Chapter Two: The Meeting

November 2nd, 2004 by Mabel
View blog reactions

35th Day of the year 3031 (4th February, 3031)

The weekly meeting with the Elders of the Council was never an easy affair. Aglaia had looked at herself twice in the mirror, changed her outfit thrice and felt queasy several times during breakfast. One would think that after being Chief for a year and going through nearly fifty plus meetings, she would be immune to the proud, cold and nearly sterile demeanours of the Elders. Pausing for a moment to sip her cup of jasmine tea, Aglaia took a deep breath and made a rather failed attempt to calm her queasy mood. The Elders were not a very bad bunch of old fogies. They were, in actual, fact rather nice people – that is after getting to know them. Nevertheless it must be said that The Elders of the Council were perhaps the most sterile bunch of Immortals that ever lived.

It was a strange morning; unusually cloudy for this time of the year on Caelestis. On any other normal day, one could see a flock of bluebirds and parakeets flying about in the sky dome outside. Weather on Caelestis was monitored and at times, controlled whenever conditions required external influence. The downside of living on the planet was the adaptation to high velocity winds and yellow rain – water droplets laced with harmless cosmic dust. To cope with the extremes, the administrative regime built what was known as a sky dome, to protect the city from the weather. The regime had also been successful in controlling the weather extremes through environment and scientific research. The city had no seen strong winds or yellow rain for nearly ten years now.

It would seem today was an exception. Not only was it cloudy, but there was a too-strong breeze outside as well. Suddenly, droplets of rain began to fall from the sky. Yellow rain. Aglaia took in a sharp breath. Rational or not, this was an ominous sign. The hairs on the back of her neck began to prickle.

The last time the yellow rains came, I was fifteen and a student of the Academy. Unlike a lot of my other female counterparts who enjoyed being part of the institution, I hated it. I hated what it represented, and more importantly, I hated what I had become – this stuffy little creature with the most awful of hairstyles and the most awful of faces.

I never seemed to understand why the other girls had flawless complexions while I was plagued with pimples; why they had the most shiny, long flowing locks and me? Stringy limp hair. Funny, you would think that after centuries of scientific advancement, we would be able to get rid of pimples and bad hair-days. Evidently not.

Today, I look in the mirror and I sometimes laugh at the wonder of it all. How the nearly bookish nerdy me become suddenly blessed with a sophisticated hairdo and a flawless complexion. It did not seem like quite a logical nor rational progression to beauty. But then again, that is how life is – life is never fully logical or rational. Most of the time, things happen not for a reason but because it just does.

But yes, back to when I was fifteen. Never mind that I hated all those things, never mind that underneath I was still suffering the trauma of realizing that I was perhaps unwanted and unloved by my parents, never mind the fact that I basically hated myself to pieces.

Those things were small, almost nonexistent compared to him.

Giles, from the House of Priam.

Now Immortals do not fall in love. They appreciate beauty, at least from a scientific Golden Ratio point of view but they do not develop crushes or fall madly in love with another Immortal. It was forbidden, but it did not stop me from going crazy over Giles for that one year in my life.

Our first meeting was during one of the many yellow rain storms that washed over the Caelestis lands. I was already running late for Behavioural Psychology and carrying a huge stack of books did not exactly help to increase my running capabilities. Then I had wished that I had bionic legs – a fashion fad with the Mortals.

I remembered staring up at the sky dome occasionally to watch the big fat yellow droplets splashing down and had wondered then what it would have been like to be outside instead of in that horrible place for boring people.

I remembered feeling utterly embarrassed after realizing that I had crashed headlong into someone; not only that I had crashed into the most popular guy at the Academy and managed to shower him with a dozen papers and books.

It was awkward.

He had mumbled an apology, assisted me with my books as well as papers and hurried along his way, leaving me to look on mutely. I was never the same again or at least for the next few weeks.

For the first few days, I spent the better part of the days in class just smiling to myself or doodling, drawing little heart shapes around my note-pod – this nifty little gadget that all students at the Academy get to replace the old-fashioned style paper and pen that we once used centuries ago – and writing his name, as well as mine on it. dreamt about Giles, about holding his hand, about doing all the mushy stuff we analyzed in Human Emotions class with him and just him alone.

As time went on, Giles seemed to be the only thing that kept me company. Of course I was concentrating in class, doing my usual lab work and things like that but I had always pretended that he was there with me. The other girls would look at me strangely sometimes, especially when I burst out into fits of chuckles for no apparent reason.

