Kismet Meets Aquia
In the dark and silent void, a lone aqua-blue and white sphere floats serenely with no concern except its own existence. Suddenly, the scene is marred by a fish-shaped object. The object streaks across space and hurtles toward the small planet's western hemisphere. Despite extensive damage to its propulsion systems, the craft is able to arc its way toward an area of water known to the planet's inhabitants as the Pacific Basin. As the ship enters the atmosphere, it is undaunted by the rising temperatures of reentry. Finally, it plunges into the immense ocean three hundred kilometers from the coast of the nearest continent called North America.
* * *
She lay on a blanket at one of California's famous beaches near Los Angeles -Venice Beach. Many people were milling about around her jogging, throwing Frisbees, and playing volleyball. Her glistening, mahogany-colored body shone in the sunlight. It wasn't always this dark, but a few days of tanning had done their job. She didn't have to worry about the effects of the ultra-violet light from the sun. In fact, her cells were impervious to its damaging effects. It was even possible for her cells to use the UV light as an alternate energy source.
As she lay basking in Helios' warm glow, a nearby radio was softly playing saxophone jazz. The music relaxed her. After all, this was the whole point of leaving the eastern coast. It was the first time in a long time that she had been able to take such a vacation. Usually, her night life back home would interfere with even the thought of relaxing in her own living room. Now, thanks to her friends, not only has she been able to rest for an entire week, but she also has been able get away from Monument City altogether. However, unbeknownst to her friends, she had secreted her "work clothes" along with her - just in case.
Suddenly, Trisha's sax music was interrupted by a breaking news bulletin.
"Coast Guard officials have reported several instances of illegal whaling ships, as well as Japanese and Mexican tuna boats, being set ablaze in the Pacific with their crews tied up and set adrift on life rafts," belched the radio. "The Coast Guard has no clue as to who is starting these fires or how they are doing it. There have been no unusual sightings in the vicinity of these incidents. Several of the exiled crew members, however, have made references to `an avenging mermaid from the sea.'"
Trisha turned the radio off and pondered what she had just heard.
Who could have possibly pulled off a stunt like that without being seen coming or going, she thought.
There was only one thing to do - investigate. Trisha never could turn away a chance to solve a mystery. First, she would need information, as much as she could gather. She collected her belongings and headed for the beach house she had rented for the week. After donning shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers, she headed for the car she also had rented for the trip. Her first stop would be the nearest Coast Guard station.
* * *
Out on the Pacific, a lone fishing boat floated serenely as its crew works hard to pull in the latest catch. The fish are routinely caught in these waters with large nets. The nets are set out near dolphin herds because, as any fisherman knows, where there are dolphins there are schools of tuna or mackerel. Of course, the dolphins tended to get caught in the nets as well. Most of them drown because they can't swim to the surface for air. But the men on board are not particularly concerned about dolphins. They are useless and are tossed aside like so much garbage.
A cry came from one of the men who makes sure the net doesn't get tangled as the winches haul it in. The net had somehow been cut clean away. The other crewmen stand over what little of the net they were able to recover while others examined the cuts. The captain swore under his breath. No one could figure out how the net was cut.
Sure enough a small blaze had started on the bow. Sheer pandemonium broke out as the men try to put the fire out. It was then that she appeared. She stood at about average height for a woman, only she was like no woman they had ever seen. Instead of skin, she had iridescent gold scales. Her hair was cobalt blue, and she had gills where her ears should be. Her fingers were webbed, and she wore a strange, sea green bathing suit with boots that were clearly designed to work as both flippers in water as well as shoes on land.
She leaped like a puma, proving that she was as adept on land as her body professed her to be in the sea. She began subduing several of the crewmen with childlike ease. The captain pulled his revolver and cocked the hammer. He refused to be taken on board his own ship by some freakish creature of the deep. Upon seeing the weapon, the strange sea woman froze. Coal black eyes began calculating an alternate strategic plan of action. Before the ship's captain could even so much as breathe, the woman somersaulted over his head and clubbed him at the base of the neck. Blackness overcomes his senses as he fell to the deck. The last thing he hears is the roar of the sea.
* * *
Posing as a reporter for a local, small-town newspaper, Trisha tried to pry what information the Guardsmen may have on the mysterious occurrences out at sea. The Coast Guard offered Trisha no help whatsoever. They felt she was intruding on government affairs. Trisha decided not to push her luck and moved on the her next destination - the local Greenpeace chapter. Soon after arriving, Trisha had accumulated almost everything there was to know about commercial tuna fishing and the plight of the dolphins, as well as whaling ships and the damage they caused. With the help of the Greenpeace representatives, she soon learned of the locations of the attacks. It was clear that whoever this person was, Greenpeace was a big fan of his. Armed with her new found information, Trisha rented a high powered racing boat and set out to solve the mystery of the enigmatic boat bushwhacker.
