The two suns of planet Mem dancing in the sky filtered by the green of the sea and the light tint of her goggles.
That was the first thing Yujo Sippe Palms saw when she opened her eyes.
The sight of the two orbs in the sky, a sight she saw every time she dived, was something she would always find amazing. She was never quite able to contain her childlike amazement at the sight she saw every time she dove into the sea.
Area G was one of twenty-six that made up the border that surrounded the republic islands.
It had little in the way of cash value left. Divers stripped it clean of anything of value long before Yujo got her license three years ago. For her, the area held a different sort of value. For her, it was the sight the multi colored coral formations and the fish who made it their home.
That sight was an infinite source of amazement for her.
The shrill beep in Yujo’s headphones dragged her back to reality and made her focus on the two suns. Between them, a long stick sat between them and flashed a light back at her.
‘Alright, Alright…’ she muttered at the stick, the boat from which she had dived from.
She turned herself around and looked for a place to anchor herself to the ocean floor and the boat that above her. Clutching the rope that held her harness fast to the boat she took a deep breath and began to swim to the floor of Area G.
Her method of swimming was a sequence of kicks and strokes drilled into her during her as part of her training. After a few moments she had reached the surface. She pulled out a hook from one of the pockets of her diving harness and screwed it into the ground.
She then pulled out a length of rope that rolled out from her harness and clamped the rope's carabiner into the hook's loop.
Satisfied, Yujo swam to the edge of the plane, pulled on the rope and pressed the button on her harness. A second later the rope attached to the boat jumped twice, and a beep rang in her ears. This was her starting gun, the go ahead from the Boat Hand above. Her signal to swim on and explore Area G.
As the light green hue of the sea started to dull into darker tones, thoughts of Yujo's home, began to play in her head.
St. Aldrin’s Orphanage for the Children of the Stars, St Aldrin's for short, was fighting a losing battle to keep itself running. A fight that it would soon lose as its major source of funding, the War Orphanage Fund.
The War Orphanage fund was the cornerstone of the post war relief efforts. It was the government's means of giving the children effected by the Territory war a normal life.
With the funding drying up there was nothing Rosemary Mackenzie, the director, could do. She could hold as many funding drives as she wanted but they alone could never pay the ongoing costs of running St. Aldrin's.The moment they defaulted the child welfare committee would take control.
The orphanage would no longer be a safe haven for children to grow up and find a family. It would become a factory. Preparing orphans for nothing of the outside world except for national service.
Yujo had envisioned becoming a nun of the order like Rosemary. Someone dedicated to helping others like she had been helped in her time of need.
That dream was all but dead now.
A small school of colorful fry-fish glided past her and effortlessly washed away those thoughts. As they swam by they pulled Yujo's attention to the ocean in front of her. Marine life of all shapes and sizes fluttered around in the green sea creating a carnival of light.
Yujo couldn't help herself.
She gasped in wonder at the amazing sight.
With no time to waste she pulled out a small black box, decorated with stickers that had long since faded, from one of the harness' many pockets.
Yujo tapped it and with a spurt a holographic circle popped into existence on the box's surface. With a grumble she turned the box around and saw the school of fish that was swimming in front of her.
Being careful not to scare the fish away, she tapped the top of the box.
With the sound of a click, an enforced feature of the box's camera, Yujo started taking photos of the school. Each photograph captured the school as it swam in front of her like it was a model.
As she took photo after photo, Yujo found herself caught up in the flow of her work.
As she took the last photo, the school acknowledged her existence and scattered like confetti.
Now alone she began to check the photos. She tapped the box again and made a sweeping motion that passed over the box with her right hand.
From the box the photographs fanned out in front of her.
A small smile crossed her face.
It wasn’t much but that small sense of control was something she needed at this very moment.
Rosemary had told her that her father, Alexi Psalms, was a famous war photographer. She had even gone as far as suggesting that some of his talent had rubbed off onto her.
She didn’t know one way or another. The head injuries she suffered in the explosion that claimed his life, as well as the life of her mother, left her without any memories of her life before.
The people in the photographs Rosemary showed Yujo did not register in her mind. They died when she was four. She should have been able to remember them as her mother and father and yet she couldn’t.
She got to the final photograph, the one she took as the school swam away, and sighed. The photograph was a smeared mess. Her camera had failed to capture the fish speeding away in every direction.
Yujo then noticed a peculiar speck in the far background of the photo. Unable to let it go she pressed on the speck twice to enlarge the picture at that precise spot.
As the photo cleared the speck became the clear image of a large striped sea mammal, a tiger dolphin. Five figures, covered in fur and wearing what a fin that covered their lower body, surrounded it.
A feeling of dread washed over Yujo’s body and her back began to tense up at the sight of the bizarre divers. ‘Those are selk. What are they doing here?’ she thought to herself as she looked for cover and found it in a large rock nearby.
Her mind a mess of thoughts she scrambled to turn her terminal back on and reactivate her camera.
Taking care to keep out of sight she pinched the surface out on top to zoom in to take a closer look at the scene.