Read Beta Planet: Rise Online

Authors: Dayton Grey

Tags: #Fiction

Beta Planet: Rise (24 page)

Geon saw that Kumuki was now smiling next to Sabien.

“What is it, Kumuki?”

“UNDERWATER PEOPLE!”

Geon smiled and shook his head. “Okay, let’s all just breathe. Ally, what are we talking about here? I mean, we aren’t talking about fish-people, like Kumuki had made it seem right? That’s nonsense, right?
Right
? I mean, we’re talking about people that…
live
, underwater?”

“Honestly, Geon, I don’t know. I mean, read her message again. She doesn’t sound like a fish, right? But then again, what do fish sound like? I have never met one so I don’t know. She gave us her coordinates. She wants to show us what this is!”

“TALKING FISH!”

“Idon’tknow. Idon’tknow. Idon’tknow.”

“SABE, get a hold of yourself! Listen, let’s figure this out together.”

Geon grabbed Sabien with both arms and shook him. Sabien looked up at Geon and snapped back to reality.

“Okay, Geon. Thanks. Well… look at her message. ‘
If you can get to the Open
.’ Everyone knows you can’t get to the Open. It’s restricted and highly illegal. So what’s the point of all this? Allea, maybe this is just a joke. But then again, why would she go through all the trouble. It can’t be a joke. It must be something else.”

“Why can’t we go to the Open?” Geon asked. “I mean, I know it’s illegal. But that’s a risk we’d have to take, right?” He looked back and forth at the others.

“Geon, it’s not that. PMVs… hydroids… they are
physically
restricted from going to the Open. Their onboard tracking systems will not allow the crafts to go into the Open, and if you come close to it, in the area called the red zone, the power of the crafts will automatically shut off and a notification sent to CARE. There’s just
no
way to get there.”

“Unless you can swim in freezing cold, rough waters for about three miles,” Sabien added. “And that’s a risk that even I wouldn’t take.”

Geon shook his head, feeling distraught and hopeless.
We’re so close. There must be a way to get to the Open. What was the mystery? Why did Aurora want to share it with us? What could it be? How do they survive underwater?

He had many more questions and longed to find out more. On the way to school they talked about what this mysterious world might be and why Aurora would reach out to them and if it were truly possible to get there somehow. None of them could make much sense of it but Kumuki’s theory of underwater people was starting to look less and less ridiculous.

In school that day, Geon could hardly pay attention to a thing. During his Continued Existence class, he found himself daydreaming about the strange message and world beneath them, and professor Tinashe ended up giving him a very public lecture about the importance of being cognizant and aware of ones surroundings. It was especially bad timing because the class subject of the day was on reaction and safety maneuvers during seismic activities.

In his thick accent, he said to Geon, “If you sit there and stare off into the heavens like that, and we have a seven-point-oh on the Richter, then I doubt you will be here tomorrow, Mr. Shay. Do I make myself clear?”

Geon nodded but didn’t even care that he was being targeted as a lesson in humiliation. He was too excited and anxious about Allea’s news and wanted to help them take the next step.
But how?

At lunch, the four of them sat down and slowly picked at their food, even Kumuki seeming preoccupied with the events of that morning. No one said a word and each of them stared off in a different direction, trying to figure it out.

Sabien’s eyes brightened. “I’ve got it! No. Never mind.”

“Hmmmm,” Allea said as she twirled her hair in her finger. “Hmmmmmm.”

“Hmmmmmm,” Kumuki repeated, imitating Allea.

This continued for nearly twenty minutes.

Sabien looked up and raised his index finger. “Okay
now
I’ve got it! So… Aurora. She lives underwater, right? So what we do is, we build ourselves a submarine. It will bypass the red zone. And we’ll already be underwater, so we’ll be able to meet her and all her fish-friends!”

Geon looked at Sabien with an appalling expression on his face. Sabien realized how he sounded and looked back down at his food.

“Come on, Sabe,” Allea said. “Where are we going to get the know-how, the time, the parts, or the credits to build a submarine? There must be another way. Let’s think about this from another angle. Instead of searching for options, let’s simply rule out options, okay? We can start with, I dunno, how about…
submersible vehicles
?”

“Don’t have the know-how, time, parts, or credits,” Geon said with a wry smile.

Allea nodded and continued. “Swim?”

“Nope,” Sabien added. “Even with my legendary upper body strength and a ‘borrowed’ JetSurf suit, the Open is far too cold, too rough, and too dangerous.”

