Pacifica was just as beautiful as Troy Tempest remembered.
The underwater kingdom constructed from colossal shells and pearls of all shapes and colours imaginable made Marineville’s futuristic architecture seem positively dull in comparison.
Of course he wouldn’t have long to admire it, once Marina had settled in, he and Phones would be returning to base in Stingray so that the craft could undergo a long overdue refit of its booster assembly.
Troy saw Marina’s father Aphony rise at the opposite end of the banqueting table. The regal figure bowed and gestured expansively with his arms.
Troy and Phones rose and returned the gesture.
“Our thanks to you, Aphony. As always your gracious hospitality is greatly appreciated. I hope you’ll enjoy having Marina home for a few weeks.”
Aphony smiled broadly and nodded.
Troy addressed Marina, “That goes for you too, Marina. Have a swell time!”
Marina beamed at Troy and Phones and waved her hand in a gesture of acknowledgement and farewell.
The two aquanauts turned and made their way back to the airlock in which Stingray was waiting. Within the space of a few marine minutes they were departing through the giant shell that served as the entrance to Pacifica. Marina watched from the panoramic window of the banqueting chamber as Stingray’s navigation lights receded into the gloom. Then she turned back to the familiar surroundings of the palace.
How wonderful it was to be home and how she had missed it! Of course she adored her friends at Marineville and enjoyed every minute of her time with them, but there was something about returning to one’s home that would always be special.
She ran to her father and embraced him, communicating her desire to make herself at home once more. He grinned in a manner that would have been a rare sight for an outsider to see and ushered her towards the royal quarters.
To an outsider, it would not have been obvious how Marina, her father, and the people of Pacifica communicated with each other. Troy and Phones had once surmised that it was some kind of thought transmission. Troy had once asked Marina about it, but she seemed uncertain herself.
True it was not what a Terrainean would define as telepathy or thought communication, though Marina supposed there must be some element of that. But she didn’t really care how it worked, she was just glad that she could still communicate with the rest of the Pacificans in spite of the terrible Titanican curse that had prevented them from speaking aloud for so long.
Marina practically skipped down the radiant pearl-lined passage. She knew the way to her quarters by heart and could have found her way there blindfolded. She threw open the double doors and raced inside.
Yes! There it was, her old room, identical in every detail to the last time she had seen it. The spacious bed in the shape of a pair of dolphins, the floor to ceiling window looking out at the mighty ocean and every inch of the walls covered with a myriad of colourful shells and jewels of the sea.
Marina’s joy was so great she felt that she might cry and she hugged the moment to her.
The first few days back in Pacifica were some of the happiest that Marina could remember. She seemed to spend every waking moment reacquainting herself with friends and exploring the underwater city that she had once known so well. Much of it hadn’t changed, but occasionally she caught herself marvelling at some towering new structure or quaint little business that had been installed since she had last been home.
It seemed to Marina that Pacifica had become the de facto capital city of peace and a symbol of all that could be achieved with cooperation and understanding. It was something that she was sure would inspire many of the other underwater races.
But at that very moment, the future of Pacifica was hanging by the slenderest of threads.
Less than 30 marine miles away, Commander Varnim of the Abyssal Empire stood on the bridge of his underwater battle-cruiser and stared out at the murky depths.
One of his lieutenants approached him in a manner that was bordering on obsequious.
“Glorious Commander, Pacifica is less than 30 marine miles ahead. What are your orders?”
Varnim’s eyes narrowed and a slimy tongue ran around the edge of his beak-like mouth, “Prepare to attack.”
TO BE CONTINUED…