This story first appeared in Issue 14 of the SIG! Fanzine, Autumn 1985, published Brendan J Sheehan and David W Nightingale, in UK. Text and pictures taken from the fanzine. Story by Ann Bennett and drawings by Steve Kyte.
This story is posted without the author's or the artist's permission - with due acknowledgment - hoping to attract their attention. If you wish it to be removed, please contact the webmaster without any delay.
Phones Sheridan rang the bell to Marina's apartment and waited for her to open the door. He was escorting her to Commander Shore's birthday party and they were already late. Marina let him in, then returned to her dressing table to put away a book, carefully hiding it in a drawer under some clothes before picking up her wrap and taking his arm.
It was crowded in the Shore's apartment, and Atlanta had cornered Marina at the buffet table, which gave Phones an opportunity to talk to Troy Tempest.
"You know, Troy," he confided in a hushed voice, "I reckon that Marina's keeping a diary."
"What makes you think that, Phones?"
"Well, when I called for her just now, she hid this small book away like it was something private."
Troy arched his eyebrow. "I think that we should investigate this, Phones. We have to know what she's writing in that diary. Marineviile is a top secret base, after all."
"Yeah, and you're a top secret Captain as well," Phones muttered under his breath.
"What was that, Phones?"
"Er...nothing, Troy. when d'you think the best time would be to check?"
"Well, the girls are busy now. I don't think they'd miss us if we skipped away for a few minutes."
"Won't we need a key, Troy? I mean, we don't want to break in..."
"I've already got one," Troy cut in, "let's go!"
It didn't take them long to unearth the book. "It's definitely a diary," Phones observed. Troy snatched it from him and flicked through a few pages, then handed it back to Phones. "It's written in some sort of hieroglyphic."
"Probably her native writing, Troy. we might have known she wouldn't write like normal people. I guess the panic’s over." He patted his Captain on the back, and received a stony glare.
"what if this diary fell into the wrong hands? Maybe Titan or one of our other enemies can read this scrawl! She may have written things in there that could be used against Marineville!"
"Yeah, or that Atlanta could use against you," mumbled Phones.
"And I wish you would speak up if you've got something to say," Troy scowled.
"Sorry, Skipper. Let's get out of here and think what to do, shall we?"
Unknown to them, Surface Agent X20 had bugged Marina's quarters while posing as a vacuum cleaner salesman, and was at that moment relaying the valuable information by Videophone to Titan, ruler of the undersea city of Titanica.
"I want that diary, X20," Titan snarled. "I want that diary or I'll have your eyes skewered out by a swordfish."
"Yes, yes, Oh Mighty Titan..."
The screen went blank and the green-skinned inhabitant of the mysterious house on the island of Lemoy retired to his make-up room to think of a disguise that would get him into Marineville, and his hands on the diary.
Next day, a bleary-eyed crew shot down the injection tubes into Stingray. Within minutes they were through the ocean door and on their way to patrol the area surrounding Pacifica, Marina's home. It was quiet as usual; Phones switched over to automatic bosun and sat back enjoying the coffee Marina had made him, whilst Troy finished shaving. The two men talked of the party, and Marina listened, nodding at the appropriate times. The patrol was uneventful, and the peace of the day was not interrupted until evening, on their return to Marineville.
They arrived in the control tower to the ringing of alarm bells.
"There's been an intruder," Commander Shore informed them, "in the living quarters. One of the security guards saw what looked like a cat burglar; you know the sort of thing - dressed in black with a pair of tights over his head..."
"A pair of tights!" Atlanta broke in.
"Well, that's what the guard said. There was a leg hanging down his back."
"And he was all in black...?" Phones repeated.
"Yes. Burglars dress in dark colours so that they blend in with the night, Lieutenant."
"But it happened in broad daylight, Father," Atlanta pointed out.
"Well, maybe he was an Irish cat burglar! Now get to your apartments and see that nothing's missing!"
It was Marina who had been burgled; she ran from her room looking distressed. "What is it, Marina?" Phones asked her. "Has something of yours been taken?"
She nodded. "Is it jewelry?"
She shook her head. As Phones continued with his suggestions, Troy interrupted impatiently, "Is it a book?"
Marina nodded frantically and grasped his arm. "A private book you write in?"
She looked puzzled, but nodded again. "Her diary, it's her diary!" he said to Phones.
"But who would want to take her diary? I mean, who else knows about it?"
Marina looked indignant. How had they found out about her secret?
"Marina...“ Troy started to ask her who she thought the culprit was.
"Could be an enemy of Marineville..." Phones broke in.
"Titan!" Both Troy's eyebrows shot upwards.
"Could be someone else...we've got lots of enemies, you know..."
"I'll bet it's Titan. He'd do anything to destroy us..."
"Yeah, and think of all that evidence he's got against you!"
Troy's jaw dropped. Marina spun round on her webbed feet and slammed the door on them. Phones smirked.
"Well, are we going to get Stingray launched and retrieve that diary before Titan invades, or do I have to save the world alone?" snapped Troy.
X20 knelt before Titan and presented the diary to him. The undersea tyrant's eyes glowed green with pleasure.
"At last we have the secrets of Marineville! We can destroy it, AND Troy Tempest, and I can have Stingray as my royal yacht!"