* * *
Deep beneath the churning waters of the Pacific on the ocean floor, a large creature rests silently and without motion. Upon close inspection of the creature, we learn that it is not made of flesh, bone and sinew but of thick metal and alien materials that would confound our greatest scientific minds. Three large eyes lie along the creature's brow. Yellow light streams outward, yet it does not reach very far in the murky depths. Inside the creature's head sits a strange woman with iridescent gold scales covering her body. Her hair, a shade darker than the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean islands, is braided into a ponytail. A sullen look crosses her face. She had left her own world to escape prosecution for the crimes she had committed there.
At least they thought they were crimes, she mused darkly.
While trying to flee pursuit by Federal authorities, she ended up stranded on a primitive, almost prehistoric, planet. She later learned that it wasn't prehistoric, but through evolution's sick sense of humor, the land mammals had become the dominant species on this planet. Savage creatures who slowly destroy all that is around them through pollution and senseless killing.
At first she stayed away from them, thinking they were not her concern. Then, she met the sea people. Peace-loving and inoffensive, these creatures welcomed her into their midst with open hearts. She had never met anyone with a philosophy of mutual love that was so flawless and so complete. They roamed in small communities, but they believed that they were all part of a much larger family. Their language was quite rudimentary, and it took her only hours to learn it.
Everything was wonderful until they ran into the mammals traveling on their floating ships. Many of the community members were suspended in the water by an unseen force when they neared the ship. Unseen, that is, until she also became caught in a net with filaments that were so fine that she could not see them until she actually became trapped and so strong that she could not break them. Many of the members cried for help. Some had already drowned. It was then that she learned that the sea people were not water breathing creatures as she was. They were mammals who simply had not lost touch with their true ancestry - the sea.
She was finally able to wiggle her way out of the net and rescue those members who were still alive. From that moment on, she declared war on the mammals. The other members were able to convince her that vengeance through murder was no answer. The land mammals were simply blinded by their closed hearts, they had told her. They did not understand the true meaning of the world around them. She accepted their wisdom, and contented herself with subduing the crew, setting them adrift and destroying their ships of death.
The woman shifted in her seat.
There are so many of them, she thought to herself, how can I stop them all. They infest the waters like a plague. Perhaps if I brought one in to study, I could learn more about their strengths and weakness.
With that thought in mind, she rose and headed aft toward the ship's exit.
* * *
Wearing her uniform, Kismet sat adrift in the rented racer. The sun was slowly setting on the ocean's horizon. Kismet remembered an old sailors tale about hearing the ocean hissing as the sun set on it and was tempted to listen for it.
Who knows, she chuckled to herself, with my augmented hearing abilities, I may actually be able to hear it.
Kismet's quiet thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a loud rush of water. She whirled around in time to see a curious looking woman with the strangest looking outfit she had ever seen. The strange woman sat opposite Kismet, tensed and ready to bolt at a moments notice. As they sat and stared at each other, Kismet studied her guest with controlled surprise. This was no costume, she was actually some kind of mermaid.
Those rescued sailors weren't delirious after all, she thought. She's definitely not from this world.
Kismet decided to show this extra-terrestrial visitor that she meant no harm. Very slowly and very cautiously, she removed the scabbard from her back which held her sheathed katana. At first, the alien woman tensed further, but as she realized that Kismet had placed her weapon on the floor of the boat, she visually relaxed some, but not too much. Next, Kismet unbuckled the straps that held the six inch, stylized dagger against her right thigh, and placed that beside her sword. Then she held out her arms, palms out, to prove to the strange woman that she was now defenseless.
The woman picked up the scabbard. Kismet inwardly hoped she hadn't planned on tossing it overboard. That sword was given to her by an old Japanese store owner near her home. She would always stop there to discuss philosophy and the nuances of life. He was the first person to discover her alter ego. He believed that she had the heart and the courage to carry out her ideals. In his younger years, he was known in Japan as one of the most honorable of ninjitsu warriors. Since he had no son, he bequeathed his katana to her upon his death. She cherished the sword and believed that the old man's spirit dwelt within it, guiding her in times of need.
