The Abyssal Plains

An exploratory team of environmental scientists venture down 13,000ft to a Japanese underwater mining facility after rumors of nuclear waste dumps going on deep in the Mariana Trench, but nothing is as it appears.

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3. Entering Atlantis

Murphy and the others sat in their seats and stared out from the windows at the new alien world drifting past. The ship slowly made its way through a blue glowing glass tube, workers in lab coats could be seen through the clear concave walls. Some sat at computer tables, others held clipboards. For Murphy it seemed unbelievable that they wouldn't spend their days admiring the architecture, not to mention their surroundings. 

"How long has this been here?" He asked, no one seemed to be listening.

The long tube entrance opened up into a vast expanse. The submersible rose to the surface of the port and entered one of the many docking stations. Workers in yellow overalls surrounded the new visitors and opened the hatch above after tying it in place.

Blinding light illuminated the stunned faces of those within. From the light an unseen man called down, "Watashi ni anata no nimotsu o watasu."

"He wants you to pass him your bags," the pilot of the craft said to Murphy as he prodded him in the ribs. 

Together the three of them started holding up their heavy bags and cases of equipment to the workers standing above the sub. Once everything was on dry land they climbed the ladder and entered Atlantis. 

Murphy and Susan stood, side by side, and gazed up and around them, taking in the sight. The room was huge, dozens of similar docking stations lined the banks water which was only accessible through the slim tunnels. Thin glass walled rooms lined each of the tunnels, possibly for security, Murphy surmised. To the north of the docking area seemed to be a massive lobby, the kind you would see in a ultra expensive hotel. Giant ferns, unknown trees and other exotic plants stood in the centre of the expanse, surrounded by seats and even Coca-Cola drinks machines lined the walkways through the mini oasis. A huge pair of steel bulkhead doors could just be seen in the distance, the gateway to the city proper. Two white gulls flew from the trees and circled overhead cawing.

"Beautiful," Susan said. "Just... Beautiful."

A young slim man in a white three piece suit walked towards them, his shoes clicking on the silver metal floor. "Welcome, welcome to Hiroshiro Industries Deepsea Mining Facility, or Atlantis." He spoke in a rich Japanese accent. He reached out and shook Murphy's hand vigorously. "Welcome, please. My name is Takada Shoji. You must my Doctor Murphy Townsend, it is indeed an honor. And you must be Doctor Susan Townsend," he turned and shook her hand also. 

"Summers, actually," she added.

"Not yet you aren't," Murphy said under his breath before turning back to their host, forcing a smile.

"I trust there is no problem?" Takada said, still holding Susan's hand.

"Yes actually," Murphy said. "We were expecting to be met by Mr Hiroshiro himself."

"Ahh yes. Unfortunately due to your delay he is currently unavailable, important business. Our sincere apologies." The man bowed. "Come, please. Much to see."

His arms wide he ushered the couple away from their ship and towards the lobby area.

 

* * *

 

"I don't like it here," the Captain said taking a swig from his concealed hip-flask, passing it to the Sergeant, who refused. "This place. I've taken supplies here many times, I'm one of the few not on the companies payroll. Outsourced. There's just... Something off."

"You seen anything suspicious?" The Sergeant asked. "Guys over in Washington don't know much about this place, if they do they're not telling. I'm only here to guard the doctors."

The Captain leant back and stroked his thick mustache. "I have my suspicions, can't fathom a guess to why. Just a feeling. It's too crisp. Too clean. Man shouldn't be this deep. Existing down here in the dark."

The Sergeant laughed, "ironic for a submersible Captain, wouldn't you think? I don't even know your name."

"Oh, Francis," they shook hands. "I got into this job because of a love of the sea, and I stayed because of the exploration, seeing new animals and new places. But.." He turned to the Sergeant, his breath heavy with whisky. "This isn't our world. Before when we'd come down, we'd only stay a few hours and go back, we'd just visit, see the sights, see the residents and go, leaving as little trace as we could. But here," he shook his head looking out the windows. "They're disturbing things that they don't know. Drilling and digging away at god-knows-what. I just... I just have a bad feeling."

"Well thanks for the heads-up Francis and maybe I'll catch you later for that drink," Sergeant Phillip said standing up. "I best go check on the Doctors."

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