Aphros has a minion!
Oona Kai the Almost Free Poiko
Oona Kai the Almost Free Poiko
Legacy Name: Aphros
The Custom Aqua Ontra
Age: 11 years, 5 months, 3 weeks
Born: June 13th, 2009
Adopted: 11 years, 5 months, 3 weeks ago (Legacy)
Adopted: June 13th, 2009 (Legacy)
- Level: 39
- Strength: 95
- Defense: 10
- Speed: 10
- Health: 13
- HP: 13/13
- Intelligence: 70
- Books Read: 67
- Food Eaten: 0
- Job: Storybook Weaver
story‘Today I was given a new nickname: bauble-face.’ Aphros wrote in her barnacle encrusted seaweed leaf journal. ‘At least it is better than Miss mer-butt and bloated porpoise tail.’ She scrawled the ugly names across the page with fierce energy, almost ripping the leaf. Letting the squid ink pen rest above the page, she thought about all the mean things her supposed friends at school would say about her. A single tear snuck down her cheek as she closed the journal without even signing the entry.
Standing up, Aphros moved over to the mirror by her bedroom door. She stared at her face, the pale cream colored mask stood out in obvious contrast to the deep teal aqua fur that covered the rest of her body. The cream color also created swirls of teal-turquoise on her arms and legs. Along her backside she had golden yellow round spots, like large freckles, that would gleam brightly in the sunlight. Before she had become school aged, she’d found her unusual markings beautiful but now she wasn’t quite so sure. She just wanted to have a friend, any friend, but her markings made her very different from the other ontras’.
Heaving a long and depressed sigh, Aphros threw herself onto her bed and cuddled her giant threadbare dull magenta seahorse pillow. She thought of what her grandmother used to tell her about her golden body markings and the odd mask shape that covered her face. Her grandmother also had an almost white mask shape on her face, though the rest of her body was its usual deep amber color.
Aphros thought back to when she was a young pup. “Aphros, dear,” her grandmother would say. “One day, when you are all grown, you will find out that you hold the key to unlocking the lost sounds of the sea.” At that point Aphros would usually nod and start thinking about anything else. Her grandmother had a way of telling stories that seemed much more akin to fantasy than reality, though nobody in the family ever pointed it out.
The sound of an insect bumping into Aphros’s window brought her mind back to the present. Getting up off her bed, she went to investigate the source of the sound but the little insect had flown away. She stared out her window for several long seconds before turning and walking to the kitchen.
Her mother was sitting at the kitchen table, helping her youngest brother with his physics homework. She could hear her mother’s gentle voice patiently walking him though the problem. “That’s right the volume and pressure are both multiplied by depth. Now you just need to plug these figures into your equation to...”
Aphros stopped paying attention, she disliked math. Science she could handle but math was like the kids at school, always mocking her weaknesses. That was why she loved writing so much. She could write anything and create a beautiful world where nobody would be cruel to her. Looking over at her mom, she thought about asking her for a new journal but decided against it. Lately, she’d been writing so voraciously that she’d filled many journals and notebooks with her thoughts and stories.
Aphros’s grandmother had always encouraged her to write and explore her creative world. Whereas her mother and father wanted nothing more than their offspring to become architects like they were. If not an architect, she was supposed to become a physicist and help rebuild the lost ontra aquaculture.
Being an ontra, she was supposed to have a firm grasp on all things relating to the physics and science of water, bubbles, and everything else even remotely relating to water. Aphros often felt as if she fell short in her duty to science and math within her family.
After another soft sigh, she pulled open the pantry door and searched in vain for something delicious to snack on. “Ah, nothing looks good.” She had hardly whispered yet somehow her mother had heard her.
“There is fresh fish and crackers in the fridge, help yourself to that if you’d like sweetie.”
Aphros nodded and mumbled a defeated, “thanks mom.”
“Is everything alright?” She raised her eyes from the physics problem, though she never seemed to lose concentration on it.
“Nothing new.” Aphros clipped her reply off briskly, hoping to end the conversation there.
Her mother looked at her with a troubled expression on her face. “Those kids at school were mean again, weren’t they?” She asked the question though she already knew the answer. “I ought to go down to that sch—“
“No! Please don’t do anything. It’s ok, really.” Aphros pleaded. “Really I’ll be fine. I’m just going to go for a walk.” She headed for the back door and picked up her school satchel on the way.
“Alright sweetie, but remember you are beautiful and talented – be safe!” Her mother had to quickly get in those last two words before the back door shut and Aphros couldn’t hear her anymore.
As Aphros walked out through their well kept vegetable garden she started to relax. Her mother always tried to help Aphros feel better about herself but it didn’t seem to change her feelings. As Aphros moved along the now trail-like wooded pathway, she though back to her grandmother again. Somehow her grandmother had always managed to bring the cheer out in her. Her wild stories seemed to be centered on helping her forget the nasty things people would say to her.
