Deep inside the World Navy base Nelson, Captain Grey and Lieutenant Green were studying the reports coming in from all points of the South Pacific.
Each one of them told the same story: Sighting Negative. The Imperial had simply disappeared.
“There have been no new sightings for nearly 48 hours.” Lieutenant Green said in a matter of fact tone.
“It doesn’t make sense…” Grey replied, “We both saw that ship sink and yet the report from the World Navy destroyer was positive. It couldn’t have been anything other than the Imperial. The question is, why did the Mysterons reconstruct it? What game are they playing?”
“The same as always; their war of nerves, trying to make us second guess ourselves.”
“I’d settle for a first guess at this point, Lieutenant. Like you said, 48 hours and not a shred of tangible evidence. if we don’t turn up something soon, the Colonel will have us recalled to Cloudbase.”
The intercom buzzed as a report came through from the tracking section.
“Possible sighting, 18:30 hours, area reference Red-420.”
“Could be our lucky day!” Green said, raising an eyebrow.
“Let’s take a look at the chart,” Grey said, “If it is the Imperial, perhaps there’s something in that area that could give us a clue to what it’s up to.”
Green punched in a code and the relevant map was automatically pulled from the filing system and deposited on the table beside them.
“Hmm, not much to look at.” Grey said, frowning.
“Open water, no islands or atolls, nothing of any kind for miles around.”
“What about shipping routes? Naval operations areas?”
Green fed the query into the computer bank. It whirred and buzzed before coming back with an answer. “It’s far off the main shipping routes. No naval exercises are scheduled in or near that area according to the computer.”
Grey sighed, “Then I guess we’re sunk.”
Green looked at him curiously, “What did you say?”
“I said we’re sunk. We might as well call up Cloudbase and report a dead end.”
“Sunk! Maybe there’s something under the surface!”
Grey eyed him skeptically, “It’s a long shot, but let’s take a look at the geological survey charts. And call up a complete record of wrecks in that area.”
“S.I.G.” Green replied, as his hands whizzed over the controls of the computerised data bank. “It’s coming through now.”
He tore off the printed sheet and placed it on the table. The two men studied it carefully.
“There doesn’t seem to be anything of geological significance. Nothing the Mysterons could be looking for.”
“Let’s check the wrecks. There’s the Fairchild, it’s about 20 miles north, but it’s a small private yacht so we can ignore it. There’s also the Titan, an old merchant vessel, about 45 miles away and lastly the Sturgeon, a submarine about 70 miles from the centre of the area. After that we start to get too far out and it’s anyone’s guess.”
Green froze, “Did you say the Sturgeon?”
“I’ve remembered something about a vessel of that name, and if I’m right we’re going to need all the help we can get!”
TO BE CONTINUED…