Author : Julian Miles
John was quite something to see when he got his threatening on. The bioluminescents lacing his body in intricate whorls and knotwork turned varying shades of red or white as his eyes darkened to black. The natives were terrified of him. Which was the whole idea. Natively inhabited water worlds were an unplumbed resource due to the difficulty of establishing relations with them.
John had left the military when his pod was slaughtered. I became his podmate by virtue of being the only aquatic physiognomy specialist turned freerun trader. We ran our ship half wet, half dry. It meant we could trade in stupid gravity zones and get places sane or dry people couldn’t. Plus John’s part dolphin, part shark splicestry gave us kudos in the oddest places. All of which got us a lead to our latest splashdown.
Karessia was named after Trutch Karessin, the first man to discover the locals here regarded humans as a delicacy, not as peers. Which is why I was in a zerosee suit and John was handling the diplomacy. This was entirely based on the local religious tendency to shun places where the influence of their god of death was felt. We were just making the influence a little more visible above the patrium node we had located.
John came hammering past me, tail moving swiftly but with relaxed power as his pectoral fins handled the manoeuvring. I could tell he was grinning, but that was only because he’d told me that was what the little biosparks by his mouth meant.
“Flee for your lives! The Reaper of the Colossus is here!”
Oh, how he loved this bit. His broad spectrum sonic roar hit the Karessians and they scattered, frantically trying to genuflect and swim away simultaneously. I was about to instruct the ship for a plant drop when John’s red and white turned blue and green, his primaries of confusion.
“Dave, we may have a problem.”
I scooted my rig over to him and took a look over his dorsal fin. Hanging in the blue, right on the colour change between high water and deep water was the oldest Karessian I had ever seen. Wrinkled over his entire body, but still muscled like an athlete. His left hands clutched a truly formidable polearm, its head reflecting highlights from John’s luminescence. His right hands were behind the shield that covered his entire right side.
“Amp your spectrum analysers, Dave. That shield and the pointy end of the big stick came from the same thing, and I don’t think it was a rock from around here.”
I was about to hit the analysers when something occurred to me. I hit the lights instead. This far down, the simplest things became obscure. The bright white light made the Karessian duck his head behind his shield, but it made the letters on that piece of metal leap into view. Two rows of text, in English. Wonder and a prick of fear intruded on my routine.
“John, I think we’ve lost a mining opportunity and made a fortune.”
“Dave, I think you’re wasting valuable lost survey vessel listing query time.”
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