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This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2009-09-30 — sourcemeta

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

11. Deep Dive

The sun had set, and the heat of the day faded with it. Neri and Kal sat beside a fire, having a few bananas and talking about nothing.

“Opal people have strange customs.”

“Many.” Neri laughed and put another stick on the fire.

“They put their faces together, do like this.” Kal made a kissy face to demonstrate. “Like fish! Why they do that?”

“It is called a kiss.”

“Kiss.” Kal murmured. “A kiss.”

“It is to show someone you have feelings for them. Like a mother for a father.”


Neri thought about that one. “Feeling is… here, in your heart. When you have good friends like Brett and Jason, you feel happy.”

Kal put his hand on his chest to see if he had any feelings. It was hard to tell. “Happy? Feeling is good, is happy?”

“There are other feelings. Not all are good.”

“What other feelings?”

“When you are alone, with no friends to help you, you can feel fear. Fear is when you think a bad thing is coming and you cannot stop it.”

“Fear.” Kal nodded, cataloguing the concept. “Not happy. Fear.”

Fear. A dark world. Cass shrieked and wrenched herself away—and woke up, cold and gasping for breath.

“Cassandra! Are you all right?”

Still blinking herself back into the real world, Cass looked up at her mother. “That dream again.”

In the other bed Morgan groaned, “Do you have to make so much noise? I have training tomorrow.”


“Ok, sorry. Look Cass, maybe you should talk about it, get it out of your system.”

“It’s the same as always. I’m in this weird place, with stuff hanging everywhere, like a jungle. And someone’s there, and she’s really scary but I don’t know why, I’m running away and then I can’t remember.”

From inside the pillow Morgan said, “Gotta lay off those horror vid-discs, Cass.”

“Listen, the only horror in my life is having to share this cabin with you!” Cass snapped, fully recovered. “Go to bed Mom, I’m ok.”

“You sure you’re all right honey?”

“Yeah sure, I’m all right.” Cass plumped her pillow and lay back.

“Well then good night, girls.”

“G’night.” Cass said, and a similar sound came from Morgan.

“Come on guys, when are you gonna take me out to the island?” Benny asked. He’d been asking since Brett and Jason showed up for breakfast.

They were distracted by a commotion over by the food machines. A big boy with cropped hair was saying, “You kidding, you don’t think I’m gonna wait in any stinking line do you?”

“Check out the new guy.” Brett muttered, “Acting like he owns the place. Who’s he reckon he is?”

“Stop changing the subject. When are we going? You promised.”

Brett shrugged, “I’m not scheduled for anything today.”

“Ok, you go with Benny. I’ll stay behind and see if HELEN can find anything for us.”

Benny cheered gulped the last of his cereal.

Jason waved them off, smiling, “See you guys later.”

“See ya. Let’s go get the zodiac.”

Brett started off but Benny grabbed him. “Hey, it is safe isn’t it? I mean, we can’t get lost out there can we?”

“No worries. Check it out.” Brett got out his new toy. “Satellite navigation aid. We can be in any part of the world and know exactly where we are.”

Brett didn’t notice the big kid looking at his device.

On the way out they passed Cass. Brett said, “hey Cass, better hurry or there won’t be any muffins left.”

“So?” Cass replied nastily.

“So, I thought you liked muffins.”

“Look, just because I like muffins doesn’t mean I have to have one every day.” Cass stomped off.

“What’d I do?” Brett asked nobody.

Benny shrugged. “Girls. Who can figure ‘em.”

Down in the computer lab Jason was eating a bag of chips while HELEN ran her search. She reported, “Object was later identified as a weather balloon, confirmed by bureau of meteorology records.”

“Another dead end. Delete that, and let’s see the next one.”

Another map and data set loaded. “Saturday the twenty-sixth. Bright light in sky reported by crew of fishing trawler at sea. Subsequent investigation proved inconclusive.”

This one was close by. “That looks promising. Run it.”

“They like, eat and everything?” Benny whispered to Brett. They were sitting around by the pond, eating slices of a delicious melon Neri had found. Benny had been very quiet, spending the whole visit staring at Kal and Neri.

