“Honestly, you can’t just not ignore global warming for years to let companies increase their profits, let the oceans rise and devour all of the land except for the tippy tops of high corporate buildings, and expect me not to steal a rich person’s cruise-size yacht and become a pirate.” Ash said as she twirled her tiki cocktail in her hand, reclining on a five dollar beach chair on a five million dollar yacht she stole.
The sun glinted over her head as she adjusted her feathered old-fashioned pirate captain hat that matched her bikini to black it out. “Tell me, Reagan,” she called out to her first mate. “How long until we reach our next target island?”
Leaning over the yacht’s railing, Reagan glared out onto the horizon. “Oh, I see it. We’re actually almost in firing range and the islanders spotted us a long time ago. Kinda shocked no one on our crew noticed earlier…”
Ash shrugged it off. Her crew was probably just distracted playing shuffleboard with their resident grandma Ash had found on the ship when she stole it. Ester was the best. She couldn’t hold it against anyone if all they wanted was some grandmotherly love.
“Fantastic,” Ash murmured with a lazy smile on her lips. Her eyelids grew heavy. Must be time for her afternoon nap. She stretched out on the beach chair while ordering, “Prepare the cannons and get ready to attack ZeoTech island.”
Reagan saluted. “Eye, eye, Captain Ash.” Repeating it for the rest of the crew below deck, Reagan hollered, “PREPARE THE CANNONS AND GET READY TO ATTACK ZEOTECH ISLAND.”
Footsteps thudded below deck as the crew hustled to get in position. Internally, Ash complimented herself yet again about what a brilliant idea it was to pick up her ex-roommate from MIT, the estranged and eccentric inventor Dr. Almost Got His PHD, But Got Kicked Out For Stealing Genetic Samples from Sleeping Students (as Ash knew and nicknamed him). Though most people called him Fred or the occasional Fredstar. He was fantastic at creating and installing all the weapons on her pirate ship, the Ocean Rider.
“Lock the cannons on sight,” Ash said.
“LOCK THE CANNONS ON SIGHT,” Reagan echoed.
With her sleepy body protesting against it, Ash stood and stretched again. “And prepare my scuba suit.”
Ash cut them off. “Reagan, sweetheart, that’s your job.”
With a nervous expression plastered on their face, Reagan helped attach the weights to Ash’s scuba suit below deck. Above them, the cannons fired, screaming across the sky as they crashed into ZeoTech island. The ship shook with every firing. Ash could almost pick out the CEO’s screams among the company’s workers. She smiled. How delicious.
Finally, the company most responsible for global warming would be getting revenge. In Ash’s eyes, all of the employees on the island—because only the company’s employees and CEOs were only any of the islands—deserved to share the blame. They knew what they were doing and sacrificed the world for a pay boost. Though, Ash had been merciful and ordered to aim for the edge of the island and to keep it mostly non lethal.
Reagan adjusted the air tank and attached it to Ash’s back, snapping her out of her revenge daydream. With a frown, they said, “Are you sure about this? We don’t have any weapons that work underwater. You’ll be defenseless down there.”
“Sure I do.” She held up a steak knife from the buffet table. “I’ve got this.”
“That’s not gonna save you from the bloodthirsty mermaids down there. They want revenge on all humans for ruining the ocean’s corals and ecosystems,” Reagan snapped. “You should at least let me go with you. We have another scuba suit. And you’re supposed to use the buddy system when di—”
Ash held up her hand. “Reagan, please. This is my objective, so if anyone is to die, it’s going to be me and me alone.”
Pursing their lips, Reagan stopped arguing. They knew it was pointless to argue with their captain anyway. Hesitating, Reagan opened a hatch directly above the water. From here, no one will see Ash slip into the water. Especially not with the distraction up top. No one will know but Reagan, her most trusted, her significant other. With a final kiss on the cheek, Reagan said, “Whatever you’re planning on getting down there, I hope it’s worth it.”
Don’t worry, Ash thought, it will be.
Peaceful bubbles glided past Ash as she kicked her way to the lower floors of ZeoTech’s building. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. She shivered at the sunlight thinned and the ocean deeps chilled her to her bones. On her forehead, her headlight flashed on just in time for speeding shadows to be seen darting out around her. Ash’s eyes narrowed as her headlight caught a fraction of it in its beam and the shadow glimmered back at her. Like scales. Like mermaid tails.
She kept going. The building’s front entrance was in sight now, unlocked with its doors swinging with the currents’ every move. If she made it inside, Ash could lock the mermaids outside. She palmed the steak knife, holding it so tight, it almost cut her. It was only twenty feet. She could make it.
Around her, the mermaid swarmed, closing in their circle every few seconds until they were practically on top of her. A mermaid with a strapless seaweed bra striked first, trying to stab Ash with a shaved fish bone. Ash dogged, and stabbed the mermaid’s hand with her steak knife. Ten feet.
A male mermaid with six pack rings on his wrists attacked next, fury written across his face. With clawed, webbed hands, he scratched at Ash’s face, breaking her headlight. The world went dark around her.
Another pair of hands yanked back on her flippers. She slashed aimlessly around her feet and they backed off. Three feet.
Outreaching her arms, Ash gripped the building’s front doors and pulled herself inside, slamming the door in the bloodthirsty mermaid’s face. She stuck a metal pipe through the handles for good measure.
Breathing heavy, Ash smiled to herself as the mermaids slapped her hands against the glass. “The steak knife won’t do what now?” She mocked to herself. God, she wished she could share this victory with Reagan. Ash wished she could make it back to Reagan.
All of the tech in the building was fried from the water. That meant every electrically locked door opened for Ash like she was a magical wizard. “Wouldn’t that make things easily,” Ash remarked as she swam down the stairs to the laboratory.
Around her, pencils, pens, papers, test tubes, and just about every scientific tool under the sun floated around her, waterlogged. Broken monitor screens started as her colorful fish darted through the cracks. “This is lovely and all,” Ash said as she touched a floating pencil, launching it into a series of flips. She smirked. “Well, look who’s going for the gold, you little wooden gymnastic.”
Rubbing her hands together, she muttered to herself, “Now where would you be, my love?”
Swimming along the back wall, she ran her hand on the smooth metal, waiting for any discrepancies or bumps. As her fingers found an uneven ledge, she smiled. “There you are.”
Right where she thought it would be, from her old tour of ZeoTech, back when they were trying to convince the world they were the ‘good guys’ with tons of ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ practices. Ash huffed. What political BS.
She jammed the steak knife in between the hidden safe and wall, edging it open up until the electric lock was exposed—the second part of their security measure. A few more stabs to the waterlogged keypad and the safe popped open.
Inside, a blank, large, heavy, waterproof trunk laid, waiting to be taken back to the surface. “It’s nice to finally see you,” Ash said, hugging it. “I’ve always heard the rumors like fairy tales. It’s different to hold you in my hands.” She released it. “Now now, if we hug any longer, Reagan will get jealous. Speaking of Reagan…” Ash unclipped her water-proof radio from her scuba belt. “Hey sweetheart, it’s me. Listen, there’s mermaids blocking the front entrance, so I need to go to the top of the building and leave through a window. Stop the firing so no stray cannon ball hits me and bring the ship in close.”
Reagan’s voice crackled over the radio. “Did you find what you were looking for?”
Pulling her body onto the Ocean Rider after sliding the box on board, Ash collapsed into a soggy, human mess, panting hard. “I’m never exercising again,” she declared. “Can someone bring me my napping chair?”
Two crewmates darted off to fetch it for her. Reagan knelt beside the box, poking it. “This is it? What you risked your life for? Honey, we have boxes already.”
“Not this one,” Ash traced her hand over the lock. Like the box, it was also waterproof. Stroking her partner’s hair, Ash pulled out a bobby pin. “You wanna see a magic trick?”
“Ash, I swear, if you pull another dead dove out of your clothes, I’m going to dump you.”
“It wasn’t dead, it was plastic—oh, nevermind. That isn’t what I’m talking about.” She shimmied the bobby pin in the lock and it clicked open. Flipping the box’s lid back, Ash said, “This is.”
Together, they stared at the box’s contents: piles upon piles of scientific research.
“Wow. It’s beautiful,” Reagan said, holding up a data sheet into the light. “What is it?”
Ash snatched it from them. “It’s all research that ZeoTech tried to keep hidden. Basically, just a bunch of proven methods to combat climate change, even past the point of no return. If it had gotten out, ZeoTech would have been forced by the public to enact it, which they didn’t want to.”
“I still understand none of it. I mean what is this?” They pointed to a set of equations.
Ash cracked her knuckles. “But you’re in luck, ‘cause I understand it.”
Grinning, she teased, “What? I never told you I used to be a climate scientist?”
“So… what does this mean?”
“It means, I can get us our ice caps back.”