Aphros hadn’t been paying attention to where she was walking; her feet just took her to the river’s edge. Somehow she always found water; she assumed it was the ontra in her.
Sitting down in one of her favorite spots, she placed her satchel down beside her and soaked her feet in the water. The tall pine trees crowded out most of the undergrowth except near the water, where the pine trees seemed to thin. Along the streams edge bloomed small white and pink wildflowers, that grew in crowded clusters. Hollow horse-tail also sent up segmented shoots that came up out of the water like oversized drinking straws.
Despite sitting in her favorite tranquil location, Aphros couldn’t stop thinking about the ugly things her classmates had said about her. She picked a flower yellow flower and tossed it into the river, watching as it floated aimlessly, being pushed and pulled by the different eddies in the clear water. The current of the cool river water swept the flower out of sight, leaving Aphros staring blankly at the distorted reflection of the sky and trees. It was then that she decided that a swim might help distract her.
Without another thought, Aphros scurried into the river and made the short swim through the saline water of the estuary, making her way to the vast waters of the ocean. She crossed the dirty boundary that separated the turbulent surf zone from the rest of the placid ocean and took a few broad strokes, slowing her pace to a relaxing glide.
The sunlight filtered through the salty ocean water, causing the golden yellow markings on Aphros’s body to glimmer brightly in the water. She loved the way the light reflected off her golden spots, it caused such pretty rays of golden light to bounce through the water.
Swimming with great agility through the water, Aphros pulled a few rounds of playful loops, followed by a spray of bubbles. She turned, pulled up steady and watched as the bubbles slowly floated up towards the surface. She scooted closer to a small bubble and watched it carefully. When the little bubble grew tired of the energy required to hold its shape, it imploded, releasing a tiny burst of light as it did so. Aphros clapped and pulled an exuberant backwards loop. Watching bubbles sonoluminesce was one of Aphros’s favorite activities.
After basking in the peaceful feelings that washed over her, Aphros turned tail and swam away from the shallower water, heading into the deep turquoise of the outer reef zone. The sun didn’t illuminate the water quite so fiercely, Aphros noticed, as she swam around looking for hidden treasures. On her last trip out to this part of the ocean, she’d found a left shoe and a pair of round spectacles. She hoped that she’d find something cool to bring home and show one of her siblings.
A strange sensation stirred in Aphros’s mind, it felt as if a bee was buzzing around inside her brain. She shook her head, trying to clear her head but the feeling persisted. After a moment she felt a strong desire to turn towards the deeper ocean and swim further than she was allowed. Her mother had laid out specific rules against traveling beyond the first coral reef. The stories of danger and agony were enough to keep most ontra pups from veering out into the unknown. Aphros had always been curious, with a strong desire to explore the deep blue unknown but she never had before. Now it seemed that her mind had developed a will of its own, directing her toward an unknown perilous demise.
Giving into the strange feeling inside her mind, Aphros began cautiously swimming towards the deeper ocean. The water began to feel colder as she pushed onward into the ocean. The markings on her body suddenly shimmered brightly of their own accord.
“What was that?” Aphros gasped in a fear-strangled voice. She had never experienced her golden markings glowing on their own before. She wondered at the strange reaction her body was having, clearly something was wrong with her.
As she thought about heading home she heard a slight humming noise but couldn’t see where it was coming from. She turned and looked behind her and could just barely see a bright bubble shape further into the depths of the blue ocean.
As Aphros approached, the bubble began to vibrate at a higher frequency, causing the quiet hum to intensify. The bubble began to shimmer brightly in hues of gold and cyan as Aphros reached for it. Just as she made contact with the bubble it popped. A cascade of laughter followed by, what sounded like, the crashing waves of the ocean, emendated in the water towards her. The sound slowly dispersed through the sea, becoming no more than a lost memory.
Unsure of what to do, Aphros floated there in a state of awe and shock, as the memory replayed itself in her brain. She swam forward slowly, lost in thought. “The laughter sounded like children playing,” she spoke out loud; though no one was near to hear her. She often talked to herself out loud because it helped her work through ideas and thoughts.
Looking down at her paws she couldn’t believe what had happened. “Am I going insane, like grand--?” She gulped down as fear tightened her throat. “She wasn’t loony!” Aphros realized, quite belatedly, that everything her grandmother had said must have been true. “All those stories, they weren’t just the babblings of an addled mind. They were her stories, about the bubbles she’d unlocked.” Aphros’s mind was wildly reeling because of this sudden realization. Her grandmother was like her, they were both the same.
Aphros tried to recall what her grandmother had said about the ability. She had mentioned something about it being special and rare.
