You all know this one - I'm just reposting everything here. :)
I have decided that of all my story bits, I like this one least of all. If anyone wants it, they can have it... I don't really want to mess with it.
My very good friend,
Without her support and suggestions I could have never written this.
Huge gouts of water splashed up into the air, roaring waves 50 meters high that nearly hit the small craft. "What in-" Commander Tryche shouted as he attempted to fly around the angry phenomenon shooting up toward his ship. "How much longer do we have, Antion?"
"Sahr? Whe cahn't take mahny more hits like that last ohne! That whater wheighs a lot." Antion was very worried, and the smell he was emitting was stifling in the confines of the small cabin.
The three man crew- Leubard Tryche, Human pilot and Commander of the Starskimmer, Antion Charas, a blue-skinned Fario who functioned as assistant pilot and everything else, and Deefur, the four-armed combat droid who was their bodyguard while planetside, as well as the engineer since he could talk to the computers- had been on a joyride ever since Leubard won a large amount of cash at dice. They had been sliding around, stopping at the next nearest starsystem, just shooting the solar wind and having a general good time.
When they slid into this particular system, the first thing they noticed was that there was no traffic. The comm. channels were quiet. The system had nine planets. An asteroid belt separated the inner three from the outer six. The place was on the charts, the star's name was Sol, but the dossier said nothing about the system being uninhabited.
They selected the most friendly-looking planet, a blue-white one with one moon just inside the asteroid belt. As they approached, they noticed a large amount of junk in orbit around the planet. Thousands of ancient satellites, most of them still functioning, sped around the planet.
They thought about this for a while, then their good spirits caught up with them, and they entered the atmosphere to look for a place to land. That was when the trouble started. The first thing was that there was no dry land. The second were the tops of buildings protruding from the surface of the water. The third was the worst of all, for that was when the water began attacking them.
Holes would appear in the surface, then, like a rubber sheet it would rebound up in a huge gout containing thousands of gallons of water. The many tons of water hitting the underside of the Starskimmer was as devastating as a huge explosion. Huge waves like rock walls would roll up in front of them, and they would have to change course abruptly to avoid hitting it.
Suddenly, a new column, ten times bigger than the others, shot up in front of the beleaguered craft. It sprouted arms, legs, and a head, and began charging toward them, one leg always attached to the surface.
"Cahn't you go fahster?" Antion's smell bordered on panic.
"I am trying," Leubard's answer was strained as he split his concentration. "But all the available energy is used in maneuvering, and I can't get more than 50 meters off the surface before I have to change course!"
Antion screamed suddenly, and his smell went into something like shock. "Look there!" His voice shook, and it was an octave higher as he pointed in front of them to where a huge figure, made entirely out of water, was charging toward them. The huge figure raised its arm in their direction, and the arm grew outward as it sprouted fingers that attempted to close around them.
Leubard shoved the stick to the side as he hit the throttle into the bright red "danger" zone, and the ship responded by jumping 10 meters to the left almost instantly, and he breathed a silent prayer of thanks for the inertial dampeners. The huge fingers closed on nothing, and splashed back into a stub of an arm.
With the whole ship screaming around him, and the smell of a Fario in shock making his head spin, he reached over and actuated the slide capacitors. The drain on the energy reserve was not much, but in the next 15 minutes, while he strained to keep one step, so to speak, ahead of his pursuer, they had reached maximum capacity.
He jerked the ship around a new column that had shot up in front of him, this on folding over onto the ship as he passed, and nearly caught him. The sight that lay before his eyes made him forget, for a moment the danger he was in.
A huge whirlpool, 200 kilometers across, stretched out on the ocean surface, a huge hole 50 km across marked the very center of the swirling maelstrom. From the center of the hole the biggest column of water he had ever seen fountained up from the murky depths to what looked like a height of 3 km, the top splitting apart and raining down on the waters below.
He broke out of his reverie just in time to avoid being hit by another column of water. Setting his teeth, he rotated the ship upwards, and shunted the power from the capacitors into the main engines. "I'm sorry, old girl," he whispered, and dumped the entire contents of the capacitors into the engines.
