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Mercury Falling VII: Generalizations

Posted on Sat Sep 22nd, 2018 @ 10:56pm by Lieutenant Commander Nolan Marc & Commander Jonathan Mantell

Mission: A Misguiding Hand
Location: Planet Brax
Timeline: MD02: After Mercury Falling VI

"Cowabunga!" yelled the already-wet, short-haired boy as he leaped from the tree branch into the water below, curling into a ball with his arms gripping his knees as he hit the surface, sending a large wave splashing out from his point of impact. He bobbed to the surface, shaking off his head as a giggle tumbled from his lips, the bubbly child swam out deeper into the middle of the creek. The water was almost ten meters across, but only a couple meters deep at most, so it flowed gently and made the ideal place for the two Mirans to take a dip and get clean.

And if they practiced their cannonball dives or breast-stroke while they were at it, what was the harm?

Jack pushed out beyond where he could touch, treading water as he soaked in the creek's gentle ambiance. The mid-morning sun was warm, and it worked to dry out the boys' undergarments laid out on the beachside rocks. Along with shoes, those were the only items they had kept over from their Starfleet attire, the rest was discarded now under a freshly-dug and refilled hole nearby. A couple pairs of pants and shirts in their size, surprisingly similar garb to some Federation species, had been borrowed from a clothesline of a farm nearby, and it now waited on the beach with the survival kit.

The feel of the water, his clean body, and the sounds —from the gurgling bubble of the water to the soft murmurs of the insects and creatures of the wooded banks— let Jack relax for the first time since they had first spotted the strange anomaly in this system to begin with. It was peaceful here, and if he had the chance, Jack would happily spend a dozen leave days right here in this creek, treading water and diving from tree branches.

For the moment, though, he taunted the figure of Nolan perched above in the tree, "Are you going to jump or what?"

Nolan had grown up jumping off of the cliffs at Maeda Point. Except the steep continental drop-off made the depth there about 200 feet of ocean underneath the cliff face. Staring down from the tree at a creek that was substantially smaller, and shallower, the surfer boy was skeptical of this activity.

Still, it seemed to be working for Jack. So, sliding a little further out onto the branch overlooking the creek, the Okinawa boy made the jump down into the water below.

There was a great deal of loose sediment that blossomed up from below in a murky cloud, as Nolan had a momentary glimpse of the environment below the surface in the scant seconds before his buoyancy sent him back to the surface. His head breached the water with a sigh of relief that rang with a bubbly laugh toward the end.

He never objected to getting wet. But, jumping out of trees wasn't at all the same sort of thrill as catching an ocean wave. "Is this what you do for swimming where you come from?" Nolan asked curiously.

"Something like that. Creeks and lakes were fine, but the best one was a swimming hole right by an old clay factory. Or maybe it was a working factory up until, you know," Jack splashed water Nolan's way absently, then went back to treading it. "It filled with water, and we swam in it. Didn't you have anything like this?"

Nolan ducked his head back as he was splashed. "Not really," the Okinawa native supplied. "Most fresh water was used for farming," the boy explained, as he tread water and tried to adjust for the difference. This was a lot like being in a swimming pool. The ocean had a lot more tidal effect to it. "We mostly dove off cliffs into the ocean or surfed waves or did that sort of stuff."

"Surfing? Man, I've always wanted to try that." Jack turned and swam a bit to get back upstream, in line with their clothes and the diving tree. The current was slow but it had pushed him a few meters downstream already. "You couldn't use the clay hole for farming, we couldn't grow much around there. And we didn't have a lot of farmers, a lot of us grew up in the city."

"There's a great Pacifica simulation in the Vesta's holo-library," Nolan replied, allowing himself to be carried by the lazy current so that he passed Jack as he was speaking. When he'd finished, he disappeared under the water. The shadow passing upstream gave evidence of his path, before his head popped up just a foot away from Jack a moment later.

"Uh, but we kinda hafta get back to Vesta for me to teach you," the Okinawa boy added, tacking that on as an after-thought.

"Yeah, we do," Jack agreed, the somber thought breaking the magic of the creek. Staying was problematic anyway, their pastoral excursion was bound to be interrupted. There was bound to be some investigation into both the crash and explosion of the shuttle, and if the native population discovered two strange boys nearby, their chances of going staying unassuming were slim. As if to underscore his point, the low roar of an aircraft rumbled nearby, its telltale sound signalling the end to whatever headstart they might have had. "We should move on, getting found here would be bad."

The boy flashed a grin to Nolan, though, "Race you to the shore!" Without waiting, he started a furious front-crawl towards the beach.

"Huh?" Nolan uttered, in the second it took him to realize the challenge. Diving forward, the boy used a frog-kick and breaststroke to cut through the water toward the river bank.

Jack's choice of stroke saw Nolan quickly edging ahead of him. Gritting his teeth, Jack put on a burst of speed, and dove under, reaching for the other boy's legs to pull them back. Instead, he landed himself a kick to the head as Nolan reached the beach first, claiming the win.

Stepping up out of the creek, Nolan reached his hands up to pull his hair back and wring some of the water from it. Though people didn't ordinarily go skinny-dipping in creeks back in Okinawa, the onsen and communal bathing culture still left him where he seemed relatively unfazed by standing on the river's edge. As such, he picked up the survival blanket, which was now pulling double duty as a towel, and tossed it over for the other boy to use first.

Catching the towel, Jack shook his head at the other boy, astounded by Nolan's strong, and yet gracious, performance. He dried off as well as he could without soaking the blanket, and tossed it back to Nolan. He was similarly unbothered by their lack of swimming attire, it wasn't as if swim suits had been in good supply on their homeworld. He dressed in the clothes they had taken on permanent loan, finding the pants a little too short and the shirt a bit baggy, but still wearable. At least the loose shirt would cover up his pants pockets enough to house a tricorder or phaser inside.

Nolan started to towel off as Jack got dressed. Being slightly smaller than Jack, the clothes that they'd found on the clothesline looked to be more his size. The trousers had a denim-like quality to them, which reminded the boy of the blue jeans that had been popular around the Marine base. The shirt was a sleeveless v-neck garment, colored black, which Nolan wore outside of the waistband of the not-jeans.

When he'd finished getting dressed, Nolan looked up at Jack to ask, "Ready?"

It was going to be a hike past the farm to the more urban settlement, which seemed the better choice for getting their bearings.


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