Read Beta Planet: Rise Online

Authors: Dayton Grey

Tags: #Fiction

Beta Planet: Rise (22 page)

“Yes, Mama V.”

“Now… tell Mama V, who is dis girl?”

Geon sat in his bed bashfully as Sabien talked about Vaya and her friends. Shortly after, Bonsi, Vaya, and Vilu showed up and they all talked about the competition and Geon’s daring and courageous effort. Geon was embarrassed at having all of the attention, trying to sit up in his bed as they chatted but not having enough strength to do it properly. But as he looked around the room, seeing his family and friends around him, all there for
him
, he felt appreciative and happy. The thought of risking his life lingered in his mind and made him realize that some things aren’t worth such a heavy price. He also wanted to talk about what he thought he saw at the bottom of the waterways, but didn’t want to say it in front of everyone.

“Geon, in all our years of going to the races, that was truly one of the most heroic and terrifying things we’ve seen,” Vaya said as she placed her hand on Geon’s arm, her eyes sparkling with excitement. “I mean, you had only just made the team and already you were in first position and the weight of the whole match on your shoulders! It’s just
so
much pressure!”

Vilu nodded and jumped into the conversation. “And there you were… riding furiously along the waterway. We could see how determined you were. Up until the end, you really looked like a pro!”

Bonsi smiled and added, “We really did think you were going to do it, Geon. I mean when you took off, it was like, like the whole world was silent… just for a second. As if everyone was holding their breath. The cold… the rain… the wind. Nothing mattered in that brief moment. It was remarkable!”

“All up until that colossal splash.” Sabien added with a smile. “I mean, as far as face-plants go, G, that was certainly one of the most impressive!”

Geon and the others laughed as Vaya gently poked at his face, asking him where it hurt the most. It actually
did
hurt Geon, but he didn’t mind it. After a while, Bonsi and the twins left, letting him relax with his family.

As Mama V sat in a chair in the corner, relaxing and nodding in and out of sleep, Geon motioned for everyone to come closer to him.

“What’s up bro? You okay?” Sabien asked.

Geon held his finger up to his lips, motioned them to keep quiet and he began to try to explain what he saw when he was near the bottom of the water.

“Guys I don’t know how to explain this really, but when I was falling, down toward the bottom… I was really disoriented. I didn’t know which way was up, which way was down, you know? And I was sort of going in and out of consciousness. Everything would go black, and then suddenly I could see again, and then black again. It was…
surreal
. But right before I completely blacked out… right at the bottom, I turned and saw something down there. I don’t know… I don’t know what it was. I mean…”

“I know what it was,” Sabien whispered, leaning closer, with a serious look on his face. “This is very serious, G. What you saw… how do I say it? It was—it was a MERMAID!”

Geon looked at Sabien who was now smiling.

“Sabe, I’m serious. I saw something. It was like some sort of a glass bubble. I mean I don’t kno—”

“G, you said it yourself,” Sabien interjected. “You were in and out of consciousness, blacking out. I mean you were probably just imagining things. Who knows what state of mind you were in?”

“SABE. I know what I saw,” Geon said sternly and loudly this time. “And I’m telling you there was something down there. I mean, it almost looked like, I don’t know, a large watercraft. Or a small… prefab, or something.”

“Underwater people!” Kumuki loudly whispered, startling Mama V out of her sleep. Everyone sat and stared at her until she nodded back off.

“Guys, let’s keep the ridiculous theories at bay for a second,” Allea responded in a whisper with a curious expression on her face. “I mean look, if what Geon is saying is true, and he did in fact see something down there, what could it realistically be? Maybe just some old garbage or artifact from the EarthShift right? Still… it’s curious. I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

She seemed deep in thought as she pulled up some data on her LifeCuff about that particular waterway’s depth and the currents near it.

“Guys, I’m just saying,” Geon said quietly and slowly. “That whatever it was, it didn’t look
right
. It didn’t look like garbage. It looked like it was meant to be there. Like it was
built
there. And it didn’t look like something I’ve ever seen.”

“Perhaps.” Sabien responded more quietly. “But, then again, there’s a lot you haven’t seen, being asleep for so many years. Still, though, it’s intriguing. I wonder what it could be?”

