Planet of Tranquility
A Glimpse of Wonder
The rebreather felt almost weightless against his
shoulders. John pulled the
strap of the device to fit snugly and then looked out toward the waves.
‘We will be back soon,
Silverado,’ he told the flutter-dragons.
In amusement, he watched his grandson, Mark, try to catch each
wave as it flowed across the sand.
Being too small for a scuba-like apparatus, the baby was placed
into a bubble of sorts that would be tethered to either Don or Judy.
to stay?’ came the silver sheened lizard’s plaintive thought.
going underwater,’ John pointed out the obvious.
‘We can go
underwater,’ his companion answered, causing John to turn to the
zanling in surprise.
“You can?” the professor asked, continually
amazed at the abilities of their friends.
The lizard squeaked an amused confirmation.
John heard Maureen’s mental laughter.
Apparently Silverado had been sharing his end of the telepathic
conversation with the others. ‘By
all means, come on, then.’ The
flutter-dragons squeaked and flew intricate patterns in the warm air
currents above their heads. Then the little creatures dove toward the
waves, making tiny splashes as they entered the water.
Penny slipped her rebreather on with the ease of
one who had gone through the procedure before.
Remembering her experience on board the ssHreana ship with the
ssReelen, she was eager to experience the ssHreana homeplaces. Holding her fins in her hand, she waited impatiently for the
rest of her family to prepare themselves for their excursion underwater.
greet you,’ a whispery, flowing voice said in her mind.
asked. ‘Is that you?’
and experience the beginnings of our world,’ Wees invited her.
Laughing, Penny replied. ‘I am waiting for my
family. But I wish they
would hurry. I cannot wait
to see the things you showed me before.’ Looking
over her shoulder, she saw that Will, Judy and Don were almost ready,
the latter working to secure the aqua bubble for Mark.
The baby just laughed at the shimmering light that refracted
through the membranous surface of the bubble.
Her parents were still near the Jupiter II working
with their underwater equipment or talking, she wasn’t sure which.
For some reason, Dad had been somewhat less than enthusiastic
since Weros had talked to them about going underwater.
She felt absolutely no telepathic clues.
‘Dad,’ she finally called. ‘Wees
is just offshore and wants me to come in and swim with her until the
rest of you are ready. May I?’
After a slight hesitation that to her seemed
interminable, he answered, ‘Yes,
Penny. Just stay close.’
With a smile of satisfaction, she waded into the water, her fins
still in her hand, and then dove into the slightly breaking swells.
Although she could still feel the tug of the waves, she was out
far enough to be able to slip the fins on.
Turning slowly, she saw Wees and several of the ssReelen’s
companions nearby, their tube-like bodies floating languidly below the
tops of the waves, the current moving the lacy appendages in graceful
movements like an underwater ballet.
One of the ssReelen approached and then began
floating through Penny’s flowing hair, delicately avoiding getting
tangled in the strands. She
slowly reached her hands up and let the companions drift around them,
their beaklike mouths softly nibbling her fingertips.
This was the same greeting procedure that she had followed in the
ssHreana ship back on Karturm, and she waited patiently for the sea
creatures to finish ‘tasting’ her.
At the same time, Penny was feeling their thoughts drift like
delicate lace throughout her consciousness.
Muted colors and delicate sounds floated and swirled in and out
of her thoughts.
Turning at a leisurely pace, Penny slowly stroked
the water with her fins and traveled a few more yards away from the
creatures flowed into her view and she almost gasped in surprise.
They were amazingly like the porpoises of Earth, only their skin
color was more of an aqua gray than pure gray and they had elongated
front flippers, longer by half than the flippers of their Earth cousins.
low whispery voice sounded in her mind.
It was joined by others; the whole group creating a chorus of
clicks and whistles. Penny
she answered. Turning to
view the entire group, she saw Judy, Don and Mark entering the water.
She hadn’t realized that she was that far from the shore.
‘The water’s fine, Judy. Don.’
Judy casually waved at her as they swam away from the shore.
The baby bounced and kicked inside his bubble, but the device
held steady, bobbing along on its tether.
Will followed closely behind.
welcome to our world,’ a melodic voice said.
Penny thought joyfully. She
heard similar exclamations from other members of her family.
only the arrival of your parents and then we can swim to the reception
center,’ Murreena told her.
coming, Murreena.’ Penny
heard her father’s mental communication before she saw him enter the
worried about you when your arrival was delayed, John,’ Murreena
Murreena was looking intently at her dad and she
sensed that there was a quick recapping of past events flowing
telepathically between the two. The
flutter dragons floated along with the ssReelen and the dolphin-like
creatures, (which she realized were the Shamiril), forming an underwater
kaleidoscope of colors. It
amazed Penny how adaptable the little creatures were.
underwater a long time. Then
go to the surface to breath,’ came Lucy’s bright thought.
