Almost instantly I arrived at the great halls of government. I was spotted by a dark grey lit agent carrying a thin tablet of light. He greeted and escorted me down a long hallway resplendent with wall length silver drapery displaying the symbol of Terra Aurora, an ignition ball of fire with golden flames. The flames were the same color and brightness or ‘light signature’ as my unique lit – the so-called ‘royal hue’. The agent ushered me into an office three times the size of a standard living space.
As I walked into the decadent oversized room, a man in his seventies emerged from behind a large glass table at the back near the balcony. I squinted and recognized him immediately. I sighed.
He was short, with an ashen grey lit, a square face and above his turned-up nose, he had small eyes framed by neatly trimmed black dyed eyebrows. He wore a pinstriped suit, a flamboyantly patterned scarf draped over his shoulders and his cufflinks were embedded with luminescent crimson marbles.
“The Golden Professor Vizan. It’s an honor to finally meet you. I’m sorry it has to be under these circumstances,” said the President of Terra Aurora in a voice that dripped like syrup.
He slicked back his shock of grey hair.
“We weren’t supposed to meet formally until the foretold ‘event,’ and I wasn’t even certain I’d be President at that time,” he said as he reached out to shake my hand.
“Your entire election platform was based on extinction of the Red Endlai during the Great War. You know my role. You always planned on meeting me,” I said, ignoring his hand.
A forced smile creased the corners of his cheeks with fine lines.
“I need to take you to the magical technologies building. Our researchers and key players from the commercial sector are gathered there. We need to discuss this morning’s incident.”
I heard the gentle scrape of glass. He was rolling marbles in his pocket, a habit he’d apparently picked up as a trick for managing stage fright.
“We’re all gravely concerned at this new breach of security as I’m certain you are as well,” he said.
“Yes, most disturbing,” I answered neutrally.
I’d no interest in his political game of exchanging obvious facts.
He started walking towards a large table where a 3D holographic representation of the Sky Cliffs cylinder was displayed. As he approached, the structure split open and the 4 quadrants splayed out like the wedges of an orange. The 3D model included specific real resolution real-time weather patterns of garden and farming levels as well as live imagery of people. The entire population of Terra Aurora was represented anonymously, each with their own uniquely colored bright dot: that made the model glitter. In the center was a cross-section that zoomed in on the jungle area where the Orange Jenta had been found, the black Anglor pond.
“The central security office is similarly concerned. This morning’s breach was simply terrifying. It will cause enormous instability throughout Terra Aurora,” he said.
“Yes,” I replied.
“I must speak to the people to give them reassurance.”
“If you say so.”
I wasn’t about to help him further the conversation. He became confused, nervous, and then got over himself. He stood tall and smoothed the sleeves on his pinstriped suit.
“Golden Professor, your insight into hunting and battlefield experience, along with your heroic rescue today…”
I interrupted: no need to flatter me.
“Heroic? That’s a bit grandiose. I was hardly a hero.”
“You did rescue the boy.”
“He was found by an investigator.”
“I thought that…”
“The Red Endlai had vanished before I arrived at the eastern Lansi junction. The Orange Jenta was injured, he’s in hospital.”
I started pacing.
“Nevertheless, your pursuit, the alerting of emergency services, and immediate actions surrounding the subversion and protection of the students under your care no doubt prevented loss of life. Your Royal Highness, the battle is just…”
My blood was boiling. ‘I don’t know why this politician needs to speak with me when one of my students is in hospital!’ I fumed to myself.
“Mr. Ashen Grey President. I’m not a Royal Highness, not yet. And those were simply my duties as Hunt supervisor, I was just doing my job. You can’t turn this accident into some ridiculous story of heroic rescue by a future Monarch, no matter how politically expedient it might be,” I said with as much restraint as I could muster.
He pursed his lips, lowered his eyebrows, and twisted his crimson marble cufflinks.
“Why the hell was that Red Endlai not identified on the magical detection net? Who’s responsible for that? I followed procedure to the letter. You of all people should appreciate that!”
“I of all people?” His lit was starting to shift to a colder hue, but anger was getting the better of me. I went on: “Your views on the prophecy are devout. You believe in the literal, to the letter interpretation of the document. It’s why you were elected. You played on the ignorance of our lit people.”
