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Up from the DeEP

by Vaughn A. Jackson


Copyright 2021 by Vaughn A. Jackson


To my parents, who to this day can’t agree on who introduced me to Godzilla

Thanks for showing me the power of the SKREEONK

Chapter 1

“There she is,” Raymond gestured at the monstrous iron structure on the horizon. He blew a stream of smoke from beneath his wide brimmed hat. “Gaia Station.”

“Is that it?” Ishii asked, acting unimpressed. His once impeccable black suit clung too tightly to his skinny form. The moisture from the sea air glistened on the material, having already soaked it through.

Ishii clenched and unclenched his fists as he shifted in his seat. On his right, a bald man in sunglasses snored loudly. To his left, a young woman with blue hair and a tattoo that snaked up her calf, and presumably continued beneath her skirt, fiddled on her phone. She looked up and gazed absent-mindedly into the water.

“Is that it?” Raymond forced a chuckle. “My friend, that is the single most advanced oil drilling platform your money could buy. And it was a lot of money, am I right?”

“Yes. It was.” Ishii grimaced, and loosened his tie. He clutched, white-knuckled, at the briefcase in his lap. “How long until we arrive?”

Raymond cocked his head back and glanced at the rig. “It’ll be a bit. Just relax.”

“The water makes me nervous.” Ishii checked his watch.

“You should not fear the water,” Raymond whispered in a menacing voice. “Fear what lurks below the surface.”

“I don’t appreciate your tone, Captain. Don’t forget who we are.”

Raymond didn’t look up. He rested his chin on his hand and pretended to be deep in thought. “The Mob? No. Triads? Eh, oh, the Yakuza, right. You all threaten the same way and pay the same way. It doesn’t matter to me. You’ll get what you want, and I will return to the sea a richer man.” He looked up and grinned wildly at Ishii.

Ishii looked to his companions for backup but deflated when he saw their disinterest. The bald man continued snoring, and the woman gave a disinterested shrug and continued to fiddle with her phone.

“He’s right,” she said without looking away from the screen. “With this we’ll dominate the oil market. He will only walk away with that.” She jerked a thumb at the briefcase in Ishii’s lap.

“Let’s just say, I’m not one for long games.” Raymond scratched at his greying beard. He smirked at the woman. “What’s your name, ma’am?”

“Not interested,” she said with a scowl.

“I am not familiar with that name. Japanese I suppose?”

She rolled her eyes and looked away.

Raymond turned to Ishii and said, “You might want to watch her, I think she’s falling for me.” He adjusted the wheel to ensure the boat stayed on course.

Ishii gave a nervous laugh and wiped a shine of sweat and sea spray from his forehead. A wave crashed against the side of the boat, and he jumped, fumbling with the briefcase before settling back into his seat, paler than before.

Raymond’s face darkened and took on a serious expression. “Mr. Ishii, I understand that you don’t like the ocean, but let me tell you...most of the worst accidents at sea have been caused by a nervous man acting in his own self-interest. Do you understand?”

Ishii swallowed hard and nodded.


The motorized boat carried them closer to the towering oil rig. Raymond’s experience as a sailor made it easy enough to keep up the appearance of a sea captain, but the sun beat down without mercy. It was hot despite the coolness of the ocean spray.

“Wake up, my friend,” Raymond said, shaking Ishii awake. “We’re here.”

Ishii’s eyes widened. “But you said—”

“That it would be a bit, and it was. A little bit.” Raymond flashed a wolf-like smile.

Ishii scowled. “Captain, I—”

“Here we are,” Raymond said, reaching up to grab hold of a hanging ladder. “Ladies and landlubbers first,” he extended a hand to the blue-haired woman. “Ms. Not Interested?” He motioned up the ladder.

“Bae Ling Zhang.” She frowned. “If only so you’ll never make that ridiculous joke again.”

“Works every time.” He made a sweeping motion with his arm. “After you, Ms. Zhang.”

She looked at the ladder and cursed in Chinese. “Remind me again why we didn’t take a helicopter?”

“Too conspicuous,” a deep voice answered. The bald man had stirred from his sleep and levelled a pair of dark sunglasses on Raymond. “No government would suspect a rusty old fishing boat.”

“She may be rusty, Mister…?” Raymond raised an eyebrow.

“You talk too much,” the bald man said, moving Bae Ling to the side and beginning up the ladder himself. He pulled himself up by reaching for every third rung, and quickly made the ascent.

“And it seems you lack common manners,” Raymond grumbled. “Ladies next then.”

Bae Ling began to climb the ladder and Ishii followed after. Raymond put a hand on the man’s chest.

“What are you—”

“Pretty lady wearing a skirt and you want to climb up right behind her?” He raised an eyebrow. “I don’t think so. We’ll wait until she is up and then you climb.”

Ishii fidgeted with his tie some more. He kept casting nervous glances at the water and gasping every time the boat rocked on the crest of a wave.

Bae Ling Zhang made it to the top a few minutes later. Raymond watched Ishii go up next and followed when the trembling man was halfway up the ladder.

Raymond pulled himself up the last rung of the ladder and stepped onto the platform. He brushed off his ragged wool coat and straightened his hat. Ishii rested his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. The bald man scanned the area with sunglass-shaded eyes, while Bae Ling leaned against a wall with her arms folded across her chest.

“Is the crew all here?” the bald man asked.

Raymond turned to Ishii. “Yes, Mr. Ishii. But since this is meant to be covert, it’s just a small staff. Skeleton crew. In the control room.”

The bald man frowned, but he said nothing. Ishii looked

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