IN DEFENSE OF DISASTER
Tomorrow I will defend my doctoral dissertation at the Vansqvaa Institute for Higher Learning. This doctorate will be the sum total of efforts that have spanned eight years.
With the world-renowned scholar, Dr. Iasko Ekkleono, as my supportive main professor since my first Fresher day, Iasko (or Isekey, as he prefers to be called) has been my staunchest ally since the first class I had with him. From the very start, he has appreciated my insight and my unique take on practically everything. It is largely because of his wise instruction and strong support that I have succeeded so far. With his help, I am a step closer to attaining my new legal name of Doctor Ithyanna D’Yel Tiekka.
But before I can legally take on the title of “Doctor,” I must defend what is probably the most controversial dissertation of all time …
Diary of Ithyanna D’Yel Tiekka
Eve of her Doctoral Dissertation Defense-Day
MULTI-LANE STREET, LOXXDIEKKO, KHALITARION, ATLANTIS
10 YEARS, 72 DAYS TO “FLOOD-DAY”
TWO “WATCHES” (PRESENT-DAY HOURS) AFTER DAWN
Think you got your dissertation presentation down? Biannia psych-spoke into Ithyanna’s mind as the twenty-five-year-olds, wearing their backpacks and com-linked hover-bike helmets, dodged and wove their way down the primary thoroughfare on Ithyanna’s foldable maglev hover-bike—an Atlantean Hover-Tech Industries (“Ahti”) Vitexra 9000 Limited Edition. As usual, the Loxxdiekko morning traffic was a study in barely civilized chaos.
I sure have, Ithyanna psych-responded while driving maniacally, like everyone else, at 70 long-cubits per watch (roughly 69.5 nautical miles/80 miles per hour) down the multi-lane street, where the speed limit was 60. I’ve practiced in front of a mirror five times a day for half-a-moon! If that’s not enough, I sure as Perdition don’t know what is!
Well, watch your driving! Biannia psych-shouted. You’re asking for major dung—
Ithyanna’s lunatic hover-biking caught the attention of a rookie Law-Knight with the Khalitarion Road Safety Knighthood—more commonly called the KRSK, or just “Kirskies.” The dutiful Kirskie, detecting Ithyanna’s reckless driving, hit the two-note ram’s horn-like siren on his own hover-bike and dashed to stop her.
Now look what you’ve done, Ithy! Biannia psych-shouted. Your driving’s made the Kirskies madder than a hive of death-bees!
I’ll handle this! Ithyanna suggested into her worried sister’s mind.
But that Kirskie’s got your glutes right where he wants you!
I said I’ll handle this, sis! Ithyanna psych-scolded Biannia as she pulled to the roadside and shut off her hover-bike.
The young Law-Knight, wearing an armored helmet and sun goggles, pulled up and parked behind them, shut off his hover-bike and its klaxon, and radioed his superiors. Ithyanna, knowing the routine, prepared herself psychically. She flipped up her sun-visor, as required by law, while the Kirskie strutted toward her.
“What seems to be the problem, officer?” Ithyanna asked sheepishly.
“Lady, you were doing 70 in a 60-zone!” scolded the Kirskie officer in an accent that suggested a farming background. “I’m gonna have to give you a Writ of Traffic!”
“I really didn’t go that fast, officer,” she said nonchalantly as she imprinted a mental suggestion into the dutiful yet gullible KRSK officer’s mind with a charming feminine smile.
The Kirskie, affected by Ithyanna’s power of mental suggestion, blinked, paused, and replied, “No, I guess you really weren’t going that fast.”
“I kept my speed in time with the traffic,” Ithyanna continued.
“Come to think of it,” he responded under Ithyanna’s mental control, “you did stay within the speed of the traffic flow.”
“May I kindly get on with my day, please, Lord Law-Knight?”
“Sure,” the Kirskie said with a grin. “Have a nice day.”
“Thanks!” Ithyanna said, mentally releasing the Kirskie before he walked away and remounted his hover-bike, believing he had made an honest rookie’s mistake.
