Zev worries about upgrading his tablet
“Afrotheria is an empire of people from diverse tribes. It is found on the horn of the Afro Continent. These past decades, the empire’s economy has grown fast. In part, it is thanks to our great quest to rid our empire of the ghost wraith menace. Mostly, it is because of our abundant natural resources, and the intense research carried out by our people in the sciences and technology class. Can anyone tell me why our people are divided into classes?”
Zev sat at a desk in the back of the class, his attention focused on reconfiguring his drawing tablet. The screen was not rendering his schematics right. The more he tried to reconfigure the settings, the more it became obvious that he needed to visit an Upgrade Center.
A soft sigh escaped at the cost of a new upgrade, and he scowled at his deskmate and best friend when Weru pinched his right thigh. Ignoring Weru’s painful attention, he frowned as he calculated the number of shillings in his wallet. He had two thousand shillings left after his last job at the Village Center. His little sister needed pocket money because she was going on a trip to a Conservation Center. She liked buying plants so he had promised her five hundred shillings, which left him with fifteen hundred. His Luna VR business did not give him much cash was not liquid at the moment.
Upgrades on his tablet were not cheap. The one he needed now would cost him four thousand, so he knew he needed to work his part-time job.
Miss Leya calls Zev to answer her questions
Zev looked up from the settings on his tablet to find his classmates watching him; their expressions were of varying degrees of amusement.
“I pinched you,” Weru whispered next to him. “You wouldn’t listen.”
Zev sighed and placed his tablet on his desk. He stood up, pushing his chair back with a nervous cough.
“Miss Leya,” Zev said, trying a smile when the woman standing at the head of the class scowled at him.
Miss Leya was their History and Civics teacher. She taught with devout passion and expected her students to have the same high love she had for the subject. Zev found the class tedious. It was a true tragedy that his technology training included History and Civics.
Zev could never understand why he needed to learn about the past.
“Zev, what are you doing in my class?” Leya asked, folding her arms against her chest.
The frown on her smooth forehead deepened. Her braids were held in a tight ponytail on top of her head. They swayed from side to side as she rocked on her heels. She always looked neat in skirt suits tailored to fit her teaching station. Today’s was pale green.
Zev bit his bottom lip sure there was no right answer to her question.
“I suspect you’ve been paying attention to the tablet on your desk,” Miss Leya said. “You might be the top student in this class, but that does not allow you to ignore my lectures. I would like you to answer my question.”
Zev glanced at Weru hoping for salvation. He had no idea what question Miss Leya had asked. Last he remembered, she was talking about Afrotheria’s Society Classes.
Weru shrugged and Zev gave an internal groan.
The Nine Classes of Afrotheria Society
“Um, Afrotheria has nine classes,” Zev said, plunging in. “They are Science & Tech, Social Welfare, Medicine, Education, Conservation and Agriculture, Justice, Protector Class, Construction & Works, and The Registarion.”
His classmates burst into laughter, and Zev glanced at Miss Leya to find her frown even deeper.
“Thank you for the very comprehensive answer, but it proves my point,” Miss Leya said. “You have not been listening. Answer the question on the screen, Mablevi.”
Zev scratched the top of his head, his fingers sinking into relatively short hair, as he glanced at the glass on the wall at the front. It was lit up with a picture of the Registarion Building in the Capital City, Kirit.
“Can you tell me why the Empire of Afrotheria votes a new Sable Council to work with the head of the Registarion every four years?” Miss Leya asked.
Zev stole a glance at his deskmate and scowled when Weru swallowed back a laugh. Weru had known she was going to call on Zev, and now this was not going to end until Miss Leya made an example of him.
Zev cleared his throat and reread the question on the overhead screen.
“We, the people of Afrotheria, vote for a new Sable Council every four years to encourage change and development in our empire,” Zev said. “Our national hope is to one day be free of the ghost wraith scourge.”
“Who is the head of the Registarion?” Miss Leya asked.
“The Elderon, who has a second in command called a Chancellor. The Elderon is the head of the Sable Council and runs the Registarion on behalf of the people.”
“What does the Registarion do?”
“It assists the eight representatives in the Sable Council in their duties to ensure the various classes have sufficient resources,” Zev said. “The Elderon is also the deciding vote in a Sable Council Meeting.”
“Where are the representatives from the Sable Council from?” Miss Leya asked.
