The team had previously identified a target they called anomaly 20. When the target came in it was so large and the location at the bottom of an oceanic trench it was determined too dangerous to tackle. Now the Voyager would be on site in hours to investigate. The Great Abaco Canyon was terraced down to depths of 3,000 to 5,000 feet before emptying on the oceanic plain. The famous submersible Alvin had explored the canyon in the 80’s but only saw 10% of the canyon, just another sliver of an endless unknown ocean.
Within a few hours Zeus and Richard were on a helicopter from Florida to Voyager. None of the compasses were functioning properly so everyone was relying on GPS. Dixon was waiting on the deck with a slight modification. The small ROV Mason was now attached to the manned submersible. It would give Zeus and Richard the ability to explore without having to constantly communicate with the surface ship. The crew had readied the submersible and ROV completing the pre-launch checks. They disembarked the helicopter and went straight into the waiting sub.
Thirty minutes later they were in the water beginning their decent. Richard was on the radio with the Voyager when Zeus tapped Richard on the shoulder, “Say goodbye.”
Richard repeated the word, “Goodbye?”
Zeus then turned the radio off. He made himself comfortable and closed his eyes. Richard turned the submersible on its side dumping Zeus out of his seat. “Point taken you’re the boss.”
“Aren’t you excited about what we might find?”
Zeus candidly replied, “No.” He drew a breath and began, “I know we will find a German U-Boat that has some lost technology from a time long ago. I’ve been thinking about what you said on the flight back from Tibet.”
“Let’s look at what we have direct evidence for. The ancients built giant geoglyphs, pyramids, temples, ziggurats, and the list goes on. What if the Nazca Lines, the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Gobekli Tepe, Mayan and Aztec temples, Ankor Wat, Easter Island, and countless other large scale works were markers and beacons for aeronautical navigators.”
Now Richard began playing the part of the skeptic, “That won’t hold up in a court of law. Why if these flying chariots were crossing the globe is there no evidence of them?”
“But there is. We have ancient peoples that believed gods were watching down from the heavens. The majority of these ancient people were illiterate and had no education beyond what their jobs and daily lives brought them. Now they have a traveler from a far off land. He would be dressed in his finest robes and would descend from the sky possibly bearing gifts of physical and ideological capacities.”
“The rulers of ancient lands were granted their divinity by the gods. A traveler could put that in jeopardy by injecting new ideas to a culture. I would think that any ruler would control who had access to these flying chariots and the travelers they brought, otherwise the system they built on divine right would crumble.”
Richard interjected, “Still no physical proof.”
“The proof is everywhere. Read the Bible, Koran, Bhagvad Gita or any ancient texts. Look at the ancient visitor theorists evidence, there are reliefs of what they call astronauts, artwork of flying machines, shared ideologies of pyramid building, creation stories and flood myths. What is the more likely scenario that aliens descended on Earth or that ancient people seeing a person descend from the sky wearing very different clothes, different facial features, and skin tone from their own believed these travelers to be gods? If I was a king and a traveler came to me resembling a god, I would use this as further validation of my divine power.”
“It’s still all circumstantial.”
Zeus sighed, “It is at least for the next ten minutes.”
Five minutes later they reached they operating depth of 4,500 feet. Richard turned the lights on bathing the deep, dark world in fluorescence. 500 feet from the bottom, Richard piloted the craft forward, watching the sonar. The canyon is a couple miles wide and about ten miles long, they were level with bottom most tier. The terrace was several hundred feet wide but Richard was still careful with Dixon, an outcropping, protrusion or bottom debris could compromise the hull or entangle the ship all of which could spell their doom.
The sonar then rang out a ping. There was an irregularity ahead resting on the south side tier of the canyon. Richard raised the submersibles to a depth 600 feet off the bottom so they could safely survey the object before moving in more closely. It looked like a scene of a pile up on a highway. Metal littered the bottom. Then a large piece of greyed steel rose out of the sediment. It was the bow section of a ship resting on the bottom as if it were placed there. Richard carefully navigated around it. Then they saw the call number still emblazoned just behind the anchor hole a giant black 38, the designation of the USCGC Lewis Morris.
