Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
The world of Keys was a tropical paradise, ninety percent water with hundreds of thousands of islands. One of the better things to happen here was the accidental release of Tuna. Unlike on old earth they thrived and grew. They grew much larger than anywhere else in fact. A full grown Tuna could weight over three thousand pounds.
Keys wasn’t a commercial world though, it was one of recreation. Tourist would flock here to swim in the temperate ocean or sport fish for the huge Tuna. We did export most of the tuna caught and even had specialists that prepared and mounted the fish caught.
Most people lived on a group of islands known as Kila. There were a few underwater cities that lived off underwater farms or special fisheries and there was even one floating city that grew altered sharks.
I smiled back at Jennifer as we closed with the dock and then turned to throw the line I held across to the dock worker. The King’s Tear was a one hundred and ten foot trihull sport fisher. I tied off the mooring line and moved to the back to secure the second one as Jen shut the engines off. I turned as our ten guests came out of the lounge carrying bags. The dock worker pushed the boarding ramp across and I secured it.
I smiled and shook hands as they filed off the ship headed for their resorts. Now the work could begin, I headed for the port hatch to help Jen as she lifted it and threw it back. She grinned, “It was a good week. Ten customers, five tuna each and only two wanted the flesh.”
I grinned as I reached her and bent to shut the stasis off and drop into the hold, “enough to relax for a couple of months on that fancy boat of yours?”
She laughed as she lowered the dock boom, “If we can get another run like this week, yeah.”
I pulled a net off the hold wall and worked it around one of the tuna before nodding up to her. Three hours later we moved the King’s Tear out and moored her. We tossed our small bags in the inflated skiff and Jen grinned as she accelerated away.
She had lived with me for three years now and I was actually thinking of making it permanent. She was a college graduate with a degree in marine biology and a zest for life. We moved quickly across the water headed towards a distance island.
I relaxed and turned to watch as it approached. My eyes picked out the two men trying to seem like natives. A single glance told me they were something else. We were almost to the beach behind my house when I spotted two more men. The fifth man stood as we approached the dock.
I didn’t even think, I spun and dove, my arm sweeping out to grab Jen as I went over the side. There was a searing flash and explosion as we hit the water. I dove, pulling Jen after me. I swam under the dock and then up for a quick breath of air. The water had a tint of red and Jen was gasping. One look told me she had been hit in the chest and had broken some ribs and a punctured lung.
I nodded and dove pulling her after me as I swam straight down. I knew those men would be closing in to finish us. I swam to a large screen and yanked it back before reaching in and grabbing a breather mask. I pulled Jen close and pushed the mask over her mouth and nose. She grabbed it hesitantly and I reached down to grab the pull rope while keeping a tight hold on her.
One yank and we were suddenly being pulled down and into the three foot tunnel. It seemed like forever before we were suddenly in a small lighted enclosure with a plastic composite door. I spun the wheel and opened the door before pulling Jen in. I closed the door as my air began running out. I hit the red fist sized button and the water around us quickly began to disappear.
I surface and took a huge breath of air before turning to Jen. She was in bad shape from the blood she kept spitting out. I waited until the water was down to our knees before hitting the release on the inner door. The water flooded out and spilled down through a grate on the other side of the door. I helped Jen out and pulled her down the narrow hall.
I hadn’t been down here for over a year but everything was working as it should. The room we came to was ten feet long and twelve wide. I laid Jen down on her side. I had to see to her first. I pulled a large bag from a wall cabinet and set it down beside her. The med scanner was a little older but it was one of the best models available.
I looked at the scanner and pulled the tissue tractor out. I used both to pull the rib fragments out of her lungs and set them. I sat back thinking and shook my head, I didn’t have a choice. I stood and opened another cabinet and pulled the large bag out of the med stasis unit. I slipped an IV into Jen’s arm and plugged the bag into the IV set. I opened it wide and caressed her face, “Stay here and stay still.”
She was still gasping but nodded. I stood and moved to another wall, one push and it split and slid aside. I stripped and reached for the black clothing folded on the shelf. Next was the harness and the belt with my pistol. I slung the stubby barreled assault rifle over my right shoulder and under my left arm. I check Jen once more and turned to push on the opposite wall from the way we came in.
