p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Chapter One: The Lies We Tell Others/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" /span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Long ago it was said that humans could create emotions using their own bodies. These small-minded humans, now called the /spanspan lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"Truailithe race, caused much destruction in their rash thinking. Their actions nearly ended the world. 'Truailithe' means 'corrupted ones' in Latin./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;""Asupritor the First, decided he had seen enough destruction for one lifetime. In secret, he developed our Masks. These Masks were designed to trap the emotions of humans and return them in short bursts."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Professor Tech picked up one of the Masks in question from her desk. The Mask was milky white with two holes for the eyes. Flipping the Mask over, she help it up and allowed the class to get a full view of it./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""As you can see, there are small metallic points on the inside. These points are the key in allowing us those short bursts of emotion by sending pulsing signals to our brains. Depending on the emotion, the pulsing can be slower, faster, hard, or barely felt. For example, the emotion of anger would be a fast, rough pulse to translate to what a person who feels anger…"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Our professor will drone on in her monotone voice for the next fifteen minutes about her precious Mask. I, for one, have no need for the "gift" of a Mask to gain emotions./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Yes, Elizabeth?"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I glanced over to the front left corner to see Elizabeth Regional's hand pin straight up./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Professor Tech," Elizabeth said, in an equally flat voice as our teacher, "what happens if you are…born with these emotions?" She glanced over at me with blue, vacant eyes. "I heard they do not survive long with such fowl emotions always raging inside them."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"At this I merely rolled my eyes and went back to scribbling notes about ways to murder everyone in this room./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Those with emotions can survive as long as we can. It is rare that Marcas are born with emotions, but they learn to suppress them very well and can even move very skillfully in our working classes. In fact, those with emotions have come a long way. At first they were very spiteful at being told to conform. Many of the Truailithe race saw it as a way to control people; to 'brainwash' if you will. But almost all came around learned to accept the original Masks./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Any born with emotions now is merely a rarity, but they are nonetheless just as formidable as any other Marca. We did come out on top for a reason over the Truaillithe. We are all Marcas in the end: some of us just need a little help becoming perfect Marcas."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Tech went back to demonstrating how to properly fill Masks with an emotion before explaining how to place it on, how long to leave it on, and a whole world of nonsense I do not care for. Being the only one in Green Haven West with emotions did not really make me a target. Social norms of these (very) brainwashed teens included making fun of the girl who was different. But you can only laugh when their monotone voice attempts an insult. Without the emotion behind the comment, you can see and hear just how empty the threats are. Why, I might go so far to say they were merely jealous of my natural gift./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"You know, if they could em style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"be/em jealous./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Smirking to myself, I decided to start work on my other classes so I had less to do at home. This week is all about safely using your Masks and how much liquid emotion you can use at this age for your Mask. Sixteen is the age when you are finally given a small taste of emotion. If you prove you can use a Mask properly without abuse, you are gifted your own and a very small dose of emotions. Once those are gone it is up to you to buy more yourself and for two years you are limited to how much emotional liquid you can carry./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Granted, most people have snuck a whiff or two by now of their parents' emotions. Or bought some illegally in back alleys. Some are crazy enough to mix two together and try them out. The next day at school is the worst hangover you can imagine for the emotionless. You may not feel emotions, but you can feel the pounding of a headache./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Whether these idiots like it or not, they all curious what is means to have emotions./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"The long drone of the final bell sounded and everyone swiftly gathered their books and pens, broke into groups, and began leaving. I closed my mathematics work and slid everything into my bag. Standing up and stretching my arms up, I glanced over at Tech staring at me with a permanent smile on her face./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""That is rather creepy," I said, picking my bag up and swinging it over my shoulder. "Maybe next time choose a different one to showcase; like 'non-creeper'."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""I have to choose one that gives me better control," my teacher said pleasantly, turning of the projector. "Not all of us can control them easily."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Really? And here I thought it was all about control!"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""If I didn't just drain a happy emotion, I would mix something up to show annoyance at that comment." She turned back to watch as I began leaving. "And have you decided if you will remove yours?"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""My answer is the same, Tech."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""em style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;"Professor /emTech, Ms. Burnlit."