This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2008-07-26 — sourcemeta

Author:Judith “Stormdance” Kenyon
Copyright:Archiving permitted by author

This story plays around with what happens in season 4 so there are spoilers. But there are also spoilers that have a little – but not much – to do with what really happens, and things that look like spoilers but aren’t. Read at your own risk.

And for the record hacking into computers is nowhere near as easy as I make it sound here. Creative license.

Lapis Dreams: Treasure

Sara-Kate woke up in a real bed in a real house, feeling like she’d been sick for a month and now was only thinking about getting better. And that was on top of having been used as a punching bag the other day. “Oh man, it would be really nice to feel good for once.” She said to the ceiling, in case any gods existed and were listening. “Oh, and it would also be nice to know what was going on for once.” She realized that talking to the gods-beyond-the-ceiling was a lot like talking to the camera, and cringed and quit doing it.

She was in a room that felt like a motel, well furnished but with no personality. The place was big, an attic from the skylights. It was mostly cheap wood panel and beach-scene wallpaper. Sara-Kate got up and went to look out the window. A wooden walkway led down to a mostly deserted beach between two arms of rock. It was a beautiful place. By the window a chair was piled with clothes and towels, and Sara-Kate realized she was filthy with salt dried in her hair, and went to find the shower.

When she came downstairs with a towel on her head, the place was mostly deserted. The young man was sitting at the kitchen table writing something. He was handsome, dark and arrogant. Sara-Kate distrusted him on sight. “Um, hello.”

He looked up, “G’morning, are you feeling better?”

“Yeah, some. Where is everyone?”

“Shersheba’s down on the beach I think. Agate, she’s the old bat, went into town. I’m Malakat and you’re…” one eyebrow raised, “Laeka?”

“Sara-Kate.” She told him firmly.

“Humans have strange names.”

“I won’t argue that.” Sara-Kate replied, and Malakat grinned. “Is there anything to eat around here, I’m about to starve.” Malakat waved her at the cabinets, and Sara-Kate searched herself out some breakfast. She was halfway through a turkey sandwich when she noticed Malakat was watching her. “Well?” “Just wondering what to say.” Even in such a sheepish remark Malakat looked arrogant.

“You can answer me a few hundred questions. Like who are you people, what are you doing here, how did the three of you get past all the UBRI types last night–” She stopped. Malakat was laughing.

“Lots of luck is how, and Shersheba found us the best way in. But mostly luck.” He paused for a long moment, “We’re from the Lapis Planet like yourself. Shersheba is a princess there, she’s come to this world to find the three treasures so she can prove her right to rule. We’re her helpers. When the treasures have been found we’ll go back home. You’re welcome to join us in the search; Shersheba already takes for granted that you will.”

“Sure I’ll help, you saved my life.”

“That was a very close thing last night, as in very close.” Malakat sounded… strange. After a second Sara-Kate realized what it was. He was angry for her, worried for her. That was hard to believe; the guy was an icicle. But he had been worried for her.

“I have to find my brother, and Diana. But I think they’ll help you. As much as we can anyway, we’re just kids.”

Malakat replied, “I think you could help us a lot.”

He sounded almost too serious, too intense. Scary. Sara-Kate couldn’t read him from one moment to the next, but now he frightened her. “I don’t know.” She said.

Neri was down in the spaceship, watching her mother’s message over and over. She was worried. So there was another group from Lapis, Shersheba and a very powerful wavespeaker. And Sara-Kate was with them, either as a guest or a… prisoner. The word tasted wrong in Neri’s mind; on Lapis there was no such word.

“Neri? You down here?” Diana called from the entrance. Then she climbed down the vine and came into the room, “Good morning, want some breakfast?” She had a bunch of bananas slung over her shoulder, “What are you doing?”

“Watching this message.” Neri took a banana, “She is my mother, she says I am a princess of our world, and must return and rule it. Those are the treasures that make a princess, they must be found.”

“Hmm. Michael told me about last night, are you sure Sara-Kate’s all right?”