“Ithy, I thought we were gonners this time!” Biannia said as the Kirskie rode away. “It’s the tenth time in the last three moons you’ve beaten a road-rap!”
Ithyanna sported a cocky grin as she quipped, “Ah, but you forget, dear sister, that we telepaths have powers over the simpler-minded! And trust me, I always know what I’m doing.”
“Someday, sis,” Biannia said, shaking her head, “someday your wacko driving’s gonna turn your glutes into blood-plaster either on another vehicle or on the road!”
Ithyanna psych-choked Biannia for a split-second to shut her up.
“Must you always you do that?” Biannia said, miffed.
Ithyanna mischievously batted her eyebrows once and grinned as she psychically lowered her sun-visor before heading for Vansqvaa—albeit more cautiously.
WEST GATES, VANSQVAA INSTITUTE FOR HIGHER LEARNING,
LOXXDIEKKO, KHALITARION, ATLANTIS
“Please state your name—kin-name first, followed by all given names—date of birth and study program name while holding either hand on the hand-scanner and looking into the optiscanner,” ordered the Vansqvaa security computer’s automated female voice.
Ithyanna stared into the optiscanner while holding her left hand on the self-cleaning hand-scanner and said, “D’Yel Tiekka, Ithyanna Iosevya Baraelina … Adam-Year 1620, Moon 7, Day 15 … Applied Prophetic Sciences, Doctoral.”
“Kaukaeshyaan, Biannia Caucasica Angsaxnia …” Biannia said, doing likewise. “Adam-Year 1620, Moon 7, Day 15 … Applied Prophetic Sciences, Doctoral.”
A green light flashed as the security force-field in front of Ithyanna and Biannia temporarily deactivated, allowing them to pass.
WOMEN’S CHANGE/RESTROOM, FLOOR 3, SECTION DELTAEON
VANSQVAA INSTITUTE FOR HIGHER LEARNING
“You look awesome, sister!” Biannia said after Ithyanna changed into her pink business gown and low-heeled sandals outfit. As Ithyanna applied her makeup, Biannia continued, “But then, you always had the best fashion sense of any woman in Atlantis.”
“Thanks, but looking the part is one thing,” Ithyanna commented. “Doing it is another. Wish me luck.”
“May Providence be with you, Ithy,” Biannia said, a veiled expression of her faith in the Lord God Almighty of Elohism, often a point of family contention.
CLASSROOM 333, FLOOR 3, SECTION DELTAEON
VANSQVAA INSTITUTE FOR HIGHER LEARNING
“And so, in summary, noble scholars …” Ithyanna intoned, standing beside the wall-sized 3-D video-crystal she had been using to illustrate her presentation. “One: The well-reputed Nightmare of King Nebukhimrod of the erstwhile Chaldylonite Realm clearly illustrates the causes that led to the downfall of four of the Nightmare’s five kingdoms, similar to that prophesied to happen to today’s Iron-Clay Kingdoms.
“The patterns in said Nightmare become increasingly clearer upon study of the fate of the first four kingdoms and the particular circumstances of the final kingdom’s downfall,” she continued, taking pains to balance the passion she felt for the subject with erudite caution befitting a doctoral candidate.
Ithyanna paused to drink from a water-flask while her chief scholar for the past four years, the handsome, world-renowned scientist Dr. Iasko Ekkleono, scanned the small library’s worth of notes he had taken so far on Ithyanna’s presentation. Iasko was known as a fair but tough examiner, as scholars went. The light brown-haired scholar was more of an old-fashioned thinker, though cognizant that most scholars and students were more liberal-minded than himself. Ithyanna was the pupil towards whom Iasko felt more respect than anyone else he had taught during his entire career. The respect was mutual.
Ithyanna advanced the screen to her next slide before she resumed, “Two: There has been a startling increase in abnormal migration and erratic behaviors among most species of wildlife, a relentless increase in crop failures in recent years. Notice carefully the statistics on the graphs on the slide before you.”
