Voyage to the Deep
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Librarian’s Note: Originally, attached documents were attached to the copy of Peri’s journal with a paper clip, and drawings were attached with Scotch tape. When the files were converted to digital format, they were changed to the current format.

Official Log for 0 Meters:

Launch proceeded on schedule. We were also provided with the background information on where we’re going.

The first dive in this area was performed by William Beebe in 1930. While the details behind the dive are public knowledge, we know things that the rest of the public does not; mainly the Ways. Current opinion is that Beebe accidently found one, which would go a long way to explaining why he found fifteen foot fish at depths that usually can only support individuals a tenth of that size.

Since then, no one has attempted diving in the same place again, though the non-aware scientific community spent a good deal of time trying to explain Beebe’s findings. Some of their explanations might be right; they usually are; but I know enough about Beebe to know that he’s reliable enough that the area is worth checking out.

My job is to record information and monitor the spatial sensory array.

The ship wasn’t as bad as I thought. For one thing, it’s roomier--an advantage, I suppose, of having both magic and high technology on your side. And the Beetle is a beautiful ship--all glossy brass on the outside with the front magically and technologically renforced glass for the cockpit. Power is provided by some sort of star thing that the mage has behind twenty different levels of protection strong enough to keep it more or less intact even if a nuke was dropped on it. That power is going to life support, a carbon dioxide to oxygen converter, spotlights, laser weapons, and a dimensional rift that we might be able to use to escape in an emergency. That, or it’ll scatter us across the entire local cluster.

Unfortunately, the dive is going to be a slow affair. A very, very, very slow affair. The Beetle was built hastily, and if we descend too quickly we don’t give the metal enough time to adjust to different pressures. So we will travel 600 meters a day for twelve hours each day.

Official Log for 100 Meters:

Sea life normal. Beetle was investigated briefly by a dolphin, which then swam off to join the rest of his pod. Attempts at communication proved fruitless as dolphins were more interested in hurling invective than discussing sonar images. At about 40 meters an oarfish swam by. At 80 meters a spotted eagle ray swam by.

Species observed include unidentified Tursiops species, Aetobatus narinari, Prionace glauca, Regalecus glesne, and Mola mola. Ambient conditions typical for area and depth, though there was an unusual hot spot at 15 meters that turned out to be due to an aquatic species of fire elemental. Sonar indicates that the topography of the ocean floor is changing rapidly, lending a great deal of credence to the ‘Beebe found a Way’ school of thought. In under five minutes the topography changed from an undersea mountain higher than Everest to a perfectly flat surface covered in formations similar to craters.

Official Log for 200 Meters:

Light is rapidly fading. Temperature began to drop dramatically at about 180 meters, falling seven degrees Celsius in twenty-seven seconds and then stablizing. Heating units had to be activated to keep me from freezing. Tristan is having to spend significantly longer in his tank. Spotlights activated.

Sea life normal types, though at about 194 meters we ran into a bunch of what appeared to be firefly squid. Due to the extreme distribution anomaly, we used the vacuum tube to capture a few for analysis. Besides, they’ll make a nice addition to the Library’s aquarium. Species identified are Nautilus pompilius, Chlamydoselachus anguineus, Somniosus microcephalus, Idiacanthus antrostomus, Argyropelecus aculeatus, and Cleidopus gloriamaris. Nautilus pompilius, Chlamydoselachus anguineus, Somniosus microcephalus, Idiacanthus antrostomus, and Cleidopus gloriamaris are distributational anomalies; they should not be present in Bermuda, and indeed some of them are only found half a world away. Dr. Barlowe says that Chlamydoselachus anguineus is technically a distribution anomaly but that it’s range isn’t very well known, so there’s probably nothing supernatural about it.

Spatial anomaly sensors indicate that we started along the Way at 140 meters. My projections based on the spatial warping and wormhole spin suggest that we’ll have to travel for another few hundred meters before we exit. In the mean time, the other sensors have recorded some very interesting phenomena- sudden, brilliant flashes of light in the darkness of all colors, magnetic vortexes of significant strength, a low rumbling sound that the computers tentatively identified as jagged rocks scraping across each other, and decidedly creepy ethereal singing. Since all that is hardly anything new when navigating the Ways while underwater, I’m not too worried.

Everybody else, however, is distinctly unnerved.

Amateurs.

Official Log for 300 Meters:

Bioluminescent clouds of algae started surrounding the Beetle at 275 meters and continued to do so for five minutes. I don’t know what species they are, but I do know that on natural Earth there are no algae that emit purple, leaf green, red, or orange light. The vacuum tube has been used to gather samples of each color. The light being emitted is bright enough that if we could find some way to grow the algae on a large scale we wouldn’t need any more lightbulbs, though I personally am in favor of using lightbulbs to house the algae. Interestingly, the algae doesn’t seem to flash in response to stimulus, but is constantly glowing. Barlowe is running analysis.

