UPDATE 3/9/09: Well, I looked back at this story recently and somehow found the inspiration to keep going with it. There WILL be changes to some parts because eventually the entire plot is going to change, so it's going to be different for those of you that read it before.
A/N: Hey, look a new story! How about that? Maybe I'll finish this one in a timely manner! (unlike In Memories Forgotten).
This fic was inspired by Shonen Shoujo Kid's Science and Mythology, who I credit with the basic idea of this fic. Go read Shonen's fic now. Right now. Why are you still reading this? Go read it now!
*ahem* Anyways, I hope you enjoy my newest project
Beneath the Surface
The grief was almost too much to bear. He was alone now, completely alone. He was the only one left of his family. What would he do now? The others in the city told him that he needed to move on, but how? How does a wound so deep ever heal?
Suddenly, he was pulled out of his thoughts. Something was wrong. Now aware of his surroundings, he saw that he was trapped. The strange net was all around him. He swam in all directions, but couldn't escape. There was no escape. Slowly, the entwined fibers tightened around him and began pulling him towards the surface. He struggled and flailed, but only became more entangled.
The net suddenly broke the surface, taking him with it. He gasped, suddenly unable to breathe. He was pulled up out of the water, the net cutting into his skin painfully. He was dumped onto a hard surface, and he looked up to see humans all around him. They were talking to each other in their strange, hard-sounding language. He struggled harder against the net, but he was so entangled now that he could barely move at all.
Then, the humans moved toward him. He flailed about in fear, but they grabbed the net and dragged him across the hard surface. He was beginning to feel faint from lack of oxygen, the world around him becoming dark and unclear. He vaguely felt himself being lifted up, and then he was shocked to feel water around him once again.
He discovered that he was in a small tank of water, just barely big enough for him to fit inside. A lid was fastened to the top, and although he tried to pound it open with his hands it would not budge. One of the humans grinned at him from outside the tank, and he looked back at him fearfully as the human spread a heavy cloth over the tank and everything turned to darkness.
Yami flipped through the TV channels without much interest, every so often munching on some chips from the half-empty bag next to him. He felt exhausted, but for some reason he couldn't sleep. That happened a lot. The rapid, disconnected images of the television managed to distract him from himself enough that it gave him the illusion of rest.
Yami had gotten used to functioning on little sleep at a young age. At the orphanage he grew up in, the busy highway right next to them was always noisy and there were always babies waking up in the middle of the night with too few caretakers to see to all of them. He had been glad to finally get out of there when he turned eighteen, but the habit of sleeping very little had stayed with him.
It took Yami several moments to realize that the phone was ringing. He looked at the clock; it was almost midnight. Why would anyone be calling him? Maybe Jounouchi (Yami's friend since high school) had locked his keys in his car again. Yami turned off the TV and picked up the phone.
"Hello, Yami, sorry to wake you…" It was Anzu.
"Oh… well, anyways, you need to get to the lab right now. It's urgent."
"The most amazing discovery was just made," Anzu said, starting to sound excited. "You have to see it to believe it. Oh, Yami, it's just the most incredible thing I've ever seen!"
"Okay, I'll get down there as soon as I can."
Yami hung up the phone. What discovery could make Anzu that excited this late at night? Yami had known Anzu all through his college years, and she wasn't easily shaken up. Yami supposed that it had to be important if they were calling him in on his day off, especially at night. Yami shrugged on a jacket and dug his shoes out from underneath the sofa and drove down to the lab.
Once he got there, the main lobby was completely empty, but there were voices coming from the lab. Yami swiped his key card and walked in. The lights were still dim as though the lab was closed, but he could see a few figures standing next to the largest specimen tank in the lab.
"Yami! You've got to see this!" Yami saw Anzu coming towards him. She grabbed his arm and pulled him forward towards the tank.
"See what?" Yami asked. Anzu just pointed. Yami's eyes followed her finger and his mouth quite suddenly fell open.
