Mars Deep Chapter 2

The helicopter reached its zenith and carried on towards the home of his best friend and fishing partner Svend Hansen, who lived out on another island in the cluster of Svalbard Islands, the northernmost inhabited village in the world. Morten was smiling under his green communications headset, he had never been in a helicopter this nice and modern before. The cat that sat on his lap was also smiling. The cat had never been on a helicopter before, ever.

Morton thought it could be scary for the big wise cat, but the cat had never looked happier, it was probably because he managed to get away from his daily failed task of catching mice around the cabin. He was quite horrible at that, thought Morten, he was much better at locating whales, specifically he was most accurate at locating blue whales over any other variety. Morten would back his cat in a bet against any fish finder in the world. Apparently, Morten had grown to be the best whale fisherman in the world, so said the spicy woman in the black jacket and sunglasses anyways. Smiles all around.

Morten continued to smile as the helicopter started its decent in the front yard of Svend’s house. He imagined the sudden thoughts racing through his friend’s head as the helicopter touched ground in front of the shack looking over the sea. They had a narrow place to land as there was only one hundred yards between his front porch and the cliff that dropped off into the sea. As the helicopter prepared to land, its propellers wound down and the intensity of the swirling snow descended to the point where Svend could open his front door and stand there on his front porch in his bright pink slippers and blue housecoat, which had opened a crack near the waist so that the visitors could see all that Norway had to offer.

Svend was seemingly unaware. He wore a fur cap, in the Russian tradition and was swinging a broom back and forth at the helicopter as if it was a dog he could scare off with the jerky motions of his instrument. Through Svend’s thick, glass bottom glasses he saw Morten casually descend from the helicopter as if he was an apparition. Morten’s relaxed manner made Svend relax, he relinquished the grip on his broom and rested it against the outdoor wall of his cabin. He walked cautiously towards Morten and hugged him under the swirling blades of the helicopter. “You know,” said Mortensen in Norwegian, “I think our visitors can see the jewels of Svaldbard” he pointed below. Svend looked down and quickly closed the front of his coat.

From the other side of the helicopter Cohen and Garcia jumped out and while holding their hats, made their way around the other side of the chopper and towards Svend. “Svend Hansen?” asked agent Cohen “Ja, ja, dis is me.” Replied Svend. “Hello, my name is agent Cohen, I have come on the business of the US government and with the help of Morten. May we come inside?” “Ja, ja, please come inside. I was just about to make some tea.”

The four of them walked into the cabin, removed their boots and sat at the kitchen table. Covering the table were all sorts of scientific instruments, high pressure pipe fittings, soldering irons, glowing electric balls of light and metal scraps and shavings which spilled over the side of the table and onto the floor. “What are you building today Svend?” asked Morten. “Today” replied Svend, “I am fine tuning the propellant for our new explosive rocket harpoon, the HARPY system 2.0. So far I have passed the proof-of-concept stage, prototype stage and am wanting the final testing period, which I had scheduled for today at 3 o’clock.” “Listen Svend,” said Morten in Norwegian, “before this spicy tamale of a black parkaed FBI agent does her pitch. I want you to come with me to Mars.” “Mars?’ asked Svend in English, in surprise. “Yes Mars.”

Agent Cohen sat up, “If I may, I would like to say a few words on behalf of our employer.” On behalf of the FBI, I would like to invite you to participate in a mission to Mars. There has been recent activity on the Martian planet that leads us to believe that there is sustainable life there, beneath the waves of a large lake. We have found a source of fresh water and this, coupled with the idea that there may be a sustainable source of food, has green lit a massive mission on an unprecedented scale to land teams on the planet to discover what is under the surface of the lake.

The president himself has taken made this mission a top priority and before the next year’s re-election takes place, he wants to have a space station fit for human life under construction on Mars.” Svend sat at the table blinking. Not saying anything, just blinking. In Norwegian he asked Morten, if what she was saying was true. Morten replied in Norwegian, “Not only is what she is saying true, but we have also been given a blank cheque to fund anything we need while we are up there, fishing for something they found in the deep.

