MARCH 2014 NUMBER 1
WELCOME TO ROAR ROAR is for the philosophers, the artists, the writers, and the poets of our generation, providing the platform through which anybody with something to say can have their voice be heard. First and foremost we are a family, one that celebrates creativity and the exploration of everything from humor, the conundrums of life, the problems that trouble world leaders, to just an appreciation for the human condition through our words and art. ROAR aims to provide a stage for discussion of both global and personal issues, entertainment for the student body, and a place where writers and designers can explore the ends of their creativity. ROAR carries the spirit of ISY Chinthes of the past, present and future whose passion for writing and art produces publications that evoke laughter, tears and intelligent thought and reminds us all of the power that language and art hold in our lives.
From the ROAR team, Phyu Hnin Lwin Editor
Prarthana Venkatesh Editor
Theresa Yang Design Editor
Parsa Ahmed Editor
Nyan Latt Design Editor
CONTENTS MUSINGS OF HAPPY TRAILS By: Taing Nandi Aung A CULTURAL PAGE 6 TRAITOR By: Phyu Hnin Lwin
THE DYING ARTS By: Justin Chan
RACISM IN BURMA
By: Ye Lynn Han
CLARITY By: Prarthana Venkatesh
THE POWER COUPLE THE POWERS By: Prarthana Venkatesh
By: Prarthana Venkatesh Theresa Yang Theresa Yang
PAGE PAGE 77
GLIMPSE AA GLIMPSE OF OF YANGON YANGON By: Dhruv Seth
By: Yamin Phyu
By: Dhruv Seth
LOW ON BATTERY By: Eui Joon Kim
10 22 25 SCOTTSBORO CASE 27 28 THE TECH COLUMN 30 THE BOOKS PAGE By: Prarthana Venkatesh
By: Ryan Zheng
THE TV PAGE By: Theresa Yang
PRIVACY By: Joey Johnson
By: Kanha Biswal
PYTHON’S STORY By: Kaung Khant
32 PAGE 36
THE FAILURES OF UTOPIA By: Pascal Swarbrick ROAR
MUSINGS OF A CULTURAL TRAITOR
“Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”
WRITTEN BY: PHYU HNIN LWIN I can list on five fingers the times that something I saw on Facebook
have the power to bring it into the 21st century while still maintaining
really provoked a reaction from me and one of those times was when
our culture. We’ve seen what this fear can do to people, seen this fear
I found a rant (from a person who will remained unnamed) about cul-
result in Muslim hate, in towns being razed and so many senseless
ture, specifically culture traitors. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named thor-
deaths. It’s time to spread a little more understanding and a little more
oughly berated a group of Burmese teenagers whom he had been sit-
peace. We have to realize there is a line between being proud of your
ting near in a restaurant for speaking only English and then continued
heritage and condemning that of others. By being so closed-minded,
on to lament the loss of Burmese culture, finally ending his soliloquy
aren’t we underestimating our own heritage by assuming that it can’t
by branding them traitors (ironically all in English).
hold its own in the world? Culture is an ever-changing, fully accepting
Immersed in the international school life that we were giv-
entity, and that’s what lends it its beauty. Culture is ever-changing and ever-beautiful; let’s not underestimate it.
ized”, so to be fair to Mr. Bow-Before-My-Cultural-Heritage, I can’t
In the words of one of the most admirable characters to ever grace
understand those who disparage and denounce their culture in favor
a screen, “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not.
of another. However, there is a clear distinction between those who
Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” It takes so
have accepted other cultures, and those who have rejected their own.
much more courage to accept than to reject. I have too much respect
In an age where networks have connected every corner of the world, I
for my heritage to assume it so weak that it should disappear at the
think it’s an insult to assume cultures unchanging and rigid. The trou-
first appearance of a burger. I may speak English and wear jeans, but
ble starts when people say things like “If you were a true [blank], you
I also immerse myself in the life of Supayalet and the antics of Jyan
would (or wouldn’t)…” because they are placing conditions on a con-
Sittha. I laugh at Burmese anyeint shows and Modern Family alike and
cept or thought or belief for which they cannot wholly be responsible.
I couldn’t survive a week without laphet. So if I’m a traitor, let me be.
Part of the definition of culture is “a way of thinking” and when in his-
I’d rather be a traitor, knowing my ground while reaching for the sky.
tory has a school of thought done well when it refused to compromise
Let all the flags and colors I am, fly behind me. Call me a traitor and
let the world love me, half and whole, with a part of my heart carved
I understand that there is a fear that we will lose our heritage, but we
out for everything I have ever loved, no matter where it comes from,
also have to understand that change is unavoidable. This fear is noth-
or whether it fits with everything else. To me, that’s the beauty of this
ing new, and perhaps is even more fitting when considering the time
ridiculous, exhilarating, terrible, lovely celebration called life.
and place we are at. Myanmar is at a cross-roads right now, but we
en, it seems frighteningly easy to lose our roots and to be “Western-
Happy Trails WRITTEN BY: TAING NANDI AUNG ILLUSTRATION BY: SHAMYI LANJOUW The day I saw your tears reflected in mine,
That hole I mentioned had already been
I knew at once that gone were the ties
That bound you to us.
Before you, before them, a signal of decay.
Although here you are still,
As one by one, they leave us, either
I can already feel
tomorrow or today.
The absence to come.
Until all that is left, are edges tattered, worn and frayed.
â€œAnd with that knowledge that at least with those memories left, we can rewind.â€?
Once more, you are going and then you
But if the seasons pass, then so too will this
will be gone.
Like those before you, you have left us
It will merge with all that, the losses we
A half-written song.
must one day regain.
A key is missing, and so is a note.
For the cycle turns with the force of life,
An empire sings
And with the knowledge that at least those
But with a hoarse throat.
Memories left, we can rewind.
Once more, a goodbye we shall now have
So, the day I saw your tears reflected in
In your absence, we are lost in the fading
I knew at once that your loss, your absence
shades of gray.
Like that of those before you
For a hole you have not created, but only
Will strike us, once more to the heart
Through and through.
For an empire you have not broken, but only weakened
Happy trails, my friend. Perhaps one day, We will meet again.
For tomorrow, you will be gone
e h -T
Written By: Prarthana Venkatesh
The Powers have sort of invaded ISY (IN A GOOD WAY, OF COURSE) and it’s almost impossible to get through a day at school without catching a glimpse of one of them. (We’ve tried. And failed. No, I’m not serious.) In an effort to make people who seem quite bland (because which teacher doesn’t exude a sense of mundanity?) become a touch more compelling, we interviewed Mr. Powers. And with quite a few Powersisms thrown in (“No big deal”, “You guys don’t care”, “YeahYeahYeah”), I managed to put together a brief, censored version of their story. A story of love, awkward moments, and serendipity. The story
and Mrs. Powers had just ended one.) But
lovely Ms. Christina Powers and myself
there’s no stopping the POWER of love.
were both attending California State
Excuse the pun-iness.
University, Fresno. I don’t think we even knew each other or bumped into each
MR POWERS: “Now we rolled though
other until we had an Applied Computer
the school year and we did our labs
Statistics class together. I had noticed
together. And we were friends. But she
this pretty young lady across the way. I
was busy hating men because she’d just
was like, ‘Oh, she’s a pretty young lady,
broken out of a bad relationship. And
don’t know her from anywhere but she’s
sometimes you need to hate men for
a pretty young lady. No big deal’.“
a while. And that’s fine. We both liked each other but it wasn’t romantic. It
Neither of them was in the market for
was just—you’re nice, I’m nice, and we’re
the other (Mr. Powers was stuck in a
lab partners. It’s friendly, it’s fine. Then
relationship that “wasn’t going well”,
I graduated and went off and got a job.
behind our very own power couple.
MR POWERS: “It all started when the
Six months later, I walk into this big
MR POWERS: “The moment you ask
department store ‘cause I need a shirt.
somebody to marry you should be a
Guess who’s selling the shirts. It’s the
significantly cool moment. But there
lovely and talented Ms. Powers. So I
was absolutely no uncertainty as to
walked up and went, ‘Hi, how are you?
what was going to occur. My first
How are things? Good good good.’ Peas
thought was taking her to Taco Bell and
and carrots about stuff. I was like, ‘Hey,
we’d order like two burritos. And I’d go,
we should get together sometime and
‘Here’s a burrito, Here’s a burrito. Want
to marry me? Then I thought, ‘No. That won’t work’.”
Quite simply, a few weeks go by and Mrs. Powers still hasn’t managed to squeeze a
Yeah because Taco Bell is the definition of
date with her future husband into her busy
true romance. Pfffffffffft.
schedule. Mr. Powers, after ‘realizing’ that he isn’t a priority to her, simply shrugs
MR POWERS: “One of the things we’d
and attempts to move on with his life.
always wanted to do was climb the Half Dome. So we walked up to the top of Half
MR. POWERS: “So anyway, four or five
Dome. I had this backpack on my back-
days later, the lovely and talented Ms.
it was carrying all our extra food and
Powers calls lovely Mr. Powers and we
clothes and all that kind of stuff. But I’d
decided to go out on a little date. And
stuffed the little ring in there.
off we went. It was a first date that
So we get to the top of Half Dome and
went really, really well. Nobody had to
I walk my wife over to the edge, not to
be anybody that they weren’t. It was
push her over as you’re expecting, but to
comfortable and smooth. I had been
get a nice background behind her. And
invited to a party by some of my friends
I’m taking pictures. Then I get down on
that night. So we show up at this party
one knee, still taking pictures. And then
and we’re still basking in the glory of a
it’s like, “Hey Christine. Would you marry
successful first date that has gone well
me?”. Click. Click. Click. And she had one
and everybody’s happy. I’m trying to
of those nice moments of, “Oh, yeah.
introduce Ms. Powers to everybody in
What? Me?” (insert Mr. Powers’ brutally
the room. Worked my way all around
beautiful impression of his wife’s fake
the room, hitting a surprisingly high
shocked face) So then we were engaged.
number—I’m at about a 90% success rate
And away we went.
UNTIL (insert silent, awkward pause)
The part of the story that I didn’t
I had forgotten Mrs. Powers’ name.
remember was that eleven and a half
Now, one of the cool things about my
wife is that when I forgot her name, she
wife and I had this conversation. And
did not help me. She just gave me that
she said, ‘You’ve got a year from today.’
look that went ‘when you get to it, you
Okay, we had the conversation maybe.
can tell them’. So the awkward pause
I don’t remember it. I didn’t remember
extends a while. And finally the name
it then. I don’t remember it now. I don’t
comes into my mind.
think it ever happened; I think it is a
figment of her imagination. The ironic And then we dated and then we got
part is that we were into the 2nd week
of August when I asked her to marry me.