“I am sure. Michael knows about his sister. She is alive, but I cannot tell about ’all right’. There are others from Lapis here, they are the ones who rescued her. I do not know if they are good or bad, only that one is the princess if I am not found.”

“And one made the quake that nearly busted a hole in ORCA.” Diana reminded her, “I think they’re nasty, people got hurt down there.”

Neri shrugged, “There are many things that could change that. Maybe it was not a wavespeaker at all, or maybe they had a good reason. Until we ask, we cannot really know.”

Diana nodded and sat down on the edge of something table-sized, splashing her feet in the water. She watched the image of Nefarrin for a while, then said, “I think we played that game on the ship, you and I did. Not going out anywhere, just sharing our dreams of what this planet would be like. You were the best at making images, the best of any of the children.” She left before Neri could answer.

Up top, Michael had cornered Mera and was interrogating her, starting with “What’s it like living on Lapis?” and getting more specific from there. Mera answered everything she knew, which was a lot. “No president, just the council. Yes there are schools, and restaurants and museums and stores but they’re mostly in caves. Yes there is land, almost as much as on this planet, it’s just spread out better. Yes there are mean people, they’re everywhere. We’ve even had wars though not in living memory, but they were terrible.”

Michael’s brown eyes sharpened, “There’s going to be another war soon, you’re worried about it.”

“Ssssh!” Mera ordered him, “No there isn’t, unless things go really wrong. And we won’t let them.”

“Who’s we? Us? Mera, who are you back on Lapis? You’re somebody important, right?”

“Yes. Neri is the real princess, you know that? I’d be the second choice, but I’m too young and Shersheba can make anyone believe her.”

Michael frowned hard and punched the ground, “Shersheba took my sister.” He said angrily, “We are in big trouble, I don’t half understand about Lapis and being the princess, but I know we’re in trouble.”

Mera remembered when she was living on ORCA, one day she’d overheard Dianne Bates saying to Winston, “They’re just kids, they should be… I don’t know, playing video games and going to dances, not going against UBRI and putting themselves in danger. They shouldn’t have to, they’re too young for this!”

Winston had sighed and patted her hand, “I know Dianne, they shouldn’t have to. But they do, and they’re good at it. Trust them and don’t worry about what should be; those kids can make their own choices. Besides, a wise man once say–”

Dianne had burst out laughing, “Don’t say it Winston, don’t even say it!” Winston kept on teasing her until Dianne started threatening to throw things, and then had backed off with much salaaming.

Mera sighed; Dianne had had a point though. She was twelve, Michael was–what, about ten no matter how mature he talked. It would be nice if the grown-ups could handle the fate of the world. But the oracles had been right about leaving the synchronium to her and Neri; they were probably right this time too.

“Boat ahoy!” Michael said quietly, “I think it’s Jason and Brett.”

It was. Jason and Brett and Cass in fact. “Hey guys,” Cass greeted them, “We just got a long enough rest period to come visit, you would not believe how much work there is to do back there.”

“Yeah, delta level’s still leaking water after we spent two days sealing leaks.” Brett said, rolling his eyes.

“So what’s the news?” Jason asked.

Michael told him, ending with, “So my sister’s all right but we don’t know if these other people are good guys or bad guys or what.”

“We need to find out.” Neri was walking out of the trees, a coconut half in one hand.

Diana was behind her, fanning herself with a big leaf and smiling. “That’s for sure. Ideas anyone?”

Cass snapped her fingers, “HELEN’s got the memory freed up I could search the ’net for somewhere these people could be staying. Y’know, deserted islands, chain hotels…”

“Chain hotels?!”

“Sure why not? You people have houses, right?”

“Yeah…” Mera answered, still dubious about the chain hotels idea.

In the sheltered cove, Sara-Kate walked down the beach. The sand was warm on her feet and the sun was in the west, still bright and hot. She walked straight into the water, then turned and waded over to the rocks that stretched into the bay like scattered marbles.