After a while of mindless swimming, she recalled something her grandmother had said to her. “The Mirunu are a powerful sect of ontra. They always wear a mask from birth, like you and me.” The voice of her grandmother could almost be heard in Aphros’s mind. She had always assumed that this was her grandma’s way of trying to make her feel special.
“Mirunu” Aphros voiced the name out loud. As she said the name a flurry of bubbles swirled around her and formed one rather large bubble that stopped moving directly in front of her.
She watched the bubble as it began to form images across the spherical surface. Aphros reached out to capture the bubble but it quickly shifted position. After a moment, the images materialized in a more solid form. Across the face of the bubble, she could see Mirunu who all had special mask markings like she had. They were capturing and hearing many different things from inside the oceans bubbles. The act of hearing released whatever was inside the bubble, which was usually a story. She saw them manipulating the light from imploded bubbles, creating wonders that she couldn’t identify.
Aphros sensed that this bubble was showing snippets of the Mirunu activities across vast amounts of time. The bubble conveyed much of the Mirunu history, focusing on the process of soekula, or seeking the bubbles to capture and listen to.
After a long time, the giant bubble pulled back and began to shrink in size until it burst into a tiny array of light as it imploded. Aphros floated without moving while her thoughts raced. Suddenly everything her grandmother had said became clear; and her own life now started to make sense.
A smile slowly spread across her lips, as she felt a feeling of belonging that had always escaped her until now. She was Mirunu and she could perform soekula! Now all those boring math lessons made sense to her and she knew why she must learn about things such as Sonoluminescence.
The energy of new found determination pulsed through Aphros’s body. She wanted to swim faster than was possible and return home to tell her mother everything that had transpired. As she looked around to get her bearings she saw that she was a lot further away from home than she realized. Still intent on making a quick return home, she started in that direction at a reasonable pace.
As Aphros began swimming through the outermost deep reef, which was called skull reef, she quickened her already fast pace. There were many dangers in the dark outermost regions of the ocean, especially amidst the dead and dilapidated reef structures. She shuddered involuntarily at the thought of a dangerous shark that might be lurking behind any one of the large dome-like coral structures.
Aphros thought the water felt somehow colder, but knew that it was just a trick of her fearful state of mind.
She began to have a strange feeling that someone was nearby. She slowed her pace and listened carefully; there was a slight noise, she was sure of it.
After stopping, she backed up against a nearby rock. “Who is there?” Aphros looked around her with waves of fear and apprehension engulfing her body. ‘This is foolish,’ she thought. ‘I should never have stopped.’
She turned to leave quickly, hoping that her movements were obscured by the ambient burr of the ocean. Then she heard it again, a soft tiny voice. “There!” She excitedly spun around with wide eyes, looking for the source of the sound.
The water was a murky deep blue; visibility was good but still required vigilant scanning. After waiting a few moments she heard nothing. “I could have sworn that I heard something.” She whispered nervously to herself.
“Wait, I a…” the voice floated through the water sounding like it came from the depths of deep void.
Aphros spun around the opposite direction that she’d been looking. A large protruding conglomerate of decaying coral blocked her view. “I can hear you, where are you?” She demanded in her most authoritative tone, still fearing the worst.
A buried instinct came alive in her innermost soul and told her to investigate in through the large protrusion of reef and rock. After finding a small opening in the rock she swallowed and braced her two front paws on either side of the opening. “Well, here I am going against every rule my mother ever laid out.” Her words floated out behind her as if bearing witness of her final guilt to the ocean.
She went deep into the crevice which looked like it hadn’t seen life in decades. The darkness grew, intensifying Aphros’s fear but she could just make out a tiny glimmer of light. As she neared this light it became clear that it was a bubble. This bubble seemed to be different than other bubbles; it shimmered and looked like a very special jaret (the Mirunu term for a filled or loud bubble).
Not wanting to destroy this jaret like last time, Aphros relaxed her mind and allowed it to call to the bubble.
The darkness of the tiny cavern suddenly became illuminated when her gold markings erupted in spontaneous luminescing. She reached for and held the jaret in her hand. “It didn’t pop this time.” Her voice was filled with wonder as she held the fragile unique bubble in her hands.
The jaret vibrated very slightly and she could see that it was losing its transparency. Just as the other bubble had, it changed colors rapidly before settling on a semi transparent brightly shining blue brown swirl. The brown continued to swirl and the vibrations grew in intensity until Aphros began to subconsciously hone in on the frequency. Her body markings and the bubble began to pulsate light at the same frequency causing the small cavern warm slightly. As soon as this unifying of body and jaret occurred, the jaret’s swirling colors became a solid picture.
“Oh!” The gasp escaped Aphros’s lips as she recognized the form of a small bear like creature.
A tiny voice echoed around Aphros, swirling around before entering her mind. “You can see me?”
The motion of the sounds confused Aphros and it took a moment for her to piece together what the creature had said. “Yes, but I’m only just now getting the hang of this.” She excused her slow response and offered the tiny creature a smile.
