The Core, Cl 9498

“WE CAN NO LONGER IGNORE THIS,” said Minister SainClair, her voice echoing in the massive cavern. Its resonance was dampened by the deeply embedded roots threaded through the foundation of the room and encircled with vines carrying twinkling gourds and night flowers, all which threw soft light around the chamber. The spectacular romance of the atmosphere contrasted sharply with the tense faces of the assembly. Melia wondered if it was the tension she felt pressing down around her or the moist air. The heat of the chamber, which normally softly enveloped the Central Counsel like a cocoon, nurturing the growth of a civilization, crackled with energy bordering on oppressive.

Are you getting this? Melia thought.

“Affirmative. I am recording,” said a smooth voice directly into her ear.

Good, because Minister SainClair wants a full account of the proceeding. Melia swallowed hard, her gut a mangled knot. She looked over to the carved elderwood table that arced around the front of the Core's assembly hall. The ministers were seated facing the general delegation.

“Lumin grows weaker by the cycle. We have hit a critical degradation threshold. We must act now to immediately implement Gamma Protocol,” said SaintClair to the frowning faces.

The delegates erupted into frantic chatter, which resonated upward through the roots of the Core and into its trunks. Melia imagined the branches high up in the sky above shaking from the force and stifled a small smile from her position at the ministers' table. Now wasn't the time.

“Silence!” Minister Draca's voice thundered through the assembly.  He banged the gnarled stick in his hands hard against the stone of the floor. Melia flinched, but he only struck the staff once. “Minister SainClair is speaking, and you will let her finish.”

Read the rest of CHAPTER ONE