“’Course they eat Benny, what’d you think?”

“Well I dunno, I never met anyone from another planet before.”

“You eat also.” Neri said, holding out a slice.

Benny took it and tried a cautious bite. “It’s good!”

“I told Benny about everything, even the synchronium. He’s one of us now.”

Neri smiled her brilliant smile and Benny blushed. “Um. So this thing, it can really control the seas?”

“Yes, and I feel the day will come soon when it will be needed.”


“Benny, you will help us search? Many pieces still, and we must find them before others do.”

“Well I’ll try. But I’m a little worried.”

Kal spoke for the first time. “’Worried.’ Happy feeling?”

“No. Scary feeling.” Benny said and looked at Brett.

“Ah, Kal doesn’t know much about feelings. I guess he’s trying to learn what they are.”

Kal nodded. “Feelings of Opal Planet people.”

“Your people probably have the same kind of feelings, you know.” Brett said. “Happiness, sadness, fear, whatever—Neri feels them just like we do, so you can too.”

“But you are of Opal Planet.”

“Yeah but we’re all people.”

Neri nodded. “Not very different.” She looked up. “Jason is coming.”

“How do you know?”

“Can hear. Waverunner.”

Benny couldn’t hear anything. Brett said, “She’s right. Wait and see.”

A few minutes later Jason joined them. “Hi guys.”

“Hey Jase.”

“You have found something?”

Jason sighed and pulled out a pocket computer. “HELEN picked up another lead. Some fishermen reported it. Looks like it came down at sea. I downloaded the data on this.”

Kal looked at it. “Fell here.”

“How do you know?” Benny asked.

“Fell here.”

“Trust him.”

Jason marked the location and switched to a topographic map. “Edge of the continental shelf. That’s deep water.”

“How do we get down to it?”

“Not sure. It’ll take planning. I have to go back, I’m scheduled on the bridge at fifteen hundred. Let’s look for the capsule tomorrow.”

“I can go down to it. No wait. Have to go now.” Neri said immediately.

“Benny and I will come.”

“No, too slow. I go alone.”

Somehow they were all on their feet heading for the beach. Benny said, “I guess I should be heading back to ORCA too. My dad’ll go bananas if I’m late.”

“I go to ORCA?”

“No, Kal. Can go with Brett, but only part way. Must be back on island before sun is low.”

Kal looked downcast. “Yes Neri.”

“You can come to ORCA tomorrow.” Brett offered, “You have class then.”

“Yes. Tomorrow.”

Kal helped Brett and Benny get the zodiac off the beach, then swam alongside them.

Jason pushed the waverunner out and got on. “Neri, be careful out there ok?”

“Yes.” Neri said, and dived into an oncoming wave.

Jason looked after her for a moment, then started the waverunner. A few minutes later he passed the slower zodiac, waving at Brett as he went by.

A few minutes after that, the engine on the zodiac died. Brett tried to start it, but it only sputtered. He tried a few more times. “I don’t get it, it was running perfectly before! We have a serious problem.”

“My parents are going to kill me if I’m late.”

Kal surfaced beside them and Brett smiled. “Kal can tow us! Kal, little help?”

“Cannot take you to ORCA. Must get back to island now. Neri say.”

“You can’t just leave us out here!”

“Look, we’re in big trouble here! Neri would want you to help us.”

Kal considered. “Have happy times!” he called, and dived.

“Kal? Kal!”

Back on ORCA Cass looked up from her book when a large shadow fell over her.

“Lookin’ for Brett Bates. I hear he’s a friend of yours.” Said the huge boy.


“So, where is he?”

“Haven’t seen him since this morning.” Cass replied.

“Yeah well, when you see him, tell him the Moose wants to talk to him.”

The Moose? What kind of name was that? “And what if he doesn’t want to talk to you?”

Moose loomed. “He will if he knows what’s good for him. Get the picture?”

Brett was in trouble already. They’d been stranded for a while now. Brett was still wrestling with the engine.

“How could Kal do it?” Benny wondered aloud. “I mean, even your worst enemy wouldn’t leave you stranded out in the middle of the ocean.”

