Blue Reverie: Dream at the Edge of the World
An endless world of blue.
The majestic white ferry cut through acres-upon-acres of vast ocean as the auxiliary generators on its side whirred, spurring the vessel on towards its destination. The addition of these generators, which resembled large, circular turbines with a glowing blue center, gave the Kingfisher-class vessel an air of being at the cutting-edge of modern technology, even though the model was a good ten years old by now.
A young man stood idly against the upper deck’s railing as the Kingfisher roared on through the open ocean; the lively sea breeze nipped at his short, messy light-brown hair, and the collar of his brown denim jacket.
Roughly eight hours had passed since his departure from the continent of Sibelia, and there would still be a good four-or-so more hours to go until he’d reach his destination, the tropical Boda Archipelago at the far southwest edge of the world.
The youth had been out at sea for so long that all time seemed to melt into one big sludge between the present and the time of his arrival, he simply stood gazing out at that vast blue abyss and his body drifted in and out of a state of consciously processing the scene before him.
What seemed like a thousand eons passed as the youth’s eyes scrolled through an endless panorama of sea and sky. Outside of occasionally tapping his finger against the ferry’s railing, the young man stood still as he merely took the scenery in.
Before long, however, the wait seemed to bear fruit, as a thin sliver of coastline appeared in the distance.
--Haah…what a pain.
The young traveler let out a sigh of relief that the monotony of the twelve-odd hour voyage was about to be nearing its end.
The generators of the Kingfisher continued roaring as it sped towards its destination, with the verdant palm trees, the rocky coast and even the shine of the glass dome on the roof of a far-away building all entering the youth’s field of vision.
And thus the young man’s new life would begin.
The Kingfisher’s generators whirred one last time as the vessel prepared to pull into the island’s harbor. A voice soon boomed over the ship’s intercom:
“We have now arrived at the island of Alba Costa. Those making their departure may now begin making their way off the vessel from the lower deck. To the rest of our passengers, we thank you for your patience as we make a ten-minute stop to refuel before resuming our voyage through the Boda Archipelago.”
The brown-haired young man made his way to the lower deck before stepping onto the hard concrete pier of the harbor. He let out a big stretch upon touching solid ground, as a nearby crewman called out to him.
“Huh. Looks like you’re the only one getting off here. I take it you’re a student over there, then?”
The crewman pointed to an enclave of buildings in the distance. Even from far away, they had a sleek, modern look to them, with many of the buildings being equipped with solar panels on their roofs. The glass domed-building which had caught the youth’s attention earlier had appeared even more of a spectacle now that it had come fully into view.
“Ahh, yeah. I’ve never been too far from home before so I’m pretty nervous, to be honest. Oh, and thanks for delivering me here safely.”
“Hah, don’t mention it. I’m damn ready to keel over after spending twelve straight hours at sea, and the rest of the Archipelago will have me going for two more after that. Ah screw it, at least the new labor laws will have the company paying me overtime for it.”
The youth let out a small laugh. The man spoke harshly, but came off as well-intentioned, nonetheless. His five-o-clock shadow and lightly tanned skin meshed perfectly with his strong gaze to give off an impression of being the quintessential rough-and-tumble sailor.
“In any case, lad, best of luck out there. It’s been a hell of a time these past few years with the war but thankfully that’s looking to be all over and done with. The future belongs to you lot now, so go give ‘em hell!”
The young man gave a nod in agreement as the sailor saw him off one last time, he turned his back on the Kingfisher before making his way towards the campus in the distance.
It wasn’t until he had really gotten settled on the island itself that he was able to really take in and appreciate its beauty. The sand on the shores sparkled and sizzled under the sunlight, giving off an amber glow that offset the cool blue ocean perfectly. The thick leaves of the palm trees which dotted the island sauntered back and forth under the gentle guidance of the afternoon sea breeze.
It was then that a girl’s voice called out to him.
She waved over to the young man from one of the piers at the far end of the island's harbor before running over in his direction.
