Chapter 3

A million thoughts rush through your mind at once.

A ship? What? Is there any way they don’t know what they’re seeing? No, no this might really be happening. We sank every ship up there and would have found others if there were any. It’s been one hundred years. What do I do? Are there really people alive out there? What if they want to hurt us? I can’t just like, call the Police.

Your heart sinks with a short mixture of pain and excitement.

I have absolutely no idea what to do. I need…I need to buy time right now. I have a small council, I’ll need their help this time. I can’t risk messing this up.

“Alert my council members, it’s time to put them to use.”

“Yes my Royalty.”

The door closes.

Now you have some time to think.

Okay so, there is a ship out there. Apparently. Assuming it really is a ship, what’s it doing here? How big is it? I’m going to need more information, so I’ll need to get some Mermaids out there and have them scout it out.

I have to be a leader here, so right now I need to think like a leader. What would a good leader do in this situation? I think a good leader would put the safety of their people first. So I need to think about this in terms of protecting everyone, above all else. I’m just going to have to assume that there is at least one person on this ship and that they might want to kill us. That seems to be the safest way I can approach this.

I definitely need to go talk this over with my council and get their ideas. If there really is a ship, this is the first outside contact we’ve had with the world in one hundred years. I’ll need everyone’s support on this.

You begin to finish getting ready.

The base had stocks of clothing because staff had stayed for weeks at a time. There was a fair amount of variety, ranging from guard armor, prisoner clothing, administrative suits, and science research work outfits. The guard’s clothing was state of the art and included helmets with heads up displays. The top of the line military gear at the base shows that whoever was in charge certainly had dark intentions for the entire operation.

Although prisoner clothing was hated for obvious reasons, it was used. There were long and short t-shirts and pants that were surprisingly comfortable. A practice emerged over time, consisting of dying and customizing clothing with anything that could be found. The ships that were intentionally sunk from the island of Barbado provided many additional pieces of clothing that were used. As a result of the customization, few of what everyone wears looks like what it originally was.

Since you are leader of your Mermaids, you get to enjoy having extra pairs of clothes, one of your few perks. 100 years ago, everyone liked the idea of having a small council overseen by a main leader that could make decisions when none could be made. It was all fairly casual and you were voted leader because you seemed like the most natural leader of the bunch. And it was sort of customary since you were the one that freed everyone from their cells.

No one liked the idea that the leader could be called King or Queen, so Royalty became the term. It started out as an almost comical nickname for you, but over the course of a century, it became reflex for people to refer to you by.

Due to limited resources, every Mermaid wears a main outfit customized individually from what was left behind in the base. During casual times, everyone wears more relaxed and less customized outfits.

Your main outfit is a forest green mix of military grade guard armor and components used by the base’s science research team. The upper body portion of your outfit is comprised of a symmetrical chest piece that provides protection and functionality. Small metal pipes and vents arranged in vertical rows make the piece look mechanical. The vents keep the chest piece cool and are part of a liquid based system of fluid exchanges that protect the heart from bullets and small explosions.

To add presence to your look, you added a custom made hood and long sleeves to your outfit. On your waist, you have a belt strap modified into a utility belt that most of your Mermaids use. You wear the same military style pants and shoes the guards wore, except you dyed them black, versus their original light brown color. You and your Mermaids typically wear shirts underneath your outfits with long necks to hide your gills. The gills help you survive, but they were added forcefully and remind you all of the injustice that occurred.

Every Mermaid’s outfit looks different, but yours is the only one with a hood. No one would dare add one to their outfit out of respect for your leadership position as Royalty. Funny though, because with no sun, it really serves no purpose.

You finish getting ready and open your Royalty Chamber door.

The door opens up to a circular room with one large door directly ahead and three small doors on both your left and right. Within the room are a few computers, couches, and a small kitchen area. Your “Chambers” were originally the base administration’s sleeping quarters. Unfortunately, the base’s computers were state of the art and required a minimum level of current from the base’s electrical system. With the ocean wave power generators barely able to power basic lighting throughout the base, the computers could never fully boot up and were basically useless.

You head through the circular room and open the large door ahead, it leads out into a 15 foot wide and 8.5 foot tall hallway that snakes around the entire circular shaped base. From above, if not for the coral reef the base was built among, the base would look like one large circle with many smaller circles attached to it. The smaller circles are mainly the living quarters of the base, along with exit and entrance docking points. The main circular structure houses leisure areas, a mess hall, and laboratories for work, along with conference and storage rooms. Below this main level are the subject holding cells where they kept you and your Mermaids.

The base itself is comprised of sand colored metal with white, one way mirrors littered across a multitude of points. Over time, coral reefs had begun to grow along the metal shell of the base as well as algae. But when the sun went away, the corals had nothing to survive on and so now the base blends in perfectly with the surrounding graveyard of corals.