A narrow tunnel appeared as the wall dropped into the floor. I crawled onto the flat tray and reached up to press the green button. The tray I was lying on was suddenly moving. I counted to myself until the tray stopped and then reached up blindly to find the switch. The end of the tunnel disappeared and I pulled myself out. I crossed the three feet and touched a grey looking box in a solid wall.
It cleared and I was looking down at the area around my house. The five men were spread out searching and I knew it was only a matter of time before they found my safe room and Jen. I turned and pushed up on the metal grill and climbed up slowly. I was in a thick bush that completely covered the grate.
I crawled out and saw one of the men turn towards me and lifted my rifle and squeezed the trigger as he tried to dive away. It was only a body that hit the ground, I rolled and crawled to the fountain I had put in while my hunters fanned out. I waited and when one slipped through a set of bushes I shot him in the head. I turned to move around behind the fountain.
From anywhere in the yard you couldn’t see the back of the fountain and my silenced rifle didn’t give me away. I wasn’t all the way around when one of the men appeared. I fired into his chest and then his head as he staggered and fell. I held still as the two remaining men searched for me. I knew they were using high tech gear and smiled because the clothes I wore were designed to prevent that.
I wait patiently until one cautiously moved around the corner of my house. Even as he fell back dead I was moving forward. I saw the last man kneeling with a sonic listening device and turning towards me. He never got the chance to lift his rifle as the bullet from my rifle hit between his eyes.
I moved out and made sure each man was dead before dragging their bodies to the huge potted tree beside my house. I dug into the pot and pulled what looked like a drip line. The whole tree and pot lifted and moved away from my house. There was an exposed shaft going down with a ladder on one side.
I swiftly climbed down the ladder the few feet to the bottom and flipped a small switch and the bottom of the shaft opened and the ladder extended a few more feet down. I dropped down into the safe room and moved to Jen’s side. She smiled up at me weakly as I checked the IV. The large three liter bag was empty and I caressed her face, “How do you feel?”
She looked around, “Frightened, in pain and curious as one of your cats.”
I smiled and pulled the med scanner closer. I checked her and nodded at what I saw. I sat back, “We have a few hours. I’m sorry Jen, this was my fault. They were after me.”
I looked around and sighed, “Many years ago and far away I was the commander for the king’s elite commandos. My name is Samuel Edward Winston Grey. When the politics began changing and prohibiting… nannies we, My team retired.”
Her eyes widen and I smiled, “Nanites aren’t the evil the government says they are. My team saw what was coming and spread out to distant less populated worlds. Shortly after that the purges began.”
Jen licked her lips, “What did you give me?”
I glanced at the empty bag, “over the years I have removed and filtered some of the nanites in my blood. I didn’t have the necessary medical equipment to stop you from drowning in your own blood so I gave you the three liters of nanites I kept in stasis.”
She closed her eyes, “What will they do?”
I smiled and touched her cheek, “Scrub nasty stuff out of our blood. Repair any damage short of a fatal wound and regenerate severed limbs.”
Jen opened her eyes to look at me, “How old are you?”
I grinned, “My age never bothered you before.”
She actually grinned, “I didn’t know you were a superman.”
I laughed, “Hardly super, I’m just like most men. I do have a few enhancements but that was done long ago. I don’t really have super strength or speed. What I have, is years of training.”
Jen nodded, “So you could hold your breath for hours.”
I caressed her face, “You have dived with me. You know how long I can hold my breath.”
She looked around again, “And all this?”
I sighed as I looked around, “Jen, the king commanded me. All this was and is a precaution.”
I stood to open another cabinet and pulled out a bag. I slung it over my shoulder and knelt, “I can take you as far as Reef city.”
She looked at me hard, “You damn well better take me further than that.”
I grinned and carefully lifted and then stood her up, “You need to slowly climb the ladder, use your legs.”
I knelt and held her legs before lifting her straight up and put her feet on the bottom rung. She did as I told her and started up the ladder. I waited and then jumped and climbed out after her. I helped her into the house where I quickly packed a bag for her. I led her out and we crossed the island using a small trail she and I had used many times to visit friends.
