Stingray cut swiftly through the undersea landscape.
Inside, Troy Tempest was in contact with Marineville’s Control Tower via radio.
“That Mechanical Fish attack was a diversion, Atlanta. I’m certain of it! When we got back, the Manta was gone. It’s my hunch Titan’s got them.”
Even with the distortion on the radio signal, Troy could hear the concern in Atlanta’s reply, “What can we do, Troy?”
“Well, I know what Marina and I are going to do; We’re going after them. If we have to fight our way to Titan’s throne room, we’ll bring them back!”
“But it’ll be terribly dangerous! Wouldn’t you rather wait until I can get some other patrol craft to your location?”
“I’m sorry, Atlanta, but there just isn’t time. Every second we delay could spell trouble for the Commander and for Phones too.”
“But that means you’ll be going in alone!”
“We’ve faced bad odds before and always come through. I’ll keep in touch.”
“Please be careful Troy! And you too, Marina!”
The radio went silent.
Troy looked over at Marina as he spoke, “I know I won’t be able to talk you out of it. Guess you’ve made up your mind and feel the same way as I do?”
Marina nodded solemnly.
“Right, let’s go find them.”
But what neither of them knew was that at that very moment, the Manta was bound towards them from Titanica.
Inside, Commander Shore and Phones were bound near the control stations.
They had also been gagged before the craft departed Titanica, but once they were alone Shore hadn’t wasted a moment working his gag free.
“Phones! Are you okay?”
Phones nodded, his mouth still covered.
“Good. You know we’ve got to warn Troy somehow. But first we’ve got to get free. The edge of that console might be just the thing to cut through those ropes if you can reach it.”
Phones looked at the console that Shore indicated. He managed to swing his bound wrists onto the metal edge and then began working the rope against it.
“Keep at it, Phones!” Shore said as the moments ticked by.
Sweat beaded on Phones’ forehead with the effort.
After a time, the rope began to fray and then, finally, it snapped.
Phones tore off his gag with relief, “Phew! Okay Commander, I’ll get you untied. What do we do? We can’t radio a warning, they fixed that before we left Titanica.”
Shore rubbed his wrists and flexed his fingers as he responded, “There’s got to be a way, there’s just got to.”
He studied the electronic chart showing their position.
“If Troy’s on his way, I’d say we’ve got no more than fifteen minutes until he reaches us.”
“Then Titan will press that button on his little box of tricks and – boom!”
“We can’t allow that to happen, Phones. Say! I’ve got an idea! Open that panel there, we haven’t much time!”
Back in Stingray, Marina was listening intently to the hydrophones. She turned and motioned to Troy.
“Something out there, Marina? A craft of some kind?”
“Is it another Mechanical Fish?”
Marina listened intently and shook her head.
“Is it the Manta?”
Marina nodded again.
“Great! I’ll try contacting them.”
He flicked the transmit control on the radio.
“Stingray calling Manta. Come in Manta.”
There was no response.
Troy tried again, with the same result.
“They’re coming right for us Marina, but why don’t they answer? Something’s not right here.”
Inside Manta, Commander Shore and Phones were rapidly making final adjustments to their hastily modified electrical circuit.
“That’s it, Commander!” Phones called.
“Right, do it now, Phones! Any second we’ll be in range and Titan will launch those torpedoes by remote!”
Phones rapidly tapped out a sequence on the control console.
Back in Stingray, Troy was reading off the distance indicator, “900 yards and closing. Hey! Look! The Manta’s running lights are flashing. It’s a Morse signal. Let’s see. T…R….A….P…. Trap!”
Troy grabbed the controls and called to Marina, “Green, one-eight-zero! Step on it Marina!”
At that moment, from his throne room in Titanica, the evil Titan saw Stingray on his remote view-screen and pressed the fire control.
A torpedo flashed from the Manta’s starboard tube just as Stingray swung around, missing the WASP vessel by the narrowest margin. The wayward torpedo blazed onward and upward, before exploding on the surface of the ocean with terrific force.
“Guess the Commander and Phones are aboard and managed to warn us just in time! But if we can’t contact them, how in blazes are we supposed to find out what’s going on?”
Marina pointed at the aqua-scan screen showing the image of Manta now in pursuit. Once more the craft’s lights were flashing.
“Another message! This time it reads R…E…M…O…T…E… Remote! Remote what? Could be they’re being controlled by remote. It’d be just like Titan to try something like that! Well if that is the case, they’ll be receiving signals through the main relay amidships. Let’s see if we can’t do something about that, Marina. Standby Number One Sting. Adjust destructive force to zero point five.”
Marina readied the sting missile per Troy’s instructions as Troy swung Stingray into an attack posture, closing on the Manta.
“We’ve got to get this just right, otherwise it could be curtains for Commander Shore and Phones! Steady… Steady… Fire!”
The sting missile whooshed out of the launcher and streaked straight and true to the target on the Manta‘s dorsal surface. There was a small flash of an explosion and the craft pitched briefly downward before drifting to a halt.
“Great shooting, Marina! Now, let’s get a line on Manta and get her to the surface. I’m sure Phones and Commander Shore will have quite a story to tell!”
Back in his undersea palace, Titan smashed his fists into the carved stone and coral of his throne.
“A thousand curses on you, Troy Tempest! You and your wretched associates haven’t heard the last of Titan! Victory will yet be mine!”