Acnao and Njall peeled away from the group, off to converse with other Xunari whom appeared to be loading stock onto the ship. Approaching was a salmon and white female followed by a deep violet whelp. They both appeared to be decked out in various gears and packs which gave away a diving uniform.
"Oh great!" Bloodbeak beamed "This here is Emni" he gestured to the adult Tsabhua "and this cutie is Vydia" he smiled softly at the whelp - who appeared to be quite stoic and observant for a whelp.
"Wait, children now? I am so confused; every step of the way we seem to meet so many new Xunari. What is going on here?" Novato demanded, crossing his arms and looking sternly at Lilith.
"These are trusted allies. Honestly, I am surprised you have not met them all before. They claim to be part of a faction called "The Rebels"" Lilith began to explain, her usual jovial self becoming quite serious all of a sudden "We have been in communication with The Rebels for quite some time now, trying to figure out a network of colonies and Xunari which we can trust."
"Our network is quite extensive" Emni chimed in "Many colonies have doubts about The Departments true intentions with the planet. So of course, once we discovered there had been a new species stranded here, we did all we could to make first contact and secure them away from The Department and their many spies."
Novato just stared at Emni, taking in all the new information.
"Hang on a minute" Sunhalter's turn to question "You are telling us that there is a whole network of colonies? We... we thought we were the only ones who did not trust The Department." She looked very relieved but also bewildered. "I am so glad we found you! We have many Xunari in our clan who also have reservations about The Department. Unfortunately... our leaders are erring to not rock the boat and trust The Department."
"That is a common problem we are facing, The Department offers security and is a known uncertainty, whereas we seem to be an unknown uncertainty" Bloodbeak nodded, before starting to turn away. "Either way, we welcome any of your clansmates who will help our cause, however to be safe I would ask you not inform your leaders of course."
"Of course!" Sunhalter agreed, Novato merely nodded in agreement.
Vydia piped up, her small voice somehow managing to command everyone's attention "We should really get going. They would be waiting for us now."
"Ah yes, of course!" Lilith nodded "Well, this is where I leave you. You are in capable claws." She rested a hand fondly on Bloodbeak's shoulder, both exchanging a goodbye glance and nod before Lilith began to head back. "Fare well! We will meet again." She winked, then was gone - escorted by familiar Tsabhua.
"Right then, no more delaying!" Bloodbeak announced, nodding at Vydia and Emni who supplied a pair of wetsuits. "Please don these so that we may go. We have a bit of a swim ahead of us."
Sunhalter took the suits from Vydia, handing one to Novato then looking around for a place to change.
Soon they were standing by the waters edge, the ocean lapping at their claws as they stood along the pebbled beach. The ship had long since sailed off along the coast, leaving Bloodbeak with Novato, Sunhalter, Vydia and Emni. Novato was nervous, having never really been a strong swimmer, yet there he was, about to walk into the ocean; at least the storm had subsided.
Surprisingly, Vydia led the way into the water, walking with confidence until she was soon paddling to keep afloat. Bloodbeak and Emni followed, Emni gesturing the others to follow suit as she pulled down her mouthpiece. Bloodbeak disappeared quickly into the ocean, flicking his tail seemingly effortlessly to gain immense speed.
Sunhalter held Novato's hand, giving a warm smile as she led him into the water. Soon they were all underway, following Bloodbeak and watching on in awe as he seemed to twirl and dance - almost like he was flying.
The rocky beach and outcrops obscured most of their view, but as they travelled deeper and the waved had less of an impact, the immense size of the ocean floor quickly became apparent. Novato started to breathe fast as he panicked, however Sunhalter never let go of his hand as she half encouraged and half dragged him along as she swam. Vydia was surprisingly adept at swimming, though it was clear no one could keep up with the pace set by Bloodbeak who darted and twisted along, vaguely heading in the direction everyone else was, but mostly enjoying the freedom that came with the wide and open ocean.
They swam for what felt like ages, getting lower and lower into the ocean, very shortly needing to turn on lights on their suits to illuminate the way. Nothing seemed to slow Bloodbeak down, however, as the others could only watch on in awe.
Bloodbeak finally led them down a sudden cliff face, opening onto a massive cavern. Novato hesitated, however Sunhalter did not let him slow down. Not far below the cliff was an illuminated platform, which led into an airlock. Bloodbeak gestured to where they should go, entering one set of doors which closed behind them before the water was drained.
Novato quickly spat out his mouthpiece and took in deep gasps of air before the water was fully drained.
"Are you okay, my love?" Sunhalter asked, worried.
"Y-yes.. just... grateful to be back on ground." He smiled very weakly at her. Sunhalter pretended to not notice Novato's shaking legs, instead merely kissing him softly on his cheek.
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