“It’s not too bad. Jason knows where we are, he’ll send somebody when we don’t get back on time.” Except that Jason would be going right to cadet training so he might not realize they were late until dinner time. But Brett wasn’t going to tell Benny that until he had to.

“Look at that!” Benny pointed. In the distance a whale breached, its huge body sailing out of the water with perfect grace. It fell back with a great crash of water.

A minute later the whale spy-hopped right by them, poking his head out of the water not three yards from the zodiac. Benny sucked in a frightened breath.

“It’s Charley.” Brett said, and waved.


Charley sank under again. Brett grinned. “I think we’re saved.”


Brett pulled his hat over his face, sat back, and relaxed.

A few minutes later Neri came up beside the boat. “You are all right?”

“Am I glad to see you, Neri! We’re fine, but the engine died. Did you find the capsule?”

“No find. Will look again tomorrow. Now I take you back to ORCA.”

“Thank you Neri! Thank you thank you thank you!” Brett had secured a rope to the front of the zodiac. He tossed the free end to Neri.

“But how did you know we were here?” Benny asked.

“Charley told me your boat does not move.” Neri said and dived.

As the zodiac began to move, speeding up, Benny said, “She talks to the whale?”

Brett just pointed. Charley was coasting along beside them.

Neri left them at the pontoon. Brett signed the zodiac back in and managed to convince Dave that the engine had gone dead just as they arrived. Dave and one of his tech people took it apart and found a routine breakdown. Could’ve happened to anyone, Dave assured them, they were just lucky it hadn’t happened out at sea.

An unfamiliar voice greeted Brett as he came out of the lift.

“Well, will you look who it is? We’ve been looking for you for hours, Bates.” It was a big guy, bigger than Mick, with another big guy and a big girl behind him.

“Why’s that?” Brett asked.

“Well I thought it was about time you and I became friends. You do want to be my friend, don’t you Bates?”

“Uh, I guess.”

“Well, you see, there’s this way you might be able to prove it to me. You might be able to give me a present. Like, say, that S.N.A. I saw you with earlier.”

“But it’s brand new!” Brett’s mouth said before his brain caught up.

“So I noticed.”

“I can’t give it away, it was a birthday present.”

“Oh, isn’t that sweet. Now, listen, Bates. This is the way it goes, all right? You’ve got until this time tomorrow to hand it over, or you’re dead meat. Okay?” Moose did his best loom. He was a good foot taller than Brett.

Brett squeaked.

Considering the threat successfully delivered, Moose and his cronies walked off.

Brett was stewing about it that night in the cabin. He couldn’t hand over the navigator—they needed it! Going after pieces of the synchronium without exact directions would be a nightmare.

But getting pounded on by Moose would be a nightmare too.

While Brett pondered that one, Jason was telling their mother about the day’s training. “…it’s kind of like a physics test. Sallyanne’s a whiz at that sort of thing.”

“Sounds like you and Sallyanne are a pretty good team.” Dianne said with a grin.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, nothing.” Dianne dodged a pillow swat. “What do you think Brett? Brett?”


“Don’t worry, it’s just Mum’s imagination working overtime again.”

“I’m going to bed.” Brett muttered.

“But it’s only nine.”

“I’m really tired.” Brett turned away from his confused family and went back to brooding.

At first light Neri was on the beach, ready to leave.

Kal ran up. “Neri. I go with you today?”

“No, Kal. You must go to ORCA for class. I search alone.” She smiled and tousled Kal’s hair. “I will come to ORCA later, when I have found the piece. I see you there.”

“Ok!” Kal was smiling now. He liked class. “Good search, Neri.”

The boys caught Kal hanging around the galley before class started. The food machine would still give him some things, even without an id, and Kal was determined to try everything he could get.

“Kal!” Brett burst out, sitting down next to the older boy. “You left us stranded out there yesterday! You can’t do things like that.”

Kal looked confused. “Had to return to island.”

“But we could’ve been stuck out there forever!”

