APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 12 December, 1999


Monster Hunters

Buji Kern

[Excerpted from Terranovan View magazine]

Monster Hunters
A crew of dedicated scientist-adventurers search for a Terranovan legend
By Marcus Hanley

A sleek motor yacht cuts through the blue waters of Lake Marabou, while on the deck several men cluster around a trideo screen. Many small dots appear on the screen, which displays sonar readings of the lake below.

"Now these here," one man named Jeffrey Silverbridge says, "are definitely just schools of fish. We have their sonar profiles on file, and can filter them, like this." He presses a key, and the dots representing large schools of emerva fish disappear from the screen, leaving only a few contacts.

"What we're looking for is a big dot. A big dot is either a submarine, a wreck, or possibly what we seek- the monster."

The 'monster' Silverbridge refers to is the famous Lake Marabou Monster, which has been reportedly seen gliding through these deep waters for the last sixty cycles. Theories abound about the monster; some say it's an undiscovered species prowling the bottoms of Terra Nova's deepest lakes, while others say it's really a secret military project, and still others maintain it's just a hoax.

Silverbridge and the crew of his boat, the Discovery, are cryptozoologists- people who seek out creatures that most people believe don't exist. Before committing himself to the search for the Lake Monster, he spent cycles prowling the jungles of the South searching for a mysterious man-creature, reportedly seen by travelers swinging from tree to tree. "We think it was either a very large go-ki, or some kind of near-human native to Terra Nova. Obviously, if it were the latter, it would've been quite a discovery. Either way, we never found one."

Many people have tried to find the Monster before, and nothing has ever turned up except for fuzzy images. Silverbridge and his crew are determined to succeed, however. Their boat is outfitted with advanced sonar technology and a very small remote-control submarine. Typically, if they detect something that could potentially be what they're looking for, they send the submarine to take live video of the object. So far, nothing has turned up except for some previously unknown sunken ships.

"Most people think we're kooks," says the ship's sonar expert, Mat Sanden. "But we're no different then those guys that found some new species of skag out in the jungle. We just look for more interesting creatures."

He turns back to his display, and isolates a large dot. "I think we might want to take a look at this one. It's moving along real slow, about 100 meters down."

Silverbridge nods. "Okay, let's get the sub ready to go." He and two other men begin preparing the small submarine for its dive. Once it's prepped and ready, it's lowered into the water by way of a hoist mounted on the side of the boat. The mini-sub begins its gradual descent to 300 meters, while Rei Kagama carefully monitors it from her workstation. From there, she can run pre-programmed maneuvers, control the camera, and perform other functions.

As the sub approached its pre-set navigation point, I looked over Rei's shoulder at the screen displaying the live video feed from the submarine. Powerful twin searchlights cut through the dark water, and a dim shape can be just made out.

"Jeff, I see something!" she says excitedly. Despite the many contacts that have been duds, the crew is still buzzing with excitement at the latest find. Silverbridge hurries over.

As the submarine closes on the object, the crew deflates as the object is identified. The humanoid shape is unmistakable- it's an amphibious Heavy Gear, probably a MILICIA Water Viper.

"Bring the sub back up, Rei. You know how the feel about being taped," Silverbridge says somewhat dejectedly. "We've gotten in trouble a few times for taping their exercises," he explains. "I don't know what the fuss is, but whatever."

At the end of another fruitless day, the crew retired while I searched out some of the locals to see what they had to say about the Lake Monster.

At Flanaghan's Pier, a prime nightspot, barkeep Jak Flanaghan is dubious.

"I think the whole thing started with some MILICIA troopers who had a little too much to drink one night," he says while cleaning the bar. "I mean, come on- the lake is full of military and civilian traffic, day and night. There's no way some huge creature could stay hidden that long."

But patron Cherise Pierre believes the stories are true. "Oh yeah, there's something out there all right. One night, my boyfriend Peter and I were out on the lake, and we saw this huge thing, like a long neck and head just rise out of the water. It must have been just a few meters away. Then it slowly sank down again, and we got out of there fast. It was creepy."

At Marc's Boatshop, employee Doug Crichton has his own theory. "Yeah, I've head all the stories about some kind of creepy monster out there. I think it's really some kind of underwater strider design the military's testing. Those jocks just get off on scaring people."

But the crew of the Discovery believes in their mission, and they're back out on the glimmering water the next morning. Silverbridge reflects on the search while they speed out to the deepest part of the lake.

"Yeah, I know a lot of people think it's nuts to go looking for a lake monster. But they found the coelacanth on ancient Earth, right? Finding the monster would be just like finding a coelacanth, only bigger. And cooler."

Marcus Hanley is a staff writer for Terranovan View.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 12 December, 1999