As our herpes reel at the discovery of an empty briefcase, the Deep Encounter and the Earl of Wattlesfield are heading for Wellington to offload their hungry survivors and signal the start of the investigation into the disaster. Damaged in the rescue, the Deep Encounter cannot keep pace with the container ship, so everyone on board spontaneously sings a Woodie Guthrie song as they leave her behind. It is, we learn, “a moving moment”.

The Earl of Wattlesfield arrives first, and is “met with a joyous, yet solemn, welcome. Thousands of people lined the waterfront, staring silently” – sounds more sinister than joyous if you ask me. After Clive takes a moment to remind us that the proceeding events documented the worst fire in fictional maritime history, the good folk of New Zealand immediately begin dislocating their spines in their desperation to provide succour to the needy survivors, offering food, clothing and shelter, even the suspension of immigration laws, such is their generosity – and it really is a sacrifice, since the entire population of New Zealand can’t be much more than two thousand people itself.

When the Deep Encounter arrives, though, now we feel the love. An armada of boats escort her into dock, crowds cheer, cars horn, church bells ring and confetti rains from the sky.

The crowds could easily see the scraped turquoise paint and mangles plates of the hull where she had beaten herself against the cruise ship during the incredible rescue of oh no, here it comes, wait for it, brace yourself, I hope you’re ready

nearly two thousand people.

Do you know what I wish? I wish Clive Cussler would just fucking get over it.

The crew and scientists had no idea they had become instant international celebrities and acclaimed heroes AND acclaimed heroes. They stood amazed at the resounding reception, unable to believe that it was for them, all certainly very surprised to be heroes now. They no longer looked like tired, bedraggled scientists and crew members and scientists. At seeing the welcoming armada, everyone had quickly prettied up and changed into their best clothes although to a scientist and/or crew member they were determined to remain flabbergasted at the utterly unexpected surprise shock waiting for them which they couldn’t believe or ever possibly have anticipated. Women wore dresses as is the norm, the male scientists slacks and sport coats, the crew in NUMA uniforms or “numaforms”.

Pitt® left the glory to Burch and the others. ARGH.

If I had a septic boil on the tip of my cock, I’d find it less annoying than Dirk Pitt®.

When they are finally docked a few significant events take place, the foremost being the departure of Kelly to return to her brownstone home in New York, where her tabby cat “Zippy” and a basset hound which answers, I kid you not, to “Shagnasty” will presumably be waiting for her. Pitt® doesn’t even bat an eyelid at that one, so she gives him her phone number.

“I’ll miss you, Kelly Egan.”

She looked into those incredible eyes and saw he was serious. SLEEEEEEEEEP! The blood suddenly rushed to Kelly’s face and she felt her knees weaken. She clutched at the railing, wondering what was coming over her It would be Dirk Pitt*, if he ever made his damn move. Stunned at losing control, she stood on her toes, abruptly circled her arms around Pitt®‘s head, pulled him down and kissed him long and hard. Her eyes were closed, but his widened in pleasurable surprise. Go, go, go, go, now, yes, do it, do it!

When she pulled back, she willed herself into a state of feminine composure, fighting the urge to squat on the deck and diddle her whimsy. “Thank you, Dirk Pitt®, for saving my life, and much, much more.” I think she means “sandwiches” here. Seems a bit heavy. She took a few steps and then turned. “My father’s leather case.”

“Yes,” he answered, unsure of her meaning. My God, he thought, am I suffering from aphasia? Maybe I have a brain lesion!

“It’s yours.”

“Backstroke ermine leftwise auger,” he replied, with grateful eroticism.

And then, she walked down the gangplank and out of his life. For now. I don’t know, but this prissiness on Pitt®‘s part is making me anxious for a vigorous banging to take place. If someone doesn’t trouser off and get down to action soon I’m just going to have to get increasingly offensive in my commentary until they do. Consider that a warning.

So, what is a jolly jack tar to do when he’s nobly avoiding universal acclaim and reward sex? Pitt® is debriefed, if you’ll pardon the phrase, over the phone by his boss, Admiral Sandecker. The two men trade gruff, manly quips while Sandecker chomps on his massive “personalised” cigar… read into that what you will …before the admiral informs him that the Deep Encounter will be heading right back out to the site of the Emerald Dolphin‘s watery grave to conduct the investigation into the mysterious sinking themselves. He says he is even sending someone who does have experience with marine disasters and deep submersion vessels, though it’s news to me that Dirk Pitt® doesn’t. Regardless, the end of the chapter is worth examining.

“Anybody I know?” asked Pitt®.

“You should,” said Sandecker cagily. “He’s your assistant special projects director.”

“Al Giordino!” Pitt® exclaimed happily … “You couldn’t have sent a better man.”

“Sandecker relished toying with Pitt®. “Yes, he said slyly. “I thought you’d think so.”

Something in this exchange leads me to wonder, why the sly caginess on the part of this admiral? He seems to like Pitt®, he seems to be sending him help in a welcome and capable form. Why then, the toying undertone? Perhaps there is more to this, “Al Giordino”, to this working relationship than meets the eye… I’ll be watching. Closely.