Centaurian Ch. 05
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All Rights Reserved © 2021, Rick Haydn Horst
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
After making the plunge, Ronan jerked his hand free of the container door. Having left his element, among the broken strings of kelp and the flotsam he had chucked from the ship’s cargo, he found himself enveloped by a world where sound plays a more important part of life than sight. His ears filled with a cacophony of sounds from the ship, a few creaking groans from the metal containers, the motion of the water around him, and every stroke of his limbs as he struggled to swim to the surface, but his efforts came to nothing; he continued to drop with the shipping container which, with every passing moment, inched its way farther from his reach.
He tried not to panic and worked as fast as he could to find a way to reverse his descent; the greater distance from the surface, the less light he would have to see.
He could alter his trajectory by swimming any direction but up, so he returned to the twenty-foot container and ripped the doors from it. As the opening faced the surface, he could see the Honda’s position—the front bumper pointed downward—and most of the straps that held it to the bottom of the container had burned to a few threads that would snap when it impacted the ocean floor.
Due to the width of the container, he could barely reach the vehicle’s unburned driver-side rear tire. It still had air but would weigh too much to have sufficient buoyancy. He used its Schrader valve to inhale air from it, thinking to fill the space inside him that he used for speaking, attempting to make himself more buoyant before it was too late, but the external water pressure had already reached the pressure of the air inside the tire—maybe, 33-pounds per square inch—so the negative pressure in the tire drew water inside rather than allowing air to escape. A few seconds later, the tires tried to implode, but rather than collapsing inward from the vacuum, it broke the seal, and the air he might have used, he lost to the ocean.
He tore open the trunk and scavenged for what he could find. Beneath the floor mat, he found the vehicle’s donut spare tire. He figured it would float, and it had yet to lose its air, so he hurried to remove it from its holder, but before he could, it imploded sending the air inside it bubbling to the surface. He wouldn’t climb farther into the vehicle to reach anything else; even the foam cushions rapidly grew waterlogged.
He thought to use the metal of the car to craft a large set of rudimentary hand-held flippers—at least, that would be something—but his ability to manipulate metal in regular air wouldn’t work in the ocean. The water kept the molecules too cold, and it wouldn’t bend to his will.
The light he used to see in the photic zone transitioned to a darker blue tone, and he knew he had entered the twilight zone of the ocean: less of the spectrum made it that deep. Ronan could not think of anything else he might use, and it became harder to see as he descended. He gazed upward and watched the light from above grow evermore remote along with his hopes of easily reaching the ship.
In that experience of an unwelcome and uncomfortable sense of imposed solitude, he could only think of Liam. He knew him enough to know that he stood at the railing waiting for him, but every second took him farther away, and he couldn’t tolerate the sensation of being torn from him. He realized just how much Liam meant to him. Having been the first person he saw upon awakening, he almost felt as though he had imprinted upon his protector. And in his own unique way, he had, and at a level he couldn’t understand at the time.
He wished he could feel Liam’s presence the way he could Aquila. He could still sense the man out in the world and which direction he could find him. As a last resort, while more than seventeen hundred fathoms beneath the surface, he could make a blind trek in Aquila’s direction across the ocean floor, and if he hadn’t stumbled along the way into a worse problem than he already had, he would reach dry land…eventually.
Feeling alone and exposed to the openness of his abysmal surroundings, as the minutes ticked past and the light grew dim, he held fast to his metallic companion. As he glanced around, he could barely detect his hand in front of his face, and the evidence that the surface world existed at all had become little more than a memory. He hadn’t known what creatures dwelled at that depth—or how large they could grow—but he would catch from the corners of his eyes occasional flashes of a ghostly luminescence from something that lived there.
He closed his eyes and concentrated to speak to Prometheus.
“I’m in trouble,” istanbul travesti he told him. “I can think of nothing to use to help me; my resources are limited. Is this when I should use the power? Is that my only option besides walking the ocean floor?”
“You could,” said Prometheus. “But you have the power to help yourself without it. You have had it within you all along.”
“Is this where I close my eyes, click my heels three times and say, ‘There’s no place like ship?'”