Official Log for 400 Meters:

We’re beginning to exit the Way. The sounds have almost stopped, with the only remaining sound coming from the outside being a constant clicking sound. It’s so loud that only a very large creature or structure could be making it. And whatever it is, I don’t want to meet it. Even if it’s friendly, something that large could damage us accidentally.

The sound is beginning to drive us all crazy. It’s like a metrenome, never stopping, never wavering, never changing. In aucostic properties, it is similar to the sound of a pistol shrimp snapping. It may be used for the same purpose, or it may be used for communication.

Nothing is alive here. The water is uniformly dark, with barely a shred of organic matter providing anything for the lights to reflect off of- even marine snow is nearly absent. I have never seen such a bleak place before, even when I walked in the vastness of intergalactic space. Whatever place we’re going to, I don’t see it being hospitable.

Official Log for 500 Meters:

Dr. Barlowe (woman with the nictating membranes) saw them first.

Beebe was right. The abyssal rainbow gar, Bathyspphaera intacta, the five-elined constelation fish, the pallid sailfin, the three-starred anglerfish- they all exist. Every last one of them.

Actually, we only found the five-lined constellation fish so far, but the others were found significantly lower. And if Beebe was right about the constellation fish, we can be more confident he was right about the others.

The fish itself is exactly as Beebe described it: rounded, five lines of purple and yellow photophores on the sides (alternating, and I counted six photophores to a line), large eyes, and small pectoral fins. And the glass was not misted, which disproves Hubb’s explanation. They were most definitely not jellyfish.

A school of ten approached us at 490 meters, rapidly flashing their photophores in what, from the alterations on the patterns of flashing whenever the school reacted to new stimuli, was a form of communication. Presumably it also performs other functions, such as frightening predators.

Due to the possibility of sentience, we could not take a specimen.

Official Log for 600 Meters:

I should have realized it before. We all should have realized it before. The reason Beebe saw such large creatures- the typical stratification for ocean biomass is reversed here. Our sensors are detecting massive upwellings carrying thousands of tons of organic particulates and metal ion-laden water. Titanium, tungsten, copper, cobalt, iron, tin, nickel—the water here is so hard that I doubt even the toughest organisms on Earth that aren’t extremophiles could survive in it. This makes it highly interesting that we are detecting whale song corresponding to humpback whales, despite the pitch being significantly higher than it should be.

The sensors also are noting an increase in brightness as we descend. The ecologist speculates that there is some source of light at the bottom, possibly with enough energy and the correct wavelengths to allow photosynthesis. There could very well be a coral reef down there, or a kelp forest. Furthermore, as we descend we can expect to see larger and larger creatures, and greater and greater concentrations—which is probably why for the last hundred meters we’ve been seeing increasing numbers of five-lined constellation fish. Just a few meters ago we saw a school numbering, by my estimate, twenty to twenty-five. The spotlights revealed them hunting something rather shrimp-like, but it had radial symmetry. Each column of legs, of which there were eight, beat up and down like cilia along a teardrop shaped body covered in armor plates. Light flashed near it, leading Barlowe to conclude that it might be related to a species of copepod with bioluminescent ‘depth charges’. I estimate it to be a few centimeters long. If we see another one, we’ll collect a specimen.

The lights produced by algae have returned. The algae inside the tanks seemed to be dimming, so we had to pump in fresh seawater. That brightened them up, leading to the logical conclusion that the algae doesn’t actually photosynthesize but instead takes nutrients from the water. Not actually unknown for plants, Indian pipe is hardly photosynthetic, and quite a few plants are known to act as parasites of other plants. This could lead to problems with farming the algae, but we should be able to isolate what it needs and produce the requisite environment. Maybe we could send some of the stuff over to Legacy for them to fiddle around with in exchange for a propogation set-up; seems like something they’d enjoy. You know, it might not even be algae; it could just as easily be some sort of protist. I’ll have to have it tested.

We’re all getting tired, so we’re having the ship remain at a constant depth and resting so that we don’t end up hallucinating sea monsters. Each of us will alternate at watch.


Official Log for 700 Meters:

Was woken up by reports from the octopus that a giant fish had drifted into view. As there is no other apparent food source for what is clearly a large carnivore, it most likely eats B. pentagrammus.

The fish is approximately three hundred meters long, and nearly as deep, counting the fins. It has a very long neck, huge teeth, and large bioluminescent areas. The pilot is keeping his fingers on the weapons system in case it decides we look like lunch. After considering and rejecting several names, we settled on Icthygigantia abyssus.

