Author's note: This is the fourth part to the Flawless Imperfection series so I would suggest you read that before you read this or else it may not make sense. Thanks! :D
The road home seemed longer, having much more twists and turns that I had remembered it to have.
Or maybe it’s because I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn’t even realize how far the distance between Thykora and the Union was. I sighed, glancing at my friends. Luke and Jax were getting along wonderfully, and Mira was excitedly looking around, drawing jotting down things in her notebook. The surroundings seemed dull compared to the Union, the grass wasn’t as green, and the water less clear. But somehow, it was also more beautiful.
I guess artificial beauty will never top real nature.
“Hey, Adira!” Jax called.
“What’s our plan once we get to the Union?” I froze. I didn’t have a plan yet, all I knew about this secret hidden place where the Chip is operated is that it’s entrance is located somewhere in the Equal Tower.
“I… don’t know yet. Right now, the only thing I can think about is having help from the inside, but we all know that that’s impossible.”
“That’s true…” Mira mused.
“Is it at all possible for a person to become… unaffected by the Chip?” Luke asked, his silver eyes deep in thought.
“Well I mean, Adira and I never had the experience of having the Chip inside us, so it might be a possibility?” This would have given us some hope, if Jax hadn’t phrased his words as a question.
Everyone fell back into silence.
“I’m sure we’ll think of something!” I tried cheering everyone up.
Mira gave me a small smile in response.
We continued the rest of the journey in silence. I felt my heartbeat speed up as we neared the border to the Union, the place Jax and I had wanted to escape from for so long.
I glanced at Jax, and knew that he was thinking the same thing.
“We can’t let ourselves be seen, as Luke and Mira don’t exactly look like the average Union citizen,” Jax reminded everyone, and we nodded along.
“You guys ready?” I grimaced.
“No, but let’s do this,” Jax had the same grim expression on his face. “Mira, Luke, welcome to the Union.” And with that, all four of us stepped into the Union, some of us returning to an old nightmare, and the others, experiencing it for the first time.
We’ve been walking for a while now, hiding behind the nearest object whenever someone approaches. The first thing that I had noticed about the Union was that it changed. There were twice as many guards everywhere, patrolling the streets, guarding grocery shops, and even one in front of every single house.
“This… is worse than I thought,” I whispered.
“That inside help could really be useful right now,” Luke whispered back, glancing around.
“But this place… everything looks so… perfect,” Mira said, almost in awe.
“The word “perfect” is an oxymoron in itself,” Jax mumbled.
All of a sudden, a Guard darted out behind a wall, her Laser raised, and pointed it straight at my heart.
Guard (Jennie)’s POV:
Something is wrong with me.
Before just recently, I was normal. My thoughts and emotions were controlled by the Chip, and I was vaguely aware of following what the Chip told me to do. I knew in the back of my head that everyone thought the same thing, everyone was controlled by the Chip.
One of the earliest commands that I remember being placed in my head was to report anyone that acts differently. I had a list of commands that told me what actions were defined as “different.” Of course, then I was chosen to become a Guard, which I knew was a huge honor because the Chip told me it was.
And the Chip is never wrong.
I had a routine: patrol the streets and if anyone is acting differently, then I would shoot them once directly on their heart, paralyzing and therefore killing them. I would kill when the Chip told me to. I never did anything that the Chip couldn’t predict.
It was normal. After all, people should always follow what the Chip tells them to do. People aren’t perfect, but the Chip is. And if everyone followed the Chip, then everyone would be perfect. It was a simple enough concept, and I didn’t understand why anyone would ever want to disobey the Chip.
But something had changed.
For a split second, I felt something in me deactivate. My thoughts had flowed back into me, each one more horrific and hurtful then the one before. I remembered each killing I had done, staring coldly as I paralyzed a person’s heart, and walking away as their body fell to the ground, dead. I started to doubt everything that I had known, including the Chip. As I gathered my thoughts, my mind had come up with the fact that killing is wrong. I didn’t exactly know why, but I just knew that it was. I was starting to form my own opinions, which I hadn’t thought was possible. And then there were my emotions, so raw compared to my dull mind that I had been trapped in. And I knew with all the information that the Chip had implanted in me that my name, Number 1937, was not a normal name. I scanned through a list of names from a book and one stuck out to me: the name Jennie. I thought of all the things that the Chip made me do, even the fact that the Chip made me do things. Thoughts and ideas formed in my head, slowly taking form into something I would have never thought possible.
And then it was gone.
Shut off, just like that. I returned to being controlled by the Chip, but that second had permanently changed something in me. Somewhere, buried underneath the Chip, was the experience of having my own thoughts and feelings.
Control Room. Now. The Chip directed me forward, to where Chips was manufactured and operated.
I walked forward.
Turned right at the next intersection.
Walked directly inside the Equal Tower.
Climbed five flights of stairs.
Turned to the first door on the left.
Closed and locked the door behind me.
Walked to the bookshelves.
Reached up and pulled down the book on the highest shelf. Walked into the secret room that had been opened.
Punched in the number that was implanted in my brain on a keypad: 197529562384017.
Made sure both doors were sealed shut. Walked in the room. Pressed my badge to the scanner.
Walked in the room.
Walked down six flights.
Opened the third door on my right.
Kill that man.
I looked where the Chip directed me to.
I took out my Laser, aimed, and fired.
The shot hit him directly on the heart, and he crumpled to the ground, dead within seconds.
My job here was done. But, this time, instead of walking away without regret, my heart lurched. And then the feeling left just as sudden as it came.
I walked back outside, and hid behind a wall. However, this time, I could feel my mind slowly slipping back to me, enough that I could somewhat think, but not enough for me to disobey the Chip’s orders.
The Chip is always right. It reminded me. Of course it is, how could I think otherwise?
I hid there until I saw a very odd looking group of people walk by.
No Guard with them. One girl has black hair, not the standard brown. Girl’s eyes are 10 shades too dark. Not wearing the Union uniform. Boy has silver eyes. Boy’s brown hair is a fraction lighter. Girl is 3 centimeters shorter. Boy is taller.
This was more than enough evidence that this group of people were Different. I waited until the group was right in front of me, and then I left out of my hiding spot, aiming my Laser straight at the girl in the front’s heart.
I had my finger on the trigger, but as I was pressing down on it, I felt something in me click. And, just like the first time that the Chip had been turned off, my thoughts came rushing back into me. And one thought kept on repeating itself over and over again in my mind.
The Chip is not always right.
I always have followed the Chip’s orders, not doubting them. But now I do.
I gasped, quickly raising the Laser up past her head, and the beam shot into a nearby tree.
The group of four looked at me, all frozen by fear. I lowered the Laser.
“I…” I stuttered, not knowing where to start now that I was in control of my own mind.
“You… should probably sit down for this.” I gestured. “Don’t worry, if I was going to kill you I would have done it already.” I added, seeing the look on their faces. They glanced at each other, and the girl in the front slowly nodded, taking a seat on one of the nearby rocks.
I took a deep breath, and started to explain, the words flowing out of me. And, surprisingly, I felt good. I liked this feeling, one without the Chip controlling me. Because of the Chip, I knew every single word that has ever existed, but I have never understood one of them until now.
And that was the word free.
THIS STORY IS DEDICATED TO JENNIE, FOR BEING SUCH AN AMAZING FRIEND AND SO SUPPORTIVE!!