The team is summoned to the briefing room at 8:30am. Ichthus looks like he stayed up too late doing some research, but Priest looks good as new. Raven still looks like she’s got a lot on her mind. The agents notice that Greensleeves is absent from the room.
Professor Corrigan starts off the briefing by talking about the situation regarding Vladimir Andronikov. She states that they are still working on determining his current location, and that, as soon as they do, they will act on it. In the meantime, the Navy has asked for the Bureau’s help with a derelict ship. A man in a US Navy uniform appears on the screen and Professor Corrigan identifies him as Admiral David Jones, and turns the briefing over to him.
Admiral Jones flashes a photo of a large research vessel on the screen. He identifies it as the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer. He explains that, despite the NOAA markings, the ship is actually a US Navy vessel conducting classified research. He won’t reveal what the ship has been doing, but he informs the team that the ship has essentially disappeared. They have been unable to contact the crew, and the ship has disappeared from radar, which more than likely means its transponder has been shut off or destroyed. Underwater microphones have not picked up the sound of a ship hitting the bottom, so they do not believe it has been sunk. The Navy is unwilling to send a Navy or NCIS team to the ship due to the classified nature of the ship’s mission. All things considered, the BPRD appears to be the best choice to get aboard the ship and find out what happened.
The team is equipped and underway almost immediately. They are flown to a New England naval base where they board an SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. Here they meet their US Navy “liaison,” Chief Petty Officer Hitchens, the helicopter’s payload specialist who has been pressed into last minute service as the team’s guide to Navy ships.
It is past sunset before they finally find the ship. Raven, Ichthus, Priest, and Hitchens are deposited on the foredeck with the team’s equipment, and the helicopter departs for land.
With the chopper’s landing lights and downwash now fading into the distance, they notice that the ship is completely silent and in near total darkness. Using flashlights they quickly set up their equipment in the ship’s radio room, just aft of the bridge. So far, they have seen no sign of life, but Hitchens thinks he sees light shining out of a porthole belowdecks, and for a moment is almost certain he sees a passing shadow. This will turn out to be the first of many unsettling events.
The team leaves Hitchens and Gorgeous (Ichthus’ dog) to watch the equipment while they go investigate the light belowdecks. Priest plants wireless CCTV cameras as he goes, but the deeper they go, the more they lose their radio signal, until they are eventually unable to make contact with Hitchens.
They find the source of the light, a crew lounge, but it is empty. The team quickly discovers that they are not alone on the ship, as lights and water taps turn themselves on and off, and some of them even hear voices.
They hear barking from upstairs, and quickly run up to find Gorgeous alone and backed into a corner, terrified. There is no sign of Hitchens. Priest reviews tape to find the cameras belowdecks are showing nothing but static. At the precise time when they heard barking, the tape from the camera showing the outside of the radio room shows a growing darkness, and then goes out completely. Out of the corner of his eye, Priest sees the picture come back on from the camera showing the outside of the crew lounge, and he sees Hitchens pass by the camera. Only seconds later, Hitchens returns to the radio room, claiming he had only been in the restroom. He denies that anything strange happened, or that anything or anyone entered the radio room before he left. Priest asks him what he was doing by the crew lounge, and Hitchens denies going anywhere near it. Priest attempts to show him the video of him walking past the crew lounge seconds before, but the recording shows only static.
To be continued…