“Okay. PMV or hydroid? Assuming we could even get our hands on one?”

“Again no, Allea,” Sabien added. “Their tracking blocks them from entering and crossing the red zone.”

“Can they be hacked?” Geon asked.

“What’s that, brother?” Sabien said turning to look at him, a perplexed expression on his face.

“Hacked? Can they be, you know,
hacked
?”

“Still not sure what you’re saying Geon. Allea, what’s he saying?”

“Hacked? You know… HACKED?” Geon was flustered by his inability to explain himself.

Allea leaned forward and spoke into her cuff, “Definition: hacked.”

The LifeCuff projected the definition of the words into the air and as she read it she smiled and said, “Oh I see, Geon. ‘Hacked’ is a term that used to be used many years ago which meant
to use one’s skill in computer programming to gain illegal or unauthorized access to a file or network
.”

“It wasn’t that many years ago,” Geon mumbled to himself.

“What he means is infiltrate,” Allea said.

“Or altered,” Sabien added.

“Cracked.”

“Pirated.”

“Hijacked.”

“Phased”

“Snaked.”

“Metamorphosed.”

“DIGI-BOMBED!”

“What I meant,” Geon said loudly, his face turning red, “was HACKED!
Hacked
. H-A-C-K-E-D!”

“Okay, Geon calm yourself,” Sabien said with a laugh. “Hacked, it is. That’s the word of the day everyone. Hacked!”

“To answer your question, Geon, no they can’t be
hacked
, because of the kill-switch. The second you try to infiltra—… um,
hack
… the PMV, the power will shut off rendering it unusable. And then CARE gets notified. And the second they find out…”

“It’s bad news for all of us,” Sabien said with a nod.

“Well, it seems like we’re out of options,” Geon said, feeling dejected. “I mean, it’s like this world is completely restricted by technology. Everything we do, everywhere we go. It’s frustrating. If we only just had a boat. Like a regular…
boat.
Like an
old
… boat.”

As Geon talked a slow tingle ran through him, an idea beginning to form, and he became more and more excited.

“Like the type
of boat that I remembered when I was a kid. Like the type of boat that didn’t
have
a tracking system or a kill-switch or any of this new technology. Like the type of boat that simply floats on water and goes where you drive it! I’M TALKING ABOUT THE BOAT FROM THE MUSEUM! FROM MOOH! THE ONE WE SAW THE PICTURES AND THE KEY FOR!”

The other three looked at Geon in shock, but slowly their smiles began forming. Quietly, Allea leaned in toward Sabien and said, “Do you think we can?”

“I dunno. I mean…
could
we?”

“It’s possible, certainly. But probable? I dunno.”

“Maybe. I dunno. Could we? We
could
right? But no, no. I dunno.”

“It’s brilliant isn’t it?”

“Brilliant.”

“LET’S DO IT!” Kumuki squealed.

“Hang on a second, guys,” Geon interjected. “Let’s talk this through. Ally, what do you think? What are the risks? Is this even possible?”

“Well,” she said with a sigh looking upward as she envisioned the options. “Okay, the boat. Genius idea, Geon. I mean really splendid.”

Geon felt a surge of pride that he was able to contribute something meaningful to the group.

She continued on. “I mean, it’s amazing, because I wouldn’t have even
considered
that antiquated piece of history as an actual means of transportation. None of us would have. But here you are, fresh
from
the past, and it’s like this is all fitting together and wouldn’t work without you or your different perspective. The beauty of it is that we actually needed to simplify our thinking…
devolve
, if you will. No offense, G. The boat is simple, moves fine I’m sure, and has no tracking in it. It’s just amazing.”

Allea looked at Geon and smiled and he could tell that she was proud of him as well.

“It’s true, G. Amazing idea. But let’s focus on viability before we start celebrating.”

“Okay, you’re right,” Allea said to Sabien, looking up some information on her cuff. “Well, we were all at MOOH last week. We know the boat is kept down at Oden Bay near the Open. And we know the key to the boat is in the case at MOOH. So the question is, how do we get into MOOH after hours, and how do we get the key?”

“After hours?”

“Yes, Kuki,” Sabien added. “The only way this will work is with the cover of darkness as our ally. It has to be at night.”

“Also, the cameras will be off at night to conserve energy. The only way they will turn on is if we trip the alarm, but I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen,” Allea added.

