across the ice, tapping the puck every few seconds to
keep it moving exactly where he wanted it. The almost
mummified goalkeeper in front of him seemed to dodge back
and forth clumsily to keep up with his expert moves.
under his helmet and whacked the puck one last time with
just a little more effort. It flew past the keeper, bouncing
into the net behind as he crashed down onto the ice helplessly.
his knees, turned his skates at a 90 degree angle against
his momentum, and slammed to a halt laughing so hard he
almost dropped his stick.
The keeper grumbled,
pushed up onto his elbows and then pulled of his helmet.
“Mac, did you really need to torture me this way?”
Jack Dalton’s moustache twitched pathetically. “I
get it, I really do…I should never have taken all
your furniture again. Once was enough, I admit it. Please…no
more hockey torture? I repent my sins!”
I believe when I see,” Mac teased, helping his old
friend up with a gentle tug. “But you do admit you’ve
had this payback coming a long time? As in a long time?”
He wiggled his eyebrows with a smirk.
on his skates and almost tumbled back to the ice. “I’ll
confess to anything if it gets me somewhere warmer, with
say a beer, and maybe a cigar? Oh, and my hat back…”
He looked at the helmet distastefully.
I should just shoot one more puck…” Mac’s
eyes twinkled as Dalton’s face turned to one of
don’t envy you Jack…” A new voice filled
the arena and MacGyver spun lithely around on his skates
to see Pete Thornton standing by the nearest barrier.
He was smiling, but somehow his face looked pained. “Been
there, done that, felt the bruises,” he added.
expression remained, but he let go of Jack’s arm,
who then promptly crashed back onto the rink, and skated
over to Thornton. He’d known Pete too long to not
realize the man was upset. “What’s going on,
as if it had been the inevitable question. “Remember
nodded. “Sure, the guy on the Eternal Flame?
When we went out looking for that wartime U-boat?”
He put down his stick, climbed off the ice and took a
seat, Pete instinctively followed. “I assumed Phoenix
gave him another command?” He grabbed a towel he’d
left earlier and wiped at his neck, ignoring Jack as he
finally clambered awkwardly off the ice.
him,” Pete confirmed. “We gave him a research
vessel that was recently deployed looking into unusual
weather conditions, and how they might be responsible
for…” His voice trailed, as if he wasn’t
sure how to broach the next part of the conversation.
“…Responsible for certain phenomenon in the
North Atlantic Ocean.”
eyes widened. “The Foundation is actually investigating
the Bermuda Triangle? Isn’t that a little too myth
and legend for them?”
from a scientific point of view,” Pete hastened
to add. “We’re not looking at aliens, time
warps, government experiments and such nonsense, just
natural possible causes, like unexpected weather patterns
and so on.”
so what does this, and McKenna have to do with me?”
Mac ran a hand through his sweat-drenched hair and decided
it was time for a shower once their chat was over.
Pete took a deep
breath. “Because the ship McKenna was in charge
of has disappeared. The Coast Guard just lost her off
their scopes, and they can find no wreckage, no survivors,
no radio beacons, nothing.”
exhaled and took a moment to digest the information. It
was pure bad look that McKenna had lost another ship,
surely after the Eternal Flame? If of, course,
this new ship was lost. MacGyver was a firm believer that
there was a rational explanation for everything, but he
could see why even Pete was spooked. “You want me
to go out there and try and figure this out so it doesn’t
just turn into one more Devil’s Triangle story,
“I’d like to say I want you to find that ship’s
crew alive, but I have to be realistic, it’s been
seven days with no contact. Right now, finding out what
happened is even a long shot at best, but if anyone can
do it, I know it’s you, Mac.”
Jack who had
been patiently waiting and listening finally joined the
conversation. “Well don’t look at me! No siree!
No sensible, honest to God pilot would risk his neck over
those waters. Not even Dangerous Dalton here…”
He patted the padding on his chest. “I know when
not to push my luck, just like when I knew those three
Haitian girls was one girl too many…”
Jack,” Mac soothed, “no one is expecting you
to go anywhere.”
good job, because I’m superstitious, you know.”
Jack made the sign of a cross over his chest and stumbled
off to the locker room.
Once his grumbling
retreat was over, MacGyver focused back on Thornton. “When
do I leave?”
pulled an envelope from his inside breast pocket and passed
it over. MacGyver opened it to find an airline ticket,
a hotel room booking, and a letter to the captain of a
private research vessel named The Crucible. He
raised a brow when he noted it was a woman. “Captain
Cynthia Dawson, huh?”
chuckled. “Don’t let that fool you, Phoenix
hired her and The Crucible for a reason, and
not just because we don’t have any of our own cruisers
in the area. She’s a tough cookie, has way more
experience in those waters than most men, and…”
won’t waste time falling for your wily charms.”
