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This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2009-08-10 — sourcemeta

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

3. In the Spaceship

The boys and Neri piled sandbags around the hatch into the spaceship. It had been a long day of shoveling sand.

“Well, at least that will stop it caving in again, or the whole thing filling up with sand.”

Brett looked down into the darkness. “Hey, I was thinking, if we got scuba…”

“No way!”

“But Jase, it’s the spacecraft down there! Don’t you want to see inside?”

Jason sighed. “Of course I do. But we don’t know what’s down there, diving in blind would be crazy. What we need is a pump.”

“You go back to ORCA?” Neri asked, as Jason stood up and dusted off his hands.

“Yeah. To find a pump.”

“Good. I also want to see inside. Not as much as Brett.” Neri added, with a sideways smile at her friend. “Come. Charlie and I follow you part way.”

The ride back had been great, with Neri racing the boat. She’d won of course, and been waiting for them outside the construction zone to wave before she turned to go back to the island.

Jason was still smiling as he logged into a terminal to look up pumps. He heard footsteps then Morgan plopped a book in front of him. Jason looked at it while Morgan gave one to Sallyanne too.

“ORCA operations, two copies.”

“Thanks.” Said Sallyanne.

“Don’t thank me. You have to know it inside and out.”

“And backwards?”

“If it helps.” Morgan replied without a hint of humor.

There were several different pumps, some too big to take on the zodiac, others too small to clear out the spaceship. One looked like a prospect.

“What’s this, Jason?” Dave asked.

“Oh, I’m just interested in these things. Learning the equipment.”

“Micro pump xr-302.”

“So, it can move a lot of water?”

“State of the art. We have some here on ORCA.”

“Any chance I could see one?” Jason asked.

“Oh, I’m not the person to ask.” Dave said. When Jason looked at him he added, “UBRI Corporation. You know them?”

Inwardly, Jason groaned. “Right. It was just a passing thought. I’ve got work to do anyway.”

Dave gestured at the book of regulations. “Inside out and backwards. Have fun.”

“Yeah. Sallyanne, I’m going to the galley to get a snack while I read this. Want to come?”

Brett paused outside the bathroom on gamma level. The ladies’ and gents’ were on opposite sides of the little hall, just like always. But… something seemed different. Brett couldn’t figure out what, and anyway there wasn’t much time between classes, so he went into the mens’ side.

And shortly after came back out, on a tide of screaming girls.

Cass was waiting, screwdriver in hand, laughing herself sick. “Sucked in! Did he fall for it or what? Gotcha!

Brett stuttered, “You switched the—hey, I’m not a creep she changed the signs…”

“You should’ve seen Brett’s face! You had to be there.” Cass was still hooting when she described the prank to Benny over lunch.

“It was hilarious.” Brett said sourly.

“Regulations are very clear. Tampering with ORCA property…”

“Regulations are for dweebs, Benny.”

“Yes but did you switch the signs back…” Benny began.

Jason came up and tapped Brett from behind. “Brett, family business?”

“She’s gonna pay.” Brett muttered as he followed his brother out to the hall where they could talk in privacy.

“Yeah, listen, I have to talk to you.”

“Yeah, and I’ve got to talk to you. This Cass is a real headache, how long do I have to be stuck with her?”

“Until she either remembers about Neri and agrees not to tell anyone, or enough time passes that the doctor thinks she’ll never remember. Now listen, I know what kind of pump we need, and where to get it.”


“Ssh, keep it down. UBRI. The storeroom on beta level. I’m thinking tonight, between shifts we sneak in, hide the pump in the gear room topside then we take it out to the island tomorrow. If we’re really lucky we can seal the spaceship and get the pump back in a few days, maybe even before they notice it’s gone.”

Dianne was mildly surprised, when she got back to the cabin, to find her sons already in bed. “Sorry I’m so late home. I had a report to finish.”

“No worries.”

“I didn’t expect to find you already in bed though. HELEN freeze your TV accounts?”

“Well, I’ve had kind of a long day. You know, cadet training and all.” Jason said virtuously.

“What about you Bretty? Still keeping an eye on that Cass?”

“She’s a pain. She’s always stirring people up.” Brett grumbled.

“Sounds perfect for you.”

Jason snickered.

“Well, good night you two. Sleep well.”


“G’night Mum.”

Dianne yawned and went into her own room. “Five minutes and I’m going to be in dreamland.”

“Five minutes.” Brett whispered.

“Fifteen, to be on the safe side. Then we go.”

Fifteen minutes later the boys got out of bed and tiptoed out of the cabin. They were still dressed, and they put their shoes on in the lift. The UBRI storeroom was at the end of a hall on the upper level. It had an “authorized personnel only” sign but the door was open.

