Episode 3 – First Ten – 1

3

RKG Post #8 – East Ramaxian Coast
Ramaxi`acarol (Southern Ocean)
4 Yubol (June) 2228 – 1520 Hours

Marble colossi marked where each longitude line met the southernmost circle of latitude. Sculpted to resemble historically relevant citizens, the majestic statues of the Ramaxian Gate stood taller than any pre-impact skyscraper and connected a deadly barrier of invisible energy that destroyed any helovx ship entering the Ramaxi’acarol.

The cyber-marine fleet’s lifeforms possessed a string of code in their bio-ware that allegedly protected them; Orny’s decision to set down just outside the barrier testified to its futility.

“Should I call in our position, Komad?” Dox asked, joining her on Ornith’s crown.

“Scouts can ascertain our position if required,” she replied, kicking off her boots and dropping them into the roof hatch.

Dox eyeballed the hatch before setting upon her in shock.

“You’re going into the water, Komad?”

“Not alone,” Sofita replied, stepped out of her uniform pants. “Down to the OA’s, Donmat.”

After a beat, Dox reluctantly tugged at her uniform jacket. She stripped deliberate and slow, her usual speed when taking part in anything that didn’t excite her. She glanced at the towering statue beside them, a marix with its arm raised and palm aimed.

“It’s Balrusok,” Sofita said before diving into the sea.

Dox splashed down several moments later and passed Sofita with those long legs. She climbed onto the bulkhead around the statue’s foot and performed an anxious survey of the sea around them.

“Did the ‘Sixers have uniforms?” she asked, helping Sofita out of the chop.

“These statues are idealized. That uniform’s a Fifth Gen design,” Sofita took a moment to catch her breath. “Why do you donats call all the original-subjects, ‘Sixers? They numbered over one-hundred-fifty thousand.”

“Why do you call them Original?” Dox shrugged. “The Femati were here first.”

“Your genetic ties to the Femati are minuscule,” Sofita reminded. “Your soup came from the Fifth Gen.”

Before announcing a production year, hive Oligax withdrew the recycled mitochondria of a deceased generation from a cryogenic storage chamber called the Genetic Harvester. Fertility engineers used this material to formulate ‘the soup’, a base that, when mixed with a citizen’s makodonic cells, created the Makodonic Patch.

“Is that why there are two years of us?” Dox asked, falling in behind her.

“There are two years of you because the Ninth are vindictive,” she answered, leading the Donmat to an entry door in the big toe. “Open it.”

“When I was a Toob,” Dox spoke as she pulled off the hand-print reader’s box casing and exposed a knot of fleshy cables. “I saw the northernmost one, at Dirtox Point. Our Dokomad told us it was Femitokon, but her uniform was different,”

“Femitokon wears a Primary’s uniform,” Sofita observed the marix tap some numbers into the tiny interface pad wrapped around the cables. “Again, they’re idealized.”

The door slid open, and inside was a circular control room surrounded by monitors that stretched from floor to ceiling, offering a panoramic view of the ocean outside.

“Where’s the watch crew?” asked Dox.

Sofita grinned, “In the head.”

“What’s so funny?”

“Helovx sailors call their ship toilets, the head,”

“That makes no sense.” Dox followed her through the control room.

Exiting out the heel of Balrusok’s boot, Sofita rounded the bulkhead and waved to the Ornith.

“Where’s Orny going?” Dox cried, watching the silvery sphere flap its wings, rise out of the surf, and speed off into the horizon.

Without answering her young charge, Sofita dove into the sea.

Long-distance swimming wasn’t Dox’s strongest suit, but her long legs allowed her to keep up for the five hours it took them to make landfall.

Marixi reached their physical peak around age twenty, as evidenced by Dox mounting the jagged shoreline with ease. Sofita, however, felt all her forty-three years while spread-eagle on the crags, gasping for breath; hizaki experienced no physical peak.

“Where to, Komad?” Dox eagerly jumped in place.

Sofita took a breath, “Our destination is the Fairgrounds,”

“It’s this way,” Dox declared, jogging off into the white.

Sofita trudged after her in the packed snow and found herself unable to maintain the young marix.

“When I was thirteen, I accompanied my sib up here,” she yelled over the tundra wind, slowing the Donmat down. “She had a surface-final coming up. We came up here to get a feel for it.”

“My first time on the ice was amazing,” Dox shouted.

“Mine was pitiful,” Sofita confessed, huffing beside her on the snow. “Obscene white, in every direction. I’m still unable to navigate.”

“It’s not hard,” Dox bragged.

“Your caste is born able to keep your bearings over terrain lacking visual cues,” Sofita felt her chest loosen as her body acclimated to the run. “Before acquiring the Shell, I enrolled in a bizak-led course on tundra awareness.”

“Bizaki got to learn it,” Dox laughed. “Bellies struggle, too, right?”

“Only subaki can navigate the white like you,” said Sofita.

Doc huffed, “I thought that was a myth.”

“No longer a myth with your generation,” Sofita reminded.

Oxygen intoxication had been the leading cause of death among the original subaki.

Subaki suffered from congenital fematcolx, a genetic connection to the ancient Femati that gave them the tiniest alveoli of any caste. This condition mutated further after the Femaki’xirpaxul’s demise, with eight out of ten subaki born with smaller than normal alveoli. Those affected who spent more than a day on the surface succumbed to fematicolixa, a respiratory failure that helovx called hyperoxia.

The Subcolax Corrective, sponsored by Velto Wram during her days as a representative, entered the lungs of unborn subaki and altered the dwarfed alveoli’s development. It enabled young subaki to serve between the poles, attend sporting events, and acquire Surface Operational positions.

Further inland, conversation proved impossible with winds whipping from every direction. Hours passed before Sofita felt her feet sinking deeper into the snow.

“We’re losing density,” she shouted.

“We should keep going!” Dox called back.

Ramaxia’s eastern icesheet had been the only one to survive the planet’s Dark Years, its girth greater since Zealandia’s rise brought bouts of rain that fell as snow. Forced glaciation miles below kept the Prime Ramax stable, but fresh pack proved loose enough to swallow a femmar whole if she wasn’t careful.

 

CONTINUE