URBIS NATALIS, the working title

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December 8, 2012 by saharaj

So, last year for science my class pretty much focused on the Texas drought, which was depressing enough. This year we are focusing on global warming, which is similarly depressing, only this time we’re talking about the entire world dying! Well, changing. Anyway, this story was the build up of talking about that, and reading a National Geographic that talked about plans to go to the moon. 

 

We were lied to.

We were told we were the lucky ones.

But they were wrong.

We weren’t the lucky ones.

Not even close.

But we were the ones that discovered the truth.

So read on.

And then please get to work.

The world’s not going to save itself, you know.

 

~Nem

 

 

  

PART ONE: EARTH

 

 

 

Chapter One

Nem smiled, feeling the cool ocean breeze in her face as the door opened in front of her. She sighed a breath of relief at the freedom and quickly made her way across the wobbly bridge. Unlike her mother, preferring to stay in the safety of the interior of Home Harbor, Nem loved to explore less stable, less developed places of the most popular redesigned ocean rig. Reaching the end of the connecting bridge, Nem dexterously climbed up the structure beams of the tower until she was on the roof of it.  Then she lay back, staring up at the expanse of sky above her.

            She knew the sky was like the ocean; she was sure of it. It stretched out above her like the ocean did beneath her. The stars that shined in the light of the moon were like the myriad of rigs and resorts that stretched across the ocean. And there were people. She was sure there had to be people there, too.

            “Miss Flumen?” Nem heard someone calling her and took a deep breath, hoping they’d go away. There was the creaking of someone with less skill crossing the connecting bridge.  Then light was shining her eyes.

            She shut them instinctively. “What the -” Nem swallowed her words as she gazed into the helmeted face of an officer. She bit her lip, “Sorry. I’ll be going back to my circle now.”  

            The man shook his head and then took his helmet off. The action surprised Nem. Officers never took their helmet off – it was what made them so sinister. The man was her parents’ age, with short brown hair that was graying and brown eyes. “Are you Miss Flumen?”

            Nem nodded slowly.

            “You’ll be coming with me, please.” Nem didn’t move, eyeing him. She couldn’t remember doing anything particularly scandalous today. “Don’t worry. You’re parents will be there to meet you.”

            “By the seven seas,” Nem cursed.

This must be really bad.

 

            Eventually Kai grew bored of watching the waters of the ocean beneath the helicopter they flew in, and he turned in his seat from the window to examining the girl. He didn’t know her name, but she hadn’t said a word, and hadn’t stopped writing in her journal. When she had arrived at the hotel three days ago she’d been writing in the journal, every time they ate meals she was writing in her journal, and when she had arrived at the landing site this morning she had been writing in her journal.

            Kai would have given anything to see what was in her journal. It was a red, faux leather journal with silver edged pages. There was a red piece of ribbon that she always placed in the page she was writing in on the occasional times she stopped. Kai had tried to catch a glimpse of the inside but only knew the pages were lined and that she had the smallest handwriting he’d ever seen. The girl wrote with a black pen.

            She wore a light blue long sleeved shirt with a V-neck, black yoga pants, and tennis shoes. Her shirt matched her pale blue eyes. Her hair was a light brown, which Kai knew was uncommon, but also understood ran in her family. The girl glanced up from the pages and met his gaze. She blushed and began writing furiously. There were freckles all over her face, which was much more common than her brown hair.

            “If you look over to your right you can see Home Harbor,” the words blasted into Kai’s ears through the headphones he wore. Kai noticed the girl jump. He turned eagerly and pressed his face and hands to the window, staring at Home Harbor in awe. “Nearly everyone has heard of Home Harbor,” the flight attendant continued. “But few have seen it, save those who live on it. Before reconstructed to serve home to the millions that live on Home Harbor, it was RIO2, an oil rig created in memory of the largest oil rig in the world – off of Rio de Janeiro – that sunk in 2001. It was created off the United States of America, but we are fairly certain has drifted with the ocean currents.”

