You've Come A Long Way, Baby Chapter 12

By Imrahil

“Hope Layer was the most glorious creation mankind had ever strove to create. After the Century of War, the earth had been rendered completely uninhabitable. Only a few handfuls of healthy, ‘normal’ people dotted the blackened surface of the world, and those few lived in cramped, sterile domes that protected them from the intense radiation and other dangerous energies of the atmosphere outside. Through a form of fusion, oxygen was manufactured inside these domes, keeping the people alive.

“It was only a matter of time until a few of these factions realized that the machinery keeping them alive wouldn’t last forever. People began to venture outside in makeshift protective gear. This early exploration proved invaluable, and it was decided that the surface of the earth could never be properly colonized again. Hence the idea of a Layer system sprouted from one ingenious person’s mind, and the known normal factions banded together and spent the next few decades constructing an enormous floating expanse above the earth. Huge oxygen machines dotted the New World, and people began to build small settlements and tiny industries around them.

“It was not long, however, before the need of an organized government became apparent. Natural leaders who had helped organize the building of the huge construct were the obvious choices, and they led the new human race to great heights in that short era. The new Trade Layer was a magnificent testimony to the achievements of man.

“All good things must come to an end, unfortunately, and they did. The leaders chosen for the governments were becoming old, and their successors had to be elected. Naturally, the younger generation was looked at for replacements. A few young and powerful industry entrepreneurs were able to place themselves into the government. With only themselves in mind, they rose to the top of the new government, issuing orders that only benefited the wealthy.

“After the ‘Elite’ became more and more wealthy, and the normal people became more and more poor, the government decided that they wished to separate themselves from the dregs of society. They took on a new venture, one that would change the world all the more.

“The construction of a new layer was hard and tedious, but the huge subservient population of the Trade Layer sufficed to supply the labor. The new layer was implemented with all the necessary technology. The sky above it was holographically changed to a beautiful blue, and artificial weather and sunlight were introduced. Seeds from plants long thought extinct were cultivated in the new layer, and it wasn’t long before the entire place was covered in green. Mile-high skyscrapers were constructed and filled with lavish interiors to commemorate the glory of man. The elite population transported themselves here, miles above the plebian world below.

“This segregation only proved to dislocate the leaders from the major problems that had begun to arise in the Trade Layer. The plebian population had just begun to become quite rebellious, mostly due to their oppressed lifestyle. In addition, dangerous beings from the Darkscape below were beginning to appear on the surface of the world, and some were finding ways into the upper Layers. A huge Law Layer seemed to be the only solution.

“Using every resource available to them, the government constructed a huge complex of residential suites and training halls above the Hope Layer. In addition, millions of subservient humans were grown in the labs of Hope Layer; these parentless people were perfect in every aspect, and they were all genetically programmed to serve. These men and women were to be officers of the law; strong enough to disable the abominations of the world below, and diplomatic enough to keep rebellion in the Trade Layer at an all-time low. And it worked. Their world was once again under their unopposed control. At least, the government believed so.

“You see, there was quite a large oversight that the first normal people had made so many years ago. They believed they had recruited every normal faction off the face of the Darkscape. Not so. Others less fortunate than this power-hungry multitude were left behind, and they strove to create a civilization of their own. After many years, and with the eventual discovery of the rest of the humans miles above them, these few desperate settlers contacted their brethren. Peaceful overtures were reluctantly acknowledged by the Elite, but the official reply was far from serene. Small contingents of warriors were dispersed on the surface world; their mission to wipe the small group of men and women off the earth. Baffled and outraged, the few fled underground. Spurned by their fellow man, they developed a bitter resentment of the layer-dwellers. They made every following waking moment a time devoted to the study of what the rest of the human race had become. Finding greed and the lust for power the most honored values in the new civilization, they decided to devote their efforts to the overthrowing of this New World order, and the restoration of social merits and sacred values, as well.

“A lofty goal, indeed. These people, without the advanced technology and unlimited resources available to the layer-dwellers, managed to create weapons of unmentionable power. With this one strong advantage over the layer-dwellers, these people gathered new hope. They scattered agents all over the Layers, infiltrating every aspect of the elite and plebian societies.

