Nick spent the rest of the morning prepping the M.A.N.T.A. for the mission and reviewing the creature catalogue that the doctor had put together for him.
Most of the things on Doc's list didn't resemble anything Nick had ever seen before, above or below the water. Four headed snakes, fish that spiraled their way through the water and some large swimming spider thing that he was sure would haunt his dreams for the foreseeable future. Every single one of them had some long scientific name that he couldn't dream of pronouncing, so he made up his own names; "Four Headed Hydra Eel", "Spikey Ball Thing", "Giant Glowy Jellyfish", and "Eugene", who was named after this one kid at the academy that had these really huge ears. We're talking freakishly large; he was really annoying. The creature...thing looked like it had two huge ears -- and was probably annoying. So, "Eugene" it was.
Nick ignored most of the scientific information about each of the species. He wasn't interested in their feeding habits or mating rituals. Instead, he used his normal categorization system. Either he should ignore it, or he should shoot it. He liked to keep things simple.
Later that morning, Nick did gain a much better understanding of the functions of the robotic arms above the moon pool, as Syndi kept trying to assist him in his preparations, nearly accidentally knocking him off the ship in the process. He also learned pretty quickly that she didn't know how to take "no" for an answer. He soon found it was easier just to give her a simple task to do, if for no other reason than to just keep her busy.
Syndi was incredibly efficient at doing whatever task she was assigned, and had to admit, he began to see the appeal of having her around.
Nick was finishing fueling up the M.A.N.T.A. and was decoupling the fuel line from the ship when Syndi's image appeared on one of the nearby monitors of Doc's mission control computer center.
"Lieutenant Commander Sheppard, may I ask you a question?"
"Technically speaking, didn't you just do that?", Nick replied. If he was going to have to talk to a computer, he at least was going to have a little fun with it.
There was the briefest of pauses before Syndi continued, which made Nick grin ever so slightly.
"Yes. Lieutenant Commander Sheppard, may I ask you another question, after this one?"
"Sure. Go ahead.", Nick replied as he continued to disconnect the remaining hoses from the ship. "But if you're going to ask for something else to do I'm afraid I've got nothin'. Fueling her up was the last thing on my checklist. Thanks for your help."
"No. That was not my question. I've been doing research and analysis on 'dead' as you recommended yesterday."
That statement caught Nick a little off guard and he thought back trying to remember where he may have mentioned the word 'dead' since his arrival. He then recalled his comment about Syndi's recommendation for 'dead' divers.
Syndi continued, "Do you aspire to be dead?"
"What? No!", Nick stood upright with the horrifying image of Syndi suddenly blowing all the air out of the room. "No! Why would you think that?"
"I cross referenced 'dead' with you and the doctor, neither of whom qualify as 'dead'."
"And let's keep it that way.", Nick interrupted.
"In my database you are listed as a test pilot."
"Right.", Nick nodded still unsure of where this was going.
"As a test pilot, you pilot vehicles to the edge of their performance range, and beyond, sometimes leading to the destruction of the vehicle."
"Usually try to avoid that, but sure--sometimes.". Nick hoped Syndi didn't have access to his F-48 test flight records. That one simple mistake that lead to one huge mess. But really--who thought it was a good idea to put the engine kill switch right next to the weapon systems arming switch? He was happy to make his recommendation to correct the design, and sorry he had to illustrate the problem so--clearly.
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...