Eighth Fire
back in
their seats hard and just as quickly the pressure relented. The
landscape whizzed by and a moment later the car said, “Rotating to
decelerate. You will experience six gees on deceleration.” The car
rotated and decelerated. “Destination reached. External temperature
one two six degrees Fahrenheit. Exiting not recommended.”
    Mark said, “This is the place, in the water.
I feel it. He’s about fifty feet down.”
    True to form, LeOmi didn’t say a word; she
just opened her door. A blast of heat filled the interior of the
cab. She put her hood up and stepped out. Mark did the same.
    LeOmi went to the water’s edge, knelt and
put her hand in up to the wrist, pulled it right back out, started
waving it around and yelling.
    Mark said, “I don’t get the sense he’s in
any immediate danger of dying. Let’s get back in the car and talk
about what we can do.”
    LeOmi glared at him for a second, shrugged
and went back to the car.
    Once inside Mark said, “I’m driving. Is this
vehicle submersible?”
    “Submersion function is available.”
    Mark saw a slight smile cross LeOmi’s lips.
“Take us fifty feet down, fifty yards out.”
    There was a faint hiss followed by a low
click before the vehicle moved. The car’s voice said, “Submersion
function active. Fifteen minute air reserve.” Fifty yards from the
bank the vehicle slid below the surface.
    Twenty feet down a rocky peak appeared
outside the front glass and at fifty feet they could see a small,
upside-down submarine trapped in a rock slide, nose up with the
tail section buried in the rubble.
    LeOmi said, “That’s it. How’re we going to
do this?”
    “We can try to nudge the sub free with the
car. What’s the water temperature here?”
    The car said, “Water temperature is
seven-three point six degrees Fahrenheit.”
    Mark continued, “If that doesn’t work, I
have an oxy-cap, I can give you half and we can go out and try to
clear the hatch enough to get him out.”
    “Exit function not available.”
    “Well, then what’s the surface water
temperature?”
    “Surface water temperature is one-two-four
point nine degrees Fahrenheit.”
    “We can fill our pockets with rocks and dive
down. The really hot water is probably just near the surface.”
    LeOmi said, “That’s doable. Let’s go.”
    “There is another option. I know it’s not
something you’re willing to do, but we could just wait.”
    “Are you flippin’ crazy? I’m going to do
what I can to save him.”
    “What if he doesn’t need our help? Think
about it. This is a testing day. Maybe this is a test for him and
we’re just interfering. I can’t believe nobody knows he’s
here.”
    “You’re stupid. There may be just a one in a
gazillion chance we’re his only hope, but I’m here and I’m able. I
can and I will act. Now you think about this: if we were his only
hope and chose to just sit around and watch him die; could you live
with that? I couldn’t.”
    Mark remembered exactly how he felt when he
had refused to let Benrah tell him something and Mr. Diefenderfer
and Mr. Young had been savagely eviscerated as a result.
    “I see what you mean. Let’s do it.” He spoke
toward the dashboard. “Is there a manual control for this
vehicle?”
    “Manual function available. State
authorization.”
    “I don’t have an authorization. This is an
emergency and I need manual control.”
    A moment passed before the car said,
“Emergency authorization confirmed.” An arm with two joysticks
emerged from beneath the dash. “Manual control active.”
    Mark took the right stick, eased it forward
ever so slightly and the vehicle moved backwards. “This is going to
take a bit to get used to.” He tried nudging the control to the
right and left, getting a feel for how the car responded. Moving
the left joystick backwards and forward controlled the pitch of the
vehicle, roll was controlled by left-right movements and yaw was
controlled by twisting the handle. A thumb

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