Foam on the Large Wave

 

(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

Captain Lee Crane woke up in a small room that greatly resembled a standard motel room, except there were no windows.  A burly Polynesian stood guard in front of the door.  The two men gazed at one another for a moment and then the guard tapped on the door without taking his eyes off his prisoner.  Lee started to sit up, but sharp pain shooting through his head made him lay back down again with a groan.

Lee lay quietly for a moment, massaging his forehead, then he slowly sat up.  The pounding in his skull had decreased to the volume of one horse and not the entire herd and he glanced around.  He eyes once more fell on the Polynesian guard and Lee took in, not only the man’s size, but also the very effective side arm strapped to his ample waist.   “Obviously this isn’t the Marriott, is it?” he tried conversationally.  The guard raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.  He stood resolute with his arms folded over his chest. 

Deciding on a slightly different approach, he said, “I don’t know if you realize this, but kidnapping is a federal offense in the United States.  I think you need to let your boss know that I can make it very unpleasant for him—or her.  Name’s Jeffrey Morris and I do have connections.”  The guard remained resolute and silent.  “I demand to see your boss!”  Still nothing.  Slowly, he stood up; ignoring the added pain that such movement gave him.  The guard watched him carefully, but said and did nothing.  Lee rubbed the back of his neck and discreetly felt a small bandage behind one ear.  Could only be the transmitter that Mendez alluded to.  Apparently it had been found.  But had the Seaview or someone else had enough time to track him?  He could only hope so.  “I might also press charges for assault, too,” he said tersely, taking his hand away from his neck.

Lee was beginning to wonder if the Polynesian even knew English, and he made his previous demand in the little French he knew.  There was still no response.  Still trying to stay in character, Lee glowered at his captor for a moment longer and then shrugged and slowly walked around the small room.  What appeared to be a tiny closet turned out to be a bathroom.  He went in and pulled the sliding door closed.  There was still no response from the guard.  Apparently they were confident that he couldn’t do anything about his captivity. 

Looking around, he decided they were right.  His clothes had been taken from him and replaced with a lightweight, light blue pair of pants and a white shirt.  Standard jail clothing, he thought wryly.  There were no pockets; he had no shoes on.  There was absolutely nothing around him to use as a weapon.   With a sigh, Lee returned to the main room. 

“Come with me,” the guard said, his English stilted and heavily accented, but understandable.

“Where am I?” Lee asked, not moving.

“Come with me, or I carry you,” the guard growled. 

Lee didn’t doubt the big Polynesian could carry out his threat.  So he simply nodded and preceded the burly man out of the room.  They walked down a corridor that could have been any rich owner’s mansion.  It was not air-conditioned but large fans moved air that had the tang of ocean salt.  They were near the sea, he thought with some small satisfaction.  He was led into a room that was open on one side, but it was dark, so he could see little beyond the two torches that burned at each end of the balcony.  Just within the flickering light, Lee saw coconut palms fluttering and the dull boom of surf beat in his ears. 

Before him was a fairly large table, enough to seat a dozen people, but only one man sat there.  His blue eyes gazed at him expectantly as though Lee was delivering a health stock dividend.  Almost hungrily, the captain thought.   He appeared to have a slight amount of Polynesian ancestry, but the eyes and only slightly wavy brown hair bespoke of other lineage. 

“Captain Crane, come sit down,” the man said, nodding to a place sitting to his right. 

Lee thought it stranger that his host kept his hands on his lap, than that he knew who he really was, but he ignored both for the moment.  He stopped, gazed behind him at the guard, and affected an irritated countenance as he turned back to his host.  “Captain Crane?” his voice raised in incredulity.  “Got the wrong man.  I’m Jeffrey Morris.  Engineer, not –so-hot runner.”  He studied the other man carefully.  “Definitely the wrong man, uh . . . who are you?”

“Kevin Matai Bomar,” his host stated softly, “And believe me, I have the right man, Captain.”