Shersheba was bent over looking intently at a tide pool. Sara-Kate saw something flash gold in the water as she splashed up. “Hi.”

Shersheba straightened up and Sara-Kate got her first good look at the Lapis princess. She was tall and dark, with a long oval face that made her look like an Egyptian. She looked like a princess, even wearing shorts and a swimsuit and standing in a tide pool. “Hello. You’re called Sara-Kate?”

“Uhuh. And you’re Shersheba, Malakat told me.” Sara-Kate said, and gingerly sat down.

Shersheba looked faintly surprised, but didn’t answer.

“So… What’s the story with you guys? Malakat said you were looking for these treasures so you could be princess, and..?” Absently she reached down and brushed her fingers across the surface of the pool. The water felt electric. “Huh?”

“Oh– it’s this.” Shersheba reached into the pool, under a ledge at one side. She drew out a gold egg set with strange jewels. Delicate, like a Christmas ornament from another time. It seemed to shine in the sunlight, hanging from the princess’s fingers by a thread as thin as spidersilk. Shersheba held it up and smiled, looking more pleased than proud. “One of the three treasures. It was a present to my family a long time ago. Any healer who holds the treasure has greater power.”

“Wow. I think I could guess that. It’s glowing.” She reached out to touch the egg, and felt a wave of light go through her body. “I’ve seen it before… last night?”

“Yes.” Shersheba tucked the treasure back in its place, changing the subject. “What do you want to know?”

Sara-Kate leaned back on the sunwarmed stone and tried to get her questions down into something she could ask. The rough rock against her back, the sun on her face, the salt -and-fish smell of the water– they were all loud somehow, like a few days locked in a box had sharpened her senses and they were overloading in the real world. “Why are you looking for the treasures? Are they needed now on… the other planet?”

“Yes.” Shersheba spoke haltingly, “Our people are in danger. There is no great healer to help the world. There is a poison spreading in our seas, there was no cure. The council says the rebels spread it. The rebels say the council did. Only a true healer-princess can stop the poison. I do not know if I can do it, but if I can’t… other plans have been made.”

Sara-Kate heard the dedication in her voice, and felt strange. It was hard for her to think of Lapis as a real place with real people. But then, hearing Shersheba, she started to really believe. “How do you find these things? Is there a magic map or something?”

“Nothing so simple. The animals know where they are, you have to win their trust to find the treasures. That one was in the jungle, behind a waterfall. A possum led me to it after I got her out of a trap.”

“Possums talk?” Sara-Kate exclaimed, “I thought it was only whales!”

She heard familiar laughter, and Malakat came around a boulder. “Everything talks, but only the intelligent animals have something to say. Have you two seen the old bat?”

“She’s around I guess.”

“Yeah, in her coffin in the basement.” Malakat replied, and Sara-Kate realized where his good English came from.

“You watch TV, that’s why you talk so normal!” She exclaimed, and burst out laughing. The others joined her.

When the silliness died down Sara-Kate asked, “So where do we look for the next treasure? Hey, I have half an idea…” she said, just now realizing what the idea was, “What are the gifts, tell me about them.”

“Extra powers.” Shersheba replied, “A few of our people have them. Healers of course. The wavespeakers can shape the water, pull it away from the land or change the currents, calm the weather. Oracles see possible futures, and some of them can see things happening right now but far away. That is how I knew where you were.”

“How do you know if you are one?”

“Ever tried to make a tidal wave or see the future?” Malakat replied. “Princess, these people don’t have healers like ours, just herb potion makers.” Shersheba looked disbelieving.

“Hey, modern medicine’s beyond that. But it’s true we don’t have magic.” She looked down at the little fish in the pool, trying to follow her idea to the end. Then she realized, in a blinding flash. “Got it! Marine World!”


