Sirens the blue planets.., p.1

Sirens (The Blue Planets World series Book 2), page 1

 

Sirens (The Blue Planets World series Book 2)
 

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Sirens (The Blue Planets World series Book 2)


  Sirens

  Darcy Pattison

  Contents

  Sirens

  1. The Depths

  2. A Splash of Cold Water

  3. I am Emmeline Tullis

  4. The Jewel of the Sea

  5. Fish and Chips

  6. Haggis and Bagpipes

  7. Family

  8. Negotiations

  9. The Debate

  10. Merlin Charters

  11. A Tour of Aberforth Hills

  12. Night Swimming

  13. Risonian Fever

  14. Uncle and Niece

  15. Submarine Wreck

  16. Kidnapped

  17. Aberforth Hills

  18. Flash Mob

  19. The Contingency Plan

  20. Old Friends

  21. Mother and Daughter

  22. Phoke.net

  23. The Day After

  24. A Tolerable Planet

  25. Ironic Statistics

  26. Gone Rogue

  27. The Natatorium

  28. Searching for Em

  29. Green Light

  30. The Lion’s Mane

  31. Jake and Em

  32. Rison v. Phoke Anatomy

  33. Anemic

  34. The Enemy in the Natatorium

  35. Retreat of ELLIS

  36. Cousins

  37. Before and After

  38. Blast Off

  Read More: THE BLUE PLANETS WORLD SERIES

  Other Books By Darcy Pattison

  About the Author

  Sirens

  BOOK 2:

  THE BLUE PLANETS WORLD

  Sirens

  by

  Darcy Pattison

  Mims House, Little Rock, AR

  1

  The Depths

  December 10

  Em Tullis stared straight into the eyes of her family doctor, Dr. Max Bari. She was groggy and still sick, but she knew who he was. How did she get here, though? Where was here?

  Weakly, she lifted a hand. Thick glass separated her from Dr. Bari. Was she in an isolation chamber?

  “Hurry!” Dr. Bari called to someone behind him. Through the thick glass, the words were muffled. “She’s waking up, and I can’t give her anything else.”

  Behind Dr. Bari’s head, dark clouds scudded across a pale gray sky. Yet Em felt warm, calm.

  “Get that pod in the water!” Dr. Bari called.

  Pod?

  His face disappeared, and then her world tilted. Em realized that she was strapped down to some sort of bed. She wore a loose-fitting shirt and pants. The container that held her—a pod?—was almost upright now, and there was a flash of blue-gray. Sky?

  Suddenly, the pod dropped, like she was at the top of a roller coaster and was now plunging downward. With a jolt, the pod slammed into something hard, then jerked back upward. Em squeezed her eyes shut, expecting to—what? To die, or to be hurt, or—she didn’t know. Her pod bobbed up and down for a few seconds until it slowed, and then it pitched into a horizontal position.

  She was still alive.

  Em opened her eyes. Her pod was face down in water, and straps kept her in place. Dr. Bari hovered underneath, staring up at her. Yes, it was him. The last time she’d seen him was in her parents’ house. She’d been sick, dizzy. She had walked downstairs to tell Mom that she was feeling worse, and Dr. Bari was there, sitting on her couch, talking to Mom and Dad. She only caught a few words.

  “It’s spelled P-h-o-k-e. You say it, Fo-key.”

  “And Em is a Phoke?” Mom asked.

  Em must’ve made a sound because Dad whirled around to see her standing on the stairs. She was dizzy, and badly in need of a bath and a mouth wash for bad breath. Dad scooped her up, letting her face snuggle into the rough stubble on his neck. She shivered, but Dad murmured soothingly, “It’s okay.”

  He carried her back to her bed upstairs and tucked her in.

  After Dad left, Em hauled herself out of bed, found Dr. Bari’s business card from the hospital sitting on her desk, scrawled a note to Jake and left it under the photo she’d taken when he wasn’t looking. Would he find it?