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I gave her a mock salute and left the room. Working my way past after-school groups, I pushed open the main entrance door and started on my way home./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"This old town of mine goes back well into the era of the Truaillithe race. Apparently so far back, technology was still at a crawling speed. The town was once called Bath. Named for another, even older group of people called the Romans. Apparently, though it no longer exists, there was once a bathhouse here that lasted and was preserved for centuries. It brought in visitors from all over the world to see this small piece of history preserved. This island we live on has had a history richer than most other places in the world. So much bloodshed in its wake, but also such beauty and strength. /span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Unfortunately, we no longer have the history wrapped around us. /spanspan lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"Asupritor had that part of humanity's history destroyed. As the leader of this "great, new world", he decided we had to wipe away the old world as much as possible in order to start with a clean slate on the his new, emotion-free world./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"Stopping on the corner of my block, I glanced back down the road I walked from. I can only imagine how beautiful this place must have once been. Not that it is not beautiful now, but this is nothing compared to what it must have been like when those before us walked these same streets. I can only imagine how every row house had its own, unique flowers in the beds. That those old cars Truilithe once used for transportation were parked neatly one after another. I closed my eyes and pictured that world; where humans had their differences and fights, but at least they were real./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"Opening my eyes to barren street minus the few, district approved, hedges, I let out a long sigh and continued my walk down 8supth/sup street. Can you imagine my street and so many others were named after nature and famous people? Aspuritor took those away too because of how "vain" it was for the Truilithe race to believe they should name streets after themselves. No one knows if it was really vanity or if it perhaps an honour to have something named for you./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"Stepping up to my front door, I was surprised to find it unlocked this early. Pushing it open, I was greeted by my mother in the other room speaking to one of the monitors. She gestured for me to be quite after a small wave. Nodding, I breezed past and crept up the stairs./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"After I clicked my door shut, I threw down my bag and slumped into my desk chair. Flipping the switch on my desk, my monitor screen appeared just as I left it the previous night. As I pulled out the keyboard from the drawer, a small 'bing' sounded. I absently clicked the button and was greeted with:/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;""Lily Belle Burnlit; how dare you ignore my messages!"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"I glanced at the screen to see my only friend, Orchid staring at me with intense, green eyes. Clearly, she had gotten into her father's emotion stash today. Her eyes are never that bright unless she mixed happiness with who knows what else. Rolling my eyes, I reached out and made the screen wider to see her better./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;""Sorry," I responded, glancing at the forgotten phone on my desk. "I forgot it at home today after my rush to get ready this morning."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;""Well, whatever. I'm here now to give you some exciting news!"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"Pulling my school bag closer to me, I pulled out my planner to see which piece of homework was my next target. Ah, the dreaded "History" aka "History according to Asupritor and his minions"./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;""What exciting news do you have for me today?" I said, opening up my text book and clicking on the monitor to open a new window screen./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"I could see Orchid smirking in the corner of my eye as she said, "How about a girl's night out? I heard there is a party going on at Awakening Minds. All are welcome, I promise I am emnot/em sneaking us in again."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US" style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%; mso-bidi-font-family: Calibri; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-latin;"Chuckling, I began typing up my responses to the questions and said, "So does that mean you are going to get that/spanspan lang="EN-US" determined Mask on and force me out no matter what?"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Absolutely. I will be over in 10 if I can get my brother to give me the board. 20 if he is an ass."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I gave a nod and clicked her off my first monitor. Saving my work, I swung my legs from under my desk and stood up. I carefully opened my door and listened if my mom was still deep in her conversation. When I did not hear anything, I opened the door fully and began my decent down the stairs./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""…he needs her now and I think you have grown soft on her."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I stopped, cocking my head to the side as the voice did not belong to anyone I have heard on her calls before. Inching closer, I tried to strain my ears to listen who the new voice was./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Yes, yes. Understood. You'll have her by tonight I assure you."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I heard a faint click and knew the call was over. I moved with more sound to alert my mom I was coming. She poked her head around the doorway of our living room./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Hello, Firelily," she said with a slightly chipper voice. Her Mask must have been a more pleasant emotion. But I could tell it was fading by the tone of her voice and how her slight smile was not reaching her eyes./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Fun call?" I asked, placing a hand on my hip and smiling with all the sarcasm in the world./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"My mom maintained her gentle smile. "Oh yes. My new boss is looking to bring in someone tonight for questioning on some illegal Mask use." She then waved her hand dismissively. "It will be done, of course, but honestly he needs to put on a chill Mask before I put on a not-so-pleasant one."