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On the morning following Adam’s return from Cultural Diversity Camp, Jeff awoke early, dressed, and padded softly down the hall to his office. Beyond the room’s solitary window a bright African sun rose sluggishly on the horizon, casting his face in reddish-amber light as he sat down at his desk.
Today was the day, he thought.
African Achievement Day.
The day Nayra‒and his son‒would attempt their desperate bid for freedom.
Jeff had no choice now but to carry through with his plan. His son had to be saved from himself, for the alternative was unthinkable: execution inside a euth-chamber, or permanent exile from his family on Mars.
Turning to his deskkomp, he made an effort to distract himself with a little early morning work as he waited patiently for the rest of his family to stir from slumber.
An hour later, as he put the finishing touches on a report to South Africa Education, he became dimly aware of his wife and daughter, now up and about, chatting amiably in the kitchen as they prepared their morning breakfast of nutricakes and protein drink.
He was achingly hungry himself, but he made no attempt to leave his office. It was next to Adam’s room and he wanted to take no chance that his son might slip out unobserved. So he waited, popping a quick Nomo-Hunga into his mouth. In the interval, his wife and daughter had moved into the living room, still babbling pleasantly to each other about their upcoming day Li Ming off to an African Achievement Day celebration with her church choir, Puja departing on a skoolplex field trip to the Museum of Great African Inventions of the 19th Century in downtown New Theravada.
Adam himself was scheduled to participate in a Responsible Young Citizen’s Swahili basket weaving demonstration at the Jomo Kenyatta Civic Hall. That event would begin promptly at nine, less than two hours from now. It was rumored that Governor Babinga himself might be in attendance at today’s festivities, Jeff knew. If so, it was a great honor for all skoolplex participants, and certain to earn his son a coveted Responsible Young Citizen’s Award from World Gov. Only, to Jeff’s regret, he realized his son might never receive that award.
At that moment the door to Adam’s room hummed aside.
Jeff tensed, slowly rising to his feet as the sound of his son’s footsteps in the hallway drew him cautiously toward the open doorway of his office. There Adam stood, bakpak strapped to his husky young shoulders. Jeff had no doubt that inside that bakpak, stuffed in among the few personal items he was taking, was the deadly plasma gun.
For a moment, it seemed to Jeff as if his son were hesitant about proceeding any further. Then, shaking off his moment of indecision, he walked on down the hall into the living room where his mother and sister still sat, chatting about the day’s upcoming events.
Creeping forward, Jeff padded softly down the hall until he paused, in the shadows, at the entrance to the living room. He watched his son head straight for the door, his face stern with purpose. Then, suddenly, he halted, as if an unseen hand had reached out and stayed him. For the briefest of moments the sternness in his face dissolved, revealing once more the boy Jeff knew and loved as his son.
Mom, I‒”
Li Ming and Puja stopped chatting and looked up from where they sat, their expressions tentative, as if they were gazing upon a pleasant stranger who had smiled at them in passing.
I guess…I guess I just wanted to tell you goodbye.” He looked toward Puja, “You too, sis.”
I knew you couldn’t leave us without saying goodbye, Adam! You still love your family, no matter what you wrote in your journal, no matter what Nayra did to your mind!
Tell dad…tell him goodbye for me. Will you?”
Oh, Adam! Don’t do this! Jeff wanted to shout. He ached to run to him, to hold him for dear life, to never let him go. But even as he thought it, it was too late, for his son stepped out the door and was gone.
Jeff entered the living room an instant later, his heart racing. Adam had set into motion a dangerous chain of events and it was now up to him to break that chain.
You off so early, Jeff?” Li Ming asked, not really interested one way or the other.
I’ve some unfinished skoolplex business to take care of downtown,” he answered in a rush, glancing out the window at his fast-disappearing son.
But today’s African Achievement Day.”
Even so...”
My, my, Jeff. I haven’t seen you this urgent since the first time we made love.”