“It’s a place where they have seals and whales that do tricks, people pay to come see them. There’s one in the city, I’ve seen it. That’s where we’ll find the next treasure. I saw it in the future.” She closed her eyes and smiled, very pleased with herself. But then she started hearing things. The lapping of water on rock formed words. Shersheba saying “other plans have been made.” Sara-Kate’s own voice shrieking, “I have to save the world?!” The last word echoing into something else, a lightning flash of a girl Sara-Kate had never seen, saying one word that echoed over and over, louder each time.


Diana stepped out of the elevator, fiddling with the ORCA id card hanging around her neck. “Back in civilization.” She muttered, earning a grin from Mera and an utterly baffled look from Michael. Brett and Jason were waiting for them with Cass hanging around too.

Brett looked at the clock above the door, “OK, we’re back in time to find Mum and Lena before our next shift, so let’s hurry.”

Searching for the computer room Lena had found free, Diana took the chance to look around at the famous underwater city. Her parents had talked about coming here on their tour, but Diana had forgotten the dates. Maybe they were here now… That could get real interesting!

They found Lena, and Cass pounced on her before anything else could be said. They went back to the computer, several sentences deep in search jargon. “I hope they know what they’re doing, ’cause I sure don’t.” Brett said, making the ’right over my head’ gesture.

“You’ll have to learn, to make cadet.” Jason told him, “Cheers.”

“We ignore them.” Mera said.

“It would not do much good to listen.” Neri mimicked Brett’s gesture.

“So what’s to do on ORCA?” Michael asked, and they got to tour the rec room, where they found SallyAnn and Benny, and the galley where they found lunch. “Hamburgers, fries, milk that came from an actual cow…” Michael began.

“Island food’s better!” Everyone chorused, and they laughed.

After lunch Brett and Jason were called back to work, but SallyAnn took on the job of showing them around. The tour lasted until Cass found them in a corridor. “I found them!” She announced, grabbing Neri with one hand and Diana with the other, “Come on you guys, I found where they’re staying. A chain hotel.”

“What?” Michael squawked.

“Well not a chain, but a place on the coast north of here. They’ve got cabins scattered along the beach, this is an expensive place, and the farthest out cabin was rented by some people with really strange names. Who were out in a boat very late last night. And today they added another person to their roster, a kid name of Laeka. Beat that.”

Everybody stared at her.

“How do you two find this stuff out?” Benny demanded.

Cass snapped her fingers, looking insufferably smug. “Easy. Just get from their webpage to the stuff they want to keep secret. I can get in anywhere with a modem. Or actually Lena can.”

Lena was leaning out the door to the computer terminal, waving. “I was in boring, ah, boarding school, nothing to do but study or learn hacking.”

They packed into the little dark room: Neri and Mera, SallyAnn and Benny, Michael and Diana. The screen was showing a brochure-type thing with views of rooms decorated in blue cheap wallpaper. Lena hit a few keys and the room was replaced by rows of text. “Guest list, they want to make sure they’re not harboring criminals or twenty people to a house or something.” She explained absently, “There, that one.”

They read. They read again.

“Looks right to me.” Benny said.

Michael closed his eyes and thought, then grinned. “You found it, that’s where they are. Can we call?”


Sara-Kate couldn’t get the word out of her mind. What did it mean, war with who, against who, or did it mean that at all?

The front door opened and Agate came in with an armload of bags from various stores. She looked disgusted. Sara-Kate went to help with the bags, putting away the groceries and things. Agate looked disgusted at her, and Sara-Kate gave her back look for look. “What?” she asked at last.

Agate’s English was accented, but not too bad. “This planet stinks. Your people are stupid.”

In general Sara-Kate agreed, but now she felt a pang of patriotism for the planet she’d grown up on. “Yeah, but there are good things. I think we’re kind of equal, just different.”

Agate made a dismissive gesture. “I’ll prove it. Your people have many… what is the word… tools of violence, only for violence.”

“Weapons.” Sara-Kate supplied.

“You see? On Lapis there is no word.”

Her righteousness rang false. Sara-Kate scowled. “I see why Malakat calls you an old bat.” she muttered.