“However, after discovering an enormous army of genetically-enhanced police officers, the surface-dwellers began to have second thoughts. It became apparent that either the rebels would have to form an army of its own, or infiltrate the army themselves. The former would take far too much time, and require resources the surface-dwellers did not possess. The latter was unattainable, it seemed, due to the genetic programming in the officers, forcing them to be loyal to their masters, no matter how corrupt those overlords were. Until now, Alex.

“There has been a discovery. A finding so important, that it may change the power structure of the world altogether. One officer has slowly rejected his programming; at first in small quantities, but now it has become apparent that he has the potential to become completely rebellious. That is why we need you, Alex.

“You are the one.”

* * *

Alex shot up. He looked around the dark room with wild, feral eyes. His hair was standing up, and sweat covered his bare chest. The last thing he remembered was being up on that ledge, so high above the world. The wind had whipped about at his clothing, and he quickly had become sorry he had worn steel boots on that slick ledge. The clouds felt sickly damp as he had fallen through them towards the ground, and he remembered how cold he had felt as he had plummeted downward. And then that strange dream. Now he was here, in the hotel room he had begun renting so long ago.

Alex rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, and looked around the darkened room. As his eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light, he could make out the snoring form of Crono slumped in a large chair to the right of the couch. Alex turned around and saw the sleeping forms of two women in each of the double beds. Even though he was here with strangers, Alex suddenly felt comforted, and safe. He hardly knew these otherworlders, but their truthful demeanor had won the skeptical policeman over.

Alex smiled, but his expression quickly changed back into a worried frown as he began to ponder the words of Poe, again. Was it true? Had he been grown in a lab, parentless? Had his government predetermined his entire life? Was his world…a lie? The vision he had just had: it seemed to be more of an informative video than a dream. Perhaps Poe had something to do with it?

Alex shook his head harshly. His muddled thoughts were only creating more and more questions. Alex knew there was only one question he needed to know the answer to: whose side was he on, now? Just a few hours ago, he had been prepared to throw away everything he had worked so hard for by rebelling against the magistrate. He had been so content with his Cellars duties before; what had caused him to explode with rage so suddenly?

The police officer sighed and decided to wait until morning to address these questions. He stood up, pulling a damp sheet off his legs, and stretched in front of the dark window. He looked around the room for his shirt and pants, but they were nowhere to be found. His armor was missing, as well. Alex frowned. He might feel comfortable in the company of his new friends, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to be seen by them in his briefs. On this thought, Alex blushed and realized they had probably already seen him in this indecent state.

The police officer decided to purchase a suit from the lobby downstairs. He walked out the door and continued down the elaborate hotel hallway after hearing the room’s door slide shut behind him.

“Sir…sir, what are you doing?” a nervous voice stuttered. Alex turned around and faced the woman whom the voice belonged to. A young maid with long, dark hair stood behind him, wide-eyed, while leaning against her cart. “Sir, perhaps you should put something else on, er…”

Alex smiled and blushed. “…sorry, I was just going to get some clothes from downstairs, I didn’t think anyone would be up…”

The young maid smiled as she looked at the tall police officer. “I see, it’s just that we get a lot of strange people who don’t live here walking through the halls. Would you like…me to get you some clothes? Save you the trouble?”

Alex was genuinely surprised, and he spoke with less embarrassment. “That would be great; thank you.”

“What are your sizes?”

“54.3.21; I really appreciate this; I’m in room twelve,” the policeman said as he walked with the maid towards the lift at the end of the hall.

“Oh it’s my pleasure, um…?”

“I’m Alex, nice to meet you.”

“I’m Rachel. Say, is there anyone staying in your room with you, I mean, are you with someone tonight?”

“Well, I have several people staying in my room,” Alex said, a little irritated. He was getting tired of the oversexed attitude every person he met seemed to have.

The maid looked disappointed. “Oh. Well, I’ll be back with your clothes soon.” The lift door slid shut in front of Alex’s face. Alex shrugged, and turned around to go back to his room. A dark figure was waiting for him.

“Officer. I trust you slept well.” It was Magus, the cloaked one.

“Yes, actually, and I’m feeling pretty good.”

“Hmph. Perhaps you would desire to clothe yourself?” Magus pointed at Alex’s bare chest. “I believe they have clothing in the lobby downstairs.”

“Yeah, I’ve got a maid bringing me some,” Alex said quickly. The two stood facing each other for a few moments, until Alex realized that Magus was not going to say anything else. The police officer spoke up, since he had some questions anyway.

“So, could you tell me how I…got here? I mean, the last thing I remember is falling off the side of a building. How is it that I’m alive?”

