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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1. Initial Descent

Down in the inky blackness a deep-sea submersible continued its descent. At three thousand five hundred feet below the surface of the ocean it had already sank ten times the maximum depth of a blue whale, and was only barely a quarter of its way towards its destination. The craft groaned and creaked under the pressure of the seemingly infinite world above. The sub screamed out in pain, but still the pilot carried on downwards, towards the depths of Mariana's Trench. 

The Russian-made, American-funded joint venture, the Mir III, is a prototype vessel and largest in the series of famous explorers. Built to survey the deepest parts of the known sea-floor, as well as transport more personnel and equipment than its predecessors. Today it housed merely four occupants, pilot included. 

Past its thick nickel and plate steel shell the cabin was as deathly quiet as the void that lay beyond.

"I take it you two know each other," a man said from the back of the ship, his military uniform crisp and pressed.

A red hue from the console lights above the passengers heads casted dancing shadows onto the metallic walls behind them. Occasional flashes of other instruments lit up the darkened areas. Although the sub was a lot more spacious than others in its class, the air was still stagnant with compressed tension coming from the man and women sitting close to the pilot. 

"What makes you say that?" The other man replied, much more casually dressed but with a gaze just as regimented; trained to the floor.

"Well, we've been in this tin can for forty five minutes now and you two haven't said a word," he said looking to the women opposite the man. "I take it either you two have already fucked and things turned sour, or you really want to."

"Didn't know psychology was part of the Army's curriculum," the casually dressed man said, turning to face the man at the back. "Private Phillips, is it?"

The military man pointed to his lapel, "Sergeant, sir." 

"I'll be frank with you, 'sergeant,'" the man continued. "I don't know why you're even here in the first place, this is an investigation only, not a declaration of war. Maybe you should keep your mind on whatever job you've been given and out of my affairs."

Sergeant Phillips sat back in his metal seat and continued watching on in silence, a smirk lay hidden in the darkness.

"Oh come now, Murphy," the women chipped in, her eyes meeting the man opposite for the first time. "We're going to be stuck together for weeks down here. The least you can do is be civil."

"Susan, no offense, but If I knew you were coming I never would have stepped foot on this damned sub," Murphy said, brushing sweat from his brow. 

"I knew and I still came. Then again I always was the adult in the marriage."

"You knew? Why wasn't I told?" Murphy said.

"Of course I knew, who do you think got them to drag you along?" Susan replied. "I thought you could be mature enough to do the work without all this hostility and bravado. You're the best man for the job and, I don't know if you realise this, it's a damn important one. I wouldn't have asked for you if it wasn't."

"Oh, so I have you to thank," Murphy said exhaling loudly. "I can do the job just fine, so long as Rambo over here stops trying to be a marriage counsellor."

"It's not a counsellor you need by the sounds of it," Sergeant Phillips said. "It's an exorcist." To which Susan chuckled.

Murphy glared at his soon to be ex wife before turning his attention to the pilot sitting up front. "How much longer Captain?"

"Well," the voice echoed back at the seated passengers. "Should be clear from here on out, no more weather delaying our descent. Shouldn't be more than thirty minutes before we arrive at the base."

'Christ,' Murphy thought, 'this is going to be one long trip.'

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