I’m writing a sci-fi epic about the lost continent of Atlantis. It’s still untitled. I would love feed back and constructive criticism. I’ve written 5 chapters so far, and I’m almost done with the sixth. Thanks for your time. Chapter 1 As he descended the stairs, Hayden Riesser caught the railing to keep from falling. He stopped and looked up to the passerby and smiled, embarrassed by the the looks he was receiving. He took a deep breath and exhaled, trying to calm his nerves. It wasn't everyday that his future was decided. Today, on his twenty-fifth birthday, he would be judged. It wasn't that he lacked confidence in himself or his abilities, it was the lense through which he was being judged, that gave him pause. This is what he had worked all his life for, to become a member of this ancient order, The Pax Olympia. If he was rejected... Banish the thought. Hayden was a slim, healthy looking young man. Average height and build. Straight dark hair and brown eyes sat above a sharp nose and a narrow jawline. He had dressed more formally for the occasion. His tanned complexion contrasted nicely with the dark blue suit he wore. Hayden eventually reached the bottom of the stairs and took a right. The corridor opened into an immense atrium with sunlight pouring in from the blue sky above. The sound of busy people roaming about met his ears. He looked up to see the shimmer of a force-field that kept out the elements. The insignia of The Pax Olympia, forged of highly magnetized steel, hovered thirty feet in the air in the center of the room. Contrasting sunlight cast the insignia in shadow on the marble floor. White columns created the frame of a circular network, five stories high, each leading to a labyrinth passageways that stretched on for miles. The walls were made of glass, a giant touchscreen computer that could be accessed at any time. When not in use, the glass would project the illusion of marble walls, keeping with the whitewashed "clean" feel of the massive complex. The headquarters of The Pax Olympia was as impressive a feat of architecture as anything you could find on Atlantis. The place inspired wonder, which properly harnessed, hoped to produce greatness. Across the atrium Hayden saw his father, Danyll, waiting for him. He made his way across the room and stood, meeting his father's warm smile. The man looked to be about 50 years old, tall and broad, dressed in heavy white robes. Deep creases were set in his expressive face. His features we similar to Hayden's, though with thick locks of gray hair falling to the sides. Hayden's father gripped him by the shoulder and looked him over. He adjusted the young man's collar and rank. "You look sharp, son. New suit?" Danyll asked. Not waiting for a reply he said, "Don't be worried. I'm sure you will get through. You have been one of my best students, and I'm not just saying that because you are my boy." He paused and did his best to look reassuring. "I had to go through this too. I remember how nervous I was. Nowadays, I'm generally conducting these little...interrogations. But of course, due to the circumstances, I can only stand as a sponsor today." "I understand," replied Hayden, with a smirk. "Nepotism doesn't really become you." Danyll smiled. "They are waiting," he said motioning to the door behind him. "Are you ready?" Hayden straightened and replied, "Yes sir." The pair walked through automatic doors and entered into an immense audience chamber, about seven stories tall and about 100 yards in diameter. They took their place on a small circular platform, with no railing or barrier, in the center of the room. The platform raised about ten feet in the air and the room went dark. With a loud click, a spotlight activated and shone down on Hayden and his father. Hyden raised his arm, shielding his eyes, allowing them to adjust. He lowered his arm to see a trio of inquisitors seated in suspensor-chairs another ten feet higher. There were two men and a woman, all approximately the same age as his father, dressed in the same heavy white robes, with tablet computers in their hands. They sat expressionless, unnerving, letting the silence reek havoc on the young man's mind. Hyden did his best to hide the dread he felt in this moment. He simply starred back, confident but not cocky. "Mr. Riesser, welcome," said one of the male inquisitors. "I am, Solic. This is Ryhan and Nora," motioning to the other two. "What an honor it is for you to be standing here today. I'm sure you feel the gravity of this moment." Who wouldn't? They have all been in the same position. The statement did not shake Hayden. "Yes, sir," he replied. "I've been working for this my entire life. I am sure you felt similarly many years ago." He let it sink in. Let them know think they don't scare me. "Did you have this appointment in mind when you were given formal reprimands...What was it? Let me see here...five times?" Nora shot back, her beady eyes glaring. The question startled Hyden. So this is how it's going to be... He stood silent, measuring his words before replying. "You did say you have been working for this your entire life, isn't that correct?" asked Nora, growing impatient with his silence. "Yes ma'am, I did," Hayden answered. "If you notice, the reprimands were all within the first two years of university. Generally minor pranks and one unfortunate altercation with a classmate. I went on to have a spotless record for the remainder of my time here. Young men make foolish choices." "You are still a young man," stated Ryhan, a dry raspiness in his voice. "Do you still make foolish choices?" "I like to think I've matured," Hyden answered. "But if a person was able to judge themselves objectively, there would be no need for meetings like this." Hyden's father smiled at his reply. "I will admit," interjected Solic, "your academic record is remarkable. Major in robotics and coding. The very top of your class. But academia is not the same as application. Knowledge must be coupled with wisdom and discernment to be of any use to our people. With every great advancement and breakthrough, there is potential for exploitation. We must have every confidence in the integrity of our members." "I regret that my indiscretions have raised doubts as to my trustworthiness," Hayden stated