“We can just walk in, easy.”

“Hold up, Brett. There must be some security.”

“So what do we do?”

Jason got out a pair of sunglasses and put them on with a flourish. “I think I’ve got this covered.”

“A disguise?”

“Infrareds, bonehead. Ah-hah, like I thought. Lasers, the lowest one is here.” Jason tapped the doorframe at about knee height. Brett got down on his stomach and squirmed under, and Jason followed.

“Ok, no more in here. We can stand up.”

“So what are we looking for exactly?”

“Pump. About this big, tubes attached…” Jason wandered between shelves. It wasn’t going to be as easy to find as he’d thought; UBRI had lots of gadgets and he didn’t recognize most of them.

“Hey, what about this?”

“No, it’s longer, more high-tech…”

“This has tubes on it.” Brett reached for something in the back of a shelf—and something fell with a crash. Brett jumped back. They heard footsteps outside.

“Here!” Jason whispered. He and Brett crammed themselves under a low shelf and held their breath. Someone wearing boots and white pants walked through the room, looking around. The man picked up whatever it was that had fallen, then he left. The boys emerged.

“That was close. Hey, xr-302, this is it!”

“Great, let’s get out of here.”

“You go first, make sure that guy’s gone. I don’t want to have to explain to UBRI why I’m borrowing their equipment.”

“Right.” Brett said, and dived under the lasers on the door.

Neri woke up at dawn when the little bat crawled under her arm. She shifted carefully to see what it was, the soft fur and scratchy claws she’d felt. It was just cold. After a while Neri transferred the bat to her dress, where it hung like a strange decoration, and climbed higher in her tree. She put the little bat near the big ones. Maybe it would find its mother.

Neri, our friends come.

Neri got down in a few jumps and another jump into the pond. She ducked under and rolled in the water, savoring the taste and the cool brush of weeds on her body. For a moment the water echoed with laughter. Mera. Just a memory.

Neri was waiting to help the boys beach the zodiac.

“That will get water out of ship?”

“Yep. Guess it doesn’t look like much but it’ll do it. Let’s go get it going.”

They fed the hose down into the ship and Jason set up the pump on the other end. For a minute there was no action.

“Maybe the battery’s flat.” Brett said.

“It’s solar. Give it a sec.”

“I hear something.”

The hose filled and brown water poured out of the pump. “All right! Hey, is it far enough away? If the water goes right back in…”

“I think it’s all right.” Brett said, and they moved the pump around some until they’d gotten it in the best place for outflow and also sunlight on the solar panel.

“How long it take?” Neri asked.

“Who knows. That’s why we got out here so early, so it can run all day. We can come check it tonight. In the meantime we have to organize some sealant patches. It’s one thing to get the water out, now we have to keep it out.”

Brett was perfectly happy. It was lunchtime, and he was sitting with Benny listening to Cass tell them the story of her life.

“So after Japan we moved to a base off Florida, and then we were transferred here. It’s got so it’s no use trying to make friends anymore, we’re always on the move. Why do you want to know this anyway? I mean, you don’t really want to know.”

“Oh, we do.” Brett said instantly, “We’re finding it really interesting, aren’t we Benny?”

Benny shifted uncomfortably.

“What’s with him?” Cass said.


“Yeah, sure.” Cass pushed her chair back.

Brett grinned. “Hey, don’t go. Stick around.”

“Ok all right, what’s going on?”

“Payback time.” Brett revealed the tube of glue he was holding.

“You didn’t…” Cass stood up. Her chair came with her.

Brett started laughing, and it spread fast to other tables. The glue trick was classic. Cass tried to pull the chair off her bottom.

“I wouldn’t!”

She yanked. The fabric gave way before the glue did, and Cass had to crab-walk out to keep everyone from seeing her undies.

“Cadets reporting for orientation, sir!” Morgan barked. Jason and Sallyanne winced a little at the volume.

“At ease, Morgan.” Dave said. “So, you two, studied your notes on operational procedures?”

“Yes sir.” Jason and Sallyannee chorused.

“All right. Take the commander’s console.”

“We’re going to be in control?”

Morgan turned to her, “Want to be a cadet? Well then you’ve got to be prepared to take on responsibility on a moment’s notice.”

An alarm rang, making Sallyanne jump. Morgan barked, “HELEN, report.”

“Turbine fire in pod six.” HELEN said calmly.

“We’ve got a fire?”

Dave called, “Morgan, I need some assistance.”

“Coming. You two, don’t just stand there.”

Jason put on a headset and passed another to Sallyanne. He took a deep breath. “HELEN, analysis.”

