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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2. Not Alone

The Mir III prototype continued its descent. The vessel was surrounded with powerful floodlights, used to attract rare and often undiscovered species of fish, as well as to help navigate through tight spaces between continental plates, caverns and tightly packed rock outcroppings. From the circular windows on both sides one small luminescent fish could be seen darting back and forth. Apparently attempting to mate with, or attack, the submersible. 

Sergeant Phillips stood from his seat, having to stoop low to avoid hitting his head, and made for a window on the starboard side. He peered out and into the perpetual darkness, broken only by the waltz of that one speck of light preceding to dance before them.

"Such a small fish," he said, not taking his eyes off of it. "What is it doing?"

Murphy smiled. "It's not a small fish, Sergeant. That's a female species of anglerfish, a real ugly bitch. And I believe it's sizing us up."

The Sergeant turned his head around, eyes wide, "how big is it?"

"Well what you're seeing is the bioluminescent hyoid barbel, a sort of glowing antennae. It's used to attract prey. The actual fish is about ten inches long, with rows of razor sharp teeth." Murphy gestured the size with his hands. "By the looks of it id say it's a centrophryne spinulosa, or prickly seadevil. And a rather aggressive one at that. We're quite lucky to see it."

The sergeant turned back to the window, now having more respect for the tiny speck of bouncing light. 

"How can you be so sure it's female?" He asked, this time not looking away.

"The females are the more dominant," Susan responded before Murphy had a chance. "The males are about an inch or two in length and latch onto the female with its teeth, like a parasite, and feed from her blood supply," she added looking over to Murphy. 

"Eventually the skin will grow over the male and he will never be able to leave," Murphy added, looking back at Susan. "She'll have him trapped, whether he wants it or not."

"Nature is disgusting," the Sergeant added. Feeling he had heard enough he retook his seat.

"You've seen nothing yet," Murphy said smiling. "There are creatures down here that are beyond imagination. Locked away from the world, from the light, from reality itself for millennia. The most terrifying though are those that we don't know even exist. And the further down we go, the weirder they get."

"What a mission they gave me," Sergeant Phillips said under his breath, before closing his eyes and fought off thoughts of hideous sea monsters.

"Doctors, we should be arriving at Atlantis in fifteen minutes," the captain said. "Sorry about the delay."

From the forward facing windows something could be seen through the murk. As minutes of silence passed, all eyes were on the ever growing structure, the scale of what was unfolding before them was beyond anything they originally thought possible.

"Jesus Christ," Murphy said standing, hitting his head. He didn't care.

Before them a monumental sized dome shaped structure appeared from out of the darkness, glowing a rich cyan. It was easily the size of a modest city, and dominated the landscape. Other submersibles could be seen drifting along near the base of the building. As they drifted closer, more of the city could be seen; docking ports near the south side, high rise buildings to the north. A whole civilization hidden beneath the waves.

"How could something this large go unnoticed for so long?" Susan said, open mouthed.

"I heard rumours about this place. But... But this is..." Murphy couldn't continue his sentence.

Soon the Mir III was amongst other, similar looking submersibles entering the southern most docking port. For Murphy his reason for being here had escaped his mind completely. 

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