contritely. "Not your trustworthiness," replied Nora. "Your judgement." "No disrespect," said Hayden, "but what does my judgement have to do with teaching and philosophy?" There was no answer. Instead, the three inquisitors turned to each other, whispering among themselves. After a brief exchange, they nodded in agreement. Ryhan looked to Hayden's father and asked: "You're sure he's ready?" Danyll stepped forward to reply. "You know my feelings on the matter and my feelings on the criteria with which we judge. But he is my son. I stand here, today, as a sponsor, proud father, and teacher. I cannot make this decision. You also know the situation we are facing. We have grown too rigid, too afraid of anyone who does not fit exactly into our mold." The older man stopped and looked at his son. "This is not some rebellious hoodlum we are talking about. I have watched my son grow into a fine young man, worthy of this position. We need the very best. Let us not waste time squabbling about pranks and fisticuffs." "Very well," said Ryhan, looking squarely at Hayden. "Atlantis stands divided, as you know. The Congress Chamilia, representing Lokner, Thallus, and Ritos; The Stritan Monarchy in the central region; and the Hollander Faction in the south." "Basic knowledge," replied Hayden, confused by the geography lesson. "Vital knowledge!" exclaimed Nora, turning red in frustration. "The most basic principles are the building blocks of all societies," interjected Solic. A wise pleading stood out clearly in his voice, emphasizing the need for patience. "This 'basic knowledge' is the web that binds our world together. You have no idea what we really are! The function of The Pax Olympia is far greater than you can imagine." Nora leaned forward. "We are much more than a prestigious university and society of great thinkers. This is just a front for our real purpose. Everything you see around you technologically, we are responsible for. Every break through, every advancement, every cure, we did it! The real power of Atlantis sits not on thrones and seats of congress, but in labs and classrooms. The governments appreciate our innovations, but we-" she broke off. "Distribute the wealth," Hayden interjected. Amused by his son's perceptiveness, Danyll spoke up, "Gone are the times of the Titans, Hayden." He paused, looking back to the inquisitors who nodded, signaling for him to continue. "Turmoil and betrayal rule our land. There is a fragile balance of power that must be maintained. We have never set out to rule Atlantis, son, but to guide it. We fear our hold is slipping, though." He continued warily, "We have distanced ourselves too far and Atlantis is slipping out of our control. But it's not too late to salvage the situation." Turning to the inquisitors he said, "I hope that you will grant Hayden entry into our ranks. I wish we had a thousand more like him." Hayden stood nervously, the weight of these revelations sinking into his very bones. Almost in an instant, his perception of the world around him shattered. How different his future suddenly seemed. He looked back and forth between the inquisitors, gauging their expressions, looking for the slightest glimpse into their thoughts. Do I even still want this? What am I getting myself into? He fought to keep the newfound doubts from festering. Surely my father has steered me towards something great. Ryhan spoke up, "It seems we have little choice. He knows too much, now. And we cannot ignore the winds of change. Before long the remaining Olympians will be gone and a new generation must take their place." The inquisitors again nodded to each other. Nora then pulled out a small card from her robes and threw it into the air. It spun in a circular motion and slowly descended towards Hyden. He reached out and caught the card. It's was small and translucent. He examined the card closely. In the corner there was an etched barcode and a name. "Hercules?" he read aloud. He looked up to the inquisitors, clearly puzzled. "Congratulations Mr. Riesser," said Solic. "You have been accepted into our ranks. A Master of The Pax Olympia." "Thank you, Masters, for this honor," replied Hayden, an odd sense of relief and frustration coming over him. Pride filled the eyes of Hayden's father. He embraced his son, then turned to the inquisitors. "You honor my family with your decision." "It's not everyday that we judge the son of an Olympian," replied Nora. She turned to Hayden, "Your father is one of our highest ranking members. His confidence in you is taken very seriously. If you turn out to be half the man he is, we will have gained a great asset today." She paused..."Do not make us regret our decision." "The name on your security card," interjected Solic. "You asked about it...The identities of our members are no secret to outsiders. But their rank and the nature of their projects are strictly confidential. So, every Master of The Pax Olympia is given a code name. It will be attached to all of your projects and records to protect you from the possibility of blackmail or torture in the event of a hack or leak. This is your identity when you are among us...Hercules." Hayden smiled, "I'll have to get used to that." "Your father will brief you further about the history of this order and the nature of your assignments," said Ryhan. "You are dismissed." The platform Hayden and Danyll had been standing on slowly returned to the ground. They walked off of the platform in a slow pace. Hayden took several steps looking to the ground contemplatively. When they reached the door to the atrium, he then looked up to his father and asked, "You've kept this secret, this whole time? Why didn't you tell me?" "I couldn't," answered his father, putting his arm around Hayden. "I knew that you would find out when you joined us. I had complete confidence in you son. I never doubted for an instant." "Does Mother know?" Hayden questioned. His father grinned. "Alcmene? Of course she knows. It's hard to keep something like this from your spouse. They are the only ones who are allowed to know." Hayden nodded in understanding. "What is your code name, Father?" "Oh, right," he replied. "I didn't tell you, yet..." He paused, pulled out his security card and handed it to his son. He smiled and said, "Zeus."