Chapter 2: Shopping Excursion
Olivia drove the car while Alexa sat in the passenger seat.
"So tell me," Olivia asked, "what are your goals in life?"
"I want to be a lawyer," said Alexa. "I have an ancestor that was a lawyer, and I want to follow in his footsteps. I want to be self sufficient, so I'm not reliant on a man to support me."
"Among our people, we need engineers and scientists. One of the reasons we can't get home is because some of the technology we once had was lost during the escape from the supernova because our computers were damaged. We need people to re-invent some of the technology we lost. How good are you at mathematics?"
"I've always been good at it," said Alexa, "but I'm good at most subjects."
There was a computer console in the center of the dashboard, below where the ash tray would normally be located. Two tabs on the monitor were open, one showing a map of where they currently were, and another showing their destination.
"What is that?" Alexa asked, indicating the console.
"This is a computer system connected to a space warp generator that will take us to downtown L.A. instantly. The computer knows when nobody is watching us, and when there are no video cameras on us. We don't want anyone to see us or record us when we emerge into and out of the dimensional portal."
Olivia drove the car down a street that didn't lead to any main roads.
"Is that why you're taking the side streets?" Alexa asked. "So nobody witnesses the car disappearing?"
"Exactly," said Olivia. "We don't want ephemerals to know about our existence."
"I told some of my friends about the academy," said Alexa. "Was that okay?"
"It's better if people didn't know about us, but assuming your friends aren't celebrities or involved in the news media, it should be okay. Just try to make sure they keep all of this a secret."
"Can you tell me more about our secret society?" Alexa asked.
"There are a lot of us, and we're divided into two camps. There are two houses for students at the academy, Verso and Recto. Verso believes that the powerful should exploit the weak. The motto of Verso is: Fortune favors the bold. In Latin that is: Audentes fortuna iuvat. You'll be sorted into your proper house when you arrive at the academy, a mind control device is used to make that determination."
"What do the other people believe?" Alexa asked.
"The motto of Recto is: Through adversity to the stars, or in Latin: Ad astra per aspera. They believe in helping the weak, and not exploiting them. Which side do you think you agree with?"
"I like Verso's motto and philosophy better," said Alexa. "I've always felt that the more powerful people deserve to rule over everyone else. People are like sheep, and they need good leaders to guide them. I'm not saying I believe in tyranny, I just feel that I was born to rule, and I think I would make a great leader."
"Verso and Recto have been fighting for supremacy for two centuries," said Olivia. "The followers of the Verso society want to alter history and rule over the ephemerals as a race of gods."
"Wouldn't that be changing history?" Alexa asked. "Did anything like that happen according to future history?'
"Normally, we aren't able to alter history. There is a female scientist known as Professor Morgan Lefevre who is developing a way to establish an alternate timeline, so the Futurians can rule the ephemerals. We had that capability in the time we came from, but that knowledge was lost during the diaspora into the past. A lot of people are trying to stop Professor Lefevre, but she has traveled to another space-time continuum and is hiding out there, working on her technology. We have no way to track her down. If you get housed with Verso, she might try to contact you to assist her. If that happens, you need to notify either me, or the headmistress of the academy, Professor Victoria Valerius."
"Why would she try to contact me?" Alexa asked.
"Whenever a new crop of students pops up, she scans for the most promising members of Verso house. She's been at this for almost two hundred years, so she knows what she's doing. Most people in Verso house agree with her philosophy in life, that we were born conquerors. If she thinks she can utilize your abilities for her benefits, then she will."
"Is she a criminal?" Alexa asked.
"Yes, but we have no way of capturing her. She is a renegade scientist, so her technology exceeds our capabilities."
"If you keep driving down these side streets, someone is bound to see us," said Alexa.
Just then, the vehicle went through the space warp and emerged in downtown Los Angeles, on a side street near a dry cleaning business.
"We made it!" said Olivia. "We're here, in downtown L.A."
"The atoms of our bodies weren't broken apart, were they?" Alexa asked.
"No, you've seen too many science fiction television shows. None of us would allow ourselves to be teleported or broken apart and reassembled. We went through a dimensional portal, and emerged farther away than from where we started."
"Why was there no sense of momentum?" Alexa asked.
"Objective time is what the rest of the world experiences, and subjective time is what we experienced in the vehicle. Our subjective time slowed down to almost a complete stop while we passed through the dimensional portal, so from our perspective, our journey seemed instantaneous, even though it took longer. We traveled backwards in time so the amount of time it took to travel was equal to as if the trip had happened instantly."
"So we traveled through time as well as space to get here?" Alexa asked.
"Yes, you're very bright!" Olivia replied. "You should become a scientist or an engineer. You seem adept at understanding these things."
"Where are we going now?" Alexa asked.
"That dry cleaning business is a front for a store where you can buy technology only used by the Futurians. You're going to need an electronic tablet with all of your class textbooks downloaded onto it, a communicator, as well as a neutrino dissimilator."
"I heard you mention neutrino dissimilators at my house. What are they?"
"A neutrino dissimilator is a pistol that can reduce the size, weight, volume and mass of a person or object."
"So it's a shrink ray gun?" Alexa asked.
"Yes, but neutrino dissimilator is the technical term. We're buying one for you today, but it will remain inoperative until you pass a test in a class at the academy showing you the scientific theory behind it, and the proper way to care for a miniaturized captive."
