Chapter 1: The Niang Controversy
“So, I guess I will see you and the others later?” Shien confirmed, closing a conversation with Ritom on the phone.
“You know it! At Enshiron’s Kyyrhim Bistro,” Ritom replied.
“Alrighty, I will see you all. Just don’t gamble too much, please.”
“No promises! Don’t be late, shortie!”
“Hey! You know I-”
Ritom immediately hung up before he could talk back. Shien took a deep breath of a weary soldier as his hour-long ramble with his old friend came to a close. Ever since college, he couldn’t see his old friends like Ritom and Naivern as often as he hoped. However, thanks to the new Syanic Earth: Year 3225, connecting together with them and his other college friends had become a piece of cake. Nothing like catching up with friends in a cybernetic world where fighting digital creatures and computer viruses are possible. Feeling energetic for the upcoming meeting in about a couple of hours, Shien walked out of his room.
“You awake, mom?” Shien spoke with a jolly tone as he walked up the stairs.
“Hmm?” Isrina grumbled. “It’s time already?”
Dr. Isrina Niang was trying to take a nap after she came home from the morning shift of proposing fascinating inventions to eager crowds. Luckily, she had a chance to rest before the UICA’s anniversary of Syanic Earth: Year 3225’s creation. The UICA was planning for an assembly for the public to join the celebration and receive important updates. She was going to be the first one to speak, introducing the crowd to the anniversary celebration.
“Heyo, mom!” Shien yelled in his happy, energetic voice as he skipped towards his mom’s room. “Want some tea before you leave? I know you enjoy my tea.”
“That, that would be nice, my little chickadee.”
As Shien began whistling like a northern cardinal while preparing the tea, Isrina yawned from her catnap, forcing herself to wake up as if she was forcing a dead man to awaken. She quickly washed her face, straightened the chaos of her hair, and changed her clothes. With her light brown work skirt and her orange shirt, she transformed herself to look more fashionable compared to her casual clothes.
“How are your friends?” She asked as she walked out of her room.
“They are fine! They’re doing their best to stay out of trouble!” Shien happily said as he placed tea bags into a small pan of vividly boiling water mixed with crushed spices Nashura told him about.
Nashura loved to make different types of Indian tea for Shien and her other friends. A classic she taught Shien and Enshiron was the masala chai tea. Shien remembered her advice. Crushing the actual cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, and cardamoms plus combining the mixture with black tea bags offer a more genuine taste compared to just depending on normal masala chai flavored tea bags alone. As the tea bags collided with the mystical mixture, the breathtaking aroma worthy in Demeter’s presence monopolized the entire kitchen and living room. Shien thought that his mom would love the new tea Nashura taught him and Enshiron. Isrina walked to the living room, taking in the sensational aroma, her nose entranced within the aroma’s domination.
“Goodness! What kind of tea are you making this time, my little chickadee?” Isrina asked.
“It’s a bit of magic Nashura told me about,” Shien responded with a cheery mood. “She told me and Enshiron some tea tricks. I am trying to make authentic masala chai.”
“Sounds wonderful! Also, thanks for waking me up.”
Meanwhile, she noticed their living room’s television was on, playing some news.
“Anything new, Shien?” Isrina asked.
“Well, not really,” Shien replied as he poured the pan’s elegant mixture into two cups. “Just the same politics, you know.”
“I see. Still on about us, Niangs?”
“Yep, but at least President Forroway’s doing his best to defend us and the others.”
Isrina sat down on the dining table, taking time to consume the ongoing chaos of politics in her head.
“Forroway currently continues accusing the Federation for their coverup of the Middle Eastern Smite as a civil war instead of a genocide,” the blonde female reporter spoke. “Not only that, despite the intense disagreement within the White House, President Forroway continues to hold the European nations responsible for the split of the United Nations due to their appeasement towards the kneapexist Federation’s influence.”
“Oh brother,” Shien said as he gently placed the chai cups on the table. “Here we go again.”
“Yes, it’s complete chaos!” A african male reporter replied to the blonde. “America has become a verbal battleground over the Niang Controversy for years as well! The decision to have the Niang family detained by the Federation still rests in President Forroway’s hands!”
“Indeed, Forroway continues to defend the small family’s right to be free in America as well as protecting the UICA while quarreling with the senators for more than a decade already. Meanwhile, Supreme Herald Fanghui of the Global Federation continues to hold the Niangs responsible for sparking rebellion with the UICA and the mysterious Vultau Order in the Middle East against his regime.”
“Now, Fanghui has been antagonizing America, the land of Freedom, for supporting the Arabian Separatists! He first links the blame of the Niangs to the UICA, the Vultau Order, and then to America! It’s insane! We even have a live clip of the Supreme Herald’s speech coming up right now!”
