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Following is the first in a series of cuttings from my short stories book, Tales of the TREVEL.

In Deep -part 1{8 years after the Beginning}

Harmonic music played lightly in the background. Here in the modern Underland Temple of Atlantis the motivational sharing time for Novices was nearly over. It had been a good sermon and struck close to home in one young girl’s heart and she was as bitter as a harpy.

“Before you all leave tonight to go your separate social ways,” the preacher encouraged, “why don’t you stop and smile and talk to someone you’ve not met yet?”

Oh god, oh god, oh god,” the young novice said in her mind, “Please don’t let anyone talk to me.”

But then it happened.  The guy sitting in front of her looked around hopefully and saw fresh new meat.  He smiled a swaggery smile and leered over the pew,

“How are you doing this evening?”

The young novice smiled in sarcastic innocence as she checked her hydrophone bracelet and tipped the button on the stopwatch,

“Well this week I left my home and my family who are currently being threatened by extinction and eviction and it’s very possible I may never see them, ever again.” She smiled sweetly.

The interviewer backed off the pew and bowed, he nodded sincerely and said,

“Well, good luck with that.” He stumbled as his knee banged against the pew corner hindering his speedy escape.

The stopwatch clicked off at forty-four seconds.  The sweet new novice, known only as Filly, sucked in a deep breath and reinforced her happy face as she made her way out of the crowd and up to the quiet comforts of her lonely room. Steam would have been pouring out her nose had it not been for the freezing temperatures that encased her heart.

In a moment of weakness, in a moment where she allowed her inherited rage to take control, she threw caution to the wind and flicked on her personal Flowboard.  A deep-seated issue with men caused the ice to burn harder as she resorted to her best and fastest mode of attack. Typically she liked to draw them in and leave them hanging. Looking up the first on-sourcing, love-match page she could find, Filly filled out a profile with such flair, pizzazz and open, vulnerable passion that no male could resist being sucked in.

She wasn’t about to pay to become a source member or even to go looking for herself.  The plan was to make them all want her and then she would just ignore them all, never respond, never answer, then come back and delete her profile. The problem was the picture suggestion that kept popping up to the side.

When she saw his picture she couldn’t, not take a second glance. She blamed pure curiosity as the reason she opened his profile briefing that was sickeningly perfect. There was no way anyone could be that brilliant. She tapped the random smiley at the top of the page and before she knew it, a stock message was blinked off to him. Almost immediately he flicked back to her.

She jumped up and turned the flowboard screen to hibernation. Pacing the tiny room, her hands flapped in a desperate attempt to control the building passion.

The flowboard screen flickered again as a personal message tapped in. He was trying to talk to her beyond her ability to respond (as it was blocked by the lack of page membership) and she made a minor attempt to resist, yet still reached out to send another vague emotive token. He understood. The title of the message he resent was a code. She saw the simplicity of the plan and easily bypassed the manacled matrix codes and hacked through to message him back.

An un-coded and open communication broke through and his charm bounded across the energy waves and hit her like a monsoon. She crumbled to the floor. His smile, wavering in the three dimensional imagery, enticed her eyes that threatened to roll ecstatically back into her head.

Both hands pulled at her hair and she slammed her eyes shut to block the image with no success. The novice forced herself into slow breathing, muttering quiet pleas for self-control.

Tomorrow was a big test day for her Temple novice class and she needed sleep.  She could not allow her innate default responses to control her behavior tonight. But her blood boiled in its habitual fashion and pushing up to her knees she continued begging the peace of Life to fill her and release her from the agonies of the rising that threatened to overtake her senses.

The three dimensional image introduced himself as,

“Ropholo is the name I am called.” The image winked at her. “You should offer lessons to other goddesses in writing profiles.” He looked her over, “Are you truly as amazing as your profile declares.”

Filly grinned blindly from her seat on the floor,

“I promise I only speak the truth,” she stated, “usually more truth than most can bear.”

He laughed in lusty delight,

“I am glad you messaged me and cracked my code.”

Her body began rocking and she forced a serene response,

“Your code was clear and precise. I thank you for its simplicity.” She felt the rise build again, “but I am afraid I am unable to talk just now, perhaps later we can . . .”

She couldn’t even finish her sentence, but rather hit the source button and the flowboard screen blipped black.

“Not again.” Was her only whimper as her body quivered allowing the chemical take over and a bursting sweetness filled her. The marathon of contractions and convolutions exhausted her and she gave in to the pleasurable transformation.

A lion’s roar caused the guarding Temple Strategists to jump to attention. They ran along the hall banging on the young novice’s doors waking those already asleep. Everyone was questioned and sleepy voices answered grumpily.

“No. No one was practicing anything and there was obviously a huge misunderstanding. Everyone knew the rules and all Energy practices were contained as the young students prepared for their final testing tomorrow.”

But when they knocked on the door of the most promising of all the new students, they found their confession.

“Filly? What’s going on here?” Secondary Officer Schmidt was shocked.

