”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 the South. But Layla disagreed for the most part as the majority of government officials successfully mastered the art of riding the middle of arguments between the two groups.

Officials of the governments territory reflected their opinions, as they inhabited in First city at the leftmost part of the demarcation zone. Although most governing officials did come from the North, they quickly changed their ways when they were granted as an inhabitant of central city as to not annoy either side.

It was thirty seconds later when the robot started spluttering out its next words, or lack thereof. ”I- I- I- will be le-le-leading… ”. Layla wondered to herself whether this overrated robot could lead anything. Communication is key had been a quote that survived even through the One-mind War. It was one thing to respect a stutter and another to witness the slow death of what was proclaimed as state-of-the-art technology.

The thing, it didn have a chance to introduce itself yet, at once crashed down at the front of the classroom. At least the surface seemed indestructible, not one speck of dust rose from its ashes. She wondered whether this was foreshadowing the North and the South potentially overcoming differences and getting together. She dismissed that idea after remembering the loud crash of the bot. If there was any reconciliation of the two sides it was apparent that it would come with some banging, crashing and rolling.

Well, the thing that she had now termed the shameful bot was rolling. The shameful bot must have felt ashamed and embarrassed as it rolled quite quickly. The shameful bot went under the desk, which for the love of God she could not quite understand why a robot, especially this shameful bot, would ever need a teachers desk. Nobody made a move to stop the shameful bot, as the shameful bot was then allowed through the aisle, which was between the middle of the rows of seats that students from the North and South had subconsciously arranged themselves in, with Northies on the left and Southies on the right.

Layla observed with a dismissive shake of her head that the shameful bot seemed to be heading out the classroom. She was quite proud of herself, and her chest puffed out reflective of that sentiment, as she thought that she must have had a part to play in removing the ridiculous object from the room. Great telepathic skills can work wonders she thought. Maybe this is the power of manifestation that the North were always tittering about. If you want it to be, and believe it to be, then it shall be type of stuff-

Layla abruptly changed her train of thought as an enemy against her plan of removing the shameful bot out of the room popped out of the woodwork. She stared incredulously at the side of the well-built man as he took a brash step into the room and picked up the shameless bot. She could practically hear the bot sniggering at her failure of a plan as the man seemed to scan the room and then started walking to one of the available seats, which was unfortunately diagonally in front of Layla. Close enough to kick.

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