The deadline was the end of August. And
What made you decide to ask her to marry
she was going to dump me and move on.
you? Tell us about the proposal.
I don’t know if she would have actually
WORDS OF WISDOM The deadline was the end of August. And she was going to dump me and move on. I don’t know if she would have actually done it. But it’s always interested me. We had a very nice wedding over at Carmel. We got jobs in the Middle East, then Japan, then Vietnam, then here.
MR. POWERS: My favorite POWERISM :
I think the key to our relationship is that it’s very democratic. She is who she is and I am who I am. And we don’t have to compromise very much to be happy and successful and all that. We view everything as a team sport. Raising kids is a team sport; trying to get through life is a team sport. The quicker you see it that way, the easier everything is.”
The first time the person you’re dating demonstrates that they are insane, stop dating them.
Are you happy with where you are in life? And If you’re insane, you’re probably ‘un-date-able’. And anyMR. POWERS: “It is a lucky person that gets to do what they
one who does date someone who’s ‘un-date-able’ is a glutton for
enjoy everyday and I think there are very few people on
punishment because they think they can save that human. It’s a
this planet that get to do that. I’m certain for my wife, she
commendable set of beliefs, but you can’t save people. People have
gets to do what she enjoys. Every day.
to save themselves. You can’t love somebody better; that person
I like teaching. I like the students. I like the room. I like
has to decide that they want to get better. The more you love them,
coaching basketball. I like trying to be at the right spot
the less necessary it is for them to get better— because there are no
every once in a while to have the right conversation with
consequences for being insane.
the right kid at the right time, where you actually do
The big idea in high school—you’re probably not dating the person
make a difference…where something good comes from
you’re going to marry. Maybe, but probably not. (OOH ALL YOU
it. Periodically, you actually do something worth doing.
COUPLES OUT THERE, HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?) So allow
And I’m really fortunate, I have a job where being mean is
yourself some room to be you. Figure out who you are before you
counter-productive. When you’re teaching, if you’re ever
figure out who “we” are. You’ll just be happier. If the person’s crazy
mean to a kid, the kid won’t respond to the meanness,
and they’re wearing you out, dump them. They won’t get better on
they’ll just think you’re an idiot and move on. I want us all
their own. Trust me. Care about people? Good idea. Always care
to win, that’s all I want. ‘Cause if you guys win, I win—and
about people. But you can’t save them. They have to do that them-
I like winning. And you guys need to win because it makes
other things possible for you. So I get to have a job where I like what I do and I get to be nice. And nobody gets that job. Nobody gets a job that they get to enjoy everyday. I get to laugh everyday. I’m really happy. What I do is hard. I want us to be the best that we can be. So yes, we’re in exactly the right spot. I like everything I do.”
Figure out who you are before you figure out who “we” are. You’ll just be happier.
It was around the time of the high school science fair: after lunch, all the last-minute experiments were being put together and all the nerds were setting up their superfluously intricate experiments composed of various hazardous chemicals and death-laser components. I was in the Black Box Theatre, having no idea what was going on (YEAH APES STUDENTS!!) until our teacher Mr. Fraser asked “How many of you are leaving for science fair?” aaand over half our students packed their bags. That was when it hit me. Half. Half our class left. Four students. Isn’t that sad? I think it’s sad. Do any of you remember the program “Space” from two years ago? They had around 30 students and put on this big show? We actually already had a similar program this year. Never heard of it, right? That’s be-
WRITTEN BY: Justin Chan ILLUSTRATION BY: Jenny Kim
cause this time, we had nine high schoolers and two middle schoolers. Newsflash: Our school’s Theatre department is dying. I just HAD to find
performing is about being comfortable with yourself, because when
out why, so I did some Sherlock-ing around our school. Quite a few of
you know who you are, you can become someone else, a character.
you told me that you found Theatre boring and that it was too much
The point of a production is to entertain other people, and let them
work. Now I could give y’all an epic speech about how an experience
feel the happiness you feel when you’re on that stage.
depends on your perspective or how you should-- NO. NO I AM NOT
In all the years I’ve had with Mr. Fraser, he’s always said “THERE IS NO
SHAME IN THIS ROOM!” and there really isn’t; inside the walls of that
Anyway, Theatre is a hard class. It involves a lot of work… getting your
terrifyingly dark room is a safe space where you don’t have to hide
costumes, exploring your characters, preparing your stage, and put-
anything...kind of like in Glee. The kids in Glee learned, in their club
ting together an entire production, not to mention actually studying
room, who they really were, and that it was okay to be themselves.
if you take it in IB. But beneath all the clown suits and fake guns, is the
They discovered their talents and found the courage to change their
real point of Theatre: to have fun. That’s what Theatre is really about;
lives for the better. Similarly, the Black Box Theatre is a place where students can be who they want to be without being judged. Its more than just a scary room…it’s a place where you can really feel safe. Please keep in mind that Justin Chan wrote this article. Don’t know me? I’m not surprised; I wear dark clothes and barely talk, but in Theatre class, I can just be me, and in 2014, that’s the best gift anyone could possibly receive. I never imagined that I’d have any talent whatsoever, and I was so surprised when I discovered within myself, a talent for Theatre. In that room, you can be who you are, as well as whomever
you want to be. If you ever feel like you should take Theatre, expect
the unexpected, lifeless readers, because the Black Box Theatre really is a place where miracles can happen.
“I am proudly insane.” I am lost in the wreckage of the world. It was so, until I met this beautiful girl. ‘Twas a night full of bright yellow lights, when this flaming goddess got a hold of my sight. She stared at me from afar, her tight black dress wore her; there was red lipstick on her cup. I marched my ass off the bar, straightened my back and got closer; her big brown eyes flipped my lips downside up. Her posture was elegant, but her legs were naughty. I acted strong and gallant, but damn, her legs really got me. They brushed against mine, playfully up and down. I knew this wasn’t a crime, but she already had me bound. She sang my name and my name hasn’t sounded sweeter. But her love was a game, and at this I just couldn’t beat her. We flew like these words flow. She was the needle that sewed up my tormented soul. Her smiles meant mine, but mine not hers. God give me a sign, does she not love me for sure? I was the lemons that life gave her, and she was not wrong for making lemonade. But see what happens to those lemons, after the delicious juice is made. I am plump and I am weak; but I’m glad I give you that bitter sweetness you seek. Please tell me what you want; I’ll give you what you need. You’ve always been blunt, and you were never consumed by greed. She only took what she needed, the rest of the ends were mine to meet. So I gave her my all, exceeded, and swept her off her pretty feet. Like the princess she was, the prince, I tried to be. I’d be anything for her, because she was everything to me. This past year was a blur; this last month was a year. Love is not enough I concurred; such a thought brings me to tears. I forgive you, though you don’t seek to be forgiven. And I thank you, for driving me to roads I’ve never driven. I look the same, but the same things don’t show up where I look. I’m proudly insane, a cup on the edge of a table; the table you shook. I know it hurts babe, please stay strong. I’m hurting too – wait who’s that hunk? Oh god, this is wrong…
RACISM IN BURMA WRITTEN BY: YE LYNN HAN ILLUSTRATION BY: MI JIN KIM
their politeness and good-natured spirit, are some of the most welcoming people in the world. Our culture values respect over everything else, courtesy and kindness being chief in everything we do. Considering this, it surprises me to no end that some of us can harbor a hate so strong that it blinds us with anger and ignorance. With claims of overpopulation and IsROAR
lamization (the process of a so-
ciety’s conversion to Islam), we have turned the Rohingyas into
one of the world’s most persecut-
ing root when British colonial-
ed minority groups.
ists encouraged Bengali people
The Rohingya situation
from nearby countries to mi-
in Burma escalated out of hand in
grate into the sparsely populated
only a few short weeks, resulting
and fertile Rakhine farmlands to
in needless death and violence on
work as agriculturists. This led
both sides of the conflict. What
to Burma becoming number one
started with the rape and murder
in rice production worldwide.
of a Rakhine (Arakan) has escalat-
The East India Company extend-
ed to hundreds of deaths, inju-
ed the Bengal administration to
ries, and stirred the anti-Muslim
Rakhine, which removed the in-
sentiment that has been waiting
ternational boundary between
to boil over since colonial times.
Rakhine and Bengal, removing
The friction between Burmese
restriction on migration. These
and the Rohingyas started tak-
migrations were not one-sided
however, as many thousands of Rakhine people also settled into Bengal. Even though the en masse migration of the Bengali people in Burma may have only taken place within the past century, Myanmar’s association with the ethnic group has been present since the 1400s. King Narameikhla, who had been exiled to Bengal for 24 years, usurped and reclaimed the throne of Rahkine in 1430 with military assistance from the Sultanate of Bengal. The first Bengali settlements in the
region were formed by the Bengali people who had helped the king. In present day Burma, the dispute has escalated to such an extent that a simple argument about loans between a Rohingya and a Burmese can lead to whole villages being burnt down in a tempest of anger. When I asked for opinions on this situation from other Burmese people, most answers would be wrapped in accusation of forced conversions, overpopulation, and general anger against the Rohingya people. I know of several extremely devout Buddhists who express intense anti-Muslim sentiments openly and proudly, trying to warn as many people as they can of the “evil” Muslims. Therein is the main problem of this situation. Not only do some Burmese despise the Rohingya specifically, but they have developed a negative view of all Muslims. This view is similar to a popular opinion on how all Muslims are violence-loving terrorists, but it is not terrorism that most Burmese fear, but the ‘risk’ of losing their culture and religion to the Rohingyas. A cultural and social norm of most Burmese is to forbid their children from marrying a Muslim, regardless of social class and personality. A belief that Muslims are forcing conversions on Buddhist women seems to be the source of a widespread fear that Islam will take over in Burma as the prominent religion. However, this belief is unjustified, as only 7 percent of people in Burma are Islamic. Even though most reasons for conflict with the Rohingya are unjustified, there are a few problematic exceptions. There is a stark contrast in our cultures that leaves us no choice but to be two sides of a coin. Both of our religions teach peace and understanding and are similar in many aspects, but influences from other cultures and a few nuances have set us against each other all these years. Some Muslim customs are in direct conflict to major Buddhist teachings and this has sparked strong feelings. Even though the hope for cooperation between the two sides is dim, there are quite a few Bur-
“If we as a culture can overcome this chasm, there is no telling what we can accomplish in the future.”
mese people trying to help the Rohingya as much as they can. They are the ones that understand that even though protecting your heritage and lineage is important, it is more important to practice what you preach as Buddhists. They are the ones who are trying to sway our disillusioned people from the path of death and destruction. History has already taught us that an ‘ethnic cleansing’ will only lead to tragedy and halt our progress as a nation. Thankfully, there are stories of Buddhist monks standing up for their Muslim counterparts and of monasteries offered as safe havens for fleeing refugees. I myself have been exposed to anti-Muslim sentiments growing up, so all of this was far from shocking to me. I harbored this worldview for most of my life, and that’s one of the reasons why I know so much about this. It is because of this exposure that I had much internal conflict in deciding whether it was right or wrong to hold this ignorant grudge, but in the end, logic prevailed. This is the battle all people who discriminate must face, to face your fears and angers and to question whether they are justified or even humane. If we as a culture can overcome this chasm, there is no telling what we can accomplish in the future. ROAR
CLARITY Written by: Prarthana Venkatesh Illustration by: Lynn Whalen Darkness encompasses all of it,
And that is when I see them.
