It was a sure sign of trouble when the seahorses began disconnecting their viscital tail links from the coraline receivers.

There was something in the reef.

Dominic kicked his flippers and followed the tiny glowing creatures through the seaweed forest. They, like everything else in the underwater garden, were covered with delicate tracings of circuitry. It was luminescent and, on the seahorses, came in a variety of colors; bright blue, purple, and orange. The light they cast left a tiny radius of color on the seafloor beneath them as they bobbed along, headed away from their usual hangout. But unlike their vibrant hues, the web of connections on the leafy columns of kelp were all shades of green. The stalks were olive, the stems lime, and the huge drifting fronds were a more traditional leafy green.

As he expected, the creatures were headed in the direction of the more sheltered receivers in the reef proper. He didn’t need to follow them all the way there to confirm it, but he wanted to check out the state of the place. It might offer more clues as to what they were dealing with. He put on some speed and left the seahorses behind him.

The rolling mixture of heavily textured greens swaying and shifting in the kelp forest was visual tranquility compared to the chaos of the FAR reef. There were hundreds of species, dozens of colors, all jumbled together, layered over with a network of cyber-infused circuitry. There were yellow brain corals, twice the size of his body, with a spiderweb of lines emanating from their centers. Thin wisps of red gorgonian sea fans branched out like trees, following the streamlined shape of motherboard patterns. At the base of the carbonate rock, feather duster worms opened and closed, revealing spiral data clusters.

There were fish, darting in and out of the pulsing foxgloves and wafting gonipora. Some nestled into the neon anemones, brushing up against their tentacles and transferring bio-information. All of the fish were, just like the seahorses, elaborately colored and emit their own glow from the markings on their bodies.

It was easy to look at the FAR reef as a random mess; invertebrate corals, crabs and snails, fish and macro-algae. But Dominic new better. After all, he was an experienced organic data aqualogist. No, this wasn’t chaos any more than a machine engine or a computer array was chaos to the untrained eye. These weren’t animals. They were parts. Parts in a bigger machine. The FAR, Forced Augmented Reality, covered them in a visual representation of their genetic purpose so it was easier to understand.

It was a living computer network.


Something strange is affecting the organic coral cyber-computer and it’s Dominic’s job to search the depths for answers. Sign up and get the entire underwater sci-fi short!