Ithyanna changed the slide again and continued, “Three: The exponential rise in stillbirths and miscarriages, both accidental and induced, and in the births of severely deformed babies, the sharp decrease in live births among women, along with the skyrocketing rate in sexual and reproductive dysfunction among males in recent years, have all raised grave concern globally.”
She waved to the following slide as she expounded further, “Four: The world’s blatant disregard for personal and collective morality has created a geometric increase in crime and virtual urban control by criminal elements.”
With another wave of her hand, Ithyanna elaborated, “Five: The accompanying parallel increase in worldwide governmental and mega-business corruption and scandals, as particularly evidenced by the recent round of share-market scandal-crashes, which have perhaps irrevocably wounded the global economy.
“And lastly …” Ithyanna said, waving to the next slide, “Six: Military escalation and the belligerent crystal-bomb arms race by all the realms has spiraled out of control.
“All this, noble scholars, leads to only one conclusion,” Ithyanna warned. “Our Earth, and all life upon it, are doomed … with the end, based on the combined forecasts, to come upon us roughly ten to fifteen years from now. The time estimate is approximate, but given the data and conclusions presented, confidence in this prediction and its timeframe is high. Yet along with this message of impending doom, there is hope—the only realistic solution. I allude, of course, to what I have named …”
Ithyanna paused, holding her audience in suspense before waving her hand with destiny-laden majesty before she announced, “… Project Life-Escape.”
“Project Life-Escape, noble scholars,” Ithyanna stated, “is the mass relocation of a sample group of ethical humans from all walks of life, along with recorded media of our world’s collective culture, and various species of animal life, to habitable planets located in other galaxies. This mass evacuation of at least a nucleus of our planet’s peoples is necessitated in large part because of the alien-imposed Anti-Earth Embargo.
“As is common knowledge,” Ithyanna continued, “this measure, instituted by all the other planets, has prohibited them from having any kind of contact or exchange with us. These worlds claim this embargo is for their own ‘protection.’ This is why we must seek our own uninhabited yet habitable planets to remake into our new home worlds. It is up to us and us alone to find a new home world, or home worlds, for ourselves.
“With enough funds,” Ithyanna elaborated as she advanced to the next slide, “probing for such planets and the eventual construction of such space vessels can be carried out in short order. Along with the total embargo by all other worlds within this galaxy, the scenarios presented make evacuation to worlds beyond our galaxy imperative. But more formal, quantified study of this hypothesis needs to be done,” Ithyanna advised as she advanced the presentation to the final slide.
“Therefore, noble scholars, I recommend, as a result of these findings, that more detailed study on this matter be performed in the halls of academia. Such a dire conclusion, as well as the bold solution, such as the one proposed by this doctoral candidate, requires investigation by learned people within academic circles. This cannot be left to private industry in the beginning. But begin we must … and soon, for the watch is much later than most of us think. As I stated previously, we may not have more than fifteen years, if we’re lucky. Therefore, I urge that an examination of this matter commence with the utmost seriousness as soon as possible.”
Ithyanna shut off the screen with a final wave before adding, “I now submit myself and my dissertation to the panel for examination and questioning.”
“Firstly, I wish to thank you, Lady D’Yel Tiekka,” said Vansqvaa’s Lord Chief Scholar and Supreme Dean, Dr. Yovaeon Hageono, in his inimitably gentle, learned, baritone voice, “for your eye-opening dissertation, which I’m sure has raised masses of eyebrows. I ask my fellow panelists to pose their questions to Lady D’Yel Tiekka.”
Dr. Lextrina Sordena, a prominent Vansqvaa scholar, raised her hand. It was acknowledged by the graying chair of the five-scholar examination panel, the revered, dark-skinned “grand old man” of the Institute, who cast a fatherly presence over the proceedings. “Dr. Sordena, you’re first,” said Dr. Hageono.
