Journey to the Shrine of the Mouse God
“Well,” Glen said gleefully after scanning the oxygen levels in Jeth’s blood, “looks like it’s time for another trip down.”
Jeth zipped up his dive suite, activated the automatic compression and suction functions and then plunged into the water behind Glen, who had as little need for a suit as he did for a cooling off period between dives. While not by nature given to contemplating other possible futures, as Jeth watched Glen’s webbed hands and feet propel him effortlessly through the water, Jeth couldn’t help wonder what it might have been like to have chosen a career as a diver and been fitted with the same top of the line genetic mods as Glen – gills, salinity monitors and filtration, temperature regulation, and most noticeably, the detachable dorsal fin connected to his T7 vertebrae. But Jeth had chosen for his primary the path of an objective reporter, so all his mods (also top of the line) were related to storing, editing and transmitting data. Considerably less sexy, he frowned. As they sank into the lightless depths Jeth pondered the possibility that his fascination was bordering into something else – envy perhaps?
As they made their way lower the beams of artificial light revealed various ruined structures, the curves and loops of corroded and barnacle encrusted steel. The skeletons of civilization, from the first global era.
“As you can see,” Glen projected through his Psy Comm, “This was clearly a structure of some importance and prominence.” He gestured towards the ruined spires of a castle, which seemed impractical for either defense or occupation.
They swam in silence for a bit until they came upon a massive dome that looked like the cracked egg of some sea creature.
“What, exactly, was this place?” Jeth projected back.
“First era religious site, near as anyone can tell. Families from all countries would take their children here on a pilgrimage to the palace of the mouse god.”
“But I thought most first era religions, certainly all of those practiced in the former Union, were monotheistic?”
“Ahh,” Greg responded, “precisely why this site is so… fascinating. While they were primarily monotheistic, it appears that there were dozens of minor pantheons. You’ve got the epic heroic literature, of course, the bat, the spider, the iron suit, and so forth. But here you have a massive complex – multiple complexes, actually, devoted to an entirely different set of animistic deities.”
Jeth gathered as much information as he could – from the temperature of the water to the depths to the chemical composition and map of the structures. He tried briefly to imagine what it would have been like when it was dry and traffic consisted of petromobiles rather than schools of fish.
Jeth took his time, knowing that the window was quickly closing. Once the storms set in, it would be at least another nine months, if he was lucky, before he’d be able to explore the area again. Once he’d had his fill, he projected to Glenn. “Let’s head up, I want to parse this.”