It was at that point that she realized she hadn’t any idea what to do; she’d never soekulaed before. She noticed that her golden body markings continued to pulsate at the same frequency as the jaret. In a more conscious effort than she had thus employed, she relaxed her mind and focused on the energy of the jaret.
With new clarity she could hear the soft high pitched voice of the little creature clear as day. “…oating around in this pocket of reef for quite some time. I was beginning to wonder if I was truly the only girl in the big blue.” The creature seemed to be quite chatty, which made Aphros’s smile broaden.
While the little critter chatted away, an instinctual feeling and a memory Aphros didn’t recognize came to her mind. She let the words come out without thinking. “I am of the order of Mirunu. Soek wa mira, we hear your story.”
She looked up in shock; she’d spoken the lost language of the Mirunu. The jaret began to pulsate causing small yet noticeable waves across the surface of the jaret. A hole appeared on the sphere as it dissolved away. Almost simultaneously, a rush of images and words entered her mind, giving her the story of this captured little Poiko.
“You are a poiko?” She studied the little squirrel-like creature with curiosity. “I have read about your existence but never before have I seen a real live poiko.” She wondered if this was one of the last few poikos in existence or if they were in fact extinct, as the school phylogeny chart stated.
“Oh, really? That is too bad, we are quite common really. You must not be very observant for a Mirunu.” The poiko giggled and flitted its tail around in the water, a move that helped it swim quite deftly. The little antennas atop her head bounced and bioilluminesced a brilliant blue as they did so.
The smile faded from Aphros lips, as she realized that this little poiko had been trapped inside this bubble for much longer than either one of them had suspected. She thought about how to break the news to her and decided against saying anything for now. The light in the cavern was fading away as Aphros’s body markings began to calm from the excited luminaried state.
“My name is Oona Kai, but my family just calls me Oona. What is your designated name, young Mirunu?” Oona swam around the tiny cavern in circles around Aphors, quite obviously elated to be free.
“My name is Aphros.” She was still fretting over the existence of this little poiko and was having difficulty finding words. She led the way out of the tiny cave as Oona Kia chatted happily about everything and nothing. The little Poiko darted about, faster than a flying fish leaping from crests of ocean waves.
Leaving skull reef behind, the pair swam through the lesser rocky reefs and kelp forests while they chatted pleasurably the whole way back to Aphros’s home.
Aphros had her own excitement bubbling up inside her, as she imagined recounting her afternoon of adventure to her family. Looking over at Oona, who swam joyfully alongside her, Aphros felt glad that she’d been able to successfully perform her first soekula today.
- * - * -
The friendship between Aphros and Oona Kai would prove to blossom as they became an inseparable duo. They would spend years traveling the waters of the world in search of their next jaret.
Aphros would eventually grow up and have a family of her own. One of her last granddaughters would be born with the special mask that they shared in common. A time weathered and wrinkled Aphros would spend countless hours rocking her grandchild in her arms, while recounting the many adventures she and Oona Kai had shared together while soekulaing.
- * - * -
The aged Aphoros looked down at her granddaughter, Kai, and whispered softly. “Why do you think ocean waves sound the way they do? It's the sound of whispered stories that have burst open and have crashed down in the open air. The stories collide around the surf until they have faded; lost forever because they fall upon deaf ears. However, always remember that you can hear their stories, young Kai.” She emphasized those last few words with reverence, as if they carried a most important meaning.
Aphros, an elder Mirunu, continued to spend her days recounting stories and teaching her granddaughter about being Mirunu and hearing the sounds of the sea.
- * - * - The End - * - * -
Aphros – her name means sea foam. She is a Mirunu Ontra.
Oona Kai – is an Almost Free Poiko – the minion whom Aphros has bonded.
Mirunu – Are a powerful and magical sect of Ontra that are born into the gift and duty of Soekula.
Soekula – Seeking and capturing bubbles to listen to. The act of hearing the bubbles secret releases it.
Jaret – This indicates a filled or loud bubble that should be Soekulaed. It is easy for Mirunu to differentiate between a Jaret and an ordinary bubble.
Non-Fiction Technical Terms
Sonoluminescence – The emission of tiny ray bursts of light when a bubble implodes
Underwater acoustics, Physics of bubbles Resonating (Minnaert Resonance) - Pulsation, oscillation, or vibration of bubbles at a specific natural frequency, which causes most sounds audible underwater and periphery water sounds.
Frequency – is the vibrations or oscillations that occur per period of time (in other words, how often something occurs over a given timeframe).
Vibration – oscillations that occur with a central equilibrium point. Sound is created by vibrations. Once created, sound waves can also cause vibration.
Physics equation used in this story, using Ideal gas law – let P: pressure, V: volume, h: depth, V 0: Volume at zero depth, ρ: fluid density
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