Nick sat in front of his computer in his quarters. A towel draped over his shoulders with his hair still slightly damp from his recent shower. The rest of his body was dry due to the fact that this was the same position he'd been in for the last fifteen minutes. He was struggling to gather his thoughts on how he was going to report back to the Admiral that his multibillion dollar ship was now tattooed with a large blast mark, a destroyed robotic arm, a scuffed up wing tip, not to mention being peppered with crystal fragments that remain embedded in the outer skin -- if not deeper.
He was trying to find a way to present all that information, without having to include the bit about picking up an unknown element from the bottom of the ocean.
So far, he was failing -- horribly as minute sixteen ticked by.
"Screw it.", he thought to himself hitting the record button.
"Begin report. 3.6.2065, Lieutenant Commander Nicholas Sheppard reporting from the Deep Blue deep sea station."
First the good news. It always helps to start off with good news.
"The initial extreme depth test of the M.A.N.T.A. was a success -- mostly. I successfully took the M.A.N.T.A. to a depth of...let's see...thirty four thousand, nine hundred and thirty nine feet. I believe that would be a new world record."
Nick paused for a moment to let that sink in.
Then he took a deep breath and continued, "The initial test of the Cavitation Drive was mostly successful. The drive fired up perfectly with acceleration that I've never experienced in any submersible. However, while the Cavitation Drive was active there was a severe decrease in maneuverability. The controls became very stiff and sluggish."
Now came the first slice of bad news.
"The sluggish controls, combined with the dramatic increase in speed resulted in a -- minor collision with, well -- with the surrounding landscape; Coral to be precise."
Yeah, that really didn't sound all that much better in his head either. He was supposed to be this awesome test pilot, but awesome test pilots don't usually go around running into things with the vehicles they are testing.
"Damage to the M.A.N.T.A. seems to be superficial with only minor scrapes along the tip of the left wing."
Oh, and let's not forget the vibrations.
"Also, as the speed increased there was a low level vibration coming from the drive. I was able to run the drive at approximately ten percent of it's full capacity before the vibration became a larger concern which resulted in shutting down the drive. This brings up the biggest problem, it was non-responsive to the shutdown command. I was required to power down the entire ship in order to stop the drive."
Nick was sure that statement was going to go over well with the engineers. He can hear them now, "Doesn't he know there's a proper procedure for powering down the M.A.N.T.A.?! He can't just go around shutting down the vehicle whenever he wants to!"
Engineers. They're always so good at flying their vehicles -- on paper, and have no idea what it's like to get behind the stick.
"It's probably worth noting that there were no problems with performing a cold start at depth with the vehicle."
Oh, how he wanted the report to end right there, wishing that's all there was left to say. He'd like very much to just sign off now. Problem was, he knew that with the amount of damage that the M.A.N.T.A. sustained from that point blank explosion it wasn't going to be a good idea to set her back in the water without a much closer examination. That, and he hadn't thought of any way to explain the char pattern or demolished robotic arm. It was around this moment that Nick had the realization of the very long, awkward pause that he was now leaving in the report. He had to say something, and now.
"And, there's also been -- um, there was an -- incident."
Oh yeah, that was smooth.
So, how to you summarize that the ground was glowing, so you decided to go down and pick up a foreign, unknown object; because that sounds like a brilliant idea; so that you can bring it back to the station?
"God, it sounds like I'm bringing back a souvenir.", Nick thought rolling his eyes.
The Doc. It was his idea.
"After completing the test of the Cavitation Drive, at the request of Doctor Marshall, I attempted to acquire a sample of a -- an unidentified rock, or crystal specimen."
Now, if he could just get through this last part as quick as possible.
"Unknown to us, at the time, the crystal apparently had --properties which, when exposed to oxygen, triggered an -- an explosion resulting in damage to the M.A.N.T.A. and the surrounding area..."
Maybe make it a point that it was a large explosion, Nick thought, and they should be thankful that more damage wasn't done to the ship.
"...including the station, the control center...a large display and the Doctor's coffee cup."
Nick's face squinched like he'd taken a bite straight out of a lemon.~
I probably could have left that last one off, he thought, as he put his hand to his forehead.
"At this point, I'm not sure if the M.A.N.T.A. is stable enough to handle the pressure at this depth. Until I can get some confirmation about the integrity of the ship and run some tests, I'd like to postpone the primary weapons test, or any dives at all. I'm also open for some suggestions on what our next step is. Right now I don't have high confidence that I can take her to the surface."
There wasn't much more to say accept to wrap things up.
"This is Lieutenant Commander Sheppard signing off and calling it a day.", Nick said as he pressed the button, sending the message on it's way.
He leaned back in the small chair and covered his head with the towel.
"Perfect.", he said, with the word being muffled by the towel.
He yanked the towel off with a firm tug.
"Can tomorrow possibly be any worse than today?", he asked aloud as he put on a white t-shirt and collapsed on the tiny bed.
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...