The Hall of the Authorities was monolithic and shimmered wondrously beneath the light of daybreak. Glass walls climbed upward to arch over the walkway and meet at an angled point, reflecting every finite shift of color and light and projecting it down the endless corridors.
I ignored the glory of the architecture of my people, having seen it a dozen times a week for most of my life, and pushed open the blue-tinted glass doors into the gathering chambers – the heart of the Hall of the Authorities. Even with all of the open space, my steps made no sound; my passage through the doorway was quieter than a whisper of wind.
And yet, they knew I was there.
The voices of the Authorities were soft and almost effervescent; they did not feel like sounds, they felt like the smell of rain before the storm. In unison, they said, “Luna, we have been awaiting your arrival.”
I stopped in the center of the Hall and dropped gently to my knees, my head bowed low, my eyes closed. It was impolite to look upon the Authorities until you were invited to, but I had seen them as specters a hundred times as a child, in my peripheral vision, when my eyes should have been closed. “Authorities,” I murmured, careful of the volume of my voice.
In unison, they said, “It has been decided, Luna, that you will travel to the meeting of the species.”
I knew better than to question the Authorities, but my emotions were riotous. I wanted to return to the hunt, the urge was so forceful that it threatened to separate my clenched teeth and use my voice to vent its frustration. The previously near-weightless whip slung along my hip seemed heavy all of the sudden. I had so much time to make up, so many corners of the earth to search.
There were children missing! And not just ours, but children from every species! How could I be sent off to a meeting? Surely there were others, and certainly others more socially adept, to go to the meeting. How was it that I was chosen? I wanted to ask, I wanted to accuse them of risking the lives of other children. I wanted a reason that I was sent off to do something so trivial. I already knew the other species were missing their young; I already knew it, and I was already tracking the source of the disappearances. How could that take a lower priority than a mere gathering?
All that would happen at the meeting would be chatter – species accusing other species, species wailing about their losses, species as frightened and incapable of deciphering a solution out of this great mess as the missing children were. I belonged elsewhere, on the hunt, with my whip and my intuition.
Not in another hall, crowded together with a half-dozen other species, counting the seconds until I could return to the hunt. I ached to leave, to begin the chase once more, but I remained planted firmly on my knees.
The Authorities could sense the struggle in me. In unison, they repeated, “It has been decided, Luna.”
I had only one option.