← previous next →

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

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

15. Fall to Earth

The pyramid had returned to the ocean floor. Neri hung in the water above it, her hair billowing above her head. She swam down and touched the tip of the pyramid, and shivered.

Back on shore Jason waited sitting on the side of the inflatable. He looked at Neri without much hope. “The pyramid’s back?”

“Yes, in the same place. But different.”

“What do you mean different? Did you go inside?”

“No. But seeing it, before it felt good. But this time it does not welcome me. I felt afraid.”

Jason sighed. “Then I guess you were right all along, the danger’s not over. I’d better get back, see what Winston’s dug up with the antenna.” Jason headed for the boat, then something occurred to him and he looked back at Neri. “Look, I’m sorry we hardly ever get to just…”

“Swim.” Neri supplied, “Play.” She smiled, “Is all right. Not your fault, mother would say. When this is over and we are safe, we play. Now, go home, learn what you can.”

“Right. I’ll come back when I can.”

“I find you. Charley always tells me when you come!”

On ORCA the kids hovered around Winston’s display. Cass’ opinion was, “Ok, that’s a weird signal.”

“This is what we’re receiving from the antenna on the island. That’s the pyramid, standing out like an elephant under a rug. If I didn’t know better I would say it was a supercomputer, more powerful even than HELEN.”

“It’s like it’s alive.”

“Neri said she feels things from it—and remember the ankh was sort-of alive.”

“Fascinating! It’s absolutely fascinating. Cass, can you get me a printout of this? We must gather as much data as we possibly can.”

“Right now I’m more worried about how Neri’s going to handle this.” Jason said, “She’s worried, she thinks the pyramid could be a real threat this time.”

The door hissed open and Dianne’s voice said, “Ok, that was the monthly budget meeting you guys dragged me out of, so this better be… oh no.”

“Yep. It’s back.” Cass said.

“We thought we’d better wait for you before we fed the data into HELEN.”

“Go ahead then. When did it reappear?”

“Last night. Neri checked it out this morning.”

“Ok. HELEN, what can you tell us?”

The lights in the nearest terminal shifted as HELEN thought, then the computer reported, “Three-dimensional in shape. Hollow in structure, yet with an all-consuming strength. It’s… beautiful.”

Glances were exchanged among the humans. Dianne said, “What kind of vocabulary have you guys been uploading?”

Winston shrugged. “A side effect of the recent upgrade perhaps. HELEN, do you detect any activity inside the structure?”

“Negative, Winston. There is a power source within the structure but right now it is dormant. It’s like it’s sleeping.”

“Not sleeping, just waiting to be activated.” Was Brett’s opinion.

HELEN said dreamily, “Yes, it really is beautiful. Incredibly beautiful. Perhaps even deadly.”

Dianne turned to Jason. “Tell Neri to be very, very careful.”

“Right Mum.”

Winston frowned at his screen. “Commander, why don’t you return to the meeting? I’ll see if I can coax some less poetical information from our HELEN.”

“So that child got away?” Shersheba asked.

Malakat nodded. “Regrettably. Seconds before the pyramid was destroyed, a space module was launched with the princess Mera on board.”

“I ordered a major source of the ruins.”


“Nothing. No golden ankh. Nothing.” Shersheba stopped and leaned her head on a tent pole. In the distance the smoke thrown up by the pyramid’s destruction still hung in the air.

“The ankh would not have been destroyed by that level of force, so it is safe to assume the elders gave it to Mera prior to her departure.”

“We are tracking her, yes?”

“Of course. The capsule is small, capable of a single programmed flight. It is headed to Earth.”

“Where our people will be waiting for it.”

“I have already alerted them, highness.”

“Excellent. Meanwhile, my little plan has borne fruit and we may soon be receiving intelligence from within ORCA itself.”

“So, all is in place.” Malakat smiled, “Admittedly, I had hoped to take the pyramid of the elders for your coronation. But its loss is acceptable since the leaders of the old council were destroyed with it.”

Shersheba was silent for a minute. Then she said, “Alert me the moment our people make contact with Mera.”

On the way to get lunch, Brett reported to his brother, “So Cass thinks she might be able to find where they’re staying if she traces real-estate but it’s a long shot…”

Jason put out a hand. “Red alert, Louis at twelve o’clock.”