Jason said, “Kal, what Brett’s trying to explain is that he and Benny were in danger. They might have gotten hurt. If someone could get hurt, then you have to help them. That’s more important than doing what you’re told. You understand?” As he spoke, Jason suddenly remembered his father telling him the same thing in one of those man-to-man talks before everything fell apart.

Brett broke in, “It’s called sticking by your friends, being loyal!”

“Loyal? What is loyal?” Kal asked, and something in his voice showed they’d gotten through to him.

“Come on, I’ll explain it on the way to the rec room.”

Neri dived. Charley’s song drifted down from above, directing her. He’d actually found the capsule; he said it made a very strange echo. Neri couldn’t feel its presence yet, but maybe she wasn’t down far enough yet. It was getting dark. All she could see was dark blue, blackness below her, and a ripple of light from the distant sun.

She cupped water and pulled herself deeper. Down into the dark.

The sun faded to a pale blue blur. Neri began to feel sick. Her head hurt. Her chest felt tight, even though she didn’t need new air. She breathed out a little and shook her head. It didn’t help.

She could feel the piece now, it was just a little further down. She could get to it… if her head didn’t hurt so…

For a moment the darkness was overwhelming, then she was rising through lighter water. Charley dived to meet her and pushed her up.

Charley. What happen to me?

Too deep.

Neri thought about that. She reached the surface and found herself gasping for breath. What a strange feeling, not having enough air! Was that how Brett and Jason felt when they stayed under too long?

But the piece of the Thing is down there. I must get it.


I must think of a way.

Neri swam to ORCA while she thought. She had only one idea, and it probably wasn’t a good one. Maybe Jason would have more.

“Charley said it’s too deep for you huh? The pressure down there’s too much, even for you. You can’t try again.”

“Too deep for you also? With helmet?”

“Yeah.” Jason sighed. “There’s nothing on ORCA that can go down that far safely. If I tried I’d get the bends, bad, maybe even die.”

Neri was silent, in thought. “Then I must try again. I cannot fail Father. This time, you help.”


“Wait in boat, with rope. I dive fast to synchronium. Then even if all goes dark in my head, you can pull both back up.”

“Whoa, that is not a safe plan.”

“You have better?”

“No.” Jason admitted.

“Then we try. Now. Must be done, Jason.”

“Ok. Ok, we’ll try. But we’ll take Brett. If something goes wrong I want him along for backup.”

“Good. We go get him.”

They had to wait a few minutes for Jason to sign out a boat. The zodiac engine was still in the shop so there wasn’t a problem getting a bigger boat, and there were even some chores in that direction. Two informational buoys weren’t transmitting, and someone had to go out and check them. And probably clean bird droppings off the solar panel that kept the thing running, which was why nobody else had done it.

In the rec room, Cass was apologizing. “Look, I’m just telling you this ‘cause I might have been a bit cranky the past few days.”

“Ah, that’s an understatement.” Benny said politely.

Cass swatted him. “So, I’m apologizing. You try getting no sleep and see how friendly you are.”

“Ok, apology accepted.” Benny said and Brett nodded.

“So what are these dreams about anyway?”

“Well I only remember bits and pieces. I’m in this weird place, and there’s a girl only she’s wearing really strange clothes and there’s something… I dunno, I’m just scared of her. So I’m running but she keeps coming after me. Hang on, I just remembered, I think there’s someone else with her. Kids I think…”

Brett and Benny were looking at each other, worried. Benny said, “Well, I’ve heard these reoccurring things usually just stop one day.”

“Yeah, I’d just try to forget about it if I were you. It’s just a dream after all.”

There was a distant rumble and everyone in the room looked up momentarily.

Cass grumbled. “I wish those UBRI guys would quit blasting already. It’s getting on my nerves.”

“Yeah.” Brett saw Jason and Neri come in and scan the room, looking for him. “I gotta go guys. See ya.” He made his way over to them. “What’s up?”

“We’ve had a few problems.” Jason said.

Brett saw Moose sitting with his crew on the other side of the room. Moose waved. Brett muttered, “Yeah we do.”

In the lab, Dianne flinched when the blast went off.