Pete chuckled again.
I gave up that occupation years ago!” MacGyver feigned
a hurt expression before remembering his friend couldn’t
Pete continued. “She’s the best, if McKenna’s
ship can be found, I know you’re the best
team to make it happen.”
on the ship’s last location, size, specification,
crew, what exactly she was doing out there?” Mac
slid the envelope into his helmet for later retrieval.
“Dawson has everything you need already set up in
a cabin ready for you to start brainstorming.” He
put a hand on Mac’s shoulder. “Good luck,
and Mac? Don’t you get lost out there too…”
expression said he wasn’t joking, and MacGyver hoped
that wasn’t a bad omen, even if he wasn’t
superstitious like Jack.
* * *
Three days later…
took off his sunglasses and paused before moving up the
walkway to The Crucible. She wasn’t a huge
research ship, but what she lacked in size, she made up
for with her imposing lines and impressive tech. He had
originally wondered why Phoenix had chosen research over
search and rescue, but maybe insight from one could lead
to the other.
Mac slid his
glasses back, shifted his pack on his shoulder and moved
on until he reached the deck. A short brunette in a white
officer’s uniform awaited him, although he hadn’t
seen her moments earlier. He guessed it was Dawson right
off the bat – she was just as imposing as her vessel,
despite her stature.
I presume?” She offered curtly with a nod of her
head. “I’m Captain Dawson, welcome aboard.”
Mac paused, guessed
her brusqueness meant she thought he wasn’t needed,
and then answered. “Please, call me Mac.”
He tried to soften the mood, but Dawson ran a hand through
the front of her hair, turned and pointed to a nearby
open cabin door. “I have everything Mr. Thornton
sent over ready for you.”
followed her inside, and was again impressed by what he
saw. Pete had been right, Dawson might be curt, but she
was good. A white board had been set up with a map plotting
McKenna’s course, along with any radio communications
marked when and where they’d been received. Nothing
in McKenna’s messages had given any cause for concern,
and the route he’d taken had been precisely by the
book to what Phoenix had asked for.
what kind of weather research were they doing?”
MacGyver asked, setting down his bag on a nearby chair
to examine the map more closely.
up a clipboard and rifled through several sets of paperwork
on it. “Tropical cyclones,” she replied with
a sigh as if she thought it was nonsense. “Apparently,
they were looking into whether downdraughts of cold air
hitting the waters surface can cause an unusual kind of
squall. Some scientist onboard named Richard Tapping though
“hexagonal” clouds might be to blame, and
they were using experimental weather balloons to investigate.”
sighed. It wasn’t exactly exciting stuff, or anything
that could have gotten the ship into difficulties. He
tapped his bottom lip in thought as he took everything
in, evaluating and calculating. “The Coast Guard
searched here, The Eurybia’s last known
position and a hundred mile radius around it. Did they
look anywhere else?”
her head without even thinking. “No, there was no
evidence to suggest McKenna had deviated, and that’s
a lot of ocean to check out without intel. And…they
had another big call in two days later. A U.S. Navy frigate
got into trouble and needed assistance. McKenna’s
people took the back seat to that.”
Mac nodded. “So,
despite what the information suggests, I’m thinking
McKenna did go of course, but why, and where?”
no reason he would,” Dawson concluded. “He
must have had technical problems, there was bad weather.”
shook his head. “If the ship had been in trouble,
why didn’t he radio for help? And if it happened
too quickly, they’d have found wreckage on the sea
bed. What if McKenna didn’t want to deviate? What
if there was something on The Eurybia worth stealing?”
more paperwork on her clipboard and shrugged. “Not
according to the manifest Phoenix supplied. Nobody steals
what if there was something we don’t know about?
Ships don’t just vanish despite what the local legends
say. And the whole crew too? This isn’t the Marie
Celeste or The Cylclops.” MacGyver
touched the map with his fingertip, his mind thinking
of every scenario. “Where there any other ships
on a course that would have intercepted McKenna’s?”
one,” Dawson confirmed. “The Katarina,
out of a Cuba. She’s a large private yacht. The
Coast Guard already contacted her captain, but he says
McKenna never even appeared on his radar.”
he’s lying,” Mac pointed out, turning away
from the board to face the captain. “Where would
you hide a ship the size of The Eurybia if you
had to get rid of it fast?”
