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This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2010-01-16 — sourcemeta

Source: 1, 2, DeviantART
Author:Judith “Stormdance” Kenyon
Copyright:Archiving permitted by author

8. The Princess

On the island Jason pulled the boat up onto the sand and followed his brother up the beach. Neri was leaning against a tree, brooding. Above the peak of the island, gray clouds were blowing.

Brett grabbed a fallen palm leaf and waved it, “Allow me, your highness.”

Neri cocked her head at him.

“It’s meant to be a fan.”

“I do not need. There is a storm coming.” Neri said, still looking confused. A breeze rustled over them.

“Not a fan for real. A fan for royalty. You’re a princess now.”

“Yes. But I wish I was not.”

“Give her a break Brett. Nothing between us has changed.”

“No, Jason. Brett is right. Everything changed.” Neri sighed and a stronger wind blew over them. They ducked into Neri’s little house. “Many times I have dreamed of knowing my mother. But never like this.”

“You didn’t expect her to be a queen and expect you to change the world—two worlds!” Brett said cheerfully.

Neri looked at him, then at Jason, “I do not know what I must do, how I must do it.”

“Maybe the hologram will come back and help you. You’re the chosen one.”

“Yep, that’s what Queen Shalamorn said. Whatever it means.”

“But what if I fail?” it was almost a wail.

“No way that’ll happen.”

“You’ve got Charley. You’ve got the gift. And you’ve got your friends—Cass and Mum and Winston, and maybe even our dad.”

“And everyone else too!” Brett added, “Benny’s coming back to ORCA in a couple of months and Froggy calls all the time and Vanessa too!”

Neri smiled her gentle smile at the thought of Vanessa. “She says she want to fix my hair. I think no.”

Jason took Neri’s hand. “Not everything has changed. You still have us.”

“Yeah. You’ll always have us.”

Shersheba strode up the path to the house. She wore another long robe over her bathing suit of red colored sharkskin. In the garden Malakat sat by the swimming pool looking at papers.

Shersheba looked at the chlorine-blue water, wrinkled her nose, and jumped in. “I hate this planet’s water!” She said when she surfaced. “And I am tired of my house. I want my palace, Malakat, my pyramid. Where is it? Why haven’t you found it yet?”

Malakat hadn’t looked up. “Very soon, I promise.”

“What if there is no pyramid?” Shersheba asked from where she stood in the water, “What if the stories of the ancients are just that? …stories.”

“Believe me, the pyramid does exist and we shall find it. Soon, highness.”

“Have you seen it?”

“No, but I…” Malakat looked up and changed his tone, “But there must be an anchor point for the water channels, and the ship from our planet would have been directed to land near it.”

Shersheba ducked under again and flipped over in the water, her hair billowing around her. After a few minutes she came up again, “Then perhaps you should pursue those PRAXIS people.”

“What would mere Earth people have to offer that a scan cannot provide?”

“They seem to be able to find Neri.”

“They are inferior beings highness.”

“Yes, I know. Nevertheless, Malakat, I suggest you monitor their communications.”

More work. “With respect, highness…”

“That is an order, Malakat.” The girl snapped.

“As you wish, highness.”

Cass sat in the galley on ORCA, a drink and writing pad beside her and a textbook open in front of her. HELEN could show her more detail on screens of course, but there was something about having paper that made it easier to memorize diagrams. And Cass was sure she could build… well… something useful if she could just get everything straight in her head. She grabbed her stylus and scribbled a note, saved it to the ‘cclaybornnotes’ file in HELEN’s memory, and sipped her drink.

Louis plopped down next to her. “Hi.”

“Hey.” Cass looked up, then back at her book.

“Practical electronics? Amazing.”


“I don’t know how you can understand it all. I wish I could get my head around that sort of thing.”

“You do?” Cass looked at him.

“Yeah!” Louis said, “Satellite imaging. Radar, sonar. Magnetic anomalies. Even the names fascinate me!”

He’d laid it on too thick. Cass had wondered for a moment but no, couldn’t be. He was up to something. “No kidding.” She said guardedly.

