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Codus Immortus: Tsunami

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August 14th Delhi...World Oceanographic Conference

 

Delhi was hot and humid. And this was summer. Combined with the pollution and dust, it was almost unbearable - and quite a jolt to the conference members who were discussing environmental aspects to oceanography. 

 

It was sunset now, and the blazing sun had at least receded somewhat. The Hotel "Golden Sky" was hosting the conference and even now the air conditionoing systems were working full blast. 

 

Mr. Murk had left the Club Immortus and assumed the form of an elderly Indian scholar, white hair, white moustache, elegant suit. Even cloaked in the Murk, his appearance changed, he was sweating. He had missed most of the talks this day, including some drama when the remarkable Victor Finn collapsed halfway through his guest talk on shark ecology. The poor fellow was in hospital recovering from dehydration. 

 

Now, it was tea, a most wonderful assortment of curries and spiced foods, and light drinks. Mr Murk could not resist greed when it came to Indian food. His belly was full and his tongue quite happy. He rounded it off with some Cobra beer, although he had no intention of intoxication tonight. 

 

His real interest this evening was the young woman called Tsunami. Through process of divination and his vast network of contacts and information, he had come to know her as an immortal...

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Tsunami

 

Giang Trang had come to the conference primarily out of a personal academic interest in many of the topics being discussed the various presentations and panels.  Only recently having graduated with a degree in Oceanography, the young Asian woman had found a position assisting in a research project in Sourthern California, allowing her to continue living where she had during school at UC San Diego and keep a part-time job as a Del Mar lifeguard.  In many ways Giang was uncertain what path she wanted to take with her life now that she was finished with college.  The fact that Giang led a dual life as a superheroine was a rather significant part of that uncertainty.

 

But for now the young woman made her way through the banquet hall of the Golden Sky Hotel, mingling some with some of the others scientists and researchers at the convention during tea.  While Vietnamese food tended to be less spicy than Indian or Thai, it was not completely uncommon to Giang, particularly as her years spent at Claremont and in college had exposed her to the latter two.  So she had taken the opportunity to experience a sampling of the various foods offered and settled with water to drink as she mingled.

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Mr Murk

 

Mr. Murk approached carefully. He was, of course, quite blind, but between a walking stick and his uncanny senses, he could see Tsunami's soul blazing in his mind's eye. He wore dark glasses, of course, to help conceal his blindness. 

 

"Pleased to meet you, ma'am" he said, as he enjoyed some rather delicious daal. "Are you enjoying the conference?" he asked. 

 

As for himself, despite his vast experience, science was never something he had applied himself too other than in the most shallow of ways. He only hoped he would not be asked some complex question on thermal currents or nitrogen osmosis. Or a thousand other terms he had registered but not understood today. 

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Tsunami

 

Giang turned at the sound of the man's greeting and question.  Although she had lived in the United States for over six years, she was not so Americanized to have discarded the cultural values of honoring those who are ones elders.  "I am very pleased to meet you as well honored sir."  Giang replied as she gave a respectful bow to the older gentleman who had approached her.

 

It was while she was bowing that the realized the man was blind, meaning the gesture would be lost on him.  Not allowing herself to be distracted by this, Giang responded to the gentleman's question.  "Yes, I am greatly enjoying the conference.  This is my first opportunity to attend one."

"And what about yourself?"  She then asked.     

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Mr Murk

 

"It is very interesting" said Murk with a smile. "Although I am not an oceanographer" he conceded, slowly and warmly. "My interests and field of study are somewhat...more exotic" he conceded. 

 

Approaching an immortal, particularly a young one, was a delicate matter, he had found. And the fact that this woman - as he understood it - was blessed with powers far greater than mere immortality meant a particularly delicate touch was needed. 

 

"Take, for instance, certain jellyfish like the Turritopsis dohrnii, or hydra. Functionally, biologically immortal. It is these questions of immortality that interest me. What would it mean for a man - or a woman, beg your pardon - to be immortal?"

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Tsunami                                        

 

Giang listened as the man before her spoke about his field of interest, and she did agree it was a somewhat unusual one, but not completely unconnected to the conference.  “I am not sure most would view the biological immortality of the Turritopsis dohrnii as what is typically thought be immortality.”  She replied with a small smile of her own.

 

She then shifted to truly considering the serious question posed.  “But as for the implications of a person being immortal, I cannot say I have ever considered what those may be.  From just a practical standpoint, I suppose there is the issue of how an immortal individual might make their way through society without attracting undue attention to that fact, which would include the issue of how the individual would be able to provide for themselves.”

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Mr Murk

 

Mr Murk nodded. She knew her stuff. Which was more than he knew, as an imposter. 