Ahead the hallway curved into one of the outdoor viewing tunnels. Louis was giving a tour, it sounded like. His companion was turned away, so all the boys could see was a slim figure, long braid, and hands pressed against the glass.

“Looks like Louis’ found himself a new playmate.”

“Her arms and legs are moving, so he hasn’t bored her stiff yet.”

Louis saw them and smiled his best smile. “Jason, Brett, I have someone you should meet. This is Ilona, she’s new on ORCA.”

The girl turned and smiled, and everyone said hello.

“Ilona’s mother is the new maintenance engineer. I’m showing her around.”

Brett leaved forward and confided, “Don’t be fooled. Much as he’d like you to believe it, he doesn’t really know everything.”

Ilona smiled and ducked her head shyly.

“So where are you two going? I thought you were on duty.”

“Um, lunch?”

“Yeah, you must be thinking of last week’s roster.”

That night on the island Jason said, “I swear he’s keeping tabs on us. Even after PRAXIS blew him off.”

“Apart from that he’s a major pain in the butt.” Brett said with some relish, and bit into a banana.

Neri chimed, “What do you think makes him that way?”

“Who knows? He’s had a pretty weird life. He told Cass that his mom died when he was really young, and let’s face it if Danton was your old man, wouldn’t exactly be laugh-a-minute.”

“Maybe he is lonely.”

“Whatever. It’s his problem.” Jason threw the bones of his dinner in the fire. There were some pops, and a fishy smell. “Anyway, good news, Benny’s parents got rehired. He’ll be back on board this fall.”

“Good!” Neri smiled.

“Yup, Benny is now a master of parental manipulation. I taught him everything he knows, thank you, thank you.” Brett stood, bowed, and threw the peel from his banana out towards the water.

Neri surged to her feet, a second before Brett pointed, “Look!”

An orange light was falling across the sky.


“Is a spaceship.” Neri headed for the water. “I must go see.”

“Wait! What if it’s more commandos?”

“Is not.”

“Ride with us anyway, ok?” Jason ran for the boat. Brett was already pushing it out to sea.

The ship fell, visibly on fire. Bits were coming off and burning in midair. It hit the water with a crash and a tower of steam.

“Is it supposed to land like that?” Brett yelled over the sound of the motor.

“Hurry! Charley says commandos are coming!”

Jason gunned the engine, steered where Neri pointed, and stopped the boat. There was nothing to see but the water, and the dying tower of steam in the moonlight. “What are we doing?”

“There!” A dark head surfaced in the moon’s trail. It looked around frantically, then went under. The water hid any struggle underneath.

Suddenly Neri leaned over the side, into the water up to her shoulders. She came up hauling a human shape into the boat.

“Mera!” Brett yelled.

“They are here! Go!”

Jason hit the engine. The boat roared. Mera tumbled into the bottom, gasping and coughing. She sat up to hug Neri tightly.

Yelling over the motor Brett said, “Don’t worry, they can’t keep up! This boat’s faster than Neri! Your ship crashed!”

Mera gasped out, “It was supposed to.” She bent under another fit of coughing and tried to grin at Brett. “I am ok.”

“You sure know how to make an entrance, Mera.”

On the island they sat in Neri’s little house. Neri got a fire going and put a blanket around her sister’s trembling shoulders. Mera had started trying to explain as soon as she could be heard, but she was tired and upset and not making a lot of sense.

“So the council elders gave you the ankh and sent you to Earth on a one-way ship.”


“But they didn’t tell you what you were supposed to do with it?”

“They said I should give it to Neri. She has had it before so she would know.”

Neri was staring into the fire, serious-faced and silent.

“Ok. But let’s go back to the bit about the red virus.”

“It’s killing the ocean planet.” Mera said softly. “It always existed, but in a less dangerous form. Now this deadly strain is spreading through the oceans. Our people thought they could find a cure before it caused too much damage, but despite our technology we’ve been unable to stop it. It’s spreading faster now. The people are very scared.”

“I know. I have felt their fear.” Neri said softly.

“The worst of them voted to disband the traditional government… their fear made them fight back and the rebels gave them something to fight about. They are telling people that we must move our entire population to Earth immediately. They plan to melt the polar ice caps and flood your planet…”

“Flood Earth?” Brett asked, startled.

“Yes, and make the human population their slaves.”

“This is what Malakat told us.”

“Yes. It is he and Princess Shersheba who are commanding the rebel forces.”

