Authors: Victor Appleton II
THE TOM SWIFT INVENTION ADVENTURES
BY VICTOR APPLETON II
This unauthorized tribute is based upon the original TOM SWIFT JR. characters.
As of this printing, copyright to The New TOM SWIFT Jr. Adventures is owned by SIMON & SCHUSTER
This edition privately printed by RUNABOUT © 2011
"ATLANTIS dead ahead, skipper!" sang out Slim Davis as he piloted Swift Enterprises’ newest super-submersible, the
through the cold dark depths of the mid-Atlantic.
Before young Tom Swift, captain of the expedition, could respond, his pal Bud Barclay exclaimed excitedly,
Man, this whale of a sub is faster than a greased barracuda! Or have I said that before?"
Tom grinned at his friend’s compliment as he joined Slim at the wheel. Gazing out the cabin’s broad, curving viewpane, the blond-haired scientist-inventor exchanged his grin for a frown. In the darkness beyond the craft’s aqualamp beam lay mystery and adventure! "Not much to see so far," he murmured.
Slim gestured at one of the screens on the control board. "But the sonarscope readings match the topography readout perfectly. We’ve locked on to the same route you fellows recorded on your first visit in the
"Let’s hope this visit is a little less rocky," Bud remarked wryly and dryly.
While combing the Atlantic seabed for a lost rocket in Tom’s original diving seacopter, Tom and Bud had discovered a sunken city of ancient, overgrown ruins that accompanying scientists believed were traces of the legendary lost island of Atlantis. Tom had led an eventful and danger-filled life since that distant day, his inventions carrying him to many corners of the globe and up into the void of space surrounding it. But he had always planned a return to the seafloor city, and during his most recent expedition—to the Yucatan jungles with his electronic retroscope camera—his father had thrown the full weight of their mammoth invention facility behind the effort. Months of strenuous preparation were at last bearing fruit, and the present preliminary survey of the site was the project’s first step.
Less than an hour had passed since Tom and his crew had ended their brief stopover in Helium City, Enterprises’ gas extraction station on the ocean floor near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Leaving the hydrodome and the jagged spine of subsea mountains behind them, the
was now approaching the chain of geological features known as the Horseshoe Seamounts, which lay between the Madeira Islands to the south and the coast of Portugal to the northeast. It was here, among looming plateaus and overhanging cliffs, that the seacopter had been half-buried by falling boulders. Tom and Bud had nearly ended their lives trapped in a deep chasm which had never known the sun.
Zimby Cox, an experienced company sub captain with a background in marine technology, joined the watchers at the viewpane. "How’s it hangin’ back there, Zim?" asked Bud.
"Shipshape in the cargo hold," replied Cox, whose full given name, rarely pronounced aloud, was Zimbalest. "That watery warehouse must be as big as the hangar inside your Flying Lab, Tom." The giant-sized stratoship, the
carried a hold on the lowest of its three decks large enough to serve as a hangar for shuttle aircraft.
"In cubic feet you’re just about right," Tom stated; "if you add the port and starboard holds together."
was one of the three new oversized seacopters that Tom had been designing for some time now, and the first of the three to be completed and ready for service. These craft, several times the size of the
and the later
had a wide curving fore-edge that tapered smoothly toward the stern into a protruding tail section. The overall effect suggested the kiteshaped fins and flattened body of the manta ray—also called the devilfish. Nicknamed the mantacopters, each submersible sported two rotor wells which vertically penetrated the low flat hull on either side of the prow control cabin. The whirling prop blades were used to hold the ship underwater against the effect of its buoyancy. The mantacops had been developed to carry the bulky equipment and extensive supplies required by large undersea operations. Like the other seacopters, they were powered by compact atomic reactors and driven by jets of superheated steam.
Leaning over the controls, Tom now swiveled the diamond-bright aqualamp beam and set it to a greater range. A wall of gray rock, dotted with long streamers of deepwater vegetation, leapt into view. "Stand-to, Slim," Tom directed. Slim Davis immediately reversed the powerful steam jets. The
eased to a hovering halt, thirty feet above the floor.
"Shouldn’t Cromwell be up here to see this?" Bud asked. "I mean, he
here as an observer."
observer," agreed Tom. A slight tinge in the young inventor’s voice made Bud smile. Lieutenant Cromwell, an officer in the US Navy, had joined the Enterprises expedition at the request of ONDAR, the Office of National Defense Applied Research. Tom had worked with this government agency before. In the present case the request was backed by the Navy and the State Department, who were concerned with various legal issues surrounding American activity at the site of the ruins, which lay in international waters. Tom and his father cooperated. But Bud knew his pal was always somewhat leery of any "official" involvement that might complicate a scientific project or compromise its goals.
A rough-hewn heavyset man who somehow seemed ill at ease in his Navy uniform, Darrin Cromwell had already rubbed Tom and Bud the wrong way in the several days since his arrival at Swift Enterprises. He had a habit of pestering them with aggressive questions. Tom assumed they were relevant to legal matters. But he didn’t like them. And Bud, characteristically, was willing to add that he didn’t like the man himself.
"Lieutenant Cromwell to control," Tom intercommed. "We’re beginning our approach to the site."
"Be right there,"
came the reply over the speaker. In a moment the Navy man entered the spacious cabin through one of the watertight bulkhead doors that connected the control deck to the string of special-purpose compartments that wound their way around the two rotor wells. "So this is it, hmm, boys? Submarine city of gold! Picked up any gold traces on your metal-detector yet?"
"Nothing unusual," Tom responded, gesturing at Slim to resume forward motion. "The inhabitants must’ve mined the gold some distance from the city. Didn’t Admiral Hopkins brief you on all the specs, Lieutenant?"