I didn’t go to any of our friends, I led her to a small boathouse. I opened the door and slipped in before pulling on a string that went over a beam and dropped into the water. Air exploded from the water and a four person submersible rose up to the surface. Jen was grinning, “If I had known you had this…”
I smiled and jumped to the deck before opening the hatch and dropping our bags down inside. I reached out to help Jen climb on and then helped her through the hatch. I followed and closed the hatch before pushing her towards a bunk, “Go lay down.”
I moved around her and headed towards the front of the sub. I sat in the pilot seat and brought the ship alive. I ran a quick check and submerged before starting forward. I went deeper, dropping into the deep channel between the islands. It was a few hours before I heard Jen moving forward. I turned to glanced back, “You mess up the work I did on you and I will tan your butt.”
She grinned as she gingerly sat in the seat beside me, “The bones are set. I found the med scanner in the birth above mine.”
I smiled as I went back to navigating, “How are you feeling?”
She laughed, “Hungry.”
I nodded, “That’s the nanites. You need to grab a ration from the supplies.”
She looked at me and smiled, “Sooo…”
I glanced at her and she was looking back, “You always avoid answering when I ask how old you are.”
I smiled, “I’ve been on Keys for fifty years.”
She laughed, “That’s closer.”
I grinned, “I’m self conscious.”
She stood slowly and turned, brushing my cheek, “In case I forget… Thanks.”
I smiled as she slowly moved towards the back. It was almost twenty hours before the city beacon began sounding. I slowed to drop to just above the ocean floor before turning slightly. I shut the exterior lights off and slowed even more. It was a long twenty minutes before the dark shape of the dome loomed out of the darkness.
I turned to the left and moved a little more before slowing. I drifted down to slip into the narrow sub tunnel and crept forward, turning on the single bow light. The end of the tunnel approached and I let the sub rise. We broke surface in a dimly lit room and I shut everything off. I stood and moved back to the bunks where I found Jen sleeping peacefully. I woke her and she opened sleepy eyes before smiling, “I was dreaming.”
I nodded towards the hatch, “time to go sleeping beauty.”
She sat up with a slight wince and turned to put her slipovers onto her feet. I climbed up and opened the hatch before dropping down and moving out of the way, “After you.”
She grinned and climbed up and out and I followed with our bags. I jumped lightly to the narrow walkway and turned to hold a hand out. Jen frowned but accepted my hand before stepping onto the walkway with me. I led her to a hatch and glanced back, “We’ll be in the chamber for a day before we can enter the city.”
Jen nodded and followed me into what was a tiny room with four fold down bunks. I set the bags on in a web rack before changing the pressure setting and moving to lie down. I closed my eyes and woke ten hours later with Jen rubbing my stomach, “You need to eat Samuel, you’re growling.”
I grinned as I pulled her down against me. “Careful mermaid.”
Jen grinned, “A little cramped on the bunk for that sailor.”
I laughed and let her go before sitting up. I crossed to the shelf that held rations and grinned as I saw two missing. I glanced back as I grabbed one, “hungry were you?”
Jen nodded, “I don’t know why.”
I turned and sat down before opening the ration, “Because the nannies had to rebuild torn tissue and broken bone. They are also multiplying in your body.”
Jen bit her lip as she sat across from me, “What will…”
I smiled as I started eating, “They aren’t going to send you secret messages or take over your body. What they will do is stop you from getting sick and healing you a lot faster then normal. Your ribs should be completely healed in another day or two. The damage to your lungs and tissue has already been repaired.”
Jen looked startled and then grinned, “Well I am breathing much better.”
I nodded and went back to the ration. When I finished, I moved to put the refuse into the recycler. I stripped and applied a skin darkening agent and hair dye before going to sit beside Jen. She smiled, “So what are we doing here and where are we going?”
I took her hand, “We came here to see a man and get new papers. We are going on a trip.”
Jen grinned, “I like trips.”
I smiled, “I need to see people and use a star comm.”
Jen sighed, “And you think the authorities are against you.”