“Um, t-they are voted in from the different classes,” Zev said. “They are often the best in their various fields. For example, the technology representative is Vin Saha, who invented the helmet used by the Protector Class in their duties.”
“Why is the Sable Council so important that it needs a deciding vote from the Elderon?” Miss Leya asked.
Zev paused wondering how to answer this question.
The Sable Council was important, but it was also filled with politics and power fights. He never understood the importance of the crazy political fights among the class heads in the council. Instead of fighting, he thought they should spend their time working for the people.
“Um,” Zev frowned. “The ideal Sable Council represents the voice of the members of each class. They come together to decide on matters like funding, crisis management, and the best way to fight off the ghost wraiths to keep villages safe. They need the Elderon’s vote to break a stalemate when they cannot agree on a matter.”
Miss Leya stopped asking her questions and studied him for a moment before she changed the picture on the overhead screen. Now there was a familiar ‘Vote Now’ sticker. His tablet buzzed a message on his desk and he smiled when he read the acceptance message on the screen. Thankfully, his part-time job woes were now solved.
Zev finds a part time job
“You’re quite versed in Civics, even as you refuse to pay attention in my class,” Miss Leya said. “I know we have four weeks left together Zev, then you’re off to major in your beloved Tech Classes. I hope you’ll one day see the importance of my lessons. Now, are you going to vote tomorrow? You are seventeen, aren’t you?”
Zev shook his head.
“I’m not voting, Miss Leya,” he said.
“Why are you not voting?” Miss Leya asked, an expression of horror on her face. “It is your civic duty to vote, Zev Mablevi. How else will you ever see progress in your village?”
“I’ve been requested to work at the Village Center and help with the voting process,” Zev said. “Since I’m assigned to work the election, I cannot vote, only assist with the process.”
“Oh,” Miss Leya said, and then smiled at him. “You should have told me before. What an experience it will be for you. Very good, Mablevi. Sit down.”
Zev sat with a sigh and grinned at Weru.
“Pay attention in my class,” Miss Leya said. “I would hate to penalize the top student because he’s fussing with a tablet.”
Zev took his tablet and slipped it into his bookbag, reaching for his notebook and making a show of sitting up to pay attention.
“Now, Zev has answered most of the questions I was going to ask about our governing body. I will add one thing. The Elderon and Chancellor make a pair. They both take their position in the Registarion by a majority vote of the people. The Sable Council’s stalemate vote is therefore broken by the empire’s majority opinion. It is not the opinion of all the empire’s people. So, what happens to the voice of the people who did not vote for the current Elderon or Chancellor? Weru, why don’t you give me an answer.
Weru bit back a groan next to Zev, as he stood up.
“They have the minority leader,” Weru said, though his answer sounded more like a question than an answer.
“Correct, Weru,” Miss Leya said. “The minority leader becomes part of the Sable Council as a silent branch named the Opposition. His job is to watch what the Sable Council does and raise concerns if they find fault. It forces the Elderon to be accountable to the people on behalf of the Sable council’s decisions. The system is not perfect, but our empire remains stable for now. Some of you are going to end up working in the Registarion. I’m sure you’ll surprise us all with changes and improvements in the future.”
“Alright,” Miss Leya said. “We’re at the end of our class. I have something to give you before I let you go for the day.”
The Mysterious Form
Miss Leya picked up a bunch of forms from her desk and held them up.
“You’re all at eighteen years old and at the end of your semester in our small village academy. We are three weeks away from your graduation. You should all know your grade statuses by now.”
Chuckles and moans filled the classroom and Waweru sighed next to Zev.
Waweru’s grades were not so great. They were also not low, so he could get by in their science and technology class. Weru could end up working in a research lab or concentrate his studies on technology applications. He had very many prospects. Problem was that Weru’s father was expecting Weru to enter the most prestigious Kirit Institute of Science and Technology.
The institute was in Afrotheria’s capital city, Kirit. The members of the institute worked closely with the Protector Class on the fight to eradicate ghost wraiths. It was prestigious to enter KISTech
Waweru did not want to join KISTech. He wanted the freedom to choose a more sedate life.
Zev could not blame him.
Their Teru Province was a long way from Kirit Capital. Life in Teru was sedate, comfortable, and filled with many bright moments. Zev’s parents had moved here for the quiet and peaceful nature of the province. The most exciting thing they faced was watching a convoy of Guild Guardians driving through their village on training days.
“The form I’m handing out is very important,” Miss Leya said, breaking his thoughts.
