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Chapter 2: Enki

Enki stood steely eyed in his boat watching the still, black water’s surface. He slowly lifted his bow and pointed it towards the floating, lifeless bait he had thrown in the water earlier. His eyes scanned the shimmering surface, looking for any signs of movement. A few minutes passed in still silence. Then a large spiked shape appeared just under the water and lunged at the bait. In an instant Enki aimed his bow slightly above the bait and let go the taught wire holding his arrow while exhaling. In a flash of water the arrow pierced the beast’s flesh and it let go a bubbling cry. Enki quickly twisted the bow over and started reeling in the arrow’s line. “Nice one!” said Su’in from the other side of the boat.

Enki reeled in the giant fish towards the edge of the boat. It thrashed back and forth wildly. Enki reached for his knife and stabbed the fish to end its suffering and stop it from thrashing. He then grabbed the fish-net and swung it into the water to bring up his catch. It was considerably heavier than he expected and he dropped his bow to get a better grip. With both hands he hoisted the fish into the boat.

“Wow. That’s a big one,” said Enki. He looked at the giant slimy and spotted pike, mouth agape.

“We’ll eat good tonight,” added Su’in.

“Take a picture of me with it, will ya?” asked Enki.

“Sure.”

Enki picked up the pike with a big grin and held it up in the traditional fashion.

Su’in pointed his wrist-camera towards Enki and said, “Smile.” He snapped the shot and then lunged towards the side of the boat causing the whole thing to nearly capsize. Enki, unbalanced from holding the giant fish, went tumbling into the water.

Enki threw the fish back into the boat and swam back over.

“Got ya!” said Su’in, laughing.

“Frackin’ Enlil! I almost lost the fish,” yelled Enki, holding back a grin. He climbed back in the boat and added, “I’ll get you back for that one.”

“...hool dear...” Enki heard some distant voice saying. Something prodded his back.

“Time for school dear,” his mother repeated, his consciousness slowly returning.

“Oh... okay,” he responded tossing off his covers.

He jumped out of bed and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. “What time is it?”

“It’s 7:30. You need to hurry or you’ll be late.”

“Okay.”

He got dressed, ate breakfast, brushed his teeth, and grabbed his school tablet.

“You need to stop staying out so late, dear,” his mother said to him as he was getting ready to leave. “Did you do your homework?”

“I think so,” he replied. His mom shook her head, disapproving. “Bye mom. Bye dad. I have to go.”

“All right. Have a good day,” his mom said.

“Don’t stay out too late tonight,” added his dad.

Enki slouched in his chair as the teacher lectured about history. His mind wandered to more important things, like bow-fishing in Dark Lake, or rock climbing with his friend Su’in after school. He perked up when he heard the word “rebellion.”

“So as you can see, the rebellion of 415 was not only about resources, but also about the desire of the rebels to procreate more freely. What both of these things have in common is as old as time itself: selfishness. The selfish desire to have more than your fellow humans, more resources and more of your very own personal genes be passed down more than others’ genes. In the end, it was this selfishness that doomed the rebellion.”

Enki’s eyes wondered over to Inanna, a tall, athletic, dark-haired girl that he would frequently try not to stare at, but failed. She was making notes on her tablet.

“After the battle of Greengot’s Gourge in 416, the Alliance government realized they would need help to defeat the rebels; they couldn’t do it alone. So they contacted the Pit territory and asked for assistance. When the Pit agreed to help they formed a council to design a new plan of attack. This plan pivoted around the idea of splitting the rebels – ’divide and conquer’ as the old saying goes. They formed a blockade on the rebel strongholds to choke off any supply routes and then offered a series of olive branches to individuals within the rebel forces. Eventually this caused their forces to splinter.”

The teacher looked at the clock and said, “Okay. That’s it for today, class. Please read chapter three tonight. Dismissed.”

Enki rushed out the door, down the hall, and out of the school and didn’t stop until he reached the clearing where he and Su’in would usually meet. Su’in was already there with the climbing gear. “Ready for some climbing?” he asked.

The two climbers hiked to Enlil’s Head, a popular climbing destination in Eridu. When they arrived they saw two other climbers were already there, half-way up the cliff face. The overhead lights that blanketed Eridu flickered overhead through a thin layer of fog. Enki and Su’in put on their climbing harnesses and powdered their hands. They pulled on the ropes and hooks to make sure they were secure. Su’in said, “Last one up has to read chapter three and summarize it.” “Deal,” replied Enki.

They started climbing the rock face, finding foot holds in the cracked, dry surface. It was a challenging climb, almost one hundred meters from bottom to top. The ceiling of the cave was almost a kilometer higher.

Su’in was generally the faster climber. He had a determination and upper body strength that Enki could not match. He expertly secured a hook in a crevice, then bounded up, released his bottom-most hook, and repeated. He was somehow able to grab a nearly vertical ledge on the rock and support his weight on it. Enki tried an easier path to the right of the “face” that gave this cliff its name, but it was no use. Su’in beat him to the top by a minute.

From the top of Enlil’s Head, all of the city of Eridu was visible. They could see the grid pattern of the streets; the jumbled blocks of apartments, offices, and vertical farms; and the towering spire of the Capital building. Enki and Su’in were breathing heavily and collapsed on a bench-shaped rock to rest. They gulped down some water from their packs and took out some protein bars. The other two climbers there were already well rested. They were an older couple and were clearly experienced climbers. They exchanged greetings with Enki and Su’in and then started the climb back down the cliff.

Next Chapter: Chapter 3: Enlil