I caressed her face, “I’m not listed as a criminal, the king protected us that far. The problem is these men chasing us. Their commando trained and that means someone wants me and possibly my team dead. Whoever it is, is either high up on the regent’s council or one of the dozen mega rich that support them. What that means is they control access to and from the authorities.”
Jen nodded and leaned against me, “We have hours before we get out. What are we going to do to pass the time?”
I looked at her and grinned as I turned to pull her down on the bed and kiss her. I glanced over Jen when the chamber alarm beeped. I kissed Jen’s cheek, “Time to go.”
A couple of minutes later I led the way out carrying our two bags. We came out the door of an old salvage shop and I led the way down the wide hallway. After crossing two domes I stopped a block from the coffee shop I was looking for. I watched for a couple of minutes and then led Jen down an alley and around back.
There appeared to be two doors into the back of the shop. I knocked on the door to the right and waited. A slim woman cracked the door open, “Yes?”
I smiled, “Tell Allen the sky is looking a little grey out today.”
She blinked, “Wait.”
She closed the door but a moment later it opened quickly. A tall well built man grinned at me as I nodded to Jen and followed her into the shop. The woman led us down a set of stairs while the man locked the door and followed behind. In the large room at the foot of the stairs I set our bags down and turned to clasp the hand of the man, “It’s good to see you Del.”
He was grinning as he led the way to a wide work station, “I thought I might be seeing you. The cyfer comm is whispering your name constantly.”
I nodded, “they sent a team to my home.”
I glanced at the woman before looking at him, “We need papers and tickets off this rock and I need you to send that encrypted message I left with you.”
He blinked, “Are you sure?”
I shrugged, “We have business to finish it seems.”
He sat and turned to his work station and his fingers danced over the controls for a couple of minutes. He finally turned and stood to cross to another machine I knew was restricted and forbidden to posses. He pulled out two crimson pass books and a stiff sheet of carbon poly fiber. He held them out, “I still owe you Commander.”
I smiled, “Just keep your head down.”
He grinned and nodded as I turned to Jen, “Time to go.”
Del led us out and I walked away without looking back. Jen cleared her throat, “Are you sure you can trust him?”
I smiled at her, “I’m sure.”
She looked at me and then reached for her bag, “I better carry that.”
I looked at her and she grinned, “You know how independent women are here.”
I grinned back and handed her the bag. We moved openly through the domes and stopped at the banks of large elevators that went all the way up to the surface. We stood in a small crowd and waited for a scheduled elevator. When we came out onto the large platform above the surface of the ocean people broke into groups as they walked away.
I led Jen after me down the wide stairs that led to a floating platform. On the other side of the platform I saw the daily shuttle that would take us to Government Island. I stopped to show our new pass books and pay for the tickets before heading across to the boarding ladder. Jen seemed to move easily and followed me up and slipped into the window seat before I could say anything.
I shoved my bag into the luggage bin and reached for hers. It was thirty minutes before the shuttle finished filling and the hatch was closed. The shuttle lifted smoothly and began accelerating. The suborbital flight took forty minutes and then we were slowing to hover over the landing pad. We were in the middle of the pack when we got off the shuttle but I saw the two men watching everyone.
Jen swung her bag as she walked, talking about all the fun she had fishing. The men ignored us as we moved passed them. We took one of the ever present Rics and an hour later we were walking through the gate into the spaceport. I stopped us at the departure board and then went to the ticket window. At the purchase window I bought two business class tickets to Greg’s Paradise.
Three hour later we swam the tube into the starship. A day later the big ship began moving and I relaxed. Jen and I were in a tiny cabin and lay in the wide bunk together as the acceleration hit. It would only last for a few hours since the buffers would take that long to catch up. I had managed to slip Jen into sick bay and use a med scanner to check her ribs. They were almost completely healed.
Two weeks later the ship jumped out of the system and a week after that we dropped out at the sector hub. It was a huge transfer station on the outer edge of a dead system. Jen and I went into the huge transfer station carrying our bags and bought last minute tickets on a dead run cargo transport. While the other ship unloaded cargo for transshipment we were boarding the cargo transport.
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