“On the bottom of the Atlantic, but the Coast Guard
Mac corrected, “they looked at the bottom of the
ocean where McKenna would be if he were on course!”
He spun back around. “Show me The Katarina’s
course on the map…”
pulled a sheet from her board and walked over, drawing
on the map with a red marker. “This is their voyage
over the week that The Eurybia vanished.”
Mac nodded to
himself. “They would have been exiting the Coast
Guard’s one hundred mile search zone just after
someone noticed McKenna was missing. I think we should
start a search of the ocean floor right about here.”
He tapped the map.
they knew where the Coast Guard would look, and scuttled
the ship as soon as they got outside the search area?
But why? Why steal her in the first place?”
like I said, there was something onboard they wanted badly.”
MacGyver frowned. “I guess we won’t get any
more answers until we find the ship.” He turned
away, the possibility that McKenna and his crew had been
killed becoming all too real in his mind.
you’re right?” Dawson seemed to read his mind.
“What about Captain McKenna?
have an answer he wanted to repeat and simply shook his
for the door, and then stopped. “I’ll plot
a course for those co ordinates right away, but this is
one time I wish we did find an empty ghost ship, even
empty is better than the other possible alternative.”
* * *
Crucible Research Vessel
North Atlantic Ocean
Two Days Later
watched as the ship’s sonar slowly scanned the ocean
below them, every now and again picking up some anonymous
echo that turned out to be a shoal of fish. Her expression
said she was frustrated, and she looked up and scowled
at MacGyver to show her annoyance. She obviously didn’t
believe his theory that McKenna’s ship had been
hijacked and taken elsewhere to dump.
her annoyance amusing, and couldn’t resist a small
smile, which earned him yet another frown from the brunette
at his side. He opened his mouth to comment, but a new
ping from the speakers made him stop.
They were right
over the top of something large, and this time, it wasn’t
any kind of fish.
we’re picking up something big.” The crewman
pulled off his headset, aware that the noise was now on
speaker. “I’d say this thing is definitely
the size of The Eurybia.”
at Mac. “I was hoping you were wrong.”
any comfort, so was I,” he admitted. “I still
might be. There are a lot of wartime wrecks out here.”
He put his attention on the crewman. “How deep is
she? Can we dive on her?”
whatever we’re picking up is in pretty shallow water,
there’s a coral reef and an ocean shelf down there
and she’s sitting on it.”
to Dawson. “I’m going down there, care to
captain smiled wryly. “Don’t you know captains
aren’t supposed to go on away missions?” When
Mac’s brow furrowed, she chuckled for the first
time since they’d met. “Just a little Star
Trek humor,” she explained. “And for
the record, wild horses couldn’t keep me away. I
need to know what happened – because I sure as hell
don’t believe in the Bermuda Triangle.”
* * * *
Dawson hadn’t taken long to suit up. Both wore special
face masks with microphones so they could communicate
with one another under the water more easily, as well
as with the ship topside.
in first, flipping backwards into the ocean and creating
a wash of water back over the deck. Dawson followed just
as lithely, and they sank into the depths together.
The water was
warm, yet somehow not comforting as they swam past a coral
reef alive with marine activity. Beyond the reef, something
darker colored the water, and it was soon apparent that
there was indeed a ship sitting crookedly on the underwater
Fish swam in
and out of ports that had been somehow smashed, and a
sea horse hovered as if it was watching their approach.
pointing to the bridge. “I think we should check
out there first?” Bubbles danced from her mask,
ebbing away to the surface of the ocean like underwater
Mac nodded and
gave her the thumbs up, kicking hard to take point as
he flicked on a special waterproof flashlight. The beam
cut through the darkness as they pushed through an open
hatch into the bridge area.
It was empty.
leapt, could McKenna still be alive, or was his body,
and the rest of the crews’ elsewhere on the sunken
vessel? He floated across the bridge, looking for clues
as to why the ship had gone down, but there was nothing.
He whirled around
to face Dawson, who had picked up an officer’s cap
from the floor. A crab drifted out from it, fell back
to the deck plates and scurried away.
a brow beneath her mask. “They left in a hurry…”
nodded. He’d also spotted an empty coffee mug on
its side on the decking. But that didn’t give any
answers. “We should split up and search the rest
of the ship,” he suggested. I’ll go aft, you
gave him the thumbs up and kicked off out of the hatchway,
more bubbles trailing her.
checked his tank gauge, and then turned for another hatch
behind him. The hatch led to stairs down into the holds.
