Beneath the surface of water all seemed still. It was quiet and calming. At times Nui could hear the deep soothing pulses of something distant or the rhythmic clicking of a creature, but they were not threatening or distracting. They provided peace. Nui felt like he belonged here. He had a connection to the sea. His massive body felt weightless, almost like he was floating, ready to fly from the bottom of the sandy ocean floor. He could stay underwater for longer more than most. His eyes were quite adapt to the water, even more than other Agrosapiens. This was due to the crystal blue hue of his irises. At least that is what his mum always told him.
Blue eyes were very rare among Agrosapiens. While they helped see well in the dark and underwater, they responded poorly in extremely bright planets and on tundra planets (like Iselheim III) or desert planets (like Mithra that orbited the twin stars of Asha and F’arr). Even though Agrosapiens were a type of genetically altered human called genies, the geneticists that engineered Nui’s subspecies focused mostly on strength and durability.
Agros, as they are sometimes called, are designed to travel across the stars on colony ships to unknown, sometimes harsh environmental planets. Being the first to arrive on these planets they have to be tough and durable in order to survive. Their skin have special cytoorganelles genetically harvested from Deinococcus radiodurans (a extremophile bacteria) similar to mitochondria, called radiodurasomes, that allowed them to break down and flush radiation from their bodies. They stand taller, some at nearly 9 ft tall. Nui stood at 8 ft 2 inches, nearly 3 heads above an average man. Yet, in this water, home of the largest species on this fringe planet in the Caligula System, he felt normal.
Nui opened his eyes and looked out into the diminishing light through the water. He listened to the surf above for a moment before surfacing. Just as he was to surface he saw a fluorescing purple light half covered by the silicate sand on the sea floor. With a few more seconds of breath he moved in to investigate. As he approached the object he heard sudden ’’whispers’’ in the water. Turning this way and that, Nui jerked around to see what dangers maybe approaching his rear. When he was assured he was alone, he returned back to the purple light. He extended his hand slowly to brush away the sand. Some strange pull kept him glued upon the now pulsing purple light. As his hand drew closer and closer, the light pulsed faster and faster. Then, from the sand the light sprang towards him. There was a sudden pain, and then his vision went to black.
The next thing Nui remembered was waking up on the shore. The two binary suns were nearly past the horizon. The beach was deserted. Darkness crept towards the water, followed by the coldness of night. Nui coughed up some water that was causing his lungs to burn. He drew in a deep breath. As he did so he felt the stretch of something foreign on his neck. He didn’t quite have the breath yet to scream out in horror. Instead he gasped more for breath and groped at the objected clinging to the side of his outer throat. It was rough, but not sharp like the belly of a snake. He could feel it respiration in and out. It was alive. And it was stuck to him. The most curious, strange, and horrifying thing was that when he touched it he could feel it. Not on his hand, as that part was obvious. Rather, he could feel his hand touching back, like the object was part of him. It began to glow that strange purple again.
Headlights burst on spotlighting Nui causing him to cover his face from the painfully bright light. The thing on his neck also surged with pain.
’’There’s one.‘’ A gruff voice said from behind the blinding light and louder than the gentle surf. Two shadows quickly converged onto Nui’s position. Before he could act, a net was thrown over his body followed by a surging electrucal shock. Once again Nui blacked in and out of consciousness. In moments of awakeness he saw the two large figures with “tattoo” markings on their faces as well. They threw him into the back of a rover and shut the door. He blacked again.
Nui woke again, in this other moment of clarity before blacking out a third time, Nui looked up and saw a blurry face of another Agrosapien. He briefly noted an echinoderm like creature protruding from the side of its neck. The organism started pulsating a purplish glowing light like he saw before. The Agrosapien spoke, it was the voice from behind the blinding light.
‘’Interesting, boys, interesting indeed. Look at what these things can do. This will be quite useful, boys. Quite useful.’’ The thing on Nui’s neck started to pulse with purple light matching the other creature’s pulse. Nui’s face began to burn just before the light around Nui’s vision fade to utter blackness. Nui was out.
The rover’s engine ignitioned. The band of brigand Agrosapiens drove away on a dusty road into the night as the third moon began to rise in the sky.
To be continued…