Part 1

Chris frowned as he listened to the thrum of the engines and tweaked the submersible’s settings slightly, reducing the slight whine he’d heard to nothing. It was a potentially nasty harmonic, and he really wanted to avoid anything like that at their depth.

The viewscreen in front of him wasn’t a windshield, that would just be stupid down here, but it showed the broad expanse of water as though Chris was on the exterior of his vessel. The misty, murky water was illuminated by lamps, but couldn’t reveal much with as deep as they were traveling below the surface. At least Chris had good company.

“Have you been to Sanctuary many times?” Janice asked, lounging in her chair and looking half-bored. Her auburn hair was almost immaculate and she looked beautiful in the black catsuit she wore, which was similar to what she wore as the heroine Nightsinger.

“That depends on what you mean by ‘many’.” Chris replied dryly, sitting back in his chair and folding his hands behind his head. “I’ve visited… five times, I think? All of them were on supply runs like this, but I suspect that’s fairly often as far as most people are concerned. It isn’t like getting to Sanctuary is easy.”

“Duh? I can’t blame them for making it tough, considering how many retired heroes and villains are living there.” Janice replied with a sniff, shaking her head. “I just wondered, considering what you’re wearing.”

“Hmm?” Chris blinked, then looked down at himself. He was wearing a blue button-up shirt and a pair of nice black slacks, nothing too fancy and about what he typically wore around his lair or in his cover identities, so he asked, “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”

“You’re in a submarine over a thousand feet below the ocean surface, going to a mobile city where retired heroes and villains live, and you’re wearing the sort of thing you usually do for going out to dinner.” Janice said dryly. “You’re a reforming villain! I’d expect you to be wearing your suit, or at least something for this kind of depth.”

“Ah, that. Right, I suppose you might have something of a point in most cases.” Chris said, smiling and shrugging. “However, I just don’t see the point this time. Sanctuary’s authorities know exactly who I am.”

“They do?” Janice said, her eyebrows rising.

“Yup. There are a lot of rules they have about visitors, and part of it includes strict limits on bringing tech to Sanctuary, as well as taking anything out. The scans I had to go through the first time… believe me, I don’t want to go through that again.” Chris said, shuddering slightly at the memory. Pulling out his communicator, he continued. “Instead, when I visit Sanctuary, I keep a basic comm on hand and that’s it. It makes getting through security enormously easier.”

“That explains some of it, but why not something for the depth?” Janice asked, nodding in understanding.

“Honestly? We’re currently at only a thousand feet. Sanctuary often cruises at a depth in excess of five thousand feet. If we have an accident, even with my best gear the initial implosion will kill me.” Chris explained, shrugging. “It probably won’t kill you, based on what I’ve seen, but it won’t be pleasant. When things could go that catastrophically wrong… I’d rather wear something comfortable.”

“Oh, ick. I’m sorry, Chris, I didn’t even think of that.” Janice said, blanching. “Why do they even go that deep, then?”

“Because it keeps almost anyone who might be tempted to visit casually away from them. They may broadcast shows and the like, but Sanctuary has plenty of enemies, too. Not even many military vessels have the ability to go that deep easily.” Chris replied, smiling easily. “At least it makes it relatively safe to visit.”

“Maybe so. How much longer will it be until we get there, anyway?” Janice asked, frowning.

Glancing at the display, Chris shrugged. “Looks like… an hour to the coordinates I was given. We’ll be starting to dive again in a minute or two.”

“Alright, then. What’re you thinking to do there, anyway?” Janice asked, grinning as she added. “You’re the one who suggested a date in Sanctuary might be safer than in the city.”

“I was figuring to hit the shopping district, let you talk to a few people, and take you out to dinner.” Chris said, grinning. “At least you know the people will be able to relate to us!”

“A very good point.” Janice conceded, leaning back in her chair and sighing. “Any chance of getting some music?”

“Sure, just let me activate the sound dampening first.” Chris said, and flipped a few switches.

A few seconds later Janice’s favorite music from back home kicked on, a form of operatic rock. Moments after that she joined in, and Chris smiled. She really did have a lovely singing voice, but that was why he imagined she’d chosen to go by Nightsinger.

“And… there it is.” Chris murmured, glancing at Janice to watch her reaction.

“Oh my god…” Janice breathed, leaning forward in her chair as she stared at the viewscreen.

The dark water ahead of them had been brightening for several minutes, and at last Sanctuary came into view, wreathed in a halo of light that illuminated the water around the floating city.

Sanctuary was enormous, with a transparent dome nearly a half-mile across shedding light like a massive lamp. Within they could see green fields, what appeared to be sidewalks circling the perimeter, and several massive towers in the center of the dome. Below the dome was the superstructure of the city, and it was even broader than the dome, with numerous docking booms for submersibles and submarines and the primary propulsion system’s intake and exit pipes. There were even supports built to allow Sanctuary to land on the ocean floor, Chris knew, though he suspected they were only ever used on the continental shelf.

Regardless, the looming structure was the largest mobile undersea facility that Chris knew of, and it was breathtaking to watch approach.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Chris asked, grinning slightly.

“It is. I’ve seen pictures, but they don’t feel nearly the same.” Janice agreed, shaking her head in wonder.

“I agree. That being said… it looks like they’re signaling us to come in to dock.” Chris said, smiling broadly. “At least we get one of the good bays.”

“Whatever you say, Chris.” Janice said, nodding agreeably. After a moment she laughed and grinned. “You know, I think I’m looking forward to this even more, now.”

Chris laughed himself and began following the signal in, carefully following the directions being projected on his screen. He didn’t know much about Sanctuary’s defenses, but he also didn’t want to know.

Part 2