Do you want to develop HARPY any further? No? What about getting laid? Remember sex? After our mission, we would be the coolest guys in Norway. We could go to Oslo, walk back into the Himkok Storgata Destilleri and hold our heads up high. Not like last time. Maybe this time Nora would give you the time of day.” “Nora?” asked Svend as he straightened up in his chair. “Ja, ok I am in.”

“Great,” said Cohen. Grab whatever you need from your cabin, we will most likely be gone for over a year so pack well. Wheels up in five minutes.” She looked over at Garcia. From under his parka, Garcia pulled out another thermos and four stacked clean cups. “You guys still want that tea?” he asked. Svend and Morten looked at each other. Morton said “Ja, he does that.”

Mars Deep ©

Written by Casey Alexander

Chapter 1

-Svalbard Islands, Norway-

The sun was burning brightly in the Norwegian sky as Morten was awakened by a banging on his door. He rubbed his eyes sleepily as he pulled back the furs which were stacked over his bed in a pile. He swung his legs over the side of the raised bed and into two seal pup slippers, their eyes replaced with googly eyes which, usually cheered him up when they rolled around. Today he was too sleepy to notice. Again the banging on his front door, like the g dam police. “Morten? Morten Andersson?” asked a female voice through the thick door of his hunting shack. Morten rose, stretched a little and pulled back the curtain.

There was indeed a woman outside his door, a spicy woman, dressed in a black Parka, black snow pants, black boots and black fur hat with matching black sunglasses, her face partially hidden. The nice part that did stick out, stuck out stoically. She reminded Morten of the way the funeral director was dressed at the funeral parlor when his aunt passed. Stoic and cold. The director slithered through the rows of congregated people, welcoming more guests as they arrived at the back of the gallery and ushered them towards the front. This woman, he hoped, had not come to take him to a funeral gallery. Chances were strong that she was there for another reason.

There was another serious looking short man with her, dark skinned, dressed similarly and looking just as out of place. He resembled a lap dog as he stared at the woman, awaiting her command, or maybe a treat. Behind both of them was a helicopter which blew snow around the property and against the windows. It too was black and in charge. Its running boards were illuminated in blue and was the only thing not black about it. It churned the snow around the runners blue with its light. It looked very new, technically advanced, expensive and was about as out of place as its black clad riders. Morten hoped he wasn’t about to be brought to a funeral.

He opened the door and looked at the woman, snow swirling around their feet. Morten Andersson?” She asked in English. “Ja” said Morten. “Who died?” The woman was a little taken aback with his question. “No one, we are hoping you can keep it that way,” she said with a forced smile. “Can I come in?” “Ja, ja, come on in. Mine English is not so great, but it can improve with coffee. Would you like some? I’ll just make a pot.”

The woman turned around waved for the short man to come in. He followed her in, closed the door behind him, walked to the table and took out of his jacket a black thermos and three black metal cups. He arranged the cups symmetrically on the table and started to pour out black coffee into the cups. “Okay?” said Morten slowly and as a question. “Please sit down Mr. Andersson.” She turned to the man in black, “Garcia, that will be all.” The man put the thermos on middle of the table, turned around and stood by the door like a dog waiting to go out for a walk.

“Thank you for inviting us into your um, home,” as she looked around. “I come on the utmost importance. My name is Agent Cohen, I work for the FBI, in partnership with NASA and a few other friendly companies who have three or four letters in their name. We have traveled a long way to speak with you…”

“First of all,” said Morten, “this is not my house, this is my fishing shack, I stay here to save time on the commute back to the city. My house, is not nearly as nice as this.” They looked around the barren walls, an old moldy mounted reindeer head was the only decoration in the small, rough, wooden shack. A mouse ran with a piece of cheese across the floor. “Right” said his visitor as she kicked at the mouse when it came close to her.

