Louis slowed his truck down as he approached the three-hundred foot wall surrounding the city. He spat out his window, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to enjoy such subtleties in life once he crossed the border. He looked up at the wall and found the words “Scientia Potentia Est” inscribed on the top of the checkpoint.
The border patrolman inspected Louis’ documents. They included his identification, a permit for transporting agricultural goods into the City and his worker’s permit issued by the Terran Federation’s Ministry of Occupation. The patrolman was thorough in his inspection, and took his time while matching the issued stamps on the documents with samples from the department he had in his manual. After the careful examination, he turned to Louis and said, “open up the back please.”
Louis slowly got out of the driver’s cabin of the truck, walked to the back and opened the cargo hold to reveal a large shipment of beautifully grown tomatoes.
The patrolman took a look at his bright red shipment. He took a sniff – it might’ve been the best tomatoes he’d seen in a lifetime. He turned to Louis, handed him his papers and asked with lowered volume, “mind if I snatch one for myself?”
Louis paused for a moment, but smiled. “Sure,” he replied, handing him a ripe tomato. He wasn’t looking for trouble, not this time.
At the patrolman’s signal, Louis drove the truck passed the checkpoint, the words inscribed on the top of the gates and began his entrance into the city. He looked out the window to see the spectacular change witnessed through the windows of every person travelling through the checkpoint.
The endlessness of brownish-yellow fields beside the road slowly faded into the solid gray of concrete – a tunnel. The tunnel seemed to last forever. As the truck passed through the half-mile long hole in the wall, what seemed like a faint glimmer at the end of the line slowly but surely grew into its full size.
The truck passed through what felt like a luminous membrane at the end of the tunnel. The gray concrete view gave way to sky-piercing towers with greenery and shrubs covering all possible free space on their walls. Hordes of people – most in stereotypical scientist glasses – rushed around from office to office, ant-like in their strive to complete more tasks for their hive – for their people.
The road that the truck was on was bordered on both sides by these small communities of researchers in their fancy skyscrapers, before giving way to a hill, atop of which stood the founding structures of their current political climate.
One of those structures was the Ministry of Agriculture, where Louis drove every two weeks to drop off his fresh produce.
In the Hall of Decision, a young guide spoke boisterously as she gave her tour of the building and its history to the group of tourists.
“Almost a century ago, a war of epic proportions broke out on our planet, and we suffered massive losses in life and in our habitat.” She stopped to clear her throat.
“With a push of a button, our predecessors managed to destroy half of the world’s population and almost two-thirds of all livable habitat on the planet. We were facing the prospect of a global catastrophe – global extinction, dare I say it – had it not been for the intervention of scientists and the development of new technologies.” The guide moved on to the next chamber of the Hall. Her tourists were busy snapping pictures and few were actually listening.
“That’s when we scientists around the world finally could not hold it in any longer. We realized that all of our world’s problems were largely caused by the human condition – specifically greed and panic. We realized that in order for the world not to head towards destruction once more, we had to create a ruling class that could only be minimally affected by the human condition. We needed scientists and logicians in power.” The guide beamed at her last statement.
“And that’s why this hall was first formed. It was the first landmark of our current government and is the second-most important building in this government facility, behind the Hall of Administration, just down the road from here. In this Hall, decisions are made through decision makers who are chosen by the eldest of decision-makers based on birth, scientific and logical aptitude, educational background and their morality complex, with emphasis on the latter three traits.
“The decision makers discuss and convene almost every day, reasoning with each other on what is best for the people. They record and peer review their discussions, perform tests and experiments if necessary before it is sent to the final, senior committee for approval.” The guide stopped for any questions that her audience might have.
In the corner, a twelve-year-old boy walking with his mother raised his hand. The guide pointed to him.
“Then who makes sure the senior committee doesn’t make the wrong decisions?” The boy asked.
The guide thought a moment and said, “Good question! The whole system that is currently used is based as best as it can on the scientific method. Decision makers must discuss with others to formulate a decision and then their decision must be peer-reviewed. The committee are the eldest of the decision makers and have wealth of experience in each of their fields. The system is set so that no one committee member has power to their own – they must be checked by someone else.”
“But – ” The boy’s follow-up question was cut off by a hand to his shoulder. It was his mother.
“Stop it, Louis, you’ve caused enough trouble,” the boy’s mother chastised.
“That’s quite alright, missus,” the guide told Louis’ mother. “Your boy’s questions are all very good ones.”
The guide then turned the corner into the next exhibit of the Hall.
Louis returned to his farm at night with a sore back and arms that could barely move. The hundred-and-thirty mile, one-way drive to the City for delivery of his produce to the Ministry of Agriculture had always been this tiring, but the meeting he was about to attend was making him even more exhausted than usual.
He pulled up to his house and found nine other pick-ups parked in his driveway. They were all present and waiting for him. He got out of his delivery truck and walked into his home.
“‘Ey! He’s here! How was yer trip into the belly of the beast?” Dave hollered out, shifting the attentions of the other eight individuals in the room.
Louis gave him a quick nod and replied with a simple, “it was alright.” The room slowly drifted into silence as Louis came into the room, and at the front of the table, a large, bulky man with a heavy beard began to speak.
“Alright, let’s get started then,” Chad, the head of their association, beckoned. He raised his right hand to his heart, a signal for all others to do so.
“We at Save Humanity From Science pledge,” Chad began. The others echoed his words with a slight delay. “To do all that we can to end scientific tyranny on our people; to liberate our fellow brothers and sisters so that we may all enjoy the freedoms that we all deserve.” Chad gave a quick pause. “What say you?” He asked his quorum.
“Aye!” They replied in unison.
“Who has taken our food, our water, our minerals, our freedoms?” Chad asked the group before him.
“They did!” They replied in unison.
