Gwenevere (Gwen) Lark, her two younger siblings – Gracie and Gordie, and her boyfriend Logan Sangre qualified and are onboard one of the Atlantean ark ships headed for the planet Atlantis in the Constellation of Pegasus. This is a bittersweet time for Gwen as she is happy about starting a new life on an alien world and sad that her older brother George and parents have been left behind to face the apocalypse that will be caused by the asteroid headed towards Earth, and unsure as to how many of her friends also qualified. Gwen is resolved that somehow, some way, she will return and save her family.
But first, a life choice must be made by each of the 10,000,000 qualified candidates onboard the 2,000 ark ships soon after boarding – fleet cadet or civilian. Gordie chooses civilian and is assigned to Blue Quadrant, Residential Deck Two. Gracie chooses cadet and is assigned to Red Quadrant, Drive and Propulsion, Cadet Deck One. Both Gordie and Gracie remain on their current ship, Ark Ship 1109. Logan chooses cadet and is transferred to Red Quadrant, Drive and Propulsion, Cadet Deck One on Imperial Command Ship (ICS) 1, Commander Manakteon Resoi’s flagship. Gwen shocks the captain and officers on Ark Ship 1109 by stating she chooses neither cadet nor civilian and wants to become a Citizen. However, regardless of Gwen’s choice, she discovers her ID was specially flagged with her transfer to ICS-2, Yellow Quadrant, Navigation and Guidance, Command Deck Four, reporting directly to Command Pilot Aeson Kassiopei.
Upon transferring to ICS-2 Gwen meets with her Commanding Officer, Command Pilot a/k/a Imperial Crown Prince Aeson Kassiopei. Gwen discloses her wish to enter the Games of the Atlantis Grail to become a Citizen so that she can rescue her family left behind on Earth and cure her mother’s cancer. The Command Pilot (CP) allows Gwen to defer her life choice until he evaluates her at the end of their space journey, then explains her primary duties as an Aid to the Central Command Office (CCO), as well as her class schedule that includes both cadet and civilian courses, along with Court Protocol, a class taught exclusively to Citizens, with a private tutor and one-on-one voice training with the CP. The CP informs Gwen the voice training sessions will be off the record, she should not tell anyone new about her Logos Voice, and that she is under his direct and personal protection.
Gwen soon learns four of her instructors from RQC-3, Keruvat Ruo, Oalla Keigeri, Erita Kwas, and Xelio Vekahat, are on ICS-2 and are in command of the cadets from their respective quadrants. During her first piloting class, Gwen sees one of her friends, Blayne Dubois. Blayne is a cadet, is no longer confined to a wheelchair, and uses the Limited Mobility (LM) Forms to maneuver a hover board to get around the ship, and also teaches LM Forms to cadets on other ships in the fleet. Gwen meets the other two Imperial Aids, Gennio Rukkat and Anu Vei, and starts to settle in. Gwen also learns three of her friends, Laronda Aimes, Dawn Williams, and Hasmik Tigranian also qualified and are on one of the other ark ships.
Having private quarters has both advantages and disadvantages. Although she has privacy, no set curfew, and can freely access most areas on the ship – including the Officer’s Meal Hall, she is also isolated somewhat from the other Earth teens in their respective barracks. Her only regular interactions with the other Earth Refugees are during her classes and the occasional meal with her friend, Blayne.
Soon after learning the reasons for the strict age restrictions for the rescue of the Earth Refugees, Gwen receives an urgent video call from Logan. Logan tells her he needs to speak with her CP, in person, immediately and asks her to arrange this meeting the following morning. The opportunity presents itself when Gwen accompanies Anu and Gennio to ICS-1 to transfer Consul Suval Denu (Gwen’s private Court Protocol tutor) and his aid, Kem, to ICS-2. Gwen persuades Anu and Gennio to bring Logan with them so that he can speak directly to the CP.