The alien woman removed the sword from its sheath and stared at it with the wide-eyed appreciation of someone who knew and understood the grace and elegance of a simple blade. She resheathed it, and smiled at Kismet. She opened her mouth to speak, but what came out sounded like the chirping of dolphins. Upon seeing the puzzled look on Kismet's face, the woman realized that she did not understand the language of the sea people. After a moment's thought, the woman handed Kismet her weapons. When Kismet secured them to herself, the woman stood and took her wrist. Before Kismet could protest, she found herself flying headlong beside the alien into the briny deep.
* * *
They had been swimming for almost an hour, going deeper and deeper. Kismet was amazed, and quite pleased, that she could hold her breath almost indefinitely. Something that Dr. Soho hadn't mentioned as being one of her abilities. Another shock was the fact that they were reaching sea depth levels that would crush an ordinary human like a grape in a wine press. She moved more lethargically, but she was still alive. Finally, Kismet could make out small lights not too far away, but at that point, the pressure became too great even for her. Kismet instantly blacked out.
When she came to, Kismet found herself to be inside some kind of small submarine. The strange woman entered the room.
"Feeling better," she asked.
"I'm sorry. I didn't realize that you humans couldn't take the pressures of the deep oceans. I guess I should have used some common sense."
Kismet wished she had her voice transtator with her so she could communicate. The transtator was a device invented by Star Child, Kismet's friend from a distant planet. It read the speech cortex of her brain and translated her thoughts into audible speech.
"I learned your language when I had my computer analyze your speech cortex. It's really quite crude, but I suppose it suffices, hmmm?"
Kismet searched about the room looking for something with which she could respond to her present hostess.
"Oh, yes. I also know your vocal muscles are missing."
She handed Kismet a portable electronic screen with a light pen. Kismet accepted it and began to write down her initial thoughts then handed it back to the alien.
She read, "I am Kismet. A citizen of the United States of America on the planet called Earth. Who are you?"
She looked up in mock surprise.
"You call a planet that is three-quarters water `Earth'?" she asked in an amused tone.
Kismet wrote, "What would you expect. We're egocentric."
The alien frowned.
"I am...," soft warbling emanated from her mouth, "...from the Aquae Seven Colony. My name does not translate into your language."
Kismet wrote, "What if I called you Aquia, would that be acceptable?"
The woman thought for a moment. She smiled.
"That would be fine."
The ensuing conversation allowed to two emissaries to get to know one another and their customs. Then Aquia broke away from the regular litany with a question.
"Why are you killing off all of the sea people?"
There was a definite pain in her voice. Kismet could find no answer. Who are the sea people? Kismet decided to pose the question to her new friend. Aquia closed her eyes as if she were inwardly checking her vocabulary.
A million questions and assumptions now collided into a solid realization in Kismet's mind. It was Aquia who was destroying those ships, and it was all to save an endangered species. Kismet then tried to tell her about all that she had learned at the Greenpeace chapter. She explain that more humans were trying to stop the injustices against the dolphins than were trying to destroy them or just didn't care. A glimmer of hope had been offered, and Kismet could see the Aquia was beginning to reevaluate humans as a species.
* * *
The two sat on the racing boat admiring the playfulness of the dolphins. Kismet was amazed to no end that Aquia was privileged to learn the language of these peaceful and intelligent creatures. Aquia had explained to them the situation as it was related to her. She introduced them to Kismet, and they accepted her into their family as easily as if she had been a stray dolphin. Kismet realized now that she held many of the answers that mankind still sought to learn from these gentle sea mammals.
Kismet said her good-byes and with the use of the transtator that was in her pants pocket on the boat, she asked Aquia to continue her fight for her friends as long as she honored the right of all creatures, the right to live - humans as well as dolphins. Aquia agreed, and soon Kismet was on her way back to the coast. This has been a vacation to remember.
* * *
Trisha waded in the water as the breakers rushed past her. A small boy and his sister had invited her to join their game of Frisbee. Trisha leapt sideways and deftly caught a wide throw to the left and landed on one foot without losing her balance. She suddenly caught sight of three dolphins heading in her general direction. The other two children ventured closer to Trisha to learn what was holding up the game. Trisha pointed out the dolphins to the children.
"Wow," exclaimed the boy in almost a whisper while his sister squealed with delight.
One of the dolphins squealed in response. A whistle from the lifeguard warned them of the approach, but Trisha knew there was no danger. The dolphins came up to Trisha and the children who carefully began to pet them. One of the dolphins rubbed against Trisha's legs. It was a male. He seemed to want her to join him in a ride out into the ocean. Trisha carefully climbed onto the dolphins back, and the dolphin took off like a shot. The children cheered with excitement and called the attention of passersby. Yes, smiled Trisha as they porpoised along the coastline, this is definitely a vacation to remember!
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