Darkness as ancient as the world, misery. I search, pupils dilated with terror, Limbs paralyzed. It lures me in. And I am ready to fall, So I do. I wake up gasping for breath, Blinded by an incessant ringing that comes to an end Only when I hit it. So I do.
Punctured with their shrieks. I run, of course. Vision blurred by sleep, And then I fall. There is a moment, A single moment, An instant drenched with appalling clarity. Suspended in air, Forced to gaze at the ground As it sways to meet me. Clarity breeds fear. Fear fosters panic.
me back. To reality.
And panic sparks hysteria. No, this canâ€™t happen. threatens.
Fragments, crumbs, shreds, Splinters that could tear the roughest skin, Penetrate the hardest of calluses and the
I step over the mess.
No choice but to keep living.
I need her, I need mother. I rise There she is. Swathed in blankets, Relief trickles through me. And I sink down beside her, Cuddling into her side. But what is that smell?
No, too strong.
As soon as I enter, I wander back to my room.
I feel eyes on me,
Theyâ€™re gone, the creatures. As always, no trace remains. My eyes are drawn
To the door.
I twist the doorknob,
And step out,
To the mirror,
Only to look into the curious eyes
So pure in its innocence.
Marred only by the creature
They avoid me,
Of my nosy neighbor.
As if Iâ€™m contagious.
The next few minutes
Hair, lank and mousy,
Are squandered on small talk.
Skin, pale and faded.
Maybe I am.
Then the unthinkable happens.
But the eyes are the worst.
She shoves past me,
Windows to the soul,
Like a plague
And before I can stop her,
Windows to a soul that no longer exists. I need to kill it,
Before I can take the cold metal
To stain the sheet of silver, Steal its innocence.
Strapped to my thigh, Is a vague haze of fantasy.
So I do.
And puncture those curious eyes, She sees mother.
I drag myself through the day, me back.
A veil of silence.
She grasps the hand, The frozen hand That peeks out from under A pile of blankets. And mother crumbles.
CLARITY BREEDS FEAR
Mother. I run to her side, Touching her forehead, Stroking her hair. I hear her asking about my day. So I spin a tale of happiness, And even a pinch of success. And warm it between mine. But nothing I do Can bring the warmth back.
Bring her perfume. Perhaps it will mask
So, I keep rubbing. I hear
Then I kiss her cheek,
I see her beam at me,
A silent scream. A shuddering breath. And then she turns to me. Eyes brimming with a mixture Of terror and pity. And she whispers, How long has she been dead? With that, The clarity comes back. Clarity breeds fear. Fear fosters panic. And panic sparks hysteria. threatens. I need her. I need mother. But mother is gone.
That I have done all that I can, I sit back, Only to be shaken ROAR
Of the doorbell.
A GLIMPSE OF YANGON
Written by: DHRUV SETH
After living in the industrialized cities of
this negligence and blindness is not entirely
of land’ and all, but a few, cities today fol-
Mumbai and Bangkok and after seeing
their fault, for Yangon’s assets are not visible
low the aforementioned definition. Yan-
everything from a cultural Indian street per-
to the naked eye.
gon however falls under the latter. At every
formance to a creative Thai puppet show,
Behind the layers of tedium in Yangon, lies
turning, every corner, everywhere your
the city of Yangon from a bird eye’s view can
a streak of redemption that makes this city
eye goes, greenery is observable; flowers
appear banal with not much to offer. Peo-
unique when compared to the rest of the
and exotic plants embellish the entire city.
ple with this perspective constitute the ma-
world. The art of culture. It was once said
Add to that a multitude of smiling faces and
jority of the populace in Yangon today and
that ‘without culture, a city is but a mass
the city of Yangon begins to take shape – in
my experience, a city far more appreciative of Mother Nature than Bombay and Bangkok. Unlike Bombay and Bangkok where dirt and pollution is as common as breathing air, a night sky in Yangon is abundant with stars. Itâ€™s a pleasure to the eye to spend a day and night in Yangon â€“ a multitude of flamboyant and attractive colors adorn the city and point to what the people in our world today desperately need. A date with culture and natural beauty. The very ambience of the city is ridden with bliss; although the common man leads a slow paced life, he is happy and content with the little he has. Every opportunity is accepted as a blessing and every blessing is returned by prayer. The typical Burmese man is family oriented and works hard to meet the demands and desires of his family. The Burmese are not conservative people and enjoy a good and peaceful life with the best of food, garments and entertainment. Visiting the Shwedagon pagoda to express gratitude has now become not only a custom but a heartfelt duty. Compared to Bombay and Bangkok, where cultural sovereignty and distinction is lacking and an outing is business oriented, the Burmese family shares the pride of its representative. An epitome of freedom and natural sovereignty, the glorious land of Myanmar isnâ€™t called the land of the gold for nothing; a city that is different from the commonplace lands of Bombay and Bangkok, and one that will be nothing like what you imagined.
WRITTEN BY: YAMIN PHYU/ILLUSTRATION BY: MI JIN KIM
It was new day, a new country, a new
of bodies that slid like a glob of limbs
beginning, a new life. SuMyat looked
through the open mouth of the subway.
Four beeps resounded, the doors closed
around in wonder at the crowds of
Soon after she found a small space to
shut, and the train began its journey
people, bustling about to and fro in a
settle at a corner end of the compartment,
to the next station. The movement and
disordered manner. That was how her old
a woman’s voice crackled overhead,
acceleration, as well as the boredom,
life had felt, disarrayed, messed by those
monotonously dictating foreign words
made SuMyat open her eyes again to take
‘friends’ that she had in her past, back
that meant nothing to SuMyat. SuMyat
in her surroundings. There were only
in the small town that she used to call
slumped against the cold metal wall and
people: big white men, tall white women,
home. She had taken her chance with the
closed her eyes in disappointment; she
blonde little white children, singles,
migration but the now right now didn’t
would have to learn the new language if
couples, babies, and a few anomalies,
seem so different from back then. With a
she were to survive in her new home-city,
such as herself, who stuck out like a sore
sigh and a quick step to the right to avoid
a whole new place on the other side of
thumb. And then there was the girl.
the elbow of a preoccupied businessman,
the world. Changes were necessary if she
She seemed to be around SuMyat’s age, an
she incorporated herself into the mass
were to be Stephanie.
East Asian girl with jet-black hair, wearing
the plaited skirt and the white button-up
for her. Their eyes met, and this time
of a school uniform, a hot pink backpack
SuMyat averted her stare, away to the
slung on one shoulder, quietly observing
view outside the window, blushing. The
the two girls next to SuMyat. It wasn’t
“They called them “insane”, “sinful” “abomination” that “deserved to be locked up in a mental asylum”
her beauty, her nationality, and not even her hot pink bag, that attracted SuMyat’s attention. Rather, it was the way the stranger girl was looking at the two girls who were holding each other, though no one else cared. It would have been a different case if she were still in Myanmar,
train was passing by a church, which stood towering over houses in the middle of the town. Jessica smiled widely again and greeted her with open arms. The train moved on steadily, the church now out of sight. Stephanie stepped into her embrace,
especially in that little ‘traditional’ town
reciprocating, and finally smiled. She felt
she was from. It would be a huge ordeal
a new feeling, a fluttering in her heart.
to see two of the same gender who are
With this new person in her new life, she
nothing but friends that have turned into
felt renewed hope, revitalized and a step
something more. A shiver ran up her spine as she remembered the time when she and her parents saw two lesbian girls walking together in the shadows of the night. She remembered the jealousy and admiration that warmed her heart, but she also clearly remembered the words of her parents. They called them “insane”, “sinful” “an abomination” that “deserved to be locked up in a mental asylum”. She had looked at the two girls in fear, not of them, but for them; she feared for their happiness and lives, and she feared for her own identity. Now, the gaze of the girl was like those that SuMyat often found herself having when she saw particularly cute couples, wishing she could be like the guys, wishing she could show off her love to the world or just for her love to be accepted. That exact look was mirrored in the stranger girl’s eyes, those eyes that diverted the focus of their gaze to SuMyat. SuMyat froze, and gulped. The day suddenly seemed too bright with the sun shining brightly through the windows of the train, the murmur of conversation and screeching of the wheels against the railway too loud, her long-sleeved button-up and jeans too warm for the weather, and the speed of the journey too fast, unsteady. However, SuMyat didn’t look away as she would normally do, nor
from the stranger who told her through eye contact her wishes and desires for love that seemed to reflect her own. Under the unwavering scrutiny of those eyes, she felt as exposed as a newborn baby and as freed as the stars in the vast universe. They looked, listen, heard, and understood, as the train moved on along its track toward the next destination. And then she smiled. And Stephanie learnt of love. “Hey,” the girl spoke softly, her lips curved in a beautiful smile, her soft voice teeming with exhilaration and joy. “I’m Jessica.” “Stephanie…” SuMyat accidently let out a soft gasp when
enveloped her cold fingers. She didn’t know when she had walked over to the other side of the train, over to Jessica. Her immediate response was to retract her
around to keep everyone’s actions as responses under her surveillance. She waited for hate to be bombarded at them, discriminating curses, disgusted cringes, and pitiful stares—now these were the
closer to her true self after a long time of mimicking a chameleon. A
announcing the upcoming stop. The train slowed down as Jessica’s hold relaxed and her hands slid down her arms, her fingers entwining with Stephanie’s. The door opened, people came and went, all in a rush for nothing that seemed like everything. “Well, this is my station.” Jessica took a step backwards, and another, and another, until she was at the door, with Stephanie. Four beeps resounded, they stepped onto the solid platform, the doors closed shut, and the train moved on, accelerating towards its next destination. Stephanie
travelled away and held Jessica’s hand. It wasn’t her destination yet, but she had arrived at her transit.
worst. Conversely to her racing thoughts, no one even spared them a moment of consideration. A sigh of relief escaped SuMyat and she returned her attention to Jessica who was waiting patiently for
did she blush shyly. She stared back and
she found herself unable to look away
WRITTEN BY: EUI JOON KIM
How often do you check to see how many more hours your laptop would last? Maybe very often. Maybe not. But everyone knows that school life’s hard when your laptop can’t last at least three hours. My laptop only lasted 45 minutes while not charging last year, so I decided to buy a new battery for this school year. Which only lasts two hours. I can’t even use it for more than one class, and naturally I am always anxious to see how much more time I have left. Therefore, I decided to just borrow a laptop whenever I needed to use one. Which is pretty convenient except for the fact that you’re only allowed to borrow it for one class period. And except for the fact that some of them don’t work. And that sometimes all of the laptops are gone because a class borrows them. And that you have to check it out from the library every time you need it.