Jason sighed. “Well it’s official then. They got out.”

Mera took a long breath as if gathering strength. “Yes. A pyramid can only be destroyed if two inside fully wish it to be, and are willing to… be destroyed with it… In any other circumstance the water-gates would have transported any inhabitants to safety.”


“Mera, are you all right?”

“Only tired.” Mera said. She wrinkled her nose. “I was sleeping on the journey but I do not remember. I will be fine. We must think what to do.”

“Well…” Jason said, “It’s obvious the key to this whole thing is still the golden ankh. So we’re ok as long as they don’t have it.”

“I say we take it to the pyramid, plug it in and let it rip.”

“Yeah, sure Brett. The commandos have set up camp in there.”

“We already beat ‘em twice.”

“I say we wait.”

Neri looked up from the fire. “Jason is right. We wait, and find a safe place to hide the ankh.”

That settled it. They waited silently for a few minutes. Jason opened his mouth to say that the situation wasn’t a total disaster, really—but with Neri silent and Mera looking pinched and miserable, it certainly felt like a disaster. Then a voice echoed from outside, “Halloo the island!”

“Um, that’d be Mum and Winston. I called and told them what happened.”

“Mother?” Mera asked.

Brett went to the door of the house and waved. Winston came in saying, “We brought some more bedding in case you needed it, oh, and chocolate…”

But no one was really listening. Dianne said, “Mera dear, it’s wonderful…” and stopped as Mera wailed and threw herself on her ‘mother,’ sobbing.

“What do you mean she got away?” Shersheba’s strident voice echoed across the beach.

“There was interference, your highness.” Councilor Garron explained.

“Tell me they at least got the ankh.”

“I’m afraid not, highness.” Beyond her, he watched a fishing team come in with empty nets.

“Incompetents. You’ll prepare for my departure.”

“To Earth? You alone? You have promised…”

“There is no time. Malakat and I leave tonight.” They’d reached the entrance to the caves. A guard stepped up to block the way. Shersheba snapped, “let me pass. I wish to speak to Councilor Malakat immediately.”

“I’m sorry princess, but my orders state…”

“Well I’m giving you new orders.”

But then Malakat himself came up behind his guard. “Yes highness, what is it?”

“The sister got away.”

“I know. I’ve already been informed.” Malakat said casually.

“Am I the last to hear of everything? I’ve ordered our people to prepare for our departure. We leave tonight.”

“No, we leave in an hour, as soon as the launch site is clear of the rings. I have already arranged it.”

“Without consulting me?”

Garron was watching. Malakat replied more calmly, “I assumed it was would be what you wanted, highness, however if you prefer to wait until this evening…”

Shersheba stepped around him without a word and went to gather her things.

Morning sunlight washed over the island. It poured through the cracks in the little house. Mera drifted out of sleep to the sound of the waves and shrieks of birds in the trees. Earth. Safety. She turned over and stretched, sat up.

Neri came into the hut with bananas and a cocoanut, already cracked. Mera reached for it and managed a clumsy bite of the sweet flesh. “Mmm.”

“Good morning.” Neri smiled warmly, “Is good to have you here.”

“Who made this house?”

“Everyone. Last season, it rain for days. I could not make a fire, even in cave. Winston said I need a place to be dry, or mushrooms would grow in my hair. So they make me a house. I still sleep in tree, mostly.”

Mera laughed. “But you do not tell Jason that?”

Neri didn’t answer that. “Today we go to hide the ankh. You come?”


They had a dip in the pond, and were waiting on the beach when the boys arrived.

“Hey Mera.” Brett said, “How was your first night on Earth?”

“Dreams.” Mera said honestly.


“Malakat and Shersheba.”

Neri said, “You are safe with us.”

“Yes. It was good to wake up. And the ankh? Are you sure it will be safe at your father’s farm?”

“No worries.” Brett told her, “Those idiots don’t even know the place exists.”

“And you will like farm. You can see the baby horse, the one I helped be born.”

Mera looked out to sea. “You know who I really want to see…”

“Charley.” Brett guessed.

“He will come. He is off with girlfriend.”

Mera’s eyes shadowed. “The jali of the ocean planet… many have died.”

Quickly Brett grabbed her hand and pulled her up. “Come on, let’s go see the farm.”

As their little boat sailed up the river they tried to plan.

