Once his father had caught a scent there seemed to be no stopping him. The scent and apparently, taste trail of discilin led them pretty far until there was a wider concentration of it and then it abruptly petered out. Rakcigion pointed out that this meant that the scout had used it up, as was the norm for such dealers. Sean remembered someone telling him that most drug trades dried up because the dealers themselves were all hooked badly on their own drugs.
Sean and the others hovered a little away from the concentration of discilin as they contemplated where to go next.
“So how do we track him now?” Sean asked. He grimaced and stuck out his tongue a little. “Is this taste in my mouth the discilin?”
“Really bitter, sharp edge?” Rakcigion asked.
“Yep,” Sean said.
“That’s it,” Rakcigion said. “Don’t worry it only has an effect when it enters the bloodstream directly. Otherwise it’s just a very bad taste in the ocean.”
“Well thank goodness,” Sean said, “Cause if mom found out I had taken drugs, even accidentally, she’d kill me.”
“Not if it was done accidentally,” Rakcigion protested.
“Fine, she’ll kill you for getting me in this situation in the first place,” Sean rebutted.
There was a pause and then Rakcigion said, “Fair enough. And to answer your previous question, we track him now by using common sense basically.”
“Uh because there are only so many ways to go?” Sean asked.
“Uh-huh,” Rakcigion said. “Also, the very fact that he felt safe enough to take the drug here meant that he was fairly close to his home base so to speak. He wasn’t worried about tangling with something big and dangerous on his way home, not from here on out.” Rakcigion’s eyes narrowed. “Which actually narrows our possible paths to three out of five. And then discilin has hallucinogenic effects so that means he’d have most likely taken a route that had a straight shot home. He wouldn’t have wanted to become lost and if his route was comprised of a lot of twists and turns, he might lose his way if he was under the influence of hallucinogenics. So that knocks out one of our possibilities.”
“And if we take into consideration the currents in this particular area, the fact that one of those routes leads to a lot fewer hiding places than the other, we now have an educated guess on which path to take,” Caniciat added.
“So, we try route-most-likely first and route-might-be next,” Sean said.
“Yep,” Rakcigion said.
“Great,” said Sean. “Now if only I actually knew where those routes are.”
Rakcigion and Caniciat shared an amused look and then Caniciat said, “Test the boy’s instincts. They may be sharper than you think.”
Rakcigion considered this and made a little ripple motion with his whole body. It took Sean a moment to realize it was actually a shrug.
“Okay, so how do we do that?” Sean asked. “I wouldn’t mind knowing how not to be lost in the ocean.”
“Honestly? We mostly throw our children in strange places and let them work their way home.”
“What!?” Sean shrieked.
“We obviously don’t leave them alone but we do watch from afar,” Rakcigion said in a way that was supposed to be soothing and completely missed the mark. Sean almost pointed it out, remembered that he was suffering from culture shock and that the guy trying to comfort him really had no experience with a teenaged son and engaged his brain to mouth filter.
“Okay,” Sean said slowly. “But I’m pretty sure if I’m left alone here, I will die of starvation and you know it. So what’s plan B?”
“Plan B is what we tried and failed to do with the tail. Concentrate, basically. I’m going to set you facing the direction that both routes are. I want you to move towards the exact place of the route.”
“And I will know how to do this by concentrating?” Sean said dubiously.
“You’ll know how to do it by instinct. And your instincts, Shenaragle, are far sharper than you think. Just because you haven’t lived here all your life doesn’t mean that some part of you isn’t connected to the ocean. Besides,” Rakcigion gave him a crooked grin, “you’re a surfer. Don’t you already know how to read the waves?”
“I…” Sean paused. “Not like this I think.” But his mind was already whirling. Wind, angles, current, speed, depth, balance. All calculated on the fly. All done to go in one direction, the safe direction for as long as you could. It wasn’t the same of course but it wasn’t different either.
His eyes fluttered shut. He exhaled through his mouth and then shut it firmly. He sucked in water through his nose, felt it slide through him and then the water was spilling back out through his gills making the small flaps ripple as his lungs expanded. But he could feel the motion of the water. He could feel how taking in a gulp of water was difficult if you were next to strong current, feel how it was easier to breath when the water was calm. He could feel the play of the water against his skin. No wind but there was current, there were shadows formed from the waves being tossed overhead by the wind. Those things helped of course. He couldn’t make a decision without them, but he needed…more. He needed to know. He needed that gut feeling. That moment where he just knew it was time to stand and ride that wave. He needed all these things he was slowly recognizing to be internalized. And, he knew, he needed to find more than what he had found.
Instinct. Gakineh. Artae. Human. Predator. Prey.
Something basic and primal.
Something buried deep inside him.
It wasn’t like the draw that pulled him to the sea. That he knew well and that was satisfied with him being here. No, it was more like surfing. It was like being in a barrel where there was water surrounding you on all sides and you were using all your skill just to stay afloat without falling off and being tossed. Except, except safety was the direction he had to go in. This wave tunnel didn’t go forward, it went safe and it went smart. When you surfed you went in the direction the wave was breaking, you stayed near the curl for the power and you surfed, you flew, you lived.
The world reoriented itself around Sean. All those little things he’d become aware of was absorbed into his psyche fully and he could use them, know what they meant, so quickly, so naturally, he wondered how he’d never known how to before. The ocean hummed around him and then seemed to burst into life as his new awareness expanded. Sean’s eyes flew open and he drew in a startled breath.
“Oh,” he murmured. “Oh damn. That’s cool.”
Rakcigion laughed. “and which way are the routes Sean?”
Sean blinked, then drifted forward and pointed. “Over there, a little to the right is the direction of the first route. And, beyond it, curving back to the left is the other I think.” He squinted a little bit and then said, “I think I might be seeing them.” He cocked his head. “It’s a bit like noticing a path through the trees in the forest. Only…. “he trailed off. “It’s not really visible is it? It’s just because I know where it is.”
“Yes,” Rakcigion told him. So, let’s get to work.”