Logan tells the CP that Earth Union (EU), a special operations unit sanctioned by Earth United Nations and the United States President, has been corrupted, EU operatives have been strategically placed on each of the four Imperial Command Ships, and plans are in place to take over these ships before the fleet leaves the solar system. Logan provides enough information to cause Aeson Kassiopei to alert the fleet and increase security in vital areas.
That evening as Gwen and Logan are having dinner in Cadet Meal Hall Four, six hooded figures with guns, claiming to be with Terra Patria (one of the Earth terrorist groups) storm the meal hall, killing several individuals and taking the rest as hostages. Gwen is injured by a blow to the side of her head by one of terrorists. Another of the group recognizes Gwen as an Imperial Aid and forces her to contact the CP so their demands could be heard. Gwen manages to make contact with the CP and after unsuccessfully trying to reason with the terrorists tells them he will meet with them in person. Aeson arrives and within seconds kills all the terrorists, rescuing the hostages. Aeson tells Logan the ship is under attack and to grab a gun and with Gwen in tow; they head towards the CCO to retake the ship.
Aeson soon realizes that Gwen is too injured to fight and asks Logan to put her in one of the nearby officer’s cabins where she can wait until the battle is over. As soon as the battle is over and the ship is retaken Logan takes Gwen to the medical bay for treatment of her concussion. She is told to rest and have someone wake her to check on her every two hours. Logan volunteers to stay with her to perform this task. The next morning Gwen learns the details of the re-taking of the ship from her fellow Aids and although most of the Terra Patria terrorists were killed, most of the EU operatives were taken prisoner. That afternoon Commander Resoi gives a fleet-wide speech to reassure the Earth teens that the situation is under control, that they are safe from harm, and to announce the first of the Zero Gravity (Zero-G) Dances to be hosted by the Blue Quadrants on each ship in three days. Later that evening Aeson asks Gwen to accompany him to the incarceration deck to witness Logan interrogating an EU operative, Gabriella (Brie) Walton. Aeson adds that Logan has good interrogation skills and will be busy doing this type of job the next few days.
Zero-G Dances are an ancient Atlantean tradition that began when the Atlanteans first fled Earth 12,000 years ago and continues to modern times. The ship has an extensive database with suitable apparel as well as templates for original outfits and 3-D printers to produce the outfits based on the individual’s exact measurements. It the physics involved with the Zero-G Dance that interests Gwen as she remembers the few high school dances she attended where she stood by the wall watching others dance and never being asked to dance. Therefore, Gwen decides to not dress up and wear her everyday fleet uniform to the dance. Gwen invites her sister, Gracie, to ICS-2 for the Blue Zero-G Dance. However, her brother, Gordie, prefers to attend the dance on his own ship.
Gwen and Gracie attend the Blue Zero-G Dance. Gracie also convinces their friend Blayne that he can dance when there is no gravity and they just float around the room. Logan appears at the dance in his formal fleet uniform and expresses a slight disappointment that Gwen is not all dressed up, but soon begins dancing with her, teaching her various dances as the night goes on. Although Gwen is happy dancing with Logan and having a good time being with him, she periodically checks the room for another – Command Pilot Aeson Kassiopei. Logan finally confronts Gwen about her feelings for the CP and tells her he wants to be the person she chooses, not the person she settles for because she can’t have the one she wants. This forces Gwen to finally face her latent feelings about Aeson in that she is attracted to him and possibly in love with him. Logan then breaks up with her and leaves the dance. Gwen tells Gracie about the break-up and Gracie reveals that she knows who Gwen really likes and that she suspects that he also likes her. This realization plagues Gwen as she considers it a lost cause due to their differences in rank and status. However, it does not change the way she feels as each day her feelings for Aeson continue to grow stronger. Due to her emotional state, Gwen does not even attend the Zero-G Dance hosted by the Green Quadrant months later.
