I remember seeing the ocean for the first time. Unlike any other human, I did not see it from the shore. The day I escaped from the 4th, my cargo capsule landed about 5 km off the Liberian coast. The Fleet liaison was supposed to track my capsule and pick me up on a motor boat. I opened the hatch on the top of the capsule and carefully poked my head out. A wall of steam obstructed the view for several minutes, as the capsule became hot from the reentry through the atmosphere, and upon landing into the ocean, brought water to boil. When the steam settled down, I saw that there is no-one around me for miles. Something went wrong, and my contact did not show up.
The military warned me against using my brain-integrated computer, which I muted before taking off, because it could be easily tracked from the 4th. That is why I used an older version of a ‘Holistic’, the ‘Barycenter 3’, that I found in the antique shop on the 4th. These shops are popular with the school kids looking for parts for their science projects. I was fortunate to find a working device. This one even in it’s day looked vintage, made to resemble an old army wrist watch.
According to B3, the capsule landed 23 km East from the retrieval point. That explained why the liaison was not there. But it did not explain why the military screwed up on calculating my drop position. I bet they did not account for all the atmospheric conditions. It was ironic, because I was better than any military climatologist. No, I am not bragging, I know that for a fact, because the residents of 4th are so far ahead from the rest of the humans in unlocking human potential. I process data faster, I am better at seeing patterns and performing complex correlations, I am better at problem solving. Hey, I nearly became a climatologist myself.
I descended back into the cargo compartment. For all intents and purposes, it was a high-tech box used for individual purchases of the orbitals. The 4th returned the cargo boxes after receiving various shipments to the place of their origin. The Earth cargo capsules were dropped into the ocean, and a special floater robot identified their signals and retrieved them for further use. I, however, had to disable it’s tracking system if I expected to get away from my government, who would soon receive a ‘missing person’ report from my family.
The box had an automated navigation system, but it only worked to Earth and from Earth. Plus, the coordinates could be entered only from the central mail processing computer, and I had no appropriate software to hack the system. After giving it some more thought, I clearly realized that the capsule has no use for me, and I have to swim to the shore. 5 k is not a big deal, if you are in excellent genetically enhanced physical condition. I was concerned about sharks, though. Since the climate change era, they moved their habitats to a narrow strip of tropical waters, because elsewhere on the planet was too cold for them. As the result, the waters were full to the brim with the aquatic predators competing for shrinking food resources. That was a serious problem. I got out of the capsule, and sat on top of it lightly swaying with the waves. The sharks were not here yet because they know to avoid the deadly impact of the capsules that regularly drop in this region. But after some time, I will see the swarms of sharp fins circling the capsule. I’ve read that sometimes they swim in colonies of 500 and more.
I sat some more, thinking through all the equipment I had with me. It all came down to a life vest and a B3. The later one was handy because it contained a backup of the web when off line. I could get any books, videos, music, and even access database of scents…
Wait a minute, I thought. Scents. That’s it! Scents and sounds!
Who is bigger and stronger than a shark? Even 500 of them?
I will become a killer whale! Crazy idea, but was worth a shot. I accessed the B3 and found the catalogue of nature sounds. There it was, the sound of a whale. The same thing I did with the scent. The smells were not actual molecules of whale odor, but a specifically designed waves to stimulate the senses in exactly the same way as if the actual scent would. This feature was initially invented by the cosmetics retail industry to demonstrate perfume to the online shoppers, but it quickly revolutionized the entire web.
There was a small problem, however. The whale scent wave was designed to create a mental image in a human brain. It was completely unclear if it would work on sharks.
I thought some more, and remembered that I saw a roll of a plastic wrapping in the capsule. It could improve my chances by at least masking my own scent. So I wrapped my entire body, head to toe, leaving only face open. I tried to keep the wrapping loose enough to be able to move. After I was done packaging myself, I did some situps and jumping jacks to see if I can move. It was not bad.
But then I realized something in my plan that is both an advantage and a potential problem. Wrapped in plastic, I was thermo-insulated. That was not a bad thing on one end, because the ocean, although warm, this far away from the shore was still cold for a human body, and I had no wet suit. However, the insulation would make me sweat and heat up. I would be in a sauna.
I did the math and found out that my swim should take a little over 2 hours (based on the speed of open water swimmers, recorded in the B3 library). Two hours of sweating. B3 also had records of deaths from overheating of athletes who attempted to shed weight fast through working out in plastic suits.
I poked around the B3 library for some more, but could not gather any decent data to estimate if two hours of swimming in a plastic insulation would kill me or not.
I had to try. I was so close to walking on the shore, and some lousy 5 km of ocean, even if it was filled with sharks to the brim, would not stop me.
I dove in.
[To be continued]
You were reading the diary of Ensign Ebony River, that predates the events in the “Million Deaths of Lt. Mazula” mini-series. Two years later, in 2587, Ebony would be assigned to the classified mission on the home world of alien species with the designs on the Milky Way galaxy. The mission, authorized by the Earth Nations, was supposed to investigate the intelligence, according to which Unkari were testing powerful weapon in their home galaxy, Sagittarius Dwarf. The mission failed, and the entire Galactica class military vessel was obliterated. The only survivors, Lt. Mazula and En. River, struggle to stay alive, captured by the enemy. This diary reveals the mysteries of Ebony River, a citizen of an outcast human race that secluded themselves to the life of intellectualism through genetic engineering, drugs and radical robotic enhancements.
Copyright (2016) Ellie Maloney