“UNDERWATER PEOPLE!”

Sabien shook his head and responded with a smile. “Kuki, keep it down or you’ll wake Mama V. There are no underwater people, okay. If there were some sort of man-fish hybrid swimming around down there, don’t you think someone,
somewhere
, would’ve heard about it or seen one? C’mon.”

Kumuki looked discouraged as he put his head down and said quietly, “But, Aurora… she said… she said, they were there.”

“What exactly did Aurora say, Kumuki?” Allea said with a serious tone, looking directly up at him. “Be specific.”

“C’mon, Allea, are you really buying into this? I mean I know I’ve got some pretty radical theories on things, but this is just… I dunno.”

“Sabe…”

“All right, Kuki, tell us what she said.”

“Well… she said one time to me, that there are people…
people
, who live
UNDERWATER!
I don’t think anyone else heard her. It was just before she got transferred to another school!”

“Vat you children talking about over there,” Mama V mumbled suddenly, her eyes still closed as she shifted her large body from one side to the other. “Undervater people? Hah! You keep it down okay. Mama V trying to sleep.”

As Kumuki continued, Geon noticed that Mama V appeared to be changing her facial expressions in reaction to their conversation, even though her eyes were closed and she appeared to be asleep.

“She said there’s a whole world down there!”

Geon’s eyes widened at the thought of some unsolved mystery below the surface of the water.

What
c
ould it really be? People can’t survive underwater, right? How do they breathe? Geon, calm yourself. Remember, this is Kumuki talking. But then again, you did see something down there. What was it?”

Despite his doubts, Geon couldn’t ignore that there was
something
down there. What it was, was a whole different matter. Still, the thought of unraveling this new mystery gave Geon some life and strength to get better so they could figure it out together.

“Okay, I think we’re all getting carried away,” Allea said calmly, checking some info on her cuff. “I mean, it’s an interesting theory. People mutating into half fish-like creatures and swimming around down there. I wouldn’t be surprised if EndWar caused a massive increase in DNA-altering radioactivity in the waters around us. But realistically, it’s probably not the reality. Still, I wonder. Kumuki, where did you say Aurora was transferred to?”

Kumuki just shrugged as Sabien and Geon both leaned forward with anticipation.

“Nevermind. Maybe I can track her down from her shadow.”

“Shadow?” Geon mumbled as he scrunched his face in confusion.

“Shadow. it’s um, your digital signature. Footprint, sort of. Everyone has one and if you know where to look and how to find it, you can track down pretty much anyone,” Allea said, clicking and motioning through the holograms in front of her. “It’s strange. I see some fragments of her shadow, but it’s almost like she…
disappeared
. I haven’t seen anything like this, except… except when someone…”

“Dies.”

“Yes, Sabien. That’s the only time I’ve seen this,” Allea responded, looking suddenly somber. “But even then, usually there is some information about their…”

“Death?”

“Yes, Kuki. I’ll have to do some research and poke around a bit. See what I can dig up. Strange. This is… very strange.”

Allea mumbled to herself as she continued to search for Aurora’s shadow on her cuff.

It excited Geon to see everyone coming together to try to find out more about this mystery. “Guys, I know right now you must think I’m crazy. But I dunno, ever since I woke up last week, something about this city… this
world
, hasn’t been feeling right. I mean, there are so many strange things that have happened. Like the art gallery. Or, Shiv and his father. Or Jungle Wars. Or whatever it was I saw down there. I just feel like there’s something more going on here. Something
strange.
Something we aren’t supposed to know. You know? And I don’t know what it is, but some part of me
really
wants to find out. I don’t plan on asking you guys for much, because you’ve done so much for me already. And I’m infinitely grateful for that. But this
… this,
is something I feel that we
have
to get to the bottom of! What do you think? Are we in this together?”

Sabien, Allea, and Kumuki all looked at Geon with wide eyes and serious expressions. Sabien’s face slowly creased into a smile and he turned to look at Allea, who smiled and looked at Kumuki, who grinned in turn as well.

