Secrets of the Deep – Zachary Johnson ’22

Humanity came to this world long ago, driven from our home system by strife and interplanetary war. We came as a collective of geniuses, artisans, and tacticians without par. The best of humanity.

This world, pristine and untouched by intelligent hands, welcomed us eagerly. We established ourselves as a society of equals, and with it achieved scientific breakthroughs unparalleled in the Sol system. Our cities became the heirs to the philosopher-capitals of ancient Greece, and our laboratories created wonders that improved all our lives.

But for all our collective efforts, one thing always eluded us: the oceans. The oceans here covered a majority of the planet, and just like on Earth we knew less about it than we did about the system the planet resided in. We probed and prodded its depths, but we rarely found anything illuminating. The few who ventured too deep spoke of… unimaginable things. Things that could never possibly exist. We dismissed it as the ravings of minds too far gone anyways, and left the depths to their own devices.

As all glorious things begin, so too must they end. So too did our new civilization, for those we had run from returned. The wretches of humanity, twisted into the worst of our kind, came for our world. Fire rained from the sky, great archives were reduced to ash and the land was torn apart by the unrelenting hunger of a people many systems removed from us. We fought with all we had, but were no match for their brute force. They forced us into the oceans, content to contain us there while they ravaged the world. Our world.

Beneath the waves we struggled to survive; great undersea habitats were constructed but soon began to deteriorate. Hope was all but forgotten in the endless dark, so we adjusted our bodies and minds to adapt and sustain the last dredges our civilization. But it was not enough.

Until that day.


“Shit! Shit!” I cried as my seaglider sputtered and slowed, the frugal power budget now finally giving out. Panicking, I let go and frantically tried to  swim towards the dull sickly light of Habitat 3, my HUD pinging me frantically as something pursued me. I knew it was hopeless; my oxygen was already dangerously low, but I had to get back. I was Xia, the best damned biologist among my people. I couldn’t die like this!

Alas, my limbs tired and my oxygen dipped. Slowing, my body began to go limp as I panicked, trying to suck down the last bits of air I could. “Please… not like this,” I begged as unconsciousness took hold. In my last moments of consciousness I felt something wrap around me gently and drag me deeper into the dark abyss.


I burst awake, my eyes seeing nothing but blackness. Was I… dead? I moved my arms and legs, finding myself still underwater but not yet drowned. As my eyes adjusted to the absolute blackness of my surroundings I realized a faint shimmer about me. An air bubble, but with seemingly nothing keeping it together. “How…” I began, before something shifted in the black surrounding me.

“Because I have willed it so.” A deep voice crawled along my spine as a massive something moved through the water, only appearing as a black outline.

“What are you?!” I yelled, just as a red circle appeared and disappeared.

“For centuries I have watched your kind here. You… intrigue me, the way insects intrigue a giant.”

I grew angry at the voice now. “We are no insects, creature! We are the best of-” I was cut off as a sickening laugh reverberated through the water and caused me to grab my skull in pain.

“You are nothing!” It boomed out. “I was old when I came here, so long ago that life on your wretched world was not even a possibility. I am above you and your species’ petty squabbles. But…” The voice paused as many red orbs appeared around me, producing a faint light around me. “…I see opportunity in you.”

“What do you mean, creature?” I ask, terrified of the entity before me.

“Many of your kind have found me before, their bodies and minds too weak to comprehend.” A flash of light illuminated the ocean around me, revealing a massive… thing residing on the seafloor. And for the first time in my life, I was unable to comprehend what I saw. “I am the dark mysteries of your science given flesh. And your savior.”

I was too stunned to speak as tendrils of its enormous mass floated towards me. A single word came unbidden to my lips. “…magnificent.”

“I have the knowledge to grant you freedom from your doomed existence. The revenge you seek.” The voice took on a sweet tone as its words bounced within my skull and the light faded, leaving me isolated in the dark depths once more as my rationality fought against the experience of what I’d just witnessed. The battle did not last long.

“I would do anything to guarantee my people’s survival.” A wicked smile crossed my face as I reveled in what I had discovered. “And our vengeance.”

There was silence for a time. “Then I shall begin.” And pain arched through every fiber of my being, my body and mind coming undone at the very seams as they were reshaped.


That day, we found it. We call it the Deep One, and with it we became something more. Xia was the first, but many flocked to her side. As we warped and changed the oceans became not a place of mystery and fear, but a place of understanding. We mastered the secrets of the deep, and became something more.

Now, we shall return to the surface and take back what is ours. We will exact our terrible price from humanity, the species that betrayed and destroyed us. No longer our kin, but vermin to be eradicated.

Ones who did not give themselves to the secrets of the deep.