Louis changed the subject. “You know where Brett is? He went off with Jason hours ago.”


“Fishing? There’s a bit of a storm up.”

“Yeah well, it’s a challenge. Kind of like trying to concentrate with you around.”

“Sorry.” Louis said, and shut up. For about ten seconds. “What is a magnetic anomaly anyway?”

Cass dragged her brain back from the possibilities of ground penetrating radar to say, “It’s a phenomenon.”

“What’s a phenomenon?”

Cass marked her place and shut the book. “It’s something that’s totally hard to explain. Like someone pushy who won’t take a hint even when it’s spelled out right in front of his snoopy little nose!” She picked up her stuff and left.

The PRAXIS agents had stopped on the way back to base. It was another of Australia’s roads that looked like it was a million miles from civilization, though it wasn’t far from the coast and home.

The computer screen lit up and Elly said, “You’re on.”

Shelby winced. On the screen, director Richter steepled his fingers and gave them a too-patient look. “You want to tell me about the whale, Shelby?”


“Do you want to tell me about the tracking device, a highly sophisticated piece of technology years in the refining, that somehow left a kid’s watch and ended up on a whale’s tail?”

“It was a fluke, sir.” Shelby said.

Elly managed to keep a straight face.

“What?” The director growled.

“Whales don’t have tails sir, they have flukes.”

“Whatever. The question remains.”

“I’m addressing that sir.”

“Good. What I want to know is–”

“I’m not sure I–” Shelby tried to jump on the question.

“Whales are featuring substantially in this debacle, Shelby, or haven’t you noticed? We’ve had two incidents featuring whales.”

Elly got it first. “Are you suggesting it’s the same whale?”

“Excellent Hauser. Spoken like a true analyst.”

“Thank you sir.”

Shelby jumped back in, “I’ve already covered that possibility sir. It’s in my report.”

It was not! Elly gave him a look.

“It had better be, Shelby, because I’m beginning to think this mission is beyond your capabilities. Persuade me otherwise. I look forward to seeing your report.” The screen went black.

“Whales?” Shelby closed the computer.

“I dunno. Could be something in it. There’s data to say some whales and dolphins are as intelligent as humans. Maybe she’s got… some sort of bond with it.” Elly thought back to the alien’s eyes. It wasn’t scientific, to think someone like that might be able to talk to… well… anything. The girl and her special friend. Like something out of a story.

“You’re nuts.” Shelby said, “Come on, let’s get back. We have to finish that report.”

Malakat and Shersheba had been listening. They couldn’t watch, but their device captured the agents’ voices easily. When it ended transmission Malakat sighed. At last they’d figured it out. Took long enough.

“She snaps her fingers and whales come running?” Shersheba mocked.

“Yes, more or less. It’s…”

“One of the chosen one’s gifts? So? Perhaps she talks with fish, also?”

Malakat winced. At least here there was no one who could be listening. “Highness…” he gave up, “the chosen one can lead us to the golden ankh and the pyramid. And now we know how to find her.”

Shersheba smiled. “We go to ORCA? I will pack.”

Malakat shut down their listening device and wandered out onto the balcony. It was so… embarrassing. There were always a few people who never grew into the gift of their people, never heard the great jali speak to them. But for a princess to be… the Earth people had such good words for it. Deaf. Disabled. Damaged. It was unthinkable for a member of the royal bloodline.

Underwater, Neri plucked the transmitter from Charley’s fluke. The whale laughed and sang, Their faces looked like clownfish. Neri giggled. Clownfish, face on, looked particularly witless and she could just picture the PRAXIS agents with similar stunned expressions.

She surfaced and handed the bug to Jason where he and Brett waited in the boat. “Charley was happy to help. He say it stop singing yesterday.”

“Yeah Cass said it’d break down after a few hours in salt water. Useless now.”

“Here.” Brett took the bug and tossed it a few yards. It plonked into the water and sank without a trace. “Suffer, PRAXIS.”

“They will not stop. They will try again. I know it.”

“Aw, whatever they’ve got we can handle it.”

