ATTUNGA

Date 7 May 2013.
Author Iarwain iarwain@aanet.com.au
Subject Attunga.

The author retains copyright (2012) to this story. Reproducing this story for distribution without the author's permission is a violation of that copyright.
This story is fiction.

Thank you Nifty for the opportunity to post this story.

This story is part of the TALES OF THE TERRAN DIASPORA.
Wirrin shares his life with two friends on one of the great space habitats.

ATTUNGA PART 11.



***

Awed and awkward, Wirrin stared at the standing crowd in front of him, over 1200 witnesses gathered to meet Sonic in person.
Sitting comfortably in front of such an august group, with Akama next to him, and on his other side an empty seat then Thom and Gelar, all on a slightly raised dais, was distinctly uncomfortable, but it was Akama's plan. Attention coming from all those important eyes was disconcerting. Thank goodness for the quiet comments from Akama, giving friendly assurance till everything started happening.
Turning his head slightly he could see Puck and Flute and a dozen other dolphins swimming behind the giant transparent panel, curiously looking out at the assembled people. Flute swam close and looked at the seated group then moved back to Puck.
The lights dimmed briefly then brightened on the dais and as the hum of conversation stopped Akama stood up.

"Welcome everyone. We're gathered at the invitation of a young dolphin who is eager to meet us and formally declare his place in our society. He has honored me by asking my help and I'm honored as your representative to do what I can."

Akama paused just a moment.

"Sonic has many accomplishments and soon he will speak to us all, but first I will greet his mother."

He turned, and with elaborate care, made the greeting wave. Wirrin had never seen it made with such meaning. Puck, close by and next to the viewing panel, answered with the familiar body movement and head flip. The rest of the dolphins approached and followed suit then hung suspended in place as if waiting.
Akama turned to the gathering, raised his arm again and gave a guiding nod. Everyone knew exactly what he meant and Wirrin's first tingle of awe for the day brought him right out of his awkwardness as he watched the exchange of greeting between Witnesses and dolphins.
Akama made an expansive gesture and a giant holo-screen showing Puck, Flute and three other female dolphins filled the complete front of the gallery. Wirrin stared at the strange image of Puck with a little fluke protruding from her body and goosebumps took over as he realised this was the moment of Sonic's birth. An electric murmur went through the gallery then an even more electric silence as the drama of new birth unfolded, the shocking burst of red when the umbilical cord parted, the little dolphin's movements as he oriented himself and was guided to the surface for his first breath.
The holo faded and Wirrin automatically reached for Thom's hand. The scene changed to Puck's presentation of Sonic to the dolphin and human community and Gelar's following words.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you've just become part of history...."

For the next while the voice of Gelar presented parts of Sonic's life, suckling from Puck, chasing playfully after Flute, the first meeting with Calen, and the gift of his first fish. Wirrin watched himself with Thom and Calen, wrestling, splashing, speaking and laughing with Sonic in the pool at home, diving as a group to one of the underwater caverns in the new reach at Warrakan, and swimming together at the Zero-G pool. The last clip was the formal greeting to Akama and the beautiful arc of dolphins leaping into the air.
The holo-screen shimmered and faded to show an empty viewing gallery. Two forms appeared at the middle entrance tunnel, arrowed to the front and made the greeting, Sonic with the dolphin version and Calen with the stylised wave.
Wirrin's heart leapt. Sonic looked magnificent. But so did Calen, with his body bare except for a form fitting costume extending from waist to knees and made of some silvery grey material which almost looked like dolphin skin. For a few seconds they stayed motionless with Calen's hand resting on Sonic's back then they rose to the surface where Sonic took a breath. Together they dived and Wirrin's neck hairs tingled in awe as he watched the slow loop of spiralling forms he'd first glimpsed at the Zero-G pool.
He'd been amazed then but this was so much more than a short spontaneous moment.
This was Calen and Sonic working with full concentration and effort to present the surprise they'd been working on for the last four weeks. Music started, a melody which changed in mood and style, sometimes simple, sometimes complicated, slow at first then gradually becoming more lively and joyful. Dolphin and boy moved with the music.
No they didn't. The music moved with them, as they twined and turned in unison and counterpoint, a single unit with two separate parts. Wirrin watched in total disbelief at Calen's impossible actions and a strange feeling came that maybe he was really a dolphin in human form? And even stranger feeling built that maybe Sonic was partly human? A beautiful sound joined in. Sonic was singing the melody and for the next few minutes Wirrin was lost in sight and sound.
Everything stopped. Sonic and Calen were back where they started, motionless in the water, except for Calen's chest heaving as he dragged air from his breathing mask. Everything stayed stopped, and Wirrin, looking out, had an eerie feeling that everyone had turned to statues. Akama stood up, and when he turned towards Sonic and Calen a murmur of sound washed through the gallery. In seconds it became a great wave, applause and voice building and building in acclamation. Calen gave a watery version of a bow in acknowledgement and when Sonic copied him Wirrin couldn't help smiling. They must have rehearsed it but it did look spontaneous. The sound muted and a hush of expectancy built as Sonic and Calen faced each other.

