Santa Clarita: Gundanium Shark 2/?
Disclaimer: I don’t own Gundam Wing. I also don’t own any sharks. My housemates won’t even let me have chickens. I also don’t think sharks enjoy being owned.
“You can’t run those damn tests right now,” Major Vana hissed threateningly. “The fucking summer camp is in session. You know... children!”
Dr. Patel looked up at the military babysitter she’d been given. Dark eyes watching him from under long dark lashes. “I love children,” she said sweetly, “They are excellent with chocolate sauce.”
Vana’s face twitched with nausea. He’d been minding Dr. Patel for the better part of two years and he really wasn’t sure she was human. He rubbed his forehead. Not that he was any bigger fan of the brats at the camp either. There ought to be a limit to how smart a human being could have. Anything over 140 and they seemed to run towards insane. Patel had been in the 160 range, but he knew she’d augmented herself. She didn’t sleep anymore, as far as he could tell. That only made it hella harder to keep tabs on her.
The brats at the camp were all fucking prodigies too, in their own way. The government had some interest in all of them. As far as he was concerned, they weren’t that much different than Patel’s pet project Lucy. And here he was, a decent man, sane, excellent service record, in the last five years of his twenty and he was surrounded by white rabbits and then the reflection of dark eyes in glass caught him and he jumped back from the thick aquarium wall. Lucy stared at him, those big black eyes watching him, staring at him, tracking him, and god, he felt like he wasn’t sure if he was on the menu or just being mistaken for a soccer ball. “God! What did you do to her? She’s... different.”
“Indeed,” Patel said laying her hand on the glass. Lucy touched her nose to the glass, then turned and swam back into the darkness. “I have built her something. She won’t hurt them, much. Those children are smart and gritty. Duo Maxwell is with them this time. This will be an excellent test of her skills!”
“The Gundanium,” Vana said, voice low. “What did you build? You didn’t have any authorization to build anything. You’re out of control!”
She turned to him, tilted her head, and for a moment she looked like a lovely little doll, long dark pigtails to the sides of her face. She held up her hand, like she was going to reach for his. The whole pose was eery and unsettling to Vana, who took a cautious step back. “I think you should get some sleep, doctor.”
“Maybe later,” she agreed, but then her some small object in her palm spiked, impossibly fast, putting a hole right through Vana’s spine and everything between. “Though, I don’t think you’ll be as interested when you’re dead.”
“Fuck,” he whispered as the last of the air left his lungs.
“A true man to the last,” Patel sneered as he fell. “You were never really military, Vana, but more like content security. A house cat who has forgotten how to use his claws.”
Lucy glided past the wall again, eyeing the fallen man.
“Oh baby,” Patel purred. “Are you hungry?”
“Xenomorphs are way better than sharks,” Duo said with convictions. “Sharks don’t get out of the water... and a special kinda water at that. They’re really limited and you can kill’em easy with a buster cannon or beam scythe.”
Ripley pinched her nose, arching an eyebrow. The ten of them that were on the marine biology track sat in a circle on the beach. “So is that the value of a creature then? How hard it is to kill and how adaptable to various habitats it is?”
“Yeah,” Duo said, shrugging, sure he was right. “What good is a movie if the monster isn’t scary?”
“Okay, well, how’s this for scary... after that movie human attacks on sharks rose so steeply that the shark population seriously declined until protections were enacted.”
“Well, isn’t that a good thing,” Nari asked, “I mean... they attack humans.”
“Even at the height of their population, shark attacks on humans were very rare. Apparently they mistook surfers for prey animals, but we don’t really taste very good.”
“Ewwww...,” several kids said.
“Wait!” Duo raised his hand even. “Are you saying that there are fish with teeth that eat humans?”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Yeah. They’re called sharks.”
“Or piranhas,” Sean added. “Piranhas are worse.”
Duo’s face paled, his face going long. “And they’re like... real? They really exist? We’re not talking about dragons or velociraptors or xenomorphs... but real animals?”
“Velociraptors were real,” Nari said, “The dinosaurs were wiped out XX years go by a meteor impact.”
Duo’s eyes became little violet slits and he grabbed hold of his cross. “How do you know that?”
“Science,” Nari said, giving him the eye. “Like... do you even know how to read?”
“Okay, enough of that,” Ripley said. “We all come from different backgrounds and experiences. We all have different skills.” She dialed up a hologram on her tablet and a very realistic velociraptor appeared in their circle. “These were predators XX years ago. We have bones, some of which we’ve found DNA sequences in.”
“Show me,” Duo challenged her and she changed the display to recovered velociraptor DNA. Duo reached out and grabbed a copy, spreading it open on his tablet. “Oh wow! Oh wow!”
The rest of the kids looked at him like he was faking, but he just sat there playing with alleles, reordering them. “These are in the wrong order,” he mused, “The pattern should be like this...” He triggered it and it generated a velociraptor off his reordered DNA, but a brightly colored one with odd vestigial feathers.
“Okay. We’ll talk about this, Duo,” Ripley said, clearing the shared display space. “Who wants to take a stab at explaining evolution?”
That got her a total of zero hands.
“Who’s heard of evolution?”
All the hands went up, except Duo’s. Ripley’s face twitched.
“Understanding the science of marine biology requires an understanding of evolution. I’ll assign basic reading and exercise. Take the mastery tests if you’re comfortable. For now, there’s a tide pool that I want to show you.”
An hour later, Duo knelt at the edge of a tide pool, staring at an orange starfish, his lip between his teeth, just entranced.
Ripley squatted down without even disturbing him. “What ya thinking?”
Duo lifted his head, stared out at the Pacific Ocean, which seemed nearly endless from where he was on firm ground, not like flying over it at a 1000 knots. “Life is way bigger than I thought. There’s so much I don’t know. I’m so fucking small.” A tear slipped down his cheek, trembling over the salt and sweat on his cheek.
“That’s a pretty cool place to be. Come on, lunch is waiting.”
“Okay,” Duo said, happily getting up and following her along the little ledges between the pools, his braid swinging. “How do you talk to starfish? If sharks are sentient, why don’t they pay taxes?”