Nick did his best to reach around the Commander, attempting awkwardly, to point to specific controls in front of her.
"Ok, the first thing you're going to want to do to start her up is..."
But he promptly stopped the tutorial when, in a series of quick, fluid motions, Jordan hit the necessary controls to bring the M.A.N.T.A.'s engines to life.
"I did have a hand or two in the flight system design, Lieutenant Commander.", she said with a grin.
"Right.", Nick nodded. "In that case, take her out Commander."
The tips of Jordan's fingers glowed in the M.A.N.T.A. suit gloves as she engaged the virtual controls suspended in front of her. The M.A.N.T.A. dipped below the surface and glided gracefully out the moon pool exterior doors below Deep Blue's large central sphere.
Syndi radioed in, "M.A.N.T.A., you've cleared the moon pool and are set for your descent."
"Roger that.", Nick answered.
"Syndi, where have you been?", Nick asked, as it occurred to him that she was noticeably absent from the previous discussion in the moon pool.
"Lieutenant Commander, I've been in Deep Blue.", the A.I. answered very matter-of-factly.
"Of course you have.", Nick surrendered as she stated the obvious.
Syndi continued, "Since all my systems are located inside Deep Blue, I will always be in Deep Blue."
"Right. Syndi, where's the doc?", Nick asked quickly changing the topic.
"Doctor Marshall is at the command console.", Syndi replied. "He's reviewing last night's test results on Eugene and the crystal. He asked me to assist you on your descent, and to not inquire why Command...", before communications from Deep Blue were suddenly interrupted.
Jordan piloted the M.A.N.T.A. over the edge of the cliff and into a swift, steep dive down the cliff wall. Nick's grip on the edge of his seat tightened, as did his stomach.
There was a moment of silence before communications to the station were magically reestablished.
"Did you need something Sheppard?", the doctor's gruff voice grumbled over the comms in Nick's ear.
As Jordan sent the M.A.N.T.A. into a roll, keeping the front window facing the cliff wall, she threw the engine throttle to full. Nick groaned slightly and simply answered, "Prayers Doc. Prayers would be good."
"Oh, come on Sheppard.", Jordan teased with a growing smile, "Relax. I told you, I've piloted the Pieces in the simulator and it's basically the same controls, just with about half the engine power."
"Of course.", Nick nodded uncomfortably. "The simulator."
Her statement didn't instill him with much confidence, but Nick continued to remind himself that she did score 10 points higher on her pilot aptitude test. That had to count for something. At least that's what he kept telling himself.
"Just making sure you were still there Doc.", Nick radioed.
"Oh I'm here Romeo.", the doc replied. "I just didn't want to intrude on your little date night."
"That's funny doc.", Nick shot back with a forced smile, incredibly thankful that he was the only one in the M.A.N.T.A. that could hear the incoming radio transmissions.
"And yes, our test dive is going just fine, thanks."
Nick watched the display over Jordan's shoulder as their speed continued to increase. He was also painfully aware of how, as they descended, they seemed to be drifting closer and closer to the rocky cliff wall.
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...