“I think it’s safe to say we’re a new species anyway, even if we’re still the same.” Hailey laughed. “At least we are united under a single ideal on this planet. We even have a singular Scientific Religion.”
“Hey, Hailey,” Wendy giggled. “It’s safe to say we’re ... East... of Eden.”
Hailey groaned, laughing. “Not bad, but needs more smut.”
Wendy started singing an old Simpsons parody of Ina Gadda Da Vida, “In the Garden of Eden honey, don’choo know that I lo-hove you-hoo.”
“Much better,” Hailey almost cackled, and queued up the song on her iPhone so the others knew what they were talking about, at least somewhat.
As they cruised along, barely an hour into their journey, they heard a loud splash, and then another, and another. Someone, or something - or several someones or somethings - were swimming alongside the boat, splashing in and out of the water.
Hailey looked overboard, “Holy crap, we’ve got Mermaids!”
Sure enough, there in the water were three beautiful females - at least their top halves were humanoid females. They had different colored scales around parts of their arms in patches, as well as their necks, and slender, sleek fish tails.
The blonde haired girl had a vibrant purple tail and scales, the redhead had silver-white, and the black haired girl had red. The black haired girl dove underwater and then leapt up until she could grab onto the side of the ship and hoist herself up.
“You speak our language?” she said, sounding surprised. Unlike the other two, she wore an ornate necklace made from rainbow shells like the one Candy used to communicate previously with the gods.
It went without saying that these three girls were otherwise completely naked, although their scales seemed to behave like clothing, growing over the girl’s exposed breasts like a tank top even as she held onto the side of the ship to speak to them.
Ella nodded, “We call it the Universal Trade language, but some people call it English.”
“How long have you been here?” Brie asked, “Oh and do you mind if I take a blood sample?”
The girl looked back down at the other two. “It’s alright. They’re friendly.” At that, the other two leapt up out of the water and held onto the side. “We’ve been exploring these waters for about 20 days, hoping to find a familiar landmark, but you’re the first intelligent beings we’ve met.”
“We’re a half a day into our expedition, if you girls want to come with us. When we return you can join our colony.” Hailey said.
“Is this wise Princess?” the redhead asked quietly. The black haired girl nodded.
“I have no reason to believe they would deceive us,” she answered. “You may also take your blood sample if you wish.” She pulled herself over the ship’s rail and offered her arm.
The other two pulled themselves up over the side. By the time they had landed, they no longer had a long, slender tail flipper, but two very human looking legs, with their more sensitive areas covered by their scales.
“This won’t hurt - it really won’t,” Candy said, as Brie approached to take the samples from each of the girls, it also didn’t take long for her to find the markers.
“You,” the black haired girl said, nodding to Rebecca, “And you,” she nodded to Karen, “are finless, but I do not recognize the other races here.”
Brie spoke up, “I’m Sartoran, and it seems you also share the common DNA marker which makes you a related species to us all.”
“I’m human,” Rebecca giggled. “Karen is actually a half-human and a Natural born here, first generation. We were all brought here, though we’ve yet to determine exactly why or how.”
“Ah,” the black haired girl nodded. “For what it’s worth, finless is just the word we use to describe the land-based people of our planet. They look much like you do.”
“Ah, so there are two sets of people on your planet?” Hailey smiled. “Do your species get along?”
“Sometimes,” the blonde haired girl nodded. “We must be cautious when dealing with strangers because our scales are prized by some as trophies. Most however, are more civilized than that.”
“Well your people's contributions are more prized here than anything,” Candy offered. “It seems our new homeworld wishes to please us instead of the other way around.”
“We had thought it strange,” the redhead said, “Now that you mention it, that all along the way here, we’ve found plenty of star fruit to keep us sustained. I think there’s a patch of it close by, if you’d like some.”
“We’d love a sample.” Hailey said, then started to sniff the air. “Do you guys smell fire?” she asked.
“I do,” Wendy nodded, looking around for signs of smoke as the redhead backed up slightly and then did a backflip dive off the ship and into the water.
“Over there, 4 islands over.” Brie called out. “Seems to be signal fire?”
“Either that, or someone’s hut is burning,” Rebecca said. “That fire’s way too big just to be a cooking fire.” She steered the vessel gently onto a new current, catching the wind and speeding them along even faster.
“Don’t worry about Kindall. She can catch us.” The black haired girl said. “We’ve studied the currents here as well. You may be finless, but you follow them like a Finnari.”
