Born With Scars

6

6

A guttural groan echoed through the waters around the fortress. The horrible noises contrasted heavily with the gentle sunlight illuminating the waters from overhead. The waters around the great machine continued to churn, on the verge of boiling. Finally, the machine calmed, and its doors fell to the seafloor. Once the uprooted sands cleared, the children of the machine propelled out of the mechanical gut for the first time.

The children were quickly made aware of where they were, who they were and what they were made for. The men spoke to them through a large display screen on the fortress's Northern wall. They were made aware of the fortress's status as their home, and the machine that made them was the Womb of the Evolution God. They were told they were the scarred dolphins, and that they had already been blessed with minds their relatives outside the facility could only dream of. They were also to be provided with perfect lives within the facility, if only they pledged their service to the men behind the screen and the Evolution God. Young and naive, the scarred dolphins universally took the offer.

After this presentation had ended, the scarred dolphins were ushered into a large, open section of the facility. The dolphins were in awe; in the room was a great seabed, with all manner of coral and fish. Though only just born, they knew the beauty and the value of such a space of living. As they went their separate ways to explore which part of the room interested them most, three dolphins stayed behind. Those three were yet to be named, like all the other young dolphins. Instead of joining in the exploration, they instead opted to talk amongst themselves.

"This place is amazing!" an as of yet unnamed dolphin shouted into the waters. He swam in a circle before darting to the surface to catch a breath, which the two other dolphins imitated shortly after.

A larger unnamed dolphin piped in, "It is great, so many delicious fish, so many spectacular sights! What do you think… uh…"

"Something is missing here," the third dolphin inputted as he reached the surface, "but what is it?"

"Clearly its the fact those men didn't bother to give us names!" the first dolphin yelled. "We should go see if they just forgot."

"I think grabbing a bite of those fish down there is a more enticing option." the larger dolphin interrupted.

"Why don't we just name ourselves?" the third dolphin suggested, "I wanna be Caspian!"

"I'll be, umm… Anchor!" the larger dolphin decided.

"Hmm… then I'll be…" the first dolphin looked up towards the clouds contemplating. Suddenly, his eyes lit up, for a moment brighter than the sun. "I'll be Piper."

And it was so. At least, it was for them.

As it turned out, the men behind the screen did plan to name the scarred dolphins. At the dawn of the next day, they were called back into the smaller room with the screen and the Womb of the Evolution God. There, they were instructed to enter a small machine stationed in the center of the room. There, they received their names. However, they weren't ordinary names; they were numbers. Tattooed onto the left face of each dolphin's dorsal fin, along with an inscription of which they could not read. The dolphins thought nothing of this, for the machine was painless, but like Piper, Caspian and Anchor before them, they opted to give themselves their own names. However, the men behind the screen never recognized these self-assigned names, so the dolphins had to memorize their numbers too.

Years passed for the dolphins of the underwater fortress. Through it all, the fortress's walls were adorned with shocking wires floating up to the surface, preventing the dolphins from exiting. Although given the quality of life in the central enclosure, they payed little mind to this limitation. When they came of age, they began to be called to test strange weapons and devices. Though this initially confused the dolphins, they decided that it must all be done with good intentions given what the men behind the screen had done for them thus far. The weapons ranged from dorsal guns to head-mounted blades and battering rams. There were suits with propellers to boost speed and compartments to hold other equipment such as bombs and bullets. Indeed they were impressive, but what they were to be used for could not be determined.

Ten years after he and his kin emerged from the metal womb, Piper awoke to Caspian shaking him awake.

"Piper, get up!"

"Aye, what is it?"

"Me an' Anchor have just been called in to test some strange thing, they say it's not a weapon. Said it was something more important."

"Aye, did they call me in too?"

"Nah, just us two."

"Then what are ye waking me up for? I was enjoying my rest quite a bit there!"

"Sorry, I just wanted to let you know."

"Thank you, thank you, but let me get some more shut eye. The sun's not even up yet."

