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Created by Michael Turner.
Aspen Matthews is caught between two worlds. During her early adolescence, she could remember nothing from her early childhood. In her earliest memories she is on the cruise ship Paradise, thought to have been lost for ten years. She was adopted by Captain Matthews, a captain of the US Navy, and soon developed a passion for water, always barefoot and running to the nearest beach every day to enjoy her favorite recreation of swimming and surfing. She actively pursued this passion and joined the US Olympic Swimming Team. She trained and competed in the Olympic Games, but was later stripped of her medals as she somehow tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. This effectively ended Aspen's professional swimming career, so she instead pursued marine biology.
Fathom begins as the cruise ship Paradise arrives in San Diego 10 years after it had was reported to have disappeared. A military quarantine was established to cross examine the crew and passengers, however no one onboard knew that they had been missing. Compounding the mystery was an amnesiac girl discovered by the crew while the Paradise was still at sea. The girl could only remember that her name was Aspen. Aspen was taken from the ship by a vacationing naval officer named Captain Matthews, who adopted her and raised her as his own. Aspen has a strange attraction to water, and spent much of her youth swimming, eventually making the US Olympic team for the 1988 Seoul games. She even wins the gold, but has her medal taken away after she gives an abnormal response to a drug test. Afterwards, Aspen attended UC San Diego and received a degree in Marine Biology. She is then invited to study at a top-secret underwater science facility known as the DMD, or Deep Marine Discovery. The DMD is a joint project between the United States and Japan. The facility was built over a strange underwater craft of unknown origin, which both nations study to determine its origin. However, the Americans and Japanese no longer trust each other, and rely on an intermediary named Cannon Hawke to share research data. Aspen is also introduced to a mysterious man who somehow entered the DMD and requested to be placed into a tube filled with water. He requires no air, leading the DMD to deduce that despite his appearance, he is not human.
Meanwhile, a US Navy test pilot named Chance Calloway is testing an experimental amphibious fighter plane for Admiral Maylander, who heads Naval Intelligence. Maylander is also the man who oversaw the quarantine of the Paradise. Chance\'s wingman is suddenly killed by a craft resembling the one at the DMD. Violating orders, Chance pursues the craft, first in the air, and then underwater. Disobeying orders, he fires a torpedo at the craft, only to have it dissolve into the water before the torpedo reaches its target. Without a target, the torpedo locks onto the generator at the DMD, and destroys it, severely damaging the facility. Before she drowns, Aspen is rescued by the man in the tube, who springs to life and attempts to take her with him. He begins to dissolve into water just like the alien craft, and Aspen begins to subconsciously dissolve as well. However, Naval rescue teams arrive and the man flees. Aspen is rescued, but not before Calloway sees her in her half-dissolved form. He goes AWOL to try and find Aspen and figure out what he saw. He eventually finds Aspen, who cannot explain her abilities. Before she can find out any further, she is abducted by government personnel, and brought to Killian, the man held in the DMD. He tells Aspen that she is a member of a race of aquatic humanoids called the Blue, who possess the ability to control water.
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