Winston rolled his chair over to check the seismic monitor array.

“How did that lot read?”

“Higher than UBRI claimed, as usual. But still well shy of the official danger mark.”

“Huh.” Dianne grumbled. “All the same, when the dust settles we’d better go out and nose around a bit.”

“It would be my pleasure.”

“Winston… we can’t be on a wild goose chase can we? I mean let’s face it, we haven’t gotten a single piece of proof there’s any permanent damage.”

“But Neri insists something is wrong with the ocean, and I believe her instincts can detect such things well before my instruments can.”

Jason parked the boat and let down the sea anchor. That should keep them from drifting too much. A few minutes later Neri climbed the ladder at the back of the boat.

“You sure this is the right place?”

“Charley sees. Is straight down.”

Brett had rigged up a rope with a velcro belt at the end. He helped Neri get it wrapped around herself so it would stay on without interfering with her swimming.

“Ok, you’re ready. Just be careful down there ok?”

Neri looked at Jason. “If I do not return, take care of Kal.”

“Neri you’re going to…”

But Neri dived off the side before Jason could finish.

The boys watched the winch unwind steadily. There was nothing else they could do for now.

“Over a hundred meters. She’s below the continental shelf.”

“Isn’t that where she had to turn back last time?” Brett asked.

“She said that’s where the pain started, where the cliff drops off.”

“Look, there’s Charley. He must be worried too.” Charley got a look at them then dived, his tail slapping the water.

Neri could feel the piece. It was the only sense still working through the pain in her head. With a last effort she kicked downward, reached out and felt the metal capsule. It sprang open when she touched it. The piece glowed blue, but Neri was losing her vision. Her hands closed around it and everything went dark.

“She can’t go any further. Bring her up, I’m going down.” Jason reached for his diving gear and Brett reversed the winch.

The line was slack. “Uh-oh. Either she’s turned under her own steam or we’ve lost her.”

“Keep winding it. If she blacked out down there…”

Jason was about to go in when Neri came up beside the boat, gasping and looking tired, but smiling.

“You did it!” Brett yelled.

“Are we glad to see you!”

Neri held the piece up so it glittered in the sunlight, then turned suddenly, “Charley say–”

“We’ve got company!” Brett pointed. A boat had just come over the horizon.

“UBRI, gotta be. Let’s get out of here!”

“I go.” Neri wriggled out of the belt and dived. Jason started the boat and gunned the engine.

“Right under UBRI’s nose, it was fantastic!” Brett finished giving Benny the play-by-play while they walked Kal to the dive pool after his class.

“So now we have two pieces.”

“Is good feeling, happy?”

“Extremely happy.”

Just then Moose and his friends loomed in a side tunnel. “Time’s up Bates, where’s the S.N.A.?”

“It’s in our cabin.’

“Well go and get it. Now.”

Brett took a deep breath. “No Moose. I’ve decided I’m not giving you anything. In fact, you can go take a running jump.”

“All right pal, you’re dead. You two better beat it while you can still walk. You heard me, go!”

Kal went. Benny, knees knocking, stayed. “I’m staying with Brett.”

“It’s your funeral. I’ll deal with you after I’ve fixed up Bates.” The big boy grabbed Brett and swung him into the side hallway, banging him into the wall on the way. “Last chance.”

“Not giving it to you!” Brett yelled, followed by, “Ow! Cut it out, get off me! Ow-ow-ow! Stop it!”

Then Moose was hauled off. And lifted off his feet by his shirt.

“You stop now. I loyal.” Kal said cheerfully.

“I was only kidding.” Moose wailed, “Call him off!”

From somewhere Benny put in, “Um, Kal isn’t a guard dog.”

“Not hurt friends.”

“No, no, I won’t hurt them.”

“Ok.” Kal put Moose down. The bully stared for a minute, then realized his friends had both run off. He quickly followed them.

“Thanks Kal. Hey, you did it, you were loyal!”

“Congratulations, Kal.”

Kal thought about that. “Loyal feels good. Very good!”

Lena hadn’t come out of her room all day. She’d loaded the files on her computer and looked through them, over and over, since her father had left for work.