“You’re going to be attending the Marineakademie too, right? I’m Juno Carnetta, nice to meet you!”
“Ahh, yep. I’m Revin Altstadt, it’s nice to meet you too. I’m a bit worn out from the long trip here though, so you’ll have to forgive me.”
The young man responded in his usual cool and aloof tone as his eyes set upon the girl in front of him. She gave off an air of contagious energy even though she, too, had seemingly just departed from a twelve-hour long voyage from the mainland. She had long, slightly messy dark brown hair and wore a beige cardigan and blue jeans. Revin surmised that she might have been from the west of the continent given that her fashion sense was on the modern side.
“Revin! Let’s become good friends, alright? I’ve never been so far from home before, so I’m a little nervous coming here all alone.”
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the same way. In all honesty, there’s a part of me that thought I’d never leave my hometown, but somehow I’ve ended up here.”
The two began walking towards their new campus and making various small talk before Juno came to an abrupt stop and interjected with a point of her own.
“Ahh, and I’m just…really glad that the war is finally over. There was a time when I wasn’t sure if I’d even be able to end up going to university like this. It’s such a relief that things are going back to normal.”
“Likewise. It feels like there’s finally something to look forward to now.” Revin cracked a wistful smile that seemed to say more than his brief statement of accord.
“Anyways, Revin, how’d you get into marine biology? I didn’t even know much about it myself until I saw Dr. Augenthal’s film The Hidden Blue World at a film festival in my hometown. There was just something magical to me about a whole body of life existing at the bottom of the sea, seeing all the colorful and strange species of fish and undersea plants, it felt like something out of a storybook.”
“After that, I was pretty much hooked. I think I knew right then and there that I wanted to study that undersea world somehow. I picked up every book on marine biology that I could find, I even used my school’s study periods to look up articles on the ExoNet; I was obsessed. When I found out Dr. Augenthal had actually founded a school for the study of marine biology, I made it my mission to come here, and, somehow, I was able to make it work.
Juno let out a small giggle before turning to Revin. Her excitement on the subject was almost contagious.
“Ahh, well it’s a bit embarrassing, but I don’t really know all that much about marine biology. I ended up coming here thanks to the Servicemen’s Scholarship program that the Inter-Nations League set up after the war ended. They gave me a small list of schools to choose from and this one sounded the most interesting.”
“W-wait, ‘Servicemen’s’? Revin, you’re saying you actually fought in the war?! How old are you?”
“Jeez…that’s the same age as me. I can’t believe they actually had you fighting so young…”
“Ehh, it is what it is. My family needed the money at the time and my country, Siresca, offered an incentive to anyone who enlisted outside of the draft, so I took them up on their offer when I was around sixteen.”
“Hah, sorry, I didn’t mean to get all heavy on you. Either way, it’s all in the past.”
“Nooooo, it’s alright! I didn’t mean to get all morbid either, it’s just, I’m sorry you had to go through all that, really.”
“And, I should probably mention I’m from Hyland out in the west. I don’t want it to be awkward between us or anything since our countries were on opposite sides in the war” Juno continued.
“Nah, I don’t put too much stock into that sort of thing. Most of Siresca’s involvement in the war was localized to our conflict with Dalcania anyways, and that’s really just a whole mess altogether, one that dates back centuries.”
“So, seriously, don’t worry about it. Like you said, the war’s over, so we should just enjoy ourselves as things go back to normal, right?”
As Revin and Juno made their way up the steps towards the main campus, they could not help but marvel at it, even as a deluge of other students poured in from the harbor they had only just departed from.
Though the flora and fauna of Alba Costa seemed very by-the-books as far as tropical islands went, the various buildings of the Marineakademie campus had a decidedly modern look. The buildings were reinforced by an outer layer of silvery metal interspersed between palisades of oblong glass windows, and appeared in all shapes and sizes from hexagonal to rectangular, giving their array a sense of incongruent harmony.
