Foam on the Large Wave

 

(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)

 

 

 

  Chapter 12

 

 

Nelson leaned forward across his desk, his steely eyes seeming to bore through the double agent.  “I will protect you as long as I believe Lee Crane is alive and as long as I feel you are giving me correct information.”   

Ajaamil swallowed hard and nodded.  

“Was Captain Crane taken to Hikeru?” Nelson asked. 

“Yes, he was taken there directly from Taipei.”

The admiral sighed.  “And is Mendon still working for the Republic?”   Ajaamil shook his head.  Nelson pounced.  “No one quits the Republic.  Not totally.”

“Admiral, the Republic’s spy network unraveled after the coup d’etat a year ago. That was when Dr. Mendon decided to work with Bomar and help him in his ambitions.”

Harriman leaned back in satisfaction.  So the rumors had been true.  Despite the outwardly smooth transition between one ruthless leader and another, some of the inner workings of the People’s Republic had been damaged.   “And it doesn’t hurt to be able to experiment in a remote location as well,” Nelson said caustically.  “Where does that leave you, Mr. Ajaamil? You are a smaller fish and much more vulnerable.”

“That left me with a new identity, Admiral.  But after so long even that becomes vulnerable.”

“Yes, I suppose so, Mr. Chonil,” Harriman said evenly. 

Ajaamil/Chonil smiled softly.  “My bosses always said you were too smart.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t at least partially responsible for the Republic’s . . . upheaval.”

“You give me too much credit,” replied Nelson tersely.   “There is still power in the Republic.”  Chonil just shrugged.  The admiral continued.  “You know I will keep my end of the bargain.  You will keep yours.  If I think you are trying to work another double cross, you will be in the brig, under sedation so fast even you will be surprised.  And it will only take suspicion.”

“I understand, Admiral.”

“Have you been to the island?” the admiral asked.  Chonil shook his head.  “Very well.    Nelson called for security, then turned to Morton.  “Chip, escort Mr. Chonil to an extra secure cabin.  Keep a guard outside at all times.  If there is suspicious activity, follow procedure alpha.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“And come back when you’re through.” 

Chip nodded and left with the prisoner and the security team. 

Harriman Nelson saw in his mind that early morning over a month ago when Lee paddled away.  He pulled a cigarette from a half empty pack by his elbow, but didn’t light it.  Instead, he got up and headed toward the control room.  As had been the case since they left Santa Barbara, all eyes focused on him when he arrived.  “Mr. O’Brien.” 

“Yes, Admiral?”

Nelson motioned to the chart table. “I want the general course to continue toward Wellington, but I want a more northerly route, one that will make us appear to be casting about if anyone in the vicinity is keeping tabs on our movements.”   O’Brien nodded.   “And I want absolute radio silence established now, with a guard on duty to make sure no one is tempted to break it.”

O’Brien looked puzzled, but didn’t question the admiral’s orders.  “Aye, sir,” was his only response.

“And I will brief Commander Morton,” Nelson added, circumventing another question. 

Sparks was on duty.  He, too, was surprised, but like O’Brien, he acknowledged the orders and went back to his watch.  A man-at-arms showed up as the admiral left the control room.  He was back at his cabin in a few moments but wasn’t surprised to see Morton already waiting.  “Come on in, Chip.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee and make yourself comfortable.”

Morton poured a cup for the admiral as well as himself before he set down.  He read the brief that the admiral slid across the table to him.  “You knew all along, didn’t you?” 

Nelson sighed.  “I guessed when he showed up at the Institute.  What he brought was too amateurish, sloppy.  It was like he was frightened of something and forgot how to be a successful agent.   I did some checking and found all the information.”

“And brought him on board,” Chip said, halfway accusing.

Nelson laughed.  “Think about it, Chip.  Where better to keep a double agent under wraps.” 

“Admiral, may I assume that Ajaamil or Chonil or whoever he is, that his news wasn’t welcome?”

Nelson picked up the cigarette and a lighter.  Then he put it down again.  After Lee had left and his anxiety had him smoking on board again, another scathing lecture from the CMO had elicited a promise to quit the habit once and for all.  He had already broken that promise a couple of times.  With a sigh, Harriman stuffed the cigarette back into the carton..  “No, Chip.  Now I don’t know what to expect.”  He paused, then crushed the pack in a tightly clenched fist.  “Or maybe I do and that’s what bothers me.”

“Can you explain, Admiral?”

