Voyage To The Deep

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.

September 17, 2011:

Apparently I have been volunteered to be part of some expedition. I don't have all the details yet, but they should be coming in later. While the job isn't one of my favorites- I prefer to work alone- I should have the ability to wander off by myself enough so that I won't end up with a stress hormone surge.


You have got to be bloody kidding me.

September 18, 2011:

A sub. I have been volunteered to dive down thousands of feet in a cramped, dark, boring submarine with four other people. A tiny, tiny submarine. My attempts to squirm out of the job have ended in total failure. Apparently I'm the best person for the job, something which I take it means that everybody else with the relevant field of knowledge (the Ways) is unavailable for some reason. Or they passed it up. Or they drew straws for us. Quite possibly the latter.

Now, please excuse me, because I am going to go tear something to tiny bits.

September 20, 2011:

My other four crewmates are a human female marine biologist who was apparently exposed to something that made her develop nictating membranes in her eyes, an octopus mage, a male human pilot, and a female human ecologist specializing in deep-sea environments.

It's my job to record information and monitor the spatial sensory array. While not terribly interesting, it will provide me with an excuse to snap at anyone who bothers me.

0 Meters:

Launch proceeding on schedule. We've been 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 accidentally 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.

The ship isn'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 reinforced 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.

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, no doubt due to that incident a few years back with the hijacked oil tanker. Still, I can get an interview later in exchange for fish. At about 40 meters an oarfish swam by. Favorite species, that. Very convienent for blaming sea serpent sightings on (it and beer, that is), and they're beautiful. At 80 meters a spotted eagle ray swam by. Don't often see one of those.

Species typical for the area. 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.

200 Meters: Light is rapidly fading. The octopus, whose name is Tristan, does an excellent job of playing poker, and he won every single game. It helps, I suppose, that the expression of cephalopods is almost always inscrutable. Hell of a poker face. Because he doesn't have one. A face, that is.

Temperature began to drop dramatically at about 180 meters, falling seven degrees Celsius in twenty-seven seconds and then stabilizing. 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. So far, Dr. Barlowe says that all other species that are distribution anomalies have poorly known ranges and so are likely here naturally.

Spatial anomaly sensors indicate that we started along the Way at 190 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.

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.

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.

The sound is beginning to drive us all crazy. It's like a metronome, never stopping, never wavering, never changing. In acoustic properties, it is similar to that of a pistol shrimp.

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.

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

Beebe was right. The abyssal rainbow gar, Bathysphaera intacta, the five-lined constellation 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 I hasten to point out that the others were significantly lower. But if Beebe was right about it, 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, disproving Carl Hubbs explanation! They were not jellyfish!

A school (ten) of them approached us at 490 meters, rapidly flashing their photophores in what, from the alterations in the patterns of flashing whenever the school changed behavior or reacted to a new stimuli, was a form of communication. Presumably it could also be used to make them seem larger; if they lined up and started flashing they'd be quite large.

Naturally, we took a specimen. It's in Habitat A-4.

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 particulate 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. I speculate 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 know 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 propagation 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.

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