This statement told Lee several things.  First, the man was working on his own, not part of a government network, second, that he was very, very smart to have spirited him away from all the hoopla of his cover, and third, Bomar had no intention of letting Lee leave this place alive.   “Well, Mr. Bomar, you seem to have your mind made up, but let me tell you, my bosses are going to be extremely unhappy when I miss my next deadlines,” Lee replied, half-heartedly.  For some reason, he knew he was beating a dead drum and it wouldn’t do a bit of good.

Bomar laughed as a young girl came into the room carrying two plates of food.  “Captain, if you are talking about the real Jeffrey Morris, be aware that his deadlines have been more than adequately met and that he felt the necessity of going to Las Vegas and celebrating even as you were in Nepal.”

Lee kept a non-committal look on his face even if he was seething inside.   The idiot! he thought.  

“And as to your real boss, Admiral Harriman Nelson, I suspect that he will be extremely happy, knowing that the trap has been sprung on the sacrificial lamb.  The only thing that he’ll be unhappy about is that we found the means he was planning on using to find you.”  Bomar laughed again, even as Lee tried to keep his composure.  “Yes, the information you carry is considered secondary to the desire to find out who I am, Captain.  But enough of that.  Sit down; eat.  I’m sure you are very hungry.  It’s been almost ten hours since you arrived and it was such a long trip from Taipei.”

This time it was a very hard struggle to keep a neutral face.  He wanted to leap forward and strangle Bomar.  To insinuate that the admiral not only knew, but wanted Lee captured was ludicrous.  But then Nelson had acted rather strange—almost guilty.  Why?  No!  If the admiral had known that the main purpose of this was his capture, he would’ve given me some clue.  He only said it was a possibility.  Any mission like this held that possibility.  But then why all the warning about dangers and why did he act like he was sending him to his own funeral.  Simply because he was worried, not because he knew what ONI’s ulterior purpose was.  And who was to say this was ONI’s sole purpose?  Mentally shaking such thoughts from his mind, Lee continued to stand there, gazing at Bomar, hopefully with something less than indignation showing on his face.   The burly Polynesian laid his hand on the captain’s shoulder and pushed him forward. 

“It doesn’t do to defy Na’alu.  He is as devoted to me as he was to my dear, departed wife.”

With a shrug, Lee walked to the chair and sat down. 

“Good, Captain.”  Bomar looked at the guard.  “Bring some of our best, Na’alu.”

Lee looked around and saw another guard at the door. 

“All of these delicacies are locally caught or raised,” Bomar went on.  “You will quickly see, should you desire to accept my hospitality, that I can provide the very best, Captain Crane.”  He paused and smiled.  “Dig in,” he coaxed. 

Lee hesitated.  That they had already tried truth serum seemed likely.  Tried and failed, he thought smugly.  But what about the comments about the admiral?  He couldn’t get Bomar’s accusations from his mind.  Nelson couldn’t have just been doing this to catch Bomar.  Granted, Lee could admit that the admiral might have known that catching the person who had been after the scientists’ secrets was something the government desired, but that it was the main purpose?  Somehow Lee couldn’t believe that of the admiral.  He could only believe that it was a suspicion, just as it had been for him.   And he could only imagine that if it was ONI’s main purpose, Admiral Nelson had been kept in the dark, just as he had. 

“If I had wanted to poison you, Captain, I would have done so before you ever set foot on Hikeru.”

Lee couldn’t fault that.  He had to admit reluctantly, aided by his ever more insistently growling stomach, that he was hungry.  But he wasn’t ready to give in quite yet.  “Maybe, but I wouldn’t put anything past someone who would kill people just to get industrial secrets.”

Bomar leaned forward and studied him intently.  “Somehow I think you minimize the importance of what your admiral and his friends have been working on and developing in secret, and trying to keep from the rest of the world.”

Lee laughed.  “Maybe they’re working in secret because of people like you, Bomar.”