Agate stared at her, “You don’t know why I’m here, not at all. I did all this, I made us able to come here. You should show respect.”

Sara-Kate tried to be fair to her, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I might respect you more if I knew the reason I should.” She said, trying hard not to say it through clenched teeth.

“Simple. Shersheba was in the right family, but with little Healing and no other power. I gave her the others.”

“You can do that?”

“A Healer with enough power can change anything about a person, except what’s in their minds. On Lapis it is illegal, law states people should live as they are born. I don’t care, I will get anything I want from Shersheba when she speaks on the council. And you…” Agate looked Sara-Kate over in a sudden change of mood, “I could take away your Gift, or make you very ugly indeed. So show respect.”

Sara-Kate gaped at her through the whole speech, then latched onto the last idea, “I have a power? For real? But I thought people with Gifts couldn’t pass as humans.” She couldn’t remember where she’d heard that, but was certain she had.

Agate snorted, “You know you have a Gift. Oracle. And whoever told you must have been wrong. That does happen.” She stomped off, and Sara-Kate went to find a place to think. One thing she knew: that lady was one scary person.

They couldn’t call. HELEN said they needed authorization from an adult, and wouldn’t budge on the matter for all Lena’s attempts to persuade her. In the end they gave up and prowled the halls as a crowd, with two or three conversations going on at once. Cass and Michael were leading one discussion, about how they could dupe an adult into giving them permission. Diana was talking to Neri about whale speech, which was a fascinating subject. Neri was really good at describing things, even with her limited vocabulary. On that subject they all wandered towards Dianne Bates’ lab, to pop in and say hi if she was alone.

In the hall outside the lab, SallyAnn ran her card through and slid the door partway open, peering in. She shook her head, “People there, I don’t know them. Must be the marine biologists from America…”

Diana choked on her breath. “Uh–” She looked in then stepped back, looking stunned. After a moment she shrugged fatalistically and went in. The others heard the murmur of voices trail off, then Diana said, “Mom? Dad?”

“Diana?” Her mother gasped, ignoring the kids crowding the doorway, “What are you doing here?”

“Mom!” Diana hugged her. She stepped back, nervously straightening her hair. “Stuff happened. Lots of stuff.” She couldn’t say any more; seeing her parents’ worried expressions was shaking loose tears she hadn’t known were waiting inside her.

Dianne Bates took in the reunion, then looked at the group in the doorway. She saw Neri and Mera among them and that was all she needed to know. Winston shepherded Diana and her parents into the back office and left them to talk. Dianne faced the others, “Explanation?” she suggested, “Or should we wait for Jason and Brett?”

Diana looked at her parents and was worried. They were still staring at her, very confused. She took a deep breath and tried to explain. “Stuff happened. I– I’m not… a normal person. I’m not from this planet.” She cringed at the way that sounded, but couldn’t think of any better wording. The parentals were looking from her to each other, not saying anything which was probably good “Remember the day the sky turned red, the earthquake? And how since then I’ve been ’accidentally’ getting myself soaked so often? It wasn’t accidental, I come from a planet that’s mostly water, the people evolved differently–”

“Diana, why are you saying this? How did you really get here?” Her father cut her off.

Diana despaired, but then she heard a voice from behind her, “She’s telling the truth.” Mera sounded faintly hostile. Diana glanced back; Neri and Mera were on either side of her. She gave them a smile of thanks before going on.

“At the camp I met two more people just like me, the boy Michael out there and his sister Sara-Kate. Then these guys showed up chasing us, from a company called UBRI. We got away and came here, and Sara-Kate got away from them eventually. We’ll be able to talk to her soon, I hope. We– this is Neri, a princess from the Lapis planet. We’re helping her with her mission. After that… I don’t know.” Actually she did, she just couldn’t say it.

Her parents were speechless.

“She is right.” Neri said quietly.

“Doctor Bates knows about us, you could talk to her.” Mera suggested, and went to see how the interrogation outside was going. Diana’s parents followed, curious.

