A look of astonishment crossed the Exector’s face. ‘Yes, it is as perfect as perfect can be, without a shadow of doubt.’
‘But then that would depend on the definition of perfection, wouldn’t it?’
‘Take any definition you like: the highest degree of a quality; an exemplification of supreme excellence; an unsurpassable degree of accuracy or excellence—the Altklug Ace-world fits each definition,’ Bamian replied with a superior smirk.
‘What about “freedom from fault or defect”?’ Zinnia asked.
The rest of the class turned to face her, confused and yet alert. Crispin tried to catch Zinnia’s eye, warning her to be careful. He was quick to notice the rebellious gleam in her eyes.
‘That too, my dear lamebirl. The Altklug Ace-world is superior and protected from any kind of technological vice and free from faults. But for a matter of an interesting discourse, are you suggesting that there are faults in the system?’ Bamian’s tone was mild, but he looked at Zinnia keenly.
‘What I am saying is that mere strides in technology does not make an Ace-world. It is the Altklugs who do and Altklugs are humans, aren’t they? Wouldn’t they make mistakes?’
‘Humans who make mistakes are not Altklugs.’
‘But what if they do?’ Zinnia insisted.
Bamian hesitated, for fraction of a second. ‘If they do, which is the rarest of occurrences, then swift and immediate action would be taken to replace that element from the system. There are no cracks in the Altklug world. It has been perfected over years and years of research and human existence is at its best in this Dome.’ Bamian’s tone brooked no argument but Zinnia was satisfied.
She sat down and passed the anxious Crispin a quick reassuring smile.
The expression of sheer disbelief on Crispin’s face said it all. He shook his head, as he grappled with the realisation. A shock of unruly hair fell on his forehead as he paced the floor.
‘The nerve of that Altklug!’ he finally exploded. ‘The creep…the…the…!’
His face was flaming with fury and at his inadequacy to find the exact words to express his horror.
Zinnia put out a hand and stilled him. ‘I know. I went through the exact emotions. And I’ve been awake all night, wondering what to do about it. Whom can we trust? Who can we go to? The Supercustodian?’ she suggested, her voice thickly laced with doubt.
‘Supercustodian!’ Crispin sneered. ‘You would be deported to the Dissolution Crypt or worse still to the Lab, before you can take your next breath.’
‘I thought so too.’ Zinnia sighed. ‘Then who?’
‘Bamian too would be useless. He’s too practical and would probably think Commander Burdock is a genius.’
‘Back at the Ret Cabana, I would’ve spoken to our Peeta. She was a warm and understanding Altklug—not that it would’ve been much use though.’
‘Mirella!’ Crispin snapped his fingers at the idea.
Zinnia’s eyes gleamed. ‘You’re right. Mirella would listen. She would make an effort to understand. Let’s go right away. You will come with me, won’t you?’
‘Of course I will! This is for Camilla…’
Zinnia smiled at Crispin and nodded. She felt a load off her shoulders, now that she had confided in Crispin.
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