Delphine looks out at the clouds as she and Tom sat in coach. They could have upgraded to first-class if she wanted to, but the company that
Dr. Conners works for had bought their tickets. The flight from California to Texas wasn’t very long. Delphine was looking over the information about the station Dr. Conners had sent her and how it was seventy-five feet below the surface.
She glances at Tom, and he was reading a mystery novel. It was written by some unknown author she has never heard of. She noticed how intense Tom was as he read.
“What?” Tom had noticed Delphine looking at him as he read.
“Nothing, I was admiring how much you were enjoying that book.” Delphine smiles at Tom.
“I like mystery and a good sci-fi book.” Tom smiles back at Delphine.
“I know.” Delphine rests her head against Tom’s shoulder.
“Anything interesting in those articles Dr. Conners sent you?” Tom saw that Delphine has been reading everything Dr. Conners sent her.
“There’s a lot of interesting stuff in these articles. She doesn’t go into how the power plant of the underwater research facility works, but if it's anything like what I use in Stingray. I would love to see it in action.” Delphine was excited.
“Isn’t this what this trip is about? For you to see how the place is powered and maybe working for them?” Tom watches Delphine’s face.
“Yeah, but I don’t know if I want to move out here from California. All of my spare parts for Stingray, including his drydock is there in California.” Delphine has been thinking about that.
“Maybe, Dr. Conner's organization will allow you to work from California. If nothing else, we can get another place out here in Texas as well.”
Tom wouldn’t mind.
“You would come with me if they ask?” Delphine wasn’t sure if Tom would. His whole life was in California, just like hers was.
“Where you go, I’ll follow.” Tom leans down and kisses Delphine on the lips.
Delphine returns the kiss. She has fallen head over heels for Tom. She also hopes she doesn’t need to move because she’ll have to get a place on the water, so she can dock and work on Stingray.
After a few hours, the plane they are flying in lands in Huston, Texas. When they go down to claim their bags, they spot a person dressed as a chauffeur holding a sign with Delphine’s name on it. The thing was, they spelled her first name as Dolphin, instead of Delphine.
“Hey Dolphin, I think our ride is here.” Tom had a smirk on his rugged face.
Delphine just shakes her head as she walks toward the chauffeur. She couldn’t believe they spelled her first name wrong.
“I’m Dolphin Waters.” Delphine looks at the middle-aged man holding the sign.
Ralph looks at the young woman with shoulder-length strawberry blond curly hair. He pulls his cellphone out and doubles checks the person. The picture matched the person Stan Ding sent him.
“I’m Ralph Boyle and I’ll be your driver, Ms. Waters.”
“Where exactly will you be driving me and my boyfriend too?” Delphine was curious.
“To a boat that will take you and your boyfriend out to where Neptune Research Facility is.”
“Oh! I wasn’t informed.” Delphine was a little surprised that she and Tom were being taken out.
“Mrs. Conner thought you might enjoy going to the deep-sea lab.”
“How long will the drive take?” Tom comes walking over to Delphine and Ralph.
“The ride itself will take about an hour. If you would like to stop and grab a bite to eat on the way. That could be arranged.” Ralph thought they might be hungry.
Ralph escorts Ms. Waters out to the town car he drove and put their luggage in the trunk. He opens the car doors for Delphine and Tom and stands nearby. He watches as Ms. Waters and her boyfriend get into the town car.
Delphine looks at Tom “do you want to stop somewhere and get something to eat?”
“I could do a burger or something.” Tom was feeling a little hungry.
“Ralph, do you know a good burger joint on route?” Delphine looks toward Ralph.
“I might know a good place to stop at.” Ralph was thinking about Billy Bob’s pit barbecue.
The place had the best barbecue and burgers. He figures these people would enjoy it. He puts the town car into gear and starts heading towards Galveston, Texas.
Delphine snuggles against Tom in the backseat as they head towards Galveston. She was enjoying the time they were spending together right now. Who knew what she will be doing next week?
After twenty minutes of driving, Ralph pulls into the parking lot of a place called Billy Bob’s Pit Barbecue.
“This place has the best barbecue and hamburgers around.” Ralph has been here a few times.
“Well, let's try it out.” Delphine liked barbecue.
Ralph parks the town car in a parking space. He turns the engine off and gets out to open the door for Ms. Waters.