It was unbelievable, this stuff—aliens, strange powers, a girl who could communicate with whales? She’d have thought her father was writing a fantasy book, except that that was even less believable than the aliens.

Then there were the other things. An electric fence to capture a whale. Plans to kill and dissect it.


When she’d first seen “application to adopt” all Lena could think was that she must be no good. Her father clearly didn’t want her around, but he wanted to adopt this ‘Jane’ girl with a boring face and no expression? What could be so wrong with her that her own father…

But the application looked—weird. It was all business information, nothing about providing a family or where the kid would live or, well, any of the kind of thing Lena figured adoption people would want to know. And why was it all signed “on behalf of UBRI corporation.”?

Lena heard voices downstairs. She went to look, then realized it was Kellar. Lena ducked down so she couldn’t be seen from below.

“The capsule was there, but when our divers got down to it, the piece of the device was gone.”

“And you think those children from ORCA were responsible?”

“I am certain of it. Who else? They are proving to be a serious threat to our progress, Doctor. Perhaps it is time we considered dealing with them permanently.”

Lena caught her breath. No way…

But her father said, “What did you have in mind?”

“There must be a way to remove them so they do not worry us again.”

“Do you think this could be arranged to be done discreetly?”

“I’ll give the matter some thought.”

“Do that, thank you Kellar.”

Lena retreated to her room, her mind racing.

“I’m worried, Jase. Cass was definitely talking about Neri and the island. She’s starting to remember stuff.”

Jason was lying back on his bunk, a helicopter piloting manual propped open on his chest. “Ah chill out Brett. All you have to do is keep persuading her it’s just a dream.”

“What if she remembers more? Or puts it together—I mean, she knows she was lost overnight and then got hit on the head.”

“It’ll fizzle out.”

Brett wished he were that confidant. And, while he didn’t want to admit it, he felt sorry for Cass having nightmares all the time. It must stink not being able to sleep. And it would be good to have Cass on the team, she’d be a big help… if he was sure they could trust her. And Brett wasn’t sure. Almost, but not enough.

“Hey, Brett.”


“Do me a favor ok. Next time a loser like Moose bullies you, let me know.”

“Hey, I can take care of myself!”

“I know, but you are my brother and I don’t particularly like the idea of you being beaten to a pulp.”

Brett made a face. “Never gonna happen, not once Kal came back anyway. He finally understood that stuff about sticking by your friends and everything was cool.”

“Let’s hope it stays that way. I mean, it’s great that he’s a quick learner but he’s still kinda new at this emotion business. What happens if he picks up the wrong things? What if a creep like Moose got hold of him?”

“Not good!”

“Exactly. So we have to protect Kal even from himself. Agreed?”

“Oh yeah.”

They had lit a fire on the beach. Neri sat beside it, fully recovered from the effects of her dive but content to be still and watch the stars.



“Today, I felt opal people feeling.”

“What feeling?” Neri asked, looking at Kal as he sat down beside her.

“Is what Brett calls ‘loyal.’ I did not leave him when he needed me. Felt good. Here, in my heart.”

“You must try to always feel things with your heart, Kal.”

“There are many feelings.”


“Want to know them all.” Kal said. Then he was silent.

Neri looked into the fire. It crackled, shifted. Above them, the stars shone.

The fire burned blue from the salt and minerals in the driftwood that fed it. It was in a depression in the floor of a room carved out of stone. They needed a fire tonight; a storm had blown in and the night was unexpectedly cold. The girl sitting reading in a pile of pillows had a silvery blanket pulled around her for warmth. She had a pale, serious face and a mass of dark brown hair spilling over her shoulders in untamable curls.

It was a good book, but Mera couldn’t concentrate on it. She set it down, sighed, and whispered, “Neri?”

Sister. Neri said, and they drew together.

I feel something is wrong, where you are, on Earth. Have felt it for many days but could not reach you.

Yes. Something is wrong.

Their vision merged, the warm room and stormclouds outside, the tranquil beach under the stars. Mera said, Tell me all. Perhaps we can help.