She was looking for an argument, anything to stir over the cold embers of a dead marriage, but he ignored her. “I might be late getting home today, Li Ming. I’ve a lot of important‒”
Oh, don’t bother to explain. Do whatever it is you have to. Besides, you’re just like your son. He was in such a hurry too. Left here like he was rushing off to catch a rocket to the moon.”
If you only knew, Jeff thought, pressing the door open.
He left without saying goodbye.

Twenty minutes later the monorail slid into Johannesburg, passing long, colorful rows of World Gov housing projects. Jeff had spent much of his early life living in such projects as these, in various parts of the world. True, they lacked all sense of aesthetic beauty in their stark sameness. Nevertheless, he saw in their monolithic uniformity the very crystallization of world peace. For World Gov had long ago forcibly redistributed the planet’s wealth, lancing the obscene pustules of privilege endemic to America and Europe and Japan, and leaving at its end neither economic peak nor valley where wealth or poverty could fester.
With Adam now out of sight, Jeff quickly wove his way through the teeming crowds of the monorail station and boarded two cars behind. Finding a seat, he settled in, certain his pounding heart must be audible to those around him. Yet, no one paid him any attention, save for a few curious glances at his pale-skinned face.
A moment later the monorail slid out of the station.
Johannesburg lay some two hundred kilometers south of New Theravada, Jeff knew. But with a monorail speed approaching five hundred kilometers per hour, the trip would be brief.
Even so, he burned with tension.

Twenty minutes later the monorail slid into Johannesburg, passing long, colorful rows of World Gov housing projects. Jeff had spent much of his early life living in such projects as these, in various parts of the world. True, they lacked all sense of aesthetic beauty in their stark sameness. Nevertheless, he saw in their monolithic uniformity the very crystallization of world peace. For World Gov had long ago forcibly redistributed the planet’s wealth, lancing the obscene pustules of privilege endemic to America and Europe and Japan, and leaving at its end neither economic peak nor valley where wealth or poverty could fester.
It came not without a price, however.
The price had been worldwide submission to World Gov.
Now, no nation on Earth was exempt from its rule, no people exempt from its law, no individual exempt from its reach, no thought exempt from its judgment.
For World Gov controlled everyone.
All the time.
Only, not everyone had bowed to the brave new world of World Gov, Jeff remembered. Some fifty thousand Euro-ethnic people from Europe, America, and Australia had banded together to defy the new world order, fighting a bloody last stand against advancing Unification forces before escaping in a fleet of solarships to the distant Martian colonies.
As to the fate of those Euro-ethnic people left behind, they were destined to die by the millions inside Unification gas chambers and concentration camps, a fact that had been systematically erased by World Gov historians long ago. Now, no record of World Gov’s genocidal holocaust existed, save in the minds of a few individuals like himself.
Yet, he tried not to think about it.
For whatever horrors World Gov was guilty of made no difference anymore. It was all in the past. And the past was dead. All that mattered now was saving his son. He had to keep his mind focused on that, and nothing else. And if saving Adam meant killing every member in Nayra, then so be it. For Jeff Huxton would do anything to save his son.
A moment later he got off the monorail.
Locating Adam in the shifting crowds, Jeff hurried off after him, a pale-skinned oddity in a world of umber-toned normality. Maneuvering through the bustling monorail station, he pushed against thick, dark masses of humanity. Once or twice Adam paused and glanced back, checking to see if he was being followed.
To avoid being seen, Jeff lingered here and there along his pursuit, turning his blue-eyed face into the onrushing crowd, as if in some strange, communal embrace. Then, glancing around again, he would see Adam vanishing into the distance, causing him to dart frantically through the bustling throngs to pick up his trail again.