The results were as immediate as they were dramatic. The Starskimmer shot through the atmosphere and into space in a matter of seconds. The acceleration was so great that it overloaded the already strained inertial dampeners, and slammed everyone down in their seats and threw things loose all over the ship. Slowing to a stop, he shut down the engines, and then on afterthought put the entire ship into standby.
They all sat in the silence, listening to the ticks, pops, and creaks of cooling metal, and gave thanks.
A few months later Antion and Leubard walked into the Enrud IV chapter of the Librarium Galactium, Deefur trotting after them, keeping a watchful optical sensor out for trouble. The repairs for the ship had nearly exhausted their winnings, but before they went back to work, they wanted to look up the Solar System in the Library.
Leubard whispered his request to the terminal, and it began searching the massive database that made up the Librarium Galacticum. The headquarters took up an entire planet, Logos. All the chapters had a direct link to the computers there, and the researchers copied every scrap of information in the universe to the databases. Birth, wedding, and death records, deeds, interviews, photos, video, mnemonic data, music, everything. If you could think it, hear it, read it or see it, you could probably find it at the Librarium Galacticum.
The search had finished, and the results showed an Exhaustive Text History of the Sol System(20000 pages), pictures of Earth(the only habitable planet), Tourist Videos, Interviews of Famous Persons that Leubard had never heard of by a Famous Interviewer he had never heard of either, and so on. It took 2 hours to scroll through the list and find what he was looking for.
"ah-HA!" His triumphant whisper took Antion's smell several degrees sweeter. "Here we are: 'A Mnemonic History of the Fall of Sol and Her Daughter, Terra(commonly known as Earth)'. I think we'll hook up and remember this."
Pushing a button, he had two Mnemonic readers brought over and strapped to his and Antion's head. Thanking the droids, he tipped them and sent them away. He settled back in his seat and grinned at Antion, "Ready?" he asked, and started playback.
CHAPTER ONE - AICM
"I don't know," Dr. Anne Morissey finished, her soft voice echoing slightly through the auditorium, "if this will be a useful discovery, but you must agree that a substance that will automatically circulate water so that it does not stagnate and that there are no temperature extremes, is very interesting. Thank you."
The applause was surprising. Considering the fact that she was a poor speaker and very shy in public, added with the fact that her invention, the 'Aquatic Intelligent Control Matrix', or AICM, was, oblivious to her, obviously useless, she should not have gotten any at all. The three people that clapped were either very generous, or, as was more likely, insulting.
She stepped off the stage, and walked through the maze of passageways backstage. She found a door, and opening it, discovered that she had unwittingly found her destination- the parking lot. Now to find her car. It would have been easy, since she was parked on the second row from the main entrance, but for the fact that she had exited in the back of the building. She had to walk all the way around the huge building, taking a good 10 minutes, before she even got to the front.
She got in her car, a dark orange Jaguar XJ220, and started it up. The deep gurgling purr welcomed her, and she started for home. On the way, she mused about the AICM and the recent experiments. Six months ago, she had discovered, quite by accident, that a certain combination of Amino acids mixed with a bonding compound, in this case, Cyanoacrilate, had a unique effect on water.
This compound was dropped in a tank of water. Several hours later, she walked by and noticed that the tank of water was slowly circulating in a counterclockwise direction. There was a heater on the other end of the tank, it being a project to see what difference certain minerals had on the time it took to heat 1000 gallons of water. She had dropped a glob of the stuff in to see what it would do, and it had an amazing effect. It seemed that the water was circulating itself, causing the water to heat uniformly.
She researched this some more, and validated her hypothesis. She wrote a paper. She was excited. She had never found anything important before. This could be her big break. She could sell her family's Lipizzaner horse farm and concentrate on science. She- breaking out of her reviere, she laughed to herself. She had driven to the lab, not the apartment. Oh well, she mused, I might as well check on the tank.
Inside, she greeted George Ravin, her assistant. "Anything new?"
"Oh, not really, except for the water now no longer moves."
Shocked, she looked at him, then walked down the hall to the room containing the tank. Sure enough, it no longer moved. The water just sat there. She did notice a small, light colored glob sitting in the center of the tank, and asked him, "What is that glob?"