When the elevator doors opened, Louis was waiting in ambush. “Where have you been?” He asked rudely.

“Checking the marker buoys in the Western sector.” Jason said. It wasn’t even an excuse; they had been, while they waited for Charley to arrive.

“Cass said you were fishing.”

“We were doing both.” Brett said. They kept walking towards quarters, but Louis followed.

“Where’s your catch then?”

Jason shrugged. “Weren’t biting. Mid-water’s lousy for fish.”

HELEN’s voice came from speakers in the ceiling. “Officer Jason Bates, please report to the bridge immediately. Officer Jason Bates.”

Jason looked at Brett, they shrugged, and Jason went to see what was up. He reached the bridge and found Dianne. “You wanted to see me?”

Dianne gave him an unreadable look. “Yes. You have a visitor.”

And there, standing out of the way, was Shersheba. “Hello, Jason.”

Jason turned and walked out.

Shersheba followed, talking. “Jason it was very nice of your mother to get you to show me around but I’m sure you’ve got more important things to…”

Jason whirled to glare at her. “What are you doing here?” He demanded, “What do you want?”

“Nothing.” She sounded hurt.

“Give me a break. You came all the way from Egypt just to play tourist on ORCA? Sure.”

The girl seemed to shrink but her voice became strident. “I can see you’re angry with me and I’m sorry. I don’t blame you. But it’s all Professor Malakat’s fault! He called the police in Egypt, it wasn’t anything to do with me! I don’t even like him.”

“Then why don’t you leave?” Jason asked over his shoulder.

“I don’t have a choice!” it was almost a sob. “I’m on a contract. And now he’s sick of Egypt, wants to study Aboriginal culture, so we came here, and I thought it would be good to see see you again and I did so much want to see the Great Barrier reef… but I should’ve known you wouldn’t want to have anything to do with me.”

Jason sighed. He couldn’t keep from feeling just a little sorry for her. “Look, it’s all right.”

“I’m sorry. You didn’t want to hear all this.”

“Oh, it’s ok. But it’s too late to see the reef tonight.”

“No, that’s fine I can come back another time.” Shersheba answered, looking a little happier. She laid a hand on Jason’s arm. “Jason, your girlfriend must be a very lucky person.”

“Well, um, I don’t have a girlfriend. No time, I’m an officer of ORCA.”

“I thought that pretty girl in Egypt—Neri, is she around?”

“No, she doesn’t work here. She goes to college on the mainland.”


“And she’s… not my girlfriend.”

Shersheba smiled.

“What is she doing here?” Brett hissed. They were back in the Bates quarters, where Shersheba was admiring the automatic appliances that did the dishes and things. Brett was cooking dinner.

“Mum made me take her on a tour.” Jason whispered back, “I couldn’t exactly–” he broke off as Shersheba came over.

“That smells sensational. What is it?”

“Chili con carne. You like it?” Brett offered her a taste on a clean spoon.

“I adore it!” Shersheba tasted it and made a funny face.

“Too spicy? Sorry. You’re not staying for dinner are you?”

“Unfortunately I’m expected back. Too bad I missed your friend Neri.”

“She’s not here.” Brett said quickly.

“Of course. She goes to college on the mainland.”

Jason added, “I was telling her about it earlier.”

“Which college?”

Just then the boarding call for the shuttle message came over the speakers.

“That’ll be you Shersheba. I’ll walk you up to the pontoon.”

Shersheba waved Jason away, “Oh no no, stay and enjoy your mean, I insist.”

“She insists.” Brett muttered, mimicking her tone.

“Well Jason, I’ll look forward to that trip to the reef.”

When the door had hissed closed behind her Brett said, “What trip to the reef?”

“It wasn’t a serious offer. She asked, I had to be polite!” Jason rubbed his face. “She said Professor Malakat is in the area researching aborigines and she wanted to come visit.”

“You believe it?”


The last call for the shuttle came over the speakers.

“Doctor Seth?”

Winston looked up from his work as Louis came in. “Oh, hi Louis.”

“I’ve been set a problem to solve and I need some advice. You’re the only person on ORCA who can help me.”

