And here is the first chapter of Part 2 of Deus Ex Machina! I’ll be going to this Japanese restaurant to celebrate my sister’s and my brother’s birthday – my sister’s is on 23rd and my brother’s on 24th, so Happy Belated Birthday, sis and bro! I think I’ll be gone for the rest of the day because my sister wants me to go shopping with her today, but at least I get to do something before I go. Aside from this chapter, I’ve also written “Somewhere Only We Know” songfic that will be posted hopefully today or someday. This chapter is kind of short (like the first chapter of the first part) and new characters will be introduced in later chapters but in this one, the main character will still be Dea, and a new face called Kalista Rivers (plus a minor character, Helen Pastor). Enjoy this chapter and I’ll see you later!
Deus Ex Machina: Part II
1 – In hunc effectum
In the small town of Myca, nothing ever happens, except for the coming and going of new and old faces. The people there are quiet and polite, but when provoked they won’t hesitate in protecting their properties and pride. The education in Myca was very good if not outstanding; by the recent years, the best undergraduates in Atticus Institute of Science were from Myca. Local games and festivals were often held with such splendor that could rival the fireworks in America on the fourth of July, because really, the people of Myca were not simple people. “The more the better” they would always say, and “Only the best is favourable”.
Aside from the extravagant behaviour, the lads and lasses in Myca were of the best breed. According to a tourist, “If you were to make all the girls in Myca enter the Miss Universe beauty pageant, they would all win, but you can never really choose one who is the most beautiful, appearance, personality and talent wise”. The men in Myca were like princes from fairy tales: charming, handsome, knowledgeable and such gentlemen. Basically, Myca was the land of fantasies in the eyes of foreigners.
But the people of Myca thought differently. You see, because of their perfectionist nature, they get easily stressed. Whenever tourists visit, they would work hard to impress them without realising that they are already perfect, and sometimes their plans would backfire. Although this doesn’t apply to every person, this was a majority. And this condition does not only affect their work performance.
You know those stereotype images of different cultures that would often be used to define certain people? If Myca was to have a stereotype image, it would be close to the Asians. Mycan parents would often stress their desire to make their children the best of the best – this would make the children feel inferior, thus inducing stress, insecurity and emotional imbalance. When a Mycan is being compared to someone else, Mycan or not, they would often feel worthless and would try to do anything that would make people see their worth. On the other side, Mycans would feel very proud if they were to be praised and would often gloat about it. Again, this does not apply to all Mycans; the exceptions in Myca would often include Mycans that were raised outside Myca, half Mycan children and immigrants.
So if foreigners think Myca was a paradise, what do Mycans think about the outside world? Is it to their standards, or is it even better? Can they blend in with the crowd? Do everyone understand them?
Kalista Rivers had met some Mycans before. In fact, her aunt is a Mycan, which meant that her cousins are half Mycans. Whenever she ask her aunt about Myca, her aunt would say “Oh, it’s like living in the sewers of Hell!” She had always thought she was exaggerating, but she would often get the same answer whenever she ask other Mycans. Maybe they just hate the pressure – Kalista was sure that she would snap if her parents would always remind her to study every second of the day. But Kalista is also intrigued by the fact that the tourists find Myca an astounding heaven.
Having born and bred in the city, Kalista never know what it feels like to be raised up in a seaside town where things were simple (well, maybe simpler than city life) and the people know each other very well. Do Mycans help each other when one is down? Or do they see them as unfit and jeer at their weakness? Her aunt was a beautiful woman in and out, so she guesses that Mycans are like Hobbits minus the simplicity and horrendous appetite. But Kalista had taught herself not to picture people who stereotype images.
Ever since she was little, Kalista is always fascinated about different cultures of many societies (way of life, especially) and other foreign things including history, geography and psychology. Psychology is her main focus; people from different places act differently, and she can also link their “normal” behaviours to their upbringing, which then leads back to history, geography and culture. With that in mind, she applied for Atticus Institute of Science in hopes of learning psychology and geography. She has to admit that getting in was not easy and she just barely made it, so her main goal for the remainder of her university years would be to get the best grades in her class.
Atticus Institute of Science has a sorority and a fraternity, their buildings on the east and west of the main campus respectively. She was, and still is, impressed by how high class everything is in the sorority building. She considers herself lucky to even set a foot on the campus grounds. After checking in with the receptionist, dumping her baggage in her room and then getting a tour around with the dorm head – Helen Pastor, daughter of Tyler Pastor, the owner of Pastor Industries – she finally has some time to just get a breath of fresh air. Athna had always been her home, but being in Atticus makes it seem like she’s in another realm.
Deciding that lying around would not be good for her, Kalista decides to store her clothes in the drawer under her bed (she had claimed the one next to the window) and organised her items on her desk. Helen had told her that she’ll be sharing a room with a student from Myca, but she didn’t really mention the name. So to make a good first impression, Kalista sorts her things out as neat as possible – Mycans always want the best.
It’s getting dark and her roommate hasn’t arrived yet. Kalista was just entertaining herself on her laptop, reading downloaded books by her favourite philosopher, Parslow. Part of her is dying to meet her roommate but, thought this may sound so rude, a part of her don’t care that much; she had shared rooms with her sister all her life so there is really nothing to worry about. But this is a stranger we’re talking about! And what’s taking her so long, anyway? Myca is not that far away from Athna – just a four hour train ride as opposed to two train rides that adds up to twelve hour if you were to live is Spears (but that’s only because the land between Athna and Spears are naturally dangerous). Kalista huffs and shuts her laptop down, deciding to get ready for bed.