"The one on the bottom of the tank, right there." She said, pointing.
"I don't know," he said slowly, "I never saw it or anything like it before."
It looked like a small piece of tissue, small tendrils slowly waving in the nonexistent current. On closer inspection, the tendrils were enormously long microfibers, some stretching out as far as 6 feet, but were less than a 16th of an inch across. When she reached into the tank to remove the glob for closer inspection, she noticed that it became increasingly harder to shove her arm into the water. It felt like a the water had turned into an ultra-thick gelatin, and by the time her hand had reached the glob, it was nearly impossible to move her arm.
"Wow," She gasped as she jerked her hand free, droplets of now very liquid water splashing off her arm. " I could hardly move my arm down there. You try and get it, George. You are so much stronger than I am." When he looked askance at her, she smiled charmingly. "Please, George?"
"Well, ok." He said in a fake grumpy tone. "But only this once, y'hear?" Then he grinned broadly and shoved his arm into the water, and his eyes widened as it got thick around his arm as well. "Man!" He grunted, "This stuff is like glue or someth-" He broke off suddenly as he jerked his arm out of the tank. "Anne- do you suppose that -somehow- the bonding compound has combined with the water in the tank and the amino acids, turning this tank of water into a sentient being that can defend itself?"
CHAPTER TWO - OUTBREAK
In the restroom at the farm, Anne washed her hands clean of manure and dirt. The water went down the drain into the gray water, some of which ran into the stream nearby. The stream went to a river, and the river led to the Mississippi.
Weeks passed as the two scientists poured over the tank of water. They had decided that the deal was this: If what you put into the tank was aquatic, then fine. If not, the water would react strangely. This, by anyone's definition of the word, was intelligence.
Word spread, and soon the lab, and its scientists, and the tank, made local, then national, and then world headlines. It was several months later that a strange incident took place.
Anne jerked bolt upright in bed, and looked around the room, wondering what had awakened her, when the ring of the phone made her nearly jump out of her skin. "Hello?" She quickly looked at the clock. 2:30!!??
"Anne?" It was George. But he sounded harried. "There is something really weird going on down here at the lab."
"George? It is 2:30. In the morning. It is time to sleep, not work at the lab." She screamed to herself in her head, 2:30 a.m.!!!!!!
"Yeah? Well I got a call about an hour ago from a security guard. He had heard some strange noise inside the tank room, and walked in to check on it. He sounded like a man who had seen a pig fly or something. But anyways, he said that I needed to see 'it' for myself, and would not tell me anything more. So, I drove down here- and do you know what I found?"
"Uh, the water had frozen?" It was 2:30 in the morning!!! And George was doing experiments at the lab!!! And he called and woke her up to tell her about the results of an experiment!!! At 2:30 a.m.!!!
"No!" He was breathless. "It was all over the floor! The water was climbing out of the tank and dumping itself onto the floor! It still is!"
She was suddenly very awake. "I'll be right there! Just hang on!" and then hung the phone up. In 5 minutes she was driving at 90 mph down the road toward town. The rough purr of the mighty Jaguar's engine was soothing, and she tried to sort out all the new information in her sleep-fogged brain.
The water was climbing out of the tank? Up the walls? Surely not! Splashing onto the floor? Why would it do that? What purpose could it serve? She stomped on the brakes as she realized she was going 136 mph. I gotta watch it, she thought shakily. The last thing I need is a ticket at 3:00 a.m.!
She whipped into the parking lot at the lab. The were a lot of cars here, including several squadcars. Police? Why them? She jumped out of the Jaguar, slamming the door behind her, forgetting to lock it in her haste.
George turned from the officer he was talking with as she came barreling in. "Ah. Anne." He stopped, cocked his head and looked slowly up and down her length. "Could you have dressed any crazier?"
She looked down at her clothes. Wrinkled bright blue slacks, a pink shirt with multiple unidentifiable stains that was way too big, and worst of all, she was still in her house shoes! She smiled weakly. "Well, you did wake me up. And then you told me there was an emergency here, so I just pulled some clothes on without turning on the light. I am surprised I remembered to get any clothes at all."
