It’s been a while! Catch up on the story so far by following these links:
Part 12 Part 11 Part 10 Part Nine Part Eight Part Seven Part Six Part Five Part Four Part Three Part Two Part One
Myra smashed her fists into the control panel of the shuttle.
“Go, go, go, go, go!” She screamed at the panel still refusing her commands. She pondered why she agreed to be the one inside the submersible. She had no business in water. She was born in space, worked in space and at this very moment was certain she wanted to die in space.
The eye of the enormous lake dwelling creature filled the shuttle’s window. Myra looked from the panel to the monster over and over, hopeful a course of action would present itself.
Bells and alarms chimed through the shuttle cabin. The monster was beginning to move. The shuttle shimmied loose from the beast’s side and propelled itself backward. Myra fell to the floor, bumping her elbow and against a power box which brought an end to the incessant beeps of the alarm.
Pulling herself from the ground, she grabbed the shuttle’s controls and pleaded with it to move faster than fast. As the monster rose from the lake floor its wake pushed the shuttle toward the surface.
“Aki, if you can hear me,” she said to her still static ridden radio, “I am going to need some practice flight time when I get back.”
The shuttle bobbed in the turbulent waters. Myra did not know one could get sea sick when under the water, but she learned quickly.
The beast was below and behind her, hiding the darkness of the deep. She did not like an unseen enemy. She favored facing her foes eye to eye. She also favored the foe not being an unclassified sea monster most likely bigger and heavier than her orbiting space station home. The opportunity to escape that situation had passed.
“I need a nav point, shuttle. Any help would be appreciated,” she said. The computer’s mapping systems had gone offline. The comm links were gone. She favored a mission that did not go haywire before it even started.
“I should surface,” she muttered. She did not like the idea of exposing the shuttle to Platform 10’s scanners. With the other option being floating around aimlessly in the largest lake in the solar system, the choice was already made.
She steered the shuttle upward. She hoped it was upward. With much relief, the shuttle shot out of the water and bobbed once more on the waves as it settled on the surface.
She spun the shuttle looking for the Platform. Platform 10 was similar in shape and design as all other platforms involved in the terraforming of Earth, but it was nearly double the size. It required more energy, more scientists, more support staff, more rooms, and more evacuation vehicles than any other station on the planet. Myra nearly completed a full rotation before the Platform came into view.
She mashed buttons on the control panel once more to set a steady course heading forward, then sent the shuttle into the water once more. There were no bleeps or blips as she went back into the water. The monster was not showing up on any of the malfunctioning radar screens or heat scanners. She took that as a good sign; even broken, a beast of that size would have shown up on something if it was near.
The shuttle cruised along at speeds most dull. She missed space and the speeds that could be reached in an environment without gravity and friction. She was fairly certain she could hear the water scrape against the submerged shuttle, taunting her as the mission crawled along.
The Platform approached and the lake grew brighter as the glow of the laboratory and observation station lights filled the area.
“Time to slow,” she said, “even more.” She was very displeased.
She guided the shuttle to the escape hatch at the bottom of the Platform. None of the Platform staff would be present in this area making it the best point of entry. There was no docking station or connection point at the hatch. She needed to swim there. The shuttle needed to remain many meters from the base of the Platform structure; else she would run the risk of tripping alarms.
She muttered and cursed as she adorned an archaic wetsuit.
“I am a star farer,” she said through curled lips and with more spite than she really felt.
She checked her oxygen tanks and ensured the pressure adjuster built into the suit was in working order. Satisfied the equipment would not cause her demise, she slapped a helmet over her head and entered the shuttle’s airlock.
She closed her eyes and raised her hand to the door release button. “Please don’t let anything eat me,” she said as she pressed the button.
Water rushed into the tiny airlock space and ripped her out of the shuttle. Regaining control, she swam to the hatch. It did not feel to her like it was getting any closer. Small animals brushed against her. She pushed aside long, vine like plants that filled her path. The water was heavy around her, but even her old submariner suit was outfitted with muscle assist tech that made swimming at any depth feel like walking through a koi pond. That was what Rafe said as he explained how to use the gear. She worried he actually made a habit of walking through the habitats of domesticated fish.
She reached the hatch and began to turn the wheel and spoke handle on the door.
“Manual doors,” she said, “Platform 10 is apparently an original earth structure.”
From the corner of her eye she saw what at first looked like a floating rope. As that was unlikely, she turned to investigate.
The creature she saw must have been fifty meters long. It was stick thin except for its head; the skull was the size of a human and comprised mostly of teeth. Sharp and pointy teeth. Row after row. The creature was turning toward the hatch.
She spun the wheel faster.
“You’re an emergency hatch!” she shouted.
The beast was beginning to open its mouth, confident it had found its next meal.
“Just open!” Myra shouted again. For once, a machine listed to her. The door unlocked and bubbles raced skyward. Myra darted inside and pulled the door closed behind her.
She heard a thud against the thick metal door.
She sat in a pool of water that was rapidly draining from the room.
“I hate the ocean,” she said between tired breaths. She removed her helmet and the submariner suit and entered Platform 10.