The room smelled of salt and stale air. Or would, according to Choudhry's scanner. He was breathing the recycled stuff, pressurized, hint of lavender for the high-stress environment of this abandoned section of The Diving Bell City.
What an evocative word. Abandoned. One seldom got a chance to use it, these days. Once the seas swelled and the Inland Migration began. Even now, their job was to refurbish a section of Diving Bell for more human habitation.
Collins approached the fissure. "Not lookin' good," the American drawled in imperfect Hindi.
"Finding Nemo, how's it going with you?"
"I wish you'd stop calling me that, Kulkarni admonished from outside the Bell. "Nemo didn't even meet the sharks. That was his Dad."
"Yeah, well, nobody remembers the Dad's name. How are our buddies doing?"
Above Kulkarni and Collins, and Choudry the sharks danced an intricate waltz, like bees. Only Kulkarni, the resident shark-wrangler, actually spoke their language. To anyone else it looked like a menacing swarm. "Sections eight and ten are fully collapsed. Everything inside smells too corroded to be of any use."
The Diving-Bell City was a research outpost, once upon a time, a proof-of-concept for human colonization of the oceans. Abandoned (there's that word again) when the money ran out, now pressed back in to service in the midst of an exploding refugee crisis. Outside, the sharks dove and swarmed. Choudry had the distinct understanding of what a goldfish must feel like upon meeting a house cat. They were harmless, of course. Everyone knew that. Fully domesticated, radio-implanted and enhanced. Choudhry couldn't hake the feeling, however, watching the predatory grace of these ancient beasts, how little humanity's basic assumptions about nature had served them thus far.