Curled up in a corner of the tank was a creature that Yami had only ever heard of in myth and fairy tales. It had a long, scaly tail that shone blue and green and silver, and the fin at the end of it was transparent and wispy and tipped with gold. Then, at the waist the creature's skin turned to the color of human flesh. A human face looked out from under golden bangs for a moment, then hid itself once again behind folded human arms. It was a creature half-man and half-fish, a merman.
Yami was stunned. He couldn't even speak for several seconds. Eventually, he managed to turn to Anzu and ask, "How?"
"A fishing boat caught him in their net just off the coast. They kept him in a big fish tank until they got back to the harbor, and fortunately one of our people got to them before they could go to the reporters. Amazingly, the fishermen have kept quiet, so this won't be released to the press until Dr. Kaiba decides to."
Dr. Kaiba was the owner of the research facility, as well as several others in Japan and America. As Anzu said this, Yami worked his way around to another side of the tank so that he could see the merman more closely. He could see that there was a fin that trailed down the merman's spinal cord to his tailbone and that the merman's hands were slightly webbed. Upon closer inspection, Yami also noticed the gills on the merman's neck and the fact that his human-like torso was covered in a fine layer of translucent scales that were not visible from more than a few feet away.
Suddenly, the merman looked up at him, his eyes peeking out from between strands of gold and black hair streaked with red. It was only then that Yami noticed that the merman seemed similar to himself in some ways. His eyes, however, were a brilliant violet instead of deep red. The merman and Yami stared at each other for several moments, neither of them moving, and Yami was struck by the profound sadness in the merman's face. The value of the discovery melted away quite suddenly. Yami could see that the tank the merman was in was much too small for him, and he could see the bruises on the merman's arms from when he had been caught in the net.
The merman abruptly swam away to another corner of the tank. Yami watched, mesmerized with the beautifully fluid motion of the merman's body, then a hand touched his shoulder. It was Otogi, Yami's colleague and sometimes-friend.
"Amazing, isn't it?"
Yami looked back over to where the merman had curled up in the opposite corner of the tank. "Yes… quite amazing."
"It's pretty shy, though. We haven't been able to get very close to it without it swimming away from us."
Yami frowned. It somehow sounded wrong to call the merman "it".
"But, we received a message that Kaiba is going to send in some new technology for us to use. They're like the robots that are used to excavate underwater, except we'll use them to immobilize specimens for study."
Immobilize? Surely the merman would struggle and end up hurting himself if they did that. Yami shook his head, trying to get rid of these thoughts that he was having. He shouldn't be worrying about such things; the merman was just a specimen that they were going to study. And, they weren't even sure that the merman was an intelligent life form. Just because it looked like a human didn't mean it thought like a human.
But, a glance at the merman told Yami that this last excuse was a lie. He could see deep, powerful emotion in the merman's eyes, and it was impossible for him to think that the merman was just a mindless animal.
Yami's gaze slid over to where another of the scientists, Bakura Ryou, was standing away from the crowd in a corner of the room. He, too, was watching the merman closely. Yami's eyes narrowed. He hadn't trusted Bakura from the moment they had met, and the uneasy feeling he always got when something bad was about to happen (Jounouchi called it his "sixth sense") rose up inside him.
"Yami, you look tired," Anzu said, interrupting Yami's thoughts. "Maybe you should go back home and get some sleep. I'm sorry that I woke you up for this, it was just so exciting!"
"It's all right. I'll have all day tomorrow to sleep. Thanks for letting me know about it."
"Of course. And not a word to anyone, right?" Yami nodded and headed for the exit. As he left, he took one more look at Bakura, who was still staring intently at the merman. That uneasy feeling grew stronger, but Yami shook it off. He needed to focus on staying awake enough to drive home.
A/N: Okay, so not much actually happened, but I needed to set everything up. Oh, and just in case anyone is confused, Anzu=Tea and Otogi=Duke. I kind of transposed Bakura's name because I wanted to make sure everyone realizes that I'm talking about Yami Bakura, but I can't call him that because there's already a Yami. Clear as mud? I shouldn't have to tell you who the merman is. ^_^ Review, please!