The submersible began to drift with the current as Richard’s hands went numb on the controls. Zeus reacted by grabbing his control stick and maintaining a hover. Tears were streaming down Richard’s face. He had been waiting for this moment for years to finally know his grandfather’s resting place. But Richard was not expecting it at this moment.
Zeus squeezed his arm to bring Richard back to reality. He wiped the tears away and in slow motion began to pilot the sub around the haunting relic. The ship was still mostly intact except for the blown out windows. The silt had piled up along the base preventing them from seeing where the damage hull damage might be.
The video cameras were both running and Richard began snapping still shots. They circled for an hour before Richard lowered Dixon onto the bottom. He positioned one of the blowers to blast away the silt along the ship’s hull.
It took ten minutes to get down to where the Morris took a hit to her hind quarters. The metal was jagged like the Kraken had torn her in two. Zeus leaned over and tapped his watch. They had already been submerged for three hours and they never pushed dive time in case of an emergency.
It was time to move along to the next target which they thought was the German U-Boat, the Frederick but at this point they had no idea what to expect. They pushed deeper into the canyon. The sonar pinging grew as they moved toward the object in the darkness. When it materialized, the scene was difficult to take in. Out the small port holes and the monitors all they could see was a towering dark blue behemoth.
Richard moved the sub up trying to take in the size of the vessel. It was almost 100 feet tall and 50 feet across. It was an engineering marvel. Hitler had adoration for overly impressive weapons perhaps as compensation for his purported impotence. But like any man, the weapons had their weaknesses. The Bismarck, one of the largest battleships of WWII, was disabled by an antiquated WWI plane with a single torpedo. There was also the giant rail guns that were ineffective because they were relegated to rail lines and probably cost the Germans more in resources then actual damage inflicted.
They approached the curved hull from what they determined was the bow. The smooth curve broke for sharp right angles at the top. They inferred it was a conning tower that resembled modern submarines more so than WWII subs.
They followed the structure back and found an opening in the superstructure that was empty except for one object. The outer doors and the pressure doors both collapsed in on a Me-262. Carefully Richard maneuvered Dixon around the opening. Fish darted out of the light and back into the shadows. The dancing shadow and light show seemed fitting for the ominous scene.
They continued down the hull watching as the structure turned from something familiar to unrecognizable. It was twisted and torn and colored differently from the metal of the rest of the ship. As they surveyed the mortal wound Zeus spied something through the wreckage. Richard piloted Dixon to the spot and extended the claw arm. He pinched a large piece of metal and peeled it back. It revealed just enough of the tail fins and cylindrical body to identify it.
Zeus was flabbergasted, “Are you seeing what I am seeing? It’s at least forty feet tall. The Wunderwaffe, the super weapon Hitler dreamed of.” They both sat quite for a minute.
Zeus rubbed his face as he spoke, “If they had nuclear payloads they could have decimated the U.S. A ballistic submarine, fifteen years before anyone ever made it work.”
The scale of the find was staggering. Zeus and Richard had surmised what they would find but seeing the phantom submarine carrying planes and rockets along with the Morris left them aghast. As much as they wanted to stay on the German U-Boat there was one last substantial target and if the day held true they could only guess at what surprises lay in store.
Deeper into the trench, his heart rate and the pinging of the sonar synchronized and grew as they approached.The temperature was soaring in the cabin, Richard turned the fan blowing on his face to max and wiped a wet cloth across it.
A last form materialized out of the darkness, it had the same color of the German U-Boat and part of the characteristic cylindrical shape that then tapered to the tail. The cross section looked like the other piece except for the lack of forty foot tall missiles. Only one screw was still attached still towering over the ships aft.
The exposed ships innards looked like it was the support systems. Machines, duct work, pipes, and tools. They hovered twenty feet away when Richard saw a mostly unobstructed passageway. Richard extended both robotic arms to clear some debris. He backed Dixon away and prepared to launch Mason.