You head to the conference room of the structure after moving through the hallway. There are only 181 Mermaids living in your small underwater city, well more than the maximum capacity of the base. The original 50 Mermaids, including yourself, referred to yourselves as Old World born, while your children were New World born.

You only see a few Mermaids on your way to the conference room and they all silently nod in a friendly way. The rest are most likely still sleeping in both the cells below the base that were converted into small dorms and the ships outside that were sunk long ago to make living space. Without them, there wouldn’t be enough room.

You enter the conference room and your small council is waiting. It is made up of a group of five Mermaids that everyone voted on long ago. The purpose of the council was simply to have a group of people to turn to when difficult decisions needed to be made, basically making you all the equivalent of Old World judges. Fortunately, even after 100 years, there haven’t been many hard decisions to be made that all your Mermaids couldn’t come to an agreement on. Life was surprisingly simple down here, which means boring.

The council includes Miter, Trat, Brast, Sam and Mila, all sitting in their usual places. They are all Old World except for Mila, who is exceptionally pretty. The rest are fairly average looking people from the Old World and come from a grab bag of backgrounds. Most important is that they were all once dying, like you, and were tricked in similar fashion, as you were.

Chapter 4

You come in and sit down at the head of the table, your usual spot. In walks the two standing leaders of the Exploration Team, two men named Roephun and Kyle. The Team’s purpose was originally to scavenge the immediate oceans of the base for anything even vaguely useful. Over time, they became the de facto maintenance team for the base, checking for leaks and any other issues.

“Alright so let’s figure this thing out. Roephun, can you please give the rundown on what’s going on?” you say.

Roephun is a unique looking man turned Mermaid. He has golden tan skin with ocean blue eyes and eye grabbing red hair with soft curls and waves. He stands with great posture due to his fit and in shape physique. The nanobots in all of your Mermaid’s blood seem to make keeping in shape much easier than you all remember, but Roephun certainly spends more time exercising than most of you.

His main outfit is highlighted by a simple guard shirt he dyed pure blue with a brown vest over the top. He wears the same pants and shoes as you, but he left them their original brown.

“Of course my Royalty. Early this morning, my team was performing routine surveillance checks on the city when we heard a strange but faint buzzing noise. It was similar to one from a few years back when the generators were having issues, remember that?” says Roephun.

“Yes” you say.

“Right so we uh, yeah, we checked them out and you know, it wasn’t getting louder when we were checking it over. The noise I mean of course, it wasn’t getting louder. So we figured it wasn’t coming from there.” says Roephun.

“Mhm.” you mutter.

“Yeah, then we decided to swim out about a quarter mile from the city, just to see if maybe there was a leak or something that we couldn’t see. And then, we saw something moving off in the distance at the top of water. Just a small speck. Right away we swam closer, because the speck, it was moving to the island. We caught it pretty quick but kept distance, and we saw it. It’s definitely a ship.” says Roephun.

“How big? What type? Information please.” you say.

“Oh um, how big would you say Kyle?” says Roephun.

Kyle has soft white skin with dirty blond hair and blue eyes. He only shaves his face on occasion and as a result, he has a rugged and short brown beard with a slight golden tint that covers most of his face. His main outfit is completely blacked out in color and made mostly of armor components. He added some custom made shoulder guards to his armor that stick out a couple inches off the shoulder to give the outfit a unique look.

“It’s pretty small, got a weird bottom. Looks kinda like a lifeboat or something. Can’t hold more than maybe 10, maybe 15 people.” says Kyle.

“Okay, thank you both. And thank you for your bravery. You are dismissed but stay close, we will take action soon.” you say.

“Yes my Royalty, thank you.” says Roephun.

Kyle and Roephun leave the room and close the door behind them.

“Take action?” says Miter.

Miter is, without a doubt, the most vocal leader of the council. He’s a relatively short man, with short brown hair and brown eyes, and an average looking face. Not particularly good looking or bad looking either. His voice isn’t any more deep than an average man but he does project it when he speaks and uses hand gestures wherever possible. He’s always got something to say and often disagrees with you, which can be frustrating.

“And why Miter, would we not take action? You heard them, it’s a small boat. Let’s discuss what our options are, that’s what I’d like to do.” you say.

“My Royalty, there is no evidence they even know we are here. In fact, they probably don’t know we are here. It’s obviously not some kind of submarine and if it really is as small as they saw, it won’t have any type of sonar. We have to consider just leaving it alone, that IS an option.” said Miter.

“That’s true.” you say.

“My Royalty, I’m sure you have considered that whomever or whatever is on that boat could be hostile. We are doing fine here. We have food. The city seems to be in good shape. Most here seem happy. Perhaps it’s best to leave it alone?” says Trat.