“Oh yes?” Winston asked, closing his program. All systems normal; time to get dinner!

“Yes. You know the magnetic anomaly you were talking about? Under the ocean? About the time the minifin went missing. What is it? You’ve found something haven’t you? And that’s where the Bates boys go off to, isn’t it? Isn’t it?”

“I’ve found nothing, Louis.” Winston answered sounding as confused as he could manage. Behind Louis the door hummed open.

“Eh. Do better, Winston. Dad knows you’re hiding something. He says you haven’t filed a report and you know what? It’s going to cost you your job.”

Winston raised an eyebrow, “Is that so?”

Cass stepped up behind Louis and put an arm around his shoulders in mock camaraderie. “You’re up a bit late aren’t you?”

“This is private.” The boy snapped.

“No secrets here Louis. Unfortunately for you.” She stepped to the nearest terminal, slid her id, and opened a file. “Well well, what haaave we here? Looks like your dad’s credit account… and he’s been buying video games? Fighter Pro, Tactical Assault, Quests of Iceworld, man, I couldn’t afford these! Maybe he’d loan me the disks if I asked?”

“How dare you!”

“You want he should get an anonymous tip to check his statement next time?”

Louis glared, turned and stomped out.

Winston muttered, “Thanks.”

“Takes a sneak to know one.”

From outside Louis turned back and yelled, “There’s still something funny about what Jason and Brett are doing and I’m going to find out what it is!”

The door closed. Louis scowled. Someday he would take out Cass Clayborn and her attitude!

“Hello.” Said a voice like low bells.

It was a woman, in civvies. Really awful civvies, Louis thought, a dress right out of the seventies. “Who’re you?”

“You were interested in Jason and Brett Bates?”

“Looks delicious!” Dianne accepted a bowl of chili. She took a bite and winced.

“Too hot?” Brett asked apologetically.

“No it’s fine. Anyway I need a bit of pepping up, today’s been a nightmare.” She dug in.

“Wait’ll you hear this Mum. You know that girl who turned up?”


“Shersheba.” Jason said and rolled his eyes.

“Oh, well, I thought she seemed quite charming.”

“Yeah real charming.” Jason muttered. Dianne looked back and forth between her sons. There was teasing happening here and she didn’t know what it was about. The doorbell rang and Dianne got up to answer it.

A second later the boys heard, “Come in.”

“I’m so sorry to intrude.” Said the voice they least wanted to hear, “I’ve missed the last shuttle to the mainland. I feel so stupid.”

“No, don’t be silly.”

“All those corridors and elevators…” Shersheba shrugged, looking sheepish.

“Here, sit down. You’ll have to stay the night on board.”

“No really, I don’t want to put you to any trouble…”

“No, it’s no trouble.” Said the commander, “There’s a visitor’s room nearby. Brett, dish out another bowl could you?”

“No really, it’s too much trouble…”

Jason was glaring. Brett looked a little stunned but he handed over a bowl of chili. “Aw, it’s no trouble.”

“Brett’s become the chef of the family. He loves to show off his cooking skills.”

Brett made a bashful grin and watched Shersheba as she took a very small bite.

“Lovely. May—may I have a glass of water please?” she said faintly. “Um, when’s the next shuttle back?”

“Not until tomorrow afternoon.”

“Well at least I’ll have more time to look around. I don’t suppose there’s any chance of seeing the reef tomorrow? I’d love to see the marine life and do some snorkeling.”

Dianne smiled. “Of course you would. Jason, why don’t you take her? You have a roster day off tomorrow.”

Jason nodded.

After dinner Dianne had to handle the final lockdown night. It was the commander’s responsibility to make sure all personnel and vehicles were accounted for, though there wasn’t much to it but to show up on the bridge and have HELEN report.

The computer said, “All personnel present; all equipment checked in. All readings normal.”

“Thank you HELEN. Lock airlocks please.”

“Yes commander. Good night.”

“Good night.” Dianne stretched and said to her human co-workers, “That’s all for one day. We’ll have another day tomorrow.”

