An excerpt from Otters In Space 3: Octopus Ascending. If you’d prefer, you can start with Chapter 1 or return to the previous chapter.
Emily’s world had ended before.
A prismatic kaleidoscope of lives had hung around her. Strings of seed pearls; each pearl an entire life waiting to unfold; an entire life she had created.
Before Emily had laid her eggs, she’d been a chef like she was now. That was her first life. And she’d shed it entirely, like a snake’s old skin, when she’d felt the urge to lay her eggs. She’d retreated to a nursery cave — like the ones in Choir’s Deep, except Emily had lived in a much smaller octopus city, much deeper in the ocean. Their ways were different. More ceremonial, less metropolitan. More bound by tradition, but it was a tradition Choir’s Deep octopi scorned. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 30: Emily”
Blackness. Beautiful, soothing blackness. Not the infinitely deep blackness of space, nor the red-green blackness behind closed eyes, but a swirling fractal cloud of blackness. Watery blackness. Ink. Enough ink to be from a dozen octopuses.
When the water cleared, all the octopuses were gone. Kipper doubted for a moment that she’d seen their yellow eyes at all. Then she saw subtle crinkly curves in the gray metal walls. It was like an optical illusion — if she focused her eyes just right, all the walls were covered with clinging camouflaged octopi. If she let her eyes unfocus even a little, all she saw was plain metal walls. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 29: Kipper”
Kipper was trying really hard to believe she could do anything. More specifically, she was trying really hard to believe that she could swing a magnetic grappling hook across empty space, snare a passing raptor vessel, and successfully board it as the Jolly Barracuda passed it by. Trugger had explained how it would work to her a hundred times. She’d had weeks to get used to the idea — numb to it even — but now that she was wearing her spacesuit, standing in an open airlock and staring that empty space directly in the eye, she couldn’t believe she’d let herself get into this situation. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 28: Kipper”
Kipper kept and coveted the secret of Siamhalla’s missile armament, coddling it close to her heart, hoping it would be the salvation she needed. Of course, the octopus brigade that escorted her and all her otters back to the Jolly Barracuda might not give her credit for saving Earth from the raptors if Siamhalla did it. They might want to drag her back to their cartoon court and convict her of war crimes. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 26: Kipper”
Jenny and Ordol landed Brighton’s Destiny lightly atop the Europa base. It touched down like a lonely whirligig maple seed that had spun its way improbably down through an arctic sky to the surface of an iceberg, a small stretch of cold land, floating on Europa’s choppy gray ocean.
Wind whipped through the hatch when Jenny broke the seal. The door swung aside, and Jenny climbed out of the ship. Ordol followed her, clambering over the flat ground like a basket of snakes slithering together in a complicated knot. The sky above them was clear and bright with stars. Jupiter hung low on the horizon, where it should be — far away, rather than under Jenny’s paws. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 25: Jenny”
The giant malachite stalagmite towered in front of Kipper like an underwater skyscraper. The octopus tour guide led her, Trugger, and Captain Cod into an opening at the base that turned into a dark, narrow, winding tunnel. After several sharp twists and turns, the tunnel opened into a conical chamber that must have filled nearly the entire stalagmite.
The octopus city outside the stalagmite had been a heady visual opera of colors and motions. The inside was literally dizzying. Kipper had to turn her head down and close her eyes, shutting the visual noise out for a moment before she was ready to face it again. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 24: Kipper”
Every piece of paper in front of Petra told a story. The rows of numbers; the columns of… pointless, stupid text that meant nothing to her. The story the papers told was one of frustration and boredom. She wanted the papers to tell a story of corruption and secret societies, money being funneled into an underground military complex — an army that would rise up from their massively expensive hidden bunkers to save Earth from the raptors — all because Petra found the number trail leading to them in these papers. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 23: Petra”
Jenny would have given up eating clams forever to have a tour guide who simply held out a tentacle — or talon, as the case may be — and pointed to the most precious part of Corjovis. That would have been invaluable tactical information. Instead, she had two eager raptor younglings crouched behind her, calling up video and sound files on their computer pad, seemingly to show her their favorite pop songs.
Raptors danced on the touchpad screen, literally shaking their tail feathers to the rhythmic, stuttering screeches that emanated from the device. Jenny could only assume it was music. Her helmet computer had trouble keeping up with the sound to give her a translation, but most of the words seemed to be about power or love or murder or freedom or slavery or growth or dinner. The helmet computer wasn’t sure. Its translations had improved a great deal in certainty over the last few hours, but song lyrics tend to be inscrutable in any language. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 22: Jenny”
Kipper didn’t know why the octopi kept sending puzzles to their prisoners, but she wanted Captain Cod and Trugger to stop solving them. Except for the occasional meal of sushi-like rolls and raw fish brought by the dolphins, there was no way to mark the time, but it felt like they’d been held in the dank, watery cell for days. Days of being cut off from the outside world. Days of the raptor ships flying closer and closer to Earth. Days of being wet and useless.
Kipper was restless. Besides, there was something sinister about solving puzzles for captors who never showed themselves. It was time to stop cooperating with their captors. It was time to start planning a way out of this underwater dungeon. Continue reading “Otters In Space 3 – Chapter 21: Kipper”