Diana leaned over and murmured to Neri, “I want to come back to Lapis with you. But I can’t tell them, it’s too…”

“I know. It hurts to hurt someone you care for. But when they believe what you are, maybe you will be able to tell them.”

“Agate is a creep.” Sara-Kate said, but not very loudly.

Shersheba heard her anyway, “I know. But she is useful to have around.” They were outside on the rocks, watching the sunset. Sara-Kate had come out to sit and seen Shersheba already there; now she thought the princess might have wanted to be alone.

“That’s just what she thinks about you.”

“I know. She won’t do anything to you, don’t be afraid.” The last word had the strange twist the Lapis people gave a word that didn’t exist in their language.

“You don’t have fear on your planet?” Sara-Kate asked, stunned"

“We do now. The poison in the water.”

“Oh.” There was a short silence, “Is that why you want to be the princess? To heal them? Agate and Malakat just want the power.”

“I know.” Shersheba told her, “And you are right. We found where the next treasure might be.. As you said, a park where people watch animals. The dolphins know something, but they would not tell. We’ll go back in a few days, will you come?”

“Of course, I want to help you guys. Well, you at least.” She added honestly, and Shersheba laughed.

“I think I know too much about this planet.” Shersheba said, a mixture of laughter and disgust in her voice. “I understand you too often.”

The next day things at ORCA were sorted out. Mostly. Enough that everyone had some idea of what was going on with who. Jason and Brett had been up late telling their mother the whole story, while Diana and her parents talked in their guest quarters. Sometime that night Diana had managed to say the words, the “I want to go with them to Lapis” words she’d been dreading. Her mother and father had talked about it and finally agreed that she should go, and could go, and could live there though of course they hoped she’d come back someday. This had scared Diana more than if they’d forbidden her, she almost wanted to yell that she was only fourteen and they shouldn’t be trusting her with such a mature decision.

And of course Dianne gave them permission to call Sara-Kate, so HELEN had to let them.

It was morning. Everyone else was Off Somewhere, Sara-Kate suspected it was an underwater Somewhere since the car was still there. She was bored, and having a hard time not going to look for them. But that would have been a really bad idea probably…

The phone rang. “Huh?” Who would call a motel cottage full of aliens who probably didn’t know any humans at all? She looked at the machine for a minute, then shrugged and hit the answer button. The screen lit up. “Michael!”

“Sar! Hiya, it is you! Are you all right?” Michael said rapidly.

“I– yeah, I’m fine. Where are you?” Sara-Kate asked, still a little stunned at seeing her brother so suddenly.

“ORCA, the underwater city y’know. Diana’s here too, she’s fine but she just met her parents and God knows how that’s going. We met the Lapis princess, Neri, she’s really nice and she lives on the coolest island. But what happened to you?” Michael looked away, at someone outside the phone’s pickup circle Sara-Kate guessed, then he looked back at her, “Jason says to just ask when we can come and get you.”

“Um– I don’t know. We’re doing something tomorrow, looking for one of the–”

“The treasures?!” Michael interrupted, “You know about that?”

“Yeah, Shersheba has one–”

“Shersheba?! But…”

Sara-Kate didn’t stop talking, “And we’re going to get the next one tomorrow. It’s at the Marine World nearest here, at least that’s what we think.” She knew Shersheba wouldn’t approve of her telling Michael that, as in really wouldn’t approve, but some sense of justice made her say it anyway.

Another voice from Michael’s end of the line said something, then Michael said, “We’ll try and be there the same time as you. Look for us but try not to let them know. Sar, I think you got rescued by the Bad Guys, cause I’m sure with the good ones.”

“Hey, they saved my life!”

The other person with Michael leaned into Sara-Kate’s view, a teenage boy with sunbleached hair, “I’m Jason Bates, hi. Look, Shersheba might have rescued you for any reason besides the goodness of her heart. We need you on our side, really. And UBRI has a record with us, we know what those people are capable of.” He added quietly but grimly.

