Day 289: Interloper!

An unprecedented incident: an interloper has landed upon Secret Sea-Base Beta!

It happened deep in the night. The wind had been strong all day, and the swell was high. There was no passing shipping on the radar. Voltan was alone with Zane in darkness. Zane was cowering beneath a table in the main quarters, whimpering with every gust that lashed the outer cladding, so Voltan had retreated to the lower observation deck to be alone.

Voltan had been musing for some time on how best to bring low various regimes throughout the middle east when a small boat appeared and, with a swift inevitability, foundered against Super Secret Sea-Base Beta's northern leg. The craft was soon driftwood, but among its remains Voltan saw a dark shape, immobile, hanging it seemed from a hawser that Zane had neglected to detach after the Sea-Base was towed into position.

This vexed Voltan.

There is a speaking tube connecting the lower observation deck to the main quarters, and it was into this that Voltan bellowed: 'Zane! Get down here at once!'

There was a delay while, above, Zane fumbled with the tube. He then mumbled something akin to 'yessirmistervoltansir' and, guessing from the sounds following, failed properly to replace it in its holder and left it swinging. He soon appeared on the lower deck.

'Detach that hawser. Gather the driftwood. Deal with the interloper. I shall await you in the radar room.'

With that Voltan retired to investigate whether there was a larger craft nearby from which the boat may have come. Maintaining the secrecy of Super Secret Sea-Base Beta was at the forefront of Voltan's mind. However Voltan could find no such vessel on the radar screen.

It was not long before Zane reappeared, dripping wet and with a strand of seaweed lodged behind one ear. The hawser had been detached and coiled in the store room, he reported. And the driftwood had been placed by the furnace to dry. Voltan was about to commend Zane upon a job well done (for once) but then came the news that instead of stepping on the interloper's head and sending another down to Davey Jones's locker, the idiot goon had helped her aboard and given her cocoa!


'Yessir,' said Zane. And Voltan noted with distaste the grin that spread about his face. The poor fool had fallen in love already. It was ever thus with Zane and women.

Voltan has dismissed Zane for the remainder of the night, and visited the interloper in her makeshift quarters: a mess of cardboard boxes and blankets in the dusty space between the galley and the sump room. Voltan has interrogated her briefly, but she is too exhausted to talk much.

The interloper is a young girl—about 21 years of age—lone and bedraggled. She claims to have hired the boat for a pleasure tour in one of the nearest harbours and then drifted out to sea when its owner had suffered a heart attack and fallen overboard, taking the motor with him. Her name, apparently, is Bibi Billingbrox.

Voltan fears this is the beginning of something long and most vexing.

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