            Home Harbor was at least the size of several large cruise ships, with high signal towers and a wall of circle apartments. There was a maze of connecting bridges that visibly swayed in the wind. There was also a large glass dome on one side. Kai immediately located the large, neon green landing pad he knew they’d soon land on. Beneath the ocean’s surface Kai could see it continued to spiral down into the depths of the sea. He couldn’t wait for the chance to explore it all. He grinned and forced himself to turn back around in his seat. To his surprise he found the girl still sitting in her seat, writing as if she hadn’t moved at all.

            “Aren’t you going to look?” He asked, frowning. She didn’t appear to have heard him, which was entirely possible with the sound of the helicopter. Kai glanced at the cockpit and then dared to get out of his seat. He walked over and sat next to her. She looked up at him and shut her journal. “Aren’t you going to look?” He tried again.

            She shook her head.

            “It’s marvelous,” Kai insisted.

            The girl still refused the offer.

            “Suit yourself,” Kai shrugged, moving back to his seat across from the girl.

            The pilot’s voice buzzed in Kai’s ears. “If you will please buckle yourself in we’ll be landing now. Lisha is telling me to spare you with the information of the winds and altitude, but I’d like to let you know that today at Home Harbor there’s a mild temperature of 117 degrees Fahrenheit.”

            In Kai’s mind, it took an eternity for their helicopter to slowly get closer to Home Harbor and finally land on the landing pad. His face was pressed to the glass the entire time. Finally the helicopter stopped altogether. Kai was positive he could still hear the humming of the helicopter in his ears. He took off the headphones and eagerly unbuckled himself. The door slid open and he jumped out onto the concrete, his legs promptly giving out from under him. Kai felt himself collapse to the floor. Cheeks burning he pushed himself up to see the girl jump nimbly out and then stand there, clutching her notebook, staring at everything.

            “Welcome!” A man was saying and Kai turned to see a man in his fifties walk over. His grey hair was cut in a buzz and he had warm brown eyes. The man wore an officer’s outfit; the black suit with a black vest. All that was missing was the helmet. “Mr. Reatha, Miss Amnis,” he greeted the children. “If you’ll please step back, your parents’ helicopter will be landing now.”

            Kai scrambled to his feet and took several large steps back. Standing next to the man, Kai felt a deep sense of purpose. He hadn’t been told what exactly he was needed for, but he couldn’t wait. The girl took smaller steps but ended up sitting next to him, back at work, writing. Kai looked down at her, wondering how the both of them were needed. This girl was nothing.

            Kai stumbled again as he was hit with a lash of wind from his parent’s helicopter’s descent to landing. He felt the man reach out and steady him with a powerful hand. When the wind and noise died down Kai took several enthusiastic steps forward.

            From behind him Kai heard the officer laugh. “Mr. Reatha, please stay back. It won’t do to have you harmed. You’re such a lucky teenager, to have this opportunity,” he beamed.

            And Kai wanted to believe him. But it was just then that he began to doubt why he’d been chosen out of the millions of other teenagers. Why had the girl been chosen?

            His parents stepped out of the helicopter. Kai’s mother, a thin woman who barely stepped outside, leaned on her husband, squinting against the bright light of the sun. His father, by contrast, was a fisherman, with bleached hair and sun burnt skin. He was much stronger and beamed at his son.

            “Well, Kai, how did flying fare you? I must say I prefer my boat.”

            Kai laughed. “It was amazing. Can you believe Home Harbor?”

            “I can’t wait to get inside it,” Mrs. Reatha commented. “Amias,” she turned to her husband, “I can’t understand how you bear this heat.”

            Mr. Reatha just shrugged.

            The girl’s father stepped out. He was tall and thin, with an emaciated figure and sad blue eyes. Neither father nor daughter seemed to acknowledge each other. The five of them stood in front of the officer – the girl had finally stopped writing – while their luggage was unloaded from the helicopter. 