After several months of dreaming, fantasizing and develop a larger than life crush on Giles, I finally mustered up the courage to speak to him.

It ended with me being presented to the Council for a disciplinary hearing.

The constant beeping of her watch pierced Aglaia’s thoughts. Time to face the crypt keepers. She downed her tea, picked up her portfolios and made her way past the crowd. It was at times like this that she questioned the necessity of this constant buzz of people around her. She was beginning to dislike crowds. The Psy-Lab was never like this. It was more civilized and calmer. She continued on, her heels making a certain tapping sound on the dark smooth marble floors. Up the stairs and down pass the Hanging Garden of Ancient Vines. As her heels tapped on, her eyes scanned the surroundings, her nostrils flared, taking in the sweet smells of flowers and fresh herbs. The smell reminded her of Giles, of the meal he was eating when she had first approached him after those many months of just dreaming of that fateful bump.

I planned to approach Giles while he was having his dinner alone in the Hall. It was a quiet little spot in the Academy where people go to study, have their meals without the presence of a noisy, boisterous teenage crowd and even contemplate on their lives. It would be perfect for a private conversation between two people – at least I would not have the possibility of a crowd of people observing my every move and mistake.

Yes, I was never optimistic in my younger days.

I was already nervous, having tried to come up with a decent hairstyle and a way to conceal those awful pimples but failed miserably instead. Here was I in my stiff uniform of white shirt and black skirt, looking so bookish and boring, trying to come up with the best possible way to introduce myself to him; and there he was, in his chic senior student uniform, slowly chewing on what looked like roast beef and Caesar salad. His soft blond hair, the way his jaw moved as he was eating, the shape of his hands, the fluidity of his movements, he spellbound me.

“Giles?” I croaked. Stupid me. The least I could do was sound sexy and all but no, I had to croak out his name. He looked up quizzically at me, his mouth still busy chewing away.

“Urm…urm…urm” I stammered out only to trail off at the end rather incoherently, I might add. I could have stabbed myself with his fork at that moment in time for all the embarrassment I was putting myself and Giles through. He swallowed and stared at me for what seemed like a long time before finally saying something.

“Yes?” he enquired rather politely. Did I mention that he had the richest sounding voice ever? Not that I have heard many male voices in my life during my younger days but I distinctly remembering how melodious one simple word felt as it floated around in the air, disturbing the silence of the Hall.

I was still standing there rather stoically. My mind was racing. I had no idea what to say. The only thing I could think of were based on things that I analyzed and saw in class. The words, the motions, the thought patterns, they were exploding in my mind. All I could hear were fuzzily stringed-together incoherent bits of declarations of love Mortals sang to one another. On and on they went until I finally exploded.

“I LIKE YOU!”

A moment of silence.

The mood in the Council chambers was sombre, almost a deadly cold. The twelve Elders were seated in a circle, all behind a solid steel table that made the entire room looked more menacing that it really was. The lack of sunlight, the raised platform on which the Council took their place and the dark colours made the place one of the more unfriendly places in the regime. One can only wonder if it was meant to scare, dominate than to guide and support.

Aglaia cleared her throat, mentally muttering a quick prayer to steel her nerves. She took her place on the hover version of a sella curulis or Roman chair, the seat of power as referred to by classical historians. She had often thought of it more as a seat of torture and subordination. Nevertheless, she swallowed and proceeded on, attempting to sound confident and sure of herself.

“Good morning Your Graces. I am here to submit reports on Psy-Lab’s research findings for the week. I trust you have the documents at your disposal and that we are ready to begin discussions on the preliminary findings.” Sometimes I hate the way I sound during these meetings. If I had not known better, I would say that I was just like another crypt keeper. So much for my gift of rationality and logic, ay? To think that after all these months of meetings, I would at least have mustered the art of fake confidence but no, it just sounds so fake. I am willing to bet that they can tell the difference too. They always have been able to. “Firstly, the Psy-Lab team has discovered that several emotional anomalies are not a result of genetic tampering neither are these anomalies founded on a genetic basis. We have cause to believe that nearly all emotionally anomalies-”

“Officer Aglaia, we have read the reports before coming into this meeting. Thank you for your diligent efforts as well as the progress you and your team have made. It has been clear to the Council on many occasions that we have not made the wrong decision to charge you with the leadership of the Psy-Lab,” interrupted General Priam, a stocky white-haired man of significant authority within the authority, a bushy moustache and big fat cheeks that which never fail to turn red whenever provoked. He was a strange man.

