CHAPTER ELEVEN (draft)

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

Nefir utters a clean low note, steady and in a perfect pitch, and the cup-shaped object floats before him like a drifting golden cloud. Nefir walks to the front of the class and stands at the desk. He makes another tone, this time brief and falling, and the cup descends gently and rests on the surface of the desk.

We are all staring at him with open-mouthed attention.

“This is a small replica model of a much larger object that can be found on display in Poseidon, the capital city of Imperial Atlantida. The original stands, more than two hundred meters tall, and marks the first landing site of the oldest colony on the surface of the planet Atlantis.” Nefir looks at each one of us slowly, and his power voice begins to raise the hairs on our skin. “What is it? It is the Atlantis Grail. A symbol of everything our society stands for. Both ancient tradition and new modern innovation. It embodies the spirit of the New World which we inhabit.”

Nefir pauses, then reaches out to draw the tip of one finger against the golden rim of the object. The cup shape itself is wide and somewhat flattened, and appears to be made of smooth solid gold without any distinguishable markings. At Nefir’s touch, the metal makes a pleasant ringing tone, like a small bell.

“Can you hear it? The Grail sings. Even this little one, the poor replica I just rendered for you on a 3D printer up in the main offices of the Arena Commons Building, fifteen minutes ago. Even this one has the echo of the power that is contained in the original.”

We listen closely. It’s true, the echo of the bell tone caused by his touch seems to be still hanging in the air.

Okay, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Honestly, I have no idea what makes me do these crazy things that involve me suddenly flapping my mouth open and talking in class—but I take a big breath and raise my hand.

Nefir’s general gaze focuses on me. “Yes?”

“Is that material real gold? I mean, this replica, and the original? And if not gold, then what is it? What makes it conduct sound—or react to sound, or—” My questions fade into mutters.

Next to me Laronda is looking at me with her eyes rolling.

“You ask interesting questions. But they are better suited for your Atlantis Tech class,” he says. “However, I will answer the first question because it is relevant. Yes, this is the element gold. And yes, so is the original Grail in Poseidon, great ancient city. . . . You might’ve heard rumors that there is so much naturally occurring gold metal on Atlantis that we consider it a base metal—which may seem unusual to you since gold is still so rare and prized on Earth. Well, it is true, gold is overabundant and we do not value it as much as our ancestors valued gold when we still lived on Earth. However we have many uses for it, and it is a profound part of our culture.”

“Oh yeah? Then this homey’s coming to Atlantis!” a boy says in the back row. A few snickers are heard.

 “First, you must prove yourself. You must Qualify.” Nefir looks at the boy with a slow blooming smile.

“You bet!” the kid says with a crooked grin.

“What is your name, Candidate?”

“Dionte Jones, mister teacher. Or you can call me Dion-Z, as in, Zee one and only Diontay, get my parlay?”

More hushed snickers roll through the room.

But the Atlantean is unperturbed. “Qualify, and I will call you what you wish.”

And then Nefir looks away and calmly continues his lecture. I watch him, hoping he will reach for one of the ancient books, but no such luck.

Atlantida,” Nefir speaks the word so that it sounds truly alien. “Atlantida is the word in our core language that means Atlantis. It is the original name of the continent and of our colony planet, and also the first nation that was formed. Your Greeks had remembered the remnants of our language in bits and pieces, and apparently passed it onward into the ages. And now, ancient words and fragments are all that you have to remember us by, the once-great civilization that was Atlantis.”

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