“G, little brother, let’s make this underwater mystery our top priority! If it’s important to you then we are
in
.”

Sabien gave Geon a back-five and the others did the same.

“Thanks, guys. I’m starting to feel better already. But I think it might be best to keep this from Mama V for now, right?”

The others agreed, looking over at her and seeing that her head was slumped to the right and she sounded like she was softly snoring. Geon remember the night he thought he saw Mama V in their room late at night, but thought it best to not mention it right now.
They already think I’m nuts as it is with this underwater stuff. It might be best to wait on that one.

They quietly talked for another hour about how to find Aurora and other possible theories about what Geon saw underwater and shortly after, a medic came into the room and told Geon that he looked stable and was free to leave.

“But take it easy out there,” the medic said, staring directly at Geon. “Don’t do anything risky or foolish.”

He doesn’t know the half of it,
Geon thought to himself as the others helped him up and they all headed home.

Geon went to sleep that night thinking about the unbelievable events that he had experienced thus far in this new world. He had seen things that he never thought he would, and experienced things that he could only barely comprehend or understand. He had experienced dangers that terrified and excited him, and met an amazing family and new friends. He thought about Vaya and smiled. And now this new underwater mystery enticed him, beckoning him to come closer and dig deeper.

This is truly an adventure,
he thought to himself as he deeply descended off to sleep.

“Good morning, Geon. Today is Sunday, April 27th, 2031. It’s a beautiful day on Earth. Today’s forecast is mostly sunny with a high temperature of seventy-two degrees and a twelve percent chance of precipitation. Water level is approximately twelve feet high and permamist saturation is down one-point-four percent from last week. Have a positive and productive day!”

Sure it is,
Geon thought to himself as his did a half-hearted routine on the Excelerator and got ready for school.

“Come, everyone. Mama V cook you a nice breakfast okay? Geon, baby, how you feeling dis morning, hah? You okay my dear?”

“Yes, Mama V, I feel surprisingly quite good, actually.”

“It’s the REMpod,” Allea remarked, spilling her morning gruel while doing more research on the whereabouts of Aurora. “It calibrates the best settings to help you heal faster. More oxygen, less oxygen, more skin stimulation to increase blood flow, cooler temperature to reduce inflammation, etcetera.”

“And you’re not blue today!” Kumuki shouted with a frown.

“That’s true, Kumuki,” Geon said while looking down at the skin on his arm.

Sabien walked in and gave Geon a gentle shoulder rub as he passed behind him.

“You good, G? I think it’s best if you skip practice for a few days. You can come watch if you like though, but I would stay clear of Coach. Despite your near-fatal fall, he’s still rabid over losing our race, I’m sure.”

Geon nodded as he ate and thought about Coach Aquila.
That guy has some serious issues.
“Sabe, what’s his system error anyway? Why is he so…
you know
?”

“Stuck up?”

“Big-headed?”

“MEAN!”

“He is a buffoon of gargantuan proportions!”

All four of them turned and looked in surprise at Mama V, who stood in the kitchen with a scowl on her face.

“VAT? You think I not gonna say nothing? I don’t like dis boy. So I gonna say something!”

“Okay, Mama V,” Geon said with a smile. “And by the way, you’re right!”

They finished their breakfast and headed to school. The mood and feeling was very different that day. Students looked visibly shaken by the events at the JetSurf competition, and many came up to Geon to tell him that they were really glad he was okay. He also received messages on his LifeCuff throughout the day, but most of them were sent gibberish responses back by him or accidentally forwarded on to other random students as Geon tried to figure out how to work his cuff properly. At one point in the day, Allea helped him set an auto-response of, “Thank you, I really appreciate that.” This was especially comical when Shiv sent him a message saying, “Nice job losing the race for us, rookie.”

After school that day, Geon decided to spend the afternoon with Allea in the tech lab rather than go to the waterways. The thought of seeing Coach Aquila and Shiv and the water itself made him feel queasy, and Allea said that she could use his help working on her project. As they walked to the lab, Geon saw that Chiah was walking slowly in front of them, waddling from side to side and sipping on his large red drink.

“Hey, Chiah, how are you?” Allea said with a smile.

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