With that, Caspian left to test what the men behind the screen had in store. Hours later, Piper awoke to the rising sun, but his friends had not yet returned despite departing hours ago. Piper searched throughout the vast sunlit corals of the usual bounds of the dolphin's living space, to no avail. He elected to simply return back to their usual dwelling to wait, but on his return his eye was caught by the door to the room with the Womb and the screen. The door was left ajar. Curiosity overtook Piper's movements, and he swam up to the door. At first, the sun reflecting off the metal door made it difficult to see, but when Piper's eyes adjusted, he was met with a sight of pure horror. In the center of the room were his two friends, sat still on the room's metallic floor.

"Caspian! Anchor!" he shouted, wrenching himself through the door. When he finally burst through, he darted to his friend's side, but they remained motionless. Their eyes were blank with terror as if they had seen the world end a thousand times. After a moment, Caspian began to twitch.

"Caspian! Are you there, matey?" Piper cried to his friend's seemingly lifeless body. Then, Caspian lurched forward, letting out a scream that could be heard across every sea.

"Caspian, you're alive! Wha-"

"We need to get out of here." Caspian interrupted as Anchor jolted awake.

"No! I can still see it! Why can I still see it!?" Anchor screeched to himself.

"Anchor! What do you mean, what do you see?" Piper questioned frantically, fearing for his friend's sanity.

"The whale!"

"Anchor, c-calm down, mate. I-i can see it too." Caspian stuttered.

"Caspian, what does he mean 'the whale'? Surely no whale could inspire such fear in brave souls such as you!" Piper asked in confusion.

"The tests… t-they showed us, a drawing. A drawing of a whale. There didn't seem to be anything, anything special about it. But when we saw it, we got tired, and then everything went black. When I was out… I-i saw it there, watching me. It didn't look the same as the picture, but I knew it was… was it. Some kind of god, a loving god, but a terrifying one nonetheless. Now I'm awake… I-i'm awake and i-it's still there…"

Caspian sank into silence, staring at the metal womb from which they had all been birthed from 10 years ago. If a dolphin could cry, a new ocean may very well have risen that day. Piper sat by his friends, offering comfort, and keeping his eyes on the empty screen. For every other day of his life, he had looked at that screen in admiration and hope. Today, he could only look in disdain - and fear.

The trio sat in the room in silence for hours, excepting the occasional weep or whimper from Anchor. However, Anchor's weeps suddenly turned to wails.

"No… No no no no! No! Don't take me back! Please! Don't take me-" Anchor fell back to the steel floor, his face locked in terror.

Piper rushed to his sinking friend's side. "Anchor! No! Don't give in!" He called out for his friend to resist, but it was all for naught. Piper turned to see Caspian, wide-eyed and pale.

"I-i-" he stammered before he too fell to the steel seabed. As he fell, the room's floor creaked open to reveal a deep metallic abyss with no bottom in sight. Suddenly, a sharp current began to pull Caspian and Anchor's catatonic bodies into the depths.

"No! You can't take them away! Ergh… give them back, you scalawags!" Piper tried to swim after his friends, but it was to no avail, for as quickly as it had opened, the floor slammed shut, leaving Caspian and Anchor as morsels for the abyss. Enraged, Piper bolted for the door, wrenched himself through once more, and went to warn his kin of what had become of his friends.

Heartbroken, Piper swam to the center of the scarred dolphin's massive home, or rather, their prison, and cried out in all directions. Confused, all the dolphins swam to the center. They were aware that Caspian and Anchor had been called to undertake some new tests, and they too had worried about their whereabouts. All emotions throughout the enclosure turned solemn when their eyes caught sight of Piper's face, distraught with rage.

"Dolphins!" Piper shouted through the waters, "The new tests of the men behind the screen are cursed! They have engaged in sick torture of the mind, and in the process have swallowed Caspian and Anchor into the abyss!"

The dolphins were confused and distraught. One dolphin yelled out, "What have they done to Caspian and Anchor? I saw them well and fine only yesterday!"