With everyone in the water, the entire group
slowly swam toward the Upper Reaches.
As they passed the coral habitats, Penny was astonished at the
myriad of plant and animal species displayed below her.
Lacy, frond-like corals reached up with transparent fingers for
their microscopic dinner, with red and yellow fishes floating between
them. As they swam deeper
she saw some corals with bases as large as tree trunks, and branches
that looked like tree limbs. Penny
fully expected to see squirrel-like creatures dashing along the
underwater limbs and almost laughed out loud when she saw what appeared
to be purplish-brown slugs instead.
These slugs were not slow, however.
They were jetting along, stopping here and there very much like
the squirrels on Earth would. At the end of each ‘limb’ leaf-like protrusions completed
the illusion of trees.
Amused, mirthful laughter floated in her mind.
‘Your Earth trees seem to
be a very apt comparison. Please,
let us see more comparisons during your visit, Penny Robinson.’
Penny looked toward one of the Shamiril.
‘Was that you?’ she
‘Yes, I am
known as Klik.’ More laughter.
‘Actually, I am known as
Kliktlikmrenthlendrkril, but visitors prefer the more simplified
So do I. I don’t
think I could remember your whole name, especially if I meet many of
your people,’ she admitted, laughing along with the female Shamiril.
Suddenly Penny realized she had never learned the name of this
planet. The only
appellation that her family had given it was ssHreana, but she now
understood that the name only referred to Murreena’s people.
Homeplace was the only other term she had heard since they
Earth, we have used the term Homeplace as the name for our planet.
Earth does refer to the land on which you reside on your home
planet, does it not?’ Klik asked.
does. Earth is a sort of
generic term, although in fiction, another name that has been used is
Terra. But Terra really
means the same thing, just in another language,’ Penny explained.
is the best way to say the name of our planet.
That is the term used on most star charts.’
‘It is a
very pretty name,’ Penny
commented and continued looking around her in wonder. Penny knew that if they stayed any length of time on this
planet she would have to come back and explore this underwater forest at
some length. Remotely, she
was intrigued with the offer of the devices that would allow them to
stay underwater with more freedom.
At this point, she felt that she could explore for months and not
back,’ Lucy and the other zanlings chimed.
They zipped toward the surface.
‘More air next time.’
The group swam slowly downward, passing tall
kelp-like growths of bright greens and yellows. The upper tips tickled her legs and Penny paused to watch the
exotic fauna swimming, hunting, hiding amongst the fronds.
A creature that looked like feathers pasted on a stick slowly
floated beneath her. Several
more followed behind. A
sudden tickling sensation caused her to jerk her head down where she saw
tiny crustaceans nibbling at her legs.
you’re getting left behind,’ Dad said.
mind, Daddy,’ Penny said distractedly.
She heard a current of amusement float through her mind.
the feeling, princess, but the others are quite a ways ahead.
We will stay long enough for you to explore,’ he told her.
Sighing, she reluctantly followed.
The group continued swimming until they reached a
dome-like structure, encrusted with corals, crustaceans and waving plant
life. Murreena led the way
through an airlock and into a habitat the size of a small banquet room.
As each member of the family removed their rebreathers, they
looked in wonder at the dome above. The flutter-dragons burst through the airlock and shaking
themselves, flew in spiral patterns around the ceiling of the structure.
The muted sunlight filtered through the spherical dome, blending
with the interior lighting, creating a soothing kaleidoscope of color.
Murreena pointed to chairs scattered around the room.
They appeared to be sponge-like and Penny didn’t doubt that
they were facsimiles of real aquatic life.
“I assume that we don’t have to worry about
getting the furniture wet?” John asked wryly.
course, not, John,’ Murreena answered.
‘This is what you would
term a welcoming center. The
main habitat is reachable with the rebreathers, but is a great deal
further along the shelf. This
reellim will serve the purpose as a place to rest and a place for you to
acclimatize to our environment.’
“What about the Mirin grotto, Murreena?” Penny
not accessible by the rebreathers.
It has, until recently, only been available to those undersea
dweller who are capable of handling the four hundred foot depths,’ Murreena
recently?’ Penny queried.
that Weros mentioned a bio-adaptation device that would enable you to
fully explore our world. It
is a recent development but has been found to be extremely safe,
allowing land dwellers to ‘breath’ underwater, gathering oxygen
without the need of a rebreather. It
also allows for almost instantaneous equalization of pressures from
depth to depth. This device
will allow you, my friends, to fully enjoy my world,’ Murreena
explained. Her joy was
palpable and all felt it.