“...most of the actions I took actually killed battery life or had no effect” I bought a new battery 3 months ago and was expecting to survive two years with my current laptop. But two hours is just not enough on days I use my laptop a lot. So I decided to buy a new one, one that several reviews claim lasts for 8 hours. However, all of you know what’s important is not the initial battery runtime, but how long the battery keeps its initial runtime.
With some research and help from my father’s friend, I’ve found out that most of the actions I took actually killed battery life or had no effect, even though I believed that they were retaining
you guys should listen to me. Don’t blame me if your battery life is reduced; it’s a natural process. Companies don’t even have an after-sales service for batteries that are more than 6 months old, while even the computer itself has an after-sales service for an extra 6 months than the batteries.
DESIGNED BY: TAKAKI KATO
Battery life is normally indicated in charge cycles. What does this mean? This means that your battery will die out after you repeat using up and recharging the battery a certain number of times. Solution? Charge your laptop whenever you can and keep using the charger so that you don’t use up your cycles. Adapters don’t charge the laptop’s battery if it’s higher than 97% when connected, and it will enable you to use it for longer hours without a power source. Also, change your laptop’s setting so that it only charges up to 80% if your laptop allows you to. Although this will give you less runtime each time, it will increase your charge cycle dramatically. Laptops generally have a charge cycle of 500, and only charging up to 80% will increase this cycle to a 1000 or a 1500. Some companies have this in their settings, some don’t. If your laptop doesn’t have a setting for this, you could search the web and download softwares that enable you to do so.
Here’s a summarized list of things to DO 1. Charge your laptop whenever you can and keep it charging. 2. Change the laptop’s setting so that it only charges 80% of the battery. (Laptop setting or downloadable softwares.)
AGAIN, TRY THESE OUT AT YOUR OWN EXPENSE, I HOLD NO RESPONSIBLITY FOR YOUR BATTERY LIFE.
BOOKS OF 2013
JUST ONE DAY
The last book in the Divergent trilogy that
This is the third book of The Infernal
A book that calls to the thrills of
focuses on a dystopian society split into
Devices series, which is set in Victorian
wanderlust that plague many of us.
factions according to personality traits.
England, and is based on Cassandra
Allyson Healey, fresh out of high school,
The taste of a revolution and its aftermath,
Clareâ€™s world of Shadowhunters, a race
is forced to challenge her boundaries and
the first glimpse of a world outside the
initially revealed in the City of Bones
change her plans after she meets Willem,
fence, and a mind-blowing ending.
series. An emotional end to a trilogy filled
a free-spirited traveler, on the last day of
with action, mystery and one of the most
her trip to Europe. They spend just one
captivating love triangles to grace the
day together, but it leaves and indelible
pages of young adult fiction.
impression on both of them.
KIERA CASS This is the second in the SELECTION series which brought us the story of a girl called America, invited to live in the castle, as a part of a group of girls from which the future queen, Prince Maxon’s bride, will be chosen. During a period of war, barely certain of her desire to rule a nation, America is forced to choose her fate.
CROWN OF MIDNIGHT SARAH J. MAAS
Second in the Throne of Glass series, this book brings us more of lethal eighteenyear-old assassin Celaena Sardothein, a captivating character if ever there was one.
After winning the king’s contest,
Celaena is confined by her charade of loyalty to the throne, stuck in her role of ‘royal assassin’. But there is a ceaseless stream of threats to her survival, and a multitude of difficult choices to make. and a dash of romance, this novel will force you to keep reading.
JENNIFER E. SMITH
Graham Larkin, teen movie star, and Ellie O’Neill, an ordinary small-town girl, begin an accidental email correspondence, sharing everything but their identification. When Graham’s new movie begins filming in Ellie’s town, could it be the beginning of a fragile relationship? Unanticipated secrets and vague optimism, with an underlying theme of self-discovery. ROAR
Brimming with suspense, action, danger,
THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE
ROSE UNDER FIRE
THE INDIGO SPELL
While flying an Allied fighter plane from
Kirby manages to keep the protagonist,
Another stunning book in the Bloodlines
Paris to England, American ATA pilot and
good girl Parker Frost, realistic and
series by Richelle Mead (author of Vampire
amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured
relatable. Parker has abided by her parents
by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the
expectations, never broken roles or gone
(part of a group of humans who play a role
notorious women’s concentration camp.
wild, until she discovers the journal of a
in the vampire world—mainly regarding
Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose
girl named Julianna, and subsequently
the protection of vampire secrets) finds
finds hope in the impossible through the
finds herself on the way to solving a local
herself torn between her job, and her
loyalty, bravery and friendship of her
mystery. Parker embarks on a journey
heart. Sydney is caught up in the thrill
fellow prisoners. But will that be enough
inspired by the story she stumbles across,
of rebelling against the confines of the
to endure the fate that’s in store for her?
and in doing so, begins to truly live her
Alchemist society, her newly discovered
capability for magic, and the powerful
Sydney Sage, an Alchemist
pull that is Adrian Ivashkov.
must watch: NE W TV S H OWS Reign is an American historical fiction television series following the early years of Mary, Queen of Scots in 16th century France. Many critics claim that Reign is Game of Thrones meet Gossip Girl. While other claims that Reign is a simple mockery of history because of the CWâ€™s modifications of the story of Mary, Queen of Scots. While others hail it as the best new 2013 fall TV show.
The Originals is a spin-off series of the Vampire Diaires; it will focus on the Orignal family which consists of Elijah, Klaus and Rebecca. The show is set in the vibrant town, New Orleans and is punctuated with great soundtracks from artists like MsMr, Hurts, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lana Del Ray and Rachel Rabin. If you start watching now, there are only 15 episodes for you to catch up on! ROAR
AGENTS OF SHIELD
Orphan Black is a science fiction television series starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical women who are revealed to be clones. The series raises issues about the moral implications of human cloning and the impact on issues of personal identity.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is an action-adventure series based on the Marvel comic’s secret intelligence organization Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The show centres around one of S.H.I.E.L.D’s team, which is headed by Phil Coulson and composes of Melinda May (tortured soul), Grant Ward (ego-centric hunk who is also a tortured soul), Skye (civilian recruit a computer hacker, described as warm, edgy and witty) and Fitz and Simmons (lovable S.H.I.E.L.D scientists, adorable too.)
Almost Human is a science fiction/crime drama TV show that is set in 2048. The police force’s new policy is for every police officer to be paired with a lifelike combat-model android. The main character of this show is John Kennex, troubled detective, who hates the androids, which are supposed to be his partners. He is then paired with Dorian, an older model android who has trouble dealing with some emotional responses. As the show progresses so does Kennex and Dorian’s relationship, but how long can this last?
SCOTTSBORO CASE RACISM AND MORALITY RYAN, WAI YAN NAING.
On March 25th, 1931, nine black youths were falsely convicted of having raped two white women by the names of Ruby Bates and Victoria Price on a freight car passing through Scottsboro, Alabama. In a series of unfair, fast-paced trials, the unfortunate youths were found guilty and sentenced either to death or to prison terms ranging
“We need to develop a sense of human morality.”
from 75 to 99 years. As the saying goes, “they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” All-white judges and jury in front of an all-white audience conducted the trials and it took just three days for the jury to reach a conclusion of “guilty” even though the doctors Lynch and Bridges both testified that there was no evidence of rape from their medical examinations of the girls. In addition to signifying a landmark conflict that contributed to the Civil Rights Movement, the Scottsboro story is a compelling tale about the struggles of nine innocent young men for their lives, as they faced racial discrimination and were used as fodder for political causes. Racial intolerance still exists currently in the world in many forms and we need to develop a sense of human morality. The Scottsboro boys’ case is an example of how racism defied justice and righteous acts. Not only did the white teens tyrannize the black youths, but the judges who were subject to the American system of truth and honesty joined in as well. The horrifying experiences that the teens
were put through were most likely equivalent to a person facing a whole mob of gangsters with guns. Intentional racist acts should never be tolerated and we as a community also need to have a full understanding of the meaning of racism and how it manifests itself. I believe that racism is “the disturbed reaction towards dissimilarity” and that racist acts are simply committed out of an unease towards change and difference and include intentionally insulting or making fun of others of the opposite race. In “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch was one of the characters that believed that discrimination was not only foolish but also imbecilic. Defending a “Negro” Tom Robinson in a case similar to the Scottsboro boys, he demonstrated that in order for a person to make a positive change in their life they will need supportive individuals to encourage them in maintaining that adjustment. Despite Atticus Finch being a fictional character, I believe that we as a society should acknowledge him as the role model in making the correct choices in regards to human morality. ROAR
Just how much do you really deserve?
BY: JOEY JOHNSON
Privacy… it’s something we all want,
Snowdan is quoted to have said this to
to say that he does not “want to live in
but is becoming much harder to obtain.
the Guardian Newspaper after submitting
a world where everything I do and say is
With the security cameras in 1st world
classified NSA documents as proof. “If I
recorded.” This is why he decided to leak
wanted to see your emails or your wife’s
these classified documents. In his mind,
corners and shopping malls, to the
phone, all I have to do is use intercepts.
he is not a traitor who violated espionage
cameras attached to phones and even
I can get your emails, passwords, phone
laws, he is simply a concerned citizen
bicycle helmets, Digital recording has
records, credit cards.” This is a daunting
that decided to educate the public about
become a cultural norm. However, are
thought, for the NSA to be able to get your
secret US government programs that
you aware that the NSA “has built an
Internet passwords, view your unopened
are doing illegal searches and putting so
infrastructure that allows it to intercept
snapchats, and even read your emails, all
called ‘national security’ above people’s
almost anything.” The infamous Edward
without your consent? Snowdan goes on
constitutional right to privacy. Now the majority of us may agree with Edward Snowden, asserting that they don’t want the government to access their digital footprint without their consent. However, since the systems that breach our privacy online have already been in place, lets play devil’s advocate and see what arguments one could possibly have for creating this intrusive spy system. However, before we start, ask yourself, have you ever done something illegal or posted something inappropriate online? Now, if you are honest with yourself, then you probably would answer yes to one, if not both of those questions. Now, if you knew that the government could see this illegal and inappropriate activity, would you still do it? Or, would you be more cautious and think twice about what you do online. This is exactly what I believe society needs in order to remain moral and law abiding. The only true way to make sure people follow rules and regulations
is to make sure they are enforced, right?
