"Icarus flew too close to the sun, but at least he flew." ~Jeremy Robert Johnson
For the first time (perhaps ever), Jack was seeing something from Dr. Coldwater's point of view. He'd always known that she had something against engineers and physicists, but he'd never understood it.
Jack had met many an engineer in his days and he was always amazed by them.
He personally thought they were remarkable problem-solvers. Sure, sometimes they were a tad weird and quirky, but regardless, overall they were intelligent and resourceful.
And then he spent five minutes in the same room with a man named Spencer Dobrzycki.
Jack wasn't used to being talked down to; therefore, it was quite a shock when Mr. Arrogance patronizingly explained how a sliding glass door worked.
Jack didn't need that explained.
It was very aptly named.
After longingly watching V.C. and Tilly walk off in the direction of the detector, he begrudgingly trudged after Spencer.
Spencer led Jack in the opposite direction to the girls, instead leaving the enclosed hemisphere. After many sharp twists and turns, and multiple flights of narrow, steep stairs, Jack found himself in the belly of the mountain.
According to Spencer, they were now more than 750 feet below the hemisphere's ceiling. The room was cold, damp, and musty, yet crisp LED lights splayed light on every nook and cranny.
Hard concrete walls lined the perimeter of the room, while thick steel pipes ran horizontally across it. Ginormous black water tanks were stationed at set distances inside the area, connecting to the steel pipes. All around him, Jack could distinctly hear the sound of rushing water.
Casting a glance over his shoulder, he saw the large water system that both he and V.C. had discovered on their ill advised journey to the center of the earth.
Spencer broke Jack's train of thought by clearing his throat loudly, and then nodded to a basket by the door.
"You'll need to leave all of your electronics, including your cell phone, in that." Taking in Jack's unsure look, he added, "Your cellular device won't even work down here, the concrete walls block the signal. You'll see that you can only have service in very specific parts of the lab."
Watching Jack deposit his belongings into the basket, Spencer then pointed at a pipe which seemed to be an offshoot of the labyrinth of previously mentioned piping.
It was a large cavernous steel system, nearly spanning 10 feet in diameter. Facing it, the circular hatch looked like a replicate door from the set of the third Star Trek movie.
(Based on Jack's extensive knowledge of the franchise, of course)
"This is our water purification system, which uses a set of interlocking pressure valves. When one section of the tank fills up, the hatch opens and then water fills the next section. It goes on until the water then filters into our neutrino detector." Spencer then paused in his speech, whirled around, and cast Jack a pitiful glance.
"Oh," he started, his face scrunching up remorsefully, "Right. I almost forgot. You're just an OSHA inspector. You don't even know what a neutrino is. You see, there's this thing in science called an atom. And the entire world is made up of them. Do you understand that part so far?"
Jack had actually been invested in Spencer's speech up until that last remark. Tightening his jaw, he tried to resist releasing the rebuking response sitting on the tip of his tongue.
Normally he could resist the impulse, but after spending the last few weeks with a certain sarcasm-filled doctor, he couldn't.
"Yes, believe it or not, I did take freshman chemistry in high school. And then again in university. So I think I'll be able to comprehend this complicated subject."
Spencer sent him a side glance which told Jack that the man didn't quite believe that Jack had a higher intelligence than a 14 year old boy.
"Alright. But you've probably never heard of neutrinos!" He said with certainty surging through his voice, "Their existence was first theorized by Wol--"
"Yes," Jack interrupted before the man could continue with his rant, "Wolfgang Pauli in 1931 while he was studying radioactive beta decay, who, incidentally, was the same man that theorized the Pauli Exclusion Principle."
"But, did you know that neutrinos are created by--"
"The core collapse of a supernova in death where protons and electrons are crushed together? Yes, I'm aware of Ivan Shelton's observation. Neutrinos are believed to be the product of a star's death. "
Jack felt a subtle grin threaten to paint itself across his face but this time he resisted. Spencer grumbled some nonsense and turned away from Jack, pointing towards the water system.
Jack followed again, a spring in his step.
Of course he knew everything there was to know about neutrinos.
Commander Jack Rhodes was never one to walk into a situation without knowing everything there was to know about the subject matter.
That and the fact that he might, possibly, secretly, have a master's degree in astrophysics.
And sure, one may have not guessed it from his rugged appearance, but Jack Rhodes was in love with the stars.
He had wanted to be an astronaut for most of his childhood, a dream he honestly hadn't given up to this day.
However, as they say, life happens. While he was in the Navy, he ended up volunteering for the SEAL program and becoming a full-fledged Navy SEAL.
And while he never completely abandoned his childhood dream, Jack truthfully had enjoyed being a SEAL.
Especially before the accident.
But that still didn't mean he stopped his weekly subscription to Sky At Night Magazine or Scientific American.
And sure, maybe he had pretended not to know what neutrinos were when Dr. Coldwater had first mentioned it, but that was because he wanted to have an upper hand.
Not because he liked how she could actually talk for eons about things she was passionate about.
Of course not, that would be ridiculous and very, very, very unprofessional.
Yes, that was it.
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Eridanus Flooding (WATTY 2018 WINNER)Mystery / Thriller
Commander Jack Rhodes is a retired Navy Seal. Well. Retired isn't what he would call it. More like fired. Yes. Fired would be the correct choice of word. No one retires at the age of 32. When a mission went wrong, leaving Jack as the only survivor...