INTO THE DEPTHS
This story was written in
response to the Tracy Island Writers Forum's 2006 Fic Swap
Fic Swap Request: Gordon and
Brains are using Thunderbird 4 for some research on the
Marianas Trench, which suddenly has a piece that's jutted out
of its north end that wasn't there last time they surveyed it.
But when they start to take a look at this new phenomena, it
isn't what either expected.
what in God's name is that contraption?"
well, uh, Gordon, It's a device I made to see along the bottom
of the trench. I-I mean, we can't take Thunderbird, uh, all
the way down to the maximum depth now, can we?"
doesn't look like anything we ever used in WASP. Well, we
could try and go all the way. You used that leftover compound
from the heat resistance experiment to reinforce the hull
after you found out it was better suited for strengthening
y-yes, that's right. However, it hasn't been fully, ah, tested
in the lab yet and I don't think a depth of over 36,000 feet
is a good place to, er, start."
gave a slight shrug and a grin formed at the corners of his
mouth. "Aw, whatsa matter, Brains? Not a gambling man?"
when the consequences would involve your f-father turning me
into shark bait...that is, if we, ah, survived."
not so bad. He just gets a little touchy when it comes to
having to rescue one of us."
y-your father is just a good commander a-and a good parent.
B-Both jobs require keeping up morale within the ranks and
avoiding loss o-of personnel at all costs."
with the strawberry blond hair couldn't resist a chuckle at
the mental image that conjured up. He hadn't really thought of
it that way before.
guess you're right."
Gordon's expert guidance, Thunderbird Four slowly continued on
its way along the Mariana Trench, near the Mariana Islands and
Guam. Of particular interest was "The Challenger Deep." This
was the part of the trench that had the greatest ocean depth
in the world. Even though numerous surveys had been made of
its floor using state of the art robotic equipment, to this
day, no human being had ever been able to venture down to the
very bottom. Gordon and Brains had come closer than anyone
ever had though and Gordon knew it was just a matter of time
until Brains was able to solve the problems of the great
pressure and temperature variations. In order to accomplish
their goal, they would need a vessel that would be able to
withstand the enormous pressure of over 16,000 pounds per
salivating as he thought of the many forms of sea life found
here that existed nowhere else on Earth. He was hoping to spot
some of the more exotic species on this trip. They weren't
necessarily aesthetically pleasing to the eye and some
reminded him of creatures that had roamed the earth long
before human beings even arrived. But, they were fascinating
to study. He was even a little jealous as he thought of how
they were able to come and go as they pleased in this
environment while he had to rely on specialized equipment and
himself from his reverie as he realized they were now almost
over the trench. Gordon reduced their speed and Brains
detected an adjustment in attitude as Thunderbird Four made
its slow descent into the unknown, its halogen lighting bar
lit just brightly enough for Gordon to navigate down inside
the trench without disturbing the indigenous marine life.
say we head over to the north end first, Brains? We ended
there on our last trip and then Virgil called and summoned us
back in a hurry. Oh, Virgil. I almost forgot."
up the hand-held mic from its holder and spoke into it.
"Thunderbird Four to TwoWe're on our way down now, Virg. No
need for you to hover around."Then, with a smirk he added, "No
point keeping that big, green gas guzzler in the air any
longer than necessary."
at Brains, who merely adjusted his glasses, and waited for the
response he knew was coming.
Guzzler? Maybe you'd like to make your own way back to
the island. I'll have Grandma hold dinner for you...until next
grinned and slowly shook his head.
Brother, you're just as predictable as ever. Okay, you win.
We'll do a quick sweep of the area toward the North end
paused abruptly. It took Brains a minute to realize that he
had stopped speaking as he had already started going over his
log entries from their last trip down here.
everything okay, er, Gordon?"
sure, Brains. Do you see what I see?"
didn't like the way the conversation was turning.
yet, but I'm going to investigate. Brains, what do you ‘spose...?
No, I don't believe it!"
opened his mouth to ask the question when the communication
was abruptly severed.
Gordon, come in. Are you there, Brains? Please...answer!"
several more unsuccessful attempts to raise Thunderbird Four,
Virgil changed the frequency and contacted International
Rescue's island base.
"...Thunderbird Four to Virgil! Can you hear me? Damn! Brains,
why aren't we transmitting?"
might have something to do with what we are seeing, uh,
Gordon. It may somehow be, uh, blocking our signal."
what do you make of it, Brains? I know itwasn't here the last
time we explored this area of the trench. I would have
what say we get a bit closer and determine, er, what exactly
seemed a bit distracted. "What? Oh, uh, yeah, right."
directed the sub toward the strange object in front of them.