Piloting class is a nightmare for Gwen. She and her partner, Hugo Moreno, do not get along and work poorly together. Their scores are in the bottom third of the class as the fleet prepares for the first Cadet Quantum Stream Race. Their instructor, Mithrat Okoi, goes over the rules for the race including the protocols for breaching the quantum stream. Re-entering the quantum stream from the outside at the velocity the fleet is traveling is almost impossible and most often the occupants of breached shuttles die. As the day of the race arrives, Gwen is ready. She and Hugo enter their shuttle and begin the race. Hugo pilots the shuttle poorly, causing Gwen to micro-adjust constantly to stay on course, and as they make their second turn the unthinkable happens – they breach the quantum stream and are in regular space. After their initial panic starts to dissipate, Gwen starts to think clearly and manages to find the correct tonal sequence to re-enter the quantum stream and return to the fleet and their ship. Upon returning to ICS-2 – in last place – Gwen learns that she did not find the correct tonal sequence to re-enter the quantum stream, but keyed the quantum stream itself to her – forcing the quantum stream surrounding the fleet to change to match her, not her shuttle. Again, Gwen has done the impossible for someone not of Imperial Kassiopei blood. Aeson asks Gwen to also keep this revelation secret and to do whatever possible to convince her pilot partner that she did nothing out of the ordinary, that they followed the protocol to the letter, and were very, very lucky to be alive.
After the race, it’s Jump Month, as the fleet prepares to “jump” between galaxies as it continues its journey to Atlantis. Hormonal levels are checked; the signs and symptoms of jump sickness and jump protocols are also explained to all the Earth teens. Gwen assists the other two Aids with the cold storage capsules for the two older Atlanteans, Instructor Mithrat Okoi and Consul Suval Denu, and eight at-risk Earth teens. Although Gwen manages to return to her cabin and gets ready with time to spare before the jump, she hears someone outside and investigates. She finds Kem in the corridor showing severe signs of jump sickness and manages to escort him back to his own quarters in a different quadrant, secures him in his bed, and puts water in his water bottle before leaving to return to her own quarters. As she is running back to her own quarters she passes the CCO just as Aeson Kassiopei exits. After a brief verbal exchange, he realizes Gwen does not have time to reach her quarters safely before the jump and instead takes hold of her arm and escorts her to the nearest cabin – his personal quarters.
Aeson instructs Gwen to sit, and then lie down on the bed. After he empties his pockets, loosens his uniform shirt collar, and takes off his shoes, he tells Gwen to scoot over as he carefully lies next to her. He gently re-positions her so that they can both lie comfortably on the small bed and engages the safety harness seconds before the jump between galaxies happens. As Gwen awakens from the brief unconsciousness caused by the jump, she experiences a panic attack as she realizes where and with whom she is. As a result of her fidgeting during the panic attack, the clasp on her bra comes undone and her tank top rolls up, revealing the upper half of her body. Something happens next which embarrasses both of them, after which Aeson instructs Gwen to sit in the chair with her head down on the table until it is safe to leave. As soon as it is safe, Gwen quickly exits his quarters and returns to her own. Gwen is now understandably confused about what just happened between them and is resolved to get answers to her questions.
The jump signals the end of the Green season and the beginning of Red. During a one-on-one training session with Pilot Xelio Vekahat, Xelio asks Gwen to be his Date for the Red Dance and she accepts. Looking for inspiration regarding her attire for the dance, Gwen reviews the dance program which has a section for individual vocalist performances. Gwen remembers the beautiful arias she sang with her mother before her mother became ill, selects a song, sends it to the dance programming, then selects the appropriate dress to match her Red Song.
Consul Denu graciously consents to help Gwen prepare for the dance by sending his assistant, Kem, to do her hair and make-up, which the Atlanteans refer to as face art, in Atlantean Court Fashion. Kem transforms Gwen from a simple, nerdy girl into a beautiful goddess which enhances her natural and hidden beauty and completes her outfit with matching jewelry, on loan from the Consul for the evening. Gwen enters the decorated resonance chamber to meet her date, Xelio, who is mesmerized by her transformation. A little later, Aeson, Oalla, and Keruvat appear at the dance. Oalla and Aeson admit they do not recognize Gwen at first, as Aeson continues to stare and visually examine Gwen. Pleased, but yet a little uncomfortable with the attention, Gwen pulls Xelio onto the dance floor to dance until the time for her vocal performance.
