You open the bathysphere door, uncertainly. As you step inside, an array of multicolored lights turn on all around you, activated by your movement. The gentle but persistent whirr of machinery hums into life, and without a second thought to convince yourself otherwise, you shut the hatch behind you, which closes with a definitive metal snap, followed by the noise of pressurized air being released. The maps led you this far, didn't they?
You sit down in the comfortable red leather chair. You notice an odd absence of decorative flair anywhere inside the container - whoever built it was far more concerned with function than form. That feels reassuring. Your reassurance quickly fades, however, when you reach over your shoulder for the safety belt to find that it has been forcefully torn off, leaving only frayed shreds of black fabric at four corners of the chair. Placing your shaking hands on the lever mechanism before you, you push ever so slightly, finding that it isn't enough to budge the controls. Putting your weight into it, the machine lurches forward, and the sensation of falling occurs to you. The bathysphere has dropped and is now en route to whatever destination its creator intended.
The dash lights swiftly become brighter than ever as the bathysphere darkens and begins to crack with freezing pressure. Your sweat beads up and seems to crystallize almost immediately. You can't help wondering if you've just taken the first step of your last twenty. After several minutes of a descent that seemed like hours, your drop ends gently with a muted buoyant feeling. You wipe away the porthole as much as you can with your skeletal cold fingers, and at last you see it: A fleet of strange oblong vessels, covered in either blue or silver metals, with long black tube-like talons silently drilling a gigantic upside down mountain of ice above them. Connected to the sides of a few of these ships were dimly lit passages that, from your distance away, looked like veins floating out and downward. These must be connections to a seafloor base of some kind. Your next destination identified, you once again take the controls of the pod into your hands and, through some external mechanism unknown to you, the bathysphere clicks slowly forward, likely on a laid track.
As the ships become closer you can see just how large they are - the smallest of them could easily be longer than an aircraft carrier. Eventually they drift out of view completely as you descend into whatever nexus lies below the mining fleet. Another metal click, again followed by the hiss of air, and then a rumbling sound. You notice the water level around your pod lowering slowly. A moment later, the hatch pops open with a pried metallic cracking sound - perhaps the craft was not truly meant for multiple trips. You sit for a minute, staring intently at the open space beyond the door, waiting for something to happen. Your eyes adjust to the very dim light in the decompression chamber and finally, you step outside.
The chamber itself is totally unremarkable, save for one specific detail: a printed line of text on the wall by the only door that reads "NOVA KOLUMBIA PROFUNDA MINERIA KONSILANTARO" and below that in smaller letters "Divido Tri / Glacia Reklamon". Parts of the writing seem to make sense to you, in some way, but you've never seen language like it before. Your curiosity piqued, you open the door...
released January 11, 2015
W/P by Brian Grainger. Recorded at 114RKD and Botany Bay, 2008-2015. Mastered by The Analog Botanist. This is Milieu Music number SD20, and 20th in the 24-part Sun-Day series.