Magus shrugged. A puzzling silence followed for a few minutes before Alex spoke again.

“I mean, did someone bring me here, or…” Alex looked to the wizard for help.

“We merely found you sleeping on our couch. Marle and Crono were in the room at the time; they most likely know if someone brought you here.”

“Right, okay. So, why aren’t you in the room, anyway?”

Magus looked down the hall at a darkened window. “There are energies here, energies I have never felt before. The machinery…everywhere…has more power within it than I’m used to.”

“Yeah, static fusion is like that.”

“And…it is not actually night or day here, is it? Where is the sun?”

“The sun? Oh, its light could never get through the dark clouds above the earth. The light here is artificial.”

Magus paused for a few moments, in thought. “This is not our world, officer. I wish to leave soon.” Magus turned to Alex and looked into his eyes. “You must help us do so. Several years from now, some men from this world will try to abduct me from my planet, over 14,000 years ago. You must help me stop them.”

Alex furrowed his brow. “Wait – people from my time are going to travel to your planet 14,000 years ago?” The police officer laughed loudly. “We can’t travel through time!”

Magus remained solemn. “Yes, you can. And you can travel the large expanse of space to my world, as well. You must help me find out who will do this in the future, and we must stop them.”

Alex sighed and grinned, then shook his head. “Sure, whatever you want, pal. I’ll help out however I can.” Alex wasn’t willing to argue with the wizard about the absurdity of his words just yet. He was still quite preoccupied with Poe’s words.

“Good. Have you seen anything strange, or out of place, lately? Something that you cannot explain?”

“Like time travel?” Alex grinned, but Magus remained straight-faced. “Well, actually, I…no, you wouldn’t understand.”

Magus rose his eyebrow inquisitively. “I understand a great deal, officer.”

“Well—look, it’s hard to explain to you, I—”

Magus quickly touched Alex’s temple, and then withdrew his hand only a second later after absorbing the officer’s thoughts.

“Wow, it didn’t hurt that time.”

“I have more control, now.” Magus looked down in thought. “It looks as if my party has intruded on something larger than imagined. Your dream tonight, it was obviously induced by outside forces; most likely Poe, or an affiliate of his. It was meant to win you over to their side. You must choose whether you will follow your government, which has worked so hard to deceive you, or to follow these rebels, who appear to possess power beyond imagination.”

“Well put, Magus. The thing is, I don’t know whom to trust; so much has happened lately, and—”

Magus had stopped listening already. All he could think about was his own enemy. Could the government here be responsible for everything that had happened to him in the past few days? The more he thought about it, the more likely that answer became. Only the government had the means and resources to develop the kind of technology used to thwart Magus in his own home. From what the wizard had seen in Alex’s mind, the government had many secret weapons in development, starting with the missing handgun that a doctor had stolen. Who knew what other technology they had in secret? Magus grinned slyly while Alex spoke.

“—so, I think I should just leave the upper Layers for a while. The magistrate is bound to uncover the footage of me breaking into his office from the camera in my suit. I’d rather work as a Trader than be recycled. What do you think, Magus?”

“…What you ultimately decide is not my concern. Right now, I need your help in locating these rebels. I believe they will have information proving my theories.”


“The enemy of which I have spoken to you of is your government. They are the ones we have come here to fight. The rebels may offer valuable assistance. In addition, they have already requested your help, twice. You are our key to their door, so to speak. Come, let us wake the others.”

If it had been anyone else, Alex would have been completely confused, but ever since he and Magus’ first mingling of minds, the police officer had been able to understand the wizard’s enigmatic words as if he had said them himself. Alex followed the mage through the door to their room, feeling as if he had a new purpose.

Magus snapped his fingers loudly, and the three sleeping forms in the room suddenly stirred. Marle slowly turned over in her bed, and shot up after seeing Alex standing in the doorway.

“What are you doing here! Magus! Alex! Get out!” Marle wrapped the sheet around her scantily clad form. She glanced over at the stirring form of Crono in a chair. “What is he doing in here! He said he was sleeping outside!”

Crono turned toward the red-faced blonde girl and opened his eyes. “It was uncomfortable. And the maid said guests aren’t allowed to sleep in the halls. Relax, it’s not like I saw you or anything.”

Marle seemed unable to hold her rage inside. “Out! Out! Out! Out! OUT!”

