Commander Gill Xylos waited patiently as he waited. The other officers seemed impatient, chattering amongst themselves and in some cases prancing. Xylos shook his head, wondering if the Salsenes would ever reach the amount of military discipline other races, such as the Aians, had achieved. With races such as the Kerarans, Flesh Thieves, and Elisri closing in, discipline would likely prove to be the determining factor in the Salsenes' survival.
His pondering was brought to a stop as Sera Nestos entered the room. What he had heard was true; she was beautiful. Tall, slender, with perfectly colored skin. Her face, however, was different from the photos. She was gaunt and haggard, her once fleshy face sunken into her skull. Her eyes had a wild, stunned look.
The other officers made startled sounds, but Xylos remained calm.
"Captain Sera Nestos," he said formally, "You have been brought up on charges for the murder of seventy-three individuals, including an Atrenid officer by the name of Silac. On behalf of the Salsene Grand Fleet, you are ordered to give explanation for your actions."
Sera Nestos sniffed, and then looked up at the court.
"I did not kill them. As you know, I took a submarine down on the planet Tethys. That's where you found me. Those brave men and women were killed not by me, but by the native organisms."
Xylos glared at her. With the crazed look in her eyes, it was difficult to tell whether she was telling the truth.
"I want you to tell me what happened," he said coldly, "I do not want you to exclude a single detail. I don't care how long it takes. I want to know exactly what happened on that voyage."
Sera Nestos looked up at him, a determined look in her eyes. "You'll get that explanation," she said, "every last detail of it."
Where should I begin? The start of the voyage? That would leave out far too many details. No, the only logical place to begin is with the discovery of Tethys.
When I was first given my command with Exploration, I was full of hopes and dreams. I had hoped that I would discover a beautiful paradise, like Aristotle, or somewhere wild, dangerous, yet somehow wonderful, like Kaventro. Little did I know that I'd find both on Tethys.
Tethys, as you undoubtedly know, is a large planet in the Viperius Galaxy, for the most part covered in deep oceans. There are only a few tropical islands on the surface of the world, and these have very little in the way of new species. We looked, and found a few, but nothing that would really interest the fleet.
By we, of course, I mean myself and Silac. He was a good friend of mine; I got to know him better than any Salsene in my life. It's odd, but it seems that Salsenes and Atrenids just make good teams. I don't know why that is. Anyway, we were very close to one another. He is- was- my only friend.
Of course, we had a crew. Seventy-three individuals, mostly Salsenes, but a few Atrenids and a couple of Vrah mercenaries. They're good to have on hand, I've found. We set up a little base on a windy atoll, and began charting the planet.
Within the first month, we had a working map of all the islands. We then used sonar to map the bottom of the planets oceans.
A certain anomaly we noticed warrants mentioning, as it proved quite important later on. When mapping the bottom of the ocean, we discovered that some things we took to be underwater mountains at first kept moving about. We checked our equipment, and found that there was nothing wrong with them. There was no doubt about it; there were mountain-sized objects moving about at the bottom of Tethys' seas.
Of course, Silac and I wanted to get to the bottom of this, if you'll pardon the pun.
By this point, we had catalogued most species living on land, but the oceans were still mysterious. We saw schools of shrimp-like animals at the surface of the waves, sometimes, but that was all.
But the last straw was when one of our video crews accidentally filmed a giant shadow just underneath the surface of the waves. The shadow was almost a hundred feet long, and was moving at an astonishingly fast speed.
At this point, Silac and I decided to built a submarine.