06.0 Finding Atlantis

Finding Calypso turned out to be considerably easier than they initially anticipated.

According to all historical reports from both Earth legends and Asgard histories, Calypso was connected to the lost city of Atlantis. The city, according to all accounts, had once been an island, but by some catastrophe it became submerged. Although each account indicated a different location, only a couple versions seemed to have any historical accuracy. Asgard histories gave no precise location, but simply stated that Atlantis had challenged them from the south. So anything south of Northern Europe was possible. Ancient Greek sources would indicate it to be either in the Mediterranean or Atlantic Ocean.

This is where Nick Fury lent a hand. He located a Dr. Gene Hammond of an English oceanographic research institute who had dedicated much of his career toward finding Atlantis, and was arguably the world expert on the lost city. Most of his peers and the rest of the scientific community had officially rejected his findings. In fact, he had received threats and pressure from various government bodies to not publish his conclusions. Hammond now worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy undertaking classified research.

Hammond, via video-conferencing, explained to the team and Fury that his current research indicated that Atlantis was located in the Atlantic, most likely somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. The notorious, mysterious treacherousness of that location was not a myth like some would say, and was in fact well documented, he assured them. However, because it was also a thoroughfare for commercial traffic, there were many who did not want knowledge of the danger widely spread. Hammond told them personal stories of his harrowing ventures into the region, especially around Barbados. He was currently working on a submersible with greater sensitivity for magnetic, gravitational, and sonar anomalies. He said that much of the data that he had collected so far made no sense, and some of it was even contradictory. He expressed his best wishes for their expedition, and asked as compensation that they provide him with a report of their findings, should they return.

It was not the most optimistic news, but it gave them a place to start their search. A high-resolution satellite scan of the region north of Barbados revealed hundreds of sunken vessels, including some aircraft, as well as some unusual formations near a fault-line on the ocean floor.

Squalls and storms were frequent in the region, so they expected a tense voyage. After learning the challenge ahead, they decided to make use of Stark’s new invention. They wanted the latest technology to combat whatever lie ahead.  Stark was pleased, and after that seemed to take a more personal interest in the venture.

Once the necessary supplies were gathered, they prepared to embark on what would undoubtedly be a very unusual adventure.

 

 

The morning was bright and clear when the StingRay left the S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft carrier in the Atlantic and scooted along the surface of the ocean in the direction of Barbados. No storms or hurricanes were threatening, the sun was sparkling off the surface of the water, the ship was performing beautifully, and they were making excellent time.

“What time do you think we will get there?” Natasha asked.

“At this rate, probably in an hour or two,” Hawkeye responded. He was casually sitting back in the cockpit seat monitoring the instrument panel. The ship was so automated that the computer handled almost everything.

She decided to make use of the time by organizing their scuba gear, should it become needed. Meanwhile, Thor, who had familiarized himself with much of the earth technology, was running tests on the sensors. Lucinda, who was mostly very quiet, moved to the copilot’s seat.

“Ever flown in a cockpit before?” Hawkeye asked cordially.

Lucinda nodded.

“What did you think?”

“The last time, I am not sure that the operator really knew how to fly it,” referring to Thor’s adventures trying to fly the dark elves’ ship.

Hawkeye, of course, was ignorant of the reference, but still laughed. Thor cleared his throat from where he sat behind them, but said nothing.

“Nowadays it’s much simpler because the computer does most of it for you,” Hawkeye said. “But I learned on much more complicated aircraft.”

“Did you have to fly into battle?”

“No, but I have been a passenger on many flights into battles,” he said wryly.

“Do you like to fly?”

“I prefer to fly than to be a passenger on a flight,” he said with a laugh.

“I think I would enjoy flying a ship,” she said decidedly.

“Would you like to learn a little?” Hawkeye asked motioning to the controls in front of him.

“Certainly!” she said with delight.

Hawkeye then began to explain how the panel was laid out, what each of the levers, buttons, wheels, and sticks did, and why they were necessary.

“Do you guys have a problem with me showing Lucinda a few maneuvers?” Hawkeye asked Natasha and Thor.

Thor was curious and heartily endorsed the idea.

“As long as we don’t lose time,” Natasha responded.

Hawkeye then took the ship on a sharp incline and then a sharp decline and then banked.

“Going for a spin,” he announced. They braced themselves, but it was a much smoother experience than expected.

“I like this ship!” Thor exclaimed.

By the time they were approaching Barbados, Lucinda was operating most of the controls while Hawkeye supervised.

While they were still about fifty miles off shore, Hawkeye slowed the ship and they began to take a more earnest look at the topography and exact locations that Dr. Hammond had mentioned.

“I think we should start here, and work our way up along this fault line,” Natasha said. “Most of the shipwrecks are along this line.”

They all frowned over the digital map.

“The currents will be trickier the closer we get to that fault line,” Hawkeye cautioned.

“Suppose we go slow,” Thor suggested. “We have but a small distance to traverse and many hours of daylight left in our favor.”

That seemed agreeable, so they set off northward to the southern end of the fault line. When they were within a mile or so of the first shipwrecks, Hawkeye lowered the ship into the water. Immediately, the inner dome lights came on, and the hum of the engine shifted as it adjusted for the density of the water. The waters were fairly clear, but the front lights came on automatically.

