Nivens, The Reluctant Deserter
As they walked the towering walkways to the loading dock, the floor rocked underfoot. Nivens muttered something about the gravity assists being offline as he followed.
Alice looked at him, “Gravity assists are for gaining momentum for space flight not for anything under water. What are you talking about?” But he just shook his head.
As they approached the hangar, men were jumping into the sub planes, some were already rolling down the runway that went straight into the water.
Alice poked Niven’s side saying, “Nivens, which plane is yours.”
Nivens glared at her rubbing his side, “Ma’am, I am a medic.”
“I see.” Alice began walking to the nearest subplane. Nivens blustered as he realized what she was doing.
“I must protest. You don’t know how to operate a Glyder.” He actually sounded concerned for her.
“Is that what they’re called?” She kept walking and at the Glyder she stepped up on the wing and jumped into the cockpit. There was an extra seat behind her. She settled in, pondered a moment looking down at Nivens then stuck out her arm and waved him up.
“No,” he replied firmly. The fear was evident in his tightened features if not his voice.
“WhooOoooOoo!” A new alarm started. His face paled.
Alice felt a grin tug at the corners of her mouth.”Let me guess, that’s the evacuation alarm.” His silence was a thousand words.
“Well, Nivens, it has been nice knowing you. Hope you find a way off this vessel.” She started pushing buttons to seal the glass-like dome around her.
His face paled even more and was deathly in color. He cursed, “I knew I shouldn’t trust Merna. Stupid Goliath is just like the titanic. Say it’s unsinkable and the universe is against you!” He jumped and crawled up into the seat behind her.
As the dome sealed around them he whispered from the back seat, “You know what you’re doing, right?”
Alice revved the engine and with a surge of confidence in her voice she said, “There hasn’t been a machine I couldn’t figure out…eventually.”
He moaned as she turned them to the runway and toward the water. Moments later they were hurtling down the column of water to the outside of the glowing blue vessel.
Water rushed by bubbling over the glass. Except it couldn’t be glass because at these depths and this thin it would crack. They would implode.
She sure had a lot of questions. Including everything in the box. About her mom and this ancient civilization. Merna talking about cities made more sense now. The people weren’t still alive, right? They would have found them centuries ago. There weren’t any secrets left on Earth that big, right?
Ahead she saw the dark depths coming closer at the end of the tunnel. Then they were out.
A vast plain like a chateau stretched out at length around them. The waving sea of glittering blue plants below added a green glow to Goliath blue glow.
The majestic coral reefs their team had seen last week didn’t compare the beauty before her. It mesmerized her – the flow, the vibrant glow.
Fingers entered her view and snapped, startling her. Nivens had leaned forward, “Stare too long and we’ll get nowhere. Get us out of here.” The shake in his voice belied his confident command.
Below them was great activity. Apparently the men were going to latch Goliath to the Chateau until everything blew past. Far down below men were drilling metal loops into the ground.
“How did they do that?”
“How did they get out of their subs, glyders, whatever and they’re wearing underwater gear?”
Nivens smiled. His first real smile. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
She rolled her eyes. “I thought you said we were leaving? Why are they latching Goliath to the Chateau?”
“We are leaving, but we need to secure our drilling site first.”
Their drilling site? She saw the small scattered holes now. Suited men were pouring out of them.
“Why would they be evacuating Goliath if they’re latching it down?”
He was silent. Then simply said, “They wouldn’t.”