ATLANTIS IS DEAD...But her daughter-cities live! PREPARE for the Triple Rising (Completed)
|The room's occupants heaved a harmonious gasp. A single, fluttering word threw itself against the bars of Semylyn's mind. NO. Her lungs puffed out their last bit of air. NO, this couldn't be. She desperately scanned the expression of those seated at the table, finally landing on Troyak, whose wide amethyst eyes met hers with burning intensity. She watched his lips part in disbelief.
Light flooded the chamber as the room's power panels surged on, forcing a squeal from her throat. She blinked in the brightness, and listened to the deep rumbling of Sitnalta coming back to life.
"Ah," Omree sighed, "commendations to your engineers, Laktor." The tall man stationed as Head of the Engineering Order inclined his head.
"This signal of the Prime's weakness is a warning we must address. However," Omree continued as the shock registered on all the Council member's faces. "Now that the immediate situation has been resolved, I release you all to your beds for the night. The Council will reconvene tomorrow day to discuss what this change in plans means for Sitnalta. Good sleep."
No one moved for a beat, but then the Council members began to stand and, in awe-struck silence, left the Council room.
"Xerell, Semylyn, Troyak...please stay," Omree requested and Semylyn stayed seated. She watched the backs of the Council members as they left, her mind a swirl of confusion. As the doors of the chamber closed with a reverberating echo, she look toward her father.
Omree's prominent brow furrowed. "Before we address this crisis, we must first deal with another." His gaze encompassed Semylyn and Troyak, "We had hoped to have more time, and were planning on briefing you..."
Xerell's challenging tone splintered through Omree's words. "You can't be thinking of initiating the Gathering." His dissatisfaction solidified like granite as he crossed his arms over his barrel chest.
"The present state of the Prime is dictating this decision. Our personal preferences can no longer matter. We must begin the next step at once." Omree confirmed.
Despite the resolute statement, Semylyn perceived a thin thread of reluctance in her father's voice. Her pulse quickened as she realized she had no idea what he was talking about.
"It is years too early." Xerell countered. "We are not ready." His voice strengthened with conviction. "The Chosen are far too young, and we have yet to devise their training program. More important than either of those reasons, is their right to choose. What about that?"
In the silence that followed his father's question, Troyak stood and came further down the table, taking the seat next to Semylyn. He lifted his brow in a silent question. She shook her head with a shrug, confirming her own confusion.
Omree nodded his head, not rejecting Xerell's objections. "The Sun-dwellers have no idea of the Primes existence, much less the extent of the damage they cause to it by their polluting of Earth's waters. What could they possibly do to remedy their mistake? We are the only ones who have a hope of dealing with this..."
Xerell growled under his breath. "You excuse the Sun Dwellers too easily. Their stupidity has jeopardized our home more than once."
"Xerell, there is no guarantee that our scientists can stop the Prime's degeneration. If that is the case, the Sun-Dwellers may face imminent extinction. Once they have grasped that fact, do you think they will react with anything other than their usual response, anarchy, and chaos? If we are to use the Chosen to avert our own catastrophe, we must initiate the Gathering. The threat looming above may make it impossible to do so in another four years. If we don't act quickly, we could lose some of the Chosen. I regret we can no longer offer them a choice, but too much has gone into their preparation. We can't start over.
Semylyn cleared her throat, drawing all eyes to herself. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but neither one of us," she gestured toward Troyak, "know what you're referring to. What is the Gathering?"
"To be candid," Omree stated, "Sitnaltians cannot reproduce. Both of you are aware of this."
"Our scientists have been working on this for a long time. Are they not close to a solution?" She asked.
"They haven't made any progress. If our people, culture, and way of life are to survive, we must introduce a new gene pool. The Gathering is a back-up plan, referred to as the J.E.T.S Equation. It was initiated eighteen years ago, at the same time your embryo capsules were animated. Our scientists had discovered by then that the Prime possesses the ability to enhance Sun-Dweller DNA."
Semylyn blinked in surprise. She knew the power of the Prime; its generative and technological uses were boundless, as evidenced by Sitnalta's own ingenious design and operation. But...
"What kind of enhancements?" She asked as she moved to the edge of her seat.
"The Prime is capable of enhancing whatever abilities and talents come naturally to an individual. And though it hasn't been proven yet, we believe that in some individuals, it's possible to build new neural pathways. The interaction only happens with Sun-dwellers though," Omree continued, "We Sitnaltians live too close to the Prime and have, through the years, built up a resistance to its effects.
Without the knowledge of their parents, we chose six Sun-dweller children, mere infants at the time, and exposed them to the Prime. That was eighteen years ago. It was held that, when they'd reached the age of twenty-two and their abilities had come to full maturation, they would be introduced to Sitnaltian culture, and invited to aid in solving the prime's degeneration for the benefit of both our peoples."
Troyak puffed a great breath of air and leaned back in his chair, lacing his fingers behind his head. "Sounds straightforward enough," he said, "The Gathering means we're going to bring these enhanced Sun-Dwellers down here then?" he smirked. "Serves them right! They should have to fix the problem they caused with the Prime and, at the same time, they can work with our scientist to solve the present fertility problem."
Xerell shot a stern look at his son. "There's more to it, Troyak. Two of the Sun-Dwellers, themselves, are the answer to..." Xerell trailed off, scratching the back of his head.
Semylyn turned toward Troyak, whose amethyst eyes had darkened to boiling pools of rage.
"You're not seriously suggesting what I think you're suggesting." Troyak spit out the words.
She was at a loss to explain his reaction and sought to smooth the tension. "We are both aware of the situation and realize a solution must be found and initiated." She murmured.
Troyak flinched and glared at her.
Instant realization struck Semylyn with a force that had her spinning back toward her father. Her hands quivered at the inexpressible sadness scrawled across his wizened face. The question she wanted to ask froze in her throat. The quivering now moved through her entire body as her brain sought to make sense of what she was hearing. They were serious. What else could her father mean?
"I'm sorry Troyak, Semylyn," Said Omree. "Neither of you should have to face this problem. Nevertheless, the path is clear. It is imperative that the two of you be bonded to the most suitable Sun-Dwellers in the hopes that your children will inherit the ability to procreate. Otherwise, our people are the ones who will become extinct."
With a loud clang, Troyak jumped to his feet, knocking his chair to the floor.
"Troyak...Sit down." Xerell said wearily.
Troyak stood still as a stone, his glazed eyes fixed on something unseen. Semylyn had learned long ago that this was when he was at his most dangerous. If he were moving, venting, hitting something, everything would be alright...it was when he held himself completely in check that she knew something could go terribly wrong.
"Do you understand what this means?" Troyak looked toward Omree and his father, avoiding Semylyn's eyes completely. "We can only be bonded once. You're asking us to commit our lives, our...our chance for love." He spat the next words like venom, "to Sun-Dwellers? The very people who are destroying everything we've ever cared about?"
"These are young people who..." Omree began, but Troyak didn't let him finish.
"You understand what they want from us?" Troyak targeted Semylyn, his fisted hands stretched taunt at his side.
She saw the remnants of shattered dreams reflected in his intense gaze. She didn't dare move, unable to offer any words of reassurance for fear of pushing him over the edge.
His eyes watered and narrowed to mere slits. A disgusted sneer distorted his generous mouth as he shook his head in disbelief, then turned on his heel. Troyak's stride ate up the chamber floor and he flung the great doors outwards with such force they bounced back and would have hit him in the face had he not already been through them.
He was gone and the smell of despair hung in the air. She was familiar with Troyak's outbursts, it was the way of the Combat order to have strong emotions, but she had never seen him like this.
Xerell's fist crashed against the surface of the council table. A jarring wave of immediacy reverberated down its length and across its width, startling Semylyn to her core. Xerell was so much like his son, and she knew his bristling hostility originated more from anguish than from actual anger.
In a numbing voice, Omree emphasized his next words. "Time...has...run...out. The Prime is faltering. We need to secure the chosen ones in the safety of Sitnalta."
Xerell leaned over the edge of the council table in Omree's direction. His right hand lay clenched on the table, his lips drawn tight in fierce opposition.
Semylyn felt sick. She didn't want to be here, hearing the men entrusted with the city's entire existence argue.
"I think I'll leave now, I'm really very tired." She said, her voice sounding small and wounded.
Her father nodded his approval and she walked across the Chamber. With each step, the hollow feeling growing inside increased until it reached the raw center of her heart.