Revin thought it reminded him of photos he’d seen of the EDEN Campus in the Schedar State some time ago; he was surprised that a small university in the southwest ocean could rival the greatest scientific institution in Sibelia in terms of aesthetics.
Juno took a brochure out of the pocket of her jeans and conferred with it as she looked up at the building that lay before her, which proudly sported a large, glass dome on its roof and appeared to be the largest among the lot of buildings on the campus. Rather than sharing the sleek, futuristic look of many of the other campus buildings, this building sported a modest white finish, though it also seemed to possess a lower level further down, at the foot of the small cliff that the building had been built on.
“Alright, this should be the Augenthal Center. Looks like we’re right on time for the orientation, then. Shall we?”
“Roger.” Revin responded with a nod as the two made their way into the large building that stood before them.
The pair were instantly met with a blast of cold air as they entered the Augenthal Center. The ornate pattern of the beige tiling and the vacuous white walls gave the building a slight resemblance to a cinema, and its liberal use of air conditioning only drove the point home further. Various corridors extended out from the main hall, owing to the fact that this building was of great importance within the Marineakademie campus.
“Hello, you two! Welcome to the M-Akademie! You’ll want to make your way over there through the double doors into the main hall, for the orientation. Our dean will be giving a speech and after that you’ll be directed to the dormitories to meet your roommates!”
A young woman, presumably an attendant, had called out to Revin and Juno. Upon getting a closer look at her, Revin was taken aback at her beauty to the point where he darted his eyes around a bit to avoid staring. The woman had tan skin, short brown hair arranged in a bob, and emerald-green eyes which complemented her outfit of a sky-blue blouse and beige khakis perfectly. As Revin glanced around the rest of the Augenthal Center, most of the other attendants were dressed similarly, likely in adherence to a dress code, but none of them brought out the appeal of the outfit quite like the woman standing in front of him.
“Ahh, thank you! We’ll head on over.” Revin replied as he made his way towards the double doors off in the distance alongside Juno.
Revin and Juno soon made their way over to the entrance of the main hall when suddenly, Revin felt a light contact. To his surprise, it was a girl, though due to her diminutive stature, her presence didn’t quite register until Revin had gotten a look at her.
“Awawawa- I’m so sorry!” The girl immediately cried out upon realizing the embarrassing encounter she’d just initiated.
“Aaaaaaa I wasn’t looking at my surroundings again, was I? I was just on my way to the hall for orientation and then I bumped into you and then I- aaaaa I’m really so sorry!”
The girl dislodged herself from Revin’s torso and looked up at him. Her chartreuse-colored hair was short and wiry, and she was dressed lightly, only wearing a light yellow shirt with a graphic of a smiling sun, and jean-shorts.
“Hey, no worries. These things happen.”
“Yeah! Don’t worry about it!” Juno chimed in cheerfully. “Anyways, I’m Juno and this is Revin, it’s nice to meet you!”
Revin couldn’t help but be amused at Juno introducing him on his behalf, somehow this was completely on-brand for the energetic, but well-intentioned girl that he’d just met.
“I-I’m Eurus. Eurus Fontaine” the girl stammered, perhaps a bit shaken up from the earlier encounter, “It’s nice to meet you too.”
“Eurus...ahh that’s a beautiful name!” Juno gushed, “If you wouldn’t mind, you can join us to watch the orientation.”
“Sure, I don’t mind…”
“Great! It’s a date then!”
The pair, which had now become a trio, headed into the main hall for the opening speech of the orientation. The seats of the hall were arranged in a conic fashion, similar to a theater or opera house, while the floors were lined with thick, mauve-colored carpet. The stage at the forefront of the hall held a single podium as well as a screen used for projection, which lay in front of the curtains at the back wall of the stage. It was likely that this room doubled as a lecture hall.
Many of the seats within the main hall were already filled, and more and more students continued to pour in. Revin, Juno and Eurus quickly took their seats, finding three open ones towards the back of the hall.