  No, she thought as she drifted back to the present. The question she needed to know was what body of water was she in? Puget Sound? Pacific Ocean? And why was she here? What was Phoke?

  But she was too sick—or too drugged—to react quickly.

  Dr. Bari gave her a thumbs up and disappeared.

  Groggily, she thought, something is odd about Dr. Bari.

  She felt her pod rotating, and then the sky reappeared, bobbing up and down. Waves. Then, it was a place with strong waves. Probably not Puget Sound.

  There came a roar. Vibrations shuddered through her pod. A motor.

  Her pod tilted again, pointing her feet deeper into the water. The light from the sky slowly faded, and her feet sank into darkness. Her pod was diving, some motor pushing it deeper and deeper.

  Terror gripped her, and Em clutched the fabric sheets upon which she lay. She tried to pull herself to the right to align her body better in the center of the pod, feeling unreasonably that if she could straighten herself, this would all go away. But the straps held her fast; she couldn’t budge.

  Above her a fish flashed past, and then a jellyfish. They were going too fast to tell more than that. But it must be an ocean. Lakes would be much more shallow.

  Where was Dr. Bari taking her? He was supposed to be medically treating her fainting and weakness, some weird kind of illness. But this sure wasn’t an ambulance.

  She blinked. In the distance now was a faint glow. As she watched, the light grew brighter. How was that possible in the depths of the ocean? Then a dark hulk—an underwater mountain—resolved into—no, it couldn’t be. A building. A secret underwater compound? A military installation? What? She wanted to pound on the pod, to demand that Dr. Bari explain what was happening but her hands couldn’t escape the bands that held her down.

  Then it hit her. She had stared straight into Dr. Bari’s eyes. He wasn’t wearing a scuba mask. Or a tank. Or carrying any air. That meant—

  Em squeezed her eyes shut. Dr. Bari didn’t need scuba to breath underwater. That meant he must be a Risonian, a Shark. She’d been kidnapped by aliens.

  2

  A Splash of Cold Water

  December 17

  Jake Rose stared at the massive metal struts of the red bridge above him, amazed again at the contradictions presented by humans. They knew how to turn practical things into things of beauty, but not how to stop species from going extinct.

  David Gordon gestured to a couple cars that had stopped near them. Poking out the windows were long camera lenses. “And did you have to bring the paparazzi?”

  They were just outside Edinburgh, visiting the Scotland National Aquarium. It was Jake’s first “official” visit as the Risonian ambassador’s son, and it looked like the photographers would follow them everywhere for a while. He shouldn’t be surprised. Rison was a planet half-a-galaxy away, the first extraterrestrial contact Earth had ever made. Rison’s planetary core was dangerously unstable, and his mother was trying to negotiate a place on Earth for Risonians to immigrate. Everything he did or didn’t do was under constant scrutiny.

  Reading from a guidebook, Jillian Lusk said, “The Forth Rail Bridge was built in 1890 and is the second longest cantilevered bridge in the world.” She pulled out her cell phone and started snapping photos. Her white-blond hair almost gave her a Nordic look. Here on the North Sea, people often guessed she was Swedish or Norwegian. At 5’11”, she was tall for a high school Freshman.

  “Let me see that,” David demanded.

  She dodged him, so
he grabbed her shoulders. Tall and lanky, he was a head taller than Jillian, so he could see over her shoulder. She pointed to the bridge’s photo in the book. Then, spinning, she put the book in her purse, and ordered, “Stand over here. Let me get your pictures.”

  Jake and David dutifully followed orders.

  As Jillian clicked away—she liked a different photo for each of her social media accounts—David said sideways to Jake, “Is she going to be a tour guide and selfie freak all week?”

  Jake just shrugged. Although the boys didn’t see eye-to-eye, Jake had just hit six feet tall. When they finally got back to Bainbridge Island, he planned to hit the hoops so he could try out for the basketball team. If that failed, he’d join David on the sculling team.

  Jillian sighed and waved at her phone, “Jake, do you ever smile? Every picture I take of you has a frown.”

  Jake put on a fake grin, flashing his teeth for a moment. “There.”