“Ralph, why don’t you come in and have lunch on us.” Delphine looks at Ralph as she stands next to Tom.
“Thank you, ma’am.” Ralph follows Delphine and Tom into the place.
A cute hostess escorts them to a table and a few minutes later a waitress comes walking over to take their drink order. Once they place their drink order, the waitress brings them to them. They order their lunch. Tom orders a huge burger with onion rings. Delphine orders a barbecue platter that had different cuts of barbecue on it, along with baked beans, potato salad, and hush puppies. Ralph gets a burger as well and he has steak fires with it.
Once the waitress walks off to place their order. Delphine looks at Ralph “your right. This is a nice place.”
“I thought you two might like it.” Ralph was glad Ms. Waters was enjoying the restaurant.
The waitress returns after a few minutes with their drinks. Delphine wonders what the research facility was like. She looks at Ralph while they
waited for their food “Ralph, have you been out to the research facility?”
“No ma’am, I don’t like being out on the water.” Ralph gets seasick every time he goes out on a boat.
“I uses to be like that until I went out with Delphine here.” Tom looks at Delphine with a smile on his face.
“Well, I can say. I hate going out on the water unless it is on a big ship, where it doesn’t roll.” Ralph wasn’t going out again on a small boat.
After an hour and a half, after eating their lunch and talking some more. They are on the road again. Delphine leans against Tom as the two of them enjoy the ride. They finally arrive at the main building where the Neptune comes to get its supplies.
There was a boat waiting to take them out to the research facility. Once, Delphine and Tom, had their personal belongings on the boat. It was another thirty minutes ride out to an old oil platform that has been converted into a research facility.
“This is neat.” Delphine has only seen a few stations like this before.
“If you think this is something, Ms. Waters. Wait until we go below the surface.” Mr. Habba looks at Delphine with a smile on his face.
“This should be fun.” Delphine was looking forward to seeing what Neptune facility had to offer.
They carry their bags up to a huge elevator that looks like it acted as a cargo elevator as well.
Mr. Habba presses the button for the sublevels. Delphine and Tom feel the elevator move. It travels straight down and continues. They watch
as the sides of the tube are in turn from metal walls to crystal clear.
“Okay, I’m impressed with this.” They were below the surface and going deeper into the ocean.
Tom looked amazed as well. He has never been inside something like this. He turns around to look at Mr. Habba “how far down does this tube go?”
“Down to the ocean floor. After that, we’ll be entering the research facility.”
“What happens if the walls develop a crack or are damaged?” Delphine was curious.
“We’ll seal the section off and replace that section.”
They finally stop and the door opens. On the other side was Dr. Conner “welcome to Neptune Research Facility, Mrs. Waters and Mr. O'Donnell.”
“Thank you for inviting us.” Delphine walks forward with her bags.
Tom stands next to Delphine with his bags. He looks around and notices they were in a welcome area.
“Let’s show you to your room and afterward, I’ll show you around.”
“Sounds good to me.” Delphine was excited to look around the research facility.
Dr. Conner escorts Delphine and Tom to an area reserved for staff and visiting personnel. The room they were given gave to them had a nice look of the ocean. They could look out and see people and some vehicles moving around.
“I love this view.” Delphine turns around to look at Dr. Conner.
“I thought you might. I’ll need for you to wear these bracelets while you are here.” Dr. Conner pulls two thin bracelets out of her lab coat.
“What are those?” Delphine wonders what the bracelets might be.
“If you have noticed all the personnel here wear these bracelets. We can track you anywhere inside the facility. Also, the doors won’t open, if
you’re not clear for that area.”
“That makes sense.” Delphine accepts the bracelets. She hands the other one to Tom.
“Now, let’s start the tour, and afterward, I’ll introduce you to the crew.”
“Sounds like a plan.” Delphine leaves her bags and follows Dr. Conner out of the room.
She knew Tom was right behind her. She and Tom follow Dr. Conner as she shows them around the place.
“Dr. Conner, how far down are we?” Delphine was curious.
“Were thirty meters below the surface.” Dr. Conner stops to look at Delphine and Tom.
“And this place is connected to the old oil rig?” Tom was curious.
“Yes, we took the old oil rig and converted it into a research station. Then we built the research facility under the ocean.” Dr. Conner was glad they had a lot of finical backing.
“That was a good idea.” Delphine follows Elizabeth as they tour several sections and departments.
