This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2010-09-11 — sourcemeta

Source: Web Archive, 2
Author: Tim Cook, Erin “LWQuestie” Doremus, Jennye “Disnye” Kamin, Judith “Stormdance” Kenyon, Volker “Sparky” Maiwald
Copyright:Copyrights for this story 1997 by the above listed authors, all rights reserved. May be freely distributed as long as unchanged and copyright notice intact.


The sun had just cleared the water level of the Australian ocean and now was projecting a long orange strip across the almost perfectly calm surface, stretching nearly from horizon to horizon. It was interrupted just twice. A rather small platform located at S 14.55.34 longitude / E 145.46.26 latitude cast an equally small shadow onto the water. It had ORCA printed in large letters on it and was the only visible indication for the Oceanic Research Center of Australia. And still quite a distance away, the top of a nicely rounded some 300 meters long vehicle majestically parted the water and introduced a minor stirr to the strip which looked like it was meant as a runway or red carpet for the new arrivers. When the seaQuest dived for the docking bay, the sea was still again.

Deep below the surface, in the docking bay designed especially for the seaQuest, a pretty blond woman in ORCA uniform was shaking hands with a man in his forties who had just descended off the huge vessel.

“Nice to meet you, Captain Bridger. I’m Dianne Bates, Head Marine Biologist on ORCA. And this”, she gestured beside her, “is my assistant Winston Seth.” Only when she was irritated by the Captain’s look did she notice that the Indian had vanished.

“Where is he?”

“I hear you are studying whales?”

“Yes, we hope to establish a complete dictionary of sound of the humpback whales in this area. One day, we’ll surely be able to communicate with them.”

Bridger smiled, obviously admiring her work.

“Well, I think I know where Dr. Seth has gone. Please follow me.”

He motioned her toward the airlock.

“So, welcome aboard the seaQuest”, he said as they entered the huge ship.

Winston Seth was sitting on the rim of a water basin next to a blond handsome kid of about sixteen who was holding a yellow piece of electronic equipment in one hand and patting a benignly grinning dophin with the other.

“Amazing!”, Seth exclaimed. “Absolutely incredible! How did you establish a language base? And how does this – what did you call it?”

“Excuse me, what are you doing?”

Both Seth and the kid turned around startled.

“Wha? Oh, Captain. It’s all right, we were just discussing the Vocoder. Meet Dr. Seth, assistant to Mrs. Bates here.” He nodded towards Dianne who had come in behind Bridger and was studying the room’s equipment.

Winston was still totally carried away with the Vocoder. “This is fantastic!”, he said in Dianne’s direction. “If we had access to this technology, we could probably understand what the humpback is saying much easier!”

It was difficult to tell whether she had heard him. Just as she was picking up an unusually formed piece of glassware, another woman stormed in and snatched it from her as if she had been holding a live handgrenade that was about to explode. “Don’t touch that!” Bridger was obviously irritated by her sudden appearance and it took him half a second to get over it.

“Uh… Oh, Dr. Westphalen, meet Dr. Bates from ORCA.”

Judgin by the look in her eyes, Kristin Westphalen was not very pleased with the new aquaintance but she nevertheless extended her hand.

“Pleased to meet you.”

Dianned returned the glare as they shook hands. What was the woman thinking? That she was not even capable of handling a piece of glassware with the appropriate care?


The intercom’s coming to life somehow managed to get the persons back in gear. “Captain, there’s a call coming in from Commander Lucas on ORCA, please come to the bridge.”

“On my way.”

Except for the boy, everyone left the place for the MAGLEV and the bridge, Dr. Westphalen putting the glassware back to its place and shooting a warning glance in the kid’s direction. He was absorbed in adjusting the Vocoder and never noticed.

“Bridge. Thank you for riding MAGLEV.”, the computer voice said as the doors opened and the group emerged.

