8.13: Part One
MacGyver spun off the last bolt holding
the carburetor down and sighed. The old Chevy pickup had
been faltering a bit lately every time he hit the gas,
and so it was time to give the old girl an overhaul.
He wandered over
to the workbench, sat the carburetor down, and began to
inspect it. There was a rebuild kit waiting and ready,
along with a plentiful amount of cleaning fluid, and he
hoped that a few new gaskets, a good fettle and maybe
a new accelerator pump would be all that was needed to
get his beast back in full form.
It was nice to
just be able to take the time to do something like this,
instead of chasing around the globe for the Phoenix Foundation,
or getting mixed up in bizarre Halloween killings like
he had the previous month with Neil Ryder.
He grabbed a
stool and began to separate the unit to get at the jets
when a car pulling up outside caught his attention. Of
course, it could be someone for Mel, or one of his other
crazy neighbors, but somehow Mac had that “feeling”
his peace was once again about to be shattered.
He ignored the
sound of the vehicle’s engine until he heard it
die and two doors slam, then he simply couldn’t
resist getting up to see what was going on.
halfway across the room when he heard a tapping sound,
followed by a knock at the door.
then! Mac couldn’t tell from just the knock,
but the tapping was definitely from Pete’s white
in,” he offered, turning back to look longingly
at the Chevy.
Pete tapped his
way across the workshop and adeptly stopped at Mac’s
side. “Doing a bit of DIY mechanics?” he asked,
raising a brow.
Mac smiled and
grabbed a cloth, wiping some of the grease and oil from
his hands. It was amazing what Pete could figure out,
even though he didn’t have his sight anymore.
you just can’t trust garages these days. And besides,
it’s kinda therapeutic to just sit and rebuild something,
y’know?” He perched himself on the open flatbed
of the truck.
taking a hand up from his friend when he got closer. “So
you’re pretty busy..?” There was that
look in his eyes as he asked the question. The look that
meant he wasn’t just here on a social call.
it slightly amusing that after all this time, Pete couldn’t
come right on out and ask for what he wanted, but he didn’t
say so. “Aww, c’mon, Pete what’s eating
at you? You got an assignment you want me on, right?”
a little. “Well…it’s not exactly an
assignment, more of a working vacation.”
Mac raised a
brow as he rubbed more grime from his hands. “Okay,
so you wanna tell me what it’s all about?”
Pete seemed to
relax. “A little over a week ago, an amateur diver
spotted a sunken German U-boat in the Baltic, and it looks
and war relics are found pretty much all the time. What’s
so special about this one to get Phoenix involved?”
Any thoughts of the Chevy or the carburetor were slowly
ebbing away as Mac’s inquisitive nature kicked in.
this was no ordinary U-boat,” Pete confirmed. “It
was on a mission for the E.R.R. It sailed right at the
end of the second war with stolen Nazi treasures onboard
just like the ones we dealt with during the Rubens painting
mind fleetingly jumped back to an auction that Pete had
been trying to buy a painting at a few years previously.
He’d won the bidding, only to have an elderly gentleman
named Sam claim it was his – stolen during the war
when the Nazi’s had pillaged art galleries, national
treasures, and Jewish family homes for anything antique
they could find.
On that occasion,
the good guys had won the day and the art had been returned
to its rightful owners, albeit over forty years after
the original thefts.
you be better talking to Laura Sand than me? She’s
the expert on this stuff, and she was more than helpful
last time?” Mac was thinking of the expert Pete
had brought in to verify the Rubens, and who had eventually
helped them stop a very nasty incident with modern-day
“We’re bringing Laura in on this too. You
guys worked too well together before to pass up the opportunity
Mac ran a hand
through his hair. He really should have known Pete would
be one step ahead in the planning department, which also
meant he was pretty sure he was going to talk MacGyver
into the assignment.
seem like a dumb question, but surely there won’t
be any of the art or antiques left to find down there
after all this time? I mean the sub’s probably flooded
and full of marine life by now.” Mac didn’t
want to be a killjoy, but the obvious had to be pointed
out, even though Pete most likely knew the facts and figures.