“Apparently you’ve never heard of Paul Mendon,” Nelson said.  His executive officer shook his head. 

“He used to be the Republic’s chief biological and chemical warfare scientist.  Said to be a genius at the fine art of torture, too.”

Morton gasped.  “And Lee’s been in his hands for at least two weeks?”   Nelson nodded.  “May God help him,” Chip murmured.   “Do you think this Mendon will be able to get the information?”

“I don’t know.  What worries me most is what lasting effects the attempt will have on Lee.”

“Then it’s absolutely imperative that we take extra precautions to assure they don’t know we’re coming.” 

“It’s been done, Chip,” Nelson said and outlined his new orders. 

Chip nodded.  “It appears that this new course will actually save a little time, too.”

“Yes, almost half a day.”

Just then, the intercom buzzed.  “Admiral, security reports that the prisoner has apparently committed suicide.”

Nelson and Morton looked at each other in surprise. 

“I guess he didn’t trust me to protect him,” Nelson said tersely. 

“Fear is a very real force,” Chip added. 

Indeed it was, Harriman thought as he got up.  “I’d better go down and check.  I would hate to think some other double agent could be on board to snafu this mission.”

“Prandjit?”

Sighing, Harriman just shrugged.  “I don’t think so, but I just don’t know for sure anymore.”

 

                           ==========================

   

After hours in the lab, alternately being pumped with truth drugs, hallucinogens, exacerbated by the biochemical Mendon had forced him to drink, Lee was finally back in his cell.  He was exhausted, physically and emotionally.  Why can’t it have an end? he wondered.  In the dimness, his eyes didn’t hurt quite as much, although his vision was still very blurred.  He lay quietly on the cot.  There was nothing else he could do.  His head and stomach didn’t protest nearly as much when he was still.  What bright ideas do you have now, hot shot? he thought bitterly.  Absolutely nothing.  If the tracer had worked long enough to give the Seaview a handle on his location, they would have been here by now.  He was on his own and he was effectively shackled to Dr. Doom’s torture chamber.  Lee felt a ‘flu’ moment coming on and took a couple of deep breaths to try and bring it under control.

La’ani?  Maybe she could send a message stateside, but then he wondered if she even had access to public communications.  Lee got the impression that Bomar controlled everything—except Mendon, of course.  Laughing bitterly, he thought that some day Mendon was going to rear up and bite the hand that was feeding him.  No, not going to involve La’ani any more than I already have.  Don’t want her down here as a prisoner. 

Lee must have dozed off because a light touch startled him.  From his sleep, he imagined Mendon, hypo in hand.  He cried out and tried to knock the hand away. 

“Shh,” La’ani admonished, afraid that the noise would bring someone. 

“What?” he asked groggily.  The door behind her was open and searingly bright light caused him to blink and rub his eyes.  Open?  She had never left the door that widely open before.  Her face was a blur but he thought he saw her smiling.

“Come,” she ordered softly.

“What?” he repeated, not moving.  He wondered if he was having one of his dreams/nightmares and the door would close in his face and La’ani would turn into Mendon with another hypodermic in his hand.

Although she understood his reticence, they needed to leave now, or there would be no escape.  “Lee,” she said, exasperated.  “Come on!”

Then Lee understood.  She was helping him escape.  “La’ani, I . . . uh, you’ll get in trouble.”

She laughed softly, although there was no mirth there.  “I can’t be more in trouble, I think.  My father was brought here and my brother.  My brother died here and my father’s body broken here.  I get to work here,” she reminded him.  “It was bad before, it is even worse now.”

“Mendon?” he asked, still trying to shake the cobwebs from his mind.  So tired!  “I’m sorry, La’ani.  About your father and brother.” 

“Yes, now come on,” she said brusquely, tugging at his arm.  Now wasn’t the time to discuss old hurts and horrors.   They had to leave now!

He sat up, felt the nausea increase with the movement and waited a moment for his body to stop protesting.   Then he slowly stood up.  He felt La’ani’s anxiety, but could do nothing to speed up his progress. 

“We’ll go through the kitchen and through the storage cave,” she explained in a whisper as they left his cell.

“Wait a minute,” Lee said, stopping in his doorway.  “Isn’t there usually some guard around here?”

“Teva, and he was called to the Leaders quarters,” she replied.  “So we have to hurry!  After we get out of here, I will lead you to a secret place where I have been gathering things for the time I escape Hikeru.  There will be others there who will help us.”

“You’ve been planning?” he asked.