“I know ankh will work pyramid.” Neri said, “But what happens then or what it will do, I do not know.”

“Nor do I.”

“Well maybe it’s one of those things that’ll just come to you when the time is right.”

“You know how you guys worked the synchronium—you just had to touch it and it knew what you wanted. Maybe the pyramid works the same.”

Mera shook her head. “I don’t know. The pyramids of the ocean planet are different.”

“There’s more than one?”

“Yes. On my planet, five. Four now. They make energy for machines, and anchor the water passages. Only the pyramid on Earth is a weapon.”

“Hey—speaking of weapons, Shersheba is packin’!”

Neri looked confused, so Jason explained, “She has a gun.”

“Not guns… really.” Mera explained. “On our planet are many big creatures, bigger than Charley. But dumb. Sometimes it is good to have a way to make them move away.”

Jason said, “That makes sense I guess. So where do you want to hide the ankh Neri? There’s the barn and the house.”

Neri grinned. “I say here.” She said, and let herself tumble backwards off the boat.

“Now why didn’t I think of that? Hey, we’re almost there. You can see the horses.”

Mera stood up to look—she and Neri could somehow doing this without making a boat wobble. “Horses! I never got to ride a horse before.”

“Luke can teach you—he’s cool. Dad hired him to look after the animals since he’s always off working. Come on, I’ll show you the house.”

That afternoon Brett and Mera returned from a visit to the river.

“I guess you had a pretty rough time. Mum told us…”

“It was hard. I had to make a lot of decisions.”

“Sounds like you were pretty cool.”

Mera flashed a grin. “I kept thinking what mother would have done, or what Neri would have done. The hardest part was after my friends left, having no one to talk to.”

“Well you’re here with us now, and whatever those bozos in the pyramid come up with, we can handle it.”

They reached the corral. Neri and Jason were sitting on the fence watching the horses. Mera hopped up by her sister and indicated the foal, “Has she got a name yet?”

“Actually, Dad thought Neri might like to do the honors.”

“Yeah, what do you reckon Neri? Can you think of anything?”

“I don’t know.” Neri chimed.

“She’s really beautiful.” Mera said. The foal had turned out palomino, and she gleamed in the light.

“And smart. Maybe I will call her Mera after you!”

“Well I can think of worse things to be named after… Jane! Let’s call her Jane!” Mera dissolved into giggles at some private joke.

“Well if you like.” Said Jason, obviously thinking that was pretty strange.

Mera took a deep breath, smelling horse and the river but no tang of salt water. She hadn’t been away from the smell of the sea in years. “You know, I’d almost forgotten how special your planet is. I’ve missed it. The peace here, the flowers and trees, the animals, even the people. Earth is really so beautiful.”

That evening on the island, Mera crouched in the pond watching a spoonbill catch the tiny minnows that lived there.

“Is good?” Neri asked as her sister splashed out of the water.

“Yes, it’s wonderful to swim in clean water. Not to be afraid of the terrible virus.”

Neri stood. “I will be back soon.”

“Where are you going?”

“Pyramid. I must watch the…”

“Commandos. Sounds better than minions.”

“Commandos.” Neri agreed.

“I’ll come too.”

“No, you need rest. You are not all well from the journey here.”

Mera scowled, but it was true. “Be careful. They are very dangerous.”

Neri smiled. “Do not worry. They do not know this ocean. They will not see me.”

“I’ll come with you to the beach anyway.”

The sun was setting behind the island, turning the ocean copper. A floppy fin broke the surface, far out.


“I told you he would come.”

“No, stay here, rest. Or Charley will be cross. I tell him you will come tomorrow.” Neri ran down the beach, jumped the first two waves and dived into the third. Mera found herself smiling.

In the Commander’s quarters the boys brought Cass up to speed.

“Sure, I can make Mera a card. I’ll do it tomorrow. About the rest… boy. We are in for some fun times again.”

“Chocolate brownie?” Brett asked, offering some.

“Did you make them?”


“Any algae in the recipe?”


“Just covering my bases.”

“I swear, one bite and you’ll think you’re in heaven.”

Cass and Jason looked at each other. Brett was a good cook… on things he’d made before, but his first efforts could be pretty scary, and pretty much everything on ORCA had Algae in it somewhere…

The computer pinged on, “Jason, Brett, you there?”

“What’s up Winston?”

“You’d better come down straight away. There’s something very strange happening out there.”

