Hercules Gray and the Malta Connections, part 13

Jim Smythe was busy playing skipper on the catamaran he had mysteriously acquired for his companions, while Hercules Gray and Diotallevi were busy poring over maps of the surrounding seabed. Their destination was around eight kilometres off the St. Julian’s coast, at a site where in 1999 supposedly man made structures were found on the seabed.

‘Of course we might end up hunting a needle in a haystack,’ Diotallevi remarked cheerfully. ‘After all, the discovery itself was done by a German with impaired eyesight and a couple of alternate historians.’

‘Nothing we’ve never done before, then,’ Gray replied.

At that moment, Kowalski showed up to announce that the diving gear was prepared and ready. ‘Dive’ll be at anything from ten to twenty metres of depth, which means easy enough going,’ he explained, to the benefit of Sir Giuseppe and Dame Maria-Celeste, who were forming something of an audience.

‘Great,’ said Diotallevi. ‘Let’s suit up, shall we?’

Maria-Celeste expressed her surprise at the fact that the scholar of the group was also taking part in the dive.

‘I’ve done more than my fair share of dives,’ he answered. ‘Was even part of a cave-diving team exploring sink holes in Belize a couple of years back. Compared to looking for Maya ceremonial remains at sixty metres of depth, today’s dive is a literal walk in the park.’

The trio went to the yacht’s cabins to prepare themselves, while Smythe brought the vessel to a gentle stop over their destination. They eventually emerged, decked in their divers’ rubbers, carrying masks, weight belts and swimming fins.

‘Always carry a spare knife,’ Diotallevi remarked, as he strapped an impressive looking blade to his right ankle. Another was hanging from his belt. Hercules brought oxygen tanks from the yacht’s hold – one each. Kowalski, meanwhile, produced what looked like a rifle, designed to be fired underwater, which he described as ‘insurance’. Before they were fully prepared to plunge into the depths, a final equipment check was carried out and watches were synchronised.

‘Say hello to Atlantis for me,’ Smythe shouted, right before the trio jumped into the crystal clear waters. He involuntarily shuddered as he watched them head deeper underwater, before making his way to the lounge, joining Giuseppe and Maria-Celeste.

The waters were of a beautiful clarity, warm and calm. Various small fish swam by, as Diotallevi led his companions, gesturing to slowly start descending towards the bottom. The seabed appeared regular at first, rocky and covered with seaweed and underwater plants. They swam further on at a leisurely pace, before Diotallevi stopped, putting his hand up in a sign to halt.

What appeared in front of them was a series of geometric structures, looking not quite as natural as they looked man-made. The trio inched slowly through the water, taking in the sight and preparing to start their work. However, movement attracted Kowalski’s eyes. Something long and sinuous , making snake-like way through the seaweed covered structures. He pumped his rifle, and decided to keep a cautious eye out for possible danger.