“Not to mention, won’t it be classed as a
war grave? In which case we won’t be able to touch
already anticipated that,” Pete confirmed. “Nikki
contacted the German War Graves Commission and they’ve
given us the go ahead to send a mini-sub down to check
out the U-boat. Technically, if there are no crewmen aboard,
we can go ahead and investigate. If she sank with the
men,” Pete shrugged. “Then she’s untouchable
under maritime law, and we have to scrub the search.”
Mac conceded. “So we have permission to check it
out, but don’t you think the amateur diver’s
description is likely to be a little exaggerated? I mean,
c’mon, this thing has been down there the best part
of half a century?”
Pete bobbed his
head. “It is possible, and the foundation isn’t
expecting it to be quite as good as this guy suggested.
On the other hand, the wreck does have something going
for it – it’s in the Baltic. There’s
a lack of current and salinity in the water there that
helps preserve sunken vessels better than anywhere else
in the world.”
I’d kinda heard that,” MacGyver admitted with
a sigh. “So what do you me for?”
well with Dr. Sand before, you know about the E.R.R. side
of things, and hey, this is one assignment where you won’t
get smacked on the head, chased or shot at. I thought
you’d grab at it!” Pete chuckled. “And
if that’s not reason enough, Nikki and I are going
along too. We’ll stay topside, and you can go down
in the mini-sub with Laura.”
it, letting his gaze wander to the Chevy. There would
probably still be time to fix it up before the trip, and
it really would be good to work with Pete and Nikki in
the field again without fearing for anyone’s life.
Mac smiled, even
though Pete couldn’t see it, and then patted his
old friend on the back. “Okay, you got me. When
do we leave?”
* * *
Research Vessel “Eternal Flame”
Three weeks later…
as Pete Thornton made his way across the lurching ship’s
deck, somehow managing to keep on course with his cane,
despite the heavy waves.
Pete had just
come on board with Nikki after stopping off to pick up
more research. Mac had arrived some twenty minutes earlier
via a different chopper and had already stowed his gear
in the allocated cabin.
made it, huh?” MacGyver met Pete halfway, rubbing
his gloved hands together against the chill of the wind
that even his thick winter jacket wasn’t quelling.
“We must be nuts coming out here!” He found
himself shouting over the noise of the sea and the retreating
helicopter, and was glad when they reached the relative
calm of the bridge.
as they entered, apparently sensing the change in conditions.
“You know you love it,” he retorted.
Mac opened his
mouth to reply, but an officer broke away from the rest
of the crew and nodded as he came towards them. He tipped
his cap. “I’m Captain McKenna, and you two
must be Thornton and MacGyver?”
Mac held out
his hand. “I’m MacGyver.”
it, and then turned to Pete offering his hand again. “I
guess that makes you my boss?”
and took the proffered appendage. “I guess it does!
Listen, can you give MacGyver a tour of the ship? I really
need to stow my things and get my bearings before Nikki
declares me lost at sea!”
This time it
was McKenna’s turn to chuckle. He was a tall and
imposing figure with a thin frame and short mustache,
and the laughter was definitely unexpected from his previous
manner. “I’d be glad to,” he eventually
agreed, and then turned to a young crewman. “Baines,
can you escort Mr. Thornton to his cabin?”
gave a small unofficial salute and then offered up an
arm to Pete, who took it gratefully as the Eternal
Flame pitched as it hit a swell.
them go and the fixed his gaze on MacGyver. He held it
there for several seconds before gesturing towards the
open hatch that led to outside.
