C. W. Buechler’s Atlantis Rising – Prolog

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In the Begging

In the vast darkness of space a simple unassuming ball of boiling mud and water had managed to evolve into a lush and green forest teaming with life.  The land and water had separated and gigantic life forms had evolved from the smallest cells.  It was one of the true mysteries of the universe and it was magical.  On the surface of the planet giant reptilian creatures battled one another for supremacy.  Although they were not what one would call truly intelligent, they possessed the necessary genetic code to eventually evolve into a formable species capable of great technology and advances.  That would be of course if they could overcome their primal urge for violence and brutal instincts.  If they were able to overcome those obvious shortcomings of their genetic make-up the universe would be theirs to command.  It is a fortunate thing that the five tons of excess matter left over from this solar system’s creation was about to change the fate of the reptilian life form, the small blue green planet and this corner of the universe forever.

The impact of the meteor sent a plume of dirt into the sky and darkened out the star at the center of the solar system.  As the planet changed and cooled the giant reptilian life died out from starvation; proving that they were ill suited for rapid adaptation.  The lower life forms, primarily small rodents of the mammal persuasion were able to flourish, feeding of the decaying remains of the fallen titans and the roots of the once lush green plants that remained dormant beneath the soil.  Life in the sea also remained unchanged, having reached an evolutionary standstill some years earlier because of the dominant surface life, which had returned in part to the seas and stifled all other evolution.

With the dark cloud of dirt hanging in the skies the planet’s life barely managed to survive.  Almost all the life on the planet’s surface had died out and only some of the most rudimentary life had survived the cooling seas but life had managed to survive nonetheless.  The old axiom that nature finds a way seemed to have held true on the small blue green planet and as the veil of dirt fell from the skies like rain the life, which had survived, managed to make a stunning comeback.  There were plants of assorted variety and animal life began to team on the surface again.  Small furry rodents evolved into larger creatures, although not nearly to the extreme of the former reptilian masters.  The mammals appeared to have learned that excess in size would make them weak and susceptible to the same type of extinction that had killed off the planets previous rulers.

In the seas life also seemed to make a recovery as the temperature was raised by the brightly burning star at the center of the solar system.  Life in the sea found many interesting adaptations to existing life, and some odd adaptations to living in the cool dank waters of the darkened planet.  As the ocean waters cleared and life found a new and strong foothold on land two evolutionary races made a claim to the planet; one from the sea, on from the land.  These two species were quickly advancing the evolutionary ladder and had not yet overcome their petty jealousy of each other. War soon broke out between the peoples of the land and their counterparts in the cool blue waters of the ocean.

At first conflicts between the races were infrequent, each holding dominance upon their native environment and both reluctant to stray into the enemy’s territory, but then something changed.  Skirmishes turned into battles, battles into war and war into the near destruction of both species.  Those that lived on the land managed to advance their species, despite having lost the pinnacle of society and technology, while those in the sea disappeared forever.  Over nearly twelve thousand years of societal evolution the human population of the planet learned to conquer the seas and space; adapting to every disaster that they faced.  Civilizations that promoted an individual’s rights and the freedoms dominated the landscape and despite having the ability to destroy all life on the planet the governments of enemy states had resisted the temptation to use that power.

Great good was being done on every corner of the planet, but great evil was also being done.  The planet was ripe with local wars over land and theology, the leading nations unable to calm the wars and barely capable of containing them.  There was starvation on one continent and gluttony on others.  The distribution of wealth was uneven, but so was the responsibility of the work.  There was political tension in every government, different sides of the same philosophy exchanging words to try to win popular opinion polls.  On all counts the planet was on a course for either total collapse or dominance of the universe, it could go either way depending upon what happens in the upcoming years.

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