If the government didn’t have access to
BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING
what we were doing online, then why
a specific amount of this data before they
would we follow any laws or regulations,
have to delete it. That is why the NSA does
if we were guaranteed privacy, with the
a massive database search for keywords,
government or police not being able to
and then deletes all the other data that
prove or do anything about our actions.
does not contain the relative keywords.
It would inevitably lead to online crime,
Conclusively, your emails to your friends,
downloading pirated content, distributing
your silly posts you post on Facebook, or
child pornography, stolen credit card
even your underage drinking plans with
numbers, and so on.
your buddies aren’t likely to be relevant to national security. Even if your data does
Now, let’s be honest here, we’ve probably
happen to appear on a screen at the NSA,
all heard of, or maybe even participated
they would quickly delete it and move on.
in the common High School shenanigans
Now the US and UK governments were
that go along with growing up. You know
established with citizens privacy in mind,
what I am referring to - that phase when
which is why they are revising these
a teenager wants to rebel against society
programs to greatly restrict their scope of
or push the limits. There are many cases
monitoring. This includes improving how
where high school students communicate
data searching, collecting, and processing
over the Internet for illegal activities like
is handled, in addition to making sure it
dealing drugs or planning to go out for
abides by the US constitution and protects
a few drinks with friends. Nonetheless,
average citizens privacy. For now, the NSA
both of these instances could lead to a big
has the capability to watch your every
problem if the information or proof gets
move on the Internet. So, the next time
into the wrong hands. However, before
you think of doing something you might
you do anything drastic, let me explain to
later regret, remember, Big Brother is
you why a one-time spur of the moment
decision of yours isn’t likely to find its way onto an NSA agent’s computer screen. According to statisticbrain.com 5 billion Google searches, 400 million tweets, 200 million snapchats, and 144 billion emails are sent per day, and that’s just 3 websites worth of data! This means that it is almost impossible for the US and UK programs to monitor everything that happens on
ILLUSTRATION BY: JENNY KIM
the Internet because they can only store
THE TECHNOLOGY COLUMN BY: KANHA BISWAL
Today is Thursday, 23:20 hours into the night. Armed with curiosity and a screwdriver, I wipe the sweat developing on my temple. It is the moment of truth; do or die. The snarl of the fan from the darkness is ominous while the dim incandescence of the solitary bulb feeds my mettle; then I see it. It has shoulders of tempered steel and coils of black cords extending from its head; two feet tall. It lies stagnant, undisturbed on the shelf. I am engulfed with undisputed revulsion; it can’t be. It has taken what was mine, imperative information necessary for my success at school. The information that would determine my status in the scholastic community. Yes, it formatted data; my data and all of my data. The data that would determine my grade in Biology and Literature. Today is Thursday 11:20pm, and there remains T-minus-14 hours and 40 minutes to fix this catastrophe. Electronic troubleshooting has been an issue of great tension for many users. Every day, 1 in 3 people will suffer from bugs in their electronic devices. Although once revered highly, manual repairing has become comparatively outdated in the recent years. Technology has progressed greatly, and so has the manufacturers’ intent on keeping sneaky hands off of their hardware. Day by day, these gadgets are becoming more reliable. In addition, many people simply hesitate to fiddle around and they leave the appliance to the tech experts. And you must agree that Apple’s ‘support and maintenance’ vacuums our wallets empty when it comes to fixing minor problems So here’s how I want to enlighten the inner techie in you, so you can get down to business. Yes, you may know a lot of this but there are many other who don’t too. I hope that this has helped you (even a bit helps) make the right choices. Oh! I forgot to say this. If you are watching or doing something that would require you to close it very quickly as a parent enters the room, don’t panic. Control your facial emotions and slowly close the windows. I have been stuck on such pages many times, but thankfully I have escaped from all!
The best way to start is to start focused. Don’t get frustrated as you will definitely make mistakes, this includes keyboard banging, foot stomping, wailing and making rude remarks. When I run into any sort of trouble, tech-related or not, I assume a calm state of mind. With the clarity, you can make sensible decisions.
If your computer freezes, for whatever reason, take a minute or two to remind yourself that this is bound to happen once in a while. Every window you open takes away memory from your RAM (that is, random access memory: it’s what remembers what you are doing). It’s like making a mental grocery list. Some people have great capacity, and there are those who forget the third - what? By opening several windows and programs, you are decreasing the amount of free memory. Memory is what makes the millions of calculations as you are scrolling, typing and surfing. It is the whiteboard where all the algorithms are beings processed and logical equations being solved. Once in a while, because there are so many things on the board, there is no more space and all the systems come to a grinding halt. That’s when your computer freezes. So, when you are working on something important, e.g. a lab report or an essay, close all unnecessary windows and applications (I can bet you have heard of this a million times). In addition to that, keep in mind that each tab you open in Chrome or Firefox also takes away RAM just like another window. To prevent this problem, Windows users (sorry MacBook users) can expand their computer’s memory by purchasing new RAMs. I don’t think the cost is a problem anymore because they cost from around $2 to $20, according to their capacity as opposed to more than $100 dollars in the past. You can get a technician from our school to install it for you, or if you trust yourself you can try it. But remember to remove all charge from your body which could harm the chip (this can be done just by touching metal). Also, keep in mind that Microsoft Word and Pages auto-save every ten minutes. Chill out! Get your hands off of the keyboard and mouse, and do something else.
READ. READ. READ. FREEZING COLD.
Don’t overlook that lengthy gibberish in user manuals! Most errors have a code linked to them. You can use that code to email for help or Google up the issue so that you can get a better understanding. Complete information is the best information. Customer Service will only respond to your mails if you tell them the error code. Or else they’ll regard your mail as spam and delete (since many people annoy them intentionally). Also, read the fine print at the bottom of a web-page that could help you make decisions about the page. They could tell you about the security of the page, and if the transactions on the page will be safe.
For those worried about security while browsing social networking sites, remember to use secure browsing (https://) and log off after checking your news feed on Facebook. If possible, use Mozilla Firefox for your ‘social needs’ because they have better security settings than Chrome. Chrome is built for the ease of access, which means it would remember things for you such as passwords and forms. Forget about Internet Explorer because you would realize you made a hole through the computer screen because you tried to punch it. ROAR
PYTHON’S STORY WRITTEN BY: KAUNG KHANT
It was late afternoon in
the mouse lost the last of its air
ners will be chosen and given re-
In the middle of the field, was a
the Grimsdell woods, the dense
and went limp.
wards!” cried the birds.
raised, wooden platform. On it
canopy overhead allowed only a
Python allowed himself a small
Python lifted his head. Rewards?
stood the “legendary” student
small amount of sunlight to slip
satisfactory smile. He had been
What could the rewards be? If I
council. Or so people say, Python
past. The leave-covered ground
stalking this creature for the best
win, he reflected, then I might be
thought. He had never believed
was covered with patches of
part of the day. He had patiently
able to get out of this situation.
the rumors that had been go-
waited in those bushes for two
All doubts were expelled, when
ing around the animal kingdom.
A silent figure slithered from
hours. It had been a good hunt.
his stomach grumbled. It won’t
About these humans that possess
shadow to shadow, resembling
He glanced down at the mouse
hurt that there might be some-
the powers of gods. Even now,
only a slight blur of green and
in his clutches and then sighed
thing to eat at the competition
he can hear conversations of
brown in the dim light. It stopped
wearily. The mouse looked pit-
too, he thought.
those animals around him, gos-
and tasted the musty air. It could
iful, all bones and no meat. He
That’s why Python found himself
siping about this subject. Python
smell the prey coming closer. It
unhinged his jaw and swallowed
amidst a crowd of animals wait-
scoffed. What a bunch of fools.
crept into a bush and positioned
the scrawny mouse whole. The
ing; seated on the hard stone
But then, they do have a certain
itself so that only its head could
mouse hardly fills me up, he
steps of the coliseum they were
type of power, he corrected him-
be seen and waited.
all in. The coliseum was an ar-
self, the power that comes from
The mouse scampered its way
For the past few weeks in the
chitectural wonder. Made out
having being wealthy.
through the leaves, and stopped
Grimsdell Woods, prey had be-
of white limestone and marble,
One of the “white robes” stepped
beside the roots of a tree. It bent
come scarce. Whether it was
it was made to fit several hun-
out of his group and raised his
its head to nibble the seed it
disease or predators, something
dred people. The entrance was
hands for silence. The animals
held in his paws. Some instinct
had made the preys’ population
guarded by statures resembling
were instantly hushed. There
warned it, and it looked up, nose
decrease. Python had found it
the gods of the student coun-
was an excited anticipation in the
twitching, body tensed to bolt
harder and harder each day to
cil. Python had gazed up non-
atmosphere but Python looked
at the slightest hint of danger.
find enough food. I need find a
chalantly at these statues. Such
It sensed something suspicious
better place, Python had worried,
power must these gods to have
“Friends, you are all gathered to-
to its left, downwind and turned
soon there won’t be enough prey
built such a place. Or maybe, he
day to take part in a competition”,
to look. It was the last thing the
thought wryly, they had a lot of
he announced, “A competition
mouse ever did.
The following morning, he had
slaves and a lot of time.
that will decide which of the an-
The python launched itself out
been dozing in the shade of a
The atmosphere was heated with
imals here are worthy”. His voice
of the bushes, aiming for the
bush, when he was awoken by
the warm bodies of the hundreds
was rich and deep. He spoke soft-
mouse’s neck. Its powerful jaws
the cries of messenger birds. He
of animals present. The air was
ly, but his voice rang out clearly.
clamped shut around it, its body
opened one eye lazily and lis-
filled with cries, howls, and roars
He had the voice of an accom-
draped over the small animal and
as they mingled with each other.
plished public speaker.
squeezed. Every time the mouse
“The Student Council is hosting
Python sniffed disdainfully, the
“These are troubling times in the
exhaled, the snake pulled its body
a competition. All animals are
smell; it was an overpowering
kingdom of ISY”, he continued.
tighter. In a matter of minutes,
invited to participate. Four win-
stench of the wild.