            “How very nice to meet all of you. I am Officer Dian, and I will be helping everything, along with a few other people.”

            “What exactly are we doing here?” Mr. Reatha asked.

            Officer Dian’s smile faltered slightly. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you that here. But your children are extremely lucky. If you’ll follow me, I will show you to the circles you’ll be spending your nights in here.”

            “Goodness. Are we going somewhere else after this?” Mrs. Reatha frowned.

            “Yes, Ma’am. Our final destination before you may return to your home will be Greenstar.”

            “Greenstar!”  Mrs. Reatha exclaimed. “Amias, we’re going to Greenstar!”

            “Will this be paid for?” Mr. Reatha asked accusingly.

            “Of course,” Officer Dian waved the concern away. “Now please, let me show you to your rooms. We’ll let you get comfortable and then we’ll be heading to dinner together, where I assure you I can explain everything.”

            Kai grinned. He glanced over at the girl. In her journal he thought he caught one word.

            Everything?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two

Kai turned from the closing door to stare at his new circle. It was directly under the surface of the water, and one wall was entirely glass, allowing him to watch the large fish that swam by. The room was furnished meagerly; there was a lavish bed roll, with an embroidered blue comforter, and a desk with a laptop resting on it. Other than this, the room was bare. His clothes had already been hung in the closet as well as some new clothes, and his other suitcase sat at the edge of his bed. The bathroom was the typical blue theme, with a fish tank. Kai took a mint from the bowl on the desk and plopped it into his mouth, savoring the mint flavor.

            He couldn’t think of anything do to, and when Officer Dian rapped on his door he was seated at the glass wall, watching the fish. Kai leapt up and went to open the door.

            “Is everything to your liking?” Officer Dian asked.

            Kai nodded rapidly. “It’s brilliant!”

            The officer smiled. “We will be meeting in the private dining room in an hour. I suggest you get dressed. We’ve supplied an outfit in your closet, I believe. At eight you can make your way up to the dining floor with your family. A waiter should then be able to direct you to our room.”

            “Thank you,” Kai grinned.

            He bid Officer Dian farewell and shut the door, walking over to his dresser. He found a suit, which was what he was positive the officer meant. Kai took a quick shower and put it on. He stood in front of the mirror, looking at his exposed neck.

            “It’ll be alright,” he promised himself. “I can always say they’re scars.”

            Kai ran a hand through his blonde hair and went to join his parents. They found themselves in the opening of a large room, where lots of tables were lined up and people were already busy eating, seemingly unfazed. A waitress met them at the door as soon as the girl and her father showed up. They were led to one of the many private dining rooms, where a table for over thirty people was set for nine. Officer Dian was already seated at the head seat. There were also two adults that were in the two closest seats to him on his left side. One was a man, wearing a suit and with light brown hair and eyes. His skin was lighter than most. The woman had darker skin, and the typical blonde hair, but brown eyes. She reminded Kai of his mother, but he somehow knew this woman was less delicate than she looked.

            Kai was directed to the seat on the officer’s seat that was one away from him. His parent’s took the seats next to the other adults. The girl took the furthest seat, next to Kai. Her father took the only empty seat on the other side.

            “I would like to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Flumen. They are -”

            Officer Dian was interrupted as the door to their private dining room opened. Kai noticed the officer’s smile falter slightly as he saw who it was, but the smile was back quickly. Kai turned to look.

            The girl, too, looked up from her journal, but then went back to writing furiously.

