Pitch-a-Week Part 23: The Horse Latitudes

So, I’m hauling about three thousand tons of ore for a Factor I’ve worked with before. Good guy, and cautious. He’s willing to pay the extra freight to go submersible instead of paying ransom, and I’m happy to get work and keep the tub in repair.

Anyway,  we’re about 100 meters down, smooth as glass when we go dark. Can’t tell which way’s up, sonar’s pinging every which way, GPS and inertial guidance are clanging off of each other and I’m holding steady, looking to stay away from the crush or from Scylla. Next thing I know, I get hailed. Old school, Morse code. One word.

Treats.”

Then the sonar goes buggy again.

Treats.”

Then everything goes clear.

I got the hint before they hit me a third time, jettisoned the cargo and cleared out. Surface transport was waiting to pick it up, and I pinged the pod swimming picket around it. Turned out it was Plague Dog’s vet pod, switching it up from rustling to open piracy. There’s a bounty on Plague Dog, but how do you hunt down someone who only goes to port to get paid?

And that’s why I punched that tourist out. Dolphin tattoo on her ankle. Who does that?

–          Leilani Barba, freelance submarine pilot

High Concept:   Deadwood in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Genre: Grungy, slightly nihilistic ocean punk

Overview: In the beginning, there was Leviathan.

The Leviathan, a state-of-the-art floating reclamation vessel, shipped out on an unending mission to harvest and recycle the detritus in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and inspired a rush to the ocean. Aquaculture, deep-sea mining and refineries, energy-production plants and support habitats flourished in Leviathan’s wake, transforming the North Pacific Gyre into a manmade archipelago while biotech research focused on exploiting this new frontier to the fullest.

When government funding for Leviathan dried up (no one remembers now which government was footing the bill, but it hardly matters,) her captain  brought the vessel to a halt and declared Leviathan City a free port, offering up the bounty of the sea to any who’d pay.  

Twenty years later, Leviathan City continues her slow circuit through the Gyre, belching clouds of smoke as she continues to digest decades-old waste. A generation of Drifters, the descendants of those first settlers, ply the waters in her wake, selling their wares to Factors who represent the offshore corporations, the increasingly silent mainland and their own mysterious interests. Deep-water MERrows genelifts swim through the darkness, while their MERman brothers and sisters homestead on homemade atolls and freebooting cetacean veterans put their training and hardware to use in everything from exploration to piracy to protection rackets.

And, as the mainland grows darker and more desperate and the offshore corporations become states in all but name, the Drifters begin to prepare themselves for the inevitable storm.

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