Mac noted the
captain’s appraisal and wondered what the man was
making of him. Was it distrust, or something else? For
now, he simply stored the thought in the back of his mind,
and followed the officer back out into the unruly Baltic
a beeline for the DSRV, which was currently hanging from
the side of the ship like a Christmas tree bauble. With
the rise and fall of the waves it seemed to rock precariously
from side to side, its bulbous white shape making it look
like something from a tale of alien invasion instead of
deep sea exploration and rescue.
the Sun Dog, she’s a specially adapted
LR7 the Phoenix Foundation commissioned a couple of years
ago. For this mission, she’s been fitted with a
docking collar specific to the U-boat’s escape hatch
in case there’s still hull integrity. You’ll
join Dr. Sand on board, along with one of my specially
trained crewmen.” McKenna pointed to a giant reel
that had a thick cable wound around it. “You’ll
be connected to the Eternal Flame via an umbilical
to improve communications, although the DSRV can operate
fully without it.”
the LR7, shielding his eyes from bitter ocean spray to
take in its size, controls and the tools it appeared to
carry. “You really think there’s a chance
the sub still has hull integrity after all these years?
I mean, c’mon, that’s one heck of a long shot!”
things have happened at sea.” McKenna smiled and
jerked a thumb back to the hatch they’d used. “Look
at the Marie Celeste!” He winked as he
mentioned the ghost boat, and then clambered back inside
the Eternal Flame.
at the comparison and then rubbed at his head absently.
Heck, what did it matter if this was one spooky mystery?
It sure beat getting cracked on the skull for a living.
What more could he wish for?
two corridors and a set of stairs down into the bowels
of the ship, McKenna paused outside another hatch. “This
is the control room where we co-ordinate what’s
going on with the DSRV and relay information back and
forth.” He swung open the door with a metallic grind
and entered, heading straight to a board with photos and
printouts pinned to it. “This is all the information
we currently have on U3524 – the designation the
diver found on the sub.”
locked onto the images and details as if they were pieces
of a giant puzzle. He loved fathoming things out, and
this was one of the oldest conundrums he’d faced.
Was the U-boat
really carrying treasures? Was there even the slightest
chance it was intact, and not a war grave? Would they
even find it given the current conditions in the Baltic?
to realize his companion was already transfixed, and began
to read out the data Phoenix had managed to piece together.
“According to the official records, U3524 was scuttled
by her commander, Hans Ludwig Witt in Flensburg Forde
on May 4th 1945. Of course, we now know this is incorrect.”
the amateur diver got his numbers wrong,” Mac pointed
out. “It’s gotta be kinda murky down there,
ya know? Maybe he found a totally different sub.”
joined their conversation – a voice MacGyver instantly
recognized. Mac spun to see Laura Sand standing by the
hatch with an apologetic-looking crewman.
this Dr. Laura Sand…” McKenna was going to
say more, but Mac held up a hand to stop him.
already met,” MacGyver explained. “It’s
a long story and one all about the E.R.R.”
puzzled for a moment but then turned to the crewman. “This
is our communications officer, Dan Engel.”
and Mac shook his hand.
When the introductions
were over, he looked to Laura Sand, and then the board
where he’d been scrutinizing any intelligence Phoenix
had gathered. “So you’re sure this is U3524?”
to his side. “According to my records, a U-boat
that matches this one’s description is listed in
E.R.R. files, although we never had its actual designation
really can’t be sure until we get down there?”
Sand cocked her
head apologetically. “Not one hundred percent, but,
if we’re correct this U-boat was carrying some of
the most treasured art and antiquities you could dream
of. Rubens Annunciation, Van Gogh’s Painter
on the Road to Tarascon…”
the Van Gogh was destroyed when the allies bombed Magdeburg,”
Engel interrupted. “I’m sure I read that somewhere.”
“That’s what the Nazi’s wanted the public
to believe. There is however, a strong suspicion it survived
and was on U3524, along with so much more.”
appear swayed. “But should we really be getting
excited?” He asked, looking at McKenna for apparent
support. “I mean, if the submarine’s compartments
were flooded when it sank, there will be nothing left
by now. And honestly, that’s the most likely scenario
after all this time.” The young blond officer rubbed
absently at his neck, looking almost sad.
to say it,” MacGyver winced. “But he’s
enthusiastically, as if she refused to accept defeat.
“Well then, what are we waiting for? Let’s
get down there and find out!”
* * *
DSRV “Sun Dog”
Somewhere in the Baltic Sea
Two Hours Later…
in awe from the mini-sub’s huge glass frontage as
they crawled along the bottom of the Baltic. Taking in
the world’s wonders above ground, whether it be
wild mustangs or endangered rhinos was one thing, but
to see what happened in the hidden world beneath the waves,
well that was something else.
