The Deep Seeker
With high expectations, Cam Joyce and Dr. Wilhelm Octavian left the Deep Seeker’s berth in San Diego harbor and set out for the Grey whale migration route off the coast. They had already basically accomplished what Cam Joyce had set out to do, to capture on video cruising with Squidzillas, but Dr. Octavian was curious about how the squids would react if the Deep Seeker began to communicate with them by mirroring their light flashes.
“I hope we can get them to come in for better closeup shots,” said Joyce.
“We’ve got a very bright, very young student coming to the Institute who’s convinced that the squids are intelligent and communicate at a high level, said Dr. Octavian, “So she’ll be very interested in what we find and record.”
“You mean intelligent like dolphins are intelligent?”
“She thinks maybe more,” replied Octavian.
“Huh. Well, I’ll be really intrigued if she gets very far with that,” said Joyce.
They set the sub to slowly cruise deeper this time and in the dark water, began to use the ten movable arms to repeat the recorded arm movements of one of the squids, No. 5.
The small squad of five squids was slowly swimming below their usual whaling depth, not really hunting as they had caught and shared a Grey Whale three days before. They were surprised when No. 31, one of the squad who had been swimming ahead of the main body as a scout, returned with the news that the “small hard whale” that they had encountered previously was back and furthermore, was ‘talking.’
what mean talk, said No. 5.
same like me-you, said No. 31. before time, no say nothing, just flash arms. now real talk.
go look, suggested No. 12.
go look, agreed No. 5.
They caught up to the Deep Seeker and observed it as they trailed behind.
“We’ve got company again,” said Joyce. “Looks like whatever you’re sending out as a message got them interested. Wish they’d come in closer.”
“I get the feeling they’re studying us,” Dr. Octavian said. “They’re just keeping a constant distance from us, below and behind. I’m going to shift the recording to one of the other squids.”
talk like you say No. 5, said No. 12. before time we see same small hard whale.
look—not say like No.5 now. now talk like No. 12 before, said No. 31. move arms, flash lights, same like me-you.
small hard whale get no funny fish, no explosion hurt me-you. me go touch small hard whale, check how arms, said No. 12. And No. 12 jetted towards the sub.
“Looks like you’re getting your wish for a closeup, Cam. Here comes one of the larger ones,” said Dr. Octavian. “Your defense system armed just in case it gets too friendly?”
No. 12 slowed as it approached the sub. Dr. Octavian stopped the program controlling the mechanical arm movements to see how the squid would react.
small hard whale stop talking. me touch now, said No. 12, and it reached out an arm to touch one of the motionless carbon fiber articulated arms, tentatively curling the tip of its tentacle around the middle of the arm.
“As long as it’s just exploring and not trying to pull it off, we’re okay,” said Joyce. “But it it gets too handsy, I’m going to shock it.”
“Just a warning shock?” asked Dr. Octavian.
“Right. You’re transmitting all of this, right?”
“Just like last time.”
come see, said No. 12 to the others.
The other four squids approached the sub, but cautiously stayed further back than No.12.
“My God. They are huge,” Joyce said as the viewing screens filled with cephalopods. “What unbelievable closeups!”
no fear, said No. 12—look. And it seized the sub’s arm more firmly and gave it a pull and a shake that could be felt within the sub.
“Okay, that’s enough,” said Joyce. “Let’s give a little shock and get it to back off.” He slid the power lever to one-quarter output and pressed the discharge button.
No. 12’s tentacle released it’s grip of the sub’s arm with a sudden uncoordinated flail and it backed away from the sub, its body flashing red and black. small hard whale me hurt, flashed No.12 angrily. me kill. It turned back to the sub with its arms outstretched to grab.
“Oh, oh,” It’s coming back at us and I don’t think it’s coming to give us a friendly hug,” Dr. Octavian said.
“I’ll slide the power up to full. If it touches the hull, it will get a real jolt,” Joyce said.
No. 12 slammed into the sub’s hull and was instantly fried, its photophores all flashing at the same time, it’s arms and tentacles going into tight spasms gripping onto the sub’s hull in death rigor. One arm happened to seize the dive plane and lock it into the dive position.
“The squid’s draped all over us,” said Joyce. “I think it’s dead and can’t release it’s grip. Damn, it’s jammed the dive plane.”
“Kill the propulsion,” said Dr. Octavian.
“Did, but our momentum is still carrying us down.”
“Blow the ballast!”
“Just did, the squid’s weight is keeping us down in spite of that.
“The sub will implode if we can’t stop it from going deeper!”
The horrified staff back at the shore station could hear all of this but could do nothing. Cam Joyce and Wilhelm Octavian were able to send farewells to their loved ones before the listeners heard the sudden grinding roar as the hull gave way and transmission abruptly ended.