The screen transformed from the closed news reporting station to the elegant background of Fanghui’s metallic palace, the Arcane Phalange, which replaced most of Tiananmen Square. The outside gates were shrouded with gritty titanium as the spiky palace ominously blinked with cybernetic orange in rhythm with it’s deep electronic groaning, a sleeping dragon breathing with tyrannical power. Supreme Herald Fanghui along with two White Death droid guards and two Reaper Squad commandos, his secret police, soon appeared on the screen in front of a massive crowd.
“Fanghui,” Isrina anxiously spoke.
“Unfortunately,” Shien replied, sitting close to his mother, noticing her concern.
“Hail Fanghui! Hail Fanghui!” The scrambled crowd engulfing Tiananmen Square like an amoeba shouted.
“Be still!” Fanghui shouted as he gestured the crowd to be silent by lifting his hands up like a god. “Glorify the Federation within your hearts!”
As the crowd obeyed him, Shien and his mom observed Fanghui. He was a tall man wearing a long, red, elegant robe with hexagonal patterns that shone orange with unimaginable glory. He had neat, red hair that contained a few spikes along with an intimidating scarred face. Fanghui’s eyes gleamed with different colors as he looked at the eager crowds. His right eye was red while his left eye was teal.
“As you all probably know already, the Americans still fail to understand the world centered view of our blessed Federation!” Fanghui began. “The brain dead politicians of democracy continue to think that the Middle Eastern Smite was a genocide. However, as the defense in the name of kneapexism, it was a necessary civil war. In case if the napping democratic lawmakers slept through their days allowing crime to plague their cities in the name of compassion, genocide is a term for the senseless killing of particular groups of people without reason. What most people don’t understand of the vocabulary is that the sense of genocide is one sided as perpetrators against victims. However, the Middle Eastern Smite was double sided, where the arabian scum with the dogmatic UICA have fought against us along with the support of the fox freaks. Thus, it was a civil war due to the situation being a two-sided war where both sides were perpetrators. And undeniably, we are eliminating groups that specifically threaten world peace, which isn’t senseless to fit for the definition of genocide. Our means to maintain world justice gives sense, reason, and justification for the civil war!”
As the amoebic crowd continued to engulf China with its praises of Fanghui’s eloquence, Isrina began to think deeply about the past. When Shien was a baby, she took him and the rest of the arabian and vulpi civilians on trains while her husband, Jinhai Niang stayed behind with the brave rebels against the invasion led by the cryokinetic captain, Sychrom Takoizu. The UICA president, Kainos Cecilius, went to the European nations to plead for their help to take in the refugees and help the rebels, but the nations except for the US chose to stay silent as the widowed Isrina and the others struggled to survive until they could escape to America with US General Covinski’s help. To Isrina, the constant running with baby Shien in her backpack, protecting her little chickadee day and night was absolute hell as Europe allowed the Reaper Squad to roam about their countries to arrest them and the other refugees. Many of those arabian and vulpi refugees were her friends, the bravest people who chose to defend the Niangs and the other targeted UICA members. Not only that, until now, most of the world has chosen to cover up the ugly history to appease Fanghui. As Isrina stared at Fanghui’s terrifying face, a few tears began to slowly dribble from her radiant blue eyes.
“Again, this civil war was completely necessary as a means to stop the Middle East’s coordinated conspiracy with the UICA and the vulpi sorcery while decreasing carrying capacity simultaneously. Unlike democracy, I make the tough choices where Forroway has failed as mass school shootings take place around his American campuses!” Fanghui continued with his threatening voice. “The two constructs, freedom and order cannot coexist. One must be chosen over the other. I choose order! Likewise, humanity and vulpi cannot coexist. Thus, I choose humanity! If America continues it’s demonic practices with the UICA and its feebleminded tolerance with the vulpi and the Niang family, we will have no choice but to prepare for a necessary invasion of America! The last day of the wretched UICA shall befall in the name of the Global Federation of World Justice as the heavens collapse against our enemies!”
The crowd’s praises became roars of thunder that shook Olympus.
“The grandmaster family of the Niangs shall be no more, America will bow before the newfound government that shall accomplish world stability, justice, and peace where all other governments have failed! The vulpi and their wicked Vultau Order will have their necks hanged in support of population reduction! Death to fox freaks!”
“Hail Fanghui! Hail-”
Suddenly, the screen was off. As Isrina found herself weeping, she saw her son who she had worked so hard to protect from the Federation holding the TV remote.
“Looking at the news more won’t make you feel better,” Shien said, quickly giving his mom a bear hug.
Isrina’s tears were unstoppable waterfalls as Shien held his hardworking mom close to him. She sacrificed so much for him, teaching him how to defend himself daily for exhausting hours and protected him in a backpack for years when he was just a baby. Shien could always remember peeping his little head from the backpack lid seeing his mom and the refugees fighting for their lives against the Reaper Squad. Of course, Shien was too young, and never really understood those dreams until Ritom’s older brother, Magnus, told him about the legendary chronicles of the Niang family the UICA members constantly talk about, that Shien’s father was a grandmaster of martial arts and Vultau practices, and that his mom was the legendary Desert Cardinal, always wearing dark red, protecting her son in a backpack, fighting hundreds of Reaper Squad commandos for survival. Thus, those dreams weren’t just dreams, but memories. Ever since Shien found out about who his parents really were, Isrina finally told him about her experience. She didn’t wish to tell her son about the commotion for a long time because she thought that he was too young to understand.