This was where the research equipment and weather balloons
where kept, and if The Eurybia had been carrying
something not on the manifest, it would probably have
been in the hold too. But what? What could a Phoenix
research ship be carrying that was worth this elaborate
plan? If there even had been a plan, Mac reminded
himself. So far, they’d seen no reason for the ship
He floated down
over the stairs into darkness, keeping his lamp directed
centrally into the gloom. Hold number one had two hatches,
and both were open. MacGyver slipped inside and wafted
his light across the length of the room. Equipment lay
toppled and smashed where it had broken from its securing
straps as the ship sank.
several large metal crates, Mac spotted what he was looking
for. There was a long gash in the hull that twisted outwards.
The Eurybia hadn’t hit another vessel;
the explosive force that had taken her to her grave had
come from within.
kicked towards the hole, examining it further as his beam
played across the torn metal plates. His experience with
bombs instantly told him the tale. The Eurybia
had definitely been brought here and scuttled on purpose.
But why and by who?
where is McKenna and the rest of his people?
you got anything?” It was Dawson, and she sounded
frustrated again. “There’s no sign of any
of the crew up here, and no evidence of any foul play.”
the reason she went down,” Mac confirmed. “But
not one body. I just need to check out the second hold
for the full sweep…” He moved away from the
hole as a myriad of luminous tiny fish pushed through
it and almost hit his faceplate.
Mac took down
a breath, enjoying their beauty for just a second before
heading for yet another hatch. He stopped short when he
realized there was a problem. The very last place McKenna
and his people could be was in hold number two, and the
only way in was blocked by yet another piece of damaged
equipment that had fallen across the doorway. He exhaled
sharply, sending bubbles after the shoal of minute fish.
The large shaft
was definitely going to be too heavy to move with just
brute force, and MacGyver had no intention of going back
topside without all the answers. He spun around, his eyes
searching for something amongst the gloomy waters that
he could work with.
him was electronic, and in this situation, quite useless.
He remembered hold number one, and swam back through the
hatch to more interesting bounty. Several of the weather
balloons had burst from their cases and were floating
around like giant bright red jelly fish. Now this was
Mac wafted towards
the smallest and caught it in his gloved hands. An idea
was forming, and he’d done similar in the past using
water, but this time he was going to reverse the process.
balloon up like an expended parachute, he towed it back
to the shaft blocking his way. The metal arm was from
some kind of portable crane, and it had kinked in the
middle as it had impacted with the hatch.
the small balloon under the arm carefully so as not to
tear it, and then checked his tank gauge again. He wasn’t
going to have much time left after his little “trick”
to check out the hold, but it would save them coming back
He sucked down
two or three long breaths, then unhooked the oxygen supply
to his mask, letting it flow into the opening at the base
of the weather balloon. After a few moments, the captured
air began to slowly fill the balloon, inflating it. As
it moved upwards, trying to get to the Atlantic’s
surface, it gradually took the shaft with it.
The metal screeched
under the water as it grated on the hatch, leaving huge
scratch marks in its wake.
When the hatch
was finally clear, MacGyver re-attached his airline, took
several grateful breaths, and then swung open the doorway
with a couple of yanks on the handle.
Inside hold number
two seemed even darker and more eerie than its predecessor.
If Mac had been superstitious at all, he would have balked
as he entered. It was always silent beneath the waves,
and yet here, somehow the silence seemed interminable.
his flashlight around, picking out more equipment. Mostly
here it had remained secured to the deck plates with huge
straps, and there was no room for anything to be “missing.”
didn’t make sense. If The Eurybia had been
hijacked for her cargo, then how come nothing appeared
to be absent?
Mac paused in
mid-thought. Actually, there was something missing –
a very big something. This hold, just like the others
was completely empty. There wasn’t one single crewman’s
remembered his early conversation with Dawson. “This
isn’t the Marie Celeste or The Cylclops…”
Except, maybe it was.
suddenly felt cold – not beneath the ocean cold,
but cold to the bone. It was like some ghostly presence
had wrapped a blanket of pure ice around him, and he couldn’t
shake it off. His faceplate began to lightly mist over,
and he felt an uncontrollable urge to flee back to the
surface. You’re running low on oxygen anyway,
Mac turned to
head back to the hatch he’d just freed off, but
something caught on the light in his hand and it was tugged
from his grasp, landing in some hidden depth where no
radiance showed. He was plunged into instant darkness.
let it get to you…its just coincidence…your
mind’s playing tricks!
his eyes and took a couple of long, calming breaths. He
was about to try to feel for the light, when something
touched him – something like long spindly fingers
wrapping themselves around his arm until it hurt.