C.A. Gray: Jackson, you’ve only just arrived in the Republic of the Americas. Tell me some first impressions.
Jackson MacNamera: …Do you want an honest opinion, or…?
CAG: Of course, why wouldn’t I?
JM: Because an agent picked me up when I first got here, and when he asked me what I thought of it, he definitely didn’t want honesty.
CAG: I promise, I’m not asking a trick question.
JM: Fair enough. The truth is, the Republic was a complete shock to me. I’d grown up hearing stories about how it was the land of opportunity. But it’s beyond impoverished here. The people are malnourished almost to the brink of starvation, except for the agents and the high ranking officials. But the people are all brainwashed to think nothing is wrong.
CAG: That must have been a terrifying experience for you.
JM: Not terrifying so much as… confusing. It took me awhile to figure out why there was such a discrepancy between the way people saw themselves and the way they actually were.
CAG: You weren’t scared?
JM: (Pause.) I guess I don’t think of fear as a very useful emotion. So sure, it’s there, but I don’t indulge it.
CAG: Explain that. How can you keep from indulging it? Doesn’t it just take over?
JM: (Shakes his head.) I know that’s what happens for most people. But you have to understand, I’ve been training myself to control my mind and thoughts for most of my adult life.
CAG: What kind of training have you had?
JM: I apprenticed with Sophus, the chief of the tribe in this small Icelandic village where I grew up. I called him Grandfather. He taught me lots of things—but the most important, I think, was how to expand my awareness. He taught me to perceive the world around me in great detail. Strong personal emotions can be useful in some cases, but often they cloud judgment. I was just talking to Kate about this, actually.
CAG: Thanks for bringing her up. I’d love to know what you think of Kate?
JM: (Smiles.) Now, I know that’s a trick question.
JM: Kate is… well, she’s my friend, for starters.
CAG: Uh huh.
JM: When I first met her, there was something about her that made me want to keep her safe. She seemed fragile, I guess. But every day she gets stronger, which is pretty impressive when you think about all she’s been through.
CAG: What’s your take on what she’s been through?
JM: Well, I mean, her fiancé was just murdered by the government. And at the same time, she found out that everything she believed about her beloved Republic was a lie. Which basically meant her entire identity was a lie too, since she made her living spreading propaganda about the Republic as a reporter. So her entire world got turned upside down, just like that.
CAG: And you wanted to protect her.
JM: At first. But like I said, every day she seems to get more solid—almost as if there’s something in the air out here in the caves that does her good. …Or maybe it’s just the absence of the control center programming for once. I can’t even imagine, having your thoughts be your own for the first time in your life. (Shakes his head.) I can’t imagine.
CAG: So do you think you’ll stay in the caves, with the refugees of the Republic? Or will you go back to Iceland?
JM: (Vehemently.) No, I’m staying.
CAG: Why? It’s not your fight, is it?
JM: I can’t explain it, but it is. (Pause.) All my life, I’ve had this feeling that I was meant to do something important with my abilities, the ones I cultivated with Grandfather. But in Iceland, I never knew what that was. I’d always expected to come to the Republic, back when I thought it was the land of milk and honey. But now that I know what it’s really like, I feel like this was my calling all along. This is the reason why I’ve studied so long to hone my awareness, and to see truth clearly. I was made for this.
CAG: Thanks Jackson. I know you’ll make your Grandfather proud.