Welcome to Second Earth
The rain fell in soft rivulets as Lissa made her way through the Garden’s paths, each one more elaborate than the next as she wound her way through the simulation.
“Welcome to the Before,” the overhead speakers emitted in its monotone yet feminine voice. “This is the world that existed before the wars, before the strife, before humanity’s final stand against the Mother Goddess.”
Everyone else stopped to stare at the marvels — everything from palm trees to graffiti-laden walls — while Lissa just bent her head and continued on, her umbrella shielding her from the worst of the downpour. But it didn’t matter. Even the rain itself was synthetic, a creation doled out in soft spurts from a manufacturing plant down the way. It was the closest thing humanity had gotten to water ever since the riverbeds and lakes had dried up.
“In the Before, there was abundance — but humans took it for granted. They took and took and took. That is when we had to step in. We, the Journeyers, had to take charge. And now we live in a world that can breathe again.”
“Enjoying the show?” came a voice from Lissa’s side. She glanced once to see that a young man with dark hair stood there, his hands in the pockets of a suit coat, before she looked away and felt the hairs on her arms begin to rise in warning.
He was an Original. She could sense it as easily as if he had just whispered her a language that had died from the Before times.
“No, not really,” she whispered, still looking down at her feet, and the young man barked out a laugh.
“Of course you don’t,” he said, though his tone was a little sorrowful. “But don’t worry. This — ” He gestured to the exhibit of a simulation in which he stood. “ — won’t last for long.”
“Won’t it?” Now it was her turn to laugh. “Haven’t you read the prophecies? A thousand-year reign is supposed to come.”
“But whose thousand years are we discussing? Because hell can make seconds feel like a thousand years.”
The words were a warning. Even without the weight of them, she knew she could do something — anything — to try and stop the inevitable from happening.