They were sitting under the big oak in the courtyard, heads touching as if conspirators of some great scheme. Except they were conspirators. Against the university.
“They’ll try and stop you, Serena, any way they see fit. Don’t underestimate them. They’ve got all the money they want and can throw it any which way and come out clean handed.”
She looked up at Kenji, his gentle eyes hardened by his resolve to protect her. She knew he was right, she knew that if she went through with this, it would be the end. She shook her head.
“I realize that, I do. I love you and I shared this with you because I believed you could give me insight that I knew I had missed. And you have.”
There was a short pause. “But,” Kenji waved his hand, prodding her to continue.
“But…” Serena started, “This will continue, right? They’ll just keep up the lies and change the facts as they see fit, destroying history and true knowledge. Someone has to stop this cycle. I’m not saying that I’m the one, but it’s at least a start. If I can find this place, this supposed Atlantis, it would shake the very foundations of their truths. It would change the world’s view on our history and purpose.”
Kenji stroked her hand, running his fingertips along her palm and up her arm towards her cheek. He looked into her eyes which were fiery with determination. It was that look that had made him fall in love with her. As far as she was concerned, no one could stand in her way, big or small. He loved that she was a fighter, that she would push for what she believed but knowing to accept when the fight was lost. Except this time, she did not realize it. And he didn’t know how to make her see. This was a dangerous game.
They sat in silence for some time, Kenji’s hand in hers, listening to the hustle of the university’s workers and residents. She had heard his argument a handful of times before and had grown tired of being told what she should do otherwise. She supposed her mind had been made up from the very beginning, from the very start of the idea that Atlantis could be found.
She plucked a blade of grass and twirled it between her thumb and finger watching the warm sunlight dance on its green stage. It was almost painful how beautiful of a day it was and she could not appreciate it. Her mind was so clouded by doubts and frustrations in presenting her case. Nearby she could hear a group laughing jovially, exchanging mindless stories that had no meaning and no end. Serena glanced up in their direction taking in the courtyard, scanning the old architecture of the buildings and the faded statues…
Faded statues? She studied the top of the building more closely and what she saw frightened her. The sky was beginning to turn black, like a blotch of ink seeping into paper. Below, the buildings were slowly being swallowed up, the black fading the stone, eating away at reality. It spread quickly. She finally managed to tear her gaze away, to see if Kenji was seeing the same thing. Instead, she came face to face with the darkest black, everything swallowed up below her, above her, around her. There was nothing left. Except her.
Then a light slowly began to pulsate below her ever so gradually growing. A blue electric design that thrummed as if powered by veins. Oddly enough, she was falling away from it towards what she thought had been the sky. The disk grew fainter and fainter as she kept falling up. The blue pump kept tracing a design, not ever fully lit, the light switching on and off like dominoes falling. Suddenly, an incredible flash of light stun her eyes. But before she was lost entirely, she had been able to trace it: a blue phoenix, its wings spread wide flying up from the ashes of fire.