As everyone took their seats and the clock struck the hour mark, a gray-haired man took the stage and began to speak. The man was dressed in a gray three-piece suit with a red tie and gave off an air of importance. He appeared to be in his late fifties or early sixties, though he had weathered the process of aging quite well.
“Good morning, I’d like to take the time to formally welcome you all to the Marineakademie at Alba Costa. You’ll have to forgive our founder for the length of our school’s name, most of the students and faculty here refer to it as the M-Akademie, and perhaps you might come to do the same, as you become acquainted with life here on campus.”
“In any case, I hope you’ll indulge me for a moment to tell you all a bit about myself. My name is Linus Beckmann, and I’m the dean of this fine university. Though I’m getting a bit up there as far as age goes, I must admit I still see a bit of myself in all of you; a bit naive, but bright-eyed, full of hope and wonder.”
The man spoke with an air of authority but added a touch of personability to it that made him come off as likable, a craft that he had honed giving many of these speeches over the years.
“My first foray with marine science was some forty years ago, when I had the good fortune of being able to sail as a crew member on the Prospero alongside Dr. Roderick Augenthal, the school’s founder. Though it’s been around ten years since Dr. Augenthal has passed on, the halls of the M-Akademie, which we stand in today, remain as a realization of the great dream he had.”
“Dr. Augenthal was once a naval officer in the Argestian Empire during the Fifty Years War, however he, like many others, had become disillusioned with the decades of futile bloodshed. Instead, he spent his remaining years surveying life in the vast blue world at the bottom of the ocean, a world not so different from ours, with a vast variety of species in all shapes, colors and sizes, each having their own relationships, both symbiotic and antagonistic. He worked tirelessly to bring his research to the public consciousness, through books, films, and journals, some of which you might have already watched or read yourselves.”
“Through the support of many generous patrons on the Sibelian mainland, we were able to construct the M-Akademie to realize Dr. Augenthal’s dream, a dream that humanity would come to learn more and more about the world around them. He dreamt that, perhaps, we would come to realize that, no matter how much we separate ourselves, we too are part of that vast natural world.”
“The war took much from us, ravaging the continent of Sibellia - no, the world at large, but the one thing it shall not take is our future, and I do not say this lightly. In fact, I say this as I pass Dr. Augenthal’s dream onto all of you. In this hall there are students from all over Sibellia, be it the west or the east, perhaps even students from the eastern continent of Atareia, or even right here in the Boda Archipelago. Despite this fact, I urge you all to come together, and share in the joys of the study of marine life here at the M-Akademie; now, more than ever, we are all in the same boat.”
The dean’s speech concluded to a thunderous applause.
Elsewhere, many miles away from the Island of Alba Costa, in the southeast of the Sibelia Continent’s mainland lay a small, sleepy village surrounded by the looming forests, the forests themselves bordered by the barbed wire fence of the demilitarized zone to the south.
The crisp sea breeze traveled through the nation’s valleys and dissipated on its way to this village, yielding to the shining sun. This small hamlet was every bit a reminder of what its nation lost, as soldiers called in from the capital helped to rebuild houses that had been shelled by enemy artillery.
Some ways up the steps and past the town’s cathedral sat the town’s cemetery, now a constant work-in-progress as a result of the carnage of the Fifty Years’ War. This somber garden was protected by bulwarks of trees, much like the rest of the village, and in the fall season, the trees flowered white camellias which would give an air of solemn beauty to the area. Those who were somewhat well off were able to acquire engraved granite headstones for their loved ones, while those of lesser means merely received wooden posts as markers of their burial.
With mourners coming and going, the village’s cemetery was quite hectic, however one lonely grave stood placid in the cemetery’s far corner, as a single white camellia petal landed gently on its head. This grave, where the words “I will never forget you” were said nearly one year ago, now longed in silence, as the seasons changed.
A memento of a life which had come to an end.