The group of twenty men and women sit around a large table, squeezed tightly together, in a room barely large enough to accommodate them. The ceiling is low, like all rooms in this underground world, where space is limited. The air has quickly become warm and stifling.
Atros stands in front of the assembled group, his lean figure composed to appear relaxed, his fingers loosely interlaced. He has handpicked these twenty people, the most powerful of their society, the elite. He must make them his allies. Though he has only reached the midpoint of his life, and most of them are older, he is not intimidated. He must convince them his plan is the only way for them to keep the power and prestige they have. This should not be difficult. People with power never want to lose it. They always want more. That is the way of greed and ego. Atros knows this well. He is a man who knows how to persuade, to dominate, and to control those around him.
In his commanding voice, Atros says, “I have called you all here for one reason, our future. My exploratory team of scientists and engineers on the surface has made great strides in a short time. Though the atmosphere above is still hostile, they have erected a dome under which they have safely lived for weeks. It is my dream, my vision, that we will build a great city under a dome. I have engineers working on plans to expand the dome to accommodate the city we will build. They assure me it is possible.”
An older, distinguished man at the table interrupts, “So your twin brother, Andru, was right. We can live above the ground.”
Atros locks his keen eyes on the man and replies, “My brother’s idea of living aboveground was limited. He thought only of breaking through to the surface, not what to do after. He would have pushed for freedom over control. He would have stood in the way of progress. That is not the path to greatness. He was an obstacle, and I did what was necessary to ensure that the future would move forward in the right way.”
The man continues, “But he was right. Maybe he didn’t have to die in order for your vision to be fulfilled. It was most unpleasant. Brother killing brother.”
Atros raises his hand to stop him and looks around the room at the group menacingly. “In Andru’s vision of the future, everyone would live aboveground. We all agreed Andru’s altruistic ideas were unrealistic and would undermine the structure we have worked so hard to build. We decided he had to be stopped. You all knew what that meant. I did what had to be done. Everyone in this room was complicit.” He pauses, his eyes scanning the faces around the table. “With the resources held by those in this room, we can design and build a city worthy of us. In time, more can move aboveground, but it must be slow and controlled. Resources will still be limited. As we expand the dome and build the city, we will bring up those who work for us and support our way of life.”
A woman, very pale, with almost translucent blue eyes from a lifetime without sun, asks, “How long will we have to live under this dome? I’m sure I do not speak just for myself when I say that although this dome sounds better than being trapped underground, to have to live under anything is not appealing. Will the outside world ever be safe?”
Atros passionately explains, “Madam, the dome will give us control. It will be the key, so we are never again at the mercy of the Earth and its whims. I envision a world where anything is possible for generations to come. We will be the creators of the food, air, and energy. Under the dome there is potential for estates and grand structures of beauty like our
ancestors before us had. With our guidance, the mistakes of our forefathers will never be repeated.”
A man similar in age to Atros corrects him, “It was not just the Earth that drove mankind underground after the Great Catastrophe. The mistakes of man were many.”
Atros replies, “That is why I have chosen you to be the founding members of the new High Council. So weak, single-minded men and women will never again be able to destroy what we will create. There will be a system and structure, and our families will be the royal bloodlines of our new city, making sure generation after generation prospers under the dome. It is time to build up. My brother broke the surface, but I will bend it to my will, and anyone who stands in my way will meet the same fate he did. I will not allow anyone to stop the birth of this new world, which will be called Indra.”
TIME OF THE TWINS by Kendall Jenner, Kylie Jenner, and Elizabeth Killmond-Roman and Katherine Killmond, Regan Arts. 2016