The huge icy elevator platform continued to lower. Scott and Brains looked upwards at the receding rectangle of sky above them. Slowly, a solid cover began to close across the opening and the daylight was cut out.
Then, at last the platform began to slow. The two men exchanged a glance in the glow of the electric lights lining the elevator shaft. Scott drew his sidearm and clicked into place the yellow barrel loaded with powerful knockout darts that would instantly render a human being unconscious for several hours. Brains drew his own weapon and did likewise.
With a hiss of hydraulics, the platform finally stopped. A door at one side slid open to reveal a tunnel, as wide as the elevator platform itself. There was no movement and only a distant rumbling sound reached their ears from somewhere along its length.
With a last look back at Thunderbird 2, Scott motioned Brains to follow him and the two men began to make their way cautiously along the tunnel. It was fashioned from steel, or something very like steel, and there were large doors set at intervals along the side walls. Some of the doors looked large enough to allow even a craft as large as Thunderbird 2 inside. Others were access doors for people to use, albeit taller than standard doors.
Abruptly, the tunnel ended in a wall with a set of double doors set into it. A device that might have been some kind of electronic eye peered down at them. Then a shrill voice echoed from a hidden speaker. It demanded that they drop their weapons and raise their hands.
Scott replied that he and Brains were members of International Rescue looking for one of their own and requested the speaker identify themselves. The voice spoke again, more harshly, telling them to drop their weapons immediately. Grudgingly, Scott decided to play along and lowered his gun. It clattered to the floor and was followed by Brains’.
The doors parted and the voice beckoned them forward. As they proceeded, the steel walls of the large corridor gave way into a smaller corridor with passageways running off at all angles. The doorways reminded Scott of the kind found on submarines and battleships. Perhaps to prevent flooding if the structure sprung a leak? He posed the question to Brains in a hushed tone. The scientist remarked that it was very possible.
But was it a structure or a vessel of some kind? It was true that many of the underwater civilizations encountered by the World Aquanaut Security Patrol had built incredible underwater craft, but nothing as gigantic as this. For Scott’s money, it was a structure, perhaps constructed on some permanent ice reef far below the surface. Only the lift platform reached to the surface world and, at present, it appeared to be the only means of entry or escape.
The voice broke over the speakers again, and the pattern of lights flickered as they were ordered to halt in front of a rather grand looking doorway. A high-toned sound rang out and the doors swung inward to reveal a huge spherical chamber. It must have been at least two hundred feet in diameter by Scott’s reckoning and the walls were made of a translucent material that radiated light into the chamber, but allowed those inside to see the swirling, freezing depths of the Arctic Ocean outside.
In the centre of the room, a high throne sat atop a raised dais. Upon it, sat an unsettling figure. Scott and Brains stared in astonishment. The creature, for it was most certainly not human, was over eight feet in height and had a body that sparkled like diamonds. It wore a crystal crown of deep azure and a robe that matched. In one hand, it held a deadly trident and with the other, it beckoned them forward. As Scott and Brains reached the foot of the dais, the creature spoke in a booming inhuman voice, “Bring him in!”
The doors of the chamber opened again and two more of the creatures appeared, frogmarching a manacled figure between them, a figure in a blue uniform with a yellow sash. Scott’s heart leapt and his face grew tight as he saw the gash on Virgil’s head. When the creatures thrust his brother roughly forward, Scott’s hands balled into fists, but before he could even ask Virgil if he was alright the leader spoke again.
“Now that you are all assembled, we can begin.”
[TO BE CONTINUED]