            It’s another girl, she wrote. She is tall and slim, and she looks strong. It is as if she were a model. The way she walks too, as if she knows she can do whatever she wants. She has hair that has been bleached blonde, but it is possible this isn’t her natural color, which would mean she spends time outside. Her tanned skin would point to this, too, but she doesn’t have freckles. Not like me. Her hair is in a high ponytail, and she has a ridiculous amount of hair ties keeping it up. Her hair wisps around her face, too, like she has been active. She wears short, white shorts that look like a designer brand, but I wouldn’t know, having never been to Home Harbor. She has a tight fitting, purple tank top. And she isn’t wearing shoes, which quite honestly I just find amusing. I get the impression people can tell her what they want, but she’ll tell them how she feel’s and does what she wants. I wish I had that attitude.

            There. She is smiling now, having just announced her name is Nem and slamming the large door behind her, has come to sit in the empty spot between Officer Dian and the boy, Kai. How does she know exactly where to sit?

            Kai has just told her his name, and he sounds shocked. I guess he didn’t expect her, either.  Now she is leaning over the table, looking at me with kind interest. I’m surprised she noticed me. Most people don’t. Most people don’t think I notice anything. Just because I’m quiet, they think, I’m stupid.   “Who are you?” She asks me bluntly. But it isn’t unkindly. I’m ashamed, the quiet, insecure way I reply that my name is Laiklyn.  “Cool,” she grins, and then turns to Officer Dian. “They’re the other two?” She asks him.

            I wonder what this mean. It is certainly clear that she knows more about what is going on than I. The confused look on Kai’s face makes me think he is just as lost as I. But Officer Dian has just replied that yes, we are the other two.  Nem’s response is strange. Her face lights up, and she grins at us.

            “Brilliant!” Even I pause, staring at her. “Right, sorry,” she apologizes, not looking incredibly sorry at all. “You were in the middle of a speech, Officer, weren’t you? I’ll let you get back to that.”

            Officer Dian is clearing his throat. Apparently even he, who clearly already knows Nem, can be shocked by her strong attitude. “As I was saying,” he continues eventually, “These are Miss Flumen’s parents. I would really like to introduce you to Home Harbor, now, but the dishes are about to come out, and you are sure to be starving. Home Harbor boasts…”

            My goodness. Does he really believe we are this interested in the food? He is wrong, anyway, because I’m not starving. Kai seems to be starving, though, and slumped in her seat, Nem is taking a few disinterested bites. Obviously she lives here. Officer Dian is STILL talking. Perhaps I’ll try some of the food.

            Oh! How has it taken me this long to realize what is different about Nem? It’s her eyes. They are slightly too big, and slightly too round. Her irises are larger than others, but in comparison her pupils are smaller. And she never blinks. How is it, that throughout the entire the Officer Dian has been droning on about the opportunities of this redesigned ocean rig, Nem has never once blinked? There are something familiar about her eyes, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Still, they aren’t so different that people notice it right away. I take pride in paying great attention to detail, and even I almost didn’t notice. I suppose it is something about the way she acts, too, that leaves to room for question. I don’t think anyone has noticed. They all seem interested in what Officer Dian has to say.  

             Why can’t he talk about why he has brought the three of us here? What are we expected to do? Why won’t he tell us? It is almost as if . . .

            Forgive me. Nem just said . . . well, it had me quite startled that I stopped writing for a moment. She just interrupted Officer Dian, and he looked at her, eyebrows raised for her to continue, so she said, “Won’t you just get on with it? Tell Laiklyn why we’re here. She is dying to know.”

            The truth is, I am  dying to know. But how does she know that?

            Her mother has just tried to call her something other than Nem, and she grew quite defensive, but now she has turned back to Officer Dian. “Please,” she asks him.

            “It is so rare for you to say please, Nem, but no,” Officer Dian disappoints us all. “Tomorrow you are to be given a day to rest, and then on Monday, when Home Harbor is less active because of school and work, I will inform you on more of the specifics. Training for you three, should you accept, begins next week when we can be transferred to Greenstar.”  

            Everyone seems to brighten at the prospect of going to Greenstar, but Nem has slumped in her seat. What does she know about this that we don’t?

 

Kai woke to find a plate of pancakes sitting on his desk. 

 

S.

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