Natasha showed more than usual excitement when she sighted the first shipwreck looming in the green waters. She stared out the window of the ship in awe. Barnacles and seaweed coated the beams and masts of what must have been a small schooner.

The next ship that they passed was a barge from a more recent era. Its rusty hull was bent where it had foundered on the rock shelf. The H.M.S. Tango.

“It would appear that the Tango got tangled doing a tango with that other ship!” Hawkeye exclaimed, pointing at another vessel, or rather half of a vessel, that was lying next to it and coming more clearly into view as they passed.

As they passed ship after ship, like mossy, decaying grave markers in a foggy cemetery on a cold autumn evening, a strange foreboding descended on the group. After a while, if anyone spoke, it was only in a whisper.

At one point, they rounded an outcropping in the cliff wall and the ship made a sudden, sharp dip to the left. Hawkeye quickly recovered from the change in the current, but hearts beat faster!

They continued on in silence like this for at least an hour. Wrecks were littered in groups sometimes only a mile or so apart. Several aircraft were sighted among the wreckage. Then, the currents shifted again, and they found themselves going upstream. This made the engine work much harder and made their progress slower. It was also becoming darker and the waters more clouded.

Eventually, in a low voice, Hawkeye announced, “well, we are going to have to make a decision soon. The fuel cells are almost low enough that we will only have enough power to make it back to Barbados by sea. If we left now, we could get back by air.”

“How much longer?” Natasha asked.

“About ten minutes according to the computer,” Hawkeye said, pointing at a gauge on the screen.

“I sense that we are close,” Thor said fervently, “we should press on for a little longer.”

They all looked at Lucinda then. She sat staring intently out the cockpit window, hand stroking her chin. “Yes,” she said softly, “we are very close.”

A second after she said this, the ship jolted with a loud crack and several warnings illuminated on the panel.

“What was that!?” Natasha exclaimed.

“We hit something,” Hawkeye said calmly, but he was frowning.

They all peered into the deep gloom of the turbulent sea. All at once, Hawkeye yanked on the controls just as the sensors shrieked about an impending collision. He turned the ship just in time and slowed their speed, and as they passed, a perfectly sheer vertical wall was visible. Hawkeye continued along parallel to the wall.

“I think we have found Atlantis,” he said with a smile, pointing out the window. Before them, the headlights cast just enough light through the dark, murky waters to show another wall on the opposite side, and far in the distance, a balanced arch was becoming visible.

“I am going to take us closer,” he said.

“Closer!?” Natasha exclaimed.

“The current will be weaker there.”

So down they went, creeping along by great walls, broken pillars, arches, and other stone structures.

“I wonder how big this is,” Natasha said at length.

“If the map speaks truthfully,” Thor said, “this area of strange formations spans several miles.”

“Take us closer to the cliff,” Lucinda said suddenly.

Hawkeye obliged, but cautioned, “We should return soon.”

Just as Hawkeye lifted his hand to begin the return journey, Lucinda said, “Look! Ahead!”

In the dim, cloudy distance there was a single point of yellow light. Hawkeye hesitated to change directions. As they all stared at the light before them, two other lights became visible, three lights in a line.

“A sub?” Hawkeye ventured a guess.

“According to the satellite, sonar, and radar, we are technically beneath the cliff,” Natasha replied.

No one spoke, but as they drew closer, more lights became visible in the line, disappearing in both directions.

Suddenly, two shots were fired at them from the direction of the lights! As yet they could see nothing, so Hawkeye slowed their pace. Since they could see nothing clearly, they really could not react.

“There is some sort of magnetic interference with the radar,” Natasha said, perturbed.

“Indeed, a vessel lies ahead,” Thor said, pointing. Out of the green murky water, an underwater vessel loomed suddenly, looking like a mechanical leviathan.

“At this range, they could easily have shot us down,” Thor declared, and Hawkeye agreed.

“Indeed,” Lucinda said, “they meant to signal us.”

They were now within several meters of the ship. It was a sight to behold! Great metal armor scales covered the body, and from out of “gills” on the sides, jet-bursts of bubbles surged at regular intervals, like breathing. Running lights spanned the length of the ship on the side, top and bottom, and great strobe lights like glowing eyes shown out the front.

“Are you sure that is a ship and not a fish?” Natasha said, half in jest.

Ironically, just as she said that, the great iron beast turned with more agility than they would have thought possible, spinning to confront them.

“Oh, shit.” Hawkeye said. Before them the “jaws” of the beast opened in a great, dark, cavernous hanger.

Hawkeye spun their ship around and threw all power into the engines, but he was not quick enough. The other ship was making a whirlpool vortex from its open bay pulling their ship in. Realizing it was futile, Hawkeye let up on the power, and within seconds they were inside the beast, and the gates of the hanger clanged shut in front of them. Then all was darkness. They could feel the sway of the ship but could see nothing. Breathless silence reigned in the StingRay and all were braced.

After what seemed an eternity, a loud clang was heard followed by a roaring sound, and green lights came on in the hanger. Soon they realized that the bay was emptying of water.

After another few moments, footsteps were heard and three armored men approached with spears and stopped at attention outside the StingRay.

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Hawkeye said, “I do believe we’ve found Captain Nemo.” Natasha snorted.

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