Filly smiled guiltily,

“I’m sorry Blue,” she was quite friendly with the Strategist, “I couldn’t sleep and so I was on-sourcing some extra research.”  She stepped away from the flowboard controls and closer to the young militant. “I guess I had the volume turned up too loud. I’m done, now. I promise I’ll go to bed.”

S.O. Schmidt had a soft heart toward the eager novice. Not only was she as lovely as all the other young girls, she was remarkably intuitive and already confirmed for early graduation. He weakened slightly,

“Just be sure to be alert for deep water surveying tomorrow.”

“I will,” she smiled and waved as he closed her door.  It was odd, he noticed, that her room should be so messy. It was quite unlike her.

The next morning, before testing began, Filly re-opened her personal message filter and heard Ropholo’s final remarks,

“I am off to work,” his recording informed her, “and there is a minor chance I may not be able to reconnect for a couple of days.” She slumped on the bed, completely annoyed that such a brief interaction could create such disappointment.

Ropholo’s message continued,

“I’d like to chat with you further. Such a creature as you shouldn’t be prowling second rate matching sites.” His image winked deliciously at her and flickered off.

Filly growled quietly and made her way down to breakfast.

Exercises and testing came in the form of guard duty. The novices were to follow S.O. Schmidt’s lead and conduct sweeping surveys of the oyster farms located in the Temple’s river source. This required use of their newly acquired deep water skills.

They were buddied up and told to check each-other’s breathing gear before diving off into the under cavern waterways. They swam in teams out to the underwater farms.

Filly and her buddy, a rougher boy from the inner city began their pass-over in regulated style.  The boy was too independent for Filly’s taste as her life depended, to some degree, on his partnership.  As she feared, he began swimming off on his own explorations instead of staying within visibility of the rest of the team.  She had no choice, but to stay with him and hope they would be able to regroup without too much difficulty.

Suddenly he turned to her and blew a burst of excited bubbles pointing in dramatic slowness through the dark water to some flashes of light behind the opposite reef. Dubiously they swam to investigate.

Another lone diver was there using his energized light beams to pry open some of the older growing oysters. He already had a bulging bag of inappropriately acquired pearls. Filly’s diving buddy instantly swam toward the thief unsheathing his metal blade in a threatening manner. She held back slightly.

The lone diver looked up and waved politely with one hand while squeezing his other hand on a small siren strapped to his belt. The water logged siren wail caused the cavern wall behind him to come to life.

Numerous sharks of all sizes suddenly descended on the three and the rougher city boy nearly disappeared in a cloud of panic filled air bubbles.  He began rapidly ascending through the finned crowd.

Filly pushed anxiously through to him as quickly as she dared, but saw the lone diver reach his feet first and pull him down. There was a struggle and blood was drawn from someone. She swam in unity with the frenzying sharks and to the city boys surprise she helped the lone diver drag him deeper into the blue cold.

On the river floor, Filly grabbed the city boy’s face and held it mask to mask with hers and gestured a regulated pattern for his breathing. His panic settled, but fear and too much nitrogen kept his eyes bulging. She slowly helped him swim in a straight line up, pausing every five seconds to regulate his breathing again. Sight of the lone diver was lost as they passed through the constantly moving grey fins and jagged teeth.

By the time they reached the surface Filly’s face was red with rage. She ripped off her mask and spat the breather out in disgust,

“What in hades makes you think I shouldn’t gut you and feed you to those sharks?”

The boy wasn’t sure which option was more terrifying, the sharks below, or the young girl in front of him.  He stuttered,

“What’d I do? That thief nearly drowned me.”

“That ‘thief’ regretfully saved your life.”

“He tried to drown me!” The victim sputtered.

“No, he stopped you from ascending too quickly so your lungs wouldn’t explode.” She glared at him.

He continued defending his stupidity,

“But, the sharks . . .”

Filly almost smacked him,

“They were Grey Nurse sharks, you sandal, they don’t even attack the upland Bacht, let alone harming a Trevel.”

S.O. Schmidt’s head bobbed to the surface and he queried with genuine concern,

“What’s going on here?”

The boy stuttered again,

“We found a rutting thief and he nearly killed me.”

Filly sat suddenly feeling a little light headed and queasy. Perhaps her counting had been off in the adrenal rush and they had still surfaced too quickly.

Schmidt climbed onto the dock,

“We found your thief and have him caged and rising even now.”

The boy began babbling and suddenly threw up. A healing crew rushed to him and laid him on a crisp bed preparing to take him off to the recovery quarters. Filly began feeling better with her slow breathing and waved off the healing assistants.

The cage slowly rose up out of the water and the prisoner within looked completely at home sitting casually on the bottom holding a bloody arm bandage. Schmidt reached between the bars and tore the breather gear off revealing that delicious smile of Ropholo’s charming grin,

“Hello Filly,” the captive ignored his cage, “fancy running into you so soon.”

“Ropholo?” The young novice blinked the black spots away briefly but then they took away the light.

Ropholo watched her sink to the ground and pointed to the healing aids, calling out,

“You might want to see to that one.”