Sara-Kate stepped back a pace, knowing her eyes were going wide and making her look like a startled deer. “Yeah, I know what they can do too. OK, tomorrow I’ll try to get away from the others and meet you, if I can. We all need to talk or something.” She heard the downstairs door creak open, “They’re back, gimme your number and get off quick!” She whispered, grabbing for paper to write down their phone code at ORCA, then diving for the hangup button.

She sat down across the room from the phone as Shersheba and Malakat came up the stairs from the tiny ground floor.

“… could call people back from halfway to the next world with treasure and sometimes even without it. You’ll need a big display to match that.” Malakat was saying, “Plus the rest of the Trials. Are you sure you’re up to this?”

Shersheba answered, “No, not sure. But I have to try. Stop asking for ’sure’ and worry about swimming today’s tide!”

Sara-Kate put down the magazine she’d been pretending to read as they came into sight. “What are you talking about?”

To her surprise, Shersheba answered. “Past healer princesses. My aunt Nefarrin whose children showed as much Gift as she did, and they’re here looking for the treasures too.”

“I don’t see how they could be.” Malakat said mildly, “Mera can’t know enough to be able to start looking.” To Sara-Kate he added, “Neri is the older one who’s always lived on earth. Mera is about your age but she’s been to Lapis and learned a lot. She’s a kid but not dumb, Shersheba, she’ll figure it out.”

Shersheba shook herself, “We have been arguing strategy all morning, Malakat, and I am tired. I am going downstairs to get some lunch.” She turned and left, very regally.

Malakat shrugged and dropped into a chair with a sigh. “What did you do all morning?”

“Nothing. Read magazines, doodled, wished this place had a TV. That’s all. Where were you guys?”

“A place. Under water. Our people left it here with the first ship, and we’re trying to make it work again. It’s not far, but you’d never find it without knowing the way.” He didn’t look so arrogant, just tired.

“And whatever you were trying didn’t work, right?”

“Right. Shersheba wanted to let you try, maybe you will.”

Sara-Kate scowled, “I hope so.” Was all she said, biting back a great deal more. She was annoyed, these people were doing everything without her! “So how do I get to be a full member of the team?” she asked huffily.

“Get older.”

Sara-Kate could not think of a reply to that, except to cuss, and cussing out Malakat didn’t seem like a good idea. So she left without a word and went downstairs.

The next day the four of them went to find the treasure. Sara-Kate was not too pleased to be sharing the car with Agate, but they stayed as far away from each other as was possible, and didn’t exchange words the whole way. And it was a long drive.

Just inside the front gate Sara-Kate stopped and looked around the bright crowds of people, babies in strollers, people, signs and arrows and brochures, people, shouting and babbling bright-colored backpacks and camera flashes. People. “One of those wicked-cool golden treasures is here? And nobody found it?”

“Hey, you’re the one who pointed us at this place.” Malakat accused her smiling. Apparently he was in a better mood today..

“I don’t even trust my powers, why should you?”

“We had to look somewhere.” Shersheba said reasonably, “And this place is cool. We can look around now and come back in tonight when it’s quiet if there’s anything worth checking out.”

Sara-Kate nodded, “Good! So for now we get to play tourist? A tourist’s, um, someone just here to have fun.” She added when the others looked baffled.

“Yes, tourists.” Shersheba replied.

Agate and Malakat had already wandered off; Sara-Kate hoped they wouldn’t do anything too stupid. But for now, “C’mon your princessness, let’s explore while we can!”

Sara-Kate had never been to a place like this before, and she had a great time. The rides were cool of course, but even more cool was the aquarium part of the park and the exhibits that showed life in tide pools and life so deep that the ocean was dark, and all kinds of fish and crabs and sharks, and a lime green eel of some kind. Shersheba too was entranced by the displays of life on earth, and several times she pulled out a notepad and began scribbling down information in the language of the Lapis Planet. Having so many people around had them both a little spooked though, and at lunch time they got their food and found a picnic table as far away from the others as possible.

