Part of USS Jaxartes: Deep Six

Part 4: Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea

Island - Y-Teck V
14th February 2401 06:15
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With the Sea Quest now half covered by sea water it was time for everyone to get on board that was going on the search mission.  Lei was back on top of the hull, ready to help anyone if they needed a hand getting aboard.  Joshua was first up the ladder, closely followed by Hachiro.  Lyanna followed close behind them, stopping briefly to take one last look around.  Jason waited at the foot of the ladder for the Commander.  He was over by the Lieutenant.

“Well you’re in charge of things here number one; we’ll send you a progress report as soon as we can.” The Vulcan informed her. “The Chief should be ok, but if there are any problems he knows to contact you.”

“Good luck sir.” Her reply was in a much softer tone than he’d normal heard her use during their time working together, and the hand shake that followed a little longer than usual.  For Vulcan, emotions where a thing to be kept in check.  Salan knew enough however to realise when someone was genuinely worried. “Thank you Laira.”

As he turned and walked away towards the submarine, it suddenly dawned on the Bajoran what he’d just said.  He never used her first name on duty never once in all the time she’d known him.  May be that would be the closest he’d ever come to acknowledge any sort of feelings. Or was that just her overthinking thing, caught in the moment.  She smiled to herself idly running the index finger of her right hand along the outer edge of her earring before grabbing her Tricorder to go and examine one of the large patches of twisted glass created by the extreme heat coming from the Atragons’ Plasma Jets as it hit the sand when she landed.

At the top of the ladder the Trill pilot held out her hand. “Welcome aboard Commander” He didn’t take it, as he was too busy watching his first officer at work, then he climbed inside and Rahs followed closed the hatch and sealed it.

_____

She was the last one to take her seat at the front left hand side of the craft, Joshua seated next to her had already started the process of going through all the final checks.  Once they were both satisfied everything was in order Lei kicked the sub into life.

At first it moved slowly running along the bottom on its four tracks.  But as it travelled into deeper water the Sea Quest started to float and her main propulsion system began to take over. Rahs adjusted the weight of the craft by partly filling the ballast tanks with water and carefully levelling it out.  Joshua stretched one arm above his head and switched on forward lights illuminating the murky water ahead.

“Locked on to the signal of ROSE 2’s buoy, captain.” The Trill pilot announced.  “Altering course now.”

“Rose?” Jason asked looking across to the Japanese man

“Remote Operated Surveillance Equipment.”  Hachiro replied. “We sent both of ours drones out to look around for any signs of wreckage.”

“And one of them spotted something interesting?” The ensign asked

“Yes, only small.  One of the access panels from a nacelle and a running light in fact. But enough to reduce the search area considerably.” Commented Joshua from the front.

“So you assume with so little visible wreckage; the USS Alberga may have sunk in one piece?” It was the Commanders turn to ask a question.

“Indeed” Jinguji paused for a moment. “It will hopefully make your job easier. Figuring out what happened.”

_____

North Ocean 14th February 2401 09:50

As the Sea Quest ploughed through the water following just above the contours of the ocean floor, dropping ever deeper; the occasional fish would briefly  flash across the bubble window at the from court in the bright lights before disappearing back into the greenish blue void around them.  Most had been ‘Clupea Harengus Y’Teck’ as Lei had called them using the scientific name, or the even smaller and aptly named ‘Dart Fish’.  At one point they spotted something that very much resembled a ‘Ray’ found in Earths own oceans.  It was hard to imagine though that this particular creature at 6 metres across was keeping pace with the sub running at 23 knots.  After half hour it seemed to lose interest; rolled to one side displaying its brilliant white underside that gave it its name and the ‘Ghost Fish’ was gone.

For the first roughly 3 hours the depth had grown gradually, like going down a reasonable step hill, had they been on land.  Abruptly though the ocean floor just disappeared from view as they passed over what was basically a sheer cliff.  As the Trill pilot adjusted the decent angle once more the depth gauge went from reading -800 metres where there was at least still a small amount of light filtering down from above to -2300 metres where the light never reached.

Here like on Earth was the realm of the bizarre and the strange.  Fish and other creatures evolved over possibly millions of years to hunt, feed and continue the life cycle of their species in total darkness.  Fish with mouths over half the size of their body; constantly open and sucking in any microscopic particles that came its way.  Another one caught in the lights; that was totally transparent.

Captain Jinguji had passed both Jason and Lyanna PADDs that contained the most up to date information from exploratory missions that had been made by a number of robotic underwater probes sent to map out the planets oceans.  But they hadn’t even managed a 10th of what was out there, and the two ensigns had already spotted at least one unrecorded species.  The Sea Quests 4 external cameras would be recording everything that came within range, which in this total darkness would only be a couple of metres.

Once more the sea bed came into view; but down here very little life covered the jagged broken rock surface. “How are we doing for time?” The Japanese Captain asked his Trill pilot.

“We’ll be at the edge of the search area in another 25 minutes.” She answered double checking the readings. “How would you like to proceed?”

Hachiro turned to Salan for the answer. “Start at The nearest grid point and continue due east before turning around to heard west on the second leg.”

“Sounds good to me.  Heading for grid 32-74.” She adjusted the subs course just a few degrees to starboard.  So far their journey had remained remarkable uneventful, and everyone was enjoying it; despite the seriousness of their mission.  Even Lyanna had been relaxed enough to not want to jump on the controls.

_____

USS Jaxartes Bridge 11:06

Somewhere in orbit up above; the USS Jaxartes slowly orbited the planet.  Chief Engineer Thomas Arthur Bellbrooke sat in the captain’s chair on the bridge.  It was the first time he’d commanded a vessel of any size during his whole career in Starfleet.  He’d helped to repair probably close to a hundred of them.  From minor faults to stripping out entire warp cores.  Having risen up through the ranks.  From a simple fitter to running a corps of engineers back at the Starbase.

Just under half a day had gone so far.  Eleven hours, seventeen minutes and thirty-eight seconds to be precise.  He couldn’t believe how bored he was getting, and to think everyone aspired to do this job!  Give him an engineering emergency any day and he’d be ready for it.  He was sorely tempted to rip out one of the workstations and fit it all back together.  That would at least occupy several hours.