Cromwell gave a dismissive shrug. "Oh, the documentation was fairly thorough. But those details aren’t important to me. My job is simply to report your findings. Old Hopkins said most of the operation is top secret."
"Sure," Bud retorted. "Imagine what’d happen if word leaked out about all that gold lying around unclaimed!"
The officer hissed out a chuckle. "A submarine gold rush probably."
"Worse than that," Tom said gravely. "It could lead to real international trouble."
"Right, right. I see what you mean." Cromwell’s voice grew tense as he went on. "But what a setup! If that undersea layout is really built of solid gold, it must be worth more than Fort Knox!"
Surprised by the officer’s greedy tone, Tom retorted, "We’re not going as gold prospectors, Lieutenant. That lost city may hold the answers to a whole flock of historical and geological problems!"
"Well, I’m all for science," was the reply, a bit sarcastic. "I take it you’ll be retrieving some artifacts and specimens to take back."
"Yes, a few. We need a clearer idea of what we’re dealing with here. But the main purpose is to map out the site."
"Yeah. You need to figure where to set up that bubble machine of yours."
It was Tom’s plan to use his matter-repelling device, the repelatron, to push back the waters and create a giant bubble, or series of bubbles, over large areas of the city. The scientists would be able to live in these air-filled hydrodomes in a comfortable shirtsleeve environment without the encumbrance of bulky protective suits. He had used the same method to establish his permanent helium-mining facility.
Further conversation was forestalled by a low cry from Slim Davis. "There it is, Tom. That must be the pass the
went through last time."
"It sure looks familiar," Bud commented. "I don’t remember it being so narrow, though."
"Don’t forget, flyboy—that avalanche brought down a lot of rock," Tom pointed out as he studied the broken cliffside. "Anyway, we always knew the
would never be able to work its way through."
"I know that’s the plan, but still—" The young pilot’s brow creased beneath his straggling lock of dark hair. "Isn’t the upper route pretty much blocked off?"
Cromwell glanced at Tom with narrowed eyes. "Blocked off? What’s he referring to?"
Tom gave the Navy officer a muted look of surprise. Just what
the man been briefed on? "The city sits on the floor of a sort of narrow box canyon with a single outlet, the pass. It’s completely surrounded by very high, steep cliffs. The opening at the top comes in at a slant—sort’ve like the chute on a mailbox, if you see what I mean. The overhang shields the ruins from sight, including sonar depth-mapping and imaging."
Cromwell nodded. "Got it. So now we slide down that chute."
"I’d prefer keeping an even keel to sliding," Tom responded curtly.
He now directed Slim to slightly decrease the rate of the rotors. The mantacopter bobbed upward gently, and the jagged side of the barrier cliff slid downward across the viewpane past their watchful eyes. As Zimby read off numbers from the sonarscope, Slim deftly guided the craft forward over the top spine of the seamount, then followed its slope downward again.
Tom pointed. "That way. About twenty degrees to portside."
"Just what are you aiming at, skipper?" asked Bud. "I don’t see any opening at all."
"Look at that forest of seaweed," directed his pal. "I’m sure it’s covering the entrance. Sonar says it isn’t very dense. We can’t see through it, but I’m betting we can push through it without difficulty."
The Enterprises personnel all trusted Tom’s instincts and scientific judgment, but it was impossible not to feel a surge of anxiety as the
edged its way into the screen of indigo streamers. Yet there was no jolt, no impact. The waving vegetation crawled lazily across the window of Tomaquartz, then parted before them like a curtain. They had made it through!
Cromwell muttered, "Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?"
The sub was now moving through an open space beneath a down-tilting rock ceiling. The aqualamp revealed a corresponding slope beneath them, and walls that faded off into the dim distance. "Big as a football field!" Bud breathed.
"And it widens out below. The actual canyon floor, the site of the ruins, is at least a mile across," Tom reminded him. "Just imagine the sort of tremendous upheaval that shattered these slabs of ocean bedrock and forced the fragments up on end!"
Obviously unimpressed, Lieutenant Cromwell noted that the slope fell off into darkness one hundred yards ahead. "Must be the edge of the canyon, hmm?"
The mantacopter sailed over the edge, then paused, hanging in watery space as Tom switched on the hull-bottom aqualamp and angled it sharply downward. Grinning but silent, he gestured broadly as the crew craned their necks.
"Lord above!" gasped Zimby Cox. "It’s fantastic!"
The electronic gleam lit the floor of the subocean canyon like a miniature sun. The submarine city, crumbling and overgrown but clearly visible, spread out in all directions. They could see square and circular structures, collapsed towers, traces of broken columns, scattered blocks of worked stone, and small upthrust objects that might prove to be statues or monuments. The pattern of streets was still evident to the eye.
Cromwell interrupted the moment of stunned reverie. "Looks more brown and green than gold."
Tom stared at him disapprovingly. "The real surfaces, gold or not, are underneath all that accumulated gunk. In fact, clearing it away is the purpose of a new invention that we’ll be freighting along when we come back to set up operations."
As Slim brought the
down into the maw of the canyon, Zimby half-turned to Tom and said, "Skipper, I meant to tell you—you might want to take a look at Hatchway Four."
"Not necessarily. But when I was checking out the airlock sequencing controller, there was a little fluctuation in the circuit. It straightened itself out almost immediately, but I thought I’d mention it."
"Thanks, Zim. C’mon, Bud, let’s take a look."
As Tom led Bud through the corridor to the starboard hold, he said quietly, "Lieutenant Cromwell doesn’t seem to have absorbed his briefings very well, has he."