Flips raised his fin to signal the waitress. It seemed as though he waited for her to be the only waitress nearby before attempting to reach out.
"A round of squid, please," he said with a soft voice as she approached their table. It attracted the attention of Tusk, the dolphin sitting opposed him. It was unusual for a dolphin to say please to a sardine, as they considered them a lesser species. A species enslaved for their amusement.
But Flips was a hearty, friendly dolphin, so Tusk brushed it off as just Flips being Flips, as kind as he is.
When she brought back the squid, Flips found an excuse to keep her around their table. He looked her straight in the eyes and asked whether they have any Cheetah meat. Puzzled, not knowing what a Cheetah is, she responded with a shy "I don't think so, sir.". He laughed.
"Then shrimp for both it is, ... Tish" as he leaned in to read the nametag on her chest. He then winked at her with the eye unseen to Tusk. She giggled, blushed, and walked away.
Tusk was raising suspicion but during their business conversation Flips kept his cool and acted as professional as ever. Flips was one of the most respected dolphins in Aquedis, the land of the dolphins. He was the CEO of the ocean's biggest transporting company Hydroport and one of those bosses you can casually catch a cup of coffee with without feeling intimidated by his presence. He treated wealthy businessmen and the poor with the same level of respect. Tusk on the other hand, was just one of many grumpy, envious and downright greedy entrepreneurs. He had no respect for those below him, and was overly cheesy to those above him. The definition of an ass-kisser. Flips had met with him to buy his company Hygas that dealt with exhaust systems.
It was common practice in the main dining hall for a dolphin to signal the waitress when they are ready for the next course, especially during meetings of such high importance. Sardines especially were not to hear a single word about anything business related, as they could sell any valuable information to others. But Tish was new to serving the upper class and so she mistakenly brought the shrimp mid-conversation.
Tusk lost his cool. "Is this how you treat the ones who let you live? Is this how you treat your masters? I'll have your fins trimmed! You mark my words! Now get away from here and get us another servant to treat us right!"
She swam away as fast as she could and tears poured from her eyes. Trimming a sardine's fin was the worst punishment there was in Aquedis. The main fin was cut to form a distinct V shape, forever sealing the sardine's future. These sardines were either sold for the means of adultery or given to the sharks as peace tribute.
"Now, is this how you treat your employees?" Asked Flips, now with a much more serious tone.
"The sardine needs to know her place! Every employee needs to know their place. There's no room for sweet talk and no room for error. You make a mistake, you get your reward."
"So for a single mistake she is to be branded for life?" Flips paused for a moment before continuing, but not giving Tusk enough time to respond. "Well, seeing as you've just made yours... The deal is off."
Tusk froze on spot. He did not anticipate this. He did not know how to respond. He just stared off into the distance.
"GasMaxx's exhausts it is then," continued Flips as he brought the handkerchief to his mouth and got up from the table. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a deal to close."
Tusk was still staring into nothingness, not saying a word as Flips left the table. Flips walked over to the counter to pay the bill, but also to ask where Tish was. He found her sobbing in the tools closet and he went on to calm her down.
Suddenly, an alarm rang. The most dreaded sound in all of Aquedis. This was not a drill.
It was the sharks. The gigantic teethed monsters have come to wage war. Panic ensued in all of Aquedis.
Tish, already crying, was now shaking with fear. Flips took her by her fin and they swam towards his hydrocar. They sped off to one of his factories and into the secluded area. He hinted her towards an orb shaped container that appeared to be a high-tech travelling device. It was only big enough for a medium sized sardine; far too small for a dolphin.
"Go. There's no knowing if we will win this war. And if we do, Tusk will definitely have your fin."
He pressed a few buttons on the console and closed the lid.
Tears filled the eyes of both as they waved their final goodbyes before the orb zapped its way out of the factory and into the open waters. Due to its size it luckily didn't raise any suspicion amongst sharks. She got out of the orb as soon as she thought it was safe. She wanted to watch the battle. She wanted to know who wins. She wanted to know if she will see him again.
The sea turned red with blood as she watched Aquedis being torn apart. She couldn't stand the sight anymore. She was never beyond the limits of Aquedis. She didn't know these waters. She was all alone but somehow mustered the courage and wandered into the unknown seas to find other sardines.
She found a school of sardines not far away, glued to the radio transmitting the ongoing war live. Just as she came close enough to tune in, she heard the words she feared most.
"It has been confirmed the sharks have captured the last dolphin of Aquedis. The war is over."
Much to the surprise of other sardines, Tish burst out crying. This was not a battle related to sardines. The sharks always treated them the same way dolphins did. There was no reason to celebrate nor a reason to cry. But Tish's endless crying needed an explanation.
And explain she did.