“Bandits and outlaws roam these
lands like it’s their own. Hunters and poachers have been killing
As he realized that the donkey wasn’t going away, Python inwardly
animals mercilessly.” He paused and then added meaningfully,
groaned. Lucky me, he thought.
“I’m sure you all had your fair share of trouble”.
Donkey stayed by Python’s side that entire day. No matter, how hard
There were nods of assent, and indignant cries from the animals.
Python tried to lose him, he did not go away. He’s like a piece of gum
Python himself hissed when he realized that hunters must have
stuck on your body, Python thought.
been causing the problems in his own home.
Yet, Python began to enjoy his company. Donkey’s outgoing attitude
“The Student Council has come up with a solution! An organized
quickly broke down any ice between them. But of course, Python took
force is needed to counter this lawlessness. We have decided to
care not to show this. When he was young, Python never had a chance
create a special corps of animals to enforce order in the king-
to make friends. He stayed by himself throughout his life. This com-
dom”, he paused for effect, “However, only four will be chosen.”
panionship was a new concept to him.
There was an excited chattering among the animals. Python nar-
That night, the two companions made camp under the stars. Python
rowed his eyes. Only four, he thought, out of several hundred.
had dozed off only for a couple of minutes when Donkey’s voice cut
This will be an intense competition.
through the silence.
“We will be hosting only one event however; therefore you will
“Hey, are you awake?”
only get one chance to prove yourselves. Your leadership, pa-
“No”, Python hissed.
tience, creativity, and communication skills will all be tested.
These are the characteristics we want for the corps”.
Python gazed around at his competition, and smiled smugly. They
There was silence for a few seconds.
seemed naïve and stupid like children, he thought. Indeed many
“Python, can I ask you something?”
of them were drooling; some were just staring at each other with
Python groaned. “You just did” he grunted.
hungry and meaningful expressions; others had fallen asleep.
Donkey ignored this and went on, “Do you think I have a chance to
This is going to be easy, he thought, self-assuredly. Then, his eyes
spotted a formidable looking competitor. For one thing, she was
Python didn’t reply.
“We have decided to create a special corps of animals to enforece order in the kingdom,” enormous. As expected of an elephant, he thought. More im-
Donkey continued, “It’s just that all my life, nobody believed I could
portantly, unlike most of the other animals, she had a deter-
mined look in her eye. I’ll have to keep an eye on her, he noted.
“I can see why” Python said. Donkey ignored his comment again. “If I can get a spot in the corps, I can show them all. I can shove all their insults and teasing back into
row, you may all leave”, the “white-robe” concluded.
their mouths.” His voice grew in conviction. “They will all like me then,
The crowd at once became a huge moving mass. The air was
they will all respect me.” He paused and said in a softer voice “Maybe
filled with the flapping of wings as the birds flew home. Roars,
my parents will finally be proud of me”.
squeaks, and chirps all rang out at once, in a confusing jum-
“So let me ask you again”, he repeated, “Do you think I have a chance
ble of sound. Python stretched himself and prepared to leave,
when his vision was suddenly filled with the smiling mouth of
Python didn’t reply for a few moments. Then he said, “Yes, yes I do”.
Donkey relaxed happily, “I thought so”.
“Hi there, pal.” He shouted, directly into Python’s ear. “Do you
Python sighed, and went back to sleep.
know what the event is tomorrow?”
The next morning, they were back at the coliseum. There was tension
Python winced. What did does this idiot want?
in the air now. No longer were the animals chattering with each other.
“Did you hear me? I said do you know what….”
They all waited anxiously for the student council to start.
Python cut him off. “No” he said curtly, “now, move so I can go
That’s weird, Python wondered, why is there a gigantic boulder on
Donkey’s grin grew wider. He chuckled. “You and I are going to
On the wooden platform, someone stepped out from the group of
get along just fine”, he said.
“white robes”. It was a different person from last time.
“This event will start tomorrow at 8:00 in the morning. Late-comers will not be able to participate. Good luck tomor-
This companionship was a new concept to him.”
“Friends, it is now time for the event to com-
philosophy that all kids were the same, picked
The children nodded and got up. Great, Python
mence”, he announced.
ten at random. Pretty soon, all the animals had
mused, they won’t be a problem anymore. Sad-
There were excited mutterings from the ani-
their own teams.
ly, they were a problem again after they had
mals in the crowd.
“All right” concluded the student council mem-
pushed the boulder a meter.
“Each and every one of you will have to take
ber, “you may go wherever you want with your
“I’m tired” says one kid.
this boulder”, he gestured towards the rock Py-
team, but remember to arrive back here at ex-
“I’m hungry”, says another.
thon had spotted earlier, “and push it 50 me-
actly one hour to be tested.”
Only one way to solve this, thought Python. He
ters. The fastest four animals to accomplish will
Python gathered his team and went back to the
started snapping at kids’ legs again. It didn’t
become the winners.”
meadow where he slept last night. Not surpris-
work however; all it did was make them angry.
There was a massive uproar at this news. The
ingly, Donkey and his team came with him.
“Stop biting us!” they shout, “We won’t do what
smaller animals, including Python, all shouted
“Great”, Donkey said enthusiastically, “We can
you want anymore.” They all sat down, crossed
out their indignant cries. How is this fair? Py-
help each other”.
their arms and pouted, as if to prove their point.
thon thought angrily. From where he was sit-
I don’t think so, Python thought.
Okay, thought Python, I have to try another tac-
ting, he glanced at the elephant from yesterday.
As Donkey clomped to the other side of the
She was grinning smugly. It’s not fair, Python
meadow, he glanced at his team. They were a
“Children….. do you want candy?”
sorry bunch, Python decided. All of them had
The change was instant. Their faces went from
“But wait!” The white robe’s voice cut through
that stupid, naïve look on their faces. Four were
pouts to expressions of hope.
the complaints. “There is a catch”, he said slyly,
picking their noses, three were staring off into
“Yes, Yes, Yes”, they cried.
“it will not be you who must push the boulders,
space, and two started crying again. This will be
“Well, first do what I tell you to do”.
but them”. He pointed at a gate at the far end of
hard, Python thought.
They were reluctant at first, but their desires
the coliseum. It slowly rose, and out poured out
“Children! Do you know why you are here to-
for candy won in the end. They trained obedi-
hundreds of human children. They all looked
day?” Python started. Nobody listened. Python
ently as Python instructed, and soon they were
lost and confused. Many started crying, and
their cries added to those of the animals.
“Children! Please listen to me.” Nobody listened.
“Do you promise to give us candy afterwards?”
“What is happening, what is this madness?” the
Python clenched his jaw in frustration. His an-
a kid had asked.
animals roared. Python did not join in. This is
ger flared and he nipped the closest kid next to
“Yes, yes I do”, Python had replied.
better, he thought, this is fair for everyone.
him in the foot.
It was finally time for the testing. Python flicked
The white robe continued. “Those who do not
“Owwww!” the kid cried, he sat down and wept.
his tongue nervously as the first contend-
agree can leave”.
Of course the other kids saw the blood welling
er stepped out onto the field. It was Tiger. He
There was silence, and then the sounds of paws
on his foot and it set off a chain reaction. Py-
positioned his team beside the boulder and
and wings as animals began to leave. At first a
thon now had ten kids crying and staring up at
paused. Then he roared. Instantly frightened
slow trickle, it soon turned into a river of ani-
him fearfully, in his hands. At least, he thought,
the kids started pushing the boulder. His roar
mals leaving. Just because they don’t like chil-
they were not ignoring him anymore.
was intimidating, Python thought, even he was
dren, Python thought disdainfully.
“Ok kids now do you know what happens when
startled. Tiger bit them to make them go faster
Afterwards there were only about a hundred
you ignore me?” The tear-stained faces nodded.
and faster. If only that worked with my team,
animals left. Python noticed the elephant was
Python glanced at his surroundings and saw a
Python thought wryly. Tiger scored 50 seconds,
still there, and so was Donkey. Donkey caught
boulder that seemed to be about the same size
a score that proved to be hard to beat.
Python’s eye and waved. He ignored him.
as the one in the coliseum. “Good”, he replied,
The next 20 contenders could not beat Tiger’s
The white robe spoke again “Will the remaining
“now listen carefully, you are all going to help
score. However, one of them, Peacock, had
animals please come down and pick ten chil-
me push that boulder over there”, he gestured
scored 60 seconds, which became the second
dren to train. You will have one hour”.
at the boulder, “To that tree over there”, he ges-
best score. She had persuaded her team to
The animals rushed down the steps, and started
tured at a tree about 50 meters from the boul-
work for her, like Python, but unlike him, her
scrutinizing the kids. Python, who followed the
children obviously, genuinely liked her. The
best relationship I can achieve
caught his eyes and gave him a
Slowly, but gaining in speed, the
Python thought. It had turned out
with my team would be one be-
grin. Donkey beamed.
boulder rolled. Funny, Python
good for both of them.
tween a boss and his workers,
Contenders came and went, but
thought, candy sure has a lot of
Python glanced nonchalantly at
Python had reflected.
none of them could beat those
power. Python closed his eyes
the last contender, and his smile
Donkey was next and he was visi-
three scores. At last, only Py-
and mentally counted. 64… 65…
slowly faded. It was elephant. Oh
bly nervous. Python cheered him
thon and one other competitor
66… The whistle blew again, as
no, oh no, he thought, Donkey
on silently. He deserves this, Py-
was left. It was his turn now. He
the boulder crossed the 50 meter
is in trouble. He glanced at his
thon thought. Donkey positioned
stepped calmly onto the starting
friend, who was still grinning,
his crew behind the boulder, and
point and turned to his team.
Yes! Python thought exuberantly,
oblivious to the danger.
talked silently to them for a min-
“Now listen, you all want the can-
he has succeeded! The happiness
Elephant was preparing for her
ute. Python strained to hear what
dy right?” The children nodded.
welled up inside his heart, and
test now. She had tied a rope
he said but couldn’t. Donkey then,
“Then do well and you will get
he could not hold back a shout
around the boulder, and posi-
looked up and nodded to the Stu-
it”. The children nodded again.
of victory. His features stretched
tioned herself on the other side
dent Council. The whistle blew.
There is a gleam of determination
into a wide grin, and stayed.
of the boulder from her team.