In Shien’s childhood, Isrina often forced her son to take wing chun lessons with Master Oreic after school and practice martial arts with her before bedtime, afraid that her little chickadee would be a target for politicians. Not only that, she constantly lectured him to be confident, assertive, and authoritative after each session, telling him how imperative it is so he won’t be pushed around by bullies. He didn’t understand why Isrina was so tough on him, making him learn all those skills so early as a child until Magnus told him about who his parents really were. Ever since Shien understood what his mom had really been through, he felt more obligated to take care of his mom more than anything. It’s the least he can do to reciprocate the tough love his mom had shown him. Although Isrina is embarrassed to constantly cry in front of her son, Shien never minded to comfort her and cheer her up with some tea or silly jokes.
“Mom,” Shien said as the two hugged each other intensely. “It’s okay. I’m here. Everything is going to be okay. I am sure President Forroway will continue to find ways to help us.”
“My, my little chickadee,” Isrina replied. “I, I know. I am so sorry. Your, your mom isn’t supposed to cry.”
“Mom, it’s okay to cry. I mean, we all do! When I cried every time I hurted myself, you were there for me. In fact, you did so much for me even when I was little. I want to be here for you too, mom. Okay? It saddens me to see you upset.”
Isrina nodded as Shien gave her a napkin to wipe the endless waterfalls. When she blew her nose onto the napkin, she noticed Shien getting something from his room downstairs. He then came back with a stuffed black capped chickadee and squeezed the cute object.
Isrina couldn’t help it but crack a smile.
“Mr. Chickadee doesn’t want you to be sad!” Shien spoke in an adorable way. “He wants you to be happy! Drink some tea! Smile a bit!”
Shien then rubbed the chickadee at his mom’s face. Isrina chuckled as she held the stuffed bird. She examined the stuffed bird as it brought her back good memories.
“You know, my little chickadee,” Isrina said. “When you were still a baby, your dad and I tried to decide which stuffed bird to give you.”
“Seriously?” Shien asked. “Which ones?”
“We thought of either the black capped chickadee or the black and white warbler.”
“Then, how did you all decide the chickadee?”
“Well, in a game of Mahjong.”
The two laughed out loud as they enjoyed tea together, forgetting the complicated mayhem of politics with the taste of the creamy sweetness along with the balanced dash of spiciness.
“I thought you hated gambling, mom.”
“Well, your dad couldn’t stop teaching me and the others. I was much younger back then. I am an old frog now.”
“No, you’re not! You are pretty! Remember how you have always told me to have confidence in myself for years? To never put myself down! So, don’t put yourself down!”
“You’re not wrong there, my little chickadee.”
As the two finished their tea, Shien made a cute smile and took the empty cups to the kitchen sink to wash them. Isrina began to smile as well. Shien, her little chickadee, all grown up, his brown eyes sparkling with happiness as his smile drives away the negative thoughts with positive energy. Of course, it would be nice if he was a bit taller. After all, Isrina couldn’t forget how her son was three inches shorter than her. Nonetheless, she felt happy how Shien became not just a sunshine for her, but for his friends as well. Shien has made many friends like Naivern and Ritom, impacting them all with his positivity and jolly attitude.
“What time is it?” Shien asked while he rinsed the cups.
“What time?” Isrina looked at the kitchen’s clock. “Time for me to go!”
Isrina squeezed the chickadee one last time before rushing to get her UICA coat. After Shien placed the cups in the dishwasher, he escorted his mom outside to her car. The sun was setting across the serene sky as Isrina unlocked her car.
“Shien,” Isrina said. “Thank you for comforting me.”
“You’re very welcome!” Shien said with his eyes closed and a happy mood.
“Have a fun time with your friends. Just don’t play too long.”
“Don’t worry, we won’t!”
Isrina got in the car and started the engines. As she left the parking lot to turn left, she saw Shien waving to her again with his radiant smile. She honked her horn and waved in response before leaving for the anniversary. With the nap and quality tea time with her little chickadee, she felt like she had the awesome energy to speak at the assembly.
“Thanks, my little chickadee,” She said to herself.
Shien then skipped back into the house and went back upstairs to get his chickadee. He placed it back in his room on his front desk, and opened a drawer to find his Syanic viewer. The gray and green cybernetic color scheme along with the blue visor shone as the sun’s rays went through the window curtains of Shien’s room.
“Alright, my goon squad,” Shien said with a smile. “Time to catch up with you all.”
He then lay on his bed comfortably and placed the viewer in front of his eyes. Shien then closed his eyes. It was time to enter the cybernetic domain. He then pressed a small switch on the visor’s right side, letting his mind take the lightspeed journey to the Syanic Earth, leaving his real world self behind.