The two of them entered the dry cleaning business, and Olivia flashed a specific type of I.D. to the man in charge of the business, and they were ushered to the back of the business. A doorway slid open, and they entered a large room that was clean, sleek and futuristic. There were dozens of devices on the walls, and several other students Alexa's age were shopping.
"Those two girls are your age, Alexa!" said Olivia. "Unlike you, they have always been aware that they are Futurians. Maybe you could make friends with them."
Alexa did as she was told, and introduced herself to the two girls. "I'm Alexa, but everyone calls me Lexie. This is my first year at the academy."
"Hi Lexie, I'm Gamma! This will be my first year at the academy, too!" said a girl with red hair.
A blonde girl introduced herself to Alexa. "I'm Stratus, I'm here with my twin brother, Stratum!" Stratus pointed at her brother, who was looking at some electronic devices against the wall. "The girl you just met is my cousin."
Olivia walked up along side Alexa. "Olivia, how will I pay for the things that I need? Do I need future money?"
"Your parents set up an account for you the day you were born, Alexa. You have more than enough money for anything you will need during your years at the academy."
"Have you always looked forward to going to Futurian academy?" Stratus asked.
"I just found out about all of this today," Alexa replied.
"Are you serious?" Stratus and Gamma looked at each other with confusion on their faces. "Why didn't your parents tell you?"
"I guess I'm kind of evil," said Alexa with a sinister smile. "My parents thought I would misuse that knowledge, and they were probably right."
"You're probably going to be housed in Verso," said Gamma. "I have relatives that were housed there."
"Is that bad?" Alexa asked.
"Not if you want to try to take over the world," Gamma replied. "There are a lot of Futurians who want to do that. I wish there was a neutral house, because I don't fit into either category."
"Stratus, your brother's cute," said Alexa. "What house do you think he's going into?"
"He's definitely Recto house," Stratus replied. "He would get angry if he was housed in Verso. He's violently opposed to taking over the world."
"So I don't have a chance with him?" Alexa asked.
"Each kid from each house is paired up with a student from the opposing house," said Stratus. "Maybe you'll get paired up with him. It's to teach us about democracy or something. I have an older sister named Umbra who goes to the academy, she told me everything there is to know about it."
"They pair girls and boys together?" Alexa asked.
"Sometimes," Stratus replied. "But don't count on getting paired up with him. It's a possibility, nothing more."
Alexa looked at the neutrino dissimilators hanging on the wall. She picked one up and examined it.
"Don't get that one," said Stratus. "That's a Downsizer, the most popular brand is Decimatrix." Stratus handed a Decimatrix to Alexa. "At least, it's popular with the girls."
"Thank you!" said Alexa.
"You're going to need an electronic tablet and a communicator, too." said Stratus as she picked an electronic tablet from the wall. "This brand is the most reliable, it's been popular since my great grandparents went to the academy. Here's a good communicator, too."
"Thanks again!" Alexa replied, taking both items.
"So we'll be seeing each other at the academy this Monday?" Alexa asked.
"Without a doubt!" Stratus replied.
Olivia approached Alexa. "You will need three school uniforms, P.E. clothes and a backpack."
Gamma grabbed a backpack and handed it to Alexa. "Throw that tablet, communicator and neutrino dissimilator into the backpack!"
Alexa did as Gamma requested, and Gamma turned the backpack inside out, and there were no electronic devices.
"See?" Gamma asked. "Anything you put in here can go into another dimension, in case ephemerals try to look inside!"
"That's cool!" said Alexa.
Gamma retrieved the neutrino dissimilator and the communicator. "When you want them back, you can summon them again!"
Alexa took the devices from Gamma. "Thanks for showing me that, Gamma!"
Olivia returned with the uniforms and P.E. clothes. "We can check out now,"
"Don't I need to try them on?" Alexa asked.
"This isn't a typical store, Alexa," Olivia explained. "There is a scanning device that took your measurements the moment you set foot in the store, and these uniforms were custom fitted just for you!"
They went to the counter, and purchased the items with a credit card that Olivia pulled out of her purse and gave to Alexa.
"This is yours from this day forward, you can use it to take a taxi shuttle from the academy back to Earth on weekends.
"Thank you, Olivia." said Alexa.
Once the items were paid for, Alexa took them in the shopping bag the cashier gave her, and the two of them exited the store, into the rear of the dry cleaners. Once they were outside the building, they went to Olivia's car.
"How will I get to school?" Alexa asked.
"There will be a taxi service at your house at seven a.m. Monday morning," Olivia replied. "It will use the same space warp technology as my vehicle, so get up early and be ready!"
"I'm really looking forward to this!" said Alexa.
Once they were in the car with their seat belts fastened, Olivia started driving.
"Is it okay for a Futurian like myself to be in a relationship with an ephemeral?"
"We have extensive computer files on everyone who was born between the 20th century and the millennium we originally came from," said Olivia. "If you want to find out the future of a prospective boyfriend, you can look through those files and find out everything about his future, who he marries, when he will die. It is highly suggested that you marry another Futurian."
"When can I look through those computer files?" Alexa asked.
"On Monday, after your last class of the day, you can get on a computer station and look up everything you might ever want to know about your friends. My suggestion is to not do that, however. You might find out things you don't want to know."
"Like what?" Alexa asked.
"What if something bad happens to one of your friends in the near future, and they knew you looked up their future? Would you want the burden of sharing that information with them?"
"I see what you mean," said Alexa