Much of the planet was still recovering. History books were only now being rewritten, much of their content being drawn from the oral history passed down from one generation to the next. Along the way, some stories grew out of proportion to the truth and others stopped being told. The authors of the history books saw this as a way to heal the planet. For others, the solution lay in rediscovering the natural world.
“Aye Calypso the places you’ve been to”
Mariana Lee fell in love with the sea at a very young age. She was fascinated by tales of crossing the Great Lantic Ocean during the ancient days. Wooden ships pushed forward by the wind caught her imagination. Most of what she learned about the sea-going ships were passed along as oral history. Monstrous waves battered the ships against rocks. Whirlpools swallowed them whole. The ocean was a dangerous place, or so the stories told.
The few video records that survived were documentaries of ancient scientists who studied the ocean and the creatures that lived there. She had even learned a song from one of the videos – Calypso. She would often sing herself to sleep to the melody.
She often day-dreamed about sailing ships and submersibles. Mariana believed that her calling lay in the Great Lantic Ocean and its saltwater denizens. Her father, impressed by her skill at dissecting the freshwater food fish that he farmed, encouraged her to pursue a career in Healing Science. Being a dutiful daughter, she honored her father’s wishes.
“The things that you’ve shown us”
When the opportunity arrived to study at the University at Oceanside Land, she leapt at it. The Lantic was a stone’s throw from the citadel and listening to the waves break upon the shore was music to her ears. The sound of waves hitting the beaches often played in the background when she studied.
She specialized briefly in human midwifery before branching out into general midwifery. General midwifery allowed her to study the development of many species and make comparisons to her own. The saltwater environment of the embryonic sac only fueled her desire to explore the ocean. Occasionally, she would venture outside the citadel to collect specimens for study. Her interest in saltwater zoology did not go unnoticed by the University Superior at Oceanside.
“The stories you tell”
Her studies took her to saltwater tidal pools where various forms of sea life were trapped during low tide. She carefully sketched each creature on her video. She made observations of their interactions with other creatures within the pools. Because saltwater was unpalatable, it was commonly believed that saltwater creatures could not be eaten. One day during an outing, Marianna observed a shore bird grab one of the side-walkers and carry it off. She made a record of the bird ripping apart the side-walker and devour it.
Her keen observation led to a study of the habits of shore birds and their food preferences. The food most often selected by the birds would be taken back to be tested for toxicity and palatability. The side-walkers and Athena shells were quite delicious when steamed. On several occasions during high tide, the birds themselves became prey to creatures that preferred deeper water than the tide pools provided.
“Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit”
Mariana made detailed records of everything she discovered during her days at the shore. Every creature that emerged from the sand, every sea plant that washed ashore, every encounter with a denizen of the sea was noted. And when she returned to her class in Life Studies, she gave lectures that earned applause from her classmates and her Story-master.
Her stories about her discoveries earned her the right to continue to lecture as a Story-master in a newly declared specialty – Saltwater Life Studies. After a time, an old word resurfaced and Life Studies renamed itself Biology. Every newly discovered record on the subject of saltwater biology would be sent to her for review. Most of the recordings were badly damaged and some were indecipherable. But she kept them anyway.
“The men who have served you so long and so well”
Mariana kept venturing out into deeper water. She would request use of aerial transports for her forays into the ocean, but she still was just scratching the surface of a deep-water mystery. Some of the creatures came to the surface to greet her. Most were displaying curiosity, while a few were menacing.
She wanted her own floating laboratory. She wanted Calypso, but she would settle for an old barge as long as it was seaworthy. Much to her surprise, her dreams were about to be realized in the creation of a submersible named Cetacean.