Chapter One – Arrival (Draft)
Silversides / David Nadas
Chapter One: Gliese 581 Solar System – 2132
Far below the rolling swell of the Monterey Bay where the endless trawl of current hooks along the ocean floor, a giant kelp began to lose its grip on the weakened shale; each surge tearing away the finger-like tendrils, each tear drawing in the Garibaldi that swam nearby. With a final tug the kelp ripped free, igniting a rush of orange through the kaleidoscope of sunlight; the Garibaldi snatching at limpets raining down through the cloud of trailing silt, their jaws no match for the limpet shells snapped in half.
Nori Matsui had been diving nearby hearing these sharp clicks radiating around her, a trigger that it was time to rise. She exhaled through her artificial gills she followed the stream of bubbles rising and crawling along the cave ceiling, ushering her out into the open water and toward the neon light from above. Nearing the surface her gills began to sputter, her breathing labored as if drawing air through a straw. Low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels in her bloodstream appeared on her oculars, a dangerous mix where blacking would come without notice.
Kicking and clawing her upwards, she broke through to the surface and pulled the regulator from her mouth, gagging on its chase of tendrils that slipped greasily from her throat.
After thirty years aboard the starship, Hoshi Akari, Nori Matsui was the first of her crew to be awakened by a custom dream applet. She sat patiently until her breathing settled taking caution not to scratch her pupils with her carbon-tipped fingernails as she peeled away the paraffin covering her eyes. Unclothed and suspended above a bath of orange cryoGel she squinted against the starbursts of neon blue that lined her bay; beyond that was blackness.
The Correlation Engine and Intelligence Lab aboard the Hoshi Akari, known as CEIL, raised the ship’s lighting to a golden hue, simulating the lighting on Dykazza, where its red dwarf sun cast a permanent twilight over the surface.