Read Beta Planet: Rise Online

Authors: Dayton Grey

Tags: #Fiction

Beta Planet: Rise (28 page)

The other three were quiet during the ride, aside from the occasional navigational direction from Allea. Geon could sense that they too were experiencing strong emotions. He also realized that there was no turning back or undoing what they had done up until now.

We can only move forward now.

If the stories were true, the things that they would see and experience next might forever change their lives.

“Okay, Geon, slow down. We’re entering the red zone now,” Allea said softly as Geon decreased the throttle of the boat. The engine noise eased to a medial buzz and Sabien and Kumuki both sat upright and forward, looking ahead of the boat at the open water. Geon squinted his eyes but saw nothing but the dark open vastness.

“I was expecting… I dunno,” Geon said, his voice trailing off.

“I guess this is just a border area,” Allea said. “But yea, I sort of thought there might be something here.”

“Like fish!” Kumuki said as he leaned over the side of the boat, looking for signs of life in the water around them.

“What if this was all just some elaborate lie,” Sabien said, a grimace on his face. “The legend of the underwater people. Or maybe…
maybe
, the lie was actually to cover the real truth,” he said, standing up now and speaking louder. “Maybe Aurora is really an undercover CARE agent who’s trying to feed us false stories in order to gain access into our brains and trap us!”

“Doubtful,” Allea said, as Kumuki’s eyes widened in apprehension. “Let’s stay the course and see for ourselves.”

Sabien complied as he crossed his arms and sat back down. “Well, what about these synth luminescent fish she mentioned? Where are they?”

“I was thinking that, too,” Geon said, looking down at the water around him. “I don’t see a thing.”

“Guys, thirty more seconds and we’re out of the red zone. We’re nearly at her coordinates.”

Geon felt a rush of adrenaline as they approached the final destination. He looked back and saw that all three of the others had similar expressions on their faces.

“Almost there. Slow down a bit, Geon.”

Geon looked ahead but still didn’t see anything. They were now a couple miles from the mainland in open water with nothing around them. A strange shape came into view ahead of them. Geon almost didn’t see it, but a glint of shrouded moonlight caught it just for a moment.

“Stop right here, G.”

As the boat came to a full stop, the four of them stood up and moved toward the front of the boat. In the water right near them was a small buoy marked “E11.” It was dark, like the color of the water, and nearly indistinguishable unless you were specifically searching for it.

“Look there! Just ahead.”

Kumuki pointed about twenty feet in front of the buoy and Geon saw another shape in the water. He slowly pulled the boat closer to it for a look. It was a flat circular platform, just inches above the water line and about three feet across. It too was nearly invisible until they were very close to it. On the top of the platform was written, “E11”.

“We’re here!” Allea enthusiastically said. “But what is it?”

“Not really sure,” Geon said, leaning down to get a better look.

“Careful, G,” Sabien said, leaning down for a closer look himself. “It might be booby trapped!”

“Okay, hang on, guys. I’m sending Aurora a message that we’re here,” Allea said as she typed out a quick text on her cuff.

They sat and waited, each second passing like hours. It had been less than a minute, but already Geon was beginning to wonder if this was all a waste of time or a lie like Sabien had said.

There was a startling muffled clank from below the surface and the top of the round platform slowly opened from one end until it was pointing straight up into the sky.

The foursome held their breath and took a slight step backward in the boat. The silhouette of a girl appeared at the top of the platform opening. Geon squinted to get a better look, but there wasn’t enough light to see her clearly.

“I was beginning to think you weren’t coming!” she said, in a heavy Spanish accent. “I am Aurora. I suppose that makes you Allea,” she said with a wry smile, as she looked at the now open-mouthed Allea.

“Please. Tie your vehicle there over here and come in,” she said, signaling to a small hook on the side of the platform. Geon tossed her the rope and she pulled them closer and helped them tie the boat. One by one they carefully stepped onto the edge of the platform and down a short ladder and into a small room beneath. The platform door above them slowly closed, some excess water dripping down into the room where they now stood.

Geon rubbed his eyes as they became adjusted to the light of the room. He opened them and clearly saw Aurora for the first time, standing in front of them and smiling.

