Chapter Five – Council of War
Josh goes into Sarah’s room. She’s alone. So he tells her that he’s ashamed of how she’s behaving. Sarah, understandably, is pissed. Because Josh tells her that she’s acting like Abbey (who, as we all know, is a shameless whore), and constantly hanging on Valar. Sarah tells him she’s been doing nothing of the kind. They yell at each other for a bit, and then Valar arrives to take them to the Council.
So we don’t actually get to see how Sarah may or may not have been behaving, so this entire sequence is rather pointless, except to explain why Sarah and Josh are now angry at each other.
Sarah and Valar walk along towards the Council talking about this and that and everyone else trails behind muttering. Finally they reach the Council-room. The king, queen, and princess are all there, along with six other men. The Sociopaths sit down, and Valar stands behind Sarah. She looks back at him and thinks about how someday Valar might be king.
A chap named Womar gets up and starts waxing poetic about how their nation has been ruled for generations by the king and the Council of Elders. Which is interesting, because it’s only been fifty years since the nuclear war. I’m guessing it would take at least ten years for them to build Atlantis and start living there, which means that at the very most they’ve been going on for forty years, which doesn’t really qualify as “for generations”. But Womar goes on and says that their only goal has been to keep their honor bright. Instead of goals like peace, justice, and the Atlantian Way. And anyone who is dishonorable gets to leave or die. Awesome.
The Dark Lord wants to control the sea. He attacked Atlantis. They kicked his ass. So now he’s using his wiles. The Lord High Admiral Aramis fell under the Dark Lord’s power, betrayed everyone, and led a revolt against the crown. Oh yeah, and now he controls the Citadel of Neptune – the new city that they’ve been building, because Atlantis is overpopulated.
Then the War Admiral Deneor gets up. If you want to know how to pronounce his name, it’s ‘Denethor’ with the ‘th’ removed. He talks for a long time but the gist of it is that Aramis is smart, clever, powerful, and they’re totally screwed. Which makes me wonder why Aramis didn’t depose the king and take over Atlantis during his revolt, since the vast majority of the navy went over to his side anyway. But finally they turn to the Sociopaths.
Josh gets up and says that he has no idea why they’re there or how to help them. He asks how Aramis could betray them and Mab says that the Dark Lord must be controlling his mind. And believe it or not, ‘Dark Lord controls someone’s mind, causes them to betray everyone else’ will be a very popular theme in this series.
Josh says that all they can do is sit back and wait for Goel to bail them out. And the king is delighted. He bangs his fist down on the table and says that’s exactly what they’ll do. And the chapter ends.
Chapter Six – Sarah’s Visitor
Everyone gets woken up early and sat down at the breakfast table. Valar explains that the Council and King have ordered them to be trained in the skills and arts of Atlantis. Well, that’s a surprise. Josh is still mad at Valar so he blows off breakfast and says that they’ve managed just fine by themselves. Which…they haven’t. Valar smirks a bit and winks at Sarah and says that he’s sure they have but this is a bit different and some of them don’t even know how to swim.
So they eat. And then of course they have to wait for an hour before they start swimming. Valar shows them around the city and explains how screwed they are if Aramis attacks. Then he takes them down to the air lock and has them all put on the clear plastic diving suits again. He explains how the air pressure will make it so they can’t feel the pressure of the water. Then he whips out some flippers and gives them to Token, and explains that when you swim, you don’t even use your arms, you just kick your feet and that’s all you need.
I’m not an expert on diving, or scuba diving, or even on being in the ocean, but I do know a few things. One of those is buoyancy. If you’re underwater and you want to stay at the same level, you need to have neutral buoyancy. Now, if you’re wearing a suit that is inflated with oxygen to keep you from feeling the ocean’s pressure, that oxygen is going to pull you straight up to the surface unless you have something to counter it. Usually, for deep-sea divers, this is lead. However, our Sociopaths have nothing of the kind, so the instant they get into the ocean they should float straight up to the surface. And I haven’t even gotten into the intricacies of decompression sickness, ascending and descending in stages, and other problems with living deep beneath the ocean’s surface. All of these are completely ignored by Morris, so I think it’s safe to say that he got all of them wrong and we’ll move past it.
Valar and Token head out and Token catches on instantly. Then everyone else goes out and they catch on instantly as well. And they spend the next four days practicing their swimming. During which time Aramis doesn’t press his advantage and attack, thus giving the Atlantians more time to prepare their defense. Proving that Aramis, like everyone else, is an idiot.
Then Valar takes them into a room and shows them a bunch of spear guns. That use compressed air to shoot spears at extremely high velocity and kill people, or things. Wow. That’s the kind of thing the Sanhedrin could really use. Except the Sanhedrin banned use of these kinds of weapons. Clever, that. They spend the next two days practicing (while Aramis still doesn’t attack) and learn there are several kinds of spears, including one that contains a little compressed-air bomb which explodes once it enters the shark. [!]