She learns about how the security badges worked. As they tour the facility, they visit the power station room. Delphine looks at the system Dr. Conner was using to power the facility and the modules outside of the main building.
“This system is similar to how I power Stingray.” Delphine was amazed at how Dr. Conner’s system was like her smaller unit inside of Stingray.
If she was going to build a big submarine, this unit would be more than enough to provide everything it would need.
“I thought you might like to see how with some re-engineering, you could build a bigger unit.” Dr. Conner looks at Delphine when she says that.
“How did you get the initial reaction going?” Delphine uses a Hydrogen fuel cell to power her unit.
“Tidal generation. I diverted energy from the generators powered by the tide to jump-start the reaction. After that, the unit runs on its own.”
“So, you use energy from the tidal generators to get your initial reaction and just let the seawater flow in and power the unit. That’s smart and clean.” Delphine wishes she could let Stingray’s engines run full time, but she couldn’t.
“How often do you have to do maintenance on the intakes and the unit?” Tom has been hanging around with Delphine and knew how often she
must clean the intakes on Stingray.
“Every three months, we do a cleaning on the intakes, and every six months we inspect for any damage done to the intake tubes.”
“Smart. How much power are you able to produce?” Delphine just kept looking at the power unit like hers.
“More than we need for this facility, oil rig, and the research modules. We have enough energy stored that we can power everything for at least a month.”
“So, you have tidal energy, the energy produced by the system here and stored energy you can use as a backup.”
“Plus, a set of batteries as well.” Dr. Conner wanted the batteries for each unit.
“How about oxygen? Don’t you guys still need oxygen down here?” Tom was sure that they needed that.
“This unit produces enough oxygen for us. Also, we recycle the oxygen in each module as well.”
“Just like I do with Stingray’s oxygen recycling system.”
“Exactly. Plus, if everything shuts down and we have a leak. We can close sections of the facility to conserve oxygen. We can also bring air down from the surface by special units and from the oil platform as well.” Dr. Conner felt it was safe to share that information with Delphine and her boyfriend Tom.
“That’s good to know.” Tom was a little worried. He was still getting used to being underwater.
Delphine squeezes Tom’s hand to reassure him. She wouldn’t let anything bad happen to him. She knew he has only been traveling with her a few times in Stingray.
Dr. Conner escorts them to where the dive room was and shows them some of the new equipment they were using. She notices that Delphine stopped in front of some unusual armor suits.
“What are these, Doctor?” Delphine has never seen them before.
“Those are called diving armor that. We use them for moving heavy objects and doing construction out of the seafloor. They are a recent development.” Dr. Conner couldn’t tell them that they were working with the Special Operations department in the US Navy.
“Man, I wish they had these when I was still in the Navy.” Delphine liked their design of them.
“That’s right, you use to be in the US Navy.” Dr. Conner had done a background check on her.
“Yeah, besides doing standard dive operations, I disarmed explosives and other things I can’t go into detail.” Delphine worked with the SEALS on several occasions.
“Now, let’s continue our tour.” Dr. Conner was about to turn to leave the diving room when she hears Delphine.
“Dr. Conner, what are these?” Delphine spotted the rebreathers.
Dr. Conner turns around to look at what Delphine was looking at. She spotted Delphine looking at the new rebreathers they recently got in.
“Those are the new rebreathers. They were designed and engineered by a research scientist in South Korea. It allows the user to extract the
oxygen in ocean water to breathe.”
“So, artificial gills.” Delphine turns to look at Dr. Conner.
“Yes!” Dr. Conner saw interest in Delphine’s eyes.
“I want to try this out.” Delphine would love to try it out.
“I’ll see what I can do. Now, let’s continue our tour.” Dr. Conner turns to lead Delphine and Tom to their next destination.
The next day, Delphine is swimming around outside in full dive gear with Tom following her in a clear gyro bubble submarine. She swims up to the bubble and waves at Tom.
“How are you doing?”
“I like these subs. We should consider getting one of these when we get back to California.” Tom was talking to Delphine over the special radio
they use in the water.
“I’ll think about it.” Delphine swims off with Tom following her.
She told Dr. Conner she would help her engineers out setting up a new underwater research module. Tom was going to help put the unit in place, with several others. The modules were constructed on land and then filled with ocean water and brought down from the surface. The anchor points have already been set, so all they had to do, is move the unit to the anchor points and secure it. Afterward, the power cables, data cables, and such are connected.