There was a rustle of people standing up and saying, “Good night commander.” And, “’Night Dr. Bates.”

“Night, all.” Dianne headed home. Two corridors away Winston joined her.

“Dianne! Have you a moment? I am most curious. Who was that exotic young lady I saw with Jason today?”

“Actually I’m curious as well. Her name is Shersheba, and apparently the boys met her in Egypt. She’s in the guest cabin tonight, and going to see the reef tomorrow—though it’s Jason she really seems interested in.”

“Lucky Jason.”

“Too young for you. She is pretty. Bit odd though, her turning up from the other side of the world like that.”

“’Why question the turtle dove when it lands on the branch’?”

“For some reason Jason didn’t seem all that pleased to see her.”

The next day was bright and clear. And, because you can’t act rude in public, Jason took Shersheba out to the reef. Shersheba wore a long robe over her strange red bathing suit and looked beautiful up in the front of the boat, her hair flying in the wind.

“I think half the guys on ORCA were on the pontoon to see us off.”

“I am not interested in half the guys on ORCA.” Shersheba replied.

Jason backed away from that one. “So, done much diving before?”

“Enough. I know how to snorkel, and did scuba once. Marine archaeology is a fascinating field.”

“Yeah really?” Jason checked the computer. Almost there.

“Mmhm. Near South America they’ve found submerged roads thought to be the lost kingdom of Atlantis.”

Jason doubted it, but who knew? If Neri’s people had been on Earth when the pyramids were being built, maybe there really was a lost kingdom of Atlantis.

“Here we are. The best dive around here.” Jason said with some pride. He turned the boat off and dropped anchor.

“Look!” Shersheba pointed. Far off, a whale breached against the sky.

“Oh, that’s just Charley.”


“Yeah. A whale Mum’s been studying. He’s just come to have a look at us.”

Charley waved a long floppy fin at them and Shersheba glowed with delight. “How wonderful. Jason, this is the best day I’ve ever had.”

“Just wait’ll you see the reef underwater.”

Jason gave Shersheba a quick refresher on snorkeling, and the girl jumped in. Jason stayed on the boat, using the computer to check marker buoys in the area in between answering Shersheba’s questions like, “What is this fish with blue and yellow stripes?”

Suddenly she was back up again, splashing. “Jason!” She cried, “Help! Aah- I’m in pain!” She went under.

Jason dived. He found Shersheba on the bottom, writhing and holding her side. He tried to grab her arm—her suit—was out of air. He surfaced, gasped a breath and went down again.

She was gone.

Jason looked around frantically, burning through his lungful of air. He came up, dived, searched, surfaced again. Finally he had to hold the side of the boat, too exhausted to try again, too exhausted even to get back into the boat and call for help.

“Jason!” Neri surfaced beside him.

“I couldn’t get her up.” Jason choked, “Now I can’t find her.”

Neri ducked under. Her clear vision found the limp body on the sand, and she grabbed Shersheba and hauled her to the surface. The girl was deadweight. She seemed unconscious when they laid her on the deck of the boat.

“Is she alive? She was down there so long.”

“Yes.” Neri laid her hand on Shersheba’s forehead. Suddenly her eyes went wide.

Malakat appeared on the bow of the boat, grinning like a barracuda. Shersheba was suddenly awake, grabbing Neri’s wrists and trying to drag her away.

Jason went for the controls. Emergency startup detached the anchor and he threw the boat into forward and stepped on the gas. “Neri hang on!”

The motor roared and the boat lurched forward. Jason spun the wheel and Malakat lost his balance and fell under the boat. Neri wrestled Shersheba over the side and let the other girl drop. Then she cowered back, stunned and panting. “They are ocean people!”

“She wasn’t drowning and how did he get out here!” They had to get away, not towards the island either, that way… Jason set a straight course and left the computer to steer. “Neri? Are you all right?”

Neri leaned against him and shivered.

“It’s all right, there’s no way they can keep up with the boat.”

“…Charley says they go.”

“Ok. Ok. We have plenty of fuel, we’ll lose them for sure and then head home.”

