Astrid and Christopher continued their work aboard Amphitrite, learning a great deal about oceanography, marine biology, undersea seismography, global weather patterns, and other related topics. They made one other scuba dive, but experienced no adventure quite like the one with the amorous seal. They also made a dive in the mini-subs, sailing in and among the icebergs. It was a crystalline wonderland. They also endured two days of extremely rough seas.
Astrid received video calls from home about every other day, as did Christopher. She spoke to her parents often, though conspicuously absent from their conversations was any news of Maxxim Industries and its financial situation. She also spoke several times with Denise and the two Valeries, and once to Austin. She talked several times at length with Maxwell Bauer. Sadly there were no more calls from Toby. Five days after her underwater adventure, Astrid received a call from Connor Brown at the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
“Hello Miss Maxxim. I just wanted to let you know that my idiot… my movie director has found the site of your great-grandfather’s camp. He also discovered what it is that’s under the ice.”
“It’s not a shape-changing alien, is it?” she asked.
“No. It’s gold—possibly a lot of it. Of course currently the United Nations prohibits any mining beyond simple research on the continent. That being said, your family might have some claim to it, based on your great-grandfather’s discovery. It will probably take years to figure out the legality of it all.”
“Well I don’t want any of it. My feeling is that rather than destroying the fragile ecosystem of Antarctica, it should be left there for posterity. If, in the future, technology is developed to safely mine it, then the money from the sale of the gold should be set aside for the preservation of the continent.”
“I agree with you completely, Miss Maxxim, but can you speak for your whole family?”
“I can on this,” she said.
“Excellent. I’m going to pass all this up to the politicians. In the meantime, our movie director, Bart Greenwood is his name, wondered if you wanted to visit the site. I have his coordinates.”