The Atlantis revelation
Atlantis Series - 3
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden… And the LORD God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.' So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Conrad Yeats started having second thoughts as soon as they anchored the fishing boat Katrina over the discovery.
It wasn't just that he hated the water. Or that it was three miles to the bottom at the deepest part of the Mediterranean. Or that his Greek crew believed these waters were cursed. It was the words of a former U.S. secretary of defense warning that what Conrad sought didn't exist, but if it did, he was not to disturb it or else. Maybe it's time you gave it a rest, son, and let the damned past rust in peace.
But he had come too far on his journey to recover a real-world relic from the mythological lost continent of Atlantis to turn back now. And he would never rest until he found out exactly what kind of damned past everyone would just as soon bury simply because it threatened their own vision of the future.
Conrad pulled the black neoprene wet suit over his shoulders and looked over at Stavros, his diving attendant. The big, strapping Greek had hauled up the sonar towfish that a team of sides-can sonar experts from the exploration ship had used to get a fix on the target only hours ago. Now he was fiddling with Conrad's air compressor.
'You finally fix that thing?' Conrad asked.
Stavros grunted. 'Think so.'
Conrad glanced up at Polaris, the brightest star in the constellation Ursa Major, and then at the silvery waters. This location wasn't on any charts. He'd found it by using ancient poems, ships' logs, and astronomical data that only an astro-archaeologist like himself would take seriously.
Yet he wasn't alone.
The black cutout of a mega yacht loomed on the dark horizon. For a pleasure palace cruising the Ionian Islands on an Easter holiday vacation, the six-hundred-foot vessel boasted an impressive communications array, a helicopter, and for all Conrad knew, even a couple of submersibles. It was probably all for show, but Conrad still didn't like someone else with that kind of firepower near his find.
He planned to be long gone before the sun came up. 'I need forty minutes of air to the bottom and back,' he told Stavros.
Stavros threw out a small buoy tied to two hundred meters of line. 'If she's still sitting on the edge of the trench, like the robotic camera showed, you'll be lucky to get twenty minutes of bottom time,' Stavros said. 'If she's slipped into the Calypso, then it doesn't matter. The Baron of the Black Order himself will grab you by the leg and drag you down to hell.' He shivered and made the sign of the cross over his heart.
Conrad could do without a Greek chorus to remind him that tragedy haunted these waters. In the light of day, the surface of the Ionian was among the most serene for sailing in Greece, surrounded by easy anchorages and safe bays for cruise ships and private yachts alike. But in the darkness of its depths was one of the most seismic areas in the world.
There, three miles down at the bottom of the Hellenic Trench, lay the vast Calypso Deep. It was the point where the African tectonic plate subducted the Eurasian plate, pulling anything too close under the plates and into the earth's magma. Even, some had argued, something as big as a continent.
'You worry about my oxygen, Stavros. I'll worry about the curse of the Calypso.' Conrad slipped on his full- face dive mask and stepped off the bow, fins first, into the sea.
The cool water enveloped him as he followed the anchored buoy line to the bottom. His high-powered Newtlite head lantern illuminated the way through the darkness. Halfway down he met a school of bottle-nose dolphins. They parted like a curtain to reveal the startling sight of the legendary Nausicaa rising out of the depths, her 37mm antiaircraft guns pointing straight at him.
The German submarine was imposing enough, which Conrad had expected. After all, it had belonged to SS General Ludwig von Berg-the Baron of the Black Order, as he was known to his friends in the Third Reich. Among other things, the baron was head of Hitler's Ahnenerbe, an organization of academics, philosophers, and military warriors sent to scour the earth to prove the Aryans were the descendants of Atlantis.
That mission had taken Baron von Berg as far away as Antarctica, where decades later, Conrad's father, USAF General Griffin Yeats, had uncovered a secret Nazi base and ancient ruins two miles beneath the ice. But any evidence of that lost civilization-Atlantis-was wiped away in a seismic event that killed his father, sank an ice shelf the size of California, and may well have caused the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 that killed thousands in Indonesia.
Ever since, Conrad had been trying to find some proof that what he had found under Antarctica wasn't a dream. Clues left by his father on his tombstone at Arlington Cemetery had told Conrad as much and more. Soon he had discovered that his father's successor as head of the Pentagon's DARPA research and development agency, Max Seavers, had developed a weaponized flu virus from the infected lung tissue of dead Nazis found frozen in Antarctica.
Those discoveries ultimately led Conrad to the mysterious Baron von Berg. Classified American, British, and German intelligence files from World War II recorded that the SS general's U-boat, Nausicaa, was returning from its secret base in Antarctica when it was sunk by the British Royal Navy in 1943.
Conrad's hope was that he would find on board a relic from Atlantis.
He kicked through the water toward the sunken submarine. The Nausicaa lay like a gutted whale along the cusp of the Calypso Deep with her tail broken off and her forward section jutting out over the abyss like a metal coffin.
Conrad swam to the mouth of the broken fuselage and studied its teeth. The British torpedo that had sunk the Nausicaa had taken out the entire electric motor room. But it wasn't a clean break. One little nick of his air hose would cut off his oxygen. He spoke into his dive helmet's integrated radio. 'Stavros.'
'Right here, boss,' the Greek's voice crackled in his earpiece.
'How's the compressor?'
'Still ticking, boss.'
Conrad swam into the abandoned control room of the forward section, keeping his eyes peeled for floating skeletons. He found none. No diving officers, helmsmen, or planesmen. Not even in the conning tower. Just an