The presence of a creature of such size here would suggest a food source of equal abundance, but we haven’t found one, even with sonar (which seemed to irritate the creature greatly). It may be that, similar to how some sea creatures go deep to die, this goes upwards. Or perhaps it goes down deep to feed, avoiding predators in the deeper areas.

That hypothesis has some terrifying implications. If I. abyssus is prey of something else… The very possibility that this is not the top of the food chain is making us all mildly nervous, to say the least.

Official Log for 800 Meters:

A veritable swarm of B. intacta have surrounded the Beetle. They’re very curious about it, constantly darting towards us to get a better look and then quickly swimming away. For this area they’re amazingly fast and agile, making us all suspect that they’re also present in deeper waters.

The light is starting to suffuse into the darkness of the waters. The Earth equivalent would be the twilight zone. And the number of species are increasing. We’ve seen the abyssal rainbow gar, the three-starred anglerfish, and constellation fish over the past fifty meters.

There are whales here. Whales with gills, and about as long as the Beetle but whales nonetheless. They are minature humpbacks. Whether they are intelligent… I can’t say, yet. But I can be certain that this place is linked closely with our world. I have seen worlds where fire fed on intellect and water was more like mercury than anything else. I have seen worlds of endless space filled with floating plants with giant maws. This place… I am not surprised that Beebe did not understand what he had found. It is comparatively unremarkable. Even Falyx, my home and the home of Those Who Walk, was far stranger, in a subtle way.

Official Log for 900 Meters:

Sonar detects an undersea mountain range. We’re adjusting course to get a closer look. Everybody wants to know what the bottom looks like, and the mountain is the best way to get some sense of it, at least right now. It’ll be darker there, but the geology should be fairly uniform.

What appear to be jellyfish keep pulsing across our field of view, but they’re so fast. A single contraction of the bell sends them at least two meters. And they’ve got two long tentacle arms, much like squid, except that at the end they’re frayed into many tendrils. The creatures have been prodding the Beetle with them, and all of us are mildly concerned about that. We don’t know what these jellyfish things want, or what they’re capable of.

We don’t even know if they want anything. Sometimes things just… hate. It’s not a phenomenon many of my colleagues understand, because while many organizations in our world are too suspicious and fearful, the Hand is, if anything, too naive.

Better than the alternative, though.

Official Log for 1000 Meters:

There is something watching the Beetle, and I don’t like it one bit. First it was the usual prickling sensation along my spine, the typical reaction of my species to being stared at, and a quick glance around revealed that it was no one in the Beetle. The next sign was far more obvious: a giant pair of eyes staring at the pilot. None of us could see what they were attached to (or, for that matter, if they were attached to anything)

Official Log for 1100 Meters:

There’s a noticeable increase in the amount of whale sound near us. It’s also rising in pitch. Among Earth humpbacks, that’s a sign of trouble, and I find it likely that it’s the same here, because when one end of a Way is close to another, metaphysically, the psychologies of people bleed through, as well as the general order of the place. That’s why my species thinks much like humans; we’re metaphysically right next to Earth.

Futhermore, there is a much deeper sound. I can barely hear it; it’s more like I can feel it, sort of how one doesn’t quite ‘hear’ a blue whale’s song.

Official Log for 1200 Meters:

We had to activate the dimensional rift.

The Beetle hadn’t descended to the very bottom. Far from it. We had at least another six hundred meters to go. Nonetheless, at 1150 meters, we decided to set the Beetle down on an undersea mountain, if only for a time. Barlowe had spotted what appeared to be some sort of crab made out of rock, and since in my travels I’ve seen many crabs made out of rock, I petitioned the pilot to take us in for a closer look so that we could study the species. The crab Barlow had noticed was, on the way to the mountain, eaten by an I. abyssus which must be responsible for the clicks we heard, judging by the fact that it stunned the crab by releasing a ‘sonic blast’.

We were investigating the remnants of the crab when the octopus noticed a giant whale coming towards us. And I am not referring to a giant whale in the sense of a blue whale, or a sperm whale. I am referring to a whale that was at the very least five hundred meters long. It had razor-sharp teeth that appear to work somewhat like a shark’s, horrible wrinkled pale skin, and a forked tongue.

It wasn’t trying to eat us, it was trying to eat several pygmy humpback whales. Unfortunately, those whales were traveling towards us, and it was about to swallow us when the pilot finally managed to set the coordinates for the dimension rift and teleport us out.

It worked successfully, if by ‘successfully’ one means ‘we are currently balanced on the tip of one of the Swiss Alps and are waiting for the Hand to come pick us up’.

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