Atlantis was known as a lost continent, yet imagined as a submerged city, either abandoned by time or turned over to the people of the sea. It was a mythical island that was historically known to have attacked Athens. In that one story, it was repelled and defeated and eventually condemned by the Greek gods. But another way of looking at it was that Atlanteans were a powerful people that could only be defeated by the famed Athenians.
Luna had done a lot of research into Atlantis. What caught her eye originally wasn’t its location or its fame. Not even Poseidon’s many stories about its naval prowess meant anything to her.
No; the only thing that she cared about was the fact that it was a utopia.
A perfect place with a perfect society. Peace reigned and there was no discrimination. Two people who were meant to be together could actually be together. No circumstances. No familial barriers. No tragedy. No bullshit. No mistakes.
No witch hunts.
That was all she wanted. A place where she could live, free from the chains of conflict. A place just for demigods where they could live without fearing the pitchforks and torches. A place where they could just…live. She wanted to live her life until she was old, laughing and smiling with no Apostles hunting her down or other demigods causing trouble around her. Naturally, she welcomed all other demigods to join her in such a lovely place. It was a fair wish, she thought.
But Poseidon laughed at her.
The Greek god did not help her much with her research. He’d been there, but all he’d given her were detailed stories about the wars and politics that made up Atlantis’ government that she didn’t bother retaining. They were old stories that meant nothing today. What she wanted to know was what happened to it and where it went. Whenever that became the subject, Poseidon did one of three things; laugh, fall dead silent, or change the subject. What was his problem with her goal? She wasn’t sure. In all fairness, she began gathering life energy (or whatever it was called) in order to make sure she could drag Atlantis out of the ocean, rather than focusing on reviving Poseidon. He may have been mad about that, though it never showed in his tone. He had taken the time, however, to tell Luna that there was no proof that demigods could use the life energy they gathered to bolster their own power. This was very true, but it was all Luna could think to do.
And did it work?
Well, yes and no.
Luna had had a crushing realization.
Atlantis did not currently exist.
Whether it did or not in the past was moot. It may have, it may not have. It was too long ago and didn’t have a direct bearing on the present. It was similar to what her problem would have been if she wanted to make Rome her utopia instead. There was no Rome to find in the modern day. Its state in the past was irrelevant.
However, the concept Luna wanted did exist.
What Luna, demigoddess of the sea, earthquakes, and horses, managed to summon from the Atlantic Ocean depths was not a lost continent, but the very concept of an undersea utopia. From the outside, it may have looked like the true Atlantis, encased in a bubble, but it was a forced illusion—much like three lines placed just close enough that the brain registers it a triangle. Inside the bubble, there was nothing. Just empty landscape. But that may have been all the better. Here, Luna was sure she could make a true utopia. A place better than what would have existed thousands of years ago.
“I think now’s a good time to tell you ‘I told you so’, Poseidon.”
Not yet. I respect your goals as noble, however naïve. But there is so much you don’t understand, I just don’t feel bothered to explain anything to you.
“So now you’re just going to be condescending? Being a sore loser isn’t very becoming of a god.”
But being right is. Oh look; here comes someone to help me prove my point.
Luna frowned and narrowed her eyes. Poseidon couldn’t point or anything, due to not having a physical body, but she could feel the direction he was indicating. What she saw there was a surprise—there was no army or flying hero coming to stop her. All she saw was a lone man dressed in regular clothes walking toward her across the ocean. Luna stepped forward to the very edge of the floating landscape, the salty sea breeze blowing her hair and sundress in every direction. There was no mistaking it—this was the same man who she met in the blood rain just a few days earlier.
I’m rooting for you to win, of course. But I certainly expect him to, ah, ‘burst your bubble’ during the scuffle.
Sound was caused by particle movement. Vibrations propagate through matter. If it was physical and it could move, sound existed, to whatever degree. Silence was created when that movement did not occur. If one could create silence, then one could effective prevent matter from moving.
That was the theory Vasil had, at least. He could make it work with just about any solid object he had access to, from ceramic tiles to concrete to metal on cars, as well as the air around him. But water? He’d never tried it with any liquid with a collective mass of more than a gallon. In retrospect, he should have been more adventurous—start with a deep puddle before moving on to a pool. But it didn’t matter now. He’d taken a leap of faith—or rather, a ‘step’ of faith—and it paid off. By exerting his powers outward from his soles, he could effectively walk on water without sinking.
“Alright, so you just do that while I just run away in the other direction! Cool? Cool. We had a good talk! I hope we do it again soon! Or never! Never sounds good!”
