Nick made a few final adjustments before entering the bay. Just beyond the protective windshield of the M.A.N.T.A., the surface of the pool rippled. The resulting refractions distorted the pilot's view of the interior leaving only a moving blur of light and dark shapes. But as the top of the M.A.N.T.A. broke the surface of the water, trails trickled down the front viewport, and Nick had his first look into the interior of Deep Blue, and its host.
A man, easily in his late 50's or early 60's, stood on a walkway in front of the M.A.N.T.A. with his arms folded. He wore a dirty white lab coat, a blue button down shirt, faded blue jeans and white sneakers. His gray hair, parted in the middle, was relatively unkempt, looking as though he may have passed a hand or two through it just to throw it back. He had a thick gray mustache and bushy eyebrows to match, which sat atop cool steel grey eyes that looked like they hadn't had enough sleep in much too long a time. With a slight squint, it appeared they weren't all too excited to see their new guest.
Nick completed the shutdown of the M.A.N.T.A.'s systems as each of the holodisplays blipped off one-by-one. Rising from his seat, he threw a large duffel bag over his shoulder and headed toward the aft of the ship. With a twist and pull of a lever, hydraulics hissed and the seal to the rear door released. The door was hinged at the top and opened upward, like a large clamshell.
The older man in the lab coat made his way around to the back of the ship to greet his guest.
"Lieutenant Commander Sheppard, I presume.", he said dryly.
Nick nodded with a slight smile, "That's right."
It was at that very moment that Nick realized he had forgotten the first name of his new host. He scrambled for a way to work around the missing name without defaulting to "Mr.".
"And you must be Professor Marshall."
"It's doctor Marshall actually.", the doctor quickly corrected him.
"Ah. I'm sorry.", Nick responded, flashing back to the mission briefing when the female Commander had noted the same.
Trying to make a quick recovery he continued, "In that case, permission to come aboard doctor?"
"This ain't a military ship son.", the doctor replied as he reached out his hand, "Besides, you're already here. Come on up and take a look around."
While it wasn't exactly the warmest of welcomes, it was a start Nick thought as he took his hand and stepped up to the metal walkway.
"Thank you. The name is Nick by the way, Nick Sheppard."
The doctor grunted an acknowledgement with the slightest of nods then turned up the couple of steps to the main platform.
"Come on. I'll give you the grand tour.", the doctor said with a heavy amount of sarcasm.
The interior of the main chamber was a large half sphere with the ceiling extending more than 30' feet above a large circular moon pool. The lower half of the sphere was submerged.
High above the water was a collection of cranes, hydraulic hoses and robotic arms, presumably used for loading, unloading and possibly repairing any craft docked in the pool. Surrounding the pool was a round walkway of metal grating. Extending to the north and south were several steps and railing that led to a solid cold metallic floor striped with roughly textured, heavily worn, non-slip strips.
The doctor opened his arms in a broad gesture, as he began his tour speech, "This, obviously, is the moon pool and the central hub of Deep Blue. We don't get many visitors down here, so mainly we just use the moon pool to deploy the drones and RCVs.", he said as he motioned to a storage bay for four small submersible drones. Three of the drones were missing, presumably the ones Nick had seen working outside. The four bays were hand labeled with tape; Mo, Larry, Curly, and Shemp.
YOU ARE READING
Deep Blue - The DescentScience Fiction
More people have visited the moon, than have found their way to the bottom of the ocean. Test piloting the military's latest top secret assault submarine, in the most inhospitable environment on the planet, a reckless test pilot teams up with a recl...