He opened the book, scanned a page, then hurled it at X20. "Read it to me!"
X20 studied it for a few minutes, then protested, "But, mighty Titan, I cannot read this. It is written in a foreign hand..."
"Fool! We must know what it says! Can you do nothing right? Guards, take him away!"
"But, mighty Titan," X20 pointed out as the two Aquaphibians hoisted him off his feet and began carrying him off, "what if you send a message to Marineville saying that we have the diary? How are they to know we cannot translate it?"
"Drop him!" Titan ordered, and the slimy agent hit the floor with a thud. "I want two volunteers to take a mechanical fish to Marineville to deliver the message in a missile..."
The two guards who had deposited X20 in an untidy heap tried to look unobtrusive.
"You two!" The fishy finger of Titan pointed at them. "You will take the mechanical fish and a missile launcher and fire a missile into the ground outside Marineville."
They looked at each other and gurgled. "And you, X20, will write out the message - not now!" He had pulled a pencil from his skirts and was making notes. "On the way!"
"But it will be a suicide mission, oh migh..."
"Shut up, you fool. Don't you want to die for your glorious ruler?"
X20 opened his mouth to reply, but thought better of it. The three doomed figures shuffled slowly out from Titan's presence.
"Er, just how do we get in there, Troy?"
They sat staring at Titanica, Stingray resting quietly on the ocean floor, while they tried to think of a plan.
"Look, Phones!" They're launching a mechanical fish and it's heading for Marineville!"
"How d'you know that, Captain?"
"They usually go that way to Marineville, Phones."
"Which means we should be able to get through that tunnel and into Titanica undetected. How many henchmen has Titan got?"
"Two, I think."
"Right. And it takes two of them to man a mechanical fish. which means he's in there unguarded."
"What if there's more than two of them?"
"Have you ever seen more than two of any undersea race we've encountered?"
"Come to think of it, Skipper, no. And what's more, they're both usually male."
"Except for Marina."
"Yeah... no wonder Titan didn't want to let her go."
Troy's eyebrows met in the middle.
"Let's go, Phones."
"Unidentified craft approaching Marineville," Lieutenant Fisher reported.
"And Troy Tempest is still missing," snapped Commander Shore in exasperation. "Are you sure you haven't seen him, Atlanta?"
"No, Father, I haven't seen him."
"Maybe you could check with Marina in case she knows where he is," Fisher suggested.
Atlanta scowled. "What good would that be? She's dumb."
"There's no need to get personal, Atlanta."
She turned her back on them and stared out of the window, tears burning in her eyes. She had always been jealous of Marina, out there on patrol with Troy whilst she had to wait in Control Tower.
"About that unidentified craft, Lieutenant..." Shore began.
"It's a mechanical fish, Father," she broke in, "and it's about to fire a missile at us - and what's more I don't care if it blows Marineville into hundreds of tiny pieces!"
Commander Shore zoomed across to the window as Atlanta ran from the Control Room, crying. He was just in time to see the missile land. It propelled itself halfway into the tarmac of the Marineville car park, and a flap in the protruding half swung open.
The Terror Fish was gone by the time the message was retrieved by a security guard. He brought it to the Commander, who perused the scrawled message.
"It would seem," he eventually said, "that Marina has been writing a diary and Titan is in possession of it."
"You mean she might have written down vital classified information, Commander?"
"It says the book contains very secret information and that unless we surrender we're all 'dead Terraineans!"
"But if we surrender, won't Titan still kill us?"
"There's no question of surrender, Lieutenant. Sound battle stations!"
Atlanta came back into the Control Room then, and immediately asked if there was any news of Troy. She looked intrigued when she heard about the diary. "So you see," her Father explained, "Titan now has all the information he needs to break into Marineville and destroy our defence systems. We're virtually helpless, but we‘ll go down fighting .... "
"Father," Atlanta interrupted before he could launch into a long and boring speech about the loyalty of every man and woman in the WASPS, "surely Marina doesn't know all those things...?"
"Then how could Titan possibly...?" Commander Shore looked decidedly puzzled.
Troy and Phones strolled casually into the palace of Titanica - all seemed deserted. There were two mugs of cold seaweed tea in what appeared to be the kitchen.
"Something tells me they left in a hurry," Troy commented.
In the Grand Hall, Titan sat resplendent on his throne, watching Titanica's own cable television station, Teufelvision, thoroughly engrossed in an episode of "Voyage to the Surface of the Land."
"Marina's diary, Titan!" Troy pointed his gun at the ruler, who spun round on his throne.
"That was quick," he said, "but why the gun? Didn't X20's message tell you to surrender?"
"Message? We got no message, Troy," Phones whispered.
"Do you really think we'd give in to a nasty piece of work like you?" Troy motioned with the gun and held out his hand to take the book. Just then, Marina walked in. Her semi-fish intuition had told her it was her former master who had stolen her diary. She glared stonily at all three, and snatched the book from Titan's grasp.
"Er, Marina..." Phones faltered, "you didn't write anything you shouldn‘t have, did you?"
She looked blankly at him, and Troy.
"About Stingray and Marineville...?" Troy questioned.
She shook her head.
He looked relieved. "You see, we couldn't read what you wrote, so your secrets are safe from us; but can Titan read your language?"
Titan's face was a picture as Marina shook her head and smiled.