
This had to be a mistake, a flaw in the system. But the system had no flaws.
"Hello!" he cried out. "Can someone let me in?"
The door cracked open, and two small eyes shown through the crack.
"Who are you?" a female voice said.
"I'm Aiden, I'm a messenger, but the scanner made a mistake, it wouldn't let me in" desperately he tried to open the door, but the girl held it closed.
"The system doesn't make mistakes" she hissed.
"But I'm a messenger, I swear."
"Then the commander must have dismissed you." she open the door enough for him to slip through. Aidens heart rose, thinking that she might be letting him in, giving him another chance, but another messenger flew past her, out into the world to deliver a message. The girl closed the door then, leaving Aiden by himself.
Aiden panicked, he pounded on the doors, "Let me in! Let me in!" he placed his hand on the access scanner again and again.
Aidens heart pounded. Even trash mail eliminators had access. Even the lowest of them had access. Being denied access was like being exiled. If you’re denied access, you become nothing less than a piece of dust flowing through the air. No importance, no reason for life. What had he done to deserve this?
"You’re not alone you know"
Aiden spun around. A small girl, no older than seven, stood staring up at him.
"I was denied access too. We are a lot alike, you and me." she spoke in a small delicate voice, but with conviction of an adult. "Come. Let me show you the land for all who have been disdained. Let me show you your people."
Aiden was hesitant. He didn't belong out here. His place was in the system. But they had rejected him. He wasn't wanted there. A mistake he knew, he hadn't done anything wrong. It was all a mistake, but the system made no mistakes.
"If you do not want to come, it is understood. Some people appreciate solitude. But with us, you will be family. We have our own system. Follow if you wish, I must be going now" she turned and flew away.
Aiden stood for a moment, frozen, but only for a moment. He looked over his shoulder at towards the doors and shook his head. He flew off towards the girl towards the land for all who have been distained
It was a long journey, a hard one, too.
"Where is this ‘land for the distained’?" Aiden asked the girl, doubtful.
"We will arrive soon. Patience. You must have patience and you must have faith in me. Do you have faith in me?" she looked at him. She knew what his answer would be, and she was also aware that his answer would be a lie.
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Good" she smiled to herself.
They were flying over miles and miles of trees when the girl grasped his hand. She guided him under the thick leaves. Aiden moved clumsily, running into leaves and branches, while girl flew around them gracefully, as if she knew the trees by heart.
They landed near the trunk of a large tree with its roots protruding from the ground. Tents were set up here. Aiden counted twelve of them. Two people emerged from what seemed to be the biggest one, a man and a woman. They approached him the girl.
"Ivy" the man nodded at the girl "Who is this?"
"His name is Aiden, from the system."
Strange, Aiden thought, he hadn't told her his name.
The man spoke again, this time to Aiden, "Aiden who?”
"I haven't got a last name, sir."
"Not your name, boy, your position."
"Oh" Aiden frowned "I was a messenger"
The man and the woman exchange glances.
The women smiled at him "Come Aiden, we have things to discuss."
The girl named Ivy took her place between the man and woman. Aiden supposed they were her parents. They lead him into their tent. It was much larger on the inside than it looked from the out. A large table stood in the middle. Three chairs on one side of the table, one on the other. The Ivy and her parents sat in the three chairs and Aiden awkwardly took his place in the lone chair.
"So, Aiden" the women began, putting her elbows on the table and interlocking her fingers. "What brings you here?"
He glanced around nervously, "I was coming back from delivering a message, an important one, and when I got to the system center, the scanner made a mistake, but..." Aiden trailed off.
"but the system doesn't make mistakes?" she finished his sentence.
The man spoke now "the system makes lots of mistakes, boy. More than you know, because they don't want you to know." he pounded his fist on the table, and then pointed his finger at Aiden. "They don't want you to know because then you start to doubt it, the system starts to falter. That creates panic, and panic creates chaos. That's their theory, anyways."
Aiden sat for a moment, not sure if he believed it. Finally he said, "Then isn't it a good thing that they don't tell us?"
"You don't control people through their ignorance." he said quietly. "A leader trusts his people. He stops chaos by being calm. The commander is no leader. He couldn’t lead a pile of rocks."
Aiden looked at Ivy. She was staring at him, intensely.
"This is why we need your help, Aiden. We need your help the show the people of the system the truth, to show them that the system has flaws, that they are not, in fact, perfect. They can't just keep depending their devises and their system. Every devise and every system has flaws."
Aiden didn't like this; he didn't like it at all.
"Won’t you help us?"
His palms were sweaty, something was wrong. "Who are you people?"
Ivy smiled, "We're viruses"
Aidens heart stopped. His parents had been viruses. It had gotten them killed. It had caused Aiden to start his life as an outcast.
He stood up, backing away from the table. He tried to turn and run, but suddenly, Ivy was in front of him.
"Where are you going?" she asked coolly.
He pushed paste her, but as he did, she attacked him. She punched Aiden squarely in the face. "Just like your parents" she spit, "nobody leaves"
Aiden fell on his back and the girl pinned him. Blood ran from his nose. Aidens head spun. He couldn't stay here. He had to escape, but he was pinned, helpless against Ivy's astonishing strength.
"Please just let me go" Aiden pleaded.
"And let you go back and blow our cover? Either your with us or against us. Don't be against us, Aiden."
Aiden had no words. They were right about the system. Using people's ignorance was no way to rule. But they were evil people, these viruses. Infecting messages, sabotaging the system. They were no better. Aiden had sent an infected message once. The man's devise had shut down as soon as the message was opened. Viruses were sick people, and he would not be one of them.
Aiden was growing desperate. He could not escape. It was hopeless.
A hand clamped over Ivy's shoulder. The girl flew off of him; one moment on him, the next flying through the air and sprawling out on her back. A man stood before Aiden now, one that he did not know.
"Go" he ordered
Aiden nodded, understanding. He flew away, leaving the viruses behind. He would not go back to the system. He would be his own person. He flew over the trees, away from this awful place. But where could he go?
Aiden had no answer.