Most Tethyans speak a form of English, but it’s as far removed from current accents – North American or any other – as our English is from Old English (Anglo-Saxon). There are differences between Pioneers and Colonists, of course, and even between one Colony and another. Some Tethyans speak Spangles, a mixture of Spanish and English.
If you’re going to blend in among the natives (hint hint) and not sound like you’re fresh off the sub, you’ll need to know some essential terms and phrases and how to say them.
Thalassa – the new world under the waves. (From Greek for ‘sea’. The Greeks say THAlassa, with the stress at the beginning; Tethyans say thaLAssa, to rhyme with ‘ALAska’).
Tethys – the explored and inhabited regions of Thalassa. (From the name of a Greek goddess. Rhymes with ‘ethics’).
Tethys Federation – the only place to be! A federation of once-independent Colonies, formed to put an end to the ceaseless inter-Colonial wars about 300 years before the events in Thalassa – the world beneath the waves.
Tethyans – the sole survivors of the Tectocalypse. Divided into Pioneers and Colonists.
Pioneers – explorers and farmers, most of whom live beyond the Federation Frontier.
dry-walker – Pioneer term for Colonists, non-Pioneer Federation citizens. Mildly derogatory.
Colonists – literally anyone who inhabits a Colony, whether that Colony is part of the Federation or not. More usually, a non-Pioneer citizen of the Tethys Federation (see also dry-walker).
Frontier – the border to the Tethys Federation. In some places, this is also the edge of Tethys, known seas. In others, Pioneer settlements exist outside Federation control.
Georgia Six (Six) – the despised rival to the Tethys Federation. Utterly destroyed in the Third Wire War. (see Sixer).
Sixer – an inhabitant of Georgia Six. All killed in the Third Wire War (allegedly).
aqua incognita – unknown waters, the regions of Thalassa beyond Tethys.
Old Earth – the open-sky world of the Ante-Diluvians. Long gone.
Ante-Diluvians – those crrrrrrazy air-free ancestors of the Tethyans, with all their different languages and skin colours and hair colours (if you believe all that! I mean, some people even say they could broadcast messages wirelessly through thin air, no cables needed! Yeah right!)
Papa Noah – the saviour of the Tethyans who led them to salvation beneath the waves at the end of the Old Earth. Revered as a god in the Tethys Federation; viewed as a mere messenger of the Blue Lady among Pioneers.
Blue Lady (The Goddess of Liberty) – the chief Pioneer deity, an easy-going and benevolent protector against the demons and demi-gods of the Deeps.
Deepwater Dark (the Deeps) – the regions of Thalassa shrouded in eternal darkness.
MacGillycuddy’s Reef – the northernmost Colony located beyond the Federation Frontier, and – initially, at least – independent of the Tethys Federation. That ‘g’ is hard and plosive, like in ‘gill (of a fish)’; don’t sound like some dumb dry-walker and give it an affricate ‘j’ like in ‘Jill’!
out-lock – if you’re going to get anywhere, you need to know your out-locks from your in-locks. An airlock has two hatches – one to the outside (see the Wet) and one to the inside. An out-lock is the hatch leading to the outside.
in-lock – opposite of an out-lock, the hatch leading to the interior of a sub or other air-filled space.
p(ressure)-lock – air-pressure inside the Colonies, subs, H-Pods has kept its old Ante-Diluvian atmospheric value. But maintaining a constant pressure with the constant recycling of air is difficult; pressure fluctuations are what passes for ‘weather’ inside the Colonies. Different areas are separated by p-locks, basically internal air-locks.
pressure-suit – an outer garment which is fed by a portable compressor in the belt to keep the wearer at a (near)-constant pressure when moving around (see pressure-helmet). Basically redundant in most large Colonies, but retained as a fashion item.
pressure-helmet (colloquially often lid) – the extendable helmet and visor kept in the high-collar of a pressure-suit. Tinted or extravagantly modified for fashion purposes in larger more upmarket Colonies where pressure regulation is mostly unnecessary. (see lid up).
lid up (verb) – to use the pressure-helmet built into the pressure-suit.
MANTA – a single-person sub which is the mainstay of a Pioneer existence. Also found in Federated Colonies, but usually exclusively in military or technical situations, e.g. maintenance, fixing external leaks. Stands for Mono-personal AquaNautical Transport Appliance. Known by most dry-walkers as ‘iron coffins’ (but what do they know!)
MANTArine – Naval special forces soldiers, trained for armed combat, unarmed combat, and pretty much everything else. As the name implies, expert MANTA pilots. Stay on their good side.
to fly – to pilot a sub or MANTA. Some speculation exists that Ante-Diluvians used this verb exclusively for motion in a non-aquatic context, possibly even for motion through the air. As even the simplest experiments show that the air cannot support objects with any appreciable mass, this idea seems highly unlikely.
The Wet – the sea, the ocean, especially open water far from any settelements.
H(abitation)-Pod – a mobile living space, part submarine, part caravan!
Wire War – a war fought by the Federation for new resources. There have been three wire wars since the Federation was founded.
Roanoke – the Lost Colony. Too far away from the Federation to ever have survived, or so the Federation says…
drift – a current.
cassi – a narcotic derived from the upside-down cassiopea andromeda jellyfish.
The Mississippi Trench – according to legend, a mighty Ante-Diluvian river of the Old Earth. In the world of Thalassa, a deep and dangerous trench, home to roaring currents. The western boundary to Tethys.
tunnel-train – no MANTA? Don’t fancy the bad food (or the worse air) on a shuttle-sub? Take the tunnel-train between close-lying Colonies.
coralcrete – as the name suggests, a building material made from coral.
photophore – light-based code for communicating with and between submarines, since even the mythical Ante-Diluvian ‘radio waves‘ don’t travel very far through water.