Make a promise, see it through


St Hilda’s Collegiate, Dunedin

Anticipation shadowed Mei’s consciousness while she surveyed the encompassing scene.

Tonight, everything caught in the radiant spectacle could become hers.

Beams erupted from spotlights that lined the interior of the amphitheatre.

She watched as they escaped between cracks in the ancient, crumbling walls and tore through the ceiling of open air.

On a journey, the light exposed clusters of dishevelled buildings below.

They had been stripped to the bone in a way that can be attributed to only one calamity; war.

Yet, it also illuminated the root of human society; innovation, captured in the contemporary structures that nested atop the rubble.

Together, the contrasting ruins and modernism were a tangled network of ideals and history that composed the great city of Praeteritum.

As the crowd cheered and the announcers voice echoed, Mei tore herself from the exhilarating view.

A change in attitude within the preparation room required her attention.

The other contestants had turned towards a girl at the entrance.

Their gazes drank up every swish of her sleek and dark hair, every playful bounce of her round and brown eyes as they waltzed across the room in search of someone. Mei sighed lightly when those eyes locked on to her.

"Don’t act jealous.

"You can’t possibly be anything but elated right now."

Via insisted jokingly as she came to a halt.

"Seriously though, you’re going to make a great leader."

Mei shook her head at Via’s sudden sincerity, but it was difficult to feign annoyance at her twin sister.

Before long, Mei stood in the centre of the amphitheatre with the announcer beside her.

He was a circus conductor, and she was his greatest spectacle.

"Allow me to relay the much-anticipated final challenge of Competition Rectio.

"Our last contestant, Mei, must complete the task: Make a Promise, See it Through.

"If she is declared the winner, you and I will become the people she leads as the head of Praeteritum.

"So it’s only right that she wins us over with a promise and plan for a future by her design!"

When the announcer passed over his microphone, the onlookers fell silent.

Mei inhaled once, then allowed her declaration to boom like thunder.

She fired off each bullet point held within her mind, aiming the gun at the audience.

Her vows struck them one after another, calculated to pierce and capture the hearts of as many people as possible.

With her intellect, Mei whipped her words into an electrical storm.

Unleashing her campaign upon those listening with the skill and lucidity of lightning.

At the finale of her speech, she called off the verbal tempest with a poised bow.

The assembly released an outburst of cheers.

Later, Mei reappeared before the crowd alongside the other contestants.

A woman stood upon an extraneous modern platform behind them.

"Tonight, the leadership election is upon us.

"All votes have been tallied and a selection has been made," she announced.

"To the winner, I must remind you of the Praeteritum Philosophy.

"Our city stands in the aftermath of the Genesis War.

"It reflects our victor and the importance of you: our youth, symbols of innovation and progression.

"As our leader, Praeteritum shall grow alongside you.

"Moulding itself in your image.

"Then, when the youth of tomorrow begin cultivating awareness, you shall pass on the torch, continuing the cycle once more."

The woman paused.

"Now, for their recognition as a flawless example of this Generation, I present our chosen leader ..."

The entire world fell silent.

"The winner, Mei Tonitruum!"

The crowd’s routine ovation ensued.

The celebrations manoeuvred their way into the early morning, but Mei began growing tired of constant compliments.

Once the alcohol and atmosphere claimed those around her, she slipped away.

She’d never known the back tunnels of the amphitheatre to be so intriguing, draped with newer architecture rarely seen in the building.

As she descended underground, sound from the festivities began to drip away like raindrops.

Eventually, she walked alongside nothing but silence and the sound of her footsteps.

There was something unsettling about that, Mei realised, noticing an unexplainable yet intuitive chill trickle down her body.

Her sensible side nearly persuaded her curiosity, she was just about to turn around.

And she would’ve if it weren’t for the whispers.

"Can’t believe you let her win.

"How is that supposed to ...?"

"You saw the vote count — another winner would’ve been far too obvious."

"But she’s too dangerous — you watched her final challenge.

"We should’ve."

She felt a sense of dread scrape through her.

She was unmistakably the subject of their conversation.

Yearning to hear more, she drove herself forward.

Just enough to catch their final, hushed proclamation.

"There’s no need to agonise, we’ll have her sister soon.

"A replacement is all we need, and that’s what twins are for ..."