Blue, страница 1
By Michael Carter (c) 2013
It devoured my vessel, so I pursue it with vengeance.
We were to be colonists, new adventurers on this G-class planet, a new life, a new goal. For my family and I, simply to exist on Earth was no longer acceptable. My daughter, Spiral, had been one of the increasing millions to be born with chronic asthma and her respiratory deficiencies only increased with her age. Hundreds of years of dust, of mechanical industrial wreckage, of polluted smoke and acrid water has laid waste to Earth. The vomit of technology has made the air noxious, and turned the seas to bile. Yet the advance of the tech and the magic of science had led humanity to swarm like bacteria. Twelve point six billion people clustered our Earth, and half of them were choking.
The Kepler drive, engineered into all new commercial iShips from the mid 22nd century helped to ease the problem. Out in the galaxy at large, there were tens of thousands of G-class planets, Goldilocks worlds. Eventually these worlds were explored, and currently it is taking around twelve years from a planet being first arrived at by Scouter parties, to it being declared safe and open for colonists, and given an RI rating. Most worlds had dangers and risks in some form, and an RI could range from 1 for a benign planet, mostly-lifeless yet capable of sustaining life, right up to an RI 8 which meant extreme meteorological, biological, atmospheric or chemical hazards. There are colonists who want nothing but an easy life, while there are certain characters who would wither and stagnate under such limp conditions, and require danger, risk and hazard in their lives. Everyone, as long as you had the moneybags, could choose a world to their liking and give it a go, away from the dust of Earth.
My family and I – though mostly I – chose a category 5 world called Mosa VI, known more colourfully simply as Blue. It is a waterworld and consists of 98% ocean, with small frozen islands at the poles. It is the home to a multitude of marine life, though nothing similar to humanity has yet emerged from the depths. Back on Earth was the joke; “If you don’t like the taste of fish, give Mosa VI a mish”; humanity’s humour was as dry as its homeworld.
Blue was to be a new beginning for my family. The atmosphere is very similar to that of the Earth five hundred years ago, before progress had begun to poison it. The air is thick, cold, healthy; it is what lungs were made for. My daughter would thrive here. Alas, she has not yet made it to the surface. We all travelled for four years, across nineteen light years to get here, and yet now my family are two hundred miles away from me but completely out of my reach.
This had been the plan; on arrival in orbit around Blue we found temporary quarters in the geosynchronous Station that circles the world. From there I made negotiations to buy and construct a craft that would become our home on the new planet. I am an inventor; indeed, it is through a simple yet ingenious invention that I made my moneybags. In the century of interstellar travel, zero-gravity is everywhere, and if you can’t afford a zero-G drive for your ship, then you were stuck with years of things floating away in opposite directions all the time. I created a simple polymer, marketed as GStik, a semi-liquid that you sprayed on things to make them adhere to something else. Suddenly, ships with no G-drives could have things in them; furniture, shelving with items on them, tables, a shoe rack, a bathroom cabinet. The spray was odourless and largely invisible, yet kept a pliable tenuous hold to precious items. GStik allowed space-travel to become like home, and I made millions. But inter-stellar travel, not inter-planetary travel, but inter-stellar travel doesn’t come cheap, and it has cost most of my millions to get us here on an express voyage. It cost more of our money to construct our home, a three-storey self-propelled triangular shaped craft that would float on the waters’ surface, but was also submersible up to two thousand metres. The craft – predictably, and with reference to its mobility, we christened it ‘MOBY’ – was forty metres long, and twenty wide on its longest side; more than enough room for myself, my wife, and our two daughters to live comfortably. We would fish the ocean, explore the world in more detail than the initial Scouter team, perhaps I would invent something vital to the few thousand people who live here.
When the day came when MOBY was ready for launch my family and I were very excited. My moneybags were slowly running dry, but we would need little hard cash on this new world, and would have everything we could need to have a good life. I was to launch and land MOBY on the surface first; there was a small risk of accident during this procedure and I had no wish to endanger my family. They would follow on a hired transport after a few days when I had set up all the systems.
The time for launch arrived, and I said goodbye to my family – the first time I had been without them in four years, but we would be together again in just a few days.
“Love you loads, kiss your nose.” I said to each of them, before I left for the spacedock.
The launch went flawlessly, the drop through the atmosphere in a casing of titanium was a little bumpy but fine, and I used the thrusters to slowly splash down on the gorgeous blue water. I had only time to communicate my joy at landing safely, and my eagerness to get everything running so that my family could join me; I had mere minutes inside MOBY, my new home, that had taken around five years to design and build, before that behemoth leviathan creature rose from the depths in a volcanic eruption of water and bubbling foam and lunged at me, its vast horizontally-opening mouth opening in a cavernous and terrible pit down into the bowels of its stomach. It was like some sort of hideously gigantic eel, with fins and flippers running down its side, vast gills like gorges running along its length. The MOBY had some weapons – this was an RI 5 world, after all – but they were not yet activated, and they were nowhere near enough to do any significant damage to this immense beast.