Each module had its oxygen unit or could be connected to the main one. Delphine works with the engineering team as they guide the module into place to be secured. She glances up and saw Tom working with the robotic arms as he and two other subs guide the module.
Once the module was on the anchor plates. Delphine and the engineers start securing. When Delphine’s oxygen tank starts getting low. She heads back to get a new tank. Unlike Stingray, she could plug into Stingray and keep working. Maybe she should suggest the same thing to Dr. Conner.
She comes back out with a new tank and goes back to work. Between the four divers, they get the module secure and plug in the power, data cable. Once everything was connected, they start pumping the water out.
Later in the evening while eating dinner. Delphine looks at Dr. Conner “so, what type of work would you have me and Stingray doing?”
“Well, as you know. The ocean is huge, and we can’t police it as we would like to. Also, besides policing the ocean, you would be traveling
between the different research stations either shuttling supplies or personnel.”
“Dr. Conner, you have to remember. Stingray is a small submarine. He only carries enough supplies for four people, and he isn’t armed. Also, I’m a civilian now. I’m not part of the military anymore.” Delphine knew she would have to make Stingray bigger to do what Dr. Conner wants.
“If you join the organization, you’ll be working with the Coast Guard and helping them out. You will also be doing what you normally do with NOAA as well. If the size of Stingray is an issue, how long would it take you to either modify an existing sub or build a bigger version of Stingray?” Dr. Conner liked Stingray and he would be an asset to the organization.
“To modify an existing sub, with some of Stingray's abilities. At least three years, if I find the right sub to modify. To build a bigger version of Stingray, a shipyard capable of handling his wingspan and tail length. At least three to five years, because his superstructure is based on the skeleton form of a stingray and his skin coating has to be made from scratch. It acts just like the skin coating of a stingray and manta ray.”
Delphine knew she was the only one with the formula for stingray’s skin covering.
“How about if you had a fully automated shipyard that could build your vessel from the ground up?” Dr. Conner had a smile on her face.
“Is that where you get all your submarines and such from?” Delphine was curious where Dr. Conner got her ships and such.
“Yes, our subs, gliders and other support equipment are constructed there. Our modules and supplies for the facility come from different places. We have a lot of corporate and private support.”
“Can I think about it and get back to you? I mean what you are asking me to join sounds like a unique opportunity. I will need time to think about it is all.” Delphine enjoyed her day so far outside setting the module up.
“Take as long as you need to think about it.” Dr. Conner wonders did she make a mistake asking Delphine to join them.
The rest of dinner goes by casually. After dinner, Delphine and Tom take out a two-man glider and enjoy the ocean. Delphine was letting Tom operate the glider while she sat behind him.
“What do you think about Dr. Conner’s request about me joining her team?”
“I think you need to consider the pros and cons of it. Is what she is asking you the reason you made Stingray for?” Tom didn’t know how he felt about it. Would delphine leave him behind to take the job?
“You know, if I accepted the job, I would want you to come along with me. I don’t think I could handle being away from you as long as I use to be in the navy.” There were times Delphine regretted being out at sea a lot.
“You know I’m not much of a sea person like you. The sea calls to you and is in your blood.” Tom knew how much Delphine loved the ocean.
“Still, I love you just as well. I don’t know if I want to build a bigger Stingray. The way he is now is the way I imagine him to be.” Delphine knew a bigger Stingray would be asking for trouble.
“Could you build a bigger version of him?”
“Easily, there would be some changes I would make. But I could easily build a bigger version of him. I could even incorporate being able to dock the smaller version to him.”
“Okay, could you put in torpedo tubes in Stingray as he is?” Tom knew Delphine just installed powerful water cannons that got their water supply from the water thruster Stingray uses.
“Yes, there is space for me to install torpedo tubes, but I would only be able to carry six torpedoes.” Delphine didn’t feel comfortable carrying weapons on Stingray. He wasn’t meant for war.
“You need to find out how long you would be away from home and such.” Tom knew Delphine was enjoying being home for her family, and Kathy as well.
Kathy has become like a little sister to Delphine. The thing was, Delphine looked a lot like Kathy’s birth mother. She was a spitting image of Delphine.
They explore for a little bit longer before heading back to the facility. Tom parks the glider in its bay along with several others when the water level was low. They get out and plug the glider in. It used an electric motor to power it.
