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datatime: 2022-11-30 19:32:14 Author:aHAHxfAr

Chaco caught his breath, closed his eyes for a second. "Doesn't sound good, my friend. This is not what we planned."

One hour and forty-five minute had passed since Shannon and Miles had entered the sacrificial pool. Any attempt at rescue now seemed an empty gesture. Nothing could save Shannon and Miles now. They had to be dead, their air used up long ago. Two more victims added to the countless number who had disappeared into the morbid waters through the centuries.

"I will, I promise you," Miller said grimly.

"They'll come through," offered Chaco in a hollow tone. "Rodgers is a master diver. He doesn't make mistakes."

"Good luck to you, Juan. I'll stand by the radio at this end."

"We can't afford government meddling. Certainly not now. Can you arrange to have a dive rescue team rushed to the sinkhole?"

"Not possible," Chaco replied helplessly. "They're still in transit from Miami. Their plane isn't scheduled to land in Lima for another four hours."

In an expectant hush everyone around the rim of the pool listened. The faint thumping sound of a rotor blade beating the air came toward them, growing louder with each passing moment. A minute later a turquoise helicopter with the letters NUMA painted on its sides swept into view.

"Keep me informed of any new developments."

"Good luck to you, Juan. I'll stand by the radio at this end."

"I will, I promise you," Miller said grimly.

In an expectant hush everyone around the rim of the pool listened. The faint thumping sound of a rotor blade beating the air came toward them, growing louder with each passing moment. A minute later a turquoise helicopter with the letters NUMA painted on its sides swept into view.

"It's still early." Chaco sighed. "So what's the problem?"

"Not possible," Chaco replied helplessly. "They're still in transit from Miami. Their plane isn't scheduled to land in Lima for another four hours."

"I will, I promise you," Miller said grimly.

In a voice frantic with desperation, Chaco had informed him that the Peruvian navy was caught unprepared for an emergency. Their water escape and recovery team was on a training mission far to the south of Peru near the Chilean border. It was impossible for them to airlift the dive team and their equipment to the sinkhole before sundown. Chaco helplessly shared Miller's anxiety over the slow response time. But this was South America and speed was seldom a priority.

The tops of the surrounding trees were whipped into a frenzy as the helicopter began its descent into a small clearing beside the sinkhole. The landing skids were still in the air when the fuselage door opened and a tall man with wavy black hair made an agile leap to the ground. He was dressed in a thin, shorty wet suit for diving in warm waters. Ignoring the younger people, he walked directly up to the anthropologist.

"We've seen no sign of their air bubbles for the last ten minutes."

"Not possible," Chaco replied helplessly. "They're still in transit from Miami. Their plane isn't scheduled to land in Lima for another four hours."

"They planned to resurface after thirty minutes."

Miller said nothing. There was nothing more to say. He broke contact with Chaco and hurried back to the silent group of students, who were staring down into the sinkhole with dread.

"They planned to resurface after thirty minutes."

"It's still early." Chaco sighed. "So what's the problem?"

"Can you send the dive team ahead by helicopter?" asked Miller.

In a voice frantic with desperation, Chaco had informed him that the Peruvian navy was caught unprepared for an emergency. Their water escape and recovery team was on a training mission far to the south of Peru near the Chilean border. It was impossible for them to airlift the dive team and their equipment to the sinkhole before sundown. Chaco helplessly shared Miller's anxiety over the slow response time. But this was South America and speed was seldom a priority.

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