”Welcome to the Conventus program! ”, the funny-looking, spherical robot levitating at the front of the class boldly proclaimed in a mechanical voice. The robot was about the size of a football with gold and silver streaks covering its surface. Layla supposed that the overlapping colours of the robot signified the coming together of the two opposing sides of Bifurcate Country. The North and South had been divided since the One-mind War due to their contrasting beliefs.

The silver, rather the white gold, as the North were insistent upon, was reflective of the white gold bead implanted at the very top of the forehead of every Northie that connected to the rest of the beads that rimmed their heads. Laylas own central bead was of the yellow gold variety representing her origins as a Southie.

Ten seconds later and the robot still hadn moved on to its next thought, or rather its next programmed instruction. Layla pondered whether the robot was malfunctioning or whether this was the limit to the advanced technology the North often boasted about. She had read books on how far artificial intelligence had come in the regions above the demarcation zone, which was the zone that separated the North and South and where government officials and other the elites resided.

The North prided themselves on their advancements in technology after the war. And before she had entered the classroom and set her eyes on this misguided bot, she thought they had a reason to. The South did not use telecommunication devices as much as the North as a general rule of thumb. Laylas papa and mama had always said that they had to put limits on who their children were in communication with and how much they were communicating with them as the internet was a place of radicalisation of the impressionable youth.

Thus, Layla had built up an image in her head of the Norths technology being a wonderful thing, but here she was stuck in a classroom of people that her father would consider foes, having enough time between the robots sentences to assess her environment and plan an escape route. She was proud of the seat she had chosen, at the back of the right side of the classroom where she could see the door and all the ongoings of the classroom. As well as this, she had already found the best route out of the room and the building… through the doors provided.

Unfortunately, this Conventus program was implemented four years ago and was compulsory for all youth, albeit not that many, who had graduated their 15th year in education and were recognised as the top intellectuals of their towns. This Conventus program was categorised as further education. She did not quite know how debating about beliefs, unity and peace would quite help an aspiring engineer, but she had already decided that through this program she was going to be a compliant child, in honour of her mother and father who were trying to step into a bigger leadership role on the South. Her papa thought that the Conventus program was a way to spread propaganda into the subconsciouses of the emotionally malleable youth of

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