“Automatic sprinkler systems are down. Turbine failure in eight seconds.”

“Engage secondary foam extinguishers.”

“Unable to comply. Override data is required.”

Jason scowled. “Dave, we need—ok, never mind. HELEN, prepare command sequence of manual override. Sally, move.”

“Um, HELEN close all hatches. Jason, commands are on screen.”

Jason put in the code, fumbling because he was trying to hurry. He didn’t hear anything move, but HELEN said, “Hatches closed. Extinguishers engaged. Fire in pod six has been terminated.”

Dave and Morgan reappeared, right on time. Jason began, “You might’ve entered our authority–”

HELEN added, “Simulation complete. Evaluating grades.”

“Simulation.” Jason repeated.

“You mean that was a game?”

“An exercise, guys. How’d they do, Morgan?”

“Who’s the bright spark who closed the hatches?” Morgan asked.

“Me. Well, both of us.”

Morgan’s voice went ice cold. “Well did it occur to you to evacuate personnel first? You locked them in. They’d all be dead.’

Sallyanne’s face crumpled and Jason was afraid she might cry. Dave looked at them and said, “Ok, I think that’s lesson learned. You’re off the rest of the day. Just don’t warn the next pair, ok?”

“Risk eternal kp duty just to spare someone a heart attack? No worries.” Jason said, still a little shocked.

Outside Sallyanne said, “I’m sorry. My mistake, your grade.’

“Don’t worry about that.”

“Thanks for trying to make me feel better.”

Jason smiled at her. “Hey, we’re a team. Next time we’ll know to expect the unexpected.”

“You were so… competent. I just froze!”

Jason couldn’t admit he’d had a bit of experience with emergencies so he just said, “Hey, a little study and practice and you can do it too.”

UBRI headquarters was just like its uniforms, white and black. In a room with a big screen, Kellar was demonstrating a possible acquisition to the boss.

“With this new technology we could pick up an analyze any impact on the planet’s surface.”

“I suppose it could have future potential.” Hellegren said.

“I’d suggest something more retrospective. An archive scan. We just might find a reading of the spacecraft that brought your alien girls to Earth.”

“But now they are gone. So what would be gained?”

“If we can trace exactly where they landed, perhaps we could find some clue to their origin. You want to continue investigating then, I assume?”

“Of course, Kellar. If they return to this planet…”

“Call for you, Dr. Hellegren.” Someone called from outside.

“I’m in a conference.”

“It’s your daughter.”

Hellegren sighed. “On screen then. Lena, I thought I told you not to interrupt me at work.”

Lena was paler than usual, but determined. “I am sorry father, but it was important.”

“Very well. What is it?”

“We have to talk about my vacation.”

Hellegren turned away, “Kellar, order the scanner. You have my approval. Lena, I thought we had settled this. Didn’t you get your itinerary?”

“It came this morning. But I told you, I don’t want to go skiing! And I don’t want to stay here.”

“Lena, I spoke to your principal. She says it’s just a matter of applying yourself and trying to fit in.”

Now Lena looked annoyed. “But I hate it here. Can we at least talk about it?”

“Very well. But not now. I’ll come down to the school.”

Lena cleaned her room while she waited for her father. She finished her homework and her laundry, and straightened her school tie about a hundred times. She had a speech ready, but her father, when he arrived, didn’t give her time.

“I know it’s hard for you Lena, but you must try to make the best of things. I’m sure you will have a wonderful time in Europe.”

“But I don’t want to go skiing. All the other girls get to spend the holiday at home, with their families! Why can’t I do that too?”

“Ah Lena, you know I would have you with me if I could, but right now…”

“I know, your responsibilities.”

“Things would be different if your mother were still alive.”

“When she died, you said I was the most important person left in the world.”

“You are!” Hellegren said quickly.

“Then why can’t be together, just over vacation?”

“Well… no promises. But I’ll see what I can do.”

The girl’s face lit up. Hellegren had to smile at his daughter. “I do wish you could live at home, you know. But my work keeps me all hours.”

Lena opened her mouth for the other half of her speech, but caught it back. She’d won already, as much as she’d hoped for. “Thank you, father.”

Cass recycled the torn shorts and ate chocolate to feel better. She’d come up with an appropriate revenge, in a while. Brett would be on the lookout for the next few days, but when he forgot to be careful…

“Hey you!”

“Yeah, Morgan?” Cass said, and blinked as a shirt was shoved at her.

“This is the top I was wearing yesterday. You see this? You know what this is?”

If you looked hard, there was a fluff. “Dandruff?”

“Lint. You’re on laundry duty, and I get lint.”

