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entirely  the skull they had unearthed at Cutter's excavation. More than
three hundred years ago, people had perished in this shipwreck.
And we're going to take their stuff because they're in no shape to protect it
anymore.
The logic was ridiculous. All the gold in the world wouldn't help those poor
sailors, three centuries dead, their descendants scattered across dozens of
generations.
Besides, if we don't get that treasure, Cutter will.
His reverie was interrupted by Vanover's call from the bridge. "Show time,
folks!"
If Scoutmaster's deck was busy and frenetic, the cabin of the submersible was
an incredibly lonely place. When the hatch was sealed, the five-inch-thick
acrylic bubble blotted out all sound. It was like being shut inside a glass
tomb. They were immersed inDeep Scout's titanium hull up to chest level. Above
that, the sphere created a greenhouse effect. Brilliant sunlight baked the
cramped interior.
"It cools off when you dive," the captain promised. He was flipping toggle
switches and adjusting dials on a control panel that wrapped around the
pilot's chair.
That was the only official seat. The four interns pressed into the rest of
the cabin, an area of deck space about four feet wide and six feet long. It
reminded Kaz of the famous college prank to see how many students would fit
into a Volkswagen.
At last, all was in readiness. "Topside, this isScout ," Vanover said into
the microphone. "Ready to rock."
It was an eerie feeling  motion, but no sound  as the huge A-frame crane
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hoisted the vehicle over the side and placed it almost gently in the water.
The interns felt rather than heard the waves smacking against the hull. There
was a grating sensation as the drop-lock disengaged.
And thenDeep Scout sank into the deep of the Caribbean.
Clear water changed from pale turquoise to blue, and finally to blue-black.
Vanover activated the outside floodlights, and the dark sea around them came
alive. Curious fish circled this strange titanium wanderer, drawn by the
rhythmic pings and pops of the submersible's acoustic tracking system. Others,
bioluminescent jellyfish and octopuses, gave the newcomer a wide berth.
"Awesome," breathed Star, bathed in the reddish glow of the control panels.
"You never get used to it," the captain told her, his eyes darting back and
forth from the undersea panorama to the data screen over his shoulder.
Deep Scoutwas designed to operate miles below the surface, so it reached the
slope at the edge of the Hidden Shoals very quickly. Captain Vanover
manipulated the thrusters, and they began to track back and forth across the
incline, searching for the debris field they had only glimpsed through Dr.
Ocasek's cameras.
An hour later, they had still found nothing.
Star was growing edgy. "I don't get it. We have to be in the right place. GPS
coordinates don't lie."
"We're going by the coordinates of the Corts," the captain reminded her.
"Remember, the camera array was at the end of a four-hundred-foot tether,
blowing around in a storm. We can't know exactly where it was when it detected
the debris." He was trying to sound confident, but the strain was evident in
his voice. He had gone out on a limb to bookDeep Scout . If they came up
empty-handed, it could cost him his career.
All at once, Dante lurched forward, bonking his head on the thick acrylic of
the sphere. "There!"
"Where?" cried the other four in unison.
"Down there!"
Vanover dumped air from the ballast tanks, and the submersible descended. The
Fathometer gave their depth as 344 feet. And suddenly, there it was in the
lights  the long bronze cannon.
"Look!" Adriana pointed. "The ballast stones!"
They were scattered along the slanting sea-floor below the corroded barrel,
disappearing into the inky depths.
"Wow," Kaz said, nearly overwhelmed. "How far do they go?"
"Only one way to find out." The captain operated the thrusters.Deep Scout's
nose dipped, and the submersible followed the slope down.
The ballast stones were still there at four hundred feet. And at five
hundred. In fact, the spread of debris seemed to be thickening. As they passed
through six hundred, they could make out other signs of the shipwreck 
plates, bottles, muskets, helmets. Intermingled with these items was something
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the interns had not seen before.
"Are thosetimbers ?" Dante asked incredulously, his face pressed up against
the acrylic of the sphere.
Vanover nodded. "Wood can't survive up on the reef, where the worms eat it.
But the deeper you go, the sea life is less dense, and the old ships last
longer  especially the parts that are buried in sand."
"That's an awful lot of stuff for one ship," observed Star. "Remember, half
of it's up on the reef. This debris has to stop somewhere."
Dante saw it first, but a moment later,Deep Scout 's lights illuminated it
for the others. About thirty feet below them, the slope suddenly flattened out
before dropping off again. This tilted plateau, seven hundred feet beneath the
waves, was the final resting place of the old ship.
Kaz stared. It was uncanny how sure of it he felt. Naturally, there was no
abandoned galleon listing there on the shelf. Yet the mound of debris half
buried in the ancient sand was shaped exactly like an old boat, bloated by
slow collapse over the centuries. As the vehicle drew closer, they could make
out anchors and cannons  even some of the wooden spine of a once-proud
sailing vessel.
There was only one thing that didn't make sense. "That's a whole ship," Kaz
mused with a frown. "Or most of it, anyway. How did a piece end up all the way
over on the reef where Cutter's digging?"
"There's no way this is the same boat," the captain decided. "Crazy as it
seems, you kids found two shipwrecks, not just one."
Adriana's eyes shone with excitement. "Two shipwrecks!"
"No!" Dante was alarmed. "Nuestra Seorawas the ship with the money!That's
what we need, not some old garbage scow that happened to sink next door!"
"Besides," put in Star, "what about the gold dust test? That said the
treasure washere , not up on the reef."
The acoustic trackerpinged as the five thought it over.
Captain Vanover spoke at last. "Let's give these manipulators a workout. If
we come up with a gold ingot, it won't make any difference what ship we're
pulling it out of." Skillfully, he dumped air and worked the thrusters
untilDeep Scout hovered directly over the remains of the old ship. Then he
reached for the controls that operated the submersible's mechanical arms.
The shape that exploded out of the darkness was longer than the submersible
itself, a living missile of pure speed and energy. Kaz saw the eye first,
blank and staring, a shiny black button the size of a clenched fist. He
recognized the creature instantly, even before the enormous mouth gaped open,
revealing row upon lethal row of crushing, ripping teeth.
Although he was safe behind five inches of solid acrylic, Kaz felt the terror
course through his body. For such an array of weaponry could only belong to
one fish in these waters.
It was Clarence, the monster tiger shark that had nearly taken his life three
weeks earlier.
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And before Kaz had time to scream, the two-ton body hurtled into the side
ofDeep Scout .
CHAPTER SIXTEEN
The vehicle lurched from the collision, tossing its occupants like socks in a
dryer.
"It's  " Before Kaz could make the identification, he smacked heads with
Adriana and went down hard.
"Clarence!" Dante rasped, picking himself up off the deck. "He's trying to
eat the sub!"
"Hang on, people!" ordered Vanover, clinging to the controls. "He can't hurt
us in here!"
At that moment, the enormous shark struck the hull again, knockingDeep Scout
over on its side. Kaz was pressed against the glass, his face contorted with [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]