Hard lines appeared around Bomar’s mouth, but with effort, he forced them away.  “I would really like for you to see the merits of working with me. It would be so much more lucrative than anything Nelson, his institute or the United States Navy could offer you.”

“I doubt it,” Lee said with a shrug.  “But even the wealth of the all the billionaires in the world couldn’t cause me to change my affiliations, Mr. Bomar.  And I doubt you’re that rich in any case.”    

Bomar finally reached toward his plate and picked up a piece of some kind of fruit.  His captor kept his eyes fixed on Lee’s and the captain found that disconcerting.  Again, he had the funny feeling that Bomar was eyeing him more hungrily than any of the delicacies on the plate. 

“Give me what I want and you will be my partner.  You will be able to command fleets.  Maybe even to the stars.  And your allegiance is hollow.  They have hung you out to dry, Captain.” 

The predatorial look increased.   The stars?  What the hell is the admiral working on? Nah, this guy has to be delusional.  Time to end this party, Lee decided, his anger increasing.  He knew that the Seaview or some ONI agent had been attempting to track him.  If he could get away from Bomar, either hide somewhere or smuggle out on a plane or ship, he could contact the Seaview or NIMR.  Again, he remembered Bomar’s comment that his sacrifice had been pre-eminent in this mission, not the information that he was sent for.  Could the information just be something made up by ONI for this purpose?   No, Lee knew that was wrong as soon as the thought came into his mind.  Again, the admiral would never do that to him.  It wasn’t important right now, anyway.  What was most important was escape.  If he was supposed to have been captured, then it was still his duty to escape with the information that the government needed about this nut case, Bomar. 

Na’alu returned with two wine bottles.  Bomar nodded his head and the guard poured some of a golden liquid in two wine glasses.  Lee gazed at it.  He had never seen a wine quite like it before.

“A mixture of local fruits, Captain.  Try it.”  Bomar lifted his glass to his lips and drank some of the liquid, studying Lee over the rim of the glass.  Hesitantly, Lee picked up his goblet and tried a sip.  It was surprisingly good.  Still he left the meal untouched and set the glass down.  There was something about accepting too much of the enemy’s hospitality. 

“I am sorry that you choose not to share my bounties, Captain,” Bomar said, his voice becoming a bit petulant.  He rose to his feet.  Bomar was about his height, but a little heavier, keeping one hand in his pocket while gesturing with the other.   He walked to the patio, inviting Lee to join him.

As he got up, Lee chose to be blunt.  “I was kidnapped, drugged and dragged to some island in the middle of nowhere and you want me to indulge at your table, Mr. Bomar?  To join in your endeavours?  You’ve heard what they say about feeding sharks.”

“Are you saying you are a shark?” Bomar asked, his voice cold. 

“No, but I have no intention of taking handouts from one either,” Lee said brusquely.   Soft breezes plucked at Lee’s shirt and hair and he saw that this part of the house was perched on the side of a mountain, the patio on stilts.  No escape this way, but a surreptitious glance showed that the second guard had left the room.  Only Na’alu remained, stationed five feet behind.

“I will let that insult pass, Captain, because of the conditions of your being here.  But please understand that I know your worth.  I also know what a talented and resourceful man you are.  Dedicated and loyal.  I like that and want that when I increase the boundaries of my holdings and wealth.”  He paused and leaned over the balcony.  “Hikeru is small in the scheme of things, but mighty in everything else.”

Keep ‘em talking, Lee thought.  “What do you mean by that?”

“I have built this small backward island, making it a place of tremendous potential for the future.  Nothing is imported, except new technologies and ideas.  I do not need oil or other non-renewable resources.  We use what we have here.”

“Very resourceful, Mr. Bomar, but industry requires buildings.  Buildings require raw materials,” Lee said, somewhat skeptical. 

Bomar laughed.  “Buildings?  We have the insides of the mountains, Captain.”  Bomar studied Lee again.  “Or may I call you Lee?”

“But this house doesn’t appear to be made out of palm fronds and coconut wood,” Lee countered, ignoring the last question.