Mac had been
down on dives before, but on those occasions it had been
strictly business – no time to enjoy what was around
him, or indeed to enjoy the wonders of what made a mini-sub
Laura Sand didn’t
appear to be quite as impressed with their dive so far.
Every few seconds, she’d sigh, check her watch and
things take time,” Mac offered. “The diver
who found the wreck wasn’t all that specific about
co-ordinates, so we can’t just drop down to the
sub, we have to search for it ourselves.”
that,” Sand snapped and then slowly exhaled. “Sorry,”
she apologized. “I just want to find the U-boat
intact, so we have a chance to get its contents back where
to say again that he didn’t think that was likely,
but mentioning the submarine was probably a wreck didn’t
seem to phase Sand one bit. “I understand,”
he eventually conceded. “But it’s pretty murky
down here, what with all the mud we’re disturbing
and all. We have to do this by the numbers…”
As he spoke,
he took another glance out into the depths. Suddenly,
the sea he’d found captivating seconds ago now looked
more dark, and much more ominous. Mac pushed the thought
away. The hazy water wasn’t caused by anything dark
or scary, it was simple mud, and that may well have helped
preserve what they were searching for.
The pilot of
the DSRV, Larry Mortimer, broke MacGyver from further
thought. “Hey, I think we’ve got something…”
the two joysticks that controlled the mini-sub’s
planes and motors, pointing it in a slightly new direction.
Mac and Laura
quickly took position either side the pilot and peered
into the gloom, but at first they didn’t see what
Mortimer’s trained eyes had.
cheekily as he navigated towards his find. “You
guys want some gum?” He deftly removed a stick of
Juicy Fruit while still steering and popped it in his
mouth. “I have issues with the whole depth versus
ear popping thing,” he explained.
her expression suggesting she was mortified he’d
even offered. “Err, no thank you,” she replied
and Mac couldn’t resist a smile. This was one weird
see something!” Laura was suddenly pointing excitedly
to their left as what appeared to be a submarine’s
tail came into view.
and spun the DSRV over just a touch to compensate for
drift. Once they were hovering over the U-boat’s
aft section, he stopped the maneuvering thrusters completely
and simply let the mini-sub hang in the water.
in complete astonishment. The amateur diver had been wrong
about the U-boat’s condition alright – the
thing wasn’t just well preserved, it looked like
it had only been submerged for a few months.
This is impossible!
Mac’s mind screamed that he was dreaming, but
he wasn’t, this was very real, and very wrong.
believe it!” Laura’s hands were in the air
in amazement one second and wringing with excitement the
next. She was like a teenager meeting her screen idol
instead of a trained expert on a scientific expedition.
“It’s intact!” She oozed, “I’m
sure of it! We can save the art!”
a calming hand on her arm. “Hey, what say we take
it down a notch, huh?” He tried to quell Sand’s
exhilaration just a touch without drowning her enthusiasm.
“We have to remember this might still be a war grave,
ya know? There might be bodies…” Mac let his
eyes meet the doctor’s and kept them there until
she drew down a breath and nodded.
Sand pulled free
of his grasp, ran a hand through her hair absently and
turned back to Mortimer seemingly fully composed. “Can
you get us closer?” She asked in a level, almost
Mortimer grinned and began to chew faster and faster as
he moved the DSRV along the length of the U-boat.
From what MacGyver
could tell, the submarine was slightly on its side, but
if they could find the escape hatch, and it was clear
of any debris, they might just be able to use the docking
His mind questioned. There is no debris. Nothing is
damaged on this thing, and there’s hardly any sea
life attached. It should be encrusted in the stuff after
all these years…
voice broke him from further deliberation. “I’ve
found the hatch and it’s clear. Are we gonna open
up this can or what?” he drawled.
call topside and ask them for the go ahead.” Mac
moved to the DSRV’s radio and unclipped the mike.
“Eternal Flame this is Sun Dog,
we have a visual on U3524 and she looks intact. Do we
have a go to use the docking collar?”
