To start at the beginning, use this link: Link to chapter 1
Katherine had been working regularly with Jacob to prepare the aquarium for visitors. One of the first changes she requested was that the gate be removed from the channel to the gulf.
“We have to totally remove it from the channel.” She told him. “Not just leave it open. They are smart enough to remember what that gate means, and I don’t think there is any chance they will swim past that section of channel while any sign of a gate remains.”
Jacob had listened to her and hired a work crew to dismantle the gate. They even took out the framework that supported the gate and replaced it with smooth concrete. Daphne took to swimming out the channel and searching for dolphins, taking whichever other mermaid would go with her. After two weeks of fruitless searching, they finally managed to find the local pod. Daphne recognized most of the pod members from before her captivity, but it seemed like there were one or two new dolphins in the group as well. When Daphne and Anna approached the group, the dolphins seemed to get excited and they swam around the two women, pinging them with their echolocation sounds and nudging Daphne, who rubbed their backs and fins. After getting reacquainted for a time, Daphne began to swim back towards the aquarium. Several of the bolder dolphins followed, including one of the ones Daphne didn’t recognize. When they arrived at the entrance to the channel, the dolphins hesitated, but Daphne paused and swam back out while Anna went ahead. Daphne slowly entered the channel again, and the dolphins followed cautiously, pinging the walls and floor and darting back out of the channel. Eventually it seemed that they became convinced they wouldn’t be trapped again, and they followed Daphne all the way through the channel to the arena.
Once they were in the arena, the dolphins swam around the island near the cooler where Daphne usually kept the fish. Daphne wasn’t prepared for them, so she jumped up on the island and called back to the mermaid quarters. Katherine answered and quickly agreed to bring some food for the dolphins. A few minutes later, Katherine swam in through the tube to the mermaid pool, followed by Maria and Fernando, and each of them had one of the sealed plastic feeding buckets in their hand. Once they were all in the arena pool, they cracked open the buckets and started handing out fish. The dolphins got very excited as they snapped up the treats, and some of them even leaped out of the water, repeating the tricks they had been taught. When the fish was all gone, Daphne and Katherine slipped out of the water and sat on the island to talk.
“Thanks for bringing the fish.” Daphne said.
“I had to take the stuff we were prepping for the next aquarium feeding.” Katherine answered. “But Liz is here and she will get more out of the freezer. I’m surprised they were willing to come back in here. Isn’t that Tesla? He was one of the ones Jonah trapped in here, wasn’t he?”
“Yes. I’m surprised as well. I thought it was likely that we would never get them back, but here they are.”
“I think it’s because they trust you, Daphne.”
“Maybe. I suppose I was gone when they installed the gate.”
“It means we have to be worthy of their trust. No more gates while I’m here. I suppose we know how it feels to be caged up and exploited now.”
“I suppose we do.”
With the food gone, the dolphins seemed to be getting anxious, and after a few minutes they swam back out through the channel to the gulf. Daphne followed them to the end of the channel, then returned to be with the other merfolk.
“I hope we can keep them coming back.” She thought to herself.