Her room door opens without a warning a girl walks in with two suitcases – one of them with wheels while the other looks like it belonged to her grandfather. She has strikingly golden waves (as opposed to Kalista’s ginger-bordering-blonde bad reason of hair) and piercing blue eyes. Even with just a maroon hoodie, a pair of jeans and beaten sneakers, she looks so royal, making her old school clothes look like limited designer items. The girl dumps her baggage at the foot of her bed and looks at Kalista. “You must be Kalista Rivers,” she says.
Kalista nods. She leaps out of her bed and extends her hand. “Yeah, I’m Kalista – don’t know why I’m called that but I guess my parents were drunk at the time,” Kalista says lightly, giving her roommate a sloppy grin. The girl chuckles politely and shakes her hand. “So, what’s your name, then?”
The girl takes her hand away and shoves it inside her jeans pockets. “Deanna Naitt,” she says, “but you can call me Dea.”
Kalista’s eyes widens comically. “Oh my gosh – you’re a Naitt?!”
Dea raises an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with that?”
Kalista shakes her head. “No! Nothing! It’s just…Have you realised how famous your family is?”
“Uh…no, not really. I do know that my father’s headquarter is in Athna.”
“You don’t – Dude, the Naitts were a legend here!” Kalista exclaims, “Especially Ulrich and Gertrude Naitt. Man, your people are just awesome!”
“Why, thanks…I guess,” Dea says, smiling meekly.
“It’s a compliment!”
“And…what else do you know about us?”
“Well I know about the first Naitt shooting and the second one,” Kalista rambles, “You know, the first one was the death of Ulrich by an unknown assassin and the second one was the death of Cornelius, also by an unknown assassin. Everyone thought that the murders were related but they soon dropped the case when it just leads them to nowhere. But the conspiracy circles on until today – they say the next one who will die is Zach.” Kalista don’t miss the way Dea’s eye twitches at her last remark. “Oh, sorry about that. It must have a great impact on you.”
Dea shakes her head, either to repel the bad memories or to deny Kalista’s assumption. “No, it’s okay. I don’t really know much about the shooting, anyway. My father and his wife keep everything from us. Even my uncles and aunts and my grandparents won’t tell us a thing.” Kalista presumes that Dea’s father’s wife must be Dea’s stepmother, Jennifer Naitt. “That aside I hope the coming years here will be good for the two of us,” Dea says with a contagious smile.
“Yeah, me too,” Kalista grinned.
* * *
Kalista finds out that Dea is going to study neonatology after she finishes her overall medicine studies. Dea also likes animals even though she hunts the boars that live in the woods near her home, and she used to be a vegetarian until recently. She has a twin brother called Abel that goes to art school and many other half-siblings. The twins and their siblings get along very well, but something in Dea’s drooping eyes and melancholic tone makes Kalista suspect something else. As with Dea and her stepmother, Dea says that although they hate each other, there would be times when they would abandon their hatred and try to cope with each other’s annoyance.
Dea explains that her lateness was because of her train’s fifteen minutes delay and some confusion that happened at the station that involved a lost child, a panicking mother and a stressed out father. Since it was involving a child, Dea couldn’t resist the urge to help the family. The child turned out to have been left alone to wait at Helena Train Station in Myca after his parents told him to wait there while they get some souvenirs.
By the time they finish talking, Kalista is weary and retreats to bed before Dea, who enters the bathroom to do God knows what. Kalista turns off the table lamp and engulfs the room in comfortable darkness. Dea closes the door gently and when she is sure Kalista is asleep, she takes out her phone and presses the speed dial. The other line picks up after three seconds.
“Abel here,” the receiver says.
“How’s back home?” Dea says.
“Not much happening, except Ace got home looking like a train ran over him.”
“I wish I can just explain to him,” Dea sighs, raking her face with her hand.
“That aside, how are you?”
Dea leans back on the door and says “My roommate’s really fun and helpful. Did you know that the Naitts are really famous in Athna?”
“I had no idea,” Abel chuckled.
“Well, we are, mostly because of Ulrich and Gertrude, the first assassination and the second one. Apparently, the murderer was unknown and soon the authorities dropped the case because it was fruitless; conspiracies and faux legends circle around the Naitt family and the company, like how every person that will inherit the place as CEO will be destined to die sooner or later, or that the Naitts were cursed to die if they have too much power, or that the company or the Naitts deal with the mafia or any other dangerous people.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised of the later one, but really? A curse? That’s, like, going back to the fifteen-hundreds,” Abel scoffs.
“True. And since we’re famous for the killings here, it means there will be more chances for me to get enough information needed. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to find someone who knows about the Naitt case really well.”
Abel hums at the thought. “There is a big chance…Speaking of which, tell me when you get to see Zach, or not, since he’s really busy and all.”
“Yeah, I will,” Dea says, “Goodnight, Abel.”
“Goodnight, Dea.” Abel hangs up almost immediately. Dea closes her phone and flushes the unused toilet before exiting the bathroom and snuggles between her blanket and “hugging pillow”.
Athna is a big city with many people, some mysterious while some as open as the Mycans. Kalista is an example of a happy girl who was raised in a happy normal family; her parents have been married since forever and since she was an only child, she gets to have their full attention and love. Oh, how Dea felt the searing hot fire of jealousy and hate in the depths of her soul! Sometimes Dea just feels that life is never fair – how some people can live happily while some are left out of Eden is beyond her. Thinking over the years, the Earth is not so bad of a place, but not as good as heaven.
From what she has heard, Kalista knows some people who have focused their attention to the case and has some connections in the city too. Maybe she can ask Kalista about these people and then she’ll hopefully start the investigation someday this week. For the time being, Dea feels so worn out and didn’t resist the pull of sleep when the hands of the night invite her to her dreams.