The line hissed,
popped and then after a few seconds went completely dead.
MacGyver keyed the mike a few times until the static returned,
then repeated the message.
they’re busy having lunch,” he quipped. “I
sure hope they save us some.”
The impatience was slowly seeping back into Sand’s
voice. “Why aren’t they answering? The line
and cameras should be monitored without fail!”
He had a bad feeling of his own about the lack of response,
and it wasn’t because he was eager to open up the
sub, or because he was worried about missing lunch. He
tried again, and after a second failed attempt a disembodied
voice finally came on the line.
It was Nikki
Parts of the
message were missing, but MacGyver could still hear the
tension and fear in Nikki’s voice – and Nikki
didn’t panic easily.
He clicked the
mike, worry lines filling his brow. “Can you put
Pete or McKenna on?”
McKenna too busy on bridge…can’t understand
why we…no warning, no radar…. Can’t
fin…Pete…” Nikki’s voice trailed
and faded with a staccato hiss and then came back again
as if someone had turned up the volume. “Ship taking
and was about to respond when he heard more muted sounds
in the background followed by a new voice on the line.
its McKenna. I need to disconnect…umbilical…storm…or
we’ll start to drag you across sea bed…”
face turned ashen. “He wants to cut our connection
to topside?” She shook her head. “He can’t,
what if we can’t get back!”
still smiling, either oblivious to any danger, or confident
in the DSRV’s systems. “Don’t worry,”
he reassured. “This little puppy wasn’t designed
to need a line to the surface anyway.” He patted
the DSRV’s console. “Think of it as an optional
extra. We’ll be fine until the storm subsides. Heck,
it won’t reach us down here, so we can carry on
investigating your U-boat.”
Laura bit into
her lip, but didn’t complain further. She slumped
back into one of the mini-sub’s sparse seats and
stared out at U3524 as if it was suddenly cursed.
Given its bizarre
condition, MacGyver wasn’t sure she was wrong. He
keyed the mike one last time. “Understood, Eternal
Flame. Good luck.”
that,” McKenna confirmed. “I’ll re-establish
contact on…regular channel once unhooked…storm…subsides.”
There was a click
and the line went eerily silent. No one in the DSRV spoke.
They’d gone from excitement to concern in just a
Mac reached up
to put the handset back on its hook, but the mini-sub
suddenly veered in the water, almost making him stumble
into the metal hull. He steadied himself and turned to
ask Mortimer what he was doing, but the pilot wasn’t
touching the controls.
In fact, Mortimer’s
alarmed expression suggested he had no clue why they were
And they were
moving – straight towards the rear planes of the
at the joysticks trying to stop their drift, but the motors
simply weren’t strong enough.
into a small glass observation bubble on the top of the
DSRV and tried to see what was happening, even though
he already suspected he knew the answer.
that McKenna had intended to detach was still secure,
and it was allowing the Eternal Flame to drag
them across the sea bed as it pitched and yawned on the
Baltic’s crashing waves above.
Mac winced at
the abrupt memory of his last time in a mini-sub. On that
occasion it had been in a test tank, but he’d been
just as trapped as he was now, and at least that time
he was a heck of a lot closer to the surface to try and
escape. He dropped out of the observation bubble to see
Sand asking if she could help Mortimer, but the pilot
was shaking his head, his attempts to control the DSRV
won’t disengage this end!” Mortimer yelped.
“We’re going to crash into the U-boat!”
The pilot covered his face with his arms, expecting the
up from the glass nose cone and turned to MacGyver just
as the DSRV smashed into U3524.
There was a metallic
screech and the sudden hiss of escaping air as the two
vessels collided. The Sun Dog’s smaller
frame took the brunt of the crash, its robotic front arm
splintering away completely and sinking away into the
himself tossed forwards from the impact and narrowly missed
being slammed into one of the empty front seats. Laura
yelled, but he wasn’t sure whether it was from fear,
or an injury.
The red emergency
lights kicked in, flickered, and then died, leaving the
DSRV in complete darkness and at the mercy of the deep.