Foam on the Large Wave

 

(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)

 

 

 

Chapter 24

 

 

“I’m here, Lee,” the admiral assured him.  “I’m right here.”

Gasping, Lee struggled to get breath enough to speak.  He felt he was suffocating.  “LA-X,” he finally got out. 

“LA-X?” Nelson asked?  “What about it, Lee?”

“They’re going to LA-X,” Lee said.  Someone placed a glass in his hand and he eagerly took it.  Some kind of juice, but it still served to clear his head. 

“Was this in your dream, Lee?” La’ani asked.

“Dream?” Crane asked.  “Was I asleep?”  He shook his head.  “Maybe it was, but whatever it was, I believe . . . uh….”  He paused, feeling that his impression wasn’t just based on a dream, but something certain and real.  He was seeing the future if they didn’t do something to stop it.  “Mendon and Na’alu are on their way to Los Angeles,” he said decisively.   “They are carrying an agent that is . . . worse than what I had,” he finished, almost in a whisper.

 

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Doc gazed around him.  While little had been left in the scientist’s room, enough to get a clear picture had.  The books on the small shelf, the WWII momentos.  Jamieson shook his head.  The captain had only scratched the surface when he had mentioned Mendon’s fascination with Josef Mengele.  Mendon had actually visited and studied under him in South America.  Jamie gathered what was left that he felt would help.  He went through the small desk and found, like in the lab, one that was locked.  The CMO pulled out a special tool that had come in handy at times and worked it in the slot.  This one was stubborn and he bit his lower lip as he continued. 

Finally there was a gratifying click and the doctor carefully pulled the drawer open.  While there seemed nothing subtle and overly paranoid about Mendon, Doc knew that the man had not gotten where he was by carelessness.  Nothing happened and Jamie looked further.  There were a few notes, several small vials, a book and a box of tapes.  He pulled all out and placed them in a satchel.  One last, careful look had him on his feet and halfway to the door before he could draw another breath.  “Out!” he shouted to Ra’oana.  “Hurry!  He’s booby trapped the place!”  He started toward the elevator, but stopped short.  Not a good place to be trapped in.  “Where’s another way out?”

Ra’oana pointed and sprinted toward the veranda.  He grabbed for the larger satchel from Doc and continued running.  As the Polynesian bolted out a door that led to a mountainside garden, a cracking booming explosion split the soft peacefulness of the predawn.  The house behind them exploded in a monstrous conflagration and Jamie had to struggle to stay on his feet as the ground heaved and shuddered.  Heat beat against his back and propelled him forward.  Ra’oana seemed to have sure knowledge of the path, but he slowed by unfamiliarity as they got further and further away from the burning house.

Ra’oana was soon out of sight and afraid he would become lost, Doc called out.  The Polynesian returned, apologetic.  As they made their way down the mountain path, several villagers, as well as the admiral, met them on the path. 

Nelson’s look of abject worry changed to relief.  “What happened?”

“A very clever booby trap,” Doc said.  “It was as though Mendon knew we were coming and what we would do once we got here.  Everything went fine down in the lab, but the bomb was rigged to a locked drawer.  I just happened to be at an angle or I wouldn’t have seen anything except the outside of the pearly gates.”

“Well it almost took authority that high up to find out anything from the Tahitian airport.  It seems that one of them, Na’alu by the description, flew out on a flight to LA.  I was given a choice since there were two outbound flights—TWA or Pan Am.  Captain Crane seems to think it’s the TWA flight.  I alerted the authorities in Los Angeles to hold both.”

“But how long will Mendon’s bodyguard wait before unleashing that stuff?” Doc asked as they returned to the beach.

“Hopefully we won’t find out.   We should get in at the same time or even before, if we can leave soon,” Nelson said.

As they continued down the path, Jamie’s curiosity got the better of him.  “Why does the captain think it would be TWA?”

The admiral hesitated.  “He said he saw it in a dream.”

“Since when has he been clairvoyant?” Doc asked.

Nelson sighed.  “I don’t know, Jamie.  Seems since he got back, or rather since Mendon did his number on him.  He told me the night he came to my cabin that he had dreamed that Mendez was dead.”  The admiral paused.  “And no one had given him that information.”

As they continued down the mountain path, Doc pondered this interesting development, concluding that it was a strange phenomenon that accompanied an equally strange ‘drug regimen.’  He wouldn’t recommend either.