Outside the monorail station, he found Adam again, heading quickly down the crowd-choked street. Jeff dodged and shouldered his way after him, a hot sheen of sweat breaking out on his pale, sun scorched face. For an instant everything closed in on him like a powerful, crushing vice: streaking pubtrams, rushing people, the cacophony of teeming 22nd century life in a world bursting at the seams with nineteen billion human beings. All of it smote him at once as he pursued his quarry through the hot stench of too much humanity baking under the burning rays of too much sun.
Nausea knotted the inside of his stomach.
Remote as a fading dream.
The place where his son wanted to go...
Jeff fought down his nausea and pushed on through the crowds, mumbling a ‘Bless Allah’ here or a ‘Praise Jesus’ there every time he thumped or bumped or jarred or jostled the head-bobbing flow of humanity streaming past.
This is the world, Adam!
Why can’t you accept it?
I did!
God damn you, I did!
Ahead, he saw Adam suddenly jump aboard a pubtram.
Hustling forward through the onrushing crowd, Jeff ran desperately to catch the same pubtram before it pulled away into the madhouse of traffic and was lost to sight. Reaching it seconds later, he hopped into the end car of the three car vehicle, two cars behind his son. He had paid nothing; all local transportation was free worldwide. What benefits to all, Jeff thought in self-righteous anger, as the pubtram pulled away and veered northeast through Johannesburg. It was all free, he shouted to Adam two cars ahead, there from the silence of his own thoughts. Free education, free food, free housing, and a guaranteed place in the world.
No, it might not be everything, son.
There is still greed, bitterness, and pain even in the World Gov year of 94 U. We dull hunger with pills and crops still fail, dooming millions to an early grave. And yes, individuals like you and I and Hans Becker still carry the racial mark of Cain, forever branding us for our Caucasian ancestors’ reprehensible past. We have a lot to live down, son. You, me, any and all who bear the blue eyes and light skin of those who once ruled this world. For we are the racial bison of humanity trodding toward extinction, the passenger pigeon and the dodo bird and the tiger, all now ashes on the wind.
Accept it!
Live what life you can and accept it!
I did!
Jeff sat there amid all the human chaos passing him by, gritting his teeth with a smoldering, impotent anger. He had lived it all, accepted it all, the rules, the regulations, the edicts, the rewritten histories. He had knuckled under to the insurmountable force of World Gov.
Adam would too.
He must!
The pubtram slithered past countless housing projects, all pink and lavender and lemon hued, all choked with seething, raucous, dark-skinned humanity. Faces blurred past him, smeared past him, ran like melted wax down a thousand sun-baked streets past him, all brown flowing into brown flowing into brown. The face of Ahmad Yehudit, he thought.
The Ideal.
Oh God, son‒accept it!
Jeff suddenly jerked up.
The pubtram had come to a halt near a run-down industrial area. And Adam was getting off! Rising hurriedly from his seat, Jeff pushed his way through a tangled mass of sweat-stained shoulders, breasts and buttocks as he jostled his way down the aisle, murmuring an occasional ‘Buddha be with you’ lest someone take offense at his hasty departure. A few other passengers had gotten off with Adam as he exited through the forward door, momentarily concealing Jeff’s departure through the rear one.
Once outside, Jeff darted toward a nearby cluster of palms growing beside the rusting remains of a factory, quickly disappearing from sight. Adam, never once catching a glimpse of him, moved on into the distance.
After waiting three or four minutes, Jeff finally stepped free of his hiding place. By now, the pubtram was long gone, along with the few passengers that had gotten off with he and Adam. Wandering away in various directions, they had vanished among the rusting wilderness of factory towers.
As for his son...
Jeff spotted him now, cutting across the weed-choked grounds of another abandoned factory in the near distance. Without further delay, he started after him. As he trod down the cracked walkway past long stretches of rusting chain-link fence, Jeff realized now where he was. This was one of the Old Sections he had often heard about but never visited, left over from a time before the Unification. Once, a mighty industrial area such as this would have throbbed with titanic activity. And had, until the wealthy foreign countries controlling it were all taken over by a newly-formed World Gov.