 

"Very astute, very astute" he agreed. "I would not play the deception further, madam" he said politely. "I am immortal. And, although I may be wrong about this matter, I have come to understand that you are too"

 

"If I am correct, then do not be alarmed. And know that you are not alone. No, not alone at all. Rare as immortals are, there are certainly more than two who walk the earth. Considerably more" he explained. 

 

"Forgive my secrecy and deception on the matter. I have come to approach this with caution and subtelty, to avoid alarm. As you say, undue attention is unwise...."

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Tsunami

 

If Giang was surprised by Murk's admission that he was an immortal, it did not register in her expression.  But at his statement about his belief that she was as well, a slightly puzzled look crossed her face for a moment.

 

"I cannot really say if I am or not."  She replied after a moment, her voice a bit lower now so as not to carry over the numerous other loud conversations taking place among other attendees.  "I do not know what sorts of signs there would be, other than the obvious halt of the aging process, and so far I have aged as would be expected for someone my age." 

 

Then a look of curiosity came over her as she focused her gaze more firmly on Mr. Murk.  "But assuming you are correct, I am interested in why you are here?  Certainly you do not seek out other immortals just to inform them of their extended lifespans."

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Mr Murk

 

"No, that is true" smiled Mr. Murk in return. It was unusual, dealing with an immortal so young. So unusual, he had forgotten how it went. 

 

But an immortal was an immortal, whatever their age, with the same vulnerabilities. It was true that at her age, the nuances and difficulties were yet to be experienced. But as the years progressed, it would be hard to hide....

 

"Do not be alarmed, I come without malice. Even if I did, I doubt I have the strength to inflict my will on you, even if I should wish it" he explained. "No, my intentions are entirely benign. I come with an offer, nothing more, and nothing less" he explained. 

 

"But this may not be the best place to speak of such matters. If I have your interest, and your trust, I would meet you where we can speak more openly..."

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Tsunami

 

Giang was quite for a moment, seemingly in thought at Murk's suggestion of leaving for someplace more private.  As a young woman, it was always prudent to consider risks associated with such a suggestion, and as harmless as the older gentleman appeared, Giang knew full well appearances could be deceiving.  But then, she was also more than capable of handling herself in a wide variety of situations.

 

"Well, I know from experience that there are those that are far more capable of harm than they outwardly appear."  She finally replied, her tone neutral.  "But, I am willing to take your statement that your intentions are benign at face value."  She then added, gesturing towards the exit from the hall.

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GM

 

"That is true. Do not judge by appearances" said Murk, actually chuckling slightly. Who would know that better than he? His eyes were sightless, and the Murk was bound to his soul and skin, changing his own appearance dramatically. 

 

"I am not what I seem, in many ways. However, I cannot reveal my form publically. My intentions are, however, quite honest. I wish you no ill intent. My heart has many pulls on his fibres, but it is committed to the protection of immortals. Not that I am uncommitted to life, but I have always seen the immortal as open to the darker impulses of the mortal heart. Envy, resentment, lust" he explained. "And, with no support, with but a vaccuum where there should be safety of family, I have taken in upon myself to fill the void". 

 

"But, if you would trust me to explain myself and are interested in hearing my philosophy, as indeed I am interested in hearing yours....shall I call a cab?"

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Tsunami

 

Giang gave a small nod in response to Murk's question about calling a cab as she followed alongside him through the hotel's hallway towards the front exit.  She was primarily focused in thought on his explanation of why he sought out immortals, such as he claimed she was.

 

"I could understand how one that is immortal could possibly come to be shaped more by such darker emotions.  But from my own experience, family is not always dependable safety.  I cut myself off from the majority of my family because I could not abide to join them in furthering their criminal enterprises."

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Mr Murk

 

And so, in the cab...

 

"It is but five minutes, traffic permitting" said Mr. Murk, who still judged it too early to let his disguise drop. 

 

The streets were neon lit and had a refreshing cool hint to the heat now the sun had set. The skies were clear and the stars were out, even if hard to see in the light of the city. Not that this mattered to Mr. Murk, of course. 

 

"To cut oneself off from one family, mmm....a tale of scars, one way or another. Other the leaving, or the thing that made you leave. Often both" he commented. "You are bold and admirable to do so"

 

He could not see the way to Club Immortus, but he felt it, somehow. He smelled the smells, heard the rumbles, felt the turn of the cab. 

 

"Here we are" he said, as they pulled up. 

 

"Club Immortus. The refuge of the immortal. There is but one rule, for now. No harm or violence towards any other that lies thereine. If to this you can agree, it is your sanctuary too..."

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