Prometheus found the reference amusing. “I’ll give you a hint, my son. Watched or not, a cold pot never boils.”
Ronan opened his eyes, smiled, and shook his head at a solution so simple he couldn’t think of it.
Time passed faster while speaking to Prometheus, and as he continued to drop in the benthic depths, an inky blackness had shrouded Ronan’s vision; he had reached abject darkness. But in the ocean, sound moves five times faster than in the air, and it carries for miles, so when a new noise invaded Ronan’s ears, he listened intently to discern its source. The crew had engaged the ship’s propulsion; the captain wouldn’t believe he could survive and would choose to leave him behind. If he wanted to get back to Liam, he needed to make a rapid ascent. He swam a few yards from the shipping container, called upon the eternal flame within him, and turned up the heat.
When the engines engaged, pushing the ship forward, Liam jerked his head toward the bridge at the top of the superstructure. “What the hell is the captain doing? We’ve waited less than half an hour!”
He felt fine when Ronan helped people at the hotel a few miles away, but the watery divide became more distressing with each passing moment. He, along with Emma and William, had stared out over the ocean at the railing where the container had pulled Ronan overboard. The incident aboard the ship had left the water littered with debris, including a couple of containers with air pockets large enough to keep them afloat for a while.
When it first happened, Emma had spoken with Prometheus about Ronan, but he had nothing to say. Not that Prometheus had no knowledge, but for things to play out as they should, an absence of knowledge often catalyzes much decision-making and change.
William told him, “If you ask Captain Stettler to stop the ship, I know what he will say; we have fallen behind schedule.”
“Is that the sort of consideration Ronan deserves?”
“He will refuse to believe Herr Stallion can survive underwater unaided for this length of time, especially if he has fallen to the bottom.”
Liam asked him, “You believe us, don’t you?”
“After this morning, I will believe anything that Emma tells me, and she has said that I can trust you and Herr Stallion to always speak the truth. So, I believe you.”
“I appreciate that. I know I can speak for Herr Stallion on this, but you’re welcome to call him Ronan, and me, Liam.”
“Thank you,” he said. Germans are usually very formal when addressing people unless explicitly told otherwise. “And you all may call me William. So, what shall we do about leaving the vicinity? I know the captain; he won’t change his mind.”
“If Ronan manages to reach the surface,” said Emma, “hopefully he can catch up with us. Alternatively, the land and the ocean floor are connected…” She turned her gaze upon Liam.
“That sounds like such a long, lonely walk back to Florida.”
William glanced over the railing and pointed. “Something is happening…”
Off the port side of the ship, a fog-like mist rose from the water, and the ocean began to bubble. Someone on the bridge must have noticed as they had, once again, stopped the ship. Liam, Emma, William, and several crew members ran to the section of railing closest to where the water roiled near the ship. And as it grew increasingly frenetic, they realized they were witnessing not just air bubbles but water in gaseous form boiling up from the ocean, which, unfortunately, had the effect of cooking several fish that lay floating on the surface. When it reached its peak—looking like a pot of water hot enough to steep tea—it appeared as though the ocean had rid itself of Ronan’s presence by ejecting his muscular body three feet into the air where he then landed atop one of the floating cargo containers where steam surrounded him. A scorching heat emanated from him. Viewing him through hand-shielded faces and squinted eyes, felt like they stared into a blast furnace, with the extreme temperature distorting his image. They could see he had burned off his clothing when he stood. He moved his feet and bounced the container into the water to wash over the top to keep it from getting too hot, and steam rose from where the brine touched his skin as he began to cool.
“Are you okay?” Liam yelled to him.
Ronan nodded, raised one finger, and then tapped his throat.
“Give him a minute, he can’t talk,” said Emma.
Captain Stettler joined them all istanbul travestileri at the railing to watch.
Ronan bent down and stuck his hand in the water. The water steamed and bubbled around it. Once it had cooled enough, he held onto the container with it and slid into the water over his head. The ocean continued to boil around him, while he cooled himself as though he were searing hot metal pounded into shape by a blacksmith’s hammer.
Dunking his head to cool himself beneath the surface along the way, he attempted to move the container closer to the gangway staircase built onto the side of the ship; it reached a foot above the waterline to the main deck. Everyone moved closer to the stairs, and by the time Ronan reached it, the water around him had stopped boiling.