“Okay, so how do we get into MOOH,” Geon asked.

“Well. There are no guards that I know of, but it’s certainly monitored and secure, like all official buildings here. I don’t think it would be too difficult to do some research on the type of security it has and write a program to override the system.
Actually
, Helano has a lot of experience in security systems software. Maybe he could be of assistance to us?”

The three boys nodded in unison.

“Although I don’t think we can just walk down the street and come in the front door. There will be CARE officers monitoring the street for curfew-breakers, as usual. Maybe there is another way.”

“Underground?”

“That’s exactly what I’m thinking, Kumuki,” Allea said with a nod.

“What’s with you and the subterranean, Kuki? Underwater… underground. Were you a potato in a past life or something?” Sabien asked with a sarcastic smile.

Kumuki just shrugged and creased his forehead.

“Kumuki is right, Sabe,” Allea continued. “The aqueduct is probably the only way we can get into MOOH unnoticed. I can get the blueprints I’m sure. It’s a complex system of tunnels below the street level, for water and sewage,” she explained, seeing the bewilderment on Geon’s face.

He and Sabien both crinkled their faces at the sound of sewage-filled tunnels.

“Sewage sounds bad,” Sabien said, his face still puckered. “But I’ve heard there are worse things living down there. Far worse. There are rumors that there are all kinds of radioactive hybrid amphibious man-eating creatures. They were CARE experiments gone wrong, you see?”

He turned and looked at Geon, who didn’t know if he was being serious or not, but responded nonetheless.

“Sabe. I doubt that’s true. And really, there’s only one way to find out, right?”

“Exactly,” Allea said. “And once we’re in the MOOH, we just need to get to the key and get it…”

Her voice trailed off as they all realized the same thing at the same time.
What if they can’t get into the case to get the key? It’s in a locked case.

Geon looked at her and replied, “Is it possible to break the case? Or cut it somehow?”

“That’s the problem, Geon,” she said. “If we damage anything in any way, there will definitely be an investigation from CARE, and one way or the other, they will find out that it was us.”

“We can break the lock!”

“The problem with that is it probably triggers the alarm. And even then, how do we fix it after to make it look whole again,” Allea said, nodding at Kumuki. “We could put a new lock on it, but even then, we don’t know the digital code for the lock. We would need to know that as well.”

Geon and Sabien shook their heads. “It’s too much risk… too difficult. There must be another solution,” Geon said tapping his fingers on the table.

“Well…” Allea said with a smile. “There might be
another
way. But, it’s risky.”

“Risky is my business,” Sabien said, puffing his chest out for everyone to see.

“What is it,” Geon asked, leaning forward and whispering.

“G. Remember Shiv’s TechSci Concours project?”

“Oh no,” Sabien said, crinkling his nose.

“Oh, what was it… the
duplicator
? Oh my god, Ally. Would that work?”

“I don’t know, G. I actually don’t know if it does work, or
how
it even works. But Shiv is incredibly intelligent, despite his serious personality disorders. So I would bet that it
does
work.”

Geon and Sabien both rolled their eyes as she continued.

“I can find out after school today in the lab. And then we could…”

“Borrow it?”

“That’s right, Kuki. We would borrow it,” Sabien said with a wink. “And maybe when we’re done
borrowing
it we might accidentally drop it into the waterways where it belongs!”

“Sabe,” Allea said sternly. “If we do this, no evidence and no destruction. We have to replace everything as it was.”

Geon nodded and agreed. “Sorry, Sabe. I’m with her on this one, even though I can’t stand the guy either. Let’s first find out what it does and if this might work for us.”

As he said that he looked down at his cuff.

“I know what you’re thinking. The cuffs. How do we mask them? I think Aurora might be able to help with that.”

The four finished eating and heading back to classes, but the rest of the day was a blur for Geon. He could barely contain his excitement. It was as if all the pieces were fitting together perfectly. It was almost as if he was
meant
to do this.

After school, Geon had originally planned to go to the lab with Allea and forgo JetSurf practice again, but Allea thought it best to not have Geon there if she was going to get close to Shiv and his device. Geon was so excited by the latest development in their plan that he decided to finally get back on the board and into the waterways again. Coach Aquila seemed annoyed by Geon’s heroic return to the sport, but the students all supported and cheered him on as he became comfortable on the board again and zoomed around the waterways. He made a conscious effort to steer clear of the large ramps though.
I’ll save those for tomorrow
.

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