The flight to Dr. Feuillée’s ship was beautiful. The sky behind them was black, but the sky in front of them was appropriately a lovely French blue. Below them the white of ice and grey of shadow was unbroken as they left the edge of the continent and soared above the frozen ocean. They were more than 150 miles from land before the ice shelf broke into thousands of floating icebergs of all shapes and sizes.
There wasn’t much talking along the way. The pilot spoke only French, and though Christopher remembered more of the language than Astrid did, it wasn’t really enough to carry on a conversation. Between the youths from Maxxim City, there was little need to talk, though they did point out groups of penguins and seals resting on some of the flatter surfaces below.
At last the helicopter circled around and Astrid saw Dr. Feuillée’s ship. It was as gleaming white as the Eurocopter or any of the icebergs between which it rested. On the aft deck was a round landing pad with a large black cross on it. The pilot landed at the exact center of the pad. Astrid had to give him credit, when she stepped out and realized just how much the ship was moving while he set down. It rocked end on end a bit, but much more from side to side.
“Astrid! Christopher!” called Dr. Feuillée, running up to them. “Welcome to Amphitrite. I’m so glad you’re here.”
“Thanks, Dr. Feuillée. We’re glad to finally be here.”
A pair of ship’s crew gathered the luggage from the aircraft and carried it toward the closest hatch. The French oceanographer led the two teens along behind them.
“I’ll show you to your cabins. You might want to take a nap.”
“I’m not tired,” said Astrid. “But I wouldn’t mind freshening up.”
The cabins were very tiny, only about four feet wide and eight feet long— barely big enough to fit a small bed and their luggage. However, each had its own connecting bathroom, with a toilet, tiny sink, and a very tiny shower stall. Astrid had just come out of her bathroom when there was a knock on her cabin door. When she opened it, a body shot in and grasped her around the neck.
“Astrid! Vous êtes ici!”
“Océane. I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“I am had to coming for…l’école.”
“You had to come for school? Isn’t school out now in France?”
Océane just stared at her with frustration written on her brow.
“Never mind,” said Astrid, giving the French girl a hug.
Océane was Dr. Feuillée’s fourteen-year-old daughter. She and Astrid had met several weeks earlier in Hawaii when Astrid was constructing her undersea dome. She was about an inch taller than Astrid and almost as thin as Denise. Her pleasant face was framed in short black hair, cut in a cute little wedge.
“I go to Maxxim City, USA with you.”
“You’re coming back with us? Fantastic!”