(photo credit Blue Submarine No. 6)
This was another writing exercise from a book my wife gave to me. The premise was to choose a word that has multiple meanings and have that word in the first sentence. Then you must run with that idea until you fill an entire page. The word I chose was “bear” and my idea ran off into the 24th century world of “Star Trek” but with a twist. We have already seen various versions of The Federations space travels, so I thought more about what must still go on right here on Earth. Even though “Star Trek” depicts a utopian society, there must always be vigilance and where better for that than the oceans that cover so much of the planet? So I don’t mean to taunt anyone if they enjoy this but the one page is all there is. The publisher of Star Trek universe stories no longer accepts unsolicited manuscripts so I suppose an idea is what this story will remain.
Will the hull be able to bear the pressure down that deep? We would soon find out. Here I was sitting in the command chair of this new submarine. A Defiant class vessel, the latest in 24th century technology. So many people spend so much time thinking about how The Federation has traveled through space to other planets and contacted all manner of new cultures that they forget how much is still to be discovered right here beneath the waves. To me, to be part of the planet’s patrol fleet is an honor unto it self. Here we still explore the depths of the oceans and find new ways to harness its wonders. Many don’t realize that it takes five times the technology to build a vessel for the ocean as it does to deep into space. The pressure beneath the ocean surface is a formidable enemy all by itself. An ever present reminder that despite the capabilities of your ship, the ocean is and always will be the master. I’ve known for a long time that man has overcome most all of his demons in today’s world and that’s probably why most consider this a less than glamorous post, but to all those doubting Thomas’s I say spend a little time getting to know the alien world right here at home. After all, it does cover three quarters of the Earth. Witness the power and the majesty that the ocean commands and you can feel as small here as you do staring out the viewport at the stars in the great beyond.
I’ve studied a great deal of history in my 20 years in the corps and I worry the most about history repeating itself. Man can be his own worst enemy. So there is not only the wary eye that needs to be kept for an alien species looking to make the Earth its new spawning ground or using the ocean as a covert way to gain access to the planet, but also for man himself to reach back to a more primitive time, and seek to do his own purposes.
But enough time for reflection later. The task now is to reach deep into the heart of the waters once again. I sound the order aloud; “Attention all hands! This is the captain, all personnel to your posts, on the One M-C, dive! dive! dive! I say again, this is not a drill! DIVE, DIVE, DIVE! Chief of the watch, rig for red!”
The lights on the bridge change to red as I can feel the ship taking on her ballast. I can hear and feel the gentle thrumming of the generators turning up the power for the structural integrity fields. The pulsing of the MHD drives grows stronger as she begins to lose the drag of the waves overhead.
“Conn officer give me the depth call,” I ordered.
“Aye sir, conn is sounding. Conn reads depth at one-two –zero-zero fathoms sir.”
“ Roger conn, one-two-zero-zero fathoms…make your depth one-seven-zero zero feet, five degree down angle…all ahead one quarter.”
“ Aye captain, all ahead one quarter, five degree down, descending to one seven-zero-zero feet.”
This seemed like a good place to start I thought to myself. Let her get all the groaning and flexing out of her system. Let all the newbies on board get their first taste of what it feels like to go deep. Deeper than they knew was down there. Wonders to behold in the dim glow that comes from our own running lights, illuminating creatures that they’ve only seen in a holographic simulation before now. Right on the other side of the viewport is a world more beautiful and more dangerous than any they have ever known. One that will lull you in with her amazing sights and then crush you without mercy. A fine line they must learn to walk and walk it they will, or they won’t serve aboard my ship. At any one time I know that the lives of many may hang in the balance of one crewman’s actions. In the world below, there is little tolerance for mistakes. I know them all too well. We all have our crosses to bear. Mine right now is on the bridge of this ship, with the fate of all who I command hanging on the decision I make every day, every minute, and the next one could be the one that risks a life. But I knew that before I sat in this chair. Why I’ve been the one in the past who was rescued while others didn’t make it, when others sacrificed themselves so that I could make it…Heaven only knows, but I know I’ll never forget their faces, or the price they paid. It is for their sake that I require the level of dedication and performance from these younglings around me. Hopefully they’ll never have to make those kinds of sacrifices, but if they do, they’ll know that they serve a greater good for it and they will not be lost in vain. Not on my ship…
This is who I am, and this is the life I have chosen. For so long as there is work to be done beneath the waters of my home, I will stand forward to do it. Until the day I dive in and the ocean yields me not up again…or until she beckons me no more.