  Jillian looked up from the phone. “I missed it. Of course.”

  A brisk wind blew across Firth of Forth, and Jake turned back to the embassy limo for a jacket. Colonel Lett was already holding it out. Mom had insisted that Jake come along to Edinburgh for a mini-summit with European leaders and more political negotiations, but they’d brought several bodyguards. Today, Mom had needed Colonel Barbena, a female bodyguard for a women’s luncheon. She could pass for a human female, albeit a tall one at 5’10’. Although you never saw Colonel Lett wearing anything but military fatigues or uniforms, Colonel Barbena could wear stylish Earth fashions and blend in with a crowd.

  That meant Colonel Lett, who was usually assigned to Mom, was given orders to protect Jake instead.

  Jake sighed. “Are you sure we have to spend a whole hour in here? Can’t we do something else?”

  “You know your duty,” Lett said curtly. “You can’t ignore it.”

  This was why Jake wasn’t pleased when they were assigned Colonel Lett for the day. With him, it was always about duty.

  Of course, Jake knew he couldn’t shirk his duty. But the responsibilities of being the Face of Rison felt wrong. It was like putting on a mask that perpetually smiled. He hated how it felt so artificial, so forced. His mom expected his help in convincing Earth’s politicians to give asylum to Risonians. But he was no politician. All he could do was smile for a camera. And apparently, Jillian didn’t think he did that very well, either.

  He briefly turned on his cell phone to stare at the screensaver photo. Em. Dark hair, dark eyes. He sucked in a breath of frustration. He wanted to concentrate on finding his girlfriend, who had been missing for three weeks. Em had been hospitalized with a mysterious illness, and when she went home from the hospital, she simply disappeared. Her parents were gone, her sister was gone, and Em was gone. He’d found her doctor’s business card with two words scrawled on it: “Phoke. Help!” No one knew what it meant. After an Internet search, the only place he saw the word Phoke used was in Scotland.

  Jake had convinced Mom that the teenage Face of Rison needed to be seen with human teens, so David and Jillian had been invited on the Edinburgh trip. Of course, they weren’t human; they were Risonian also, part of an advance group of Risonians who had lived on Earth for over a decade. Since they’d grown up on Earth, they knew almost nothing about Rison. That meant their behavior was like that of any American teen, and they’d be good cover. And because they weren’t human, Jake wouldn’t have to be on his guard all the time.

  Most importantly, though, his friends could help him locate Em. If only he didn’t have these official duties.

  Jake strode resolutely toward the aquarium that lay under the massive bridge. Better to get this over with.

  “Good morning.” A red-cheeked blond lady with curly hair and blue eyes met them at the door. “My name is Enid Ways, and this is Fairfax Lyme. We’re your guides for the day.”

  Since Christmas was this week, green holly wreaths with bright red berries hung on every door.

  The man beside Enid, probably of Indian descent with his warm brown skin, wore a Deep Sea World navy shirt and khaki pants. “We’re honored to have you here,” he said. “Earth’s oceans must be fascinating for you.”

  Enid took over the tour guide role saying, “We have a number of exhibits that might interest you, including the Underwater Safari, a tunnel that goes under and through a water tank. But we thought you might like to go behind the scenes first and meet Priscilla.”

  Jillian said, “Priscilla who?”

  “I know,” David said with a quick smile. “I’ve been reading the Edinburgh newspapers online. You’ve got an octopus.”

  Fairfax nodded at David, a gesture of approval. “Not just any octopus,” Fairfax said. “A wee little, wayward octopus.”

  “Exactly,” Enid said with a tinkling laugh. “She’s been a handful.”

  Jake raised an eyebrow, so Fairfax launched into a story.

  “She’s pure dead brilliant, she is, at escaping. Seven times, she’s climbed out of her tank. Octopuses are hard to keep caged. Outside the water tank, they can walk—after a fashion—and can hide in tight spots that make them hard to reach.”

  “Can’t you just grab a tentacle and pull them out?” Jillian asked.