“I’ve always loved the water. Back on Earth, when I got out of the army I bought a small sailing yacht.” Rebecca grinned. “I spent days at a time fishing in the open ocean. Being here is a lot like that, but with more islands,” she added with a laugh.
“I’ve always had a fascination for the finless ships,” the black haired girl laughed. “My people think it strange that I’d be interested in how they travel above the water, rather than under it, but I already know what’s under it.”
“We have ships back home that travel underwater.” Hailey said. “But they can’t go too deep or they’ll be crushed.” As they approached they could see a massive pile of trees burning on a beach - as Brie suggested, a signal fire.
To their amazement, running about on the beach was an entire group of Furren of varying coloration. Some were fanning the fire, while others were running back and forth to find fronds or leaves to throw on and create more smoke. Also to Wendy’s surprise she kind of recognized the uniform they were wearing. It was definitely of a beachwear style, but there were certain similarities too, including a sash with patches on it.
“I don’t believe it,” Wendy laughed. “I think they’re furren girl scouts!”
“Ah, Rescue Girls.” Candy nodded. “Kits of the ages between 5 and 16. I was a Rescue girl. Boys have a similar group called Scout Kats.”
Candy cupped both hands around her mouth and let out a sound not unlike a very loud meow. It sounded almost like Hailey’s cat when she wanted to be let out.
One of the girls stopped what she was doing and returned the call, then they all stopped and started to put the fire out, since it had done it’s job. The Finnari just stood by and watched with some mild amusement and interest.
“Ahoy!” Rebecca called out as they came in close to the island. The ship was designed to beach and un-beach easily and could roll right up on the shore with ease so long as it wasn’t too rocky.
“Thank the gods,” one of the girls, a bright pink furren like Candy, said as they came running over to greet their rescuers. “We went to sleep last night on a wilderness retreat on Furra II, and when we woke up we were here,” she explained, as Kindall waded ashore with a large vine slung over her back.
The vine itself was green with slightly purple leaves, and all along it were huge pieces of yellow fruit, practically engorged with juice. Each fruit had a telltale white star-like mark at the stem, extending outward.
“You girls were doing the reserve camp?” Candy asked. “Getting your Avian badges I suspect? All of you are about 9 to 13 in cycles?”
“Yes ma’am,” the pink girl nodded. “Right on all accounts ma’am.”
“I’m a former Rescue Girl myself.” Candy said. “Is everyone accounted for?”
“Yes ma’am,” the pink girl replied proudly. “All present and accounted for.”
A Furren girl with solid white fur, who had been staring at Wendy and Hailey in amazement, spoke up, though she was still staring. “We heard your war cry,” she giggled. “At first we thought you were a troop leader.”
“I was leader of my Niece’s troop a few years ago.” Candy nodded. “Also girls, we have stardust blue Furren here. It’s not polite to stare at them.”
“Sorry,” the white furred girl said sheepishly. “It’s just so incredible to meet one in person. We were just learning about you in Furran Civilization class last week.”
Hailey smiled and gave the girl a hug. “I’m not a natural born Furran actually.”
“Me either,” Wendy giggled. “This planet has strange mutagenic properties.” She pointed to Rebecca. “We used to be the same species as her and Karen.”
“Ohh.” The white furran said thoughtfully. “So many new species here... I only recognize two of you.”
Rebecca chuckled as she picked up the radio, “This is Expedition team 2 to Heart Island base do you read?”
“We read, Expedition Team, what’s your status Rebecca?”
“We’re good. We have some survivors here, furren kits, differing ages, and we also picked up a new species.” Rebecca called back. “They call themselves Finnari, probably sub-light, underwater dwellers but highly intelligent - and friendly.”
The black haired girl giggled under her breath at that last one. “We try,” she whispered.
One of the furren girls approached the black haired girl. “Your scales are soo pretty.”
“Thank you young one.” the black haired girl replied. “I am Princess Kala. You may just call me Kala though,” she quickly added. “I love your fur patterns, too.”
The girl giggled. “Thank you. It’s an honor to meet you. I’m Leia, and the orange one is my sister Sari.”
“Rebecca can we get your coordinates? We’ll send a boat out for the furren and the others if they wish to return with us.” a woman called back over the radio.
“Brie?” Rebecca asked.
Brie took out an old sextant and, after a moment, rattled off some numbers, seemingly doing whatever calculations were necessary right on the spot. Rebecca repeated them.
“My God,” the woman laughed. “It never ceases to amaze me just how far you can travel in a damned day. Alright, we’ll send a rescue vessel ASAP.”
“I should really teach the other teams how to navigate the currents.” Rebecca laughed, “Either that or Tom can. He’s pretty good at it too.”
