The Omega Device
Book One of the Ha-Shan Chronicles
Russell’s lapse of consciousness ended with the Impala’s droning horn. He lifted his head and it stopped. His vision flickered, body ached.
He knew what had happened. The van had purposely hit them. The impact wasn’t enough to detonate the airbag and his face hit the wheel instead. He opened his eyes to smoke rising from the crushed front-end, felt something jerk at his seat belt. Maggie’s foggy shape came into focus.
Her hands fumbled at his side, “Damn it, wake up!” She glanced around anxiously, fought his belt’s latch. “C’mon, before they get closer!”
He snapped back to reality, quickly disconnected the belt.
She urged him forward at a hush, “Good. Let’s go.”
Emily’s eyes widened, “That’s over a thousand atmospheres! And you’re sending a team?”
Aarons nodded with a sly smile.
She was instantly nervous. As far as she knew, it couldn’t be done. Her suspicions of a farce returned. The Marianas Trench was, so far, the lowest recorded, traversable depth in the world. The specific area, known as the Challenger Deep, had only been explored by two manned craft in history. The first, and most notable, was the bathyscaphe Trieste.
Built by the Swiss in 1953, and operated by the French Navy until ’58, the Trieste was later purchased by the U.S. Navy and launched as part of Project Nekton; a series of deep-sea training exercises. Project Nekton culminated with the Trieste reaching the lowest recorded depth on January 23, 1960 in the Challenger Deep. The submersible, only large enough for two people, remained on the Trench floor for twenty minutes before pressure cracked the outer plexi-glass window. The two seamen, one of whom was the ship-builder’s son, immediately surfaced. Since then, an enthusiastic hobbyist had been the only other manned-dive carried out, and nothing was found.
Apart from the Trieste, Trench explorations had been unmanned rovers launched from surface ships. At that, only a few species of shrimp, tube-worms, and algae had been found, and certainly nothing to warrant a full research team’s resources– let alone the combined aid of the NSF, NOAA, and US Navy. The physical calculations weren’t promising either. As a bathyscaphe, the Trieste had the added advantage of running on a two-man crew without the need to lay anchor. But Jackie had said they would be exploring for most of the summer.
In order to house a full team, a proper submersible would have to be at least half the size of a nuclear submarine. Unfortunately, the average depth for most military subs was theorized at or around 1,000 meters, or roughly 3,500 feet. The Deep was more than ten times that at 36,000 feet, and roughly 1,200 atmospheres of pressure.
A submersible’s depth rating presented the greatest obstacle. Largely dependent on the composition and arrangement of its hulls, and the capabilities of its pneumatics systems, it was nigh-on impossible to build a sub for the depth. In essence, the larger the ship, the larger the hull, the greater the weight. Heavier subs required larger, stronger pumps, in turn increasing weight. Once again, more hulls and mechanical systems were required. It was a vicious cycle engineers had been battling for more than a century. In order for a full team to reach the Trench floor for even a short time, they would need a submersible stronger and more powerful than any conceived. Emily wasn’t about to consider what was needed to power or propel it, but even then, spending the summer in the Trench with a fully-manned crew seemed downright impossible.
These facts raced through her mind, underpinned her anxiety with furious intrigue. She found it impossible to contain, felt herself speak without volition.
“You’re going to need one hell of a boat!”
“I suspect there’s much you don’t remember. I suppose I could explain if you’re interested.”
Magnus looked up from his water, the throbbing lessening with each moment. He blinked with a slow nod.
“Hmm…” Genesis tapped his wrinkled chin with a finger. The other hand supported his right elbow. His eyes scanned the stone ceiling, then fell back to Magnus, “Ah, well, you see everything outside– the skies, the trees, the birds, even some of the plants, are all synthetic. They’re machines or the products of machines meant to recreate a world that existed long ago– A world we live within that is now vacant, barren of all life.”