Zeus checked his station. Mason’s single video feed opened up with a fuzzy screen before focusing and providing a crystal clear image they were both watching. Zeus wiggled each control stick to check the ROV’s response. With surgical precision Zeus moved the ROV into the structure. After the initial debris the passageway was clear.
The pace was agonizingly slow just a dozen or so feet a minute. The passage opened into a large space that went all the way to the pressure walls. The room was strangely void of engines, oil tanks, and generators. Zeus positioned the ROV on several objects identifying them as pumps, and batteries. He piloted Mason towards where the drive shaft would traditionally be connected to the engines, when they saw it.
Sitting perfectly centered was an orb about the size of a basketball. Tubes ran away from the orb in four directions and attached to the orb was what appeared to be two drive shafts. The shafts had long been severed from the screws they turned but the little orb and its remaining bits were still spinning.
The orb itself was black and difficult to see even with the high powered lights. It is cradled in a metal fixture that connected to the drive shafts. As Zeus moved in closer they both failed to hear the first ping from the sonar. The second ping caught Richard’s attention. He stopped Zeus, “Something is moving down the canyon from the east.” A third ping came in a few seconds sooner. Richard turned the radio on, “Voyager do you have eyes on our incoming?” Silence for several seconds. “Voyager?” The light was lit showing the umbilical was still connected. A fourth ping came in.
Richard glanced at Zeus, “Do you think a pod of whales?”
Zeus studied the sonar screen as a fifth ping went off. “Way too big and fast.”
“So what is it?”
“I have an idea but let’s not stick around to find out. Leave the ROV and get us on the surface.”
Richard started hitting switches and buttons and the submersible began to rise. A sixth ping. Zeus called out, “Its accelerating we have a minute before it runs them over.”
“This thing isn’t an F-1 car.”
“Well you better make it one or we’ll will be joining the Morris and Frederick.”
They were half way up the canyon when the lights caught the black metallic hull. As Dixon rose Richard realized he forgot to reel in the umbilical. The submarine barreled passed them in the fast lane and their link to the surface got caught on its dive plane. It snapped it instantly. Then came the beating of the propeller. Military submarines were designed to be ultra-quite but at a range of a hundred feet it sounded like an earthquake. Next came the cavitation, the wake shaking them violently. Any second Richard expected to hear the sound of them being tossed against the canyon wall, and then crushing death.
The crunch of metal and glass never came. They slowly rose until they broke the surface where they were surrounded by most of the U.S. Naval fleet. They counted one carrier, two frigates, three destroyers, two helicopters circled above and two rigid hull inflatable boats raced towards them.
An officer called over a bull horn, “We will tow you to your ship.” The rigid hull inflatable boat pulled in close and a sailor tossed a line to Zeus who was popped out of the open top hatch. A few minutes later they were beside the Voyager. The ship’s deck was covered in Marines with M-16’s. The Voyager crew tip toed around the armed visitors as they tried to do their jobs.
The crane swung out and moments later Dixon was on the deck. As Zeus and Richard were climbing out a finally dressed officer greeted them, “Afternoon Gentlemen, Admiral Moynihan of the USS Lyndon Baines Johnson battle group.”
Zeus jumped down off the top of the submersible. His boots rang out on the metal of the deck as he started yelling. “You mind telling me what the hell is going on and why we were almost killed?”
Zeus was inches from the Admiral’s face but Moynihan was resolute. “They are here because they received reports of looting of underwater archeological sites.”
Zeus erupted like a volcano, as spittle flew from his mouth. He threw his hands in the air, “YOU KNOW THAT’S BULLSHIT!”
The Admiral was one cool poker player and it probably didn’t hurt that there was a hundred armed Marines standing around and enough fire power to erase a country a stone’s throw away. “Gentleman, I think it best if they speak in private.”
Zeus began to cool down and they began following the Admiral across the deck. As they reached the door the entire ship shook and from over the port and aft side rails a plume of water sprayed up. Everyone watched not knowing what was taking place. Zeus and Richard did. The submarine that nearly ran them over just torpedoed the wrecks.