“Yeah, I’m sending Tom out with a transport.” The woman replied.
“We will remain here with the young ones,” Kala said. “We can help them find food if the rescue vessel is delayed.”
“No need.” The white furred Furran said brightly. “We’re well versed in survival. It’s part of Rescue Girl training. But you’re more then welcome to stay anyway. We’d love to learn more about your people, your majesty.”
“As would we actually.” Brie laughed.
“The feeling is mutual,” Kala said with an almost bubbly giggle, beginning to let down her guard.
“I can travel with you, if you’d like,” the blonde haired girl offered. “We are the Princess’ personal guard, but if she trusts you, then we do as well.”
Rebecca nodded. “Thank you. Girls when you get back to the colony, there will be a doctor there. She’ll take blood samples from each of you. It’s procedure, but I promise it won't hurt at all.”
“No problem,” the pink furren replied cheerfully. “Thank you for the rescue.”
“It was smart of you girls to light the fire.” Candy said. “We saw it four islands away.
“We didn’t expect anyone to come so quickly,” the orange furren, Sari, giggled. “But we knew it’s best to stay in one place and wait for rescue.”
Kala turned to the blonde haired girl and gave her a hug. “May you swim deep, Zarra. I’ll see you when you return to their colony.”
“It’s yours now as well.” Hailey said. “We are all family. I’m sure our builders will help construct living quarters that will suit your needs.”
Kala looked a little surprised at Hailey’s offer, but she smiled and nodded, as Kindall gave Brie a few pieces of the star fruit - vine and all, for her to study.
“Thank you.” Brie said. “We’re always interested in the plant life of this planet.”
“It’s a staple of our diet where we’re from,” Zarra explained as they boarded the ship, even as Ella was disembarking again to give the girls some fresh supplies - blankets, flint and steel, and even a lantern with a solar charged battery. “The finless consider it a delicacy as well, so it shouldn’t be toxic to you.”
“May I ask,” Hailey asked, “Do you live completely underwater, or do you have some kind of air pocket structures as well? There’s another species of water breathing people in our colony that lived completely submerged, so I’m just curious how your people do things.”
“Our cities are built half above water and half below water.” Zarra answered. “On our homeworld we have a large landmass that we protect - separate from the Finless’ homelands, however we live and even intermarry with them on our landmass as well.”
“Fascinating.” Brie said as she listened. “When you have children with the finless from your land, are your children born with fins?”
Zarra nodded. “It seems to be a dominant trait. Some scholars theorized that we evolved from a common ancestor, and that the responsible trait is a dominant defensive process, from a time when our world was covered almost completely in water.” She flexed slightly, and suddenly, her entire body was covered in purple scales. She relaxed, and they seemed to absorb back into her skin, for the most part.
“Pretty,” Candy said. “Our people, the Furren people used to be feral at one point. We still have the sharp claws of our ancestors.”
“Most impressive,” Zarra nodded. “We have only our wits, scales, and the ability to affect others’ mood with our song, usually to put them to sleep so we can get away,” she laughed.
“Sound familiar?” Hailey asked, glancing at Candy.
“Sound,” Candy repeated, and the three Furren started to giggle.
“Don’t mind them,” Ella laughed. “Furren humor is subtle, and often very crass. In this case though I believe they’re talking about Candy’s signature work.”
“Indeed,” Candy said, still giggling. “I developed a method of treating patients with certain mental disorders through the use of sound to affect their mood.”
Zarra laughed, nodding. “That sounds precisely like what we do, yes. That is incredible.”
“You should hear Brie sing,” Karen said as she came back on deck. “Her people have two sets of vocal chords.”
“Amazing.” Zarra said. “I’m beginning to understand why Kala trusts you. Please... forgive me for my distrust in the beginning. But this is a strange, new world, and we had no way of knowing who our allies are.”
“Oh no, it’s fine, but can I ask you a question?” Brie asked.
“Oh yes, of course,” Zarra nodded.
“Would you mind joining our exploration team as a representative of your people?” Brie giggled.
“Damit, Brie,” Rebecca laughed. “Get out of my head. I was just thinking the same thing. We have no way of exploring the depths, or even knowing how deep the waters go. Your insights would be worth this ship’s weight in gold if we lived on a monetary standard.”
Zarra’s scale color shifted just slightly to a lighter purple, as she blushed. “Oh my... I... I would be deeply honored. Thank you. Any time you wish to know about an area of water I will be more than happy to go and look. I’ll try to be observant when I hunt starfruit as well.”
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