Even now, the evidence of that former control still stood boldly emblazoned across one derelict factory after another that Jeff passed along the way:

USA Astronautical Systems Inc
Stellar-Dyne Corporation
Fujihara Hyperfusion Technologies
Martian Bio-Habitat Company
Euro-Australian International Food Products
Rearden Steel‒South Africa Division
British Hover Car LTD

All of them long dead…Jeff realized. But then, the Unification had never intended them to survive.
Turning, he walked on.
Ahead, Jeff glimpsed three young men emerge, laughing, from a nearby housing project, one of several that stood on the fringe of this abandoned industrial complex. They stopped and stood in the sparse shade of a date palm, perhaps awaiting the arrival of some friends before they all went off to enjoy the festivities of African Achievement Day. He hoped they would leave soon, since he feared being seen cutting through the abandoned factory grounds as Adam had done a few minutes before. Otherwise, they might inform Wopo.
However, as Jeff approached, they suddenly looked up and took notice of him, dark consideration in their eyes. He saw them whisper something among themselves, then nod at each other before wandering off down the street. It hurt Jeff to admit it, but the sudden sight of his Class 1 Skintone had probably caused them to run off. As a young man, he had far too often been stung by such rejection, done more out of contempt for his racial appearance than out of any actual fear of him. Yet, seldom had he allowed himself to show any outward evidence of offense.
Only, deep inside...
No time for that, he reminded himself, keeping a sharp eye on Adam’s progress through the sprawling factory grounds just ahead. Twice, his son spontaneously jerked around, causing Jeff to freeze in his tracks. And, each time, he prayed to Allah that he hadn’t been seen.
A short while later Jeff came to a halt in front of a long-silent fountain, which stood next to the main entrance of the dead factory complex his son was now passing through. The fountain looked to him as if it had been added sometime after the factory’s initial construction, when such facilities as it had continued to function, at least for a time, in the aftermath of the Unification. Now, a rust-stained statue, streaked with pigeon droppings, rose out of the fountain’s stagnant green water. An inscription, barely legible, stood engraved on the base of the statue:

By Any Means Necessary”

The words held no significance for Jeff, as little they would for anyone passing this way. The statue, and the man it honored, was merely another World Gov tribute to a now forgotten member of a lost generation of pre-Unification individuals. Individuals who had, in some obscure manner, lent their ideological force to the making of the world that came to be.
Leaving the statue of Malcolm X behind, Jeff moved on into the weed-strangled grounds of the abandoned factory. Ahead, he saw Adam pause at the entrance of a cavernous, metal-walled building. Then, suddenly, his son whipped around in the direction he had come, searching for a long, careful moment. Perhaps he had sensed someone’s presence behind him, Jeff thought, or had caught a fleeting glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye. Whatever the case, it was possible Adam might have spotted him.
Taking caution into hand, Jeff froze in the shadow of a giant industrial crane, motionless as the dead factory surrounding him. Then, after half a minute more of intense scrutiny, his son finally turned away again and disappeared into the hulking industrial building.
Relieved, Jeff swiped a hand across his sweat-burnished face and doggedly pushed on. He was not used to this kind of exertion, considering the life of a skoolplex administrator was largely a sedentary one. Still, he had kept pace so far.
Now the time had come to make a mental reconnaissance of the situation. He was alone and unarmed. He could not summon Wopo to his aid; his son Adam would be arrested, along with the rest of Nayra, then tried, sentenced, and executed. No, he had to act alone.
Reaching to the ground, Jeff retrieved a length of rusted metal pipe; it was no match for a plasma gun, but it would have to do.
Now armed, he would have to overpower a single Nayra terrorist and steal his weapon, then do his damndest to destroy the whole evil nest of them. It wasn’t the cleverest of plans, Jeff grimly realized, but it was the only one he had…