The kids pushed instantly. They
in eyes, thought Python, we will
Nothing bad can happen now,
At the sound of the whistle, her
worked hard under Donkey’s urg-
he thought giddily, the world
team pushed… but the boulder
ings, and they passed the mark
Python glanced at the “white
has turned into a happy place.
was moving faster than it should
with 70 seconds. The third best
robes” and nodded. The whistle
He breathed and sighed. His hard
be. Python watched in horror as
score, Python thought proudly,
work has finally paid off.
he realized Elephant’s plan. She
good for him.
The children moved as one as
He glanced up at Donkey. They
was pulling the boulder herself,
Donkey was smiling as he trot-
they strained their muscles. Dirt
grinned at each other. Even
while her team helped her. In less
ted back onto the steps. Python
churned behind their feet as
though Donkey was now fourth,
than 30 seconds, she had pulled
they pushed with all their might.
he will still be one of the winners,
the boulder across.
“...he had lost all the warmth in his heart. The only thing that remained, was ambition...” “This is against the rules! This
lated him. None of them knew the
They mean nothing, Py-
isn’t allowed!” I screamed at the
change he was going through. For
thon thought. He curled up in his
top of my lungs. But I knew it in
with the loss of his first and only
chair and closed his eyes.
my heart that Donkey had lost.
friend, he had lost all the warmth
Thus, the new corps had been
The “white robes” dismissed my
in his heart. The only thing that re-
decided. Python, Peacock, Tiger,
complaint and marked down the
mained, was ambition, the deter-
and Elephant together made up
score. I slumped dejectedly in my
mination to do everything in his
the Order of Obedience.
seat, and glanced worriedly at
power to be the best. Even if that
this new order was established,
it was sent down to ISY, and was
His face was of horror, of disbe-
Python’s team of children ap-
immediately effective. Chaos be-
lief. Slowly, its features started to
came order, and a new era of
change into an ugly mask of an-
“Where’s our candy?” they asked
peace and prosperity was born.
ger. His eyes glowered madly, and
Yet, all was not well, over the
his mouth was contorted into a
“What candy? Did you really think
years; the four animals’ own am-
snarl. He’s glaring at me, Python
I would give it you?”
bitions grew. Tensions increased.
As they took in this turn of events,
They became suspicious of each
Donkey stomped out of the coli-
their lips quivered. “But you prom-
other, and year by year they grew
seum, and never looked back. His
ised” they said, their voice shaking.
dreams and hopes are crushed,
“Well my promises mean
This is the current situation:
Python thought, and he blames
nothing” Python barked. The chil-
These four animals are trying to
dren, now frightened, ran away
get back in power by themselves,
from the creature that Python had
with the help of their followers.
Who will become the leader?
around Python, and congratu-
Author: Pascal Swarbrick
If there was one thing that could be said about life here, it would be that it was not at all what it seemed. For Ayase Haruka, life was perfect; she had everything she could ever need. The Haruka family had a long history of being members of the ruling class and although Ayase’s family hadn’t recently been engaged in politics, they were still very wealthy. She lived in an enormous mansion, a towering building that could only be rivaled by other ruling class mansions. Rooms were divided into wings which were connected by courtyards, all components of an impressive palace. Ancient Sunnanese scrolls hung on the walls, and in a lot of the male private rooms were ornamental swords and armor that belonged to warriors from an older, more traditional age. Ayase Haruka was walking by her father’s study when she suddenly heard the whine of a vox projector. She wore a simple white robe with pink flower patterns. She had a fair height, for a Sunnanese, with shoulder length black hair and soft brown eyes. Out of curiosity, she peeked in the open doorway to see what was happening. She saw her father, along with Uncle Mende and a couple of other older men, all of them nobles that Ayase had met in the past. They all looked grim, their lips solid straight lines, their eyes focused on the small, boxy device that searched for a signal . The device was simple: it had two speak-
ers on the side that was facing the men, and a small slit-like opening that held a glass like material. A green light was projected from the opening on the device, and an array of clicking and whirring sounds followed. The light danced around and seemed to be forming a face: it was that of a middle aged man, with the typical Sunnanese features of small, black eyes, black hair and a pale complexion. The light grew and expanded, until it showed the entire man and a podium in front of him. Ayase could hear what sounded like hundreds of shuffling feet and mumbling voices. Although she didn’t know who this man was, she couldn’t help but feel some kind of connection with him: had she seen him before? She decided to ask. Gently knocking on the door, she waited for her father to call out, “Enter!”. Ayase entered the room and slid the door closed behind her. “Ayase! What a surprise, is there something you want to talk about?” Her father asked, muting the vox projector. “I was wondering, who’s the man on the vox projector?” asked Ayase. The projected man wore a full military uniform, decorated with metal and idols, most of them religious, but some were nationalistic: round medals with the sun, the symbol of the nation painted on them. He seemed like a passionate speaker… he was waving his fist about, occasionally yelling. Takashi sighed,
trying to find the right words to describe the man in the uniform, “That man is a very, very important person who in many ways, will determine your future.” he explained rather solemnly. Noticing his tone, Ayase was about to press for more information, but then she saw the look on Uncle Mende’s face when he turned to Takashi: the seriousness was almost frightening. Turning to the vox projector, she simply stood there, watching the man. Ayase could not help but feel a sense of evil radiating from the man. Something about this man was bad, and somehow she would end up caught up in it. The important military man was not spoken of again for several years, and gradually Ayase forgot about him. Now a sweet youth of sixteen, Ayase completely forgot about her childhood encounter with the mysterious man on the vox projector. How could she not encounter any trace of him? The answer was simple. Ayase was home-schooled. She had rarely left the family grounds, and in the few times that she did go out, she saw nothing that would remind her of the man. Now, according to Sunnanese law, she was old enough to marry. It was time for Ayase to step into the real world. As Ayase sat at the base of the steps leading to the front entrance of the family house, she continued to dwell upon the outside world. Marriage dominated Ayase’s mind. It was all she could think about. Although to her father she agreed to it, in secret, she was terrified. Had she been the one to choose the groom, she would
have had a different view, but since it was up to her father and mother to select “the one” for her, all she could do was hope for the best. Among her family, Ayase was by far the most vocal and liberal; she did not share the same, conservative views as her father and mother did, and it landed her in trouble more times that she could count. There was one thing about marriage that she was looking forward to though: moving out of the Hakata household. Ayase longed to see the outside world. She wanted to be in the big cities, where all sorts of wonders awaited her. These thoughts were interrupted when suddenly she heard the shuffling of feet behind her. She turned to see two men walking down the steps, one wore a dark blue uniform, while the other was her father, Takashi. As they reached the base of the steps, Ayase quickly got up and moved out of the way. The man in the uniform noticed her and smiled. It was not a genuine smile though; it was a smirk, revealing crooked teeth. He continued walking and stepped onto pathway surrounded by forest. Ayase heard a soft humming sound, and saw a sleek, grey vehicle that looked like a car. It seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. The vehicle had four doors, but only one opened. Out came a giant of a man, more machine than man, a cyborg of some kind. He stood six feet tall, his face a horrible mixture of metal and flesh. The rest of his body was no different, both his right leg and arm were entirely robotic, and his left arm…was nonexistent, in its place was what looked like a razor sharp knife of some sort. The cyborg opened the back passenger seat closest to the officer and saluted sharply. The man ignored it and
entered the vehicle. The vehicle began to hover, spewing soft blue fire out of exhaust ports. In moments, it sped off, disappearing from sight. Amazed at the spectacle, Ayase did not realize that her father was already climbing back into the house. She quickly followed him. Once she reached his side, she asked him, “What was all that about? Who was that?” Takashi remained silent. He pulled what looked like a certificate out of his robes and showed it to Ayase . It said in large, Sunnanese characters, “Age Marriage Certificate”. After skimming through the contents, Ayase noticed several other documents in Takashi’s robes. Takashi smiled and said “Nothing makes me happier than to see my beloved daughter married.” It was a peaceful night, almost everyone in the entire household was asleep. Almost everyone, but not Ayase. She had trouble sleeping, for she couldn’t help but think of the other documents that her father hid in the robes. What was going on? Why was that government official here? Looking at the quietly ticking clock, she saw that it was 3 AM. Taking a deep breath and trying to relax, Ayase pushed aside the questions and tried to clear her mind. It worked, and she started to fall asleep…that is until someone woke her up. She opened her eyes to see her father and mother looking down at her, concern evident on their faces. “There’s no time for questions, get dressed, we’re leaving.” She did as she was told, deciding to wear a traditional pink robe (called a mono in Sunnaneese), and she followed her parents to the living room. “Now Ayase, I need you to be obedient for the next few hours and more importantly, be prepared to do exactly as I say, even
if you don’t want to. Understand?” Takashi warned, putting a hand on Ayase’s shoulder. Ayase swallowed, she was now beginning to feel scared of what might come. “I’ll follow whatever you say,” she croaked. Satisfied, he turned and led them to the back of the house. Ayase noticed that all the lights were kept off and none of the staff were present. The group reached a door at the end of a hallway. Taking out a key from his robes, Takashi unlocked the door and opened it. A small garage was revealed, with various workbenches placed around the room; in the center was a small car. It, like the government official’s vehicle, was equipped with hover thrusters rather than the typical anti-gravity generators that were so common throughout Sunan. “Ayase, sit at the back, and lie down. Do not let anyone see you,” Takashi ordered, taking out a small circular device. Starting the car with a small growl, Takashi used the circular device to open the garage doors. He drove out to the woods. Despite the fact that there was no road, Takashi was unfazed. He continued straight on. Ayase turned back to look at the house. For some reason, she couldn’t help but feel that this would be her last look at the Haruka household. She went back down on the seat, trying her best to appear invisible to any onlookers. For the first few hours it had gone well, the group had yet to encounter anyone. Takashi began to hope. This hope disappeared though, when he heard a sudden “pop” sound and the hiss of escaping air. Cursing, Takashi ground the vehicle to a stop with a very sharp jerk. LIghts suddenly flared up in front of him, and he saw dark figures move
towards the car. “Come out with your hands in the air!” called out a man. Takashi swore bitterly and turned to Ayase, “Stay down, don’t come out with us. We’ll deal with this.”. Ayase stared at him with fear in her soft brown eyes. Determined to get her out of this alive, he gently kissed her on the forehead and left the car. Her mother followed. Tense, Ayase tried to listen to the conversation between the raiders and her parents. She couldn’t make out what they were saying, but from what she could tell, it felt as though a fight was about to erupt. Suddenly she heard the symphonic clicking of bullets into cartridges and a burst of gunfire erupted through the night. Ayase froze, she couldn’t believe it. Did they just shoot her parents? Overwhelmed, she tried to compose herself, but found it impossible to control her tears. She needed to stay quiet, otherwise the soldiers would find her. Slowly, she crawled into the front seat, trying her best to make sure that the soldiers didn’t see her. One of the men seemed to be calling out orders and Ayase could hear footsteps Taking advantage of the fact that her parents had left the front doors of the car open, she quickly crawled out and fell into soft grass. She peeked to see if the soldiers had noticed her, but to her relief, they seemed to be too occupied with something else, their backs turned to her. Silently, she crawled through the grass and maneuvered her way to the denser part of the forest, where she had a better chance of escaping.
