people still paused at sunset, to watch the sky burst into flame.
had ceased to be the monster they all thought it was. In fact, some
seemed to enjoy lighting a bonfire every night, when the day shift
had been hard work, at first. They had nothing set up. Exploring the
land was fun, but it took them a while to realize what they were
looking for. The Dome, now Home Base, had been anchored securely on
the coastline. Ships had gone out to catch fish for food. Every week
or so, the Ark-Hive would float a container full of foodstuffs that
they recognized, or some processed ore for construction. A sub would
go out to tow it back, and bring along letters and news.
Communications were a little spotty. It had been centuries since
people on land had called anyone on the bottom of the ocean. There
was much to relearn.
had ceremonially broken ground on the first building, first road,
first dormitory. Little by little, they were expanding.
had acted in good faith, knowing how tenuous his position was, and
crops were planted, species were tank-grown and reintroduced. Cora
had personally released the first synth-birds into the air, and
hundreds of people had shouted in awe, watching something that could
was jealous. Birds could move in three dimensions, and she couldn’t
anymore. Not without being underwater.
first, nobody had wanted to move out of the Dome, but little by
little, people were establishing themselves properly on The Land.
Families were forming, babies on the way.
was happy for them. But Ano could see the melancholy behind her
the only one here who’s like me.” Cora confessed to her. “All
my friends, all the people I planned to spend my future with; they’re
all staying below.”
been really busy.” Ano pointed out. “When was the last time you
even went for a swim?”
can’t even see below the water any more.” Cora sighed. “So easy
this was not the day for such thoughts. Green Sector had just
arrived, coming in to land. There were a new crowd of people to house
and put to work. Cora had greeted people as they came out, welcoming
faces she knew; giving directions here and there. She was surprised
when she saw that the statue of her mother had apparently been taken
from the Memorial Ship and sent to the Surface. That would have been
surprising enough, but then she saw that Green Sector had an escort.
dolphins had followed.
took some doing, to refit a large enough section.” Cora had been
told. “But the tunnels still run through the whole Sector. Almost a
dozen dolphins came with us, pressurized to this depth. They’re
shallow-water fish again.”
had made all the right noises, taken it in stride. She had organized
a place for the statue of her mother, in the centre of what was fast
becoming their little town. As everyone applauded, she had placed her
father’s ashes at the base of the statue, right where he’d want
the moment her shift ended, she had almost run to the beach; harness
in one hand, TABB in the other. Delphi stuck his bottlenose up to
meet her, squealing happily. “Cora! Found Cora!”
had hugged the dolphin tightly. “You’re here! You know you can’t
go straight back! You depressurized with-”
Swim!” Delphi was having none of that. He had already prodded
Cora’s legs to get her floating; trying to wriggle into his
harness, even without her help. She put it on him properly, and they
were instantly off like a shot. She understood. They would talk. But
what they were doing now was more important. They raced around the
Dome, then around Home Base, then along the beach.
a full hour of this, Delphi let her go, and raced along on his own
for a while. The dolphin seemed to delight in leaping out of the
water, doing flips, making perfect dives; getting to know the surface
in his own way. “Waves fun!” Delphi chattered to her.
laughed, feeling years younger. “You know, this is how it was for
your people, before it all went bad. My ancestors gave yours gills;
but this is how it was for you, way back then.” She lay on her
back, floating, looking up at the stars. “I’ve missed this.”
She said quietly to her friend. “I told Tai once that in the water
you don't feel heavy anymore. You just... Close your eyes and let it
hold you up, hold you still. If there's movement in the water, you
don't even feel it as you move. When you just let yourself be in the
water, you're part of it… It becomes you. Tai thought it was like
being born." She turned over and hugged him. “Thank you for
this. I’ve been working so long, I forgot how the ocean lets you
just… be still.”
nudged her. “Better than still.”
than being still is going very fast.” Cora laughed. “Okay, let’s
swim again.” She turned to grip the harness. “One day we’ll go
back, Delphi. We’ll go back and we’ll ride the deeps. You, me,
Nix... Tai. We’ll go back to where we’re meant to be.”
chattered in approval, and the two of them took off again.
Note From The Author: I hope you all enjoyed The Ark-Hive, in its serialised format. If you prefer to take it with you, you can head over to Amazon, and buy the whole book; in a complete ebook format, or in paperback.