To the Senate of our great Atlantis:
There is no doubt in my mind that the 43rd Division of the Army of Atlantis has found its way into the lap of the devil himself. No words can describe the evils we have seen in the few short days we have been in the grand city of Amphitrite.
As we entered the city gates, stories of a curse upon the city began to assail us. At every turn, on every street corner we heard cries for help. Never before has our country experienced such evil as this.
Every one of the stories begins the same: Out of the depths of the forest appears a lone white wolf with eyes of deepest blue. Out of the depths of hell it came to spread punishment on the people of Atlantis, punishment unending until forgiveness is granted for mistakes committed.
When the waters parted all those centuries ago to swallow our tiny island, our ancestors were transferred to this planet for a second chance at life. Now people say this second chance has been violated and our promise to never repeat the corruptness of the past has been shattered.
Twenty people murdered in their own homes, over forty injured, and an entire city in total chaos. How long this infection will take to spread to the remaining communities on this side of the prairie cannot be determined. All I know is that when it does, we could be looking at total anarchy and the collapse of a government that has stood strong for over two millenniums.
I write to you as a desperate man in a dangerous situation. I write to you, the Senate, controller of Atlantis’ fate, in the hope that you will know what to do before it’s too late and our grand civilization once again finds its fate at the bottom of the sea.
Superior Arcesilas of the 43 DAA
Her screams bounced off the trees surrounding them. There was no doubt the cries reached the ears of the neighboring city of Atlas. There was no doubt the citizens knew the source belonged not to ancient spirits residing in the woods, but rather to this child, someone they had watched walk the streets hand in hand with her father on many an occasion. Yet, Menelaus also knew as he stood straight backed, that none would come.
The heat of the blaze warmed his face, lighting the small valley surrounding them. Mingled with her screams that ripped at his ears were the grunts and cries of the five men holding white-knuckled to the iron chains. The small house looked huge as the flames licked out of windows and cracked wooden beams. Towers of smoke swirled toward the heavens.
Menelaus stood at the edge of the forest with his arms crossed, watching his men. He tried to keep all emotion from his face. He had to portray a ruthless leader, otherwise his men would question his authority. So, on the outside he stood strong, an authority figure, but on the inside doubt slowly crept into his thoughts.
The girl screamed once more, tugging at the chains, her feet marking a path in the pine needles. Menelaus marveled at the strength her voice still held, thinking it to have gone out by now. But, he understood the passion in her voice, her determination to rip her arms off if that’s what it took to escape. She did it for her family, those trapped inside their cottage as the fire slowly roasted them.
Menelaus frowned at the five men as they exchanged glances. Their muscles bulged, veins readily protruding under their skin as they grimaced and held her back. At least her super human strength was true to rumor. If the stories were true, her grief would soon turn into a deadly weapon. If they weren’t true, he could only find shelter in lands belonging to Hades.
The only way to test the validity of her power was to kill what she held most dear. He knew this, and yet, as the flames reached heavenward like a child for its mother, he could see a new evil in his decision. Could he ever come back from this? Her screams tore at his ears, growing the possibility she could actually be innocent.
The men before him struggled as they each held fast to one of the five chains linked to the iron plates circling her wrists, ankles, and neck. The ten-year-old girl bared her teeth, streaks of tears washing a path through her dirty face. Her blond hair fell along her back, matted from disturbed sleep.
He couldn’t take this anymore. Menelaus opened his mouth, but, before any words exited, she turned her head to face him. In a moment, he caught a slight sparkle of excitement in her eyes. The smoke burned his nostrils, reminding him what he was about to do. Instead, he snapped his jaw shut. As she continued to struggle, he watched. She was grieving, he decided, but not shocked. A child should be shocked to see such death…unless she was desensitized to it.
Menelaus jumped at the small growl that suddenly rumbled in her chest. His heart beat harder, face hardening at the animal-like sound. “Hold on boys!” he hollered over their agonizing groans. “It’s almost time!”
