- "Though gods they were and as the elders of our time choose to remain blind, let us rejoice and sing and dance and reign in the new. Hail Atlantis!"
- —Sammy Bell
As is often the case in the wasteland, the secrets of the world that was have unknown effects on the new world that is. Strange sounds and accidental glimpses combine with limited understanding and cultural influences to create something wholly new and totally strange. Such is the case with the Atlantean Society, a Miami-based cult determined to build a submarine to sail down to the bottom of the ocean and rejoin with the marvelous city of Atlantis, or die trying.
The Atlantean Society was founded by Rafter captain Sammy Bell. He and his crew fished for a living, hauling up irradiated fish from the ocean and selling them to other crews or to people back on shore when they returned. The region's fish suffered severe bottlenecks due to overfishing before the war, and the war itself, resulting in a severely decreased population that required Sammy and his crew to sail out far from shore in order to make a sizable catch. On one such trip, before which Sammy neglected to tend to his ship, a piece of the rigging snapped, sending a loose piece of the ship flying, which knocked Sammy overboard.
He tumbled over the side and careened into the water, sinking down. He did not even have time to close his eyes, he was so surprised. What he saw when he landed in the ocean changing his life forever.
Far, far below, almost obscured by the darkness of the deep and the thickness of the water, Sammy saw lights and structures, elegant domes with entire cities enshrined inside, all of it gleaming and shining. He saw a paradise, and it took all his willpower to stop from gaping openly at what he saw. He knew, without question, that what he saw was real, and that it would make him safe. He would no longer have to fish far from shore for a living, if he could only make it down to that beautiful city below the ocean. That was where he wanted to be. And, what's more, he had a name for this majestic kingdom below the waves: "Atlantis".
If he had his way, Sammy would float underwater for all eternity, looking at this city, but he could not. He was forced to swim back to the surface, gasping and coughing for air. His crew had been looking where he fell with consternation but, once they saw that he was safe, they threw down a lifeline and hauled him ashore. When asked if he was okay, his only response was to order the crew back towards land and to mutter something about trying to "go back down there".
When the raft landed, Sammy gave his crew two-week's leave to spend their share of the haul, while Sammy went to think about what he saw and try and figure out what to do. As he spent those weeks thinking and researching, he eventually came to the conclusion that he had inadvertently rediscovered the lost city of Atlantis. From what he could find, scouring through destroyed libraries and book collections, reading with the best of his limited skill, Atlantis was an ideal society whose members founded the whole world before sinking into the ocean, where they lived under the sea in advanced technological harmony with the ocean floor, safe from harm and misfortune. When Sammy compared his own life to that of the Atlanteans, he became convinced that they were, as he put it, "on to something", and he resolved to find a way to join them under the sea somehow. Sammy rounded up his crew and managed to convince some of them of what he saw and what they must do, and they got to work.
Holing themselves up in a dry-dock in the Miami docks, Sammy and his men began trying to find a way to construct a submarine or diving sphere to get down to the bottom of the ocean and reach Atlantis. They scoured the area for books on submarine construction and material, but were unsuccessful. Undeterred, Sammy began construction anyway while also putting out the word that he would offer shelter and food to those who would help in his "noble endeavor". As construction continued, Sammy provided for his men by selling excess or unneeded salvage in exchange for food or other usable goods. At the same time, Sammy further developed his concepts about Atlantis, defining and describing in what way it was ideal, trying to figure out where the city's inhabitants came from, tracing its effects on the world, and trying to divine what life was like underwater. He was convinced of his conclusions and became further sure of the rightness of his course, and he began telling his followers as well. His community grew, and progress on the first submarine increased exponentially. Eventually, Sammy named the community he founded "The Atlantean Society" and renamed himself "Master Samuel Bellaphoron". He descended into either madness or genius (depending on who you ask), elevating his imaginary "Atlanteans" into gods among men, and began not only trying to reach them, but actively worshiping them, and he demanded that his followers do the same. Most did, and those that did not were exiled from the community. The cult became self-sufficient as it attracted tribal mystics and disgruntled farmers, growing crops to fuel its submarine efforts. Eventually, the first submarine was finished. It was an abject failure.
Samuel returned to the drawing board, using the knowledge of his new members to attempt a more successful submarine. Those who were upset about this first failure and began to doubt were assured that this was proof of the Atlantean's superiority, that they could live underwater while normal men could not even descend down. Support for the cult remained strong. However, Samuel could not come to a decision regarding some of the more abstract aspects of the Atlantean Society's doctrine, and the community began to divide into camps.
Activities and InterestsEdit
The Atlantean Society's primary goal is the construction of a submarine in order to sail to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and reach "Atlantis". However, it is unlikely that they will ever be welcomed inside their "Atlantis" (which is, in reality, the underwater city of Aquaculture), as their submarines are extremely unlikely to survive underwater, never mind have adequate propulsion to reach the city. So far, this has not deterred the Society's members.
Aside from constructing the submarine, a duty which every member of the community must share in, the Society's members each work according to his or her skills or past experiences, growing food, providing water, defending the sanctuary, or otherwise aiding the community. Each member is rewarded exactly the same, with a share of food, water, and miscellaneous caps to spend on outside goods; this is a system designed to make the citizens familiar with the communal system Samuel imagines the citizens of Atlantis operate under.
When they have free time, the Society's members socialize, sharing gifts with each other, preaching the Society's doctrine, playing or listening to music and dance, and debating some of the finer points of the Society's doctrine on Atlantis. Several factions have arisen within the community in regards to this doctrine, most of which is supported by the various disparate works on Atlantis written from the pre-war Renaissance onward. Samuel refuses to pick a side on doctrinal issues, although members of the Society imagine that he will have to eventually. Currently, the three major groups of the Society are the Hyperborean Cross, a group influenced by Theosophist and pro-Aryan views on Atlantis and by Nazi mysticism and occult theories, the Brothers of Poseidonis, influenced by views on Atlantis reached by believers in Psychic archaeology and who contend that the part of the city that Samuel saw was its remains, named "Poseidonis", and the Nephilium, who contend that the city was submerged during the Great Flood and that it is still inhabited by the Nephilim, the sons of angels.
The Atlantean Society is fairly non-discriminating in its members, allowing anyone in so long as they are willing to help in the construction, testing, and piloting of the group's submarine. Because it is mostly non-discriminating, castoffs from other groups will wind up within the Society. The Atlantean Society mostly consists of beatniks and neo-communists entranced either by the group's ideals of communal living or its quest to discover a place that no rational person thought existed. However, it has also attracted violent individuals, such as ex-raiders, whose actions and past habits reflect negatively on the Society.
Although the Society itself is non-discriminating, the sub-groups that make up a portion of its membership can be. The Hyperborean Cross, a reactionary, ethnocentric group within the Atlantean Society, only allow white men and women into its membership, and its members must comply with traditional gender roles, while the Brothers of Poseidonis tend to attract ex-tribal mystics, junkies and "psychics".