They quickly returned to the Flying Sub.  A’ona Matua was there.  She turned to Crane, who had been waiting by the small craft, leaning against it casually, although Jamieson knew it was simply a prop of familiarity in a world of darkness.  The old woman spoke to him, but before any translation was made, the captain leaned over and kissed her on the cheek, murmuring something Doc couldn’t hear. 

Then Lee stepped on board the small craft, and the rest of them followed him.  He sat where A’ona Matua had been sitting, since she wasn’t coming with them.  The admiral entered, followed by La’ani and Chief Sharkey.  Jamieson entered last, pulling the hatch shut behind him and dogging it fast. 

“If all goes well, we should be in Los Angeles in about three hours,” Nelson said. 

“How are you feeling now, Captain,” Doc asked. 

Crane shrugged.  “All right.”

Jamieson smiled. Not much different than what he expected.  “Well, before we take off, I’m going to check you out.”  Lee stiffened, but said nothing.  As he was checking the captain’s blood pressure, Doc said softly, “I may have found something among Mendon’s things that will help you.  I didn’t get a good chance to check closely since we had to get the hell out of Dodge, but I saw some notes that make me feel very optimistic.”  If Doc thought he was going to get a reaction from Crane, he was sadly mistaken.  Lee just sat calmly and let Jamieson check him over.  When he was done, he sighed.  “You’re none the less for wear, Lee.  Try to get some rest during the flight.”

“Sure, Doc,” Crane finally said, tonelessly.

Jamieson said nothing more, but sat down and strapped himself in.  It was quiet as the admiral checked the systems and then began the sequence that would bring the Flying Sub to life.  In the darkness outside, Doc could only imagine all sorts of strange things, so he kept his eyes on the instrumentation even as the craft’s engines powered and then took them out into the ocean.  Several skips over the water and they were airborne, soaring at a steep angle that made the CMO’s stomach lurch. 

When they were at a safe level, the admiral set the autopilot and swiveled to face Crane.  He reached over and touched the young captain’s knee.  Lee started.   “Sorry, Lee.  I don’t want to keep the auto on too long, but there are a couple of things that need to be taken care of.  LA-X requested a description of Mendon since he has remained elusive and there are no photos available.  I’ll get them on the radio as soon as we’re finished talking.”  Lee nodded.  “The Air Tahiti flight from Papeete left yesterday afternoon at seven.  There is a changeover at Honolulu and they are continuing to Los Angeles.  Two tickets were purchased in Papeete for both of them, but LA-X is going to check all incoming from Honolulu passengers in case Mendon switched planes.”  Nelson paused.  “The flight, as arranged, will arrive in Los Angeles at one p.m. Pacific time.  We should get there before that.”   

Crane frowned.  “Wish they could have been caught in Hawaii.”

“I know.  The call went in too late to stop anyone there, but one of the ticket agents there remembered seeing a very large Polynesian looking extremely uncomfortable in Western clothing boarding the LA flight.”

“Mendon will try for Santa Barbara,” Lee said, his voice wooden.  “He’ll be disguised.”

Nelson smiled.  “But he made one very large mistake, Lee.”

“What?”

“He underestimated your resolve . . . and your dedication to duty,” the admiral said softly.  He turned back to the controls and put the Flying Sub back on manual.  He then contacted the Los Angeles airport where agents had already set up operations.  Lee gave them all the information he could and then sat back.  It was clear to Jamie that Crane was not totally satisfied, but since there was nothing else to be done….  The admiral gave a short report and then cut the transmission. 

“In the couple of hours it will take us to get there, relax and have something to eat.  It seems that La’ani’s people sent us with a South Seas picnic basket,” Nelson said.

La’ani laughed softly and handed out packets of food to everyone.  She gave Lee the last packet and Doc was surprised when her hands lingered on his for several seconds longer than necessity dictated.  There was something in her eyes that was distinctly more than friendly.  

Lee was already familiar with the food, Jamieson noticed, so he didn’t offer assistance.  All too soon the captain relaxed in his seat and fell asleep.  Doc wished he had insisted on at least one more days’ intravenous regimen.  Hopefully all of this would be resolved quickly and he could get Lee to the Institute hospital where he could get some really good R & R. 

The sun had risen shortly after take-off and due to their easterly course, seemed to travel in the sky a bit more quickly than normal.  It was an interesting phenomenon that he would have liked discussing with the admiral, but he didn’t want to awaken Crane.  It seemed that no one else did either, as it had grown very quiet in the Flying Sub.

