“The deepest point in the ocean is 11,000 meters,” he said. “According to our instruments, we should have hit that point three kilometers ago.”
“That’s impossible, the captain said in a tone that might have been shock 2 kilometers ago. She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Check again.” Every researcher scrambled to the post, to their assigned equipment, but Marina knew they would only find that the initial reading were correct. She had helped develop the equipment, after all.
The submarine’s crew swirled in a hurricane of confusion and panic, but captain Marina stood centered, an exasperated eye in the storm. She kept her hands pressed firmly to her sides to avoid biting her nails. It was a terrible habit she had picked up recently that she fully intended to kick once she got back home.
Of course, she wanted to laugh at the people around her. Of course we have further to go. Stop thinking you’ve learned everything. You’ve never been here. You haven’t-
“Captain?” Marina took her hand away from her mouth. “What should we do? I don’t think the sub can take pressure any farther down.”
The ship hasn’t taken the pressure for the last 4 kilometers, Marina restrained herself from saying. She made a show of checking dials and flashing screens to see what to do. She let the show carry on longer than it needed to.
“Yup,” she said in the too casual tone that came from nerves. “We’ll stop here.” The order trickled out from Marina’s soft voice to gruff shouts from one human to another until the propellers shut down. The biggest sub to ever dare the Challenger Deep drifted to a stop 4 kilometers below the ocean’s lowest point.
“Lights,” Captain Marina commanded. The flood lamps flashed on, no doubt scattering anything that had eyes. Marina slipped her way through all the people still too enamored with barometers to care about what might have been visible on the world’s biggest desert. Marina stared with eyes well adjusted to the darkness and saw the last swirls of water that told her they were here.
“Captain, if i may-”
“Oh, certainly,” Marina stepped away from the tiny porthole and made her face look thoughtful. She was so close , she could feel the pull again. She tugged at her sleeves. Just a little longer, she begged. Be patient. Marina sat down in the nearest vacant seat. Her pants were starting to feel restrictive.
“Jesus, I think I saw something!” an observer shouted. “See, there!”
“That’s impossible!” an idiot retorted. “Nothing could live at this depth. The pressure alone would kill it!”
Well, that was just too perfect. Marina smirked. She relaxed, just a bit.
The submarine exploded in chaos . Alarms blared, red lights flared, and everyone started shouting. The submarine’s integrity started failing. Humans scrambled around, desperately trying to restart the engine and try to ascend.
One man, as he rushed by Marina to his station, tripped. Marina caught him, on instinct, and helped him back to his feet. “Thanks, Captain. Good thing someone's still calm in here.”
“I try,” Marina confessed, a moment before she stopped trying. The alarms had a few seconds to overload before the portholes shattered. There was another moment for screaming, then the rest of the submarine crumpled. She let the water rush in around her, pulling, pulling through her hair and ripping the uniform off her body.
Her sisters swirled around, picking off the spoils of her decade long hunt. She felt the power of the ocean around her again.
She was home.