“The Council has called you in today not to discuss the lab’s findings but to address another matter of greater importance and significance. We sought you out based on your sterling leadership qualities, gifts, temperament and more importantly, your outlook on the Ancile issue.” Bullshit. That was not what you said when I blurted out that I had a crush on your son nearly ten years ago. You threatened to send me to Ancile on the grounds that I was letting my feelings go out of control. How scientific of you to presume that you were right.

“What?” asked Giles. I could see clearly that he was stunned. No, flabbergasted would be the more appropriate word to use in this context.

“You heard me,” I hurriedly blurted out. I could feel myself turning a shade of flaming red. He placed his fork down gently and in a fashion that I thought was somewhat boorish and pompous – crossing his hands and leaning back into his chair, proceeded to go into deep thought about the matter. Or so I thought.

“You are an Immortal. Feelings are not possible. It is wrong for you to even think of such things.”

“But aren’t we humans as well? Aren’t humans endowed with the ability to feel? Didn’t we learn that feeling was part of being a human? Immortals are humans too. We share the same genetic codes, don’t we? So why should it be wrong?” I explained, the tone of my voice rising with every complete sentence.

It was clear that I had him stumped for a moment there. Him and the few people whom I interrupted with my outburst.

“I must speak to my father about this.” With that, he got up and left, his half-eaten roast beef and salad just lying on the white plate.

I wanted to yell after him. Yell at his cowardly behaviour. Yell at what an embarrassment he was to himself, the Academy…even me! Instead, I stood there, rooted to the ground, staring at his retreating back and rueing the day that I have been conceived.

That night, I received an invitation to see the Elders – for the first time.

“Aglaia, we require your assistance to stem and perhaps even kill a growing problem in Ancile that will threaten to pull apart the regime. We feel that you are our most trustworthy source and our best candidate for this operation,” continued Lady Evania. She was General Priam’s chief advisor and while she seemed cold and condescending like all the other Elders, she was the only one among them with more warmth than a corpse in summer. Lady Evania was also the only one who pleaded for Aglaia’s case ten years ago. It was a sore subject and a matter that never sat well with the Elders or Aglaia.

Taking a deep breath, General Priam continued on, almost military like.

“We have helped you once, gave you a second chance. It is your duty now to assist the Council, assist Regime and the land which you so love.” Bollocks. Speak for yourself, you fat pompous oaf. You just want me because there is no one else around to take this dirty shitty job. I would tell you out loud to shove this assignment up your ass but I am better than that.

“We had expected more from one with your capabilities and gifts, Aglaia. To hear of this monstrosity from the House of Arrius is nothing but shameful. And how dare you involve another Immortal in this stupidity! You are a disgrace to this regime!!!” roared General Priam.

I have a strange feeling when he said ‘another Immortal’, he meant his son in particular. Boy, has anyone ever told him that he needed to lose a few pounds? That double chin sure looks scary.

“But aren’t Immortals humans as well?”

“Yes, my dear, they are but-” answered Lady Evania without hesitation.

“Then if humans are naturally endowed with feelings and emotions, Immortals should be as well. If humans have the right to feel, then Immortals should be able to feel as much as they want to or as freely as they want to.”

“Silence!” ordered General Priam, his big fat cheeks turning red.

“But I was talking to her. It is only logical for me to answer her and for me to come to my conclusion as stated early. Why should I be silent?”

The Council gasped in shock. I rambled on.

“It was only a small crush. Something which I found intriguing and vital for exploration and understanding the human behaviour. Shouldn’t you, General, be pleased to note that someone like me finds your son attractive? Not that I do anymore, but that I did?”

I could see from my place that the General was turning a bright shade of orange mixed with hot pink; that he was puffed with anger and exasperation. In a way, it looked comical and I would have laugh had it not been for the next thing he said.

“I have in right mind to send you to Ancile, Aglaia, for this travesty. Perhaps that would tone down that ill-mannered disposition of yours.”