Doc noticed that the girl had dozed off as well and wondered what kind of power this woman had over the admiral to allow her to even set foot on the Flying Sub in its experimental state, much less make a long trip like this.  He was still pondering as he closed his eyes and dozed.

 

Harriman was extremely pleased.  So far everything had been going smoothly.  That was not to say that he had a perfected, totally fuel-efficient system, but it was working and it was working safely.  Behind him, he heard Lee murmuring in his sleep, but it was unintelligible.  Harriman checked all of the instruments and frowned.  He definitely had to work on the fuel consumption problem.  That was the main flaw of this new system.  It was not fuel efficient, in fact it used fuel at a prodigious rate.  He would have to revert to the regular engine system in a short while if they were planning on making it to Los Angeles at all.  It would put their timetable back, but only a short while.  They were already less than an hour from the California coastline.  

Nelson continued to watch the fuel consumption and then leaned forward and switched off the ion drive.  The momentum of the Flying Sub caused almost no discernable change in the forward progress, the regular engines also being very smooth and efficient.  However, Harriman was very surprised when he heard Lee’s voice behind him. 

“What happened?”

“I thought you were asleep,” Harriman replied. 

Lee snorted.  “I was, but the change in engine noise woke me.  What happened?” he repeated. 

“The ion drive has incredible power, but it takes incredible resources to run it.  I had to switch back to the regular propulsion system before we ran out of fuel.”

“How much does that delay us?”

The admiral looked at the instruments again.  “Negligible.  We are about to begin our descent anyway.  Maybe fifteen minutes lost at the most.”

The radio came to life, demanding attention.

“Lee, I’m busy here.  I’m switching the mike to you.  Would you deal with air traffic control?”

“Aye, sir.”  Lee fumbled with his throat mike for a moment, then gave the recognition response. “LA-X, this is FS-1 on final approach.  Please send approach vectors and runway and gate.” 

“Zero one-one-niner.  Acknowledge, FS-1,” air control replied. 

Lee repeated the directions and the admiral made the course corrections.    “Ten-four, control.  Corrections made.  What runway?”

“Flying Sub, TWA flight one-four-three already on the ground and quarantined,” control told him.  Lee pressed his lips together and then repeated the message to the admiral.  “Are you in negotiations?” he asked control.  There was a long pause.  “Negative.  Terrorist will not speak to anyone.  We are preparing to storm the plane.”

Before Lee could say anything, the admiral spoke into his own mike, giving credence to the captain’s suspicions that Admiral Nelson had only been trying to include him in what was going on.  “No!  You can’t storm the plane now.  One of his countrymen is with us.”

“He wants to speak only to his country’s leader,” the voice from the tower said. 

Lee took a deep breath.  “He’s frightened.  This is his first time away from his island and I don’t think he realizes the totality of what he’s carrying.”

“This isn’t some grade school field trip, Flying Sub One.  This is a deadly contagion he’s carrying.  We have to contain it!” a different voice snapped. 

“This is Captain Lee Crane.  I know perfectly well what the hell he’s carrying.  I was the guinea pig for it.  I also know the courier and think this can be resolved and not just contained.”

There was a brief silence and then the sound of muted voices, as though a hand had covered the mike.

“Captain, what do you propose?”

“Tell Na’alu that his leader is coming.  Allow us to land near the quarantined jet.”

The other voice coughed slightly and then said caustically.  “Do you have some notion what this idiot might do when he finds out he’s been lied to?”

Crane almost ground his teeth together in his frustration.  He felt a light touch on his arm.  La’ani.  “Control, I am not lying.  His leader is here.”

“What?”  Another pause.  “Admiral Nelson, are you still listening?”

Harriman cleared his throat.  “Yes, I am.  Were you questioning the veracity of my captain’s information?”

“Uh, no sir, but I wouldn’t mind knowing how you pulled that one off.”

“Law of succession on the island of Hikeru,” Nelson said.  “The former leader is dead and we have the new leader with us.”

“Just don’t tell Na’alu that part,” interjected Lee.

There was a sigh from the voice on the other end.  Lee could only assume that it was a federal agent.  A controller came on and gave them new landing instructions.  Within minutes, the admiral had brought the Flying Sub down on the runway and taxied near the large commercial jet liner. 

 

 

Chapter 25
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