The Dark Deeps

The Dark Deeps by Arthur Slade

Book: The Dark Deeps by Arthur Slade Read Free Book Online
Authors: Arthur Slade
gawked at Colette Brunet, his mind racing. What was she doing here? She was a French agent. Was this a French submarine ship? The young woman stared boldly back at him. He hadn’t expected her to be so tall; she was at least as tall as Octavia.
    The older woman rested her hand on the hilt of her cutlass. If she drew her weapon, Modo’s best course would be to run, but where?
    “I am Captain Delfina Monturiol,” the woman said with a slight, unfamiliar accent. “What is your name?”
    “Robert Warkin. I’m a photographer.”
    “Well, Mr. Warkin, you damaged my ship!”
    He was momentarily dumbfounded. “Oh, the entrance hatch? I apologize. I—I was desperate and freezing to death.”
    “With a good deal of trouble, we were able to repair the latch.” Her hand remained poised on the cutlass. “I assumeyou were a passenger of the
Hugo
. Your vessel was trespassing.”
    “Trespassing? But these are international waters. We struck something and I was thrown from the vessel.”
    “What struck you was the spear of Icaria,” she said. “If that ship had lurked any longer in my waters, it would be at the bottom of the sea right now.”
    “Yes,” Colette said in perfect English, “our dear captain does not hesitate to kill.” Modo glanced at the French spy, puzzled by her tone, and by the fact that she spoke with no discernible accent.
    Captain Monturiol let out a sigh. “I am sorry, I should have introduced you. This is Colette Brunet, and she is, in her usual dramatic way, telling the truth. I take the defense of my country very seriously.”
    “Your country?” Modo asked. “Are you from Iceland?”
    “No. Not every country exists above the land. The world will know that this area is to be avoided. My homeland of Icaria shall be defended at any cost.”
    “The seamen on my ship were harmless,” Colette snapped.
    “They were soldiers, Miss Brunet. As I have explained before, we watched you for days and saw through your countrymen’s disguises. Then we struck as we would at any invader.” She turned to Modo. “As for this
Hugo
, it was not a military vessel, so we cut her free. Her men will now tell others not to trespass here.”
    “That’s why you rammed her?”
    “Yes, but we did not penetrate her hull below the waterline. It was only a warning.”
    For an instant Modo thought of Octavia. Had they made it to port? He couldn’t bear to think of her going down with the ship.
    At one end of the chamber, a light flickered on. Cerdà stood at a desk, filling out a chart, seemingly oblivious to the conversation. Next to the desk, the wheel of the ship was lashed in place.
    Modo gestured around him. “I’ve never seen such a vessel. What is it?”
    “It’s a submarine ship,” the captain said matter-of-factly. “Welcome to the
Ictíneo
. You were not invited, but please consider yourself our guest anyway.”
    “By guest she means prisoner,” Colette added.
    “Prisoner?”
    “I do tire of your sharp tongue, Miss Brunet,” said the captain. “My apologies, Mr. Warkin. I am afraid in her short time here she has grown impatient. Should she offend you at some time during your visit, I apologize in advance on her behalf. The French are not good at apologizing.”
    Colette opened her mouth to say something, then pursed her lips. What had she meant by that “prisoner” comment? Modo’s legs were trembling. He tried to ignore his exhaustion.
    “I—I wonder if I could be taken to Iceland,” Modo said, his voice shaky. “I would like to join my wife there.”
    “That will not be possible at the moment,” Captain Monturiol answered. “We shall discuss the length of your stay at another time.” She paused, her eyes appraising him. “Comrade Cerdà informed me that you have some sort of deformity that causes you discomfort. I assume that is whyyou wear the mask. I shall respect your wishes, but all people are welcome here, able-bodied and disfigured. In Icaria citizenship means equality for all.

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