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.Eddie had the parkas in a vacuum-sealed bag, to cut down on its size, while Linc carried the bag of bones.They hadn’t brought eighteen complete skeletons but rather just enough to convince the Argentines.The sack still weighed in at over two hundred pounds, yet he struggled far less than Eddie, with his sixty pounds of coats.Once they had their gas masks on, they hurried through the door that gave access to the guard area so as to not dilute the gas.There were four of them.Two slumped over on the couch, one on the floor, and the other at a desk with his head down as if to take a nap.Eddie released a little more of the gas below each man’s nose to keep them down, and then he and Linc rushed into the back, making sure to unlock the door first.The rear section of the building was divided into six rooms by a central hallway.It had been housing for oil workers before the scientists were kidnapped from their research stations.Linc stayed on guard near the door so he could hear any of the soldiers stirring.Eddie opened the first door on his right and flicked on the switch.Three women stared up at him from the floor.Their days of captivity had rendered them numb, so they just stared blankly.He was relieved to see that the jailers had left them their shoes.Seng peeled off his gas mask, and when they saw he was Asian their interest grew.“My name is Eddie Seng, and I’m going to get you out of here.” When no one said anything, he asked, “Do any of you speak English?”“Yes,” a stocky woman with straw-colored hair replied.“We all do.We’re Australian.Who are you?”“We’re here to rescue you.” He flicked open a pocketknife and cut the seal that had kept the parkas flattened.The bag expanded to three times its original size.“You sound American.Are you with the Army?”“No.It’s not important now.Are any of you hurt?”“They’ve treated us all right.I don’t think they’ve hurt anyone.”“Good.Help me free the others.”Minutes later, all six cells were open, and the eighteen scientists were free.Eddie was bombarded with questions about why they’d been captured, and he did his best to answer them.The questions died, however, when he opened the second bag and pulled out a human skull.“We need the Argentines to think you all burned in a fire,” Eddie explained before anyone could ask.“There are severe diplomatic repercussions if they suspect you escaped.”The horn on the Admiral Brown began blasting a long, single note.Eddie quickened his pace.He salted the right number of remains in each room while Linc went to give the guards one last dose of gas.Next came smearing the walls and floor with a purple jellied fuel.They couldn’t carry as much as they would have liked, but Eddie was more than adept at arson and knew the best patterns to lay out so the building would burn completely.“Hold your breath when we go through the next room,” he cautioned.“And once outside, stay in a tight group and follow me.”A massive explosion filled the night.WHEN THE WARSHIP HIT the processing plant and set off the bomb, the blast ruptured the undersea gas line coming in from the rigs.The drop in pressure registered instantly, and check valves on the offshore platforms closed to prevent a dangerous blowback.The impact of the Admiral Brown had damaged the shoreside valves so that as the great ship was dragged farther into the structure, the gas in the pipes wasn’t contained.With a fireball mushrooming over the facility, flame licked at the gas in the conduits and ignited it.The bay erupted.Miles of gas lines lit off in a cataclysmic blast that sent sheets of water soaring into the night, while the flash lit up the sky from horizon to horizon.Three of the disguised rigs were blown off their piers.Secondary and tertiary explosions rippled the exterior walls of the gas factory until they were blown flat and sent flaming debris out across the bay and over the buildings of the station.Aboard the Admiral Brown, the ship’s heavy armor protected all of her crew except the men on the bridge.They could have saved themselves by simply ducking but to a man had stood in awe as their cruiser caromed into the plant.They were sliced to ribbons when all the windows imploded, turning the bridge into a hail-storm of glass.Unnoticed in the maelstrom of fire, another small charge exploded under the cruiser’s bow.It was the device Juan had clamped over the tow cable to release it.When it went, the carbon fiber was pulled free of the remaining pad eyes, and the Oregon no longer had her in tow.AS SOON AS THE PLANT BLEW, Mark Murphy toggled the explosives Mike Trono and his team had planted in the glacier overlooking where the Silent Sea had been sunk by Admiral Tsai Song five centuries earlier.They had drilled deeply into the ice and repacked the holes with water that had frozen solid so as to contain the blast.The multiple explosions were timed precisely and built a harmonic resonance that was powerful enough to shear off a massive slab of ice as neatly as a knife.The newly calved berg was the size of a Manhattan office tower.Two hundred and fifty thousand tons of ice slammed into the bay and actually fractured when it crashed against the seafloor.The wave it spawned encompassed the entire water column and swept from shore to shore.Its momentum was such that anything caught in its path was borne away like leaves in a gutter.The magnificent Treasure Ship, so long preserved in its frigid realm, was no exception.The wave tumbled it across the seafloor and onto the long slope that led down into the deep waters of the abyssal plain.When the waters finally calmed, there wasn’t a trace that it had ever existed at all.ERIC STONE FELT IT the second the ship was free, and he cut the power to the drive tubes.“That’s it,” he said, staring at the big monitor on the front wall of the op center.The camera that was mounted in the nose of an unmanned aerial drone revealed hell on earth, with fire shooting a hundred feet and higher over the processing plant and pockets of gas above the bay still aflame.It looked as if the very seas were burning.Gomez Adams was at the tiny plane’s remote controls, and he used a joystick to fly it across the sprawling facility.It was a testimony to his skills as a pilot that he could keep the unstable craft flying through the storm.Small pockets of fire dotted the landscape where debris blown from the gas plant continued to burn.But another fire drew his attention.A building well away from the blast had flames licking through its roof.“Looks like Eddie and Linc are making their move,” he said.A second later, Eddie’s panting voice filled the high-tech room from ceiling-mounted speakers.“Eighteen present and accounted for.”Max Hanley couldn’t care less.“Have you heard or seen the Chairman?”“Negative.Last I knew, he was in the plant.He hasn’t gotten word to you?”“No, damn it! All he said was, he’d find his own way out.”“What do you want us to do?”As much as Max wanted to delay, he knew that Eddie and his group of freed captives would eventually draw attention.“Get to the submersible as fast as you can.Maybe Juan’s already on his way.His radio could be dead.”“We’re moving.”Hanley tried calling Cabrillo on every preset frequency their radios picked up.He got no response.He knew in his gut that Juan hadn’t gotten clear when the gas processor blew.There hadn’t been enough time.He’d sacrificed himself to stick to their plan.THE SCENE ON THE GROUND was absolute pandemonium [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]