As she was halfway through, one of the soldiers turned to her direction and seemed to notice a faint rustling sound in the grass. He walked over to where Ayase was. Ayase froze in terror. Continuing to crawl would grab his attention immediately, but getting up and sprinting would have the same consequences. Either way, it was a risk. She decided on the latter; Ayase got up and ran as fast as she could. The soldier called out and starting firing at her. Bullets flew past her, but fortunately none of them touched their mark. Ayase had only one thing in mind. Run. After what felt like hours, Ayase stopped to rest. She wondered how the soldiers weren’t able to catch up with her, considering that they had a vehicle. It didn’t matter, she was safe...for now, but the larger question was, what next? She was alone, she didn’t know anyone outside the Haruka household and her parents were dead. She was completely ignorant regarding the outside world, and going to the cities would be the best way to end up dead as they would find her faster there. Then Ayase saw what looked like a small house up ahead. She looked at her clothes; they were ruined, beyond repair, and in addition, they would only make finding her easier. Although she didn’t want to sneak in, she couldn’t just knock at the front entrance, it would be a sure way to get into trouble...was there anyone that she could trust? Left with the less morally appealing option,
Ayase decided to find a way to get into the house. From what she could tell, there seemed to be some open windows on the sides of the building. Sensing that it was clear, she quietly crept into the house. She eventually found a bedroom that was luckily empty and upon searching a closet, she found an almost black uniform that seemed perfect for her size. Just as she was about to walk out of the room, she saw a painting of a young, Sunannese man. Looking closer, she realized that he was the man from the vox projector. He now looked slightly older. The man was in military uniform, decorated with a brilliant array of medals. He seemed to be in a heroic pose. In one hand he carried the flag of Sunan and in the other he held a curved sword, known as the tana in the native tongue. Behind him, stood what looked like a massive army: soldiers seemed to be following him, as if on a holy crusade. Under the painting was text in gold letters: Hail the God-Emperor Haishi Tamamati! Divine wrath to the enemies of the Emperor! Ayase didn’t know how to feel; in a way she was impressed with the artist’s skill with a paint brush, but on the other hand, she was disgusted. Sunan was a democracy, wasn’t it? Since when was there an Emperor? Confused, Ayase went to a nearby mirror to look at herself. Her suspicions were confirmed: the uniform that she wore resembled that of the Emperor, yet it was smaller, less fashionable, and on the arm was a
band that showed the Sun of Sunan. Creeping out of the house, Ayase heard the rumble of a vehicle. She ignored it and continued to follow the road. The rumbling persisted and she turned to see a vehicle coming up behind her. She saw a small vehicle drive by; in it were teenagers, not much older than her, wearing the same uniform as her. On the van, there was a poster saying: FOR THE EMPEROR! Noticing her, the driver stopped and the group looked at her. Uncertain of what to do, Ayase simply stood there. “Come fellow Youth! Will you join us for a ride into Tato, the beloved capital?” one of the boys asked. Thinking hard about the situation, Ayase decided to act in the same way they did—loud and fanatical. “Yes fellow disciple I will! I’m looking foward to hearing the Emperor’s voice tonight on the vox projector. Divine wrath to the enemies of the Emperor!” she yelled, raising her fist and hoping that it would be enough. The group cheered for her and ushered her in. She gladly stepped into the van, and was about to breathe a sigh of relief, but stopped herself. The future seemed uncertain to her, she was terrified of what it might hold, but she was also excited…after all, this was her chance to get into the big city, right? After several hours of driving through the countryside, Ayase decided to find out more about the people that she was travelling with and more importantly, what their purpose was. Hesitantly, she asked “Umm, I’m sorry, but I’m from a poor family and all that I’ve been told was that I was to serve the Emperor, but can any of you, respectable colleagues, explain your plans?” It was important that she
was formal and apologetic, for Sunan culture demanded that women always be more respectful towards everyone else, especially elders. “Ah right, fellow Youth, that explains why you were marching all alone at night”, one of the teens from in front of her said. A girl on Ayase’s right explained: they were known as the Youth Force, their role was to prepare for war by learning the arts of warfare, and not only were they going to be a fighting force, but they would also be acting as the Emperor’s secret police force and even his bodyguards, given that they had enough skill. Preparing children for war? Since when was it right for children to fight in a war? Ayase wondered, trying to understand the morality of the situation. “Wait, so we have to actually fight on the battlefield? Isn’t sending children into that kind of danger.... I don’t know, wrong?” she asked openly. All eyes moved to Ayase, staring right at her. A part of her regretted what she had asked. “Only the Emperor decides what is right and what is wrong,” one of the boys said. “There is only the Emperor,” they all chorused. Feeling a pang of dread, Ayase wondered what the Emperor would be like, and more importantly, what the city of Sunan was like. Luckily for Ayase, the van was an openroofed one and it was easy to see what was going on outside. As they finally entered the city, Ayase couldn’t help but gape at what surrounded her: tall skyscrapers, glimmering with colorful lights. The streets were crammed with people, all of them moving about their business, living their lives. Although it was late at night, Ayase felt energized by what she saw. And that was when the screeching came. An extremely loud, high-pitched screech came out of nowhere. The other youth seemed to be fine with the
deafening noise. Then, a voice spoke “Long live the Emperor! Death to his enemies! Purge the weak, the alien, and the mutant. Sunan’s divine right to colonize is now, fellow Sunnanese, we must work to expand Sunnanese superiority, long live Sunan!” The message was blasted repeatedly, and Ayase noticed that the glowing neon characters on the buildings and stores warped into the text, “Emperor”. Some of them showed just his face, while others showed him in heroic or holy poses. Everywhere that she looked, Ayase saw the face of Emperor Haishi Tamamati. In the background played the national anthem of Sunan. It started out on a solemn note, but quickly turned fiery and passionate, it was militaristic in almost every way. On the walls of buildings, Ayase saw posters, exclaiming, “War is inevitable, defend yourselves Sunans! Fight the aliens, fight the foreign, fight the weak, destroy the mutants!” and below the text was a picture of three things: a man, an army and what looked like a giant mob of sub-humans. The man had pale skin, brown hair and eyes, though the hair was almost black from afar. He had a slight slouch and was incredibly tall. The army looked like men similar to the individual, but their uniforms were greener, and they wore grey, steel boxy helmets. The mob of sub-humans was a mockery of humanity: they had deformed legs and arms, swollen bodies and shriveled heads. Some of them had two heads, others had four arms, and some simply had blades as arms.
All the images and noises made Ayase nauseous. All she saw and heard was the Emperor, violence, war, noise and blind devotion. After another half hour Ayase began to get used to the constant action. The driver made a left turn, but then suddenly stopped. Surprised by this, many of the youths got up to see what the problem was. Ayase one of them. She saw a massive crowd ahead of them, consisting of hundreds. Many of them had huge cards saying “Down with the Emperor! Bring back the Constitution! Bring back democracy!”. A thin line of soldiers held the crowd back. Ayase felt a faint glimmer of hope: she knew it, something was wrong with Sunan! The hope died though, when she heard marching behind her. She turned to see a massive phalanx of soldiers march towards the crowd. The phalanx temporarily separated to avoid contact with the van and then swiftly merged again. Stopping short of the crowd, the phalanx stood, waiting for orders. The thin line broke and the soldiers retreated behind the phalanx. Then, they fired. A clatter of submachine gunfire filled the night air. A hundred died in the first few seconds, and another hundred died as they tried to climb over the bodies of their fallen comrades. The soldiers continued to fire mercilessly into the crowd, and when the soldiers advanced, the crowd retreated... until the crowd broke apart. It was a slaughter to begin with, and Ayase could only sit there in horror as the mass butchery took place in front of her very eyes. The kids next to her were yelling encouragements to the soldiers, denouncing the protestors as traitors and enemies. Just as the mob was about to escape,
more soldiers, and a squad of tanks appeared, trapping the crowd. Both forces converged on the crowd. Then came the Emperor. On the skyscrapers adjacent to them, green lights danced around to form his image. The soldiers stopped firing. Both sides of the street showed the Emperor and he declared, “People of Sunan, our great country was weakened by democracy, mutants and weaklings! Are we, the superior Sunan people going to let these things stop us? I say no! I say that we are to rise up against our enemies and strike them down as the vermin they are. Hail Sunan!” he yelled. Some of the mob members, miraculously, were saluting the Emperor and yelling, “For the Emperor Haishi Tamamati!”. It was then, that the crowd started to tear itself apart. Disgusted by the change in loyalty, the rest of the crowd turned on the traitors and the slaughter continued afresh. The posters, the noises, the Emperor, everything was seared into Ayase’s mind, she sighed deeply and looked around the faces of the other youth members. Most of them were smug, content with seeing traitors mowed down. It was not long before the bus reached its destination: Support Quarter 45… a small, unimpressive bunker on the outside, with large metal double doors. Despite it’s unimpressive exterior, Support Quarter 45 was actually massive underground, with far reaching tunnels. Each of the Youth members were assigned bunks and Ayase gladly went to hers as she prepared herself for sleep. Suddenly, she heard footsteps behind her, and the room fell quiet. Turning around, Ayase saw a group of men, military men. Their uniforms were
decorated with medals and stars— they were surely important men. In the center of the group was a large, bald, scarred old man. He turned to the rest of the Youth and ordered them out. They didn’t dare to challenge his authority. “You must be Ayase Haruka,” he said, turning towards her. She nodded. “You have put me in a difficult position my dear, see, you represent a relic. A relic of the past. A past that must be erased from the minds of all Sunnanese.” he continued, looking straight at her in the eye. “I would love to have you killed here and now. But I cannot help but think that you have potential for Sunan and the Emperor. So, I will give you two options: the first is to defy me and die. The second is to give up your bloodline and become a Youth member. You will keep your name as Ayase, but your title will be erased from history. You will submit total loyalty to the State and only the state.” Silence filled the room again, the man stepped closer, and in a low voice said “Choose very carefully Ayase, war is coming and Sunan will suffer. What do you love more, freedom or your country? Take care in your choice.” And with that, he left the room, the rest of the group following him.
Published on Mar 8, 2014