Their feet dragged through the dirt, the child’s strength doubling. She practically snarled, her tears drying. Here we go, he thought. The townspeople told him the only way to discover the truth was by torturing her, driving her to the point of utter rage. Time would either condemn him or justify his actions, but that growl was a step in the right direction.
The girl glanced over her shoulder, her big, round eyes pleading. Guilt twisted his stomach. Then a white light flashed across her eyes like lightning. Her plea dropped into a growl, revealing sharp, pointed teeth. His breath stopped. Turning back to the burning house, she tugged once more, inching the men closer to the flames.
“Get ready!” he commanded.
Just as he finished the sentence, it happened. All at once, the chains snapped. He hadn’t been expecting it to come with such force and neither had his men, who tumbled to the ground once the pressure released.
The child fell onto all four paws, her transformation instantly complete. The wolf bolted toward the burning home
Rage filled his body. All he could think about was the stories he had been told of the bitter destruction she had caused—and how he could harness such power. He could just as clearly see this opportunity slip from his fingertips. “Get her!”
The men scrambled to their feet just as the roof of the house collapsed with a thunderous roar. At the same moment, the wolf spun around as quick as a whip and charged the group. Her beastly eyes and fierce teeth caused Menelaus to take a couple steps back. Her gaze locked with his as she flew past the men.
Menelaus landed hard on the ground, her claws digging into his chest. He struggled against her, pushing her snapping teeth away from his neck. There was such a bloodlust in her eyes, his hopes and dreams began to crumble into fears of survival. A chain looped around her neck, relieving Menelaus’ aching arms.
All five men pulled her off their king before pinning her to the ground. She threw herself against them as a young man reached into his pocket. The needle was inserted into her back. It took only seconds before she closed her eyes and went limp.
Breathing a sigh of relief, he stood up and dusted off his shirt. He swore silently when he saw the rip in his new pants. How would he explain this to an already suspicious wife? More importantly, how would he keep her from running to an already suspicious senate?
He watched his men lift the girl into the iron carriage standing beside the forest line and lock it.
“You okay, King Menelaus?” a voice asked from his side.
King Menelaus looked at the soldier. “Fine.”
“You should get that scratch looked at. It might be infected,” the man said matter-of-factly.
Menelaus placed a finger on his left cheek, pain exploding from the touch. Wetness warmed his fingertips. He could feel it seep down is face in a large stream, but that was the least of his worries. He needed to get this girl into the training camp. Only then could he claim full credit for her capture, and subsequently all the military gain her presence would achieve.
He turned to face Superior Brygus, a large man with sharp eyes. “Where’s the girl?”
Brygus replied in his deep voice, “She’s chained in the carriage.”
Menelaus nodded. “Your men did well today.”
Brygus’ chin rose high in the air. “It honors me to do your bidding, Sir. I know you are the one who should control Atlantis. Your finding this girl only proves it.”
Menelaus smiled, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Your loyalty will be recognized when I control Atlantis, Superior.”
They watched a young soldier make his way over. “She really put up a fight, didn’t she?” he said, his breath still coming heavy.
“Yeah, well you would, too, if your family were dying in that fire,” Brygus scolded.
“Why did we have to kill her family?” he asked.
In one swoop, Brygus knocked the boy’s legs from under him. He yelped as he impacted with the ground. “Now, if this were a senate-ordered, military mission, you would spend a night in a cell for questioning so informally.”
The boy stood slowly. “So sorry, sir. Didn’t mean any disrespect.” He directed the last part to Menelaus.
Menelaus waved him off. “Don’t you worry, my boy. While tragic, this was the only way to get her to change. Besides, we saved lives today, gentlemen. She was responsible for the torture and deaths of twenty or more citizens, and maybe even the disappearance of the 43rd division.” Menelaus couldn’t help but smile at the black carriage in the shadows of the night. He could harness her power and nothing would stop him from taking control of the capitol. “Now, round everyone up and let’s get back to the palace.”
As they left the burning house, Menelaus had the uneasy feeling that he had left something behind.