Oh my God,
Geon thought to himself.
Sabien wasn’t exaggerating. She’s BEAUTIFUL!

She was about the same height as Allea, maybe slightly taller, but with a curvier body. Her long, straight, black hair came halfway down her back. She had a tan face with high arching eyebrows, long lashes, and sparkling green eyes.

I don’t see any
mutations on her… no gills, fins, or scales.

“So, it’s been awhile since I saw you. Allea, you have really grown up. Look how pretty you are now!”

She leaned forward and hugged Allea.

“And, Sabien, is that you? How are you? How long has it been?”

She reached out and put her arms around Sabien. He was caught somewhat off guard as he awkwardly attempted to hug her back.

“Oh, um nice to see you too. I, Aurora, yes it’s been quite a long time. I—I’m pleasured… I mean, pleased… to make your acquaintance. I, um, so, uhm… this is Geon!”

“Ah, Geon. I don’t think we have ever met, no? It is very nice to meet you also!”

She stepped forward and embraced Geon. He felt his heart racing and tried to hug her back but found himself feeling shaky and suddenly flushed. Her hair brushed up against his cheek.

She’s so soft
.

“Very, uhm, nice to also make your… meet you, I mean, I’ve heard so many nice things… about you.”

Allea stared at Geon and Sabien and rolled her eyes at them, obviously vexed by their humiliating display.

“And you there. I remember you well. My dear Kumuki, how are you?”

She leaned forward and hugged him also, though he didn’t seem as flustered as Geon and Sabien.

“Hi, Aurora! I told them all about you!”

“It’s true,” Allea said. “Kumuki was instrumental in getting us here. So the question is, where
are
we?”

Geon looked around and saw that they were in a very small round room. Its walls were colored in a light pale hue and there were no windows.

“Well, right now you are in the wet-chamber of my aqua-dome. My house. And here, well…
here,
is Enkia. Welcome!”

With that she tapped a button on the wall and a door slid open and the five of them walked through.

Oh my God.

“Unreal!”

“Unbelievable!” Allea gasped.

“WOW!”

They were standing at the edge of another room, but this one was much larger and brighter than the last. All along the outer edge and ceiling were clear glass walls, and behind the walls they could see they were now underwater. At the side of the room was a kitchen area, and in the middle of the room was a sitting area with tables and built-in seating. Behind the wall of glass, the ocean around them was lit with ambient lighting. In the distance there were some other large, hazy structures.

Geon and the others walked closer to the windows. Above them was clear glass and even below them, near the edge of the room, was a section of clear glass facing down into the water.

“So, this is my home. And those structures over there… those are other homes!”

Geon could see what she was talking about. In the distance he could see there were many other structures, each equally spaced apart and each identical to each other. The structures looked like upside-down domes, with clear glass wrapping all the way around them and they were lit with soft lights all over the outside and below the domes. On the top of each was a slightly raised small plateau, the top of each sticking just barely above the surface of the water. There were also intermittently spaced lights that appeared to be floating between the domes, connecting each to another one.

“Unbelievable,” Geon said. “So, this is the
underwater world
Kumuki told us about?”

“Yes it is, Geon,” Aurora said with a bright smile. “This is Enkia. The underwater world.”

Sabien just stood there in awe, shaking his head back and forth. “I don’t understand,” he muttered to himself.

“It is a world where people like me live in aqua-domes, here, underwater. And do you see those cables connecting my home to the other homes? That is how we get around from one dome to another. We have a small transport bubble called the Flowglobe, but we like to call it the FAB, which stands for float-and-bob!”

She really is gorgeous
, Geon thought, looking at her long dark flowing hair.

“That’s a great name,” Sabien said, smiling at Aurora. “Did you think of that yourself? Really great, name. FAB.”

“Yea, FAB… great name,” Geon added with a goofy smile.

“Oh, yes, it’s a good name,” Aurora said with a laugh. “But no, I can’t take credit for that.”

“You should,” Sabien stuttered. “You should, take… credit. It’s a great name.”

“Yep, really great,” Geon added.