He turned, and walked rapidly down the hall toward the tank room. "Come on," he said urgently. "Hurry before the tank empties!"
She soon discovered that George had been totally accurate in his description of the problem. Amid the shocked curses of the non-essential bystanders, she strode to the door, and stopped. The water was slowly streaming up the inside of the tank, and then splashing like a waterfall outside it onto the floor. Despite the drain in the middle of the room, there was a good inch of water on the floor, and it gripped the feet of anyone who walked through it like thick mud.
"This is insane!" She gasped incredulously, "Water can't do that! -I, -I mean- what... no, why would it do that? Do you really think-..." He voice trailed off as the impact of what she was saying hit her. "It has to be intelligent. It is escaping the confines of its cage to run free in the wild- Oh, no!"
"What?" George grabbed her arm "What is it? - Oh... Do you think it might be leaving so that it can grow? Oh, horrors... Can you imagine what the ocean will be like if this thing can grow in it?"
"I don't want to, George. Judging by its decidedly hostile reaction to us, I don't think the future is a good one."
CHAPTER THREE - OCEAN WILD
Deep in the Pacific Ocean, a column of translucent jelly rose 20 feet off of the ocean floor. Billions upon billions of long, silky tendrils stretched out in an enormous cloud around the gelatinous column. Every now and then a small glob of jelly would propel itself into the cloud of tendrils. Instantly, the tendrils convulsed and violently drew the small glob into itself.
Within two weeks, the column was a gargantuan shaft of jelly, six meters across and 60 meters high. The tendrils stretched out in all directions for hundreds of meters. Small globulets of jelly would split off, grow tendrils, and be thrown into the open water by the bigger column.
Three weeks passed, and the jelly started to change. It slowly dissolved, until there was just a thin shaft stretching to the surface. The water above began to move, slowly at first, then gradually faster, until it became a great whirlpool that grew every day into an enormous maelstrom.
Three months later, the OffWorld Colonies started preparing for the huge influx of refugees from the home planet. The Mars, and Luna colonies ramped up production of food and materials, and shuttle missions were flown around the clock, loading beleaguered families into orbit, and subsequently to an OffWorld Colony. The water had already begun to rise, and all boats had been sunk by strange waves, or stuck in water that suddenly turned to glue around them.
Within the last month, air vessels had started reporting huge splashes of water that attempted to knock them out of the sky, as well as an anomaly in the current patterns in the oceans. Australia was already under water, and many countries were threatened.
Just a few days ago, reports started coming in of giant "water monsters" in humanoid form that ran up onto shore, collapsing several miles inland to form great pools of water, and causing massive amounts of damage. An observation flight had sent in a report 24 hours ago that a huge maelstrom was forming in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Evacuation efforts were ramped up, but the OffWorld Colonial Centers were almost full, and the shuttle pilots were running 24 hour shifts. Inside the huge hub of the OffWorld Launch Center #3 in Kansas, a small figure waits inside a staging area for a shuttle...
"Anne" She turned.
"George! I was beginning to wonder if you were gonna make it!" She smiled at him in relief. "I do feel bad about my horses, though." She added suddenly.
George blinked as he took in this sudden switch of gears, and then decided to ignore it. "The OWM almost would not let me through, and then one of them recognized me as the assistant the famous Anne Morrisey." He grinned.
She started to reply, but was interrupted by the clanging of an alarm.
"All citizens in staging area 4416b please begin boarding shuttle through ramp 1. Thank you." And it repeated.
Anne grimaced at him, then shrugged as George grabbed her bags and gently pushed her through the mass of people into the ramp.
Inside the shuttle, she looked out over the landscape 30 meters below. In the far distance, she imagined she could see Texas, with its now water-covered landscape glittering in the sun. She wondered what would happen to them in the overcrowded colonies. She reached out and grabbed George's hand, and squeezed it. He looked over at her, and smiled.
"Don't worry, Anne. I'm sure it'll all work out somehow." His reassuring words calmed her, and just as she blacked out in the launch, she knew that through the rioting, social and political upheavals that were sure to come, it would, somehow, work out.
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