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It's a Beach

part 7 of Genetic Imperialism

"Oh yeah," 19-year-young Reeve Tuesti slurs, into his sweating pint glass, "Junon."

He's ashamed. There's a highly cosmopolitan girl somewhere on the other side of the pint glass's finger-thick base, drinking something with fruit in it. She murmurs some pleasantry that Reeve recognises as needing a valiant response to reinforce his not-quite-exoticism (he's trained that accent to stay well away from his lips), and so he rallies, scratches his desperate attempt at a beard, and he intones:

"S'got a very pretty beach, you know."

Under further feminine assault, Reeve won't admit another thing. Midgar's neon shine is an incomparable seductress. Later that night, Reeve swims through fluorescent gutters towards the star. He remembers later, mouth fouled with morning, Midgar doesn't have stars. He was singing to the warning lights that salt the underside of the plate.

The thing with Midgar, everyone's come from Somewhere Else, unless they hav en't, in which case their parents came from Somewhere Else Altogether, city-states with their names forgotten by this blissfully neon-intoxicated generation. Reeve's somewhere is Junon, with its pretty beaches, blasé subculture (he's pretty sure there's not more than one, it involved wearing denim), heavy metal industry, entrenched racism and total lack of enthusiasm. Junon has a pretty beach. Junon has miles and miles and miles of pretty beach. It has so many miles of surreally beautiful craggy cliffy beach it's like Junon decided it didn't need anything else, nature had provided a feat that could never be beaten. No culture, no daring, no heroes, no human endeavor. Reeve remembers summers spent staring at the sun sparkling on the waves, not a single thought in his whole echoingly vaulted mind. Not one. Hypnotised by the accidental conjunction of sand, surf and sun; a purely unplanned beauty.

Reeve does not like Junon. Why strive to better nature when nature's alread y laid down an impossible standard? A standard set purely through coincidence!

Midgar is entirely man-made. Reeve is a man; he is a maker. He has no idea why he can't bring himself to call this place home.

"Oh yeah," 22-year-old Reeve says, up and coming Shinra Co architectural intern hired under the New Divisions and New Horizons! initiative. He speaks through the short curl of steam that comes from his espresso. "Junon."

So this is networking, Reeve thinks, necessary in a city this size to make connections, it's not a rural backwater here: one of the other up-and-comings sits on the other side of his imported-ceramic cup. Scarlet. She murmurs something regarding the latest protests, the crimps in Shinra's grand plan put in place by a populace defending (she laughs) equally grand stretches of nothing-but-sand.

Reeve contemplates, tongue twisted with bitter black (he needs more sugar). Junon. So something's happening there, at last, a growing blight of a filthy port growing, a zit on the face of a child tottering towards teenhood. What Scarlet tells him is nothing new, the news is full of Junon. Reeve wants to smack his face against his desk every time he hears about the latest half-hearted rally to Prevent Further Shinra Cancer and Preserve Our Beautiful Beaches.

Development: the world is filthy, in Junon. He explains this, explains Junon to Scarlet, powered by liquid energy and mobilised caffeine, and the desperation of a man who's spent years forgetting what he can't dare to remember. Don't touch the beaches, Reeve lilts, f'the love of Gaia, don't touch the beautiful beaches! Development, and Junon's Single Mothers say it's making their Kids Sick, their Husband/s Fatter, and suddenly it's so very difficult to get a job; Junon will blame everything on Shinra unless Shinra wins them with mediocrity. Don't challenge the sun, Shinra; don't promise Junon the sky. In fact, promise Junon nothing. Say you'll never change them. Say you won't even touch their precious beaches, you'll, you'll — float—

Junon. Oh, Junon. Oh, oh, Junon. Where everything's done by halves, the high rise developments that barely scrape medium-rise as a definition; the well-meaning but unenlightened masses. Junon. Periphery, when Reeve craved centres.

On a napkin that tears under his ballpoint, Reeve sketches a skeletal tower, invisible steel framework, and stands it on stilts. Six tiny prongs, all that'll need to touch Junon's precious beaches. Laughing (there's an edge in his voice, manic), Reeve appends his tower with a bright smiley face and shoves the napkin towards Scarlet.

'Touch the earth lightly,' he explains. 'Let Junon have the beach. Shinra owns the sky.'

Scarlet's return grin glitters, wide as the smiley-face of his sketch, a bright-eyed grin soon plastered in propaganda over a place Reeve won't call home.

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