“Speak for yourself Trat, there isn’t much to do down here.” says Brast.

“What you don’t like Mermaid Ball anymore? Well, your team does lose constantly so…” says Trat.

Brast gives Trat a strong, “you’re an idiot” look.

Mermaid Ball is a game you all created in the first five years of living underwater. It is played with a metal spear with a plastic tip that can soar through the water when thrown. To score, a player from one team must throw and glide the spear through a goal on the opposing team’s end of the “field.”

“Well sure, not much to do, but I bet there is even less UP THERE! No one is stopping you, go swim up and have some fun on the surface. I heard playing with irradiated dust is a big thing. Oh wait, I haven’t heard anything because there’s no one up there.” says Miter.

Mila, Brast, and Sam, look down and away from Miter.

People died going “up there”, even if it was one hundred years ago. But time seems to always win the battle between offense, and the dead.

“We haven’t had contact with anything in one hundred years, it seems like it would be a waste of an opportunity to not attempt some kind of contact.” you say.

“I agree! And Brast brings up a fair point. The people could use a little excitement. It wouldn’t be the worst thing.” says Sam.

“Yeah, you people and your excitement, your entertainment. What about being safe and living? What if there’s more of them? How could there not be? The closest island is 20 miles away. What happens when more of them come and they happen to be hostile? There’s barely 150 of us down here. This can easily get us killed. Don’t you people remember that the world ended?” says Miter.

“Your concerns are valid Miter, believe me I’ve considered the possibility of them being hostile.” you say.

“Okay, but think about it. Where could this ship have come from? We’re in the middle of the Caribbean and they said it’s very small. So how far could a tiny little ship that looks like a lifeboat possibly travel? You can barely even call a lifeboat a ship! I mean seriously. There is almost certainly more of them.” says Miter.

The room remains silent for a few moments.

Miter has a good point.

“I don’t know Miter, the closest island is 20 miles away, even a small ship can make that. They could be island hopping. They could be friendly and need help. You don’t know for sure that there are more, there just as easily could be less. We have stayed away from the island and avoided trying to travel because we didn’t see the point. And we had shelter here so we had no reason to go anywhere. These people could certainly just be a small few and need help. You don’t know.” says Mila.

Mila is New World born and has completely flawless skin. The nanobots in your blood seem to fight and prevent scarring, so since she has had them since she was born, her skin has benefited from their protection her entire life.

Her eyes are dark blue in color and highlighted by defined eyebrows. Her hair is curly, brown, and short. She wears an outfit similar in style and construction to Roephun’s, but she has colored most of it a dark red that gives it the look of premium red leather.

Mila is basically the polar opposite of Miter. Her looks, combined with her personality, make her popular among everyone. She’s intelligent and attractive, a killer combination. Even though her views and opinions tend to side with yours, you don’t socialize much. But perhaps that might change in the future, especially with what’s going on.

“Yes, Mila brings a fair point, and what’s more likely? A small group of people island hopping in a small boat or…yeah, where was the alternative they could have come from that you suggested Miter? says Sam, a bit awkwardly.

“Sam are you serious? There could be more, hmmm I don’t know, right on the island you are suggesting they came from.” says Miter.

“Okay so there could be more. Enough on that.” you say.

“Even if there are more, what reason would they have to be hostile? They might even have excess resources, a larger shelter of some kind. Maybe they are looking for people and that’s why they came?” says Brast.

“We know there’s nothing left up there on that island, so why else would they come if not to look for people?” says and asks Mila.

“We haven’t been there or explored in a very, very long time. We’ve stayed in the oceans for a long time. Maybe too long. I guess that’s my fault. I’ve wanted to keep us safe. And you know, we have had plenty of issues down here to worry about. I think there could be things happening we are not aware of.” you say.

“My Royalty, what are you suggesting?” says Trat.

“I think we have kept ourselves isolated long enough. I think it’s time to return to the surface and this ship is a good start.” you say.

Miter and Trat bring up very good points, but they aren’t hugely popular with the people, which is something that needs to be considered. Brast, Sam, and Mila are pushing for an encounter with the ship and they are very popular among the people. They are channeling the excitement of the majority of the people, no doubt. If you choose not to interact with the ship, it’s vaguely possible the letdown could plant the seeds of the people turning against you. You can’t really blame them either, it’s exciting to you too.

“My Royalty, I think we should further discuss this and” says Miter as you interrupt him.

“I’ve made up my mind, call in Roephun and Kyle.” you say.

They enter.

“Both of you get ready, I’m ordering you two to make contact with the ship you saw. Oh, and get three suits ready.” you say.

“Three, wait, who should we take as the third? says Kyle.

“I’m coming.” you say.

****