Liam descended the stairs and met Ronan at the bottom where he had remained submerged hanging onto the metal staircase until he reached a normal temperature. Ronan stared up at him, pleased to linger in Liam’s proximity.
“So,” Liam said with a smile, “you can’t swim.”
Ronan made a few tests of his vocal cords and said, “Not a lick. I don’t have any memories from Chiron of the other Stallions swimming, so they may not have been able.”
“So, unless we find something to assist you-“
“I’m no better than a sinker in a fisherman’s tackle box.”
Liam laughed. “Do they make water wings for biceps the size of yours?”
“Yeah, that would be cute,” he said. “Let’s just avoid my having to save anyone from drowning.”
“One day, we need to find a way to make you buoyant. It’s a vulnerability we need to eliminate.”
“Agreed,” he said and tipped his head. “One day? That sounds suspiciously like a long-term plan.”
“Yeah. About that. I want you to know that I’ve learned something about myself in the brief time you were gone.”
“I learned something too,” he said. “What’s yours?”
“I’m unsure of the precise cause, but for as much as I have loved working as a police officer on Key Biscayne, I can’t stand being away from you, and I would like to think you need me more than Key Biscayne ever has. Besides, I never went into law enforcement just so I could brag about being a policeman. I wanted to help people, but I can do that more effectively by helping you than I could anywhere as a policeman. So, if you will have me, I know that I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.”
Ronan smiled. “Really?”
Liam nodded. “So, what was your revelation?”
“The worst part about falling to the bottom of the ocean was that it took me away from you, and until I spoke with Prometheus, I felt powerless to stop it. I don’t quite comprehend the reason either, but I want nothing needlessly keeping me from you; it’s unbearable. So, I do need you, and I want you. I hope it’s okay that I always want us together…except at the bottom of the ocean, of course. You wouldn’t enjoy it; it’s terribly unpleasant down there.”
Liam laughed a little. “Oh, I believe you! Let’s make a pact to stick together as best we can. I think we both know that occasions exist when that will prove impossible, like at the hotel, but…when you fell into the water…” Liam shook his head and stopped himself. He tried not to sound too maudlin, so with levity, he added, “It’s that damn gravity!”
“Oh, I know!” Ronan said, joining in. “How dare it come between us! I suppose I’ll just have to find a way to defy it.”
“Well, that’s nothing less than it deserves.” They smiled for a moment, and Liam took a deep breath and relaxed a bit, and whispered, “It worried me.”
“It worried me too.”
Liam reached out a hand. “Are you ready to come up?”
“I think so.”
As Ronan took his hand to climb upon the staircase, he used one foot to shove the metal container away from the ship.
The moment they could, they wrapped their arms around one another and kissed a proverbial sigh of relief.
By the time they reached the main deck, nearly the entire crew had arrived with Captain Stettler, Emma, and William in front.
“Herr Stallion,” said the captain. “I wish to offer you my sincerest apologies for doubting you. You are a most remarkable man who has proved himself a friend to this entire crew, and we thank you for your assistance.”
“Not a problem, captain, but should we not get going? I believe you have a schedule to keep.”
“Indeed, we do. Everyone, get back to work.” The captain radioed the bridge to get the ship underway.
“Captain,” said Ronan as their group returned to the superstructure, “how is the balance of the cargo load from the starboard side. Is it acceptable?”
“It’s within limits,” he said. “I believe we will be fine. I have a question for you. I have the challenge of explaining to the company what has occurred in the insurance report over the cargo and the damage to the ship. Fortunately, the company equipped this vessel with cameras to record incidents and issues that occur along the journey, so they travesti istanbul wouldn’t have to take my word for it, but as a courtesy to you, I wanted to know what name you would like me to give them. At the hotel, they knew you as Stallion. Would you prefer that?”
“That’s considerate of you to ask, captain, thank you. Give them the name Stallion, the Centaurian. And if anyone asks who that is, just tell them it was a passenger who wanted to be helpful.”
“I will do that,” he said, “and Herr Stallion, welcome back aboard.”