Gwen performs the Habanera from the opera, Carmen flawlessly. As she sings, she frequently glances in the direction of Aeson to gauge his reactions. Her private mission in the selection of her song and her attire is accomplished as she realizes that Aeson displays inner feelings of desire for her. But it comes at a price. Although Gwen is in love with Aeson and she is reasonably sure he really cares for her, the differences in their status and culture will most likely keep them apart forever.
Piloting classes become better when the students are allowed to change partners shortly after the jump. Gwen asks Cadet Chiyoko Sato to be her new pilot partner and she agrees. Gwen and Chiyoko work well together as pilot partners, attaining average scores in their practice shuttle runs. As they prepare for the second Cadet Quantum Stream race, Gwen and Chiyoko discuss areas in which they can improve and Gwen comes up with a crazy idea which works extremely well for them. During the race, Gwen discovers something out of the ordinary that she feels she needs to discuss with the CP after the race. At the end of the race, the final scores are tallied and Gwen and Chiyoko advance from #314 to #5 for their ship.
During Gwen’s voice training session with Aeson that evening, Gwen broaches the subject that has bothered her since the race. Aeson confirms that one of the ships in the fleet stayed behind orbiting Earth and he placed a hologram in its place in the fleet. Gwen also learns about a mysterious enemy who actually sent the asteroid headed towards Earth and if the current asteroid were destroyed, THEY would only send another one. Aeson does not elaborate on who THEY are, but tells Gwen she will learn more about it later.
The last official celebration of their journey is the Yellow Zero-G Dance. Gwen invites her sister Gracie and her friend Laronda to attend the dance on ICS-2. Gwen and Laronda select their dresses for the dance and this time Gwen decides on a simpler style of dress. Again Consul Denu consents to allow Kem to do Gwen’s hair and face art for the dance and loans her jewelry for the occasion. Gwen arrives at the dance with Gracie and Laronda and soon encourages her friend Chiyoko to join them as they dance and enjoy themselves. They see the CP in the crowd, and Laronda grabs Chiyoko to talk to the guys at the sound station as Aeson slowly walks towards Gwen. Aeson and Gwen talk briefly, and then Aeson asks Gwen to dance with him – for the first and last time. Caribbean Blue is playing as the gravity is manipulated to Zero-G. Aeson pulls Gwen closer and closer to him as they dance and look into each other’s eyes. The song ends and they walk back to the perimeter. Aeson tells Gwen he hopes her break-up with Logan did not hurt her too much and she deserves to be happy. Gwen confesses that she broke up with Logan because of him. Aeson thanks her for the dance and walks away. Gwen dances again with her friends and later Xelio arrives and asks her to dance. After the dance is over she says good night to her sister and friends and retires to her cabin. It is then she realizes that today was her 18th birthday and she totally forgot about it. She also thinks about the dance with Aeson – the dance that broke her heart.
As the fleet enters its final week before reaching Atlantis preparations begin for landing. The seed banks containing plant and animal life and the cultural artifacts brought from Earth must be sorted so they can be distributed to various parts of the planet. The destinations of Earth Refugees to various nations, including Imperial Atlantida, are also finalized. Classes end and the instructors send their recommendations to the commanding officers of the Earth Refugees for a final evaluation. Gwen meets with Aeson for her final evaluation. For the most part, Gwen has done well in all her classes, scoring 4’s and 5’s out of a possible 5. Aeson tells Gwen he is unable to fully evaluate her skills regarding her voice because her skills are so far beyond the norm and her voice training will continue, but with dedicated specialist experts. Aeson then adds that he will most likely not see her on a regular basis after they reach the planet. Finally, Aeson asks Gwen to state her life choice – cadet or civilian. When Gwen adamantly states she still wants to seek Citizenship by entering the Games of the Atlantis Grail, Aeson tells her he formally forbids it and he will have her incarcerated and restrained to keep her out of the games. He then adds that the default decision is Civilian and unless she decides to join the fleet by the time they land, he will enter her decision as Civilian. Furious and disheartened, Gwen leaves his office and begins thinking about the type of life she can have on Atlantis.