The day was getting worse again, fast. Cass tried, “Hey, it could be worse.”

“Fix it, Cass. Washed and cleaned.” Morgan tossed the shirt on her sister’s head and left.

Cass suddenly had a great idea.

“There you are. Listen, you gotta help me with something.”

Brett and Benny looked at Cass. Brett said, “Yeah right.”

“No, I mean it.”

“Not a chance. You’re setting me up.”

“Nah.” Cass sat down with them at the table. “I got you, you got me, we’re square. Let’s call a truce. At least until after you help me do this.”

Well the other option was helping Benny with homework so… “Ok, what have you got in mind?”

“I want to fix up Morgan, my pain of a sister.”

“Ok, but this better be on the level.”

“Great! How about you Benny?”

“Oh no, not me! If my father ever…”

“Come on Benny, lighten up. He’s in. What is it you want to do, exactly?”

Cass grinned. “I want her washed, lint free.” And Cass explained. It was, Brett had to admit, brilliant.

Benny came around the corridor and waved, “She’s coming.”

“Ok!” Cass hopped down off Brett’s shoulders and tossed a detergent bottle to Benny.

“You used a whole bottle?”

“Hey. Morgan wants, Morgan gets. And stop whining, I’m not that heavy!”

Brett muttered something Cass chose not to hear.

“Are you sure this thing’s going to work?” Benny asked.

“Positive. As soon as the lift starts, the sprinkler will activate. Let’s go up and see, you coming?”

“I don’t think…”

“Oh come on Benny.” Brett said, “What’s the big deal?”

“I’d rather stay out of trouble.”

“Come on, she’s only the cadet leader. How much trouble can she get us into?”

They ran up the back stairs and arrived, out of breath, in time to see the lift doors open. Bubbles flooded out. Cass hooted, and the boys couldn’t help grinning.

Morgan sloshed out, looking like a snowman. She wiped suds from her eyes.

“Lint free?”

Then another snowman stepped out of the elevator. Benny went white. “The Commander.”

Neri sat in the sand watching the pump empty water from the spaceship. So much water had come out that it washed a track down to the ocean. After a while the pump coughed, the flow slowed down and in another minute the pump shut itself off. Neri jumped up. She dropped a stone through the grate, and by the sound it splashed into only a foot of water. Excited now, she ran down to the ocean.

In the rec room kids were playing, using the exercise equipment or studying. Jason and Sallyanne sat on one of the couches with their books.

“Ok, try this one. Security procedures for situation involving base invasion by external forces.”

“Notify the coast guard.” Sallyanne said.

“Good. Three more.”

“Um, run, hide? I’m never going to learn all this.”

“Sure you will. I’ll help, you’ve just got to keep at it.”

“Ok, I’ll guess—evacuate? Delete confidential files?”

“Right and close. The commander is supposed to lock HELEN down.”

“Hey, I almost had it. Give me another one.”

“Procedures in case of tropical storm.” Jason said.

“Notify mainland to cancel the shuttle and supply boats, secure all watercraft, and seal the turbolift.”

“You got it.” Jason looked up as Neri came in. She scanned the room until she saw him, smiled, and slipped out. Jason turned to Sallyanne, “Look, there’s something I forgot to do, I’ve got to go. Rain check on the rest of the chapter?”

“Tomorrow? I really need to make sure I know this stuff before Morgan springs something on me.”

Jason understood that attitude! “Tonight maybe, or tomorrow. I’ll call you.”

Neri was waiting in the hall. “Water is gone from ship. We can go in now.”

“Great! I’ll grab the equipment and find Brett. You want to ride back with us or..?”

“I swim. Meet you at ship!”

Brett was scrubbing the floor outside the lift. They’d already cleaned inside the lift, and cleaned and oiled every bit of mechanics that the suds could possibly have gotten into. And their punishment just kept spreading.

“I told you.” Benny muttered.

“Shut up.” Cass replied.

“When my dad finds out he’s going to kill me.”

Jason came around the corner and saw them. He raised his eyebrows.

“Don’t ask.”

“All right, I won’t.” Jason crouched down so he could whisper. “Ship’s pumped out. We’re going in.”

“You can’t! You said I could be first!”

“I know, but this may be our best chance. If I can I’ll just seal the leak and wait for you before we explore. Depends what we find down there.”

“Ok, but the second I can get out of here…”

Neri surfaced next to the zodiac, as Jason turned off the motor. “Where is Brett?”

“In trouble. He’ll be here as soon as he can get away. Listen for a waverunner.”