“Having one or two of them around would be nice.” Delphine looks at the glider and thinks about everything.
They head towards their quarters and take a shower. The water recycling unit will recycle the water they used. This whole place had a lot of neat recycling systems that clean the water they used or composted any organic items they had leftover. The garden they had down here was a combination of hydroponics and normal soil on the ocean floor.
After their shower, Tom and Delphine walk over to their bed and explore each other bodies for a while. They fall asleep after a few hours, with Tom holding Delphine in his arms. While Delphine slept, she thinks about what Dr. Conner was offering her.
A few days go by as Delphine gets used to life under the sea. A few times Tom takes trips up to the top side of the oil platform and helps up there. She knew he missed feeling the breeze blowing on his skin and the feel of sunlight on his body.
She joined him a few times upon the oil rig. It had an area that was set up to allow people to come up and do some suntanning. She had to admit, that she enjoyed Neptune station and wouldn’t mind seeing what the others were.
The week was almost up, and Delphine still hadn’t made up her mind about what she wanted to do. Dr. Conner did inform her that she could get the permits for her to carry torpedoes in Stingray since she would be working for her organization. So, far the organization had ten ships and at least three research subs that worked for them.
Two days before they were supposed to depart. Delphine is introduced to some of the investors of the organization. They had arrived in a four-man sub. The sub had a symbol and the name of the research organization on the side of it. The name painted on it was some South African Oceanic research company.
Of the four men that she is introduced to, two of them were black and the other two looked like they were out of place. The two white guys looked like they haven’t had any sun for a while and were skinny.
“Delphine, this is Thomas Turner and the gentleman standing next to him is Johnathan White. Both of these men are an investor in our organization.”
“It’s nice to meet both of you gentlemen.” Delphine extends her hand to shake theirs.
Greg Hallaway (aka Johnathan White) accepts Delphine’s hand and shakes it.
“It’s nice to meet you as well Mrs. Waters. Dr. Conner has told us so much about you.”
“Yes, she said that you have built a submarine all by yourself and use some of the same technology as the facility here does.” Thomas Turner (aka Adam Ludlum)
“Yes, it took me a very long time to build it.” Delphine was watching Mr. Turner and something about him didn’t feel right.
Delphine didn’t know what it was, but there was something. She looks at Mr. White and something about him didn’t sit right with her about him either.
“Mrs. Waters, can I ask where you store your submarine?” Adam wanted to know more about it.
“It’s kept at my father’s boatyard. It’s currently under repair from some damage it took.” Delphine wasn’t going to reveal where Stingray was.
Even if someone knew where he was, they couldn’t start him, and if they tried to break into him. Well, they would find out what it is like to touch an electric eel.
“How is Atlantis coming along, Mr. White?” Dr. Conner was curious about the new research city.
“Atlantis and Atlantis II are both operational now. Atlantis went online a few months ago and Atlantis II just recently went online.” Mr. Turner had a smile on his face. Once he and Ludlum were safely inside Atlantis, there will be nothing Wolfhart’s or Blake’s can do to them.
“Well gentlemen, if you’ll follow me. Dinner will be served soon, and I know you’ll like to freshen up.” Dr. Conner smiles at the four gentlemen.
The four men follow Dr. Conner as Delphine heads back to her quarters. She still had some packing to do. Something about those men didn’t seem right.
She walks into her quarters and finds Tom in there putting away some items. She walks over to him and kisses him.
“I see you are almost ready to leave.”
“It will be nice to get on dry land again.” Tom was ready to go back to California.
“Well, the boat will be here tomorrow morning.” Delphine gave Dr. Conner her answer and would know more later.
“Let’s go and have our last meal under the sea.” Delphine grabs Tom’s arm and heads toward the cafeteria to eat with the rest of the researchers.
After dinner, they take one more trip in the glider around the area where the research station was. They did find a few items they were taking back with them to California. Once they arrive back at the research station, they turn in for the night.
0500hrs, Boat for the mainland:
Delphine leans against Tom as they head back to the mainland. Tom was excited about going back to solid ground. He looks at Delphine “I am going to get the biggest steak tonight for dinner.”
“What, you didn’t enjoy all that fresh seafood we had?”
“I did, but I want a big juicy steak now.” Tom places a kiss on Delphine’s forehead.
A smile appears on Delphine’s face as she watches they head back to land.
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