The next thing Alex knew, he, Crono, and Magus were leaning against the wall beside their room’s door.

“So how did you get here, Alex? We didn’t even hear you walk in,” Crono said as he looked up at the policeman.

“I don’t know. I was hoping you could tell me who brought me here. I don’t remember a thing.”

“Well, I kinda fell off the couch, and when I got back up to sit back down, you were laying on it. Weird, huh?”

“You fell off the couch?” Magus said incredulously.

“Yeah, clumsy me, eh?” Crono laughed nervously.

“What about Marle; did she see anything?” Alex asked.

“Well, she kind of fell off the couch, too…uh…”

Alex paused. His grim expression slowly turned into a wide grin and he began to laugh loudly. Magus joined in, with a strange-sounding laugh that resounded throughout the hall. Crono merely blushed, and smiled sheepishly.

The door slid open, revealing the lovely form of Lucca.

“Y’all sure are loud. You can come back in, now.”

The three men walked back in, with Alex still chuckling. Magus quickly returned to his usual grim self as soon as had Lucca appeared, however.

Marle was now dressed in a blue jumpsuit that revealed her shoulders. She had pulled up a mirror from the living room table, and she was applying makeup to her face. Lucca wore a tight shirt with the word “Weezer” printed on the front, and denim cutoffs. She sat down on her bed and leaned against the headboard.

Crono walked over to the chest of drawers beside the couch, and pulled out a tight black shirt and black slacks, and quickly put them on.

“I can’t believe the clothes here are free!” he said as he stretched in front of Marle.

Alex was now sitting down on Marle’s double bed with his feet over the side. “You pay for your clothing at home? I bet you pay for your food, too!”

Crono and Marle and Lucca looked at each other, knowingly.

“I guess you guys went downstairs to the lobby and got those clothes, right?” the police officer asked.

“Yep!” Lucca said. “I didn’t like any of their new stuff, so I chose this retro look. The woman downstairs said the word on the front is the name of an ancient god. Pretty weird, huh?”

“ ’Tis sacrilege,” Magus said while smiling from the shadows beside the door. His grin seemed to frighten everyone in the room but Lucca. She grinned back at the mage.

“I’ve never gone for the clothing of old times, myself—”

“Yeah, you prefer that naked look, don’t you?” Marle said with a smile when looking up from her mirror.

Alex blushed. “Look, I don’t know where my clothes went; I don’t even know how I got here.”

Marle shrugged, and continued working on her face. Suddenly, the room was filled with a loud beep, and the picture of a young, dark-haired maid appeared on the door. The four otherworlders were surprised, even though they had seen this happen before. It was still a new experience for them.

Alex got up and opened the door. The maid looked up at the officer, still flustered from his appearance. “Er…here are the clothes you requested…sir.” She smiled seductively as she passed the clothes to Alex. The police officer noticed she had unbuttoned her uniform at the top, and he rolled his eyes.

“Thank you, really. I’m sorry, I don’t have a tip, but I’ll make it up to you somehow.”

“Oh, no problem, sir, really,” she said with a half-grin. She was wearing more makeup than before, as well.

“Goodbye, Rachel,” Alex closed the door with his thumb, causing the disappointed face of the maid to disappear. The police officer laid the clothes down on Marle’s bed.

“Wow, you completely snubbed her,” Crono said as he practiced what seemed to be a martial art form.

“Couldn’t you tell that she liked you, Alex?” Lucca said with her head cocked to the side.

The police officer shrugged. “That sort of thing happens to me a lot. We’re trained to ignore it. Officers aren’t supposed to mix with any other Layer-dwellers. Very rarely are we even allowed to have relations amongst ourselves.”

Marle rose her eyebrows a little, but continued working. Lucca protested, “What kind of place is this? Only those in the same caste can have a relationship?”

Alex nodded. “The rules are especially strict for law officers. One can be executed for illicit association.”

“That doesn’t seem right…shouldn’t you be able to decide that sort of thing for yourself?” Lucca asked.

“I…I don’t really think about that.” Alex was remembering his dream in which his benevolent government had been depicted as an oppressive force. Was he missing something in his life? Sure, he had never had true liberty, but he was content, wasn’t he?

“His government is extremely despotic, Lucca. I believe they are responsible for the attacks on our world years from now,” Magus said as he stepped out of the shadows.