“The people of this planet are very… loud.” Shersheba commented, “And they eat strange things.”

Sara-Kate laughed, “You haven’t tasted it yet!” she bit into her own cheeseburger with enthusiasm. Shersheba tried hers, and said it was all right but she didn’t even want to know what they put in the mustard to get it that color. Sara-Kate howled with laughter and made a note to introduce Shersheba to milkshakes and ice cream as soon as possible.

“But we did not come here just to eat human food. Do you have any idea where a treasure might be hidden?”

Sara-Kate reluctantly got serious, “I don’t know… there are a lot of places in the aquarium part where something that small could be, in any of the little caves. But someone, some person or animal, would have to have put it there. If I was hiding something that valuable, I’d put it in… there.” She pointed a french-fry at the park’s newest exhibit, the shark tunnel. That was the last aquarium-type thing they hadn’t been in, since they’d gotten tired and decided to stop for lunch.

“Oh yes, sharks. Your oceans’ biggest predators, like the–” she said a Lapis-language word Sara-Kate didn’t want to try pronouncing.

“If those whatevers eat lots of fish and scare people then that’s what sharks are like.”

Shersheba grinned, “Then let’s go see the sharks.”

They dumped the wrappers of their lunches and made their way through the crowd to the shark tunnel. As soon as their group got inside Sara-Kate felt something different, a kind of electricity in the humid air. Around and above them, sharks cruised back and forth, heir black-hole eyes looking at the parade of humans on the path. The sharks were small, not dramatic at all, but those eyes and expressionless faces were creepy to the max.

“I think it’s here.” Shersheba said quietly.

“Me too. But where here?” Sara-Kate replied. The outside of the sharks’ water was sculpted rock like the backs of the other aquariums. There were plenty of nooks in it, but nothing big enough to hold anything. Probably.

None of the grown-ups noticed the three kids running through the park whispering to each other. If they had, they’d have assumed the three were friends playing some kind of spy game. As a matter of fact, that wasn’t the case.

Diana stopped watching to buy herself a bunch of cotton candy. She loved sweet stuff still, though island food was definitely better for every day. “Two questions: want any candy and got any leads?”

“No and not yet.” Michael said, and Mera nodded agreement. There were only the three of them there; the others had been straining their scheduled enough without adding an unapproved trip to the mainland, and Neri was busy doing something else.

“Let’s try down there” Diana suggested and they went down a lane by a mock circus train of exotic birds. The bird house was this way, and the main aquariums just beyond it.

Mera suddenly pulled them both to a stop, and looked hard at the side of the bird house. The building was blue with a mural of stylized birds and accents of gold paint. Or maybe not accents; the more Diana looked, the more they looked like symbols. “Mera, is that..?”

“Yes! Who here would know the writing of my people?”

“Somebody really good with a spray can?” Diana suggested, looking around. There were people everywhere, which didn’t help. She pointed them out of traffic, to a concrete wall with hedge on top. “What does it say?”

“Nothing.” Mera replied, “Gibberish. Parts of words. Etra’he relceles ithlyyre… means as much to me as to you. But they’re definitely letters.”

“Why put up letters that big and not say anything?” Diana was stumped.

Michael grinned, “If you thought they did say something! Or if you knew they didn’t but knew other people from Lapis could read them!”

Mera continued for him, “One of the treasures is supposed to be here… what if the other lost baby ended up here too? Why not?”

“I guess… it could be! But one question,” Diana gestured at the crowd around them with a sweep of her arm, “Here where?”

And then of course a voice said from above her, “Here… here?”

Diana looked up. A thin face with bright eyes was looking down at her from a tiny hole in the hedge. The face smiled and said, “Hi. How do you know those letters?”

“We come from a planet where everyone talks that way.” Michael said before anyone else could.

“Oh.” Rinelle answered. Her face vanished, and a minute later she appeared around the corner of their wall. She was thin with short brown hair, wearing slightly ragged tourist-type clothes. “So there really are other people like me. I waited for you.”