She started a slow walk between the rows of desks in the room, handing each student a form.
“You’ll only see this form once in your life. It is an application form used to change the class you entered at sixteen years old. After this, changing your class will get harder than you can imagine. It is difficult to change your class after years of training. It feels like you’re starting from zero, so take my word for the truth. I always ask my students to make this choice now, at eighteen, and few of them ever understand what I’m offering here.
“The Science and Technology Class is very elite, but it is also very consuming and demanding. If you do not have the knack for innovation, the highest you’ll get is managing tech for companies, making household gadgets, or repairing them. If you don’t do well there, you’ll be doing grunt work in science labs. I’m not scaring you. I’m preparing you for the future. If you don’t enjoy the Science and Technology class, you can choose to enter a different field at this time. No one will stop you. It is your future.”
Miss Leya paused by Zev’s desk and he started to reach for the form she was holding out to him. He frowned when she pulled it away from him and handed it to Weru.
“In the case of stop students like Zev, we expect to keep them in Science and Tech in case he invents a weapon that can destroy ghost wraiths on sight.”
The class filled with chuckles and whistles at the compliment.
Zev sat back in his chair with a grin. He enjoyed science and technology, mostly the tech part. Still, he took the form from Miss Leya when she handed it to him with a wink.
Zev did not want to enter KISTech, but he did want to work at the lab where his parents worked here in Teru. It would keep him close to his family and he would have a nice stable income.
Miss Leya continued down the row to the back.
“You do not have to turn in that form to me now,” Miss Leya said. “We have two days off. As you vote out there, and a new Registarion is ushered in the day after tomorrow, think about your future. What you truly want to do, and if you have found the right place. If you have not, come find me. I’ll assist you to find the place that serves your gifts as you wish. Do you hear me?”
The class filled with murmurs and whispers about the forms.
Zev folded his form and put it into his bag next to his tablet. He shifted closer to Weru.
“You should fill the form in and change your class,” Zev said.
“My dad would kill me,” Weru said with a shudder.
“You’re eighteen, Weru,” Zev said. “You should have the choice to do what you want to do.”
“I can just imagine me telling Baba I want to move to the construction and works class. He’ll have a heart attack,” Weru said with a sigh.
“Try talking to your mom for help,” Zev said.
Waweru gripped his tablet tight and shrugged.
I’ll think about it,” Weru said, folding the form from Miss Leya and slipping it into his shirt pocket.
Miss Leya returned to the front. She was trying to get the class’s attention. She tapped on her desk with a ruler.
“The credit belongs to,” Miss Leya said.
“The man in the arena whose face is marred with dust, sweat, and blood, again and again,” Zev and his classmate finished her sentence.
“Now that we’re on the same page, revise the last two chapters in your textbooks. We’ll have a quiz on the day you return to class. Zev, I expect a full account of your experience assisting the voting process at the village center. Class dismissed. Waweru, come see me.”
Zev patted Weru’s shoulder and grabbed his backpack, as he got up.
An Agreement to Meet in the VR and Zev meets his Sister
“Meet me in the Luna VR at nine tonight,” Zev said. “I have something for you.”
“Sure, I’ll message you before I log in,” Waweru said, as he gathered his books.
Zev left the classroom and stopped when he saw his little sister Amare waiting for him. She smiled and lifted a clear zip-lock bag filled with sugarcane strips.
Zev chuckled and motioned her to follow him along the hallway.
Amare handed him the sugarcane when she joined him, and he took her schoolbag from her.
“Do you have to work tomorrow?” Amare asked as they headed to the front gate of the school. “It would have been nice if you could help babysit the twins.”
“I need cash for my tablet,” Zev said, chewing on a slice of sugarcane. “Also, you have the tour to see the conservation garden coming up. You need the money to buy the berry plants you wanted for your garden.”
“Zev, you don’t have to do that for me,” Amare said. “I was going to make Mom Ava’s hair for extra money.”
“You don’t like making hair,” Zev said. “Don’t do it.”
“Fine, but I get to bring you lunch kesho. The twins and I will wait for Mom and Dad as they vote, then we can leave together.”
“Sounds good, can you make fried potatoes and beef stew?”
“I’m not taking orders,” Amare said.
“You can also make chapos with beef stew or pilau rice. All three with beef stew is good too,” Zev continued making Amare laugh.
They walked home as they always did after school…
Genre: African Science Fiction, Novels set in Dystopian Africa