23: Get Out of the Way

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"Well, I'd say that was a successful maneuverability test with the Cav Drive.", Nick quipped.

"The M.A.N.T.A. is clear of the objects and rising.", Syndi reported.

Doctor Marshall exhaled deeply as he slowly sat back once again in the control chair causing it to groan slightly.

"See. Like I said, he'll be just fine."

A moment of silence passed as the team all collectively took a breath and gathered their thoughts.

"Syndi.", Jordan addressed the A.I.. "What is the M.A.N.T.A.'s current speed?"

"The M.A.N.T.A. is currently traveling at 423kn.", she answered. "And still accelerating steadily."

Inside the M.A.N.T.A. things were calmer and a much paler shade of blue, but Nick still felt the constant pressure against his chest of the increasing velocity of the Cav Drive. He also became aware of something else.

"Commander. It seems our low level rumble from the first trip has returned.", he said. With the chaos of avoiding the jellyfish he wasn't even sure of how long it had been building.

"It's not bad yet, but it's definitely there."

"That was all they needed.", Jordan thought to herself.

To go this far and have to shutdown early again would be another mission setback.

"If it's not hindering the controls, push it a little further.", Jordan replied. "See if we can't stretch it out and still hit the mission waypoint."

"Roger that. I'll see what we can do.", Nick confirmed steadying the ships controls.

The M.A.N.T.A. darted straight and true once more, moving even faster than before. Only now, instead of being enveloped in darkness, it was surrounded by a faint, cool, blue glow emanating from the ocean floor below and extending out in all directions.

Dark patches of rocks and coral passed steadily below, around those, scattered glowing patches lit the sand in a mottled blue pattern.

Doctor Marshall's eyes focused on the front video camera feed from the M.A.N.T.A.. Even with the ships lights on, the ambient blue glow was visible on the screen. It was the source of that glow that held the good doctor's attention.

Jordan's voice broke the silence, "Syndi, resume updates on the M.A.N.T.A.'s speed in 30 second increments."

"Yes Commander Kennedy.", the A.I. replied.

Jordan added, "But Syndi -- limit your updates to the moon pool area only."

She thought that would be best, considering the Lieutenant Commander's last request.

Back in the M.A.N.T.A.'s cockpit, Nick was beginning to feel the vibrations in the ships controls, as the rumble slowly grew in volume. His eyes bounced from the front window to the velocity readout and back.

As the readout passed 554kn there was a distinct "bump", and the rumble grew noticeably louder, as did the vibrations in the controls. At the same time, he felt a slight, but distinct, deceleration as he jerked forward in his seat for just an instant.

"Well that's new.", Nick said aloud as he watched his hands begin to vibrate.

"Hey guys.", he radioed over the comms. "I think we've gone far enough today."

The vibrations increased as he continued, "Something popped at around 550 and the controls are really starting to shake."

Before he finished his statement, he noticed the vibrations had spread from the controls to the entirety of the ship.

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