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datatime: 2022-12-01 02:02:38 Author:cILgdfrh

"All we need now," he muttered to himself, "are two dead archaeologists in the pool."

"They planned to resurface after thirty minutes."

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.

"The nearest naval facility is at Trujillo. I'll alert the base commander and go from there."

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?"

Miller checked his watch again. "Twenty-seven minutes ago."

Miller checked his watch again. "Twenty-seven minutes ago."

"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."

Where had it come from? Miller wondered, his spirits rising. It obviously didn't have the markings of the Peruvian navy. It had to be a civilian craft.

"How long did they plan to stay down?"

Where had it come from? Miller wondered, his spirits rising. It obviously didn't have the markings of the Peruvian navy. It had to be a civilian craft.

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

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.

Miller checked his watch again. "Twenty-seven minutes ago."

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.

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

"How long did they plan to stay down?"

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

"Keep me informed of any new developments."

One of the female students heard it first. She cupped her hands to her ears and turned back and forth like a radar antenna. "A helicopter" she announced excitedly, pointing in a westerly direction through the tops of the trees.

Miller checked his watch again. "Twenty-seven minutes ago."

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

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.

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

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