“In the name of what?” Chad asked again.
“Science!” They replied in unison.
“What do we need to do to save our people?” Chad asked boisterously.
“Defeat Science!” They replied in unison. The continued chanting, “Stage the coup! Stage the coup! Stage the coup…” Louis flinched a little at this last chant.
“Alright, then, gang,” Chad addressed everyone in the room. “Let’s go over our final plans for the big day…”
Louis drove his truck towards the tall, three-hundred foot wall with the words in Latin inscribed at the top. He rolled down his window to spit, knowing that such subtleties in life would not be possible beyond that checkpoint. Part of his mind wandered off to wonder what exactly those three words in Latin – his mother had told him that it was Latin – meant exactly.
The air, the view, the smell of ripe tomatoes from his cargo hold were all the same as two weeks ago. Only this time, there was the faintest of shuffling feet and clanking of ammunition from the cargo hold.
He hoped that they would not be detected.
He pulled up to the checkpoint and a familiar face greeted him. It was the patrolman.
“Oh hey, it’s you again! Documents?” Louis handed them over to the man in uniform.
He went through the documents just like last time, inspecting them to his best, making sure that the seals and stamps that were present on the documentation matched the samples given to him by the department.
“Thanks for giving me that tomato, by the way,” the patrolman said to Louis. “Best one I’d eaten in a long time.” The patrolman looked up and handed the documentation to Louis. “You seem like a good man, not nosing about in any suspicious business, are you?”
Louis shook his head, following that up with a simple, “nope.”
“Good man. Now go on, get your tomatoes to the Ministry of Agriculture.”
Louis gestured, thanking the patrolman and drove into the concrete tunnel once again.
Valerie had just returned from her lunch break when an explosion rocked the Hall of Administration above. Sirens around the building sounded an alert for all patrol units to respond to the situation.
“What’s happening, people?” Valerie asked her deputies. “Someone get me a visual, now!”
The head of the security force of the government had responded to many crises in the past, even put down coups, but they were all done proactively. They had almost always managed to stop coups before they were even full ideas yet, but an attack on the Hill itself, this was a first, even in Valerie’s long and distinguished career.
“Camera zone two and three show low visibility. All cameras in those regions report smoke, sensors reported a high flash in temperature,” one deputy reported to the head of security. “It’s likely the explosion took place there.”
Shit, Valerie thought. That’s the quarters of the units stationed on the Hill. “Call all available tactical units to the Hall immediately,” Valerie summoned her communications master. “We are officially under attack.”
“Ma’am, we have incoming at the door!” One of her deputies shouted.
Before she could grab her laser, the door to the control room exploded open. Valerie was knocked to the ground, ears ringing. Through limited vision, she could see masked men entering with lasers.
One of her deputies produced a laser in her hand but was immediately neutralized by one of the assailants. Valerie counted twenty of them as they entered the room, securing the premises.
As Valerie came to her senses, she scanned the room for a possible exit but was met with the touch of a laser to her head.
“Order your officers to stand down,” the assailant said to her.
She saw no reason to risk the death of any other officers and complied with the assailant’s demands.
As she and her deputies were handcuffed behind their backs and led down to the prison hold three stories beneath ground, she caught a glimpse of one of the assailants and thought he looked familiar. She had seen this face, a long, long time ago.
“Move it, maggots,” the head assailant screamed.
“You’ll never make it out a live. Not without an army,” Valerie said to him, bluntly.
The head assailant offered no response – only a grin.
The prison cell had a television that was turned on to the news channel. On it, Valerie saw just about one thousand assailants wreaking havoc across the Hill. First the Ministry of Administration was hit. Then Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Science. Ministry of Justice and Safety were then subsequently hit.
They aren’t a big force, Valerie thought, but they’re organized and well-planned. And the fact that they got past border security, that’s the amazing part.
The reinforcement units came and tried to contain the group-gone-berserk, but they were each fended off after prolonged skirmishes and surrendered subsequently.
News agencies quickly commented that it must have taken an underground network of separatists to organize such attacks, and commented that their efficient and effective mobilization and organization pointed to weeks of planning beforehand.
Finally, the assailants hit the Hall of Decisions, where the most important decision-makers resided. The building capitulated quicker than any of the others. Six hundred decision-makers, including the senior committee, were led out single-file onto the lawn where they were organized like a high school choir and presented to the media who were invited by the assailants.
The head assailant spoke into a microphone.
“Today, we ask the question that should have been asked decades ago: What gives these people the right to tell us how much to eat? Why do they get to decide how much water we get, or how much power we get and what resources are available for all of us to use? Why do they get to pick the people who run this country? They claim to use science.” The head assailant waved his arms like it was magic. “But has anyone asked: What gives science the right?” Strong emphasis was put into the last question.
The group of journalists murmured to each other.
“Today, we are going to make that right for everyone,” the head assailant continued. “We will ensure that people are free to do as they please, free to do whatever they wish to – provided it does not harm the greater good. Today, we give back the rights of the people that was taken from us in the name of science! And the first step,” the assailant paused for dramatic effect. “The first step is to be rid of this ridiculous oligarchic system of running things.”
Valerie held her breath. Public massacres did not sit well with her stomach.
The seconds passed and the media awaited what the assailants would do, until one assailant – the one that Valerie recognized – hollered for the decision-makers to follow him. They were being led to the holding cells in the Ministry of Justice, the largest on the Hill.
Valerie let out a relieved sigh. At least they didn’t kill people for sport, she thought.
“My name is Chad Jennings,” Chad spoke into the microphone for one last time that evening. “And today is a glorious day for humanity.”
After that, Chad and his group of assailants marched inside the Hall of Decisions, and th City that was once bustling with scientific research, development and expansion ground to a standstill.
To be continued in Part Two…..