The next morning, Aeson receives a video call from the Imperator that changes everything. Apparently, details regarding Gwen, in addition to her voice, were relayed to the Imperator and he wants Gwen brought before him during a Court Session scheduled for the evening of the day the fleet reaches the planet. This means Aeson, Gwen, the other two aids, Consul Denu, Kem and a few other officers must go to the planet upon the fleet’s arrival in orbit. Gwen’s siblings and friends, along with the other Earth Refugees, fleet officers and crew, will be shuttled to the planet a few days later – after the cargo has been distributed.
Gwen watches the approach to Atlantis from the observation deck along with several other Earth Refugees and Atlantean fleet officers and crew. However, she does not tarry and grabs her bags from her cabin to meet the others for their shuttle ride to the planet’s surface. Upon landing at the Imperial Palace Airfield, Aeson instructs Consul Denu to put Gwen in guest quarters, have her ready for the Imperial Court Session, and to stand with her during the session. When Gwen questions Aeson regarding what exactly she is supposed to do, Aeson coldly informs her that she is not to speak to him without permission as he is no longer her commanding officer, but a Prince of Imperial Kassiopei, and she should follow proper Court Protocol. He then leaves the shuttle with his guards to enter the palace. Gwen exits the shuttle, wearing her protective sunglasses and carrying her bags, and silently cries as her heart is broken once again.
Consul Denu leads Gwen to the palace and asks porters to carry her bags, which seem heavier due to the increased gravity. After entering her guest quarters, Consul Denu gives Gwen instructions on what to do and tells her he will return to do her final Court Face Art in preparation of the Court Session. After Gwen completes her spa treatments, her nails painted in gold, and dressed in the outfit appropriate for Low Court, Consul Denu arrives with Kem to finish her look with an appropriate hair style and Face Art. Consul Denu escorts Gwen through a labyrinth of corridors to the ante-chamber of the Imperial Throne Hall, giving her last minute instructions and advice as they walk.
Gwen stands next to Consul Denu in the Low Court section of the Imperial Throne Hall and awaits the entrance of the Archaeon Imperator, Romhutat Kassiopei. Gwen glances at the immense room and the occupants and sees Lady Tirinea Fuorai, the young lady with whom Aeson talked via video call during qualification and their journey on the ship. The Imperator arrives, opens the Court Session, and calls his son, Aeson Kassiopei, the Imperial Crown Prince of Kassiopei, forward and congratulates him on a successful mission. Aeson thanks his father then requests permission to make an Imperial Formal Announcement. Aeson turns to face the Assembly and slowly walks the red path, stopping briefly at the High Court Section where Lady Tiri flashes a brilliant and triumphant smile. However, her smile quickly fades as Aeson continues to slowly continue walking the red path, passing the High Court and Middle Court Sections, and stopping at the Low Court Section where Gwen stands with Consul Denu. Aeson looks at Gwen, then makes his decision and escorts his choice to the front of the assembly. Aeson stops a few steps from the raised dais and formally announces his choice for his Imperial Bride and Consort. Aeson then performs the Sacred Opening of the Mouth by kissing his chosen Bride and sealing her as his Wife in front of the Imperator and the entire assembly, as Gwen stands reeling in shock over this life altering decision.
“In that perfect moment, nothing can compete with us or conspire against us – neither Imperial wrath nor all the forces of the universe united against us – in that moment, we are one spirit.”