ATLANTIS IS DEAD...But her daughter-cities live! PREPARE for the Triple Rising (Completed)
|Submerged City of Sitnalta
Semylyn pushed against the suffocating cloth tightening around her like a funeral shroud. Breaking through her sleep-induced reality, she sat straight up, shoving the bed coverings from her face.
The darkness—the darkness filled her room. It was never like this in her bedchamber; the aquatic lamps outside her viewing portal always shone through her window. She rubbed the back of her hands against her eyes and listened for a familiar sound.
From outside her room, muffled voices filtered through the dense blackness. With a shiver of unease, she searched for the long, gray robe lying across the foot of her bed, donned its protective layer, and slipped her feet to the floor. Extending her arms forward, she took small steps in the direction of the door. Finding it easier than she'd anticipated, she curled her fingers around the handle's familiar shape, then froze in place as it turned of its own volition. The door swung open, pushing her backward. A looming figure ducked through the opening and into her room.
"Semylyn, are you here? Are you alright?"
Relief rippled through her at the sound of Troyak's voice. "I'm fine. What's going on?"
"I don't know. It's a blackout of some kind." His warm hands found her in the darkness, clutching her shoulders and sliding down her arms, their strength more bruising than soothing. "You're not hurt are you?"
"Troyak! I'm fine!"
She pushed his hands away and peered around his massive frame. Except for intermittent flashes of light caused by the sparking power panel, the hall remained dark. Several people, like faceless silhouettes, moved around, anxiety evident in their raised voices.
"It's obviously a blackout," Semylyn whispered. "But why are you here and not at your emergency post?" They both jumped as a shout echoed through the corridor.
Troyak drew up to his full height. "I was just, it was so dark. I wan...wanted to make sure..." He stuttered, even as a group of Engineers rushed by outside, their tool pouches clanking.
She couldn't make out his expression. Maybe that was a good thing. The changes in him over the last few months had given her more than one uneasy moment. It was getting harder to distinguish her childhood friend from the Defender he was becoming. He still worried about her in the same way, though, as evidenced by the fact he was in her room instead of at his emergency defense post.
Three deep tones sounded through the entire city, a summoning to the Council Chamber.
"That's for us," Semylyn muttered.
Troyak brushed against her shoulder as he turned and leaned outside to look down the corridor, barely avoiding a collision with a wayward Engineer.
"Get changed. I'll wait outside the door."
Semylyn nodded and pushed the door shut. After a few quick minutes of blind groping, she managed to dress, in what she hoped was her usual white tunic and dark gray pants. Retrieving the black Guardian crest from the bedside table, she pinned it on her tunic, centering it directly beneath her collar. A couple of quick swipes and her wispy silver hair lay neatly tucked behind her ears.
"I found this," Troyak offered when the door opened, holding up a blue hand lamp.
His breath stroked her cheek, and she realized how close he was. The dim light burned in his amethyst eyes and cast strange shadows across the angles of his face, emphasizing his bold features and making him appear older than their eighteen years. Semylyn blinked and rubbed her moist palms against her legs.
"There—there's never been a blackout," she said quietly.
Blue light enclosed them as the chaos in the corridors ebbed and flowed around them like currents.
"I'll take care of you." As though in the presence of a frightened child, he smiled and took her hand as he'd done so many times in their childhood.
He knows his duty better than I do, Semylyn thought. As the son of Sitnalta's First Defender, the man second only to the High Guardian himself, Troyak would soon inherit his father's position. His powerful protecting instinct clothed him like a second skin.
Semylyn drew in a deep breath and steadied herself. She was the High Guardian's daughter. She could not allow a sudden crisis to make her fearful.
"Lead the way," she said. With a toss of her head, she tucked a hand in the crook of one of his muscular arms and walked into the corridor.
People from all different orders stood talking in small, anxious groups. Most of the silver-garbed Scientists stood before power panels, gesturing as they heatedly discussed various theories.
Engineer crews rushed past them, instruments and power maps under their arms.
The Habitat Representatives charged with the well-being of Sitnalta's inhabitants, their golden insignias muted by the darkness, went from person to person offering assistance.
The Archivist Order members were easily identifiable, even though in the darkness, their white insignias were barely distinguishable from those of the Scientists. Instead of discussing theories, examining hardware, or offering help...they simply watched. There were few enough of them anyway, the individuals educated and charged with the keeping of Sitnaltian history.
People paused in their conversations to acknowledge her and Troyak as they negotiated the corridor. Taking the opportunity, she offered some reassuring words along the way.
They turned a corner and entered the Habitation Ring's fourth level plaza area. An Engineering crew, hand lamps pointed upward, stood peering at a still, dark column of seawater rising through the city's seven levels: the Channel.
"Oh," Semylyn murmured. It was all dark here, too. Even the Channel's rippling light was gone.
"Come on," Troyak urged her, his eyes scanning the wide emptiness of the plaza, "We'll have to take the ramp." His had tightened around her fingers as he hurried her forward.
Thoughts raced through her mind, keeping pace with her heart's rapid rhythm. In all of Sitnalta's centuries, there had never been a blackout. Power from The Prime was unceasing; something must be terribly wrong.
She wiggled her fingers to relieve the crushing pressure of his grasp as they descended the ramp that ran along the dome's inner perimeter. Down they went, through the dark, echoing levels: level three's habitation ring, level two's empty laboratories, until finally they alighted upon level one's landing.
Here a few individuals sat or stood outside the Council Chamber awaiting news, their anxious eyes followed her and Troyak as they made their way toward the Chamber.
The great doors stood ajar and inside Semylyn could just make out a few forms seated around the large council table. Several strategically placed hand lamps were all that broke the shadows, but Semylyn didn't need to see the Council members' faces to sense their tension. Her father gestured toward her designated position next to him.
Troyak led her to her seat and waited as she took it. Then, after pressing a warm hand briefly on her shoulder, he set the hand lamp down and found his way to his seat at the far end of the table's semi-circle.
"What is happening?" Semylyn leaned towards her father.
Omree Vock, High Guardian of Sitnalta, turned towards his daughter and shook his head. "Something I had hoped would never happen."
The Council doors slammed shut with a fierce jar. Semylyn focused on the hulking figure striding towards her father.
"What is the meaning of this? Is there a threat?" Xerell, the First Defender and Troyak's father, stopped at the table's edge, impatience deepening his frown.
"Not an immediate one, no," Omree answered. "Please, take your seat and we'll begin."
With a grunt, Xerell ran a hand across the rigid muscles at the back of his neck and glanced around the chamber once more.
As First Defender of Sitnalta and Head of the Order of Combat Aptitude, Semylyn knew Xerell wanted answers faster than most. Her tension inched up as he spun on his heel and strode toward the empty chair next to Troyak's.
Though she knew him as the kindest of men, his aggressiveness frightened her a little. More disturbing, was observing that same assertiveness increasing in Troyak. Even now, his hard, combative expression matched that of his father. A twinge of uncertainty squeezed her heart. She wanted to grab him and shake him, commanding that he never lose his crooked, boyish grin, or teasing smile.
"My friends," Omree squared his powerful shoulders, his calm cadence reflecting a mediator's patience. "We face a grave and unprecedented situation." He paused.
The room's murky illumination lent a sinister weight to the silence that hung in the air like a death toll. Semylyn shifted in her seat. Dread of the unfamiliar was a nemesis she fought hard to conceal. She waited, as did the others, not even the sound of a breath broke the stillness.
"The Prime has been penetrated."