Scarlet-haired Dr. Sordena stood and asked, in her relaxed but professional contralto voice, “Thank you, Dr. Hageono. Lady D’Yel Tiekka, are there any further proofs you can present to support your theories?”
“There is an additional piece of evidence to support what I have already presented, Dr. Sordena,” Ithyanna said. “That evidence is in the form of a commonly shared warning, which consists of a catalogue of human behaviors that could easily pass for a character description of the common person today. Hearts given to self-centeredness. Rampant greed for gold and other forms of power. Pride. Arrogance. Abusive behavior toward others and themselves. Disrespect for parents and other forms of authority. Ingratitude. Sacrilege. Heartlessness. A near-total lack of reasonability. Implacability. Extreme and rampant defamation. Recklessness. Brutality. Hatred of long-held standards of good and evil. Treachery. Conceitedness. A fetish-level obsession with hedonism. And last but not least, a society where even the majority of those who profess to be righteous and/or god-revering, regardless of their faith persuasion, deny the power of good and right. Present society, as many social commentators have observed, is rife with this.
“And to make matters worse, especially as a woman myself,” Ithyanna said, “most of the women of our time have become particularly susceptible to dishonesty, with these millions of women burdened with their own evils and sorely misled by various passions. Even surveys conducted by the Public Pulse Institute have illustrated that in their quest for learning, while today’s women usually learn something new all the time, they never truly arrive at knowledge of the truth—and indeed, veer further and further away from it.”
“Thank you, Lady D’Yel Tiekka,” Dr. Sordena said as Ithyanna’s chastising words pointed her toward an unflinching analysis of her own soul.
Dr. Sekk uu-Laar had raised a hand. A guest scholar-panelist from rival school Westerealm Institute, the short silver-haired man was known to be a strictly analytical scholar who could be persuaded only by quantifiable facts.
“Dr. uu-Laar,” Dr. Hageono said.
Dr. uu-Laar stood and questioned Ithyanna with a stentorian voice, “Thank you, Dr. Hageono. Lady D’Yel Tiekka, that sort of anecdotal ‘evidence’ is all well and good, but are there other solid facts and figures to support your conclusions?”
“If the secular statistics and other data I have furnished are still unsatisfactory, noble scholars,” Ithyanna spoke with conviction, “there is, in addition, a grievous glut of sociocultural evidence that the recent loosening of personal, family, and collective morality has resulted in a geometric rise in crime and virtual seizure of the streets by criminal hordes. This disturbing set of sociological factors compounds the interlinked proofs I have given in answer to the question posed by your fellow panelist, Lady scholar Dr. Sordena. I believe I have already elaborated on the rest, Lord scholar. It’s a simple case of cause and effect; I merely connected the points accordingly.”
Dr. Hageono saw that Dr. Liviana Nu-Yonn, a renowned Vansqvaa scholar and émigré from the Commonwealth of Austrael, had raised her right hand. “Dr. Nu-Yonn,” he said as the comely scholar rose.
“Thank you, Dr. Hageono,” the strawberry blonde said with a relaxed voice and accent that belied her reputation as a tough examiner. “Now, Lady D’Yel Tiekka, I know you’ve already outlined your group’s solution for dealing with this grave matter. Presuming work goes forth on Project Life-Escape, how are those who will go to be chosen?”
“In regard to whom we will select to go on this space trek of life,” Ithyanna told Dr. Nu-Yonn, whom she held in high esteem, “I propose that they represent a cross-section of persons from as many respectable walks of life as possible, from all over the world. The final selection will be conducted using various forms of personality testing, similar to the psychological assessment tests and interviews used for employment applications. As is commonly known, noble scholars, such employment processes are based not merely on skills but also upon temperament and various other psychological factors—amicability toward others and willingness to work with others while having a healthy individuality, to balance things out personality-wise.
“While such a roster could never be truly complete, Lady scholar,” Ithyanna concluded, “it would still be far better than nothing.”
