Chapter 1: Deliveries

Chapter 1: Deliveries

A Chapter by Katie de Lavani
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In a time quite different from our own, an apprentist alchemist embarks on a journey that will take her where she never expected to go.

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There was something cleansing about morning runs. It was devoid of the chaos. The grid wasn’t tickled with movement. There was no saturation of trivial talk or the daily bustle. No “nightlife”existed in the district of Wiqe; no movement after ten and none before dawn. The unique service centers that lined the shoulders of the Midway lay dormant.

Elyst was free to bound across the footpath road as she made her way to her morning deliveries. The deep orange of the Midway, striped in white lanes, swept under her. Her custom set of Spire boots, pulsing coils of neon Greensnap and Kersha blue, effortlessly picked her off the ground and fifteen feet into the air with every step.

The silver package of her dawn delivery was fastened close to her stomach, its contents cushioned to absorb any sudden jerks encountered on the journey. “Such items-eh-must be kept safe! Eh. Must be handled with the upmost care!” Elyst’s employer, Myje, was the cautious type.

For a flask of common household charges, Myje wrapped it as if it was an elixir of life. Smothered by a shatter-proof glass, bound in anti-flame parchment, and vacuum sealed in a triple locked casing, the canister was more than safe, it was a mobile vault. Elyst still hadn’t understood why the owner of such an unexceptional alchemy shop would avoid the post system altogether and trust only his apprentice to deliver products. But, even with his paranoia, Elyst never thought he was harmful to the business or the clients.

Elyst’s eyes had grown accustomed to the teary cut of high speeds in the December air. Her only slightly blurry vision offered a view of the ATN hovering 500 feet in the air, the clouds reflected on its transparent shielding. The soft, grapefruit pink glow of dawn offered the only illumination for Elyst’s morning run.

The Airway Transport Network (ATN) would be online in less than thirty minutes. Elyst scolder herself for not waking up earlier then sped forward.

The grid of the ATN was mirrored on the board-flat terrain below, the land’s roads branching off through plateaus of office buildings, most of which touched the maximum height of 300 feet with their convoluted spires or roofs with large wafer dials. Elyst could spot her next turn that led into the jungle of buildings. “Approaching 87th Street,” her implant reminded her.

“Inform the Kweets of my arrival,” she breathed into the crushed-ice feel of the air for her CII to pick up.

“Notified.”

Elyst’s Spire boots thrummed as their magnetic repulsion thrust away its lower half on every impact. Springing up into the air was the easy part. The hard part was landing at the right angle to avoid a broken ankle or being thrown into one of the buildings next to her.

As she rounded onto 87th Street, she de-activated her Spire boots with a flinch of her middle finger. Allowing the custom travel-wear to function at all was already frowned upon; running them on a resident road was outright prohibited.

She managed to maintain a sprint for another half mile until she reached to the wood and plastic face of Upper Resident Block 4016. No grass or plants decorated the flight of steps up to the entrance of the home. Every time Elyst started towards to the door of an Upper Resident block she let her foot rest on the first stair and took a moment to gaze at the show.

It was as if the million bits of sand were magnetic, somehow programed to flush in to form patterns. In a matter of seconds after Elyst’s foot brushed the stair, a bank of colored sand washed in between to bleached wood and thin plastic cover. An intricate masterpiece of the sunrise through the city had coagulated , each grain a special color in the art.

It had always amazed Elyst. She had thought that, through her years of being an apprentice, she might have learned how it was designed, but the formation still stupefied her. She shook off the gaping look and finished her ascent. The last few steps sanded in the names of the home’s residents in plain font. “Mrs Heerlin Kweet. Mr. Lyhf Kweet. Block 4016.”

Elyst activated the handset of her Communications and Identification Implant (CII) with a backward flip of the wrist. the vein-like wires glowing aquamarine under the skin of her right arm and the thin, obsidian band around her wrist, hardening. She swiped the band through the slide by the doorway to announce herself then through one on the delivery case to release it from her stomach. A melodious chime rang behind the door. Waiting, Elyst clicked down a quarter inch of her pinky.The CII’s inlaid wires collected the signal.

“Fife fourty-nine,” the robotic voice intoned inside her ear.

Elyst tapped her foot impatiently.

A few seconds later, Mrs. Kweet opened the door. Long auburn hair brushed the red pastels of her synthetic chin to ankle one piece suit of scarlet.

“Good morning, Mrs. Kweet,” she greeted the woman, passing over the lustrous case.

The woman nodded in return. She activated her own CII handset, held her wrist band to the slide on the case, then issued the code with a number of keystrokes on her third and fourth fingers. What looked to be a consistently solid case top, split in half. A hissing sound erupted as air rushed into the vacuum seal of the left compartment.

Inside, under the anti-flame parchment were four flasks of clear invisilayer dish oil. Small firework explosions of color detonated inside each flask. The Kweets were often entertaining dinner guests so the addition to their dining set made perfect sense.

Mrs. Kweet smiled, picked out the oil, then finally seemed to acknowledge the presence of the courier. “Ah, Myje’s apprentice,” she eyed the girl. “I have a project for you.”