My glow pulsed briefly between gold and dark grey in anger. He looked away and then continued on as if I’d stayed silent: “You were born on the day the moon and sun blended. The magical and technically detailed prophecy bestowed on a new ‘Golden’ that he’d become the new Golden King of Terra Aurora after he’d defeated the Red Endlai in a Great War.”
“It said ‘Monarch,’ it never said ‘King’,” I sighed. “And you interpret the word ‘defeated’ to mean total extinction of the Red Endlai. That the new ‘Golden’ must commit genocide. That I must somehow commit genocide.”
He held up an obnoxious ashen grey lit finger.
“Your light signature is the precise golden lit that’s specified in the ancient documents. It was verified by the government.”
“You think I don’t know that!?”
“Golden Vizan, right now, the reality is that the Red Endlai have evaded our magical technologies, and your actions saved that Orange lumina,” he said, deepening his voice.
“Lumina” was the Terra Auroran word for child. (Lumino: boy; Luminess: girl.) I inhaled and spoke slowly and firmly through gritted teeth.
“Any faculty member would have done exactly the same.”
A bead of sweat caught in the pinch above his left eyebrow. He then leaned in towards me and whispered.
“For the last few weeks, we’ve been tracking radicalized factions on the 290 to 295 levels. We believe they may be helping the Red Endlai.”
“What!?” I shouted as my glow flashed bright gold, causing gasps and mumbles from grey lit aides milling around at the front of the President’s office.
“Please calm down.”
“Null! You knew of unusual Red Endlai activity for weeks and still left the jungle open! Are you insane? You let me take my students into an unsafe stalk!”
He reached out to try and put a hand on my shoulder.
“Back off,” I said at normal volume.
“You know they’re luminas, just 17 or 18. The Orange Jenta was abducted, he could have been killed!” I said.
“I’m sorry you’re angry.”
“Sorry, I’m angry? Are you kidding me?”
“Golden Calderon,” he said paternally.
“This is negligence.”
“Now you listen to me, I’m probably the only person in Terra Aurora who couldn’t care less that you’re President. So, either get to your point or I’m leaving.”
I was being overly aggressive, maybe even reckless…it certainly wasn’t how I’d behave with a colleague from the university – but I forgave myself for it, given the circumstances. And besides, it worked…His lit dimmed slightly for a moment and then he got more focused: “Fine. Intelligence believes their goal, these factions, is to harness the energy of the Red Endlai for commercial gain. But they’ve not proven this yet.”
“Assumptions with no evidence, no surprise there.”
“We strongly believe they were radicalized by a Red Endlai who’s taken the form of a missing botanist.”
I tapped a gold lit finger on the table as I began to recall the abduction of the botanist by connecting to the telepathy net.
“Yes, the Pale Green Talis. What about him? What do you mean, ‘took his form’?”
“He wasn’t killed as was reported. He was abducted and then the Red Endlai took his form…ah…one transformed to look like him.”
“And you have evidence of this?”
“Yes, there are visual records and witnesses.”
“So, they can walk freely in the Sky Cliffs?”
“It would seem so.”
It was the worst-case scenario. I scoffed: “Great. So, they’re wandering around the Sky Cliffs in Terra Auroran form right now?”
“Perhaps, however, they’ve not yet attacked us on a plateau if they have. The legend tells of the event that will require the activation of the Terra Auroran Army of Light for the first time in 2,000 years and that this would be a Great War led by our new Golden King…”
“Monarch! Not King. Mr. Ashen Grey President, I know all this! For the second time, what’s your point!?”
There was a short silence as he composed himself before he spoke.
“The Great War has started.”
My glow darkened.
“You can’t be serious,” I said as I put my hands to my head.
This was what I had dreaded since I was a small lumina and told of the prophecy and my role.
I felt faint and lost my balance. He moved closer and tried to steady me, but I pushed his arm aside.
“Don’t,” I said, regaining my footing. I couldn’t believe it. Not so soon. Not without warning signs.
He seemed to be about to speak but tapped his temple as he appeared to receive a telepathic message.
“Come, we must go, officials are waiting for us in the magical technologies department.”