The bridge was huge. The most astonishing sight were the four control seats that looked like they were taken straight from a science fiction film and shaped about like the bikes in TRON. Otherwise, it looked remarkably like the ORCA’s own bridge, except for the basin which seemed to be a smaller copy of the one on the sea deck, where the boy had played with the dolphin, and the navigation table in the middle.

“The whole vessel is accessible through swim tubes so Darwin can always come where we need him and he has a save playground during longer journeys. And we thought we should allow him to swim in our world; he lets us swim in his, after all”, Bridger explained, noticing Dianne’s and Winston’s inquiring looks.

“Darwin is the dolphin”, the officer currently in charge explained as he approached them. “I’m Commander Ford. Welcome on board.” Turning to the Captain, he continued. “Opening channel. Visual established.”

The large portrait of a stern looking man in his thirties appeared on the screen in front of them.

“I see you have already met”, he said without any kind of introduction, obviously assuming everyone knew who he was. “Good. Your men can start offloading your equipment into gamma level. Doctors Bates and Seth will show the way to storage room gamma-twelve.”

Winston and Dianne exchanged first slightly concerned, then surprised looks. No one had told them anyone was going to store any kind of equipment on the school level, nor that they were assigned as tour guides.

“Thank you, Commander Lucas”, Bridger replied.

“Oh, and welcome to ORCA”, Lucas added just before his image disappeared as the connection was cut.

Compared to the seaQuest, the Zodiac was tiny at most. But it felt exactly opposite to it’s passengers as they careened through the ocean. The powerful motor lifted the bow well above the wavelets and created a long white wedge behind the boat. Ben Krieg, Tim O’Neill and Miguel Ortiz had longed for this for ages now.

“It’s sure good to finally have some leave time”, Ortiz said, barely audible above the noise. “It was getting kinda crammed in the boat.”

“Kinda?”, Krieg cried to make himself properly heard and out of genuine astonishment. “I began feeling a lot of compassion for those poor little fish in their cans! If we hadn’t been submerged all the time I’d have opened the sunroof weeks ago!”

“Remember what the Captain said”, O’Neill said dryly. “No more fiddling with the vessel!”

Far away, a beautiful island came into view, it’s hills coverd with thick tropical vegetation almost glowing in shades of healthy green. What really appeared to be glowing was the sand on the beach. Not in the tawdry white of tourist beaches but in a completely natural sand-grey. To the three men, it looked almost like heaven.

Of course, the approaching boat could also be seen by the three kids standing on that very beach. The two brothers, aged ten and fourteen, were wearing ORCA beach uniforms. Brett and Jason Bates were the only persons to ever have seen the girl standing beside them. She had long, brown hair and wore a piece of strange looking cloth. Her bare feet were obviously completely used to constant contact with water and sand. She shaded her eyes against the sun.

“Others come”, she said, her voice full of reproach. “You promised that you tell no one.” “Er…” Jason was momentarily speechless. Sure, they had promised her, had to, actually, they would never tell anyone. And they hadn’t. Of course not. Or had Brett? He had always wanted to tell their mother. So what if he had?

“What are you guys looking at me?”, exclaimed Brett. “I didn’t rat on you! Honest!” All eyes rested on Jason again.

“I didn’t tell anyone, either. Besides, they don’t look like they’re from ORCA. It’s different uniforms. They must have found this island just by accident. Beats me where they could have come from other than ORCA with just a Zodiac, though”

“Maybe they’re from the seaQuest!” Brett was proud he had come accross the obvious explanation earlier than his brother. “They were supposed to be here this morning! Mom told us, remember?”

Jason was obviously relieved. “Yeah, sure!” He turned to the girl. “Neri, you better get lost ASAP, we’ll try to find out what they’re up to. And if it need be we’ll have to treat them to the same welcome party as we did those stupid developers.”

“Get lost? What do you mean?” The girl obviously was not accustomed to the boys’ everyday language.

“It means: go hide. Now move it”, he urged her. The Zodiac was getting dangerously close already. Relieved, he saw Neri disappear into the woods.