Elyst’s eyebrows furrowed, but Mrs. Kweet offered no further clues. She swiftly turned and made her way down the steps right behind her. Her outfit was a march of folds looping up and down like flipping pages through a book. Mrs. Kweet descended onto the middle dais then down under the ceiling of the first floor.

A graveyard of circles, cuts, and curls of colored metal set underneath the imbued floor where each footfall sank a few inches towards the artwork below. The white walls were adorned in mysterious textures that Elyst had never understood.

She contracted her pinky once again.

“Fife fifty-two.” Now she was definitely late. The ATN would be online in eight minutes.

Mrs. Kweet returned with a three-foot gray cylinder. It was held it between her fingers with a cloth napkin. Her eyes studied the girl once again before speaking. “You don’t know what this is, do you?”

“No, Paj’ri,” Elyst confessed.

“That’s fine. Most who don’t dedicate their lives to study the ancient arts wouldn’t. This, is quite simply a storage device for canvas paintings.”

“Canvas?”She tried to remember what her history books had said. Then she shook her head.“No one has used cloth as a backing for paint in… hundreds of years!”

“The last recorded was only 126 years ago. A piece by one Parliz She Cwuaren. The Glass Swan.” She cited her knowledge with an air of pride.

The woman lifted the canister with her cloth. “This arrived yesterday in the Circuit. No return address. No CII print. The worst part, however, is that there seems to be no viable way to open it without risking damage to what is inside. Whatever it is, it is obviously of great value. So… perhaps, there is an alchemical solution.” A pause. “My husband and I would like to hire you, apprentice.”

Elyst opened her mouth to protest but was interrupted. “Yes, of course, normally we would hire Master Myje. However, the amount of time he takes to accomplish the simplest of tasks is, quite frankly, unacceptable in this particular situation.”

Elyst smiled inwardly. She was more than aware of the consequences of Myje’s paranoia. His suspicion carried over into everything he did. If he was given something to repair, he would spend hours to days scrutinizing it under a microscope to ensure no threats to his health would arise.

“I need you to open this device,” Mrs. Kweet continued. “If you identify its origin, there will be an additional reward.

“ Now, my husband and I are leaving for Tempfhi in two days. Have it back to us by then, opened or not; we will surely be able to find another, more worthy, alchemist at our destination.”

Elyst swallowed the insult, “Yes, Paj’ri,” and reached for the canister.

“Very good,” Mrs. Kweet raised her chin, allowing the canister to leave her hand. “I expect to hear from you in two days.” With that, she stepped back and slammed her door, the locks setting in place moments after.

Elyst wasted no time; she would study the storage apparatus later. With that, she took up her delivery case and slid her wrist across, twitching her fourth and fifth fingers. A tiny compartment opened, revealing seven miniature capsules of emergency elements. She picked out the glowing orange Huypem and uncorked it. With one hand gripping the canister with the napkin, she spread a thin line of the gluing compound on the side and stuck it to the back of her stiff work coat.

She was still clicking the delivery case back onto her chest by the time she was one hundred feet from the entrance to the Midway. A breath from turning her Spire boots back on, a short beep of sound from her CII nudged her patience. “Master Myje calling.”

If it was anyone else, she would have ignored it to finish her last delivery before six. Elyst sighed heavily. Shooting the balls of her feet in the ground, she and made her way to a structural monitor at the front of the building closest to her. The blank 18x18 inch monitor hovered a few feet above the ground on the slant of what could have been confused as a debater’s podium. It zapped to life as Elyst swiped her CII across the slide.

An older man peered into his screen back at the lab. Uncommonly thick eyebrows were buried under a rug of green hair where two inch snowflake shapes of color bled silently onto the unkempt locks then receded to nothing in a continuous loop. “Ah, apprentice,” Myje croaked. “I need-eh… Well, you seem to be in a bit of a hurry.”

“Master Myje, what is it that you need?” Elyst asked, attempting to hide her annoyance.

Myje took his time to take a deep breath before speaking. “Ah yes. Eh. I need you to come back right away. Something-eh-urgent has come up. You can forget about the last delivery. It will be-eh-taken care of later.” With that, the screen fell blank.

Elyst pondered her master’s call as she curved onto the Midway, activating the magnetic repulsion of her Spire boots. She was relieved that she did not have to be caught in the middle of the frenzied rush to work, but was also curious about a lack of urgency in Myje’s voice. Nevertheless, Elyst bounded forward down Midway and reached the lab just forty seconds before the ATN went online.



© 2014 Katie de Lavani


Author's Note

Katie de Lavani
Reviews are Much appreciated.

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thank you so much for submitting to my contest! I very much enjoyed this read!!!
unfortunately I can only have one winner so.....
thanks for entering!!!
Keep up the fabulous work!
-Dragon

Posted 7 Years Ago



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Added on January 8, 2014
Last Updated on January 12, 2014
Tags: Sci-fi, fiction, tech


Author

Katie de Lavani
Katie de Lavani

CA



About
Hi. Nothing much to say about me. I'm always looking for a good story in my life and sometimes base the stories I write on real life experiences. I love to read others writing to see just how horrible.. more..

Writing
The Catch The Catch

A Chapter by Katie de Lavani