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The Pharaoh's Secret (NUMA Files 13) Clive Cussler 2022/7/22 13:55:12

Renata nodded at his logic, sighed and brushed a curl of dark hair from her face. “I suppose you’re right. But we can’t take them ourselves.”

“We might be able to use the element of surprise,” Kurt said.

“Hate to tell you, but I left our cloaking device back in Washington,” Joe said.

“I’m not suggesting we approach from the surface,” Kurt said.

“So we take the fight to the deep,” Joe said.

“Surprise will be on our side. And we might pick up some allies.”

“So we go in, make friends and start a rebellion,” Joe said.

p; “Classic counterinsurgency,” Kurt said.

As the platform reached the water, Kurt, Joe and the Turtle were swept off it. They adjusted their buoyancy and disappeared beneath the surface, sinking slowly, grasping the frame of the ROV and pulling themselves into the curved sections behind its bulbous hydrodynamic nose. At a depth of fifty feet, Kurt gave a thumbs-up and the propellers on the Turtle began to spin.

“Take us down,” Kurt said. “Let’s hug the bottom.”

“Roger that,” Joe replied.

“Bottom coming up,” Joe said.

In addition to the controls, Joe was plugged into the ROV’s telemetry. He could see their depth, heading and speed on a heads-up display inside his helmet.

The seafloor soon came into view, illuminated by the ROV’s forward-mounted lights. Joe leveled off, adjusted their course and punched the throttle.

“I’m going to kill the lights,” Joe said. “Don’t want anyone to see us coming.”

“Try not to run into anything,” Kurt said.

The lights went out and the ride became a trip through a dark tunnel until their eyes adjusted. “More light than I expected,” Joe said.

“Seas are calm,” Kurt said. “That always helps. Not a lot of sediment moving around down here.”

“I put the visibility at fifty feet.”

“Then make sure we stop at least a hundred and ten feet from the wreck.”

The Turtle was fast for an ROV. With a boost from the current, they were doing almost seven knots, but it still took nearly twenty minutes before they approached the wreck site, a dim glow in the distance.

Kurt acknowledged, then saw a fifth and sixth light appear, as someone came up from behind a mound of sediment.

Up ahead, the lights blurred as if hidden in a swirl of dust. Already Kurt could feel the strange throbbing sound of a submerged vacuum at work.