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.


4. Oasis

Murphy, Susan and Takada Shoji stepped off from the white metal flooring and into the oasis in the center of the room. Their feet touched soft, moist earth as they followed the suited man's lead through the undergrowth.

"Mr Hiroshiro designed this whole structure," Takada began as he led them deeper. "He always admired the jellyfish. Soft to the touch, graceful in the water, but able to withstand the extreme pressures of the ocean floor. This whole facility was designed around it."

"That's explains the shape," Murphy added.

"Yes, indeed, Mr Townsend," Takada continued. "As you may know minerals on the surface are becoming scarce, violently defended by the other companies. My boss is not one for conflict. Instead he thought, 'where else can I look.' We were the first company to begin underwater mining operations on this scale in the world. It is all thanks to the jellyfish, it's design, shape and adaptability means no one has the capabilities of reaching these depths with adequate equipment and staying long enough to make financial gain."

The trio still wandered their way past thick ferns and countless other flora to arrive in a small clearing. A seating area was laid out at one end with thick cushioned seats and a selection of caviar and cooked meats. Murphy and Susan sat at opposite ends while Takada paced before them, still continuing with his speech.

"Mr Hiroshiro was keen to have nature be top priority. As you can see by this splendid oasis he has created," he said with his eyes raised, his glasses glinting in the light from overhead. "Many of these trees and ferns were grown in research labs on the facility itself, specially adapted." He lowered his gaze and his once smiling face took a serious turn. "Mr Hiroshiro informed me you were coming but not on your intentions. Perhaps it would be best to hear it from you."

"I think it best if we talked to Mr Hiroshiro personally about this," Susan said, not having touched any of the food on display. "We also require access to the mining facility and the labs."

"Also," Murphy added. "We'll need access to the nuclear facilities."

"Nuclear facilities?" Takada said surprised. "We do not run on nuclear power down here. We get our power from thermal vents. You may go out to see them, but there are hundreds. Some are also quite a bit deeper."

"You're telling me you get all your power from thermal vents? You have a whole city down here Mr Shiro, even with access to thousands of thermal vents that wouldn't cut it," Murphy said.

Takada smiled, "you say that, Mr Townsend. But here we are, running away quite well. And about access, that will be arranged tomorrow. It is quite late and I'm sure you would like some rest after your trip. You also need time for your bodies to adjust. Shall I show you to your quarters?"

"Do we have a choice?" Murphy said standing, but Takada only smiled and led them away.

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