Home > The Abyss Surrounds Us

The Abyss Surrounds Us
Author: Emily Skrutskie

      Woodbury, Minnesota




   The Abyss Surrounds Us  2016 by Emily Skrutskie.

   All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any matter whatsoever, including Internet usage, without written permission from Flux, except in the form of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

   As the purchaser of this ebook, you are granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this ebook on screen. The text may not be otherwise reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, or recorded on any other storage device in any form or by any means.

   Any unauthorized usage of the text without express written permission of the publisher is a violation of the author’s  and is illegal and punishable by law.

   This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Cover models used for illustrative purposes only and may not endorse or represent the book’s subject.

   First e-book edition 2016

   E-book : 9780738747613

   Book design by Bob Gaul

Cover design by Kevin R. Brown

Cover illustration by Chris Nurse/Debut Art

Map by Llewellyn art department

   Flux is an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

   Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Skrutskie, Emily.

   Title: The abyss surrounds us / Emily Skrutskie.

   Description: First edition. | Woodbury, Minnesota: Flux, [2016] |

    Summary: Cassandra Leung—a seventeen-year-old trainer of Reckoners,

    sea beasts bred to defend ships—is kidnapped by the pirate queen Santa

    Elena and ordered to train a Reckoner pup to defend Santa Elena’s ship.

   Identifiers: LCCN 2015032027 (print) | LCCN 2015033064 (ebook) |

     9780738746913 |  9780738747613

   Subjects: | CYAC: Science fiction. | Sea monsters—Fiction. |

    Pirates—Fiction. | Youths’ writings.

   Classification: LCC PZ7.1.S584 Ab 2016 (print) | LCC PZ7.1.S584 (ebook)

    | DDC [Fic]—dc23

   LC record available at lccn.loc.gov/2015032027

   Flux does not participate in, endorse, or have any authority or responsibility concerning private business arrangements between our authors and the public.

   Any Internet references contained in this work are current at publication time, but the publisher cannot guarantee that a specific reference will continue or be maintained. Please refer to the publisher’s website for links to current author websites.


   Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

   2143 Wooddale Drive

   Woodbury, MN 55125


   Manufactured in the United States of America



      To Fritz, Tim, and the other guys in the

Schwartz scene shop—because they asked.




   Any other morning, I’d dive into Durga’s observation bay without hesitation, but this is the day before my life begins. I hang back on the concrete meridian and raise the Tanto strapped to my wrist, jabbing the button that ignites the miniature LED beacon.

   As the blue lights glow and a low tone rings out over the water, she rises. Durga’s head is the first thing to emerge from the waves, the brutal lines of her reptilian beak fading into the soft wrinkles that wreathe her huge, round eyes. She lets out a snort that blasts seawater from all three blowholes lined along the ridge of her skull.

   The smell of salt, sea, and carrion washes over me, and I drink it in, letting the familiar aroma drain the nervousness from my body. Everything starts tomorrow, but I have nothing to fear with Durga by my side.

   She raises one massive, clawed foreleg out of the water and slams it down, sending up a spray that plows over the meridian, leaving me drenched and sputtering and regretting hanging back on the barrier. Reckoners may be ruthless killing machines, but they’re downright cheeky when they know they can get away with it.

   When I finish blinking away the brine, I swear I can see a twinkle in her eyes. I snap off the Tanto and pull my respirator up from around my neck, slipping the rubbery mouthpiece between my teeth as I fasten the straps behind my head. My mask comes next, slightly fogged from the warm August air.

   Once I’m sure I’ll be able to breathe and see, I take a running leap off the meridian and dive headfirst into the water.

   The ocean swallows me in a rush. The morning light dances through the waves, shrouding Durga’s bulk in glittering beams. With a few short strokes, I draw up to the tip of her beak and grab the edge of her keratin plating.

   Durga blinks once, then lifts her head.

   I crimp my fingers tighter as she raises me up out of the water. She’s horrendously gentle for a beast the size of a football field. Her eyes never leave me.

   “Good old girl,” I murmur against her plating, then let go. The water engulfs me again, and I immediately lunge forward to grab the keratin covering her chest. I rap my knuckles against it twice. As long as I remind her where I am, Durga will be careful not to crush me.

   I dive deeper, running my hands along the knobby, leathery skin between her plates. Most of the other trainers hate getting stuck with morning once-over duty, but it’s always been relaxing for me. Checking over Durga is like exploring an alien planet. As I glide along beneath her belly, I map out her ridges and crevices, the tectonics of muscles working beneath her skin, the subtle shifts of coloring that patch her hide. Her primary genes come from snapping turtles, giving her the wide, bulky body and spiny plated shell, but the length of her limbs and the muddled regions of red and green that swath her skin are reminders of the marine iguana DNA woven into her makeup.

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