More than ten hours had passed since Mike Mercury and his friends made their startling discovery in the cargo hold of the sunken vessel HMS Grade.
Supercar was now cruising silently deep beneath the waves of the mighty ocean and Mike was re-playing the event of the last half day over and over in his mind. As he pondered everything that had happened, he discreetly glanced at the impossible passenger seated quietly to his right.
Her name was Auri-Kah and she wasn’t from Mike’s neck of the woods. According to Glenn Travers and Charlie Grant, Auri-Kah was from a mysterious unknown race of people who lived beneath the sea. Professor Travers had spent much of his career theorising about the existence of such a civilisation, but had been unable to prove his theory until he and his assistant Charlie Grant had found Auri-Kah injured and alone while on a deep-sea expedition some months prior.
The discovery had been kept a secret, restricted to the absolute top-level of government, but the order had come down from the very top that Auri-Kah must be returned to her people as soon as possible and without arousing public suspicion or panic.
Auri-Kah herself had been key to informing how this should be done, confirming that her people would send a delegation to retrieve her, but that the meeting must take place in an environment in which her people would be comfortable.
The crew of the HMS Grade, all sworn to secrecy, had worked tirelessly to modify their beloved vessel to function as an undersea reception area for Auri-Kah’s people. Initial consideration had been given to the modification of an existing submersible, but no such vessel of suitable design could be found, and the need for a more permanent undersea base was desired.
When the Grade was prepared and the crew were aboard, along with Auri-Kah, Travers and Grant, the vessel set sail.
As it neared the intended coordinates, the grand pantomime was enacted. The crew, fully prepared for what was about to happen, boarded their lifeboats and abandoned ship. Next, Travers opened the sluice valves and flooded the vessel in a controlled manner so that it sank beneath the waves.
The watertight compartments held up exactly as expected and the three occupants rode their unorthodox submersible to the sea bed, where it sank gently into the mud.
And that’s when the waiting began. Auri-Kah had expected representatives from her civilisation to arrive almost immediately, but Travers and Grant felt that waiting a little while longer would be advisable.
The days became a week. The week became a fortnight. Then, as the end of the third week neared, Grant used the submersible to rendezvous with a surface ship and resupply their new underwater residence with food and other essentials.
Just as they were about to give up hope, they detected another vessel approaching and prepared for its arrival, but it turned out not to be from Auri-Kah’s home, but was in fact Supercar.
After the initial shock of their discovery, Mike and his companions had been recruited for a very special assignment – to escort Auri-Kah home in Supercar and find out what had gone wrong.
So with Auri-Kah beside him and Popkiss and Beaker seated in the rear, Mike continued to pilot Supercar on the course indicated by his uncanny navigator.
“I don’t know how you do it,” Mike commented as he peered out at the murky water, “Even with clear-vu, everything out there looks more or less the same to me. Are you sure you can find your way back home?”
Auri-Kah looked at him with something that could have been playfulness or ruefulness, it was hard to tell, “The underwater landscape is as familiar and distinct to me as the surface world is to you and the other Terraineans. We are not far from the domain of my people.”
“Okay, if you’re sure. Say, what’s that just ahead? It’s a light! And it’s getting brighter!”
Mike shut his eyes against the sudden intense glare. The light was filling the whole cabin, permeating every surface.
Then a deep voice boomed from all around him, “You have trespassed into our realm, Terraineans! Prepare to die!”
TO BE CONCLUDED…