Foam on the Large Wave

 

(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)

 

 

 

 

Chapter 9

 

 

Nelson looked at the pile of papers on his desk.  Finally, after a week of worry, some information was coming in that might be of use.  A great deal of money had to change hands to do it, but the admiral’s operatives had found out that the jet had been sold as scrap, being outdated.  However, it had then been diverted to another party that dealt in converting such planes to modern condition and selling them for huge profits to those carrying out clandestine activities.  It had been a very convoluted path, but the outcome was that this had been one very busy jet.  There were stolen electrical parts from the United States, guidance systems from Australia, induction conversion parts from one of NIMR’s own suppliers.  There was also ordinance from China, Russia, and the U.S. government warehouses.  But the biggest prize had been that the information on the jet had led them to discover the fueling dispatches.   It had fueled in Guam, Luzon, Samoa, Hawaii, New Zealand, Tahiti.   The date that matched Lee’s abduction showed a refueling in Guam.  Right under the military’s nose, Harriman thought sourly. 

Frowning, Nelson gazed at the edges of the detailed map of the South Pacific that lay stretched out under the files and folders.  He piled all the folders into one huge stack and then dumped them on a small side table.  Triangulation lines had been drawn on several parts of the map.  Numerous possibilities in a limitless ocean.  One thing was certain, though—based on the pattern of the stolen materials, the destination point was somewhere in the South Pacific, in the Micronesia area or, he thought as he studied the map, somewhere not more than a thousand miles south.  That astonished Nelson, as that would be almost in the shadow of American Samoa with its military base.  Interesting thing was, there had been nothing stolen from there.  It was almost as though the thief had been trying very hard not to have anyone investigating too close to ‘home.’

“Interesting,” he murmured, seeing the triangulation zone in a particularly expansive and desolate part of the Pacific.  He punched the intercom.  “Angie?”

There was a silence for a moment and then a voice, as though someone had their head in a box.  “Yes, Admiral?”

“I want a pinpoint map corresponding to grid A8/L4 of the South Pacific survey map,” he ordered. 

“Right away, sir,” came the muffled response. 

Harriman Nelson was curious.  “What in the world are you doing in there?”

“My own research, Admiral,” Angie responded airily.

He simply shook his head.  “Just make sure I have that map on my desk in five minutes,” he said in mock seriousness.  He knew Angie well.  If he said he wanted something in two minutes, he usually got it in one. 

“Yes, sir.” 

In three minutes, Angie came sauntering in, a rolled up map under one arm and a magazine under the other.  “Here’s your map, Admiral,” she said with a slight smile. 

Nelson glanced at the magazine, still hidden from view.  “I sincerely hope you aren’t reading gossip magazines on my time,” he growled good-naturedly. 

Angie shook her head.  Nelson huffed and spread out the map.  Small islands dotted the expanse, but they were named and territorial ownership noted.  Larger countries owned most; although there were some administered by autonomous governments.  About two-dozen, he thought morosely.  But that narrowed it down considerably.  He was positive that one of these islands held what he was looking for.  Lee was there somewhere. 

“Actually, Admiral,” Angie began, bringing Nelson out of his reverie.  “When I received your requests yesterday, it got me thinking about something unusual I had read a few years back.”  She tossed down a travel magazine that was about four years old. 

“Feeding sharks of the Galapagos, vacationing in an igloo,” he read on the colorful cover. 

“No, the bottom one,” she said impatiently. 

But the small headline had already caught his eye.  “American playboy marries island princess.”  Nelson opened to the page and began reading.  “Kevin Bomar of Honolulu, wed the Princess Aliana Matai Ofouano in a ceremony under the palms of the beautiful island, Hikeru.”  He stopped reading and looked at the map.  In the upper right hand corner was the island, Hikeru.  “Damn, I think we’ve got it,” he said, his eyes gleaming in excitement.  “Send a discreet call to the crew.  We’re getting underway at….”   He looked outside.  It was late afternoon.  “At 0400.”

“Aye, aye, sir!” Angie said, a big grin on her face. 

“And Angie?” he said as she opened his door to leave.

She turned back.

“When we come back, I will take you to that sushi bar you keep talking about.”

“I’ll hold you to it, sir.”   She paused.  “You’ll be treating the captain, too, you know,” she added, her voice softer.

He smiled.  “Gladly.”  When she left, he tapped the map.  “Hikeru.   Hang in there, Lee,” he murmured. 

 

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

 

Lee’s cot sagged in one corner, but that was all right.  He gazed at the dug out groove in his cell door with satisfaction.  One more night and he should be through the wood.  Dampness had made it soft and the long screw had been an almost perfect digging tool. 

He had to stop often.  Whatever that bug was Mendon had given him; it had kept him doubled up most of the night. He had forced himself to continue taking small sips of La’ani’s concoction and to his surprise, had been able to keep most of it down.  Finally exhaustion had forced him to call a halt to his activities.  If nothing interfered, