That was cool. I felt like Captain Nemo. We were standing on the deck of the super-tanker, waiting for the sub, when it bulged up out of the water like a blue whale. I wasn’t prepared for that. There’s an outcropping of some sort on top. It looks like bubble wrap. That’s where you climb on, descending through a hatch into something fantastically claustrophobic and surprisingly uncool. This sub, the Dumbwaiter, was only meant to take us down to the Daedelus. It was cramped, which I knew to expect, but also dingy. And not the cool sort of cramped and dingy like you’re hoping for. It is not the place you would see in a movie, but something more like Aunt Myrtle’s bedroom. The colors are old and it smells like compost.

There’s really not much to the Dumbwaiter. It works like an elevator. You get in, press a button, and descend about 3500 feet. If you have a problem onboard this giant iron nut, you pick up a small grey receiver and talk to someone on Atargatis. If they don’t answer, you pick up a black receiver and speak to Daedelus. If neither receiver works, you have about eight hours of air before you suffocate in a space roughly the size of a minivan, decorated by a color-blind computer technician and furnished by someone who went to design school in jail.

My emotions are ping-ponging relentlessly. On the one hand I’m filled with excitement. I’m going to Deadelus. I’m going to find out what happened to Liz. On the other hand I’m terrified. The last Dr. Mann to descend into these waters didn’t make it out alive. Liz had experience and a host of scientific knowledge. I have nothing of value. I’m going unarmed, ill-equipped, and ignorant into the cellar of the world. I still don’t know what caused the Dignite disaster. We don’t know if the big blip on their sonar was a submarine or some left-over prehistoric abnormality. We don’t know what’s down here. If knowledge is power, I’m a weakling. Let’s hope that if a fight breaks out, the bad guys decide to leave the weak ones for last.

The descent was going to take about two-and-a-half hours, so Chris, Sebastian, Nessa, and myself began to talk. I tried to avoid Chris and succeeded, whereas Nessa tried to avoid Chris and only succeeded in encouraging his amorous advances. Somehow I don’t figure her for the kind of person attracted to the rejected members of ZZ Top. Sebastian, for his part, tried repeatedly to engage Chris in conversation. That usually worked for about five seconds, before his attention was once again fixed on the Russian beauty.

I decided to occupy myself by looking out the window at all the aquatic life.  I saw several variety of jellyfish, which Sebastian identified for me as we descended (in between saving graces with Nessa). Among them were a giant bell jelly and an atalla jelly, one that looked like a spider wearing a shower cap and the other like a halved-tomato decorated with licorice rope. We also observed octopi and squid, many of which species Sebastian thought strange to be in such cold, cold waters. The Piglet Squid looked like an alien blue snap pea eating a snake, while the many species of glowing sucker octopi reminded me of shoe-sized Dumbos in ballroom gowns.

There were black devil and deep-sea white anglerfish, pacific viperfish, fanfin seadevils and ghastly spookfish, threadfin snailfish and fish that looked like footballs (they are actually called Football fish), and all manner of weird snake-like things that slithered through the water.

The ones I found most beautiful were also the most rare. They looked like flowers. The underwater world is backwards this way, with plants looking timid but animals looking like brilliant blooms and head-dressed chieftains. The hula skirt siphonaphore was my favorite, like a cluster of grapes on vacation in Hawaii, and there was a similar creature that looked like bluebells, only it was wrapped in a pink feather boa.

Speak to the earth, for it will teach thee; and listen, for the fish of the sea shall declare the glory of God.