Vasil deliberately ignored the person calling out from behind him on the shore. Chrome E. Heyne, by apparent sheer coincidence, had run across Vasil again while checking things out. Vasil hadn’t said a word at all, but from what he gathered from Chrome’s banter, he wanted to make sure that whatever was going on didn’t pose an immediate threat to him and intended to run off somewhere as soon as possible. Luckily, Vasil hadn’t had any expectations for him, or else he’d have been seriously disappointed that he lost a possible ally.
Vasil focused his gaze on the massive bubble straight ahead of him, quickly spotting the figure moving toward its edge. The daylight reflected off of the bubble’s film to hide much of what was inside, but this figure happened to be in one of the spots where it was clear and free of obstruction. Vasil considered sprinting to speed up the process, but didn’t want to risk testing this new application of his power at a dire moment like this unless he had to.
It didn’t take very long for that circumstance to come out of nowhere.
The gentle waves of the ocean had remained steady even during the earthquake and the rising of a city out of the Atlantic Ocean, but only now did they finally begin to move irregularly in response to something moving. Vasil came to a stop and used his eyes to track the irregular waves, finding a dark spot slithering beneath the waves. The first thing that came to mind was the Loch Ness Monster. Or more specifically, he imagined how excited Vesna would have been, immediately pointing out the likeliness.
But this wasn’t a lake. Nor was it even the right Hemisphere. And since he wasn’t nearly deep enough at sea for this to be some large sea creature, only one other possibility was left—a supernatural creature.
Vasil took action immediately, carefully manipulating the water particles beneath him to become somewhat less stolid, allowing some energy to pass through and reach Vasil. Vasil was immediately assaulted by an invisible picture of what was below him, for as far as the sound waves in the current below could reach him from. It wasn’t very far—mostly empty waters with some fish wandering around. What caught his attention enough to ‘assault’ him was the massive figure he felt slithering beneath the waves, coiling like a massive sea serpent. Many possibilities came to mind—Greek mythology was filled with monsters of all kinds, after all—but he didn’t have time to narrow them down. The serpent was moving toward the surface, and fast. If a creature of that size and mass broke through surface tension at such an unrelenting speed, the waves it created would swallow up the human sized Vasil and easily crushing him underwater. He needed to act fast.
Vasil took a deep breath and let it out slowly, making sure to empty his lungs. Once he did, he raised one of his palms up and thrust it forward, timing it perfectly along with the elegant creature that burst out of the water several meters in front of him. This flashy entrance sent water splashing around, but the waves didn’t go much further than if a bowling ball had been dropped into the water. It was all contained, along with the sound. The massive creature’s appearance was met with absolute silence—Vasil couldn’t even hear the hiss or shriek it must have been trying to make with its open mouth.
Vasil clicked his tongue as he abruptly gasp for breath and the sound of churning waters finally reached his ears. The serpent’s great body slammed into the water once more upon reentry, but the cataclysm was significantly smaller than what it would have been thanks to a belly flop accompanied by a loud slapping sound. The serpent coiled through the water, ignoring Vasil entirely and heading for the massive bubble instead.
So the serpent wasn’t Luna’s. That was a bad thing. He would have to find a way to get rid of the massive beast and god knew he had no idea how he’d manage something like that.
Luckily for him, a different god answered his silent prayer.
The water darkened once more and Vasil gave a start in surprise toward the figure he felt this time. This one surfaced more gently, raising its hands and arms out first before bringing up its torso. Vasil’s eyes widened in awe as he watched a massive golem stretch over him, standing so tall, it looked like it was wading in the Atlantic Ocean, submerged only to its midriff. The golem ignored Vasil too, focusing instead on the sea serpent. It reached a hand out and slammed the water violently, forcing the sea serpent’s head under water. The serpent resurfaced shortly and hissed violently before charging straight at the golem, sending large rippled through the waves. Vasil had to make sure to use his power to prevent the waves from swallow him up as he quickly made his way around the fighting, heading for the bubble once more. He had no definitive proof, but he had an idea of where the golem had come from. Regardless of the truth, he’d have to take advantage of the time it bought him.
The waves of the oversea chaos reached the Floridian shoreline where a tall, eccentric figure spectated. They were sheathed in a formal blue outfit with shoes painted gold and silken gloves with sharp claw-like attachments on each finger. They had an extension hanging from their shoulders that was, for all intents and purposes, a cape, and wore a golden plate over their face that connected to an almond shaped helmet.
It must have been sweltering in that outfit in Florida’s daylight, but the wearer seemed unaffected. How they even managed to see through the face plate was uncertain as it bore no features. Regardless, they watched the chaos at sea unfold and let out a breath in frustration when the golem rose to stop the serpent from doing whatever it was intended to do.
“That familiar design…Could he possibly be here…?”
“He is indeed, my friend. And he’s right here if you want to talk to him.”