I said nothing else after that for fear of leaving for a place that I barely knew except in the horror stories that I have heard circulating in class on occasion. Stories of Immortals who turn into cannibals, of Mortals who lobotomize Immortals in hopes of finding a way to live forever, just horror stories. My silence was enough to satisfy General Priam and he smugly turned away to discuss the incident with the rest of the Council.

“The Council has decided to reprimand you for sixty days to civic duty at the Psy-Lab for this misconduct. On a personal note, you ought to thank Lady Evania for convincing me that you are still of some good to the regime because if I had it my way, you would be on the first pod to Ancile. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to get above authority.”

That was my second lesson – never question authority or at least authority that could get you beheaded or exiled.

I never saw Giles again.

In time, the voice in me grew quiet, timid. They became just thoughts, quiet little thoughts. I never questioned anymore, only accepted.

Sometimes I wondered if I was ever right in doing so.

“What is this assignment about?” asked Aglaia, who was beginning to feel restless. “I thought the Council had a separate administrative team responsible for the welfare of the people in Ancile.”

“This is a rather special case, one that must remain confidential,” explained Lady Evania. “You see, we have reason to believe that the people of Ancile are in the midst of a scientific breakthrough; one that has the power to threaten the regime and the structure of the New World Order itself.”

Leafing through the confidential reports, Aglaia frowned a little. Now why the hell would these old fogies be interested in a bunch of scientific research that will help benefit the regime? All scientific research is, to a certain extent, beneficial to the New World Order. “How could it be that a colony such as Ancile threatened the regime? Aren’t all forms of scientific breakthroughs of use to us as stated in the Code?”

General Priam leaned forward, ready with a sharp retort to a comment which he felt was rude, to say the least; only to find himself interrupted by Lady Evania.

“Priam…if you’d allow me to explain the details of this assignment to her before you barrage her with all sorts of accusatory remarks.” General Priam puffed up, just like the way he would whenever provoked, his cheeks turning red in the process. “Thank you, Priam. Now Aglaia, while it is true that the Code states that all scientific research is of benefit to the regime, that benefit however is defined by the regime and the Council itself. If it is truly for the advancement of our society as a whole, then by all, develop the technology. However, should our findings prove otherwise, we will have to intercede as directed by the Code. In this case, the Elders see it fit to label this scientific breakthrough a threat to our civilisation.”

“And pray, do tell me what this ‘danger’ is. I would like to hear what is it that is capable of threatening our great Order,” enquired Aglaia with sarcasm.

“I’d appreciate it if you kept your tone a little less sarcastic than usual, Aglaia. This is not a matter to be taken lightly,” warned Lady Evania, who then lightly smiled when she noticed Aglaia’s more submissive demeanour. She continued on.

“Based on our reports, we have discovered that one of the Ancile leaders has been secretly conducting a research to promote fertility amongst the Fallen Immortals there. At the moment, the research in its final stages and we have reason to believe that through trialling periods, this fertility drug of theirs has proven to be quite successful. Already there are several Fallen Immortals who have had babies illegally. Of course, these children sired illicitly will be dealt with under another jurisdiction and it is a different matter altogether. Our main concern is the finality of the research and the possibility of obtaining the drug publicly throughout the cosmos.”

“So what is my role in this?” I don’t believe this. They actually have the means and capabilities to research a fertility drug! Not only a drug that promotes fertility but one that reverses the sterile state permanently. Geez…anyone looking at General Priam’s face could see that he definitely looks at this as a huge issue. Then again, his House has never been too keen with the simple solution of banishing the Fallen Immortals. Last I checked, he wanted those ‘traitors’ dead.

“We want you to stop the development of this drug and if possible, bring back samples of it. Now, the Council has seen it fit to leave the method up to your discretion. Nevertheless we do want to stress that this matter has to be kept confidential under all circumstances.”

“Why not just walk in and confiscate the drug? You, as the leaders of the regime, have all the power in the cosmos to do just that.”

“Because we do not want to draw attention to it!” exploded General Priam. It was quite clear that this topic agitated the balls out of him and that he was determined to have his final say. And so he did.

“Officer Aglaia, this is not a request! You are to leave on the next pod out to Ancile, go undercover as whatever you choose to be and obtain samples of this drug as well as halt development. The Council will keep in touch with you through the use of your note-pod. Now, we want notes, we want samples, we want every single detail about this drug. I do not care if it is a soapy sonnet that some treacherous Fallen wrote to another. I WANT IT!”