So I did what I had to do and ejected myself quickly in one of the small craft on the MOBY that were to serve as pleasure vehicles – a life-raft, if you like. It shot out of the MOBY at lightning speed and was very quickly several kilometres away from my brief home and the hideous vast destruction of that demon fish.
I watched, bone-chilled and stranded on my new eden, as the creature bore down on the MOBY, swept it up in its gaping many-toothed jaws, much like the legendary whale would swallow a salmon, and dived into the depths. In minutes, all trace of it had vanished beneath the water, and all that remained was a huge ripple wave that its presence had created. I sealed all my ports, screamed my lungs out with this beautiful new air, and was tossed heavily around in my hold as the waves passed by me. I was knocked unconscious and when I awoke, bruised and bleeding from the head, all was calm. The creature, my home-craft, and my future had sunk into the vast deepness of Mosa VI.
Thankfully – thank the lords of creation – I created and added these small pleasure craft to MOBY’s design, and more thanks that I gave them decent communication equipment. I am in touch with my family; they know that I am alive, yet for many hours, as I lay unconscious, they feared the worst. This is a small craft, around five metres long, submersible only to about five hundred feet. It was designed to carry two people across short distances. I have the ability to fish and to cook, and I have a unit to desalinate the water. I will survive, but there is no room here for my family. Besides, the air in here quickly grows stagnant, and needs replacing every few hours. My daughter’s asthma will only worsen in these cramped conditions. There is nowhere for them to live on this world, yet they cannot remain in rented quarters on the orbiting Station forever. Space is expensive, and my moneybags are emptying; my fortune has been swallowed by a giant fish. Space, like the rest of humanity, is also unforgiving. I, and my family, are purely responsible for ourselves. No-one will come to our rescue, and the remainder of my fortune – the small percentage I left behind for distant relatives – is at least eight years away. The money I have left
It devoured my vessel so now I pursue it with vengeance. This is how I see my immediate future. That thing, that monstrosity of the deep, was never mentioned in the biology lists of Mosa VI. The world would certainly not have been given an RI rating of 5 with that thing – or things – lurking in its waters. Somehow, fantastic as it seems, the Scouting team must have missed it in ten years, while I found it in ten minutes.
So. The way forward seems clear. I must hunt the beast, and in some way get proof of its existence here. Perhaps I can catch it, or kill it, but I know that my salvation lies somehow in its demise. Perhaps with proof I can claim compensation from the Scouters and reclaim some of my dream. Perhaps my MOBY will still be in the things stomach cavities and can be salvaged. All I know that my destiny and the destiny of that creature are inextricably linked.
I am living in a small craft, tiny, more-or-less alone on a huge ocean full of monsters. How will I locate and catch my quarry? I have no idea as yet, but I’ll think of something. After all, I am an inventor.
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Afterword:- This started out as a flash fiction story, at least that was the intention. I was looking at 600 – 1000 words, but have ended up with double that . Hey ho. I wrote this in one sitting, in a couple of hours, on June 11th 2013. This is a brand new story, although some of the ideas go way back. In the late 1990’s I began writing a story called “Blue” but only got a couple of hundred words, and it was soon forgotten and cast aside. It has gestated in my brain however, and for many years I’ve had the idea of a huge ocean world filled with gigantic fish and vast hideous marine things. The idea took a while to formulate in my head, and I realised that what I might be doing is more-or-less rewriting [or copying!!] Melville’s MOBY DICK. After a little thought, I’ve sort of written those references into the story, largely with the MOBY seacraft thing.
Some people are interested in the writing process, some aren’t, so skip this if you like. I began the story with no plan and developed it in the writing. What is published here is largely a first draft with just a quick read-through and spelling corrections. Ok, so I suppose that makes it a second draft, but 95% of it remains my first draft. My point is, I’ve never been keen on polishing and polishing and doing twenty seven drafts. When I write I take care with my words and think it all through as I go. As here, the pieces of the story seem to fall into place quite naturally. At the beginning of the story I knew that it was a giant ocean world and that the guys craft had been swallowed by a big fish. The rest – his stranded family and the other stuff – came after the first paragraph, and by the middle of the story I knew where I was going at the end.
As usual with my fiction, there’s a few references to other things, and silly wordplay and obscure stuff in here, this time, some of them are on a more personal note. One of the more obvious things is the world of Blue, or its technical name, Mosa VI, which, of course, is an anagram of a famous science-fiction writer. But you all got that didn’t you? Take a moment to think how many science fiction writers have roman numerals within their names, and thus are great for creating annagrammatical star-systems.
This story will be among the longest gestation period for a story of mine, having its basic origins in the late 90s and probably influenced by Seaquest DSV, but also the quickest from Nowt-to-Out, as I intend to post it on the internet today if possible. Hopefully, you all enjoyed it, especially my wife who is in hospital attached to lots of wires, and who should see a few references, not least the title. I hope it entertains her for twenty minutes.
This story will soon be appearing in my collection of dark futures, to be published on Amazon in the near [dark] future. Till next time folks, and don’t stop eating the fish.