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datatime: 2022-12-04 05:46:05 Author:XHDZgleJ

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.

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

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

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.

Then with shaking hands he gripped the radio transmitter and began sending out an urgent call for help.

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?"

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

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

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

"How long did they plan to stay down?"

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

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.

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

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

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

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.

"They planned to resurface after thirty minutes."

In Chachapoyas, Chaco pulled out a handkerchief and mopped his face. He was a man of order. Unforeseen obstacles or problems irritated him. If the two stupid Americans drowned themselves, there would be a government inquiry. Despite Chaco's influence, the Peruvian news media were bound to make an overblown incident out of it. The consequences might very well prove to be nothing less than disastrous.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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