It was hard, getting drowned the first time.
The second, not so much.
His implants acted like gills, filtering oxygen from the water and pumping it straight into his bloodstream. But he had to fight the instinct every time.
He had to drown, every time.
It was one of the few jobs Clytos could do. He wasn’t qualified for anything. Grunts like him just had menial labour to do these days, and menial labour meant heavy body mods for tasks such as this.
He was building the new oil drilling platforms in the Aegean sea. The oil had been located decades ago, but instead of Greece actually drilling a hole for it and putting it to use, they waited till their loans defaulted and sold it off for peanuts to foreign interests. As in, corps.
So, a corp now owned the Aegean oil and was drilling for it.
Clytos drowned himself properly according to protocol. He had to make sure no bubbles were left in his lungs, so that pressure was equalised and he could swim deep. When he did so, he grabbed the seadrone and it pulled him down into the blue darkness.
Once he got there, the seadrone projected instructions into his field of view. He was seeing normally in the water, all they had to do was add a layer over his eyes, like a permanent contact lens. It refocused light, or something like that, and he could see just fine, as long as there was light.
The drone shone at where the job was.
Clytos picked up a mechanical screwdriver from his toolbelt and started taking out rivets. One by one, the seadrone pointed out the next thing to do, the next tool to use, the exact movement and body positioning he should take.
He wasn’t a very smart man. But he found himself wondering, if the seadrone knew so much about doing the job, why wasn’t it doing it? It had a plasma torch like he did, it had manipulator arms, it had everything.
Nevermind. Clytos would be out of a job if that were the case, so he didn’t want to look under that particular rock.
The Aegean sea was seismically active. So, when they brought the oil rigs out here and sank them in place, they sometimes went out of place. The sea floor literally shifted underneath them.
It wasn’t something they couldn’t fix, but it took some elbow grease.
Clytos spoke, breathing out water. The mic in his throat picked up his distorted voice. It was funny, he could say pretty much anything, but the sounds with the lips didn’t work.
But he couldn’t say ‘b.’
So his report was, “Jo done. Whir to next?”
“Await instructions, Oceanid 3.” The seadrone went silent after that.
So he waited. They must have done something to his body heat too. Oh, he wore a thick diver’s suit, but he felt just fine, twenty meters down. He knew if he took his gloves off he’d lose all feeling in his fingers within minutes.
As he held himself on the oil rig handles, the undersea currents swept him around. He had gotten used to all the underwater effects. It was one thing that he was good at, being underwater. He knew that not all of the guys from his training went through with it, even after taking the mods.
He liked being alone down there, it was quiet.
As he moved with the current, he disturbed something. The rusted metal of the rig’s leg lashed out and swam into his face. It touched him and it was sleek and wet, if you could call wet something that was already in water.
It was an octopus that had camouflaged itself, becoming one with the texture below. Now it was swimming around his head.
He knew that if he was a scuba diver like people used to do, he’d be very scared of the octopus right now. They tended to stick their suckers on the diving mask’s glass, or tangle themselves in the air hose. Some scuba divers would panic and drown.
His father had lost a friend that way. So the warning was etched deep inside him.
But he needn’t worry. So he played around with the octopus. He pushed it to one side and it let him manipulate it with the water wake. It became a sentient ball. Squishy and bouncy and tons of fun.
Now that the octopus had taken its normal, light brown colour, he could see it clearly.
He noticed that it had a stump. So it was a septapod.
“How should I nane you, little shurvivor?”
He played with it. It wrapped one leg around his fingers, then slid away. Clytos chased it, and played some more. It had survived an attack, either a fisherman with a speargun or a bigger fish. He had lost a leg, but had lived to tell the tale.
“I’ll call you Rusty. Yeah, that fits. Rusty.”
Rusty swam around his head.
The seadrone whirred and caught up with him. “Oceanid 3, follow me for your next task assignment.”
Clytos waved at Rusty. “Hafe to go to whork. Nye-nye.”
The seadrone’s side flashed and Clytos covered his eyes. When he looked again, the octopus was cut in half, burned and dead. The current swept Rusty away.
“Next assignment, Oceanid 3.”
Clytos gripped his own plasma cutter. He turned his back to the seadrone and swam back to the rig. It’s not like anyone could see his tears underwater.
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