“They are from my planet. What do they want?”

“After all that!” Shersheba rolled her eyes. The pair had returned home after a long swim. Shersheba stalked up the slope towards the house, too annoyed to be tired.

“Let’s not dwell on regrets. What did you discover on ORCA?”

“There is something.”


“About the time the Bates boys disappeared in their submarine a Dr. Winston Seth, a friend of theirs, discovered a magnetic anomaly out in the Pacific ocean.”

“A magnetic anomaly. It might…” Malakat hurried to his equipment.

Shersheba shrugged. “This is all from the lips of a little boy who’s terribly hostile for his age. I think I found him rather appealing, if terribly young.”

“All this time I have been searching the ocean laterally, but my equipment keeps getting confused by the thermal disturbances caused by the currents. Perhaps if I scan it from above…”

“I knew I did well.” Shersheba was quite satisfied as she handed Malakat the crystal stylus and his maps.

It took an hour for the scan to find anything, but suddenly there it was on the screen in the air. Malakat checked the map again, grinned. “Yes! A magnetic anomaly.”

“Looks like a plain old square to me. I thought we were looking for a pyramid.”

Malakat touched the screen and the view rotated, the square becoming a pyramid. Shersheba reached for it as if she could take the hologram in her hands. “A pyramid. The ancients spoke the truth.”

“Your pyramid of power. With this you will rule the world.” Malakat said, not moving his eyes from the projection.

On the island Neri leaned in the doorway of her little house. “Ocean people.” She said blankly.

“You’ll beat them Neri.”

“Mother said I would face danger, but I did not think it would be from my own people. Why are they here, Jason? …I am afraid.”

That night a storm began. Neri sat outside her house, listening to the rain. Rain was good, peaceful. Nothing bad ever came with the rain. Neri remembered when she was tiny she’d catch raindrops in a leaf and drink them, marveling at the taste. It had a different flavor than the water in the streams.

Something moved on the ground. A baby wombat, out of the pouch but too young to be grumpy. Neri smiled and picked it up, cradling the furry body against her chest.

This is real.

Her hands felt another warm body, sleeker fur and a wide tail. “Sister?”

Mera breathed in the warm smell of the… otter? Cat? Something in between. She said, “Queen Shalamorn was our mother.”

“Yes.” Thunder rumbled over the island.

“No one told me. My… foster parents… wanted me to live in peace. I should be angry, perhaps. But they are right. I was happier when I did not know.”

Neri reached for her sister and touched only raindrops. The baby wombat chuffed and snuggled under her arm. “Sister, do you know of Shersheba and Malakat?”

Mera’s head jerked up. The kitten protested and wiggled out of her arms. “They are on earth? They are awful!” Mera’s anger fractured the connection between them as she shouted into her world, “Onoelle! Onoelle!”

And Neri was left alone with the rain.

Author’s note

It’s in the original, it really is.

Shersheba:She snaps her fingers and whales come running?
Malakat:She has a rapport with sea creatures. It’s one of the chosen one’s gifts.
Shersheba:So? Perhaps she talks with fish also.

And the fans bang their heads on the wall and say, “aaaaarg! The continuity! It just died!”

So we have:

Option A:The ability to talk to whales is rare, and the visitors in season 2 were smokin’ something.
Option B:The ability to talk to whales is common; Shersheba is smokin’ something.

I went with B. =)

The only way I could rationalize it is to say that Shersheba was born without the ability—like people can be born deaf. But since she’s the princess it would be a terrible thing if anyone knew, so Malakat and Shersheba’s family managed to cover up any hint that she’s not a perfect princess. I decided further that Shersheba has actually convinced herself that she’s normal, and denies the facts. You gotta admit, the girl seems a little cracked sometimes.

In my story anyway, Shersheba’s mother is not a very nice person, and totally determined to make her kid Queen no matter what. I named her Nadilla after a flesh-eating ghoul in a story.

As for why Malakat can’t communicate with the whales either… I worked that out too, but I won’t spoil the surprise.

So that’s my answer to the problem, but it isn’t all that great. Anybody else have any better ideas?