“Great name!” Kumuki agreed, nodding vigorously.

“Oh, brother,” Allea muttered to herself as the three boys stood staring at Aurora.

“So, this place, it’s called Enkia? And people actually
live
down here?” she asked.

“Yes. This is my world. The only world I know since I left Ancia.
Your
world.”

“Ancia?”

“Yes, Ancia, Kumuki. Ah yes, you probably aren’t familiar with that name,” she said as the four of them shook their heads. “Ancia is the term given to your world. The
old world.
And this…
this,
is Enkia. The underwater world.”

“I just don’t understand,” Sabien said, a confused look on his face. “Why do you live here? Why underwater? Why haven’t we heard about this? When Kumuki told us you lived underwater we thought it meant you were half-fish people!”

Aurora tilted her head back and exploded with laughter and gave Sabien a playful slap on the arm.

“Half-fish people! Sabien!”

“No, I mean, that’s not what I meant,” Sabien stuttered. “I mean,
they
thought there were half fish people,” he said as he frantically pointed to Allea and Geon and Kumuki. “But
I
knew that was ridiculous. I mean… c’mon. Fish people. Hah! It’s ridiculous.”

Geon shook his head in embarrassment but could see that Aurora was clearly delighted with the prospect of a half-human, half-fish species.

“Well, I can assure all of you that I am no fish,” she said laughing hysterically.

She has a nice laugh,
Geon thought to himself, not realizing he was smiling widely until he noticed Allea staring at him with a nauseated look on her face. He immediately stopped smiling.

“And before I answer your other questions, let me give you a quick tour.”

Aurora led them from the main room into smaller bedrooms, each of them extending from the middle of the round structure and ending at the glass windows. Kumuki repeatedly yelled “wow” at each new thing that Aurora showed them. The last room before the main room was the transport room for the Flowglobe. Geon could see that it was a small capsule-shaped clear bubble attached to a thick cable.

“It’s like a Glidewing, but underwater,” he said.

“Exactly, Geon!” Aurora said with a smile. “Very perceptive of you.”

Geon smiled bashfully at her as Sabien scowled and elbowed him lightly in the side as he squeezed between him and Aurora. They continued back to the main room where Aurora invited them to sit down.

“Okay, guys. So let me try to answer all your questions the best that I can. This place…
Enkia
, is an underwater world. And the reason you have not heard about it is because CARE does not want you to know about it.”

“I knew it,” Sabien said, knowingly.

“And the reason CARE does not want you to know about it, is because Enkia is the place where all CARE members live.”

The four of them gasped in shock.

“So you…
you
are a CARE member,” Geon asked, feeling suddenly and strangely angry and nervous.

“No, Geon. I am the daughter of CARE members. CARE does not employ children.”

Sabien shuffled uncomfortably, thinking about his original theory about Aurora.

Poor girl,
Geon thought to himself.

“And do not worry because they are gone until tomorrow at a regional CARE symposium. My father and mother became CARE officials right around the time when I left the school in Ancia. At that time I was very angry… very upset at them. I did not want to leave the world that I knew. So I unintentionally said some things in frustration, which Kumuki must have heard. And somehow that led you to me, so many years later!”

Kumuki smiled and nodded.

“So, when someone becomes a CARE member, they move them here to Enkia.”

“This is incredible,” Allea said, shaking her head. “An entire civilization…
under
the water.”

“Yes it is. To answer your next question, why is it under the water? Well there are a number of reasons. First off, it’s actually considered much safer than being on land where you are. As you can see, fires, floods, hail, and torrential rains are irrelevant to us, and even earthquakes and tsunamis have little effect. Do you feel the slight swaying of the dome?”

Geon nodded, realizing that the entire structure was moving very slightly back and forth.

“The entire home is built on an elastic and flexible base and is anchored to the bottom of the ocean. It moves in unison with the currents and waves around us. If we’re hit with a tidal event, most of the damage is above us, and the home will move and flex to offset any of the damage around us.”

Absolutely brilliant.

Other books

Valentine by Heather Grothaus
Ghoul Trip by Peter Bently
Dragon Flight by Caitlin Ricci