Despite their best efforts to turn the craft from its course, Commander Shore and Phones had no success.
Soon they saw a series of familiar shapes appearing from the murky depths ahead.
“Commander, looks like we’re approaching Titanica,” Phones said with a sinking feeling in his heart.
“That shark Titan’s behind this!” Shore rasped, “Well he won’t get us without a fight! Keep your gun handy, Phones.”
The Manta began its final approach and then docked gently on the mooring support. A cylindrical access tube was extended and connected with the craft’s airlock. Shore and Phones raised their weapons expectantly. After a moment’s pause, the airlock door slid open.
“Say, the boardin’ tube’s empty!” Phones exclaimed.
Shore’s eyes narrowed as he scanned the long corridor ahead and replied, “No reception committee. Well we’re not going to get anywhere in this crazy crate. Let’s move out, and watch your step.”
Guns at the ready, they moved through the airlock and into the boarding tube. It was nearly silent. The only sound was the low whine from Shore’s hoverchair. Slowly they moved further, finally approaching another door at the end of the tube.
It split open in front of them, revealing a larger chamber beyond.
Phones eyed it with suspicion, “What now?”
“Nothing for it but to keep going.”
They moved off again, heading further into the chamber. The walls were fashioned from rock and coral that had been smoothed by undersea tools until they shone with an almost pearl-like quality.
Suddenly, without the slightest warning, a set of concealed hatches built into the walls swung open and ten hulking Aquaphibian guards rushed in. Shore and Phones were quickly surrounded.
One of the creatures gurgled a harsh command, “Drop your weapons, Terraineans!”
Shore looked from one set of hideous bulging eyes to the next as he spoke, “Do what they say Phones.”
Both pistols dropped to the floor with a clatter and the nearest Aquaphibian gestured with his rifle for the two WASPs to move ahead of him.
They were led into a huge elegantly decorated chamber with enormous viewing windows covering much of the ceiling and walls. Towards the centre of the chamber, the two men saw a vast high throne. Sat atop it with a smirk of triumph on his silvery features was Titan.
“Welcome to Titanica, it is an honour to receive you!” Titan bowed his head mockingly and gave a harsh laugh.
“Cut the phoney hospitality, Titan!” Shore spat angrily, “What do you want with us?”
“Manners, Commander Shore. It is unwise to antagonise me. With a single command, I could have you sent to the lobster pits, or hauled off to suffer the death of a thousand stings.”
“Aww shucks, you really know how to make a guy feel welcome!” Phones said defiantly.
“Guard,” Titan said calmly, “Wound that one.”
With lightning speed, the Aquaphibian guard swung his rifle and caught Phones hard across his back. He gave a groan and sagged to the floor.
“Phones! Are you okay?!”
“O…kay….Sir, just….got the wind knocked outta me…”
Shore rounded on Titan furiously, “Well whatever crazy scheme you’ve got planned for us, you might as well get it over with, you old shark!”
“All in good time,” Titan drawled, “For you see, you are going to help me destroy Troy Tempest, Stingray and the World Aquanaut Security Patrol.”
“Believe it, you Terrainean fool! Even now Stingray is en route to Titanica. No doubt Tempest means to rescue you. But he will not succeed. You will both be placed aboard the Manta, which will then be piloted remotely out of the city. When you’re in range of Stingray, I will personally send the signal to fire the Manta’s torpedoes. The new weapons are being fitted even as we speak. And once Stingray, Tempest and the accursed traitorress Marina are dead, the Manta will be destroyed by a single press of this transmitter control.”
Shore spoke with unbridled fury, “Go to blazes, Titan! You may have us prisoner, but you’ll never beat Troy Tempest!”
The Commander made a grab for the gun of one of the nearby guards, but a savage blow on the temple from another Aquaphibian sent him into unconsciousness.
Titan rose to his feet and spoke in a grand voice, “Take them to their craft and secure them at the controls. This is the beginning of the end for them, for Tempest…and for Stingray!”
TO BE CONTINUED