Only a few feet from the ocean bottom, The M.A.N.T.A. hovered directly in front of a large cluster of glowing crystals.

"He hung up on me.", Nick shook his head in disbelief.

The Lieutenant Commander's hands danced across the control console pressing several buttons in sequence.

"I can't believe he hung up on me."

A moment later the robotic arm slowly emerged from the nose of the craft and extended outward. Then, just as it did in Syndi's simulation in the moon pool, two halves of a softball sized sphere formed at the end of the arm. They remained open like two halves of a clamshell.

"And he was completely going to say 'impossible'.", Nick continued, talking to himself.

With the press of a button, the holographic glove which controls the robotic arm projected to life in front of Nick, who then proceeded to slip his hand virtually into place surrounded by the glove.

As Nick reached his hand outward, palm open, resembling an open crab claw, the two halves of the sphere extended to surround one of the closest crystal clusters.

"Nice and easy."

A slight twist of his wrist and the mouth of the sphere rotated to get a better angle on the crystal. One half of the sphere brushed a lower crystal causing it to shudder slightly then tumble away from the cluster to the ocean floor.

"Ok. So not that one."

Then, with a simple closed fist gesture, the two halves closed in around the crystal, containing it safely within the clear sphere. Once the two sides were flush together the halves spun in opposite directions screwing, and sealing as one.

"Piece of cake.", the Lieutenant Commander said with a smile.

Nick tried the comms again, "Deep Blue, this is M.A.N.T.A.. If you can hear me, tell the doc I've got his rock."

Syndi's voice answered, "Thank you Lieutenant Commander Sheppard. I can hear you. I'll let him know."

Nick pulled his hand backwards in an attempted to retract the robotic arm and attached sphere, but as the Commander had warned, once the two halves of the sphere were together, they became too big to return to the internal compartment. As the arm retracted, the clear sphere hit the edges of the portal opening with a solid thud, jostling the crystal inside.

"Careful Sheppard!", the doctor's voice rang through the radio, "Remember, I'd like it back in one piece."

At Deep Blue's control desk Commander Kennedy eye's were scanning through the multitude of status on the ship's systems, making sure nothing was out of place.

Commander Kennedy inquired, "Any trouble with the arm?".

"Other than not being able to retract it back into the M.A.N.T.A.", Nick answered, "No."

Jordan nodded, "We expected that."

"So, are we done here?", Nick radioed.

"I suppose we are.", Jordan replied. "Doctor?"

The doctor leaned forward toward the comms, causing a slight creak from his chair and asked, "Now, back to that nearby light source."

The commander firmly but politely replied, "I don't think exploring that light source was on our mission list today."

The Doctor was a little shocked. The commander may have had a point, it wasn't on their official "to do" list, but how could she pass up such an opportunity? Given the possibility that this may be the last time in a very long while that anyone would be in that area, the doctor had to find a way to change her mind.

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