“You are right.  I have brought in some materials.  Volcanic islands do not provide everything.  But it provides much.  And you, if you choose to work with me, will provide the rest.”

Lee decided it was time to end this farce and blow this party.  He had noticed, by the soft glow of the tiki-like torches, that one side of the patio was only eight feet above the slope of the mountain.  That was where he would have his best chance.  With no warning, he sprinted toward the far end of the patio, shoving aside a chair.  He reached the railing and grabbed it, ready to vault down to the mountain slope.  But when he touched the metal rail, he felt a jolt that took the breath from his lungs and threw him backward, right into Na’alu’s arms.  The giant Polynesian held him in an iron grip, one arm around his neck, only giving him enough air to stay alive. 

As Lee tried to suck in air, Bomar appeared in front of him, his face only inches from him.  “I had hoped that you would be a willing partner, but I was hoping for too much, I guess.  I will get what I want from you, only by the time I do, you will sincerely regret that you didn’t give willingly.”

“Hell will freeze over on all counts, Bomar,” Lee gasped. 

At a gesture from his boss, Na’alu’s arm tightened. 

“Let him feel my full welcome,” Bomar told the guard, opening the door.  “Then perhaps he might be willing to give me what I want.”  With a grunt, Na’alu released his choke hold and walked through, with Lee’s arm tight in his grasp.  They walked back through the corridor, but didn’t stop at the small room where he had awakened.  Rather they continued onward, finally stopping at an elevator.  Na’alu shoved him in and followed.  Still shaky, Lee offered no resistance.  He was unaware of how far the elevator dropped, but probably not more than the equivalent of two floors.  When it shuddered to a stop, they were in a tunnel, improved somewhat from the original cave. 

Na’alu pushed Lee out of the elevator and herded him along the moisture slick corridor to a room that must have once been a small cavern.  Lee saw a bank of computers on one side, although how they kept the moisture from doing damage, he couldn’t guess.  There were several chairs, some small and utilitarian, others larger, with restraints. Another side of the room seemed to be equipped for a doctor.  There were exam tables, cabinets with medicines, even a large table that appeared to be for experiments.  “Welcome to Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory,” Lee muttered. 

Na’alu shoved him into one of the larger chairs and fastened a band that went around his chest before he could make a move or even protest.  Lee grabbed at the band as the guard walked behind the chair.  His left hand grasped the metal arm of the chair as he tried to pull forward to loosen the hold of the restraint.  He struggled as the Polynesian went to a console near the door.  Suddenly, Lee screamed out in shock and pain, and jerked his hand from the chair.  Blisters were already forming on the burnt flesh.  It was as though he had laid his hand on a stove’s hot plate, but there had been no warning glow.  It had suddenly become hotter than fire.  He held his injured hand by the wrist with his good one, trying to think of a way to ease the excruciatingly throbbing pain.  The smell of burned flesh was nauseating.

Na’alu grabbed Lee’s good hand, trying to force if toward a similar plate at the end of the right arm of the chair.  Lee fought as hard as he could, his breath coming in ragged gasps, but it was the ringing of a phone that saved him.   Na’alu let go of his arm and walked away from Lee.  After picking up the receiver and listening, the guard grunted a few words, replaced the phone and took up a casual watch near the door. 

Lee let his injured hand rest in his lap while he worked at the band.  It didn’t matter that the guard was now sitting leisurely in a chair watching him; he had to get out of this modern rendition of a medieval torture chamber.  He looked around, trying to see what he could use as a weapon should he get loose. 

But he couldn’t get loose, Lee realized.  The band was too strong and he had too quickly allowed himself to be incapacitated.  The intense throbbing in his hand added to the nightmarish quality of this whole episode.   As he was trying, unsuccessfully to shove the searing pain into the background, the door that he had entered earlier opened.  Na’alu jumped to his feet as a small man in a white lab coat entered. 

 

 

Chapter 6
Foam on the Large Wave Prologue
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