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Agreed, and he sounded weird on the monitor. I was wondering why I could not place his voice."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Yes, he is driving you father crazy as well sending him off every other week."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Ah, so that is why dad has been gone more on business."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Unfortunately."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"My parents both work with the Task Force. They help to ensure Masks are not misused, emotion vials are kept off the streets, and occasionally the small crime here and there. With so many of the Marcas brainwashed, there is very rarely any crime though. Usually it is from someone who had a bad emotion vial and they went crazy for a few hours. Mom's division are Trackers; finding all those who dare oppose Asupritor in any way. Dad works under the Seeker division; they actually do the dirty work on bringing those people in./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Oh, Orchid should be over in a bit," I said, starting back up the stairs. "Apparently we are heading out tonight."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Just stick close," mom called up after me, "the person we are tracking is supposed to be close to 20supth/sup street tonight. At least 16supth/sup and below, please."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Of course, mom. Send my psycho friend up when she gets in!"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center;" align="center"span lang="EN-US"~x~/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Judging by how winded Orchid was when she burst into my room, I guess her brother did not let her borrow his board to hover on over here. However, her brisk walk did not detour her very energized behavior. I tried asking which emotion she had taken, but she refused to answer me and instead started working on which outfit I would be wearing./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Orchid was, of course, already dressed. With her pale skin, she made both darks and lights work like a dream. She had on pure white jeans with a cropped pastel blue top. The sleeves fell off her shoulders in two loose strands, showing off her delicate shoulders the tattoo of her namesake. Her dark brown hair was practically buzzed, save for the bit on top that she styled into curls./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Can we curl your hair, too?" she asked, picked up a strand of my lighter, pin-straight hair./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""You're the expert," I said with a shrug. "I'm just here for the ride."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Orchid shoved me playfully and moved to my closet. "Lils, I wish I had your tanned skin. Only you can pull off dark blue and look sexy."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I laughed and shook my head. "If you say so, Chid."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"She rummaged around my closest while I searched under my bed for a decent pair of heels. I eventually heard a gasp and I turned to acknowledge her when fabric filled my face. Grabbing the velvet material, I peeled it off my face and raised an eyebrow at her./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Wear that!" Orchid instructed with a determined point and wicked smile./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Rolling my eyes, I stood up and began undressing while Orchid moved to my desk and started digging through my makeup collection. I pulled the dress over my head and shimmied it down my body. The skin-tight dress had two open circles in the side where one's natural waist fell. My hips, annoying larger than most girls my size, looked delicate in the material given its dark blue coloring. The sweetheart neckline was what drew me to it and had off-the-shoulder straps like my friend's shirt./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""See? Dark blue is your color!" Orchid said as she proudly held up a few brushes to point at me./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I smiled and moved to sit in my desk chair. She put her choices in front of me as she prepared my hair for curling. /span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"Within the next 45 minutes, the metallic shadows along with the navy blue, almost black lip color completed the look instantly. My hair was curled to perfection, thanks to Orchid's very talented hands, and my strappy black heels made me look like the darkness to Orchid's light. Just the way we like it./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Okay, stop admiring yourself so much, Lils," Orchid chirped at me over my shoulder. "I only have, like, 3 more hours of this Mask and I need some fun tonight!"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I whipped my hair into her face for effect before turning to her and smiling. "Then let's get going before boring Orchid comes back."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Hey, I am not boring," she defended in the most cheerful voice for someone who was just insulted. Ah, the pleasures of limited emotions./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Yes, you totally are," I said, grabbing my phone and sliding it into my dress pocket along with my ID card./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Just you wait," she said, opening my door and we started to walk down the stairs. "Once I get my own Mask in a few weeks, I will show you a RANGE of emotions."/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"I hesitated for a minute, and then smiled at her with probably my fakest smile./span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US""Yeah, I can't wait for that day!"/span/p
p class="MsoNormal"span lang="EN-US"For the day she will be completely controlled by the need for emotions? I can wait a little longer./span/p