It was jutting out from the mouth of the trench and resting on
a bed of coral, some of it broken as though a collision had
taken place. The structure was long, narrow and covered in
silt. The thing that struck Gordon about the object was that
it didn't appear to be a naturally occurring edifice. No, it
was definitely out of place in this remote area, about twenty
five miles into the trench's north end.
you move her in a little closer, ah, Gordon? Maybe we can, ah,
clean some of that stuff off and see what's underneath."
thing, Brains. I'll set the lasers on their lowest setting so
I don't scorch it."
extended the laser cutter and went to work on clearing the
object of any debris. As he made his way to its bottom of it,
he became aware of two more protrusions jutting out from
either side of its tail end. They appeared to be fins or some
type of oddly fashioned wings. Wings?
started and caught Brains' expression as the light began to
dawn for him also. They shot each other a look and Gordon
returned to his cleaning job. They could now make out what
looked like a rectangular red stripe on each of the "wings."
Then, as the debris began to fall away, they saw it. It looked
like a glass canopy, but could have been made of a much
stronger transparent material. They knew this had to be some
type of flying machine, but not one that either of them had
either seen or designed the specs for. The long, narrow
protrusion turned out to be the nose of the craft and they
realized it was actually resting on its rear engines.
closer inspection, they realized something else. The craft had
other markings, none of which were recognizable to either of
them, strange...symbols of some sort?
heart pounded faster as he moved in for a better look. As he
was maneuvering around the vehicle, Thunderbird's halogen beam
glinted off something.
Did you, ah, see that?"
Let's see what we've got here."
men were now side by side near the view-port and jockeying for
position in an attempt to peer further into what appeared to
be the cockpit.
position the light a little above the "glass" so we don't get
a, uh, glare, Gordon."
complied and they were then able to see that the object looked
like a type of protective head gear. It featured an elaborate
looking crest on the front and was bordered in black and gold
along the top and sides. It was like no helmet that Brains or
anyone else had ever made. The design reminded Gordon of
something he'd seen in one of his grade school history books,
but it wasn't a helmet and it wasn't worn during flight.
Instead, it had been part of the uniform of choice for the
pharaoh's and overseers of ancient Egypt. During that period,
the Sphinx held the title of greatest engineering
marvel and soaring through the sky was something only the gods
did...or so legend had it.
drifted in even closer and made a grisly discovery. The
helmet's former owner was still in it and had been for quite a
while too, by the looks of things.
this is, er, amazing, do you realize what we've found?"
swallowed hard and attempted to soothe his dry throat. Just as
he opened his mouth to answer, the seismic indicators on his
panel started going crazy. Warning, signals went off and
lights on the display flashed wildly.
the...hang on, Brains! It looks like we're in for a bumpy
frustration was evident. "Wh-What a lousy time for an
Thunderbird Four lurched violently. Gordon was strapped in but
Brains was thrown to the rear of the cabin. He gave a yell and
landed smack on his stomach after bouncing off the aft
bulkhead. Even though the danger was not yet over, Gordon
unstrapped himself and ran to the scientist's aid.
j-just my pride, I think. Uh, thanks, Gordon. D-Do you see my
dove for the corner and retrieved the spectacles.
thing you put in those new shatter-proof lenses."
pitched and rolled sending them sliding together into the
get strapped in, Brains, and watch out for those after
Gordon," Brains replied as the aquanaut helped him to his
when he noticed that the whole outcropping of coral had
disappeared, and with it, their prize artifact of unknown
it, Brains? What's wrong?"
could only dejectedly point to convey to Gordon what he was
seeing. The disappointment on the other man's face was
believe we've lost it. It's probably settled all the way to
the bottom by now. We'll never get it out and it might not
even survive the pressure down there. We'd probably end up
with a crushed beer can anyway. Argh! We were so close,
placed his hand on Gordon's shoulder and gave it a small
squeeze of understanding.
when the transmitter suddenly came to life.
Four, do you read? Gordon, Brains...are you okay?"
Brains picked up the mic. "We're okay, Virgil. Guess it was
just a little interference
area due to all the seismic activity."
regarded him with a raised eyebrow and a questioning look.
"Is that the best you could come up with?"
just shrugged and handed the receiver over to him.
Brains just meant that it's time to go home, Virg, and we need
be with you in a sec. Prepare to surface."
men looked into each others eyes. They had to return
here and find that ship. Gordon knew if anybody could make it
possible, it was the man standing before him. Until then, it
would just be their secret, although something prickled
persistently at the back of Gordon's mind...something from the
20th century...something regarding a battlestar...