“With hope, we could see light beyond darkness, even if darkness is all we see.”

Her brown eyes looked intently at the child she was holding, smiling peacefully as she watched the baby sleep. The mother hums a lullaby as leaves from the tree where they took shelter falls down, making a beautiful scene along with the green blades of grass dancing in the wind. Children’s laughter filled the whole place, and parents watched them from the gate of the park in which they were playing. As Syn watched them with envy, she becomes conscious that the happiness they feel isn’t true; however, they are lucky they didn’t know the truth.
“As you see, they are content here.” Mirage speaks, sensing her thoughts. “No grudges, no tears. Just pure bliss.”
“The bliss from your heart.” She adds presently.
Syn bows her head in regret—for the world she knew is an exact opposite of the one she is seeing right now. “This is my world…the world inside my heart,” she says to herself. At the people’s faces all seemed satisfied, and with that she felt that the deception is half forgivable—for they wouldn’t have those smiles in real life.
“I don’t feel as bad now that I see them here.” She says, to which Mirage smiled with pleasure.

For the first time, Mirage sees the girl smiled with satisfaction, that it seems, all her pain and labor was not in vain at all. But there was something else that made her quite confused, for as Syn smiled while looking at the people there were tears in her eyes. She wide-eye marveled at the girl’s emotions—she doesn’t understand why in a world so happy, would she cry…
“If only this is the truth.” Syn says, wiping the tears. “If only what they feel is true.”
“Why would you ask for the truth, if it only brings you pain?” asks Mirage, wondering at her words.
“Because it is the truth.” Syn answers, looking at her decidedly. “Because it is the only way we can live.”
“The only way?”
Mirage looks down, confused. “Why then, was I created?”
Syn was taken aback—surprised at the maiden’s question, for she too, was ignorant of the answer, remembering they were mislead at its true purpose. However, she sighed, and looked at the lady’s silvery eyes with the answer she knew she believed in.
“To give hope.” she smiled.
“Hope?”
Syn leaned on the gate of the park as she turned her head up—looking at the blue skies the Veil has produced. The clouds slid down the atmosphere, and the light rays of the sun beamed down on them. “For years, we have lived in darkness because of the war. The people have lost hope of living peacefully again. Each day they wait in panic that it will be their last… fathers fear of leaving their families unprotected; mothers fear of leaving their children uncared for; children’s cries of loneliness howled every night. Those were dark days. And even after the war had ended the despair did not. That is why,” She says, turning to the maiden. “We created you.”
“If only they could take a glimpse of a possible future, if they will just work together and rebuild the nation—reuniting the scattered clans, reaching those who are lost and abandoned, then their hope will be revived. This Earth was not meant for paradise—troubles come and go. But with hope, we could fight the sorrow and despair, and be happy even though all we had for now was nothing but ourselves. With hope, we can build something out of nothing—with hope; we learn to embrace the truth, however painful it is. With hope, we could see light beyond darkness, even if darkness is all was see.”
“Hope,” Mirage mutters in awe at her answer. “Is there enough for humankind?”
“Maybe,” Syn answers. “It’s a choice.”

Silent tears dropped from his cheeks. No matter how hard he tried not to cry, the tears flowed like stream from his eyes. He placed his hands on his mouth lest somebody hears his sobs. It was the third time he broke down before he slept—Reagent, the Co-commander of the Mirage Project, would be a shame if anybody sees him lose control of his usual coldness.
For three years he believed that she would return, or at least, be alive. All those times he hoped he would see her again, and bring smile in his face like the old times when they were together.
“If she’ll come back I’ll swear never to leave her again. I will stand with her and fight her battle—I don’t care if Neo-Gaia chases us to hell as long as I have her…”
But it wasn’t the case now, for Syn is dead, and waiting for her return would be meaningless. And what’s more painful, is that the man whom she considered almost like her brother, is the one who took her life. For now, there is nothing in Reagent’s mind but his death, and Steven’s.
“Our friendship was like a brotherhood—not by blood, but the pact we made us closer to each other than real brothers. Why then, does it have to be destroyed by a wrong belief and a foolish mistake?”
“You could’ve saved her, Steven—but you chose your position rather than Syn’s safety,” he thought, his heart bursting with anger that is enough to take the life of his so-called brother. “And with that, you die.”

“Her name is Lydia.”
Steven presents a brown haired girl with green eyes at the officials of Neo-Gaia. She was about his shoulder, with dark red lips and pale complexion. She looked cunningly at the high-ranked people before her, even in her silence she showed eloquence, and they were impressed.
“Is she the one?” one of the leaders asked, to which Steven nods.
“She is, and I am proud, that much like Syn, she’ll be able to create a virtual world,” He says, and Lydia smiles arrogantly.
“Well then,” the other officials declared. “Let’s see if she’s suited for the Veil.”
“Of course,” Steven answers, and without a minute to waste he escorts the girl in the chamber, where brainwaves for Mirage are to be gathered.
Reagent looked at them quietly from afar, in his mind knowing that another is about to waste her life in the formation of the simulated world. However he didn’t care, for his mind was set for Steven, and his cold eyes like piercing bullets right through his friend’s heart.
Steven noticed his stare, but did not mind him. “Another time, Reagent,” he muttered, as he took over Mirage’s control to change the ownership to its new possessor. But then—
“What seems to be the problem, sir?” Steven’s secretary stood beside him, noticing the shocked look on his master’s face.
“I don’t know,” Steven answers nervously, his hands typing commands so fast but it seems the computer disregards it. “But Mirage doesn’t want to recognize its new possessor.”
“That’s strange,” the secretary thought, looking at the data manager. “Look,” he points to his master. “The data consumed is only 2 percent!”
Everyone in the assembly was surprised, that even Reagent was stirred. Steven inputted the new ownership command repeatedly, but the Mirage ignores it continually. The leaders of the Neo-Gaia was troubled that they huddled to him, trying to know what the problem is, but he too, cannot explain.
“It seems weird, for Mirage was programmed to automatically accept new ownership once its current possessor dies,” explains Steven to the disturbed leaders.
“Unless,”
Steven stops as he heard another voice floating in the hall, and everyone turns back and sees Reagent approaching them. He looked calm as usual, but there was a trace of worry in his face, for he walked slowly—what he discovered brought anxiety to him as well.
“Unless what?” The chairman asked, wanting to find an answer to the tumult that is happening now.
Reagent strained his eyes on Mirage with entrenched draftiness and anger, his voice cold and calm as he answers…
“Unless Syn is not dead.”