Aglaia nonchalantly thumbed through the reports once again. A photograph piqued her interest and she picked it up, staring at it for a long moment. I wonder who this handsome creature is. Those eyes…they look so familiar. They remind me of…this is odd. He looks a little like Giles. It can’t be! But Giles is General Priam’s son. Wow. He must really hate the pompous fat oaf.

“ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?” yelled General Priam. Lady Evania shook her head for a brief moment.

“Yes, General, I heard you. And so did half the population on this planet.” A few of the Elders broke into smiles.

“Now you listen to me, child. You are in no position to act above your level. This is order and you WILL do it to the best of your abilities. Should you fail, I will personally escort you to Ancile and leave you there. I want everything and anything you can get your little hands on. IS THAT CLEAR?” He roared again at the top of his voice. I think the General needs to go for Anger Management classes. Surely all this rage is not doing much for his blood pressure.

Aglaia looked up, her brown eyes glaring back at General Priam.

“As clear as crystal.”

I wished I had stood up to that pompous oaf. I wish I had told him out loud what an awful man he was. That he need to shave off that bushy moustache of his which made him look bigger and fatter than he actually was. That he needed to lose a few pounds. That he needed to grow up and be more civilised.

Ironic how the most civilised age of Man has produced a leader such as General Priam.

Sometimes I think it is rather amazing to see the reflection of a civilisation in its leaders. Sure, my Earth ancestors had a couple sterling leaders – Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great, Caeser, Cleopatra, Kofi Annan – well, Kofi was not exactly a leader of a country, more like a global institution as they called it during his heyday, but you know what I mean.

It was insulting yet humorous to note that the New World Order and all that it stood for was reflected in this one man whose cheeks turn flaming red when provoked and who had problems with his authority being challenged. At times I wanted to argue that he was no different from a dictator who wielded power and authority in a certain kind of insane way. Was not he positioned as leader to guide us, to reflect what the people wanted, and to ensure our survival in the best, most civilised manner possibly known to mankind?

No wonder General Priam’s gifts were manipulation and rationality. Well, not so much rationality since he was always given into yelling at me for every single thing that I say which he thinks is against the Code. God, how I hate his condescending tone!

If it had not been for the other eleven Elders, he would have massacred the entire colony of Fallen Ones. He would have culled every single Mortal and filled the cosmos with replicas of himself. He would turn the universe into one big mirror.

His mirror.

What an awful thought.

Nevertheless, that never stopped me for wishing that I had just stood up that fateful morning and left. Just took my papers, my note-pod and walked away from it all.

Then again, if I had, would I be where I am today?

Would I be here, feeling the way I do, thinking the way I do, being with the one I love?

I think not. Perhaps it is time to stop wishing.

That pompous oaf is dead, anyway.

Yes, General Priam died two months ago of tension coupled with old age. He was in one of his usual angst bouts when he suddenly clutched his head and collapsed on the Council table. So much for modern medicine. We were still a rather delicate species. I suspected that his medical officer never saw it fit to inform him that all his yelling, roaring and huge belly coupled with his enormous appetite did not go hand in hand. Neither was it very good for his body.

Funny how I occasionally get these emotions, this form of sadness, of missing that very sight of his fat cheeks turning red when I provoked him, of him puffing in consternation.

He was such an oddity.

But then again, aren’t we all?

That night, Aglaia began packing for her ‘trip’ to Ancile. Packing was an easy thing these days. Just a few vocal commands and that was it. She was not really looking forward to the trip. That distance star-planet in the sky was now firmly within her reach and yet she felt a pang of uncertainty in her. Flopping down on her cot, she wondered if it was really a good idea to go along with the Council’s orders without hesitation, without question. Deciding that it was best for her to jot down these thoughts, she flipped open her note-pod, scribbled around hastily, bit her lip for a quick moment and paused.

So many stones unturned, so many riddles to solve.

Looking towards the glass screen, Aglaia caught a glimpse of the sparkling star-planet Ancile. It slowly beckoned; it slowly called for a new addition to its current small but growing population. And inside, she knew what her answer would have been had she headed its call.

She knew.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004 at 11:35 am and is filed under NaNoWriMo 2004. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.

About Sincerely Yours

Sincerely Yours™ is all about honesty and candid thoughts plus a dash of creativity here and there. Expect a little dash of humour and even craziness as the author takes you on a literary journey.

Creative Commons License

All content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.