Liam hoped in the car in what can only be described as a bouncy manner, the smile evident on his face. In a heart-warming ceremony just two days ago all his hard work had finally paid off. He had graduated from University. His loving family had been there to wish him well. But perhaps most meaningful, to Liam, was his professor. The professor was a kind, middle-aged man. The calm type, but with that special glimmer in his eye that seemed to say there was something he knew that you didn't.
He pulled Liam aside after the ceremony. "So, you made it after all. I always knew you would. You're the best student I've ever had, Liam." He gave Liam a fatherly pat on the shoulder.
"Gee, thanks Prof," Liam smiled.
"So I hear you've got an interview at InterTron." Liam nodded. The professor seemed like he was about to say something else, his face taking on a more serious tone, when his sister interrupted.
"There you are! We're about to go over to the dance, let's go."
He turned back to the professor, but the expression was gone. "Yes, best get going. And listen," his tone grew more somber. "Always trust your instincts." Then, in a friendly tone. "Good Luck!" As Liam walked away, if someone were watching, they would have noticed the professor's face grow ever more worried.
But Liam never saw that look. For him it was just some well meant advice from a favorite teacher. He had got the job, the interview went great. Something about his tour of the office made him feel that there was something odd about the place, but the money was really good and the interviewer seemed friendly.
And now it was coffee-time with the old gang. As they sped off into the night, Liam could hardly contain his excitement. "Hey guys, I got the job!" A chorus of congratulations was emitted from the mini-van's occupants.
"So when do you start?" asked Cliff, expertly weaving the vehicle through slower moving traffic.
"Uhh... next week some time."
"Excellent," said Sam. "You can come with us tomorrow."
"Yah, we're going to the naval yards," added James. "They're giving tours of one of the old submarines."
Liam's mood seemed to have suddenly quieted down. "No, that's okay, I'll pass."
"Come on," said Kelly. "They've got hot dogs and chips."
"No," repeated Liam. "I never want to set foot in a submarine." Almost. He almost added the word "again." Perhaps one day he would finally tell his friends about what happened. Oh, that fateful day aboard his uncle's submarine... Would that day ever cease to haunt him? No, never again would he enter a submarine.
Three weeks later.
Another depth charge rocked the sub, and therefore Liam; sounds of pipes bursting, metal twisting and screaming. The sub wouldn't take many more of these. And this bomb in front of him. How many such shocks could it withstand? The casing he had already removed, bypassing the wiring which, ordinarily, would have caused the entire thing to blow.
"Sir, the Australians have launched two more torpedoes!"
"Evasive maneuvers!" He shouted.
"Sire, they've also sent over this message." The corporal handed him the sheet of paper. Liam, I will destroy you and the Theta Device if I have to. You will all die! Sam. Liam would dearly love to make Sam pay - for all the hurt, the betrayal. How did he not see it coming? If only they had discovered earlier that Sam's mother was half-Australian. Perhaps he could have saved his sister's life.
And James. Brave James, shot during their daring raid on InterTron's research laboratory. How he would dearly love to pay Sam back, but firing the torpedoes would only detonate the device now staring back at him.
"Liam! We're running out of power," Kelly radioed from the engine room. "If we don't get out of this mess soon, we'll be sitting ducks." Liam could hear the tension in his voice, but still calm. He knew Kelly would keep it together even up until the end, should it come to that.
He pushed the intercom button. "Don't worry Kelly, we'll make it out of this yet," he reassured. With a gritty determination, he added: "No submarine is going down on my watch."
"Sir, the first two torpedoes have missed," said the Corporal. "but they've just launched two more."
"Evasive maneuvers!" He shouted, pointing emphatically towards the navigation console. Turning back to the bomb, he studied it carefully. His only hope of escape was to try to recall the schematic he had memorized while hacking InterTron's computer system. He recognized the power module and LED counter mechanism, but what were these other circuits. This explosive had been modified.
"They've modified it!" he exclaimed. What to do now? How could he be certain which chip to bypass?
Three more explosions rocked the sub as the depth charges grew nearer.
"Sir!" The corporal exclaimed. "There's a mine field, dead-ahead. If we go near them, we're doomed."
"Bring us about!"
"How do you drive this thing?" Yelled Cliff. "What do I do?"
Calmly. "Turn that dial until it reads one-eighty, then press the activate button." Grim tension as Cliff hurried to follow Liam's instructions.
"Okay, now what?"
"Now we need to try to get under those depth charges. Take us down to eight hundred feet."
"But Sir! We're only rated for seven hundred feet!" Exclaimed the Corporal.
Liam stared calmly at Cliff. "We're just going to have to take that chance." A flicker of doubt flickered across Liam's face. His uncle's sub had caved at only seven hundred fifty feet. Was he doing the right thing?
"Okay," nodded Cliff. "What do I do?"
"Hold down the dive lever until we reach eight hundred. The computer won't let you do it, so you'll have to turn the safeties off."
Cliff turned back to face his console, his brow mopped with sweat. He trusted Liam, but... He toggled the 'Computer Safeties' switch to the off position and began to descend down to eight hundred feet.
Liam tried to maintain his composure. He knew his men would instantly sense his fear, and that would spell disaster.
If only his professor were here, instead of killed by the government and InterTron. They'd have the world believe there was no such thing as the Theta Device.
The professor's dying words were right. Bringing the Theta Device to the U.N. conference was the only chance.
Seven hundred fifty.
But would they make it in time? Or sink to the deepest depths of the ocean, the secret buried beneath a watery grave.
"Sir, eight hundred feet! And the torpedoes have sailed right over top of us."
"Good, now --"
"Liam! We're almost out of power!" Kelly radioed in.
Liam thought about this for a second. "Run on emergency power!" He radioed back.
"Sir! Four more torpedoes in the water, heading our way fast!"
"Evasive maneuvers, quickly!" He rushed back to the bomb. Oh, if only the professor were here, he could disarm the bomb. "If only the Prof were here," he mumbled to himself. "But what would he do?" Liam stared at the exposed circuits contemplatively.
"He'd trust his instincts!" Exclaimed Liam. He deftly attached the clips to bypass the primary circuit, neutralizing the bomb's trigger.
"Sir, torpedo functions restored!" Liam looked up to see the 'Torpedoes Online' light illuminated. Normally, he'd take a moment to congratulate himself, but right now, he just didn't have the time.
A second later the explosion of Sam's submarine echoed throughout the hull. "Direct hit, sir! We've also avoided the torpedoes, but the destroyer is now directly above us, and they've begun targeting their depth charges for eight hundred feet."
Liam and Cliff rushed to the sonar console. A profile of the destroyer was clearly displayed as 'Depth Charges: 800 feet' blinked next to it.
"Quickly, before they have time to drop them in the water: Launch the vertical torpedo!"
"But that's never been tested," exclaimed Cliff. "With our power levels so low, it could malfunction. We could all die."
Liam gripped a nearby hand-rail. "If we don't make it to the U.N. conference, millions could die." He added quietly: "Maybe even billions."
Both the corporal and Cliff nodded solemnly and did what need to be done. They all held their breaths as the rumble of the vertical torpedo shook the ship. But it worked! Up above their heads, the destroyer was blown into a million pieces.
They all breathed a sigh of relief and exchanged some well deserved smiles. "Now," said Liam. "Let's get to the U.N."
One week later.
In full navy uniform, Liam, his left arm in a cast, quietly walked the rows of the graveyard. He hadn't even noticed breaking his arm aboard the submarine. Stopping before his uncle's tombstone, he placed a single rose on top of it. And with a peace he hadn't felt since his uncle died, saluted and returned home