Richard watched the scene unfold in slow motion. Zeus exploded into a sprint and tackled the Admiral to the deck. Before Zeus could raise a hand to strike Moynihan a Marine stepped over and planted the butt of his rifle into the back of Zeus’ head. Another Marine stepped over to help drag Zeus away. The Admiral calmly got to his feet and brushed himself off. “Cuff him and bring him inside.”
Richard followed the Admiral into the mess hall and the Marines dragged Zeus’ limp body behind them. They dropped Zeus in a chair and took posts at the door. Moynihan waited for Zeus to regain his senses before speaking.
“The United States of America is seizing your vessel, records and any documentary photos and video. You and your crew will be detained until it is deemed no longer a threat to National Security.
Richard countered Moynihan, “They have done nothing wrong. We removed nothing from the wrecks and committed no crimes.”
Moynihan kept his ever cool head, “That is not true. They know you removed an Avenger from the ocean floor, disturbing a military burial site and destroying a marine colony and all while working within Bahamian territorial waters.”
He was partially right, they didn’t know if the plane took its crew into the depths. And it being of modern military development any wrecks are jurisdiction of the nation of origin. They were not within Bahamian territorial waters but that was something that could easily be fudged and though there was some marine life it wasn’t an endangered coral colony again something else that could be twisted.
“What about the Morris and the German U-Boat?”
The Admiral broke his cool collect to let a sly grin slide across his face. “As a matter of National Security, there was an accidental discharge from a Columbia class sub during a top secret AUTEC test. No ships are reported going down in the area.”
As Moynihan finished the two Marines put black bags on their heads and led them out to a waiting helicopter. It was a short flight to what Richard presumed was the aircraft carrier LBJ, from there they ushered them onto a transport plane.
It was impossible to tell location or time. Richard felt the plane turn so many times he thought they were just flying around in circles to disorient them. When they landed Richard could tell it was approaching sunset because he could no longer feel the sun’s rays heating the black bag on his head.
They brought them inside and separated Zeus and Richard into interrogation rooms. They were both left for several hours before someone came. A man in a plain dark blue suit, with a soft blue shirt and tie came in. He was the most unassuming, plain man Richard thought he have ever met. He was of medium height and weight. He had brown hair with brown eyes and not a distinguishing mark on him. He never introduced himself. He asked a single question, “Tell me how you have gotten here.”
It was more like a statement then a question and Richard quipped back, “A plane I think, my head has been in a bag for a few hours so you probably know better than me.”
“Would you and your crew like to spend the rest of your lives in an unnamed prison and they can release a statement that the Voyager was lost at sea taking all hands with her?”
Richard let his head fall, a weak spot. He had nothing to lose and he knew Zeus would be all in with him. But the crew had families and even though they supported Richard fully he could not be so selfish and he could never bear the regret. So Richard told the story from finding the Avengers, to the Messersmitt’s in the Okefenokee Swamp, to Washington D.C., Moscow, then Switzerland, he included Tibet being sure to leave out Khalama and finally the Great Abaco Canyon.
The story of their journey must have satisfied him. He simply stood and walked out of the room saying nothing. There Richard sat for hours. The metal chair that was bolted to the floor was cold and intentionally uncomfortable; Richard decided to wait out the rest of his stay laying on the table. He felt like he was on an operating table with all the rooms light focused on him, he just closed his eyes and dreamed of sandy beaches with beautiful women.
Hours passed before the man came back with two guards. The guard’s uniform bore no marks that might reveal where they had taken them. They had no name tags, serial numbers, or dog tags, they wore no jewelry or watches. Nothing that could identify them, where they came from or where they were.
The suited man proudly announced, “Your crew has been released. You did well to spare them the details of your exploits it would have condemned them to similar circumstances.” The guards hooded Richard again and led him out of the room.
They walked a short way before they loaded Richard onto a small transport. The engine made a high pitched whir of an electric cart. They drove for a few minutes and the best Richard could tell was inside the entire time. The guards off loaded Richard and put him into the most sterile room he had ever seen. The room had just one feature in it, a toilet. It was then he realized that he would have to get used to his new home, they had no intentions to release them.