She looked directly across the table at him. “Our friends at NASA have made a significant scientific discovery that will greatly advance the human race. They have recently launched a rover probe named Perseverance onto Mars which has capabilities to travel underground. The probe was very successful and took alot of surveillance pictures of the surface. We gathered confidence in its abilities and we had sent it underground.” Morten loudly sipped his coffee.

“Perseverance made a startling discovery. Under the surface of the mars, we breached through a hole in the subsurface of a cave and discovered an underground channel of pure spring water. A probe was launched from Perseverance into the waters, which lead it downstream and into a basin. What we had previously thought of as a desert above the springs, not 200 miles from the original landing site, was in fact a large body of water with a thin rocky surface over it which acted much like the solid planetary crust.”

“How large is this body of water?” asked Morten. “It is exactly the same size as lake Michigan, 58,000 square miles… however, it is 20 times deeper than lake Michigan. Our probe managed to capture some sonar specs. Please let me share them with you now. Garcia!” Garcia came over to the table and from inside his parka, pulled out a large combat ready computer case. He opened it, pulled down his sunglasses and did a quick retinal scan. A red horizontal laser shot out from the computer, over his left eye and down across it. The computer binged positively and opened a landing page, lighting up his face. He then placed the laptop on the table and turned it towards the couple. Garcia turned around and walked back to the door.

“Does he want a chair or something?” asked Morten. Agent Cohen ignored his question and pulled up the information. We discovered this sonar reading within the body of water.” Morten looked closely at the blips on the image, they felt familiar. What are those? He asked. “Those”, as Cohen looked him directly in the eye, “are fish.” Morten’s eyes got larger. “Fish?” He repeated. “Fish” she confirmed. “Fish”, he said to himself as if double confirming.

“How far deep do the readings go?” asked Morten. “Well, we were a little underprepared for what we were about to discover so we used what we had available, which was a sonar transmitter that gathered video signals from the probe launched by Perseverance. What we really should have done was wait and use a passive sonar, which doesn’t emit a transmitting signal, it only receives.

What we did however was use what we had on hand, a regular style sonar transmitting signal which sends and receives signals. Our sensors began emitting a reading up to 4 miles, we were covering more and more ground when the signal suddenly changed course. We had a reading of something large, whale shaped in size, which rose up from under the four mile radar range with unprecedented speed. It attacked our probe, most likely swallowed it and went charging back to the dark depths from whence it came. This is the last sonar image we have of the creature. “

To Morten, the blob image looked large, around two hundred times as size as the fish. It was difficult for him to make heads or tails of the great creature from the image. “We are putting together a team” she said. “A team of epic proportions. You are a whaler, correct? The best in the world from the intelligence we have gathered.” Morten smiled and straightened his back in his chair.

“We have done our research and we want you, your ship, your harpoon cannon and your crew to come up to Mars and hunt this son of a bitch. Our team’s main objective is to collect, categorize and take specimens back to earth to be analyzed. In doing so, we will know for certain if there is a place for man on this seemingly uninhabitable planet.

We may have found potable water and a source of food. The time is at hand to learn more about the Martian option as a possibility for the advancement of the human race. We will offer you unlimited resources for this mission, training and funding so that you may be successful and come back to earth with more than just stories. You will come back a hero and a pioneer in your field. A legend. If you accept, there will also be a place for you and your family, should you choose, to be the first family to live permanently in our international Mars space station. This of course is only if we succeed and find a source of sustainment on that planet of opportunity. What do you say, Morton Andersson? Do you accept this mission?

Morten looked around him. “I will need a new boat, my best friend, my cat, my harpoon, and a few other items you can easily acquire. I’ll send a list.” “Perfect” said Cohen, both her and Garcia visibly relaxed their stances at once. “If you have decided, we are ready to leave. Helicopter is up in 5 mins, we will take you to your immediate gear and personnel, then to a NASA training base in Greenland and fill you in with the details along the way.” She stood up and without a word her and Garcia excited through the door.

The helicopter wound itself up and the volume of its propellers split the morning silence which had descended on the small fishing village near the Norwegian sea. Dogs started to bark at the sounds of the helicopter and Morten, Morten really needed to find his boots.

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