“Just ocean. No lands. No names. Still looks like a lot of nowhere. Why do you like it here?” Oliana met his eyes.
Pietro was flustered, but wanting to communicate why he loved his life overcame the awkwardness under her gaze.
“Well, I was born here. That’s probably the main reason. Living out here on the open sea is all I’ve known. It’s normal to me, and it’s a great life. Electra, show Oliana our seastead.” A hexagonal section of the sea appeared in the display.
“Show us the depth.” The space below the hexagon deepened.
“About six hundred meters below our farm is an undersea plateau called Marcelli Rise. We built platforms like the ones outside these windows at one hundred meters below the surface, within the light zone of the sea.”
Oliana glanced out the windows at the lush sea life.
“We seed these platforms with many types of species and raise the commercial ones for market. Right now, my father’s farm specialises in kingfish, snapper, kahawai, giant spider crabs, and oysters. I want to try some scallop rafts, and Dad has agreed.”
A movement caught his eye on the sandy floor of the platform outside the window. “See there? A blue-eyed scallop.” As if on cue, the scallop snapped its shell shut, which propelled it a few inches away from the glass.
Oliana crouched to watch it continue its jerky journey outside the window. “Shellfish!” She wrinkled her nose, with a giggle.
She doesn’t like shellfish? Oliana’s reaction jolted Pietro from his chain of thought.
She turned back towards the display. “Is your home in that hexagon?”
“Yes, my home is in the centre of the hexagon here.” Pietro drew her attention with his arm.
“Electra, show a closeup of our home.” The display zoomed in on a gleaming white oval with a green lawn.
“It’s beautiful, like an opal set in the sea.” She admired it for a moment, then stepped back from the display. “Still this place is, just, nowhere!”
“Nowhere?” Pietro’s voice rose with injured pride. “Electra, show Marcelli Township.” The display panned out to show a broader scene with labels: Marcelli Rise, Marcelli Deep, Marcelli Ring.
“See here? The Rise is part of this township on the seamount. And there are over a hundred seamount settlements in the south Pacific Pelagic Territory alone. Electra? Show us the other seamount communities.” Yellow lights flashed throughout the South Pacific ocean.
“Electra, now show us the nomadic sea clans.” More than two hundred green dots glowed as they moved slowly in the oceans.
“Plus, pelagic settlements which are opposite major terrestrial commercial centres to facilitate trade with them. For example, Sydney, Auckland, Jakarta handle our marketing to their respective continental nations. These twinned cities form our economic hubs.” Purple stars now glowed in the EEZ zones near these cities.
“We are also joined together by communications through the Pelagic array and courier drone networks move…” A cough caused him to glance over at Oliana. She was grinning.
“You’re kinda cute when you are lecturing, Pietro. I’m intrigued, would you…”
The sound of someone entering the observation deck interrupted their conversation. A voice called out, “Oliana, time to go.”
She whirled around, “Yes, father.”
Would I what!? Pietro shook his head to clear his mind. Why am I reacting like this?
“Oli, who is your friend?”
“This is Pietro Marcelli, Dad. He lives here and has been telling me about it.”
“Seems to have improved your mood.” The tall, dark haired man extended his hand. Pietro shook it.
“You must be Carlos Marcelli’s son. I was just with your father upstairs. Pleased to meet you.”
“Nice meeting you too, sir…Mr. Rogers.”
“Your father mentioned you are applying to the Auckland University Extension program. Dr. Zhao and I lecture on mollusc genetics there. I will be one of your teachers next year, if you pass your exams.”
“That would be great, sir!”
“Come, Oliana. We must hurry so we can catch our transport.” He took her hand and they walked quickly towards the door.
Oliana turned, smiled and waved at Pietro “See you around, I hope.”
Pietro was frozen on the spot, staring at the empty door. Then shook himself again. “Girls,” he sighed.