The Swimming Nun

This story was inspired by the first photo on this post – I’m not sure if I have the rights necesary to post the picture here. But that’s okay, I think it stands by itself. Enjoy!

Sister Gertrude stood on the edge of the thousand mile long “pier”. The Archdiocese had chosen her as part of the first contact group with the race detected only recently on mankind’s first successful interstellar colonization. Pope Justinius declared that the so called “Neo-Atlanteans” had souls, and they needed someone from the Church present to make it official. Why they had chosen a nun instead of a priest she could only speculate.

Gertrude couldn’t help but picture herself in a habit, hands clasped and speaking to the fish as if she were in a children’s book. Instead she wore a monstrous dive suit that was really more like a small submarine. They group of five people present all wore similar getups. The Neo-Atlanteans couldn’t survive at a depth of less than four thousand feet. Current technology would allow them to survive at a depth that the fish people found pleasant. One error at that depth meant nearly instant death.

At the captain’s signal they jumped off of the pier and into the cold and murky water below.

“Everything all right there, sister?” Captain Harris’ voice came on over her communications channel.

“Yes, Captain.” She made her voice as strong as she could. Thankfully she needn’t worry about piloting her suit. They were slaved together and moved as a school of fish would.

Science office Awani’s soothing alto broke in. “Captain, we’re picking up NAs at the right depth. They’re holding. We should be there within the hour. All suit systems are in the green.”

Gertrude brought up a display that would give her a more meaningful view than the darkness outside her face plate. They were eschewing any kind of lights since their new friends were sensitive to anything in the visible spectrum. The passive sonar gave her little more information. Unlike Earth’s seas, the ones here contained little life for the first thousand feet that was visible to the naked eye. A rich soup of plankton and other microscopic creatures was it. Knowing that there was nothing out there comforted her. The over active imagination granted her by God made her envision all sorts of things that didn’t exist on this planet or anywhere else.

“Something coming up on the active sonar, Captain. It’s huge.” Security Officer Chovanec’s voice wasn’t panicked. SOs didn’t panic. They had a reputation for stoicism that was legendary. Still, those last two words held something other than information.

She “looked” down with her own systems and saw that he was right. A mass, a singular mass and not a group of creatures, rose towards them. She had the luxury of fear, but she didn’t let it paralyze her. She prayed even as those around her went into action.

“Abort. Abort. Nautilus V this is Captain Harris. I am authorizing a full abort of this mission.”

“Roger, Captain. This is Nautilus V. We concur. Unidentified biomass will overtake your position in three minutes. Activating emergency boosters. We are bringing you out of the water and you will rendezvous with air support.”

Gertrude saw the engines on her companions’ suits come to life. She knew that they would be out of the water in less than two minutes. When she didn’t feel her own suit vibrate with unleashed power she was confused. Then the systems lights on her display all went red.

“Sister. We’re having a problem activating your thrusters. We’ll have it figured out in no time. Hold tight.”

She nearly laughed. As though there were anything else she could do? “Roger, Nautilus V. Holding tight.” She looked down into the blackness below. She could sense no movement or lights of any kind. She took a moment and adjusted the sonar and then in a moment of inspiration she turned on her hydrophones. At first there was nothing but a hiss. Then alien music, more beautiful than anything she’d ever heard, played through the speakers. She was filled with a bliss only rivaled by that when she received her calling. Here truly was a manifestation of God’s heavenly choir, found under an alien sea and originating from a creature of unimaginable size.

Her fingers moved of their own accord and her suit descended rapidly. She needed to experience more of this song. When the call came from the Nautilus it went unheard. Her own voice, echoing the alien song, filled her helmet and the creature enveloped her entirely in its bulk.