“Marineville calling Pacifica, have received your message – please stand by!”
Marina’s eyes lit up at the sound of her friend Atlanta’s voice. She was glad that Atlanta’s tone betrayed none of the growing worry that Marina was sure she must be feeling. Quickly, Marina typed an affirmative response onto the coral communication system.
Without warning, the clam-shell door of the room opened and the communications officer stood gaping when he spotted Marina at the console.
Not waiting to provide an explanation for her presence, she bolted from the room and made for the submersible bay as quickly as she dared.
Like all Pacificans, Marina was able to live and breathe in the ocean, but some situations still necessitated the use of undersea craft. This was one such occasion.
Most of the defensive fleet had been deployed to combat the aquatic battle-cruiser that was still pressing the attack against Pacifica’s inner perimeter, but in the shadows at the end of the bay, Marina saw three additional craft standing by for launch.
She ran towards them and saw that two of the craft were already occupied by her father’s guards. Not missing a beat, she vaulted up and into the third craft and before the guards could stop her, she had sealed the hatch and submerged into the launch tunnel.
In seconds she was seaborne and swung around to take in her first sight of the calamity that continued to unfold. Many of the structures on the outer perimeter of the city had collapsed, others were leaning at crazy angles, looking as if they could topple to the sea floor at any moment.
Marina’s keen eyes searched the murky depths of the ocean for a sign of the intruder. Then she saw it, the malevolent dark shape rising from behind an explosion like some sinister denizen of the deep.
As Marina watched, three Pacifican attack clams raced towards the cruisers, firing a barrage of sonic pulses against. But the pulses, so effective against weaker foes, bounced harmlessly off the hull.
The Pacifican craft drew nearer still, swarming around Varnim’s vessel and continuing their attack.
Suddenly, a jet of bubbles streamed from the cruiser’s bow and an aqua-sting missile arced through the water and struck one of the attack clams, blowing it to smithereens with a blinding violet flash.
Then the cruiser turned, seeking another victim. The two surviving craft peeled off, moving to the rear of the cruiser to re-group and try again. Unfortunately, that left Marina’s craft alone in the cruiser’s sights.
Marina pushed the control lever forward, diving towards the ocean floor just as another enemy missile streaked overhead. She pitched up, aiming the sonic pulse cannons at the underbelly of Varnim’s ship. Her thumb depressed the firing control and she held it down, blasting the cruiser with wave after wave of powerful sonic disruption.
But just as before there was little to no effect.
Above her, Marina saw a hatch open on the base of the enemy vessel and a pair of cylindrical objects began to spiral down towards her submersible.
Instinctively, she threw the craft into a hard starboard turn, squeezing between a narrow rock trench on the seabed.
The depth charges exploded somewhere to stern and her small craft was rocked mercilessly, smashing off the rock walls and getting jammed between them as the blasts subsided.
Dazedly, Marina saw the cruiser turn again, ignoring the other Pacifican vessels that continued their ineffectual attack. The aqua-sting launcher was swivelling around to line up another shot. It would be a last shot, for Marina knew that even if she could escape her wrecked craft, the shock-wave from the explosion would be fatal regardless.
Then, she saw another shape emerging from the darkness behind the cruiser.
For a moment her heart leapt as she thought that help had arrived. But the hope died before it could fully take hold. As the new vessel became fully visible, Marina shuddered. She would have recognised that ugly shape anywhere.
A Titanican Mechanical Fish.
So Titan had joined forces with Varnim. The thought of the untold destruction the two warlords could unleash was more than Marina could bear.
The cruiser stopped its rotation. The missile tube was pointed dead at Marina’s craft. Even now she could see the jaws of the Mechanical Fish open to reveal more missiles.
If by some miracle one enemy missed her, the other would not. She was finished.
The Mechanical Fish fired.
But not at Marina! The Titan missiles streaked through the ocean and slammed into the side of Varnim’s cruiser with a pair of dazzling crimson explosions.
The damaged cruiser sagged in the middle like a soggy paper boat and began to fall towards the ocean floor.
Disbelievingly, Marina watched as the Mechanical Fish’s hatch opened and a figure swam out towards her.
As he approached the canopy of her craft, Marina recognised the figure – it was Troy Tempest!
Marina was so overwhelmed with joy and relief that it took an incredible effort not to shed a few tears.
Troy helped her free the jammed canopy hatch and gestured back towards the city. Marina nodded and together they began to swim.
Later, in the throne room, Troy finished relating his tale, “And that’s when we remembered we still had that captured Mechanical Fish in the investigation pen. Phones and I launched on the double and I reckon we got here just in time.” He looked around the room at the debris strewn here and there and then added, “I’m just sorry we couldn’t have been here before the trouble started. But the WASP will send repair crews to help you get the place back into shape, Aphony. I understand that there were no casualties and only a few serious injuries.”
Aphony nodded, his expression thoughtful, then he gestured to Marina and smiled.
Troy smiled too, “I think I know what you’re trying to say, Sir. Without Marina’s distress call, the whole thing might have ended differently. Guess we’re all real lucky that she was here!”