'Thank you my brother. You honor me.'

Amplified for the gallery, Sonic's translated words sounded out clearly and Wirrin sensed the communal jolt of realisation that he was speaking directly. Calen responded by saying the same thing in dolphin talk. It was a short, slightly formal interchange, and Wirrin thought of all the people watching and seeing for the first time that dolphins and people could really speak to each other.
A swirl of movement took attention as dolphins poured through the three entrance tunnels, more and more till Wirrin knew that once again every Attunga dolphin was here. Rank upon rank they formed, then watched Sonic and Calen perform one more amazing spiralling arc and disappear into one of the tunnels.
No! No! They couldn't be going? Wirrin wanted them back.
Sonic returned and with a burst of rapid dolphin speech circled past the gathered pods and gracefully broached the surfaced for a breath. Every dolphin followed, returned to its place, and facing the witnesses with Sonic, gave the greeting. Wirrin was stunned. Every dolphin had moved at exactly the same instant, as if one composite being. They did move as a group in the reaches, it was part of their nature, but this was done with a degree of precision he'd never seen.
The raucous voice of a kookaburra calling its territorial warning filled the gallery and the deep thrum of vibrating air columns joined in the evocative introduction to the Dreamtime Concerto. Wirrin's goosebumps rose yet again as the greatest musical legacy from the resurgence of First Australia sounded through the gallery, and he watched enthralled as the dolphin's motions presented an astonishing, active, interpretation. Straight away he recognised the birth of the Sun, as a living sphere of dolphins formed and arose from the earth in the creation of light and life. There was the Rainbow Serpent, a mass of dolphins undulating and weaving in concert with the powerful music. Wirrin smiled with delight as Sonic lead a group of five dolphins to somehow simulate kangaroo spirits bounding beside the Rainbow Serpent. He lost track briefly when Calen arrived at the dais and sat in the empty seat, still in his special costume but wearing a shirt with the dolphinarium logo as well.
Well, so what if millions of people were watching, he was getting a hug. Calen leaned into the hug and whispered.

".. Did I do all right?"

Wirrin gave him another squeeze, and a nod and smile.

"You were useless!"

That was reverse praise from Thom and after receiving a quick but gentle dig in the ribs as well, Calen settled happily as attention returned to the dolphins.
For the next fifteen minutes the spellbinding actions of the dolphins merged with the power of the music and built to an explosive final crescendo. The nearly 400 dolphins moved close behind the viewing panel and stayed, almost motionless, looking out at the Witnesses. Just as when Sonic and Calen finished, the gallery hushed while people returned to themselves.
And again it held, an eerie tableau of humans and dolphins watching each other, till a Witness near the front raised both her arms high in acclamation. The people close by followed, and then everyone else. Wirrin jumped to his feet to join in but whirled when a little sound, poignant in the silence, came from Calen. He was overcome, but Wirrin, knowing that action would help, pulled him to his feet and lifted his arm. On his other side Thom did the same.
The dolphins repeated their unified greeting then with bewildering speed poured in three living streams through the exit tunnels and left Sonic by himself.
Now the roar of sound started, filling the gallery, and Wirrin was carried in wonder and awe at the strength of it till a movement by Akama caught attention and brought it to an end.

"Sonic, you and your people have honored Attunga with gifts of beauty and grace, and we thank you with all our hearts."

Akama's voice rang clear and strong, with a powerful message of gratitude and appreciation from everyone on Attunga, and then an exhortation for friendship and cooperation between dolphins and humans, while Sonic's nods of agreement and acknowledgement made him part of the message.
With a start, Wirrin realised he was part of this. Sonic's human seeming body language had been mostly learnt from interaction with the trio and this was one of the reasons they were sitting here.
Akama finished and Sonic spoke. Wirrin quickly relaxed, started smiling and saw that the watching witnesses were smiling too. Sonic's happy nature was being communicated to everyone in the gallery, and, it turned out, to the millions of people watching.

'While we speak in open forum I would like my brothers to be with me.'

Brothers? Not just Calen? Sonic wanted all three of them in there with him? Wirrin's heart started pounding as Calen pulled him from his seat. This wasn't part of the agenda.

"Be proud."

Akama sounded pleased by the unplanned request.
For the next twenty minutes the trio swam with Sonic while he spoke with the Witnesses.
When that part of the proceedings finished the lights dimmed, then brightened on the dais again where Akama and Gelar were now standing together. Akama raised an arm slowly in a simple gesture which demanded full and serious attention.

"Friends, today we have shared in joy and grace and ventured a new frontier, but great changes are often fraught with great problems."

Wirrin's mind jolted as the simple hand gesture of a moment ago paled beside the import of Akama's words.

"Be assured that all is well on Attunga.

Such is not the case elsewhere."

***

END OF PART 11.
I hope you've gained some enjoyment from this story.
Any comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated.
My email address is iarwain@aanet.com.au
Alternative address, iarwain7@ains.net.au
Should you be interested, my other stories can be found by looking under 'Iarwain' in the authors section on Nifty.
Iarwain.