  “First, it’s not tentacles,” Enid said. “A tentacle only has one sucker and octopus arms have suckers along the whole length.”

  “And no,” Fairfax said. “Each sucker might have 500 pounds of force, and they have over 1000 suckers. You’d never just grab an octopus’s arm and hope to pull her out of anything.”

  Wistfully, Jake thought, Em would have loved this. Anything about the ocean fascinated her.

  Enid led the way into a spacious but dimly lit room. Before them were three square water tanks, each about four feet tall. Made of thick, clear glass, they were accessed by a two-step set of wide stairs on each side.

  The top glass of the tank was hinged about three feet back. Fairfax on one side and Enid on the other, they folded back the top. Then, Enid knelt on the top step and slapped the water lightly.

  Something deep in the water flashed, and suddenly an octopus pressed against the glass right in front of them. The air smelled salty and fishy, a comforting smell to Jake. And the octopus absolutely captured his attention.

  Priscilla was a curled octopus, Enid explained, common in the north Atlantic and North Sea. They were fairly small, maybe twenty inches long. Rusty red with white spots, her body and legs were exquisitely proportioned. Jake had assumed an octopus’s legs just dangled. Instead, she had hers tucked up under her body. She looked like a polite old lady with her hands folded in her lap.

  Suddenly, Priscilla rose until her eyes were above the water, and she stared at her visitors. Her dark eyes scanned Jake up and down.

  Jake shivered in delight. She was amazing.

  “She’s quite intelligent,” Enid said, “and she knows each of her caregivers really well.” She pulled off her t-shirt, revealing a waterproof vest, and then plunged her hands into the water. “Her tank is really cold because she normally lives over 50 meters deep. For you Yanks, that’s over 150 feet deep.”

  Fascinated, Jake watched as Priscilla’s arms reached for Enid and encircled her, suckers gently undulating like the octopus was licking her—or tasting her. Just watching made his own arms tingle.

  Enid nodded to Jake, Jillian, and David. “Would you like to meet her?”

  Eagerly, Jake said, “Yes!”

  On a table beside the tank was a stack of white towels and waterproof vests. Fairfax gestured toward them and said, “Choose one that fits and the bathroom makes a good changing room.” He waved toward marked bathrooms on the far wall. They quickly changed and came out a bit self-conscious.

  Excitement made Jake walk on tiptoe, as if afraid to break the spell that Priscilla had cast on everyone. Swimming in the Risonian seas, he’d seen many strange and wonderful creatures. Compared to them, Priscilla was equally beautiful, but more intriguing. He stopped at the tank and stared at
the octopus who was still playing with Enid. He splashed a finger in the water, but Priscilla ignored him. Maybe his wonder came from the octopus’s ability to choose whether she would be concerned with his fingers. It was more than instinct; there was an intelligence in her eyes.

  He laughed awkwardly. “What if she doesn’t like aliens?” Suddenly, it mattered whether she liked him or not. Risonians needed to be comfortable in Earth’s waters, and that meant co-existing peacefully with most marine life.

  Enid raised an eyebrow and said, “Only one way to find out.”

  Jake stared at the oddly shaped octopus. Humans and Risonians had a head, a body, and then arms and legs. The octopus had a body and a head, and arms came last. That was a more alien body structure than Risonian anatomy.

  He knelt on the top step beside the tank, took a deep breath and plunged his hands into the water. Deliberately, he flapped his hands in the “friend” signal that he would’ve used with sea creatures back on Rison. He’d also used it with sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, and they roughly understood, so it might work here, too.

  One of Priscilla’s arms unwound from Enid. The tip reached for him, moving delicately, cautiously.

  Jake held rigid and allowed Priscilla’s arm to touch his forearm. The tip suddenly flattened and the octopus’s arm lay flat across his entire forearm. The suckers rippled, tickling Jake till he almost threw her off. But then, another octopus arm and another stretched for him. Three arms embraced both forearms. Jake had the absurd thought that it was three arms against two now.

 
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