“Now, Lady D’Yel Tiekka,” said Dr. Hageono, as he posed the final question after almost a full watch of tough, pointed questioning by the panel, “since you propose that your band of survivors be an international one, there will undoubtedly be a conflict of cultural and national values that could induce prejudices that could destroy such a project as yours. How do you propose to bridge this potential attitudinal impasse?”
“Again, Lord scholar,” Ithyanna commented. “I allude to the proposed use of existing, reliable employment-personality tests to weed out those with petty demographic hatreds based on faith, race, morality, and so on. Any more questions?”
Silence gave Ithyanna the answer.
“Thank you, Lady D’Yel Tiekka,” Dr. Hageono spoke for himself and on behalf of his colleagues. “Unless anyone has anything further that he or she wishes to add, I believe we are finished with our examination of this dissertation.”
After a momentary silence, Ithyanna concluded, “Upon that, noble scholars, I wish to thank each of you greatly for taking the time today to listen to my explanation of rather soul-wrenching research … research that is nonetheless based upon hard facts and evidence that I believe was needed to be given in the form of this doctoral dissertation. Again, I thank each and every one of you very much for your time today.”
Ithyanna did the customary curtsy-bow expected of female doctoral candidates as the panel of scholars applauded, concluding the doctoral defense session.
FLOOR 3 CORRIDOR OUTSIDE CLASSROOM 333, SECTION DELTAEON
VANSQVAA INSTITUTE FOR HIGHER LEARNING
The classroom door slid open as Ithyanna left the chamber and walked toward a bench just down the hall, where Biannia sat waiting for her.
“Well,” Biannia asked, “how did it go?”
“It was rough,” a tired Ithyanna spoke, “but I think I stated my case very well.”
“At any rate, I know you’re gonna graduate, Ithy. And it’s not just because you’re my sister. You’re a real brain, girl.”
“Thanks, sis, but all we can do now is wait for what the Body Scholastic has to say in a moon’s time … to see whether or not you’re right.”
OCEAN OFF COAST OF KHALITARION REPUBLIC-PROVINCE
ATLANTIS, PLANET EARTH
10 YEARS, 58 DAYS TO “FLOOD-DAY”, 2.5 WATCHES AFTER DAWN
“Care to see if word’s come from Vansqvaa?” Biannia said aloud just after she and Ithyanna surfaced together as they finished their usual morning swim.
“What else can we do?” Ithyanna asked. “I just hope we’re both graduating.”
“Why would you think we wouldn’t?”
“I dunno,” Ithyanna mused. “It’s demons of doubt in my belly, I guess. Besides, my dissertation was pretty controversial.”
“Think positive!” Biannia encouraged. “Let’s go home and see if the Posters delivered us notices of failure or graduation. Last one ashore is a Lemurian!”
SUITE OF IOSEVV D’YEL TIEKKA, LANDLORD-PROPERTY MANAGER
IOS-BAR DWELLING REALMS, LOXXDIEKKO, KHALITARION, ATLANTIS
20 MOMENTS (30 MINUTES) LATER
“Just the two lovely young ladies I wanted to see!” a happy Iosevv said as he held a large scroll in each hand. “I took the liberty of unfurling and reading them, ever so carefully resealing the scrolls. Read 'em and shout for joy!”
Iosevv handed Ithyanna her scroll-letter and Biannia hers. Each opened her scroll and eagerly read the contents. Both had passed with flying colors and would graduate with the rest of their class. In addition, Ithyanna’s scroll also indicated that she was slated to be the graduates’ “Voice of the Future,” chosen to deliver a speech on behalf of the class at the ceremonies.
“WHAA-HOO!” Ithyanna shouted, jumping up and down more like a toddler than the “doctor” she was about to become after years of hard work.
“HALLELUJAH!” shouted Biannia, the family Elohist, at the great news.
“Are you girls happy?” a thrilled Iosevv quipped drily.
“Are we happy?” Ithyanna jested. “Are we happy? Do aerosaurs fly?”