The next day Valar shows them their mounts. Which are sharks. Y’know, those vicious, soulless, monsters that eat people in movies like Jaws? Right, except these ones are ‘specially’ bred for people to ride on. So, in the last fifty years, these people created an incredibly advanced underwater kingdom, captured sharks, bred sharks, and trained them to be nice and carry people around instead of just eating them. Makes sense. So Valar helps Josh saddle one and then they ride around for a bit.
They then spend the next three days practicing riding sharks (while Aramis still does not attack). And the next day Valar says that everyone’s going out on a separate fishing trip, and they’ll have an expert go with him. Except he’s going with Sarah. Josh is pissed, understandably, but says nothing.
Valar and Sarah head out. And within an hour she’s shot a fish that are the best-tasting fish in Atlantis. Sarah feels proud. And then they’re about to head in when suddenly a moray eel comes shooting out of nowhere and heads straight for Valar, who’s looking the other way! And guess what happens? In the roughly 1/3 of a second that it would take a moray eel, moving like greased lightning, to cross the distance and shred Valar into little bits, Sarah whips up her spear gun and nails the moray eel perfectly.
Later that night, Valar tells her that when someone saves a life, that life belongs to him. So he kisses her on the cheek and tells her that his life is hers. Sarah’s embarrassed. And Josh, who just happened to come around the corner to see the kiss, is very pissed off.
So later, Josh comes to see her. Sarah’s still floating on air, like only a kiss on the cheek can do to a young girl. Josh tells her that she’s been so busy romancing Valar that she hasn’t seen that the entire country is falling to pieces and everyone is hopeless. Which would make sense, I admit, if Sarah was capable of doing something about it. I haven’t noticed Josh doing anything to help, either, so I’m guessing this is just Josh trying to find fault with her.
But Sarah feels bad. So she decides to make it up with him. And later she’s walking around by herself, and bumps into Goel. Goel asks her to walk with him, and has a long talk with her. We don’t learn anything about what he says. But at the end he tells her that Atlantis will be saved if she helps. Sarah protests that she’s a girl, not a warrior. And Goel responds with a hilarious quote:
“I choose the feeble to overthrow the powerful” (page 61).
So, instead of saying something about how she has an inner strength, or ‘through me all things are possible’, he just confirms that she’s weak. And it’s so fitting, too. But then he explains his plan to her and takes off. And the chapter ends on a particularly inspiring quote:
Still, she knew she had no choice but to obey (page 61).
Because you never have a choice. It’s obey or get fried.
Chapter Seven – The Quest
Sarah heads down and gathers the rest of the Sociopaths together. She begins by asking them if they remember the last time everyone was asleep and Goel came to her in a dream that maybe wasn’t a dream? Abbey says she does. Which is great, except that Goel came to Sarah when they were in the prison of the Sanhedrin, which was well before Abbey was even awake. Proving, once again, that Morris has never heard of proofreaders, fact-checkers, or editors.
Sarah explains that Goel has told them to leave Atlantis and go to the Citadel of Neptune. Where Aramis is. Without telling anyone or leaving word as to where they’re going. Naturally, everyone has a problem with this. So they argue. Josh, in particular, is rather hung up on the fact that they don’t even know how to get there. So Sarah says that they’ll take Valar with them as their guide. And immediately she’s horrified at herself and wishes she hadn’t said it. Why? No particular reason.
Josh is instantly even more pissed, and angrily asks if Goel said to bring him along.
And Sarah says yes.
Great. We know what this means. Sarah lied about what Goel said because she trusts and likes Valar. Obviously, if it works out alright, that would send the wrong message to the reader. Therefore, Valar is either going to be a traitor, or he’s going to screw everyone over in some way, or both.
But everyone relaxes. Because if Goel said to take Valar, he must be alright. And Sarah rationalizes in her head until she’s convinced herself that Goel would want Valar to go along. Finally the boys leave, leaving Sarah and Abbey alone in their room. Abbey mentions how she wishes Goel would talk to her, and there’s a hilarious moment where Sarah says she wishes Goel would talk to her as well. Probably something about being a whore. Then Abbey talks about how Valar is falling in love with Sarah. Sarah blows her off and says that she’s far too young, and he’s just a boy himself. I dunno, Sarah, you’re 14, and I doubt Nuworld has any statutory rape laws.
Abbey says that if they win the fight against Aramis, Jere is next in line for the throne. Except the people want a king, not a queen. And Valar’s the closest male relative. Which means that someday, Sarah could be queen of Atlantis!
Yeah. Not gonna happen.