“What kind of strange?” Cass asked.

“Just hurry.”

“Last one there eats a brownie!”

There was a mad dash for the door.

“It’s a scan, over this quadrant of the ocean. Appeared half an hour ago, hasn’t moved since then.”

Jason guessed, “Maybe the ocean planet commandos? They were sure right there when Mera landed.”

“Ask HELEN.”

“HELEN, request analysis of random radar activity operating within a hundred mile radius.”

HELEN hummed for a minute than said, “Analysis complete. Confirm foreign radar is emanating from the nominated area.”

“And you’re about to tell us that this technology is unknown to this planet?”

“Certainly not. Technology is conventional and restricted to classification ‘a’ intelligence operatives.”

Cass groaned. “Intelligence operatives.”

“Spies.” HELEN provided, interpreting it as a question.

“HELEN, where are these devices relaying their information to?”

The computer replied, “All are for the exclusive use of the Preventative Response to Extraterrestrial Intelligence Service.”

“PRAXIS. Just what we needed.”

“Ok, what have you got?”

Shelby hurriedly took his feet off the director’s desk and stood up. “On the ninth, approximately eighteen-thirty-two hours, we tracked a small craft as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere.”

“What kind of craft?”

“As I said, small. Probably only one occupant. Unfortunately, the signal disappeared soon after. Readings suggest the ship broke up in atmosphere.”

“So? Log it as a routine UFO sighting.”

Shelby paced a little. “Sir, I think we’re on to something here. First, the craft splashed down in the North Pacific area, less than fifty nautical miles from ORCA—the same area the girl was from. And secondly, there’s a pattern.”

“A pattern?”

“Yes, sir. Since our last investigation I’ve been compiling data. There’s been more unexplained happenings in that area in the last decade, unprecedented aerial sightings, seismic activity, abnormal weather patterns. Compiled, it would probably make a fatter folder than you have on those Brits seeing metal men!”

“Ok, what do you want me to do about it?” Richter asked, mildly surprised that Shelby had read about the ‘metal men’ incident.

“I want you to re-open Operation Sphinx, and I want to head it up. I promise it won’t affect my current caseload.”

“Agent Shelby, read my lips. Operation Sphinx is closed. Finished. Dead.”

A tech from the front burst in. “Sir, unauthorized craft approaching atmosphere entry!”

Shelby snatched the folder from the man’s hand and shoved it at Richter. “Projected landing site is exactly the same, but this craft is bigger. Much bigger. Now do we have enough evidence to open an investigation?”

On ORCA, the landing lit up on all of Winston’s screens. Jason jumped.

HELEN reported, “An unidentified craft has just landed at approximately 19 degrees, 8 minutes, 5 seconds latitude by 146 degrees, 50 minutes, 30 seconds longitude.”

“That’s out near the pyramid.”

“HELEN, what is it?”

“Craft apparently originated in the upper atmosphere. Analysis of structure and composition indicates the craft is alien.”

In the darkness of the ocean floor human eyes were useless. Neri, watching from a nook in the stones, saw clearly as Shersheba and Malakat swam into the pyramid with more commandos following.

The surfaced inside the pyramid. Some of the soldiers wrung water out of their hair and clothes. Shersheba smoothed her hair back and gave orders. “You all know what you have to do. I want everything unloaded and the pyramid secured. So get to it. Malakat, I suggest we begin our search for the ankh with all speed.”

“I agree speed is of the essence, highness. But if we are to succeed in our mission, it is caution which must prevail.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Last time we acted quickly, perhaps too quickly. We underestimated Neri and her earth friends and consequently we failed.”

“Yes but Malakat, before it was just the two of us. Now we have the strength of an entire army with us. This time, I assure you, failure will not be an option.”

“Looks like your girlfriend’s back in town, Jase.”

“It is them.” Neri said softly. She’d come right to ORCA to report. “And they have many people with them. I watched. They take many things into pyramid.”

“Sounds like they’re moving in.”

“I told you we should’ve used the ankh when we had the chance. Now how’re we ever going to get back in there?”

The door opened and Dianne came in. “Listen up guys. I’ve got some bad news.”

“Go ahead, it can’t get any worse.”

“I’m afraid it can. I’ve just received communication from PRAXIS. Agent Jake Shelby’s on his way here now. Apparently they’re going to reopen the investigation.”