The masked figure turned slowly and deliberately to face the one who spoke. Before him was a dark skinned priest with midnight colored hair, smiling candidly but sporting sharp and careful eyes.
“Hello to you too, Ten.” Uzumel’s grin widened. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen you in person. What brings you all the way out here?”
“What do you think? My mission. The same one we twelve all shared until you turned traitor!”
“I didn’t betray any of you. I just decided to speak with the people I’ve been told to hunt down before doing my duty—”
“Don’t pretend to be sly, Twelve!” Ten slashed one of his hands angrily through the air in front of him. “You sympathize with these monsters! They are creatures of chaos, born from hedonistic and forgotten gods that seek to tear down our world! They threaten the natural order of the current era!”
“These children did not ask to be possessed by mythical gods. Erasing them one-sidedly because of that isn’t right. As individuals—”
“As individuals, they threaten to harm everyone around them! They are walking destructive forces of nature! Or are you blind to that, too? Look to the sea, Twelve! Look and tell me you do not see a monster that will destroy this entire city, along with its inhabitants, if they’re not stopped!”
Twelve pointed one of his fingers in the direction of the rising city of Atlantis, but Uzumel didn’t even bother looking. He took a deep breath before speaking slowly.
“I see a tortured girl who needs guidance. As a priest, I believe she should be given the chance. If she refuses to listen to reason, then I will be forced to stop her before her mistakes cost lives. But until then, I will give her the same chance I would give any normal human being.”
“You really think they are human. You really think they are like the billions of people who walk this earth.”
“Even after all these years, you’re still naïve, Twelve.”
Ten reached his hand into his cape and pulled a wood staff from it as if by magic. With a flick of his wrist, he directed the tip at Uzumel and set a volatile current of black particles in his direction.
“I’m a bit busy here, so do you mind waiting over there for a little bit?”
Luna Taubes pointed to nowhere in particular, indicating a random spot in the empty landscape that was the modern Atlantis. Vasil Kumonov, the person she was speaking to, didn’t answer or show any indication of hearing her. He just looked straight at her with those harsh, unfathomable eyes. What was he thinking right now? She couldn’t tell. She couldn’t tell back when they first met, either. It wasn’t just that he was a quiet person—even his body language failed to tell her anything. Even though she wasn’t an expert or anything, she felt that she should at least be able to guess what his general mood was. Was he mad? Sad? Reluctant? Suspicious? There were no clues for her to work with at all.
“Remember when I told you I wanted to form an alliance? Well, that offer’s still up for grabs. We’re comrades, after all. Both demigods who need a safe place to stay. Well, this is it. I just need to figure out how to deal with whatever is attacking us and then we should be totally safe here. Whatever specific needs you have should be easy to fulfill.”
Still silence. Luna shifted uncomfortably.
“What’s wrong? Not sure what to say? Or are you bothered by how there isn’t much here? Sure, it could use some redecorating, but it’s better if we customize it ourselves. It’s a blank slate now, but when more and more demigods come to this utopia, it will really take on a life of its own. We’ll be independent. Free. We won’t be harassed by people who want to hunt us down just because we’re ‘different’. The people living it up in the ‘Land of the Free’ won’t be able to touch us here.”
Vasil’s eyes were so sharp, Luna felt like they cut through her words and straight to her soul. She couldn’t take it. Without thinking, she began to get frantic.
“Don’t tell me you’re worried about those people on the shore! They deserve whatever comes to them! All of them! You’ve be discriminated against too, haven’t you? First, it was for talking to ourselves as children just because the ‘normal’ people couldn’t understand what they couldn’t see. Now we’re ‘evil’ for the very same reason! We don’t need those people! We’re better off without them!”
“I like you.”
Luna stumbled over her words when Vasil suddenly cut in sharply. She stared at him in shock, but he didn’t look the least bit abashed.
“You may be a demigod, but you’re still human. I’ve met a number of a demigods before, and they all have one thing in common—they want to revive their god, to whatever degree of dedication. But you just want to live normally. I was originally going to ask if you would have preferred it if you were born normal, without a god possessing you. But I don’t need to anymore. It’s obvious.”
A rare smile appeared on his face.
“Of course you would. You’re just like me. A victim who’s trying to make do with the unlucky lot he drew at birth.”
“I don’t wish I was like them! I’m different! I’m better!”
“You’ve gone through all this trouble because you want to be treated fairly, just like them.”
“I went through all of this because I’m too good to be treated like them! I’m a demigod! They’re just human!”
“But you’re going about it wrong. All wrong. This idea will never work and you’ll only hurt yourself and everyone around you at this rate—my sister included. So for all of our sakes, I’m going to have to stop before things get out of hand.”
“You think I’d just stop, just because you asked?!”
“Of course not. This is too important to you. That’s why I’m not asking.”