"The men displayed a sickly image of a whale to them! An image which etches itself into the eyes of whoever views it, plagues their mind and takes away their ability to act, to move, speak or even dream! And when they fell, the floors of the screen room opened up to hell, sending Caspian and Anchor by the board, and swallowing them into the abyss."

The dolphins were aghast. They looked to the door of the screen room, still ajar. Murmurs of fear spread through the audience. Piper had presented little proof, but he was not known to lie. But trust in the men behind the screen was difficult to shake.

"These heinous acts cannot be allowed to stand! All our lives, we've been forced t' live in this small space, locked in by electric wires. If this place were really so beautiful, why would they have to lock us in? If those men want to lock us in, torture our minds all while seemingly readying us for a war, then I suppose these men, who promised us perfect lives, have failed to keep up to their promises. Should they attempt to test these horrible abominations of the mind again, which I assure you they will, we cannot stand by as they break the minds and steal the bodies of our brothers and sisters! They have trained us in war and provided us with the tools, its time we put it all to good use."

With that, Piper, rushed back to his dwelling, where he would weep for his fallen friends until the sun fell. Meanwhile, the dolphins were angered, but still skeptical. They opted to wait to see if any further testing would be called.

The next morning, the dolphin's awoke solemnly to the calls of the men behind the screen. The scarred dolphins were ushered into the screen room. Many of the dolphins were beginning to grow angry, with the continued absence of Caspian and Anchor seemingly confirming Piper's claims from the day before. Piper, however, was nowhere to be seen in the crowd. Weapons testing was assigned as per usual, but when the announcement of further unknown testing was made, the dolphin's anger began to boil over. Just as they were about to protest, a crash could be heard from across the great enclosure. All the dolphins and, indeed, the men behind the screen looked towards the source of the noise. There, the door to the weapon's valet had just crumbled to a large explosion, and Piper emerged from the smoke, donning a war suit and a dorsal cannon. The dolphin's anger turned to inspiration as they let out a deafening cheer. The facility's alarms began to go off as the dolphins raced to enter the now exposed weapons valet.

Equipping battering rams, a group of dolphins raced back to the screen room and began to charge the screen, breaking through within seconds. The room contained a set of cameras as well as many blue-robed men, who were swiftly taken away by the incoming rivers. Meanwhile, several parts of the facility began to light up as bombs were dropped around the enclosure, though the meaning far outweighed the damage. As the damages racked up, two doors on either side of the enclosure began to open. From each, a large mass of amalgamated flesh swam out into the waters. The lovecraftian beasts swam right up to the unsuspecting dolphins, each ensnaring one in folds of mucus-laden fat. Instantly, the caught dolphins began to scream for help as their skin began to melt where the slime touched. Horrified, the dolphins rushed to defend their allies, but the beast began to inflate before exploding, ending the lives of a dozen scarred dolphins together. Enraged, the dolphins began furiously dropping bombs around the walls, destroying the electric wires that had once held them prisoner within the facility. What little of the facility's inside that had not been flooded from the streams of water entering from the smashed screen were filled with the sea when the facility's structure began to fail. Finally, with one final great explosion, the walls of the facility began to fall, exposing the great open range of the sea.

Vindicated, the dolphins began to disengage from their weapons. However, they were halted by Piper's calls.

"Dolphins!" he yelled out once more. "We have claimed vengeance on these scornful men who took our brothers and sisters, and took the minds of Caspian and Anchor. However, t' save the future, there is one more thing we must do." Piper looked to the great metal womb they had all been birthed from. "We must destroy the Great Machine which made us, to ensure that no such evil that has been committed against us is ever committed again!"

And so the scarred dolphins charged at their maker. The machine's hull screeched as it was rammed by vindictive dolphin soldiers. Explosions rang out as bombs dropped at the machine's feet. When the doors were ripped open, the machinery inside was ravaged. A guttural groan echoed through the waters around the Womb of the Evolution God. But this was not a groan of life. It was a groan of justice.

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