Marle and Lucca looked up at the wizard at the same time, wide-eyed. Even Crono stopped his movements, and turned to face him.

“Yes, the only organization here that has the resources and power-hungry intentions is this world’s government. The strange government technology that Alex has only glimpsed in his career is proof enough that there are greater and far more advanced projects kept secret.”

“Are you sure, Magus?” Crono spoke seriously.

“I have seen it in his mind. The truth unfolded before my eyes.” Magus pointed to Alex, who was still sitting on the edge of a double bed. “We must disable the government here, in order to save our own world.”

“How are we going to do that? You can see how powerful they are!” Marle stood up from the couch and pulled back the blinds on the window. The huge landscape outside was now well lit, since it was morning, and looked very impressive.

“There is a rebel force on the surface below; one that, with our help, may be able to defeat our enemy. That is why we need Alex. The rebels have approached him already, asking for his help. They are sure to do so again.”

“That’s all well and good, Magus, but are you sure we can trust these rebels?” Crono asked.

“Is it actually our right to disrupt this world by destroying its government? I mean, we can’t ruin an entire world just to save ourselves!” Lucca interrupted.

Magus turned to her. “It is well within our right. They attacked us. We have the right to retaliate. And this world will actually be a better place in the government’s absence. And yes, Crono, I do trust these rebels. They are desperate, and have no reason to deceive us.”

“This world will fall apart without the government, Magus. Only the High Administration actually knows how everything works on every Layer. No one else does.” Alex stood up and crossed his arms. “Destroying them would lay the world open to chaos.”

“We must stop them! They will be quite…dangerous in the future. Stopping them is extremely important.” Magus spoke with a quite potent vehemence, yet the police officer didn’t flinch.

“I am making this decision for the well-being of the billions of lives in the Layers. I will not help you, or the rebels. We simply cannot function without the government.”

“Or so you’ve been led to believe, my friend.”

The five people in the room spun around towards the bathroom. A large black man dressed in a long, black leather trenchcoat stood facing them. Mirrored shades covered his eyes, and his heavy iron-soled boots sunk deep into the carpeted floor. His arms were crossed in front of his chest, and he looked angry.

“Poe, you have returned,” Alex said. “I have an answer for you.”

“My friend, your mind is still clouded by the influence of your so-called leaders. Look into your heart. You know about the ineptitude and corruption in the Upper Wing; you’ve experienced it firsthand. Is it so hard for you to believe that you have been deceived your entire life? Even now, you are deceived as you stand up for ideals that have been implanted into your mind. Come with me, Alex, and discover what is truly inside of you. Discover who you are, and who you were meant to be. Help us destroy those who have robbed you of your freedom.”

“Who is this guy, Alex?” Marle asked. She was now clinging to the half-naked police officer’s arm, and Crono would have been quite furious if it wasn’t for his intense curiosity about this mysterious black man.

Alex ignored the girl, and paused in thought for a moment. “If I help you take down the Administration, and we are successful, what will happen to the people in the Layers?”

“Simple; we will take the place of the government, only we will gradually change what is a despotic system, into a democratic one. Slowly, we will adapt the social system into one in which all people are equal. We will create a utopia that will rival the ancient orders of the past.”

Magus looked at Alex encouragingly, and nodded.

“How exactly are we going to stop the government?” Alex asked grimly.

The tension in the room faded away, and Poe smiled. “All will be revealed. Come with me, and I will show you the real world.”

“We’re coming, too! We have a bone to pick with this world’s government, as well!” Lucca said as she grabbed her weapon from her holster, which was slung over the side of a chair.

Poe looked irritated, and his smile faded away. “Who are you, anyway? I will not take anyone but the Chosen.”

“If you want me, you are going to take these four, as well.” Alex said, powerfully.

Poe paused for a moment, and then his smile returned. “You truly are the One. I will not argue with you. Gather your equipment, and follow me.”

Poe turned around and walked directly through the wall beside him. Marle, Crono, and Lucca gasped. Alex furrowed his brow, and Magus rose an eyebrow.

Alex walked up to the wall, and stuck his hand into it. The four friends watched the officer’s hand disappear into the white plaster, and a strange ripple shuddered throughout the wall. Alex pulled his hand out, and smiled.

“Are you guys sure you want to do this?” Alex asked, still looking at his hand.

“This is what we came here for,” Crono said. “Right, Magus?”

The dark magician nodded. “Gear up; let’s go.”


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