After enjoying breakfast on Omelek Island, Calista and Harmony were loaded aboard a Zodiac and headed into the lagoon. They didn’t travel far, however, as their destination was a large ship anchored about three hundred meters off-shore. Upon arriving both mermaids were hosted up to a tank on the aft deck similar to the one they occupied on the flight from Johnson Island. Once they were comfortably resting the ship got underway.
Calista was aware of Aquatic Future owning several oceanographic vessels, but this was the first she’d seen. She figured Harmony would know more. “What ship is this?”
“It’s the research vessel Savannah. She’s based off the Global Class design and was the first ship AFI had built to their specifications.” She waved an arm around as she lay back. “They do a little bit of everything with this: there’s even a six bed hospital below decks.”
It was the two remote piloted vehicles on the aft deck that interested Calista more. “Are those going down with us today?”
Harmony nodded. “Yep. They’re gonna watch us as we work.”
Though she knew she would be working deep today, Calista was still a little nervous. “How far are we going?”
“A little over a click: about three-quarters of a mile. Don’t worry—” Harmony tapped her mentee on the arm. “It’s gonna be a piece of cake.”
The Savannah headed across the lagoon until it was due northeast of Ennugenliggelap Island, where it turned almost ninety degrees to the south and headed through Eller Passage into the Pacific Ocean beyond. The ship eventually came to a stop and anchored about four miles beyond the passage.
While most of the crew readied the RPVs, a couple of the Savannah crew helped strap on the head and arm lamps Calista and Harmony would use down below. They also wore transmitters around their necks that would allow them to communicate with the surface and act upon any instructions given.
Harmony spoke privately with Calista as they were hoisted out of the tank. “The test today is gonna be simple. Yesterday AFI sunk a test vessel that we’re going to salvage. But it’s not any normal salvage: they’re going to lower lights and flotation equipment, and we’re going to set it up, prep the ship for flotation, and we’ll follow the ship up to make certain nothing goes wrong during the ascent.
“As I’ve already indicated, it’s going to be dark and it’s going to be chilly. This is your first deep dive and it’s going to be a working one at that. But AFI feels you’re ready and so do I.” She gave Calista one of her well-known winks. “If I didn’t think you could do this I wouldn’t have approved this test this early.”
The twin hoist seats hovered over the water. Calista looked over to her left. “Dive in?”
“You read my mind.” Harmony gave a thumbs-up and both mermaids launched themselves into the ocean.
Both Calista and Harmony waited on station as the RPVs entered the water; once they were stable they unhooked them so they could begin their decent. Harmony pointed at the surface five meters above. “The RPVs are gonna let the Savannah know how far off-station we are and they’ll radio us. These guys are good: chances are they’re right where they want to be, which is about fifty meters off from where the test hull is gonna surface.”
“Which means we’ll have to move equipment from where they—” Calista pointed at the hull of the ship “—lower it to the floor.”
“You got it. Though we’ll be able to affect the buoyancy of the lights and equipment, so it shouldn’t be too much of a chore.” Harmony cocked her head to one side as if someone where whispering in her head. “Savannah says everything’s where it should be, so we’re good to go.” She flipped on her lights. “You ready?”
Calista flipped on her lights. “As ready as I will ever get.”
Harmony nodded. “Okay, then—” She checked her GPS finder and motioned for Calista to follow. “Let’s get to work.”
With that both mermaids turned and began their decent into the dark…