Edgj, a young girl of flesh and flowmetal, takes to the ocean for her first proper hunt. A sci-fi coming of age story set in the distant future, a posthuman age of cybernetic aquatic cultures.
The sun glaring down in Applonian disapproval, throwing down sharp daggers of light, piercing the waters beneath, their blades distorting beneath the churning waves. A webwork of translucent pipes, the rootwork of a dead city rotting on the shore, coiling through the seas below. A girl, of flow metal and flesh, sliding down the glass on her belly, the entire network interlacing with schools of fish.
The girl, designation, Edgj, slipping down a glass pipe, trusting it to lead her to the right direction.
Triple-layered eyelids snapping shut, flipping past the files stored in her internal computer, and picking her one and only other nanite template. Instructions shooting down her neural pathways to the nanites that made up her legs. The metal flowing, shifting, mindlessly following the directions.
Her ancestral human legs, the signs of hatchlinghood, vestiges of a lost age, melting away, becoming a tail, perfect for lashing out at fish. Stray memories of the technicians floating through her mind, their voices echoing , "Your tail has been patterned after a thresher shark. Cherish it. Be worthy of it. Do not fail, if you do, it will be harvested from you and reused."
The awkward feelings of having legs disappearing, eyes clicking open, head looking back, examining the new lower half. Sleek. Streamlined. United. Gleaming by the daggers of the light piercing it. Lashing her tail, Edgj, rejoicing in the feeling of now belonging to the water. No longer a young awkward legling.
Water spilling off the pipe's end, becoming a green waterfall, algae curtains framing it. Diving into the water, sleek as a knife, Edgj splashing into the seawater. The small pipe feeding into the main one, it was huge, the outside ocean weighing down on it, the pipe never giving in. Edgj swooshing down the main pipe, riding the current that rushed through the transparent pipe.
Fish swarming throughout the ocean waters of the bay. These pipes were once used to harvest fish and vacuumed the massive harvests into the factories of what is now the Iron Ruins, lodged between the rock cliffs. Now they were just used as a transportation system between the bay and the Technician's sector, the Silicon Nests.
Ejecting into the open ocean, Edgj shooting into the water, slicing through the numerous schools of fish. Tail whipping and slamming through the masses, stunning the swimming delicacies. Each piscine mass resembling a shimmering undulating monster. A delicious-looking monstrosity to Edgj's triple-lidded eyes.
Each fish swimming through the water, sending waves of echoing motion to Edgj's primitive lateral lines running down her sides. Untrained, each wave of motion, was overwhelming, the very ocean breathing, expanding, inhaling. Dulling her lines, switching to another sense for tracking prey.
A two-pronged taste sensor, known by the old human language of Engl1sh as a t0ngu3…? Edgj wasn't sure, the old language files were ancient, passing on to each new batch of Neophytes by the elder Assemblers of the Hatchery Factories. The files fragmenting with each passing century, agonizing the archivers. Triple-lidded eyes tracking the light ricocheting off the fish, bringing her focus back to the hunt.
Her t0ngu3 worming through her lips, tasting the water, wriggling like bait, lacking the advanced taste sensors of her Elders. The prongs went diagonal. Down. Sideways. There…her t0ngu3 pointed upwards...it alerted Edgj to a small shining mass up next to the sun-dappled surface. These were the fattest, plumpest fish in the vicinity.
Her third eyelid snapping shut over her eyes, heat patterns of the fish pinpointing throughout her visual interface. A scope setting on the school above. Sighting target. Bioluminecent lights running down Edgj's streamlined spine, across her brow, up her legs, down her arms, and striped across her flat chest; flashing a very dangerous alluring red. Warning others of bloodlust.
Metallic spines adorning her arms, twitching, fluttering . Daggers shooting out of her flowmetal arm. Finsail on her spine, snapping open. Pointed blades jutting out of the sail, glittering in the sun, the panels collecting energy. Tail thrashing the water, swimming towards the surface, leaving behind the gaping maw of the pipe.
Sonar booming throughout the water, attracting her attention, catching her by surprise, the language file flashing in her mind. Creature known in ancestral Eng1sh as…D0lph1n? The sonar disturbing her audio receptors, triple-lidded eyes shutting in the act of grimacing. Her thermal sensors indicating warm blood, mammals. Heat vision on.
Edgj's gills, adorning her side, flaring in annoyance.
Her real target. The scope sighting the red flashes across her vision. In the past, when she was a mere legged Neophyte, the not-fish, always interrupted her hunting. They would whisk the prey away from her , teasing her, her legs being far too slow to catch up to them. Their odd wiggly appendages that stuck out of some of them would harass her. Lashing her tail, bringing her closer to the surface. But with this…it was time for payback.
The technicians wanted information on the D0lph1n's in exchange for the tail. Fair enough. Upgrades and information was their currency. Always was, always will be.
Fishlike red flashes, but airbreathing, herding the fish with bubbles. The red-orange heat tapestry of fish, now a flurrying confusing ball of heat waves, the piscine mass growing denser. The red d0lph1n flashes slicing through the water, into the heat ball, harvesting their prey with their snouts.
Edgj spearing through the ball, blood trailing off her, mockingly plucking the fish off each flowmetal spine. Swallowing it whole, the tail disappearing into her mouth, devouring the head of the fish. Last. Fish dispersing into confusion. Disturbing the hunt. The red flashes chasing after her in frustration, Edgj looping , weaving, threading, herself through rock structures, old metal beams, sunken ships, and ancient structures that once scraped the sky.
Her internal engines whirring through the whole chase, water going through her gills and jetting out of her back vents, propelling her. U-turn. Edgj rushing towards them, the d0lph1n flipping around, the chase reversing. But too late. Steel nails clawing, digging into smooth slippery skin of the mammalian red flashes. Nanite programming flashing in her subconscious, commands spiking down her neural nets, metal flowing and changing.
Tail shifting. Erupting into legs. Sharp, sleek. Like a blade. Armed and tipped with razors. Gripping and clawing her way up from the red flash's tail to the head. Holding on for dear life as the inferior animal went buckling and snapping below her. Heat version sharpening. Sprawls of veins and organs mapping out before her, the internal workings of her mammalian prey. Sighting target, right inside the head. Scope narrowing.
Pain exploding through the red flash, blade slamming through the skull. Nails scooping out its fleshy prize. Mammalian organic eyes closing, in death. D0lph1n body collapsing, sinking into the watery depths. Blood following.
Throbbing brain, wrinkles mapping the red flash's primitive life. Silvery hand, razor-studded, clenching it tightly in her sandpaper skin triumphantly. Flowmetal nails digging into it, blood dancing in the waves. Surface sun shimmering down on Edgj and her kill in Apollonian approval. Brain disappearing into her gaping maw….metal gnashers gleaming, rasped toothed tongue wrapping around it, prized meal going down into the depths.
A net of red water. Iron wafting into her olfactory sensors. Her eyes snapping open, third eyelid drifting down, world exploding into shifts of blues. The thermal tapestry of the ocean fading away. Red dangerous -alluring bioluminescent lights dimming, becoming obnoxious dirty orange, becoming putrid yellow, fading into seaweed green.
Sleepily drifting into Bacchanalian ecstasy along the currents, exhausted from the hunt and the kill, Former red flash memories downloading into her subconscious from the brain she devoured. Her nanites recording the cellular memory, collecting it into the databanks for the Techs to study.
Waves carrying the red flash carcass, a funeral procession, tossing and turning, blood intertwining with the water, flowing and weaving, tendrils gently caressing the dead, a bride's blood-splattered dress on her wedding night, virginity gone. Purity dead.
It was Edgj's first major kill.