Up the staircase back to their cabin, Ronan walked ahead of Liam who petted the fur-like hair on Ronan’s muscular ass. He said, “Well, so much for those clothes. Why hadn’t your hair burned off?”
“The hair, like the rest of me, doesn’t burn. As for the clothing, no fabric would have survived the amount of heat I had to generate to get to the surface before the ship left, and I had ruined my shoes in the fire before the container pulled me into the water.”
Emma followed behind Liam. “I have someone working on improving your clothing and crafting something for your feet that won’t ruin so easily.”
“Really? Who?” asked Ronan.
“You wouldn’t know him. It’s Rhapso’s youngest son Caleius, an immortal demigod who held an apprenticeship with Hephaestus a thousand years ago. He learned certain metallurgic techniques that he’s utilizing in what I would call his profession, but he insists that it’s just a passionate hobby.”
They paused outside their cabins.
“Well, if he could make something that would suit my needs,” said Ronan, “I would appreciate it. That’s the second pair of shoes I’ve burned up in the last two days.” He turned to William and looked him up and down. “You’re hearing this conversation without a look of bewilderment, so I take it Emma has clued you in on the situation.”
He nodded and smiled. “Ja. She kindly helped me with a problem, and she told me.”
“I see,” said Ronan. “I’m glad she could help you. Emma, may we speak to you, please?”
She had William wait for her in her cabin while they talked in the one occupied by Ronan and Liam.
“How much have you told him? Does he know you’re Dolos?”
“I’m glad you’re asking,” she said. “There’s no sense in confusing him. I told him what I always tell them in these situations—since he enjoys women—I said that I am the goddess Erastís, that I came to help him disguised as the woman of his dreams, and that he should call me Emma. In the past, with men who prefer men, I’ve also played the part of Erastís as a male god.”
Liam’s brows drew together. “Erastís?”
“If my memories from Chiron are correct,” said Ronan, “it’s a name that means Lover.”
“And you can just do that?” Liam asked Emma. “I thought that the gods had realms of influence.”
“We do,” she said, “but you might be surprised at what a trickster god can do. In my opinion, it’s the best sort of god. So, while Zeus is the god of the sky, and Hestia’s stuck at home, I can do a lot, as long as I trick someone in the process.”
“And as a result, William got the help he needed,” said Ronan.
“Speaking of a size increase,” said Liam. “I want to thank you for the five-inch gift. I never believed you would do it, but I appreciate it.”
“You’re welcome, sweetie. For a human, your penis was perfectly fine as it was”—then she gestured to Ronan—”but you’re with an enormously endowed, gay Centaurian.” She raked her eyes over him thinking for a moment. “Ahh…I wanted to discuss this earlier Liam, but we had the Ambrosia matter to deal with and then the cargo incident, so this is my first opportunity. I have a problem, and I’m hoping you will help me.”
“Sure,” he said. “What is it?”
“After divvying up the inches with you and William, I still have some. So, I would consider it a personal favor if you would take the remainder off my hands; I need somewhere to store them. I know it would hang a burden on you, so if it’s too much, I promise one day to take however many you don’t want and give them to someone else. If you prefer, just think of them as a lease with the option to own.”
He scrunched his face and shook his head a bit in befuddlement. “What are you talking about?”
“I think I understand,” said Ronan who turned to Emma. “We heard Gustav knock on your door this morning. Had any of them apologized?”
“I searched their minds last night,” she said, “Kurtis is mean and rude, but he’s cowardly. Gustav is self-centered and insensitive, but Otto is just a bully. So, I figured—at most—I would have the inches from Otto and Gustav (those inches I had homes for). I expected Kurtis to cave in and apologize, but apparently, he’s more easily led by the others than I realized. So, none capitulated.”
“How many inches from them had you taken?”
Emma smiled and laughed a little. “Between the three of them I took nineteen inches, and I left them just one inch a piece.”
“Are you saying I have five inches of their dicks?” Liam asked.
“No,” said Emma, “you have grown five inches from the energy I transferred from them to you, and William has eight.”
Liam feigned a gasp of shock, and whispered, “Why, Emma Nordström…you’re a peter pirate!” He smiled and laughed.
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