“Shh!” she warned, tugging on his arm.  “I will answer your questions when we are away from here.” 

They continued slowly through the brightly lit corridor, Lee keeping his eyes shut.  Then something occurred to him and he stopped short. 

“What is it?” she hissed.  “We have to go.”  She was feeling exasperation, even though she knew Lee was in no shape to do anything quickly, including think.

“No, the antidotes,” Lee said, turning toward the laboratory.  He remembered Mendon’s words and his quick glance toward the second cabinet.

“What?” she asked.

“The medicines that will cure what Mendon has developed to give people.”

“Your doctors cannot figure out a cure?”  They had no time, La’ani thought, desperate.

Lee continued toward the laboratory.  “If Mendon starts a sickness among a large populations, having those counter-agents will help doctors tremendously.  Probably save hundreds or thousands of lives.” 

La’ani sighed, knowing he was right, but fearing if they took too long.  “I will check and see if anyone is there.  You wait here in the shadows.”

Lee nodded and leaned heavily against the cool wall.    

Soon she was back.  “Come,” she whispered and almost dragged him into the room.  “Where are these things you need?”

Lee turned in the direction of the two cabinets.   Everything seemed to waver and dance.  His eyes burned horribly.  “Dim the lights if you can,” he told her.  “And see if you can find a water-tight plastic bag.  Something that can be easily carried.”   La’ani flipped a switch and half of the lights went out.  Much better, he thought in relief.

Lee walked over to the cabinet and touched it.  No alarms.  Somehow, he didn’t think that would be the case here.  Mendon was lord over his manor and didn’t expect the serfs to rebel.  He couldn’t discern much more than the outlines, so he ran his fingers along the front.  Lee felt a small handle and an equally small projection that could only be a key.  Turning it, the prisoner almost laughed at this tiny piece of good fortune.  Why that arrogant….   That Mendon was so confident in his superiority that he wouldn’t even safeguard his discoveries was incredible.    He opened the door.  “La’ani?” 

“I’m right here,” she replied anxiously, almost in his ear.  “We need to hurry.”

“I know.  Do you have what I need?”

“This is the best I could find,” she whispered.

Lee peered closely at the waterproof canvas bag.  “It’ll be fine,” he said softly.  “Be careful putting them in.  We’ll probably have to rewrap them later.”  As he handed her the vials, he continued.  “It’s vitally important that these get to someone who can study and duplicate them.”

“Someone like a scientist or doctor?” she asked awkwardly.

Lee could tell her concentration was more on packing the small containers than in idle conversation.  “Yeah, like Admiral Nelson.”   She didn’t say anything but he could figure that as curious as she usually was, La’ani would be asking later.   He groped along each shelf to make sure he had everything, then he turned to La’ani.  “Go,” he hissed, pointing to the door.   “Don’t let anyone get those vials.”

Even though he kept his eyes to mere slits, the light was still too much.  They watered and smarted and Lee cursed Mendon under his breath as he followed the girl.  She went through the door just as the one behind him opened.  Lee froze, then realized that he could be easily be seen, even in the dim lights.  He turned and made out one of the Polynesian guards staring at him dumb-founded.  Lee swiped the back of his hand across his eyes and crouched as the guard mobilized and rushed toward him. 

When the large man was almost on him, Lee sidestepped and attempted to trip the guard.  He was only partially successful.  The Polynesian stumbled and fell to his knees, but he reached out and grabbed Lee by the right arm, pulling him to the ground on top of him.  Making a half fist with his injured hand, Lee struck the guard against the side of his head and slipped from his grasp. 

With a cry of pain and anger, the Polynesian jumped up and charged him.  The burned hand was throbbing and his stomach was knotting in pain.  Still Lee waited, hoping for one small stroke of luck; something in the morass he had been subjected to the past weeks.  It came when he banged back against Mendon’s experiment table. Lee grunted in pain, but his hand made contact with a two-foot rod.  Grabbing it, Lee plied it like a sword. The guard backed away just out of reach and then when he saw an opening, leaped in and caught Lee’s wrist in a vise-like grip, wrenching the rod painfully from his hand.  Lee felt the tendons creak even as the guard bore him back with amazing force against the table. 

His arm, still held tightly in the guard’s grasp, hit the edge of the metal table.  Pain from the blow shot through his arm and into his chest and he cried out at this latest addition to his misery.   The guard released him as he slid to the ground, sobbing for breath.

 

 

Chapter 13
Foam on the Large Wave Prologue
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