“Ok.” Neri helped pull the boat in and they unloaded the gear Jason had brought. There was a laser cutter to get them through the grating. That took time; the blue metal melted at a higher temperature than Jason had expected. When he shut the torch off and tried to break through the metal, it rang like a bell. Weird. Jason held on, swung his legs into the hole and jumped on the grate. It came free and fell into darkness, leaving Jason to pull himself up.

“Here.” Neri had a vine already tied off. She dropped the free end and they heard it splash. “We go in?”

“Yup. Flashlight—it’s waterproof.”

Neri stuck it in the front of her dress and vanished down the hole, as gracefully as she swung out of her tree every morning. Jason heard her land.

“What’s it like in there?”

“Not too much water. Come!”

“Ok.” Jason let himself down into darkness.

Brett scrubbed like a fiend. After way too long Morgan reappeared. “Ok, that’ll do, you’re wearing out the floor. You’re done.”

Brett scrambled to his feet on the slippery floor and was off like a shot. Benny sat up and stretched his back. “What’s with him? Ow. I’m off the put on dry pants, and next time you have a bright idea, include me out.”

Cass grunted. She dropped her sponge in the bucket and started to stand up. She was sore too!

“Where do you think you’re going?” Morgan said.

“You must be kidding.”

“You humiliated me in front of the commander. Now I want this floor so shiny I can see the reflection of your happy smile.”

The floor was tilted. Jason landed in water, slipped, and went down on his bottom. What he could see was… strange. The beam of his flashlight illuminated machinery at odd, organic angles. There was a chair like the one Jason had seen in the other part of the ship, and a twisted piece of metal where another chair had been ripped from the floor. The crash must have been very violent, but now all was quiet. Everything was covered in a layer of slime, left behind by the water.

Neri stepped over to what must be a console. She wiped off slime, and the buttons glittered like jewels. Nothing was lit up though, and Jason couldn’t hear any sounds of machinery.

“Any of this mean anything to you?”

“No.” Neri said. She looked at everything with solemn eyes.

“This…” Jason stepped carefully to a transparent sheet hanging from the ceiling. It looked like glass, but felt more like plastic. Glittery spots were embedded in the substance. “This looks like some sort of star map. Marked off in degrees, see? This could be the navigation bridge.” He shook himself. “Come on, let’s go find that leak and seal it. Then we can look around.”

“This way.” Neri pointed. She climbed over a fallen beam.

Jason got up on it, lost his balance and slid a few feet. He caught himself just before breaking through another grate.

“You all right?”

“Yeah. It’s slippery.”

“Weeds grow even here.”

Jason grinned. Every plant that wasn’t useful was ‘weeds’ to Neri, even this slime.

“Listen, water comes in here.”

“Great!” Jason splashed over and inspected the leak. It was a pipe in the wall that must somehow vent to the ocean. The hole wasn’t large. “Here, hold the light could you? I’ll try and get a patch on it.”

Jason got out a goopy white sealant sheet and held it pushed over the leak until it hardened. Another few sheets just to be sure, and he stepped back and rinsed off his hands. “Ok, I think that’ll hold. Can you hear any more coming in?”

Neri blinked. “Not water. Someone is here. Brett!”

“Brett?” Jason called.

No answer.

They sloshed back towards the entrance. The grate Jason had almost fallen through was broken out, and a flashlight was wedged nearby.

“He must’ve slid down. Brett, are you down there?”

“You all right? Brett!”

There was a groan and then Brett called back, “I would be if you’d stop yelling. It’s weird down here. I need a light.”

“Ok, we’re coming down.”

Neri swung herself up and slid through the hole. “Look out, Brett.”

Jason thought he could crawl down, but the beam was too slippery. He landed on his back. “Oof!”

“Yeah, that’s what I said.” Brett handed his brother a flashlight.

This room was lower down, but it was less slimy and the drip of water seemed to be at a remove. It was colder, and foggy. More banks of instruments with jeweled buttons showed through the clouds. In one corner was a heap of cups and bowls that looked like ceramic but weren’t broken.

“Wow! Looks like a lab or something.”

“There’s a light over there.” Brett said.

“A light? This place has been underwater for years…”

But there was a faint light. It was coming from a cylinder of glass that stretched from floor to ceiling. It looked like glass anyway, but it was covered in a thick layer of condensation and frost. Brett reached out to touch it and drew back. “Cold! There’s something in there… maybe it’s a coffin.”

“What is coffin?”

“Ah, it means there might be somebody in there. Somebody who came from your planet a long time ago.”


“Afraid they’d have to be.”

“My people…” Neri put her hands on the glass and swept a patch clear. The boys gasped. There was someone in there, buried in ice. A boy with sharp features and black hair.

“Neri, I… I think he might be alive.”