1 || the Abyss

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Thunder raged. Exhilarated, Blayde smiled as he looked towards Sam. She seemed timid, nervous. But that wouldn't last long, he thought. He'd seen her with her friends. Charisma flowered in her once she became familiar with someone. This was just a first date.

"Wow," he growled with brazen flirtatiousness. "You own that suit."

Sam grinned openly but cast her eyes aside and then upon her newly printed shark skin wetsuit. She ran her finger up and down her forearm, experiencing the unique texture, and grinned again. It felt real. Thunderclap called her attention away from the suit and summoned a chuckle from Blayde.

"Don't worry," he assured her, "once you're underwater, you'll barely notice the weather out here." Blayde gently placed a custom fitted helmet over her head and made sure it sealed tightly to her suit before offering her some gloves. "Remember," he said, pointing to dozens of small cylinders lining the base of the palms. "Use the thrusters sparingly until you get the hang of it. The suits are tough but you'll feel pretty beat up if you shoot yourself into the rocks or out of the water." Blayde laughed. "It's fun to shoot yourself a little out of the water but too much is painful - best not to try it first time around." Sam said nothing. Until his own receiver and helmet were fastened, her voice would be muffled. But she didn't need to speak out loud. Her eyes spoke well enough. She was excited. Blayde failed to hold back a smile as they sparkled.

He couldn't believe he'd landed such a hot date. She barely looked twenty and he was all but certain that was her true age. In reality, he didn't look much older than her but senolytic cocktails had been his regular mistress for decades. Blayde hadn't said anything and she hadn't asked. If the possibility of him being forty years her elder wasn't an issue for her, he certainly wasn't going to bring it up. She was old enough to know some older men played the field the same as their younger counterparts. Besides, he still felt twenty. And usually, that was how he acted too.

Blayde threw on his helmet and offered a few last words of advice while he fastened his gloves. The transmitters were the latest models. His voice sounded through her helmet as if there were no helmets at all. "You've plenty of crystals in your helmet so we can stay underwater until morning but if you start to feel tired or hungry, let me know and we'll bail whenever you've had your fill, okay?" Sam still said nothing, but smiled again. Unlike Blayde, she wasn't one to waste words. He smiled back. "When I went down the first time, I almost used up the crystals before going back to the surface." He didn't tell her old school crystalline breathing tanks he used as a boy only lasted a few hours. "Ready?" Blayde grabbed her hand and placed his left foot at the edge of the deck, traced his memory to make sure he'd properly anchored the boat.

"Yes." Sam put her left foot forward and prepared to jump. Although excited, her voice was soft, reserved. That was best anyway. Even the best underwater transmitters tended to echo underwater if you spoke too loudly. Blayde fancied her a natural diver, hoped she would be. They dove in face first.

Blayde inspected Sam carefully as the bubbles surfaced. He'd programmed her suit to have ridges like a zebra shark and colored it much the same. It was a last minute custom modification but it sounded fun. Blayde decided it would be a new fashion trend. With Sam as the model, he could make a killing off the code. It wouldn't be the first time a simple idea had gone viral.

"Alright," he called after the bubbles largely dissipated, "keep your legs just a little bent but flexed while you're learning. When you curl your fingers together while pushing your palm forward, your foot thrusters will engage at the same time. For now, use all four at once. You won't be happy the first time or two you only try two thrusters."

Blayde straightened his arms and legs, stretched his arms to face roughly the same direction as his legs, and alternated using two thrusters at a time. He moved through the water like a waddling penguin and laughed. The tide heaved and sparkled as heavy rainfall glistened for a moment under lightening flash. A school of fish, spooked by the flash of light, raced to deeper waters. Stormy conditions weren't exactly safe but Blayde wasn't the prudent, don't-take-risks kind of a guy. Life was meant to be full of adventure. Although Sam was somewhat reserved, Blayde sensed she felt the same. Still, his cheerful disposition dampened momentarily as he instinctually considered the unlikely possibility that lightening could strike the company boat.

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