The jarring note was that there were no bubbles. Enough other things could happen to make a one-man sub disappear in the Pacific. I found myself getting angry again at this bunch who were being so free with their energy. With the tent roof out of danger they moved around and began pushing the load in the direction the girl went after finding it. Bert Whelstrahl had disappeared in this volume of water a year before. Suppose it takes longer than my air supply? The hope lasted for nearly six hours.
Luckily all three got through the meshes of the net which was still around me without being jammed. As it turned out, I should have watched some of the other instruments, though their reading would have been no comfort either — and there would have been nothing to do about them. The lead made the real difference; I would still float with all the rest. I was also beginning to wonder where they got so much of it. Certainly he had seen me, or rather the tank.
The last time was over fifteen years ago. At first they led down out of sight, but as I came closer I found I could see the bottom ends of those on the farther side of the opening. These weights took nearly all the stress off the tow rope and removed any hope there might have been of its breaking at the last moment. The motion was slow — even with a weightless load there was plenty of water to push out of the way — and we were more than fifteen minutes on the trip. When would the first go? It parted, and once more the sub disappeared below me. He put on a larger-than-life-size grin the moment he got a good look through my port, gave another bit of knuckle play on the tank and then drew back and raised one eyebrow in an oh-no-what-do-we-do-with-this-one expression.
The meshes wound around the tank even more tightly during the turn. They probably were, since their maneuvers were perfectly coordinated. My friend, however, had different ideas. There seemed nothing to lose by it, so I extended all the legs at once. He was too smart to fight me directly, though he probably could have managed it; instead, he let me get moving and then supplied an extra shove to one side so that I either overshot or missed the right position. Believe it if you can. I watched them as well as I could, trying to spot where there was an edge — anything to tell me that there was more weight of net on one side of me than the other.
But does the oxygen have to come in gas form? It was partly successful; at least, the strong language stopped, and she took time out to think before she spoke again. Chapter Seven I was awakened by being tossed around; the storm was still on. He moved a little away from me to free his hands for signaling, waved them for about ten seconds in a complicated pattern that meant nothing to me, and then came back and took hold of the tank once more. The gabble of speech which drenches every other inhabited part of Earth was totally lacking. However, if this were such a liquid it must be at least as dense as water and probably denser. The principle ought to be plain enough; it was simply a matter of letting the appropriate spring push out a leg against the bottom, on the side I wanted to go away from.
I had not been aware of swimming uphill during any of the trip. Art Blastside in her third daring adventure upon the high seas. In its place a dozen smaller beams illuminated the whole area, none of them shining directly our way; so I could see the newcomer fairly well. There was no way to tell, or even to make a decent guess. That took the rest of the tension off the rope, and I began to sink.
How could a few hundred people possibly do such a job? I watched, helpless but hopeful, to see whether the single rope was strong enough to drag me down when they really put weight on the boat. I was in no position to say such armor was impossible, but I wished I could make at least a vague guess as to how it was done. I spent most of the time cursing myself — not for making the change, but for failing to take advantage of the time between decision and action by getting more information from Bert. The whole situation was as bad physically as the original descent had been mentally. Maybe it would be better if I moved a little farther away.
It looked like a rather untidy bundle of rope. One of the new ones was towing a piece of equipment about three feet long, cylindrical in shape, and a little more than a foot in diameter. Thus when three of the Power Board's agents disappeared at sea, and there was evidence that something irregular was happening to the energy quota in that area, it was cause for real alarm. Joey could be here or could have been killed, though the latter went very much against the grain to believe. It will not, however, unless he is immersed in an ocean of mercury, let him swim; and this clearly human figure was swimming. I could think of nothing to do but wait for him, as far as the main program was concerned. I made little progress with the rolling.
This promised to be rather inconvenient too, since the liquid was fairly viscous, though less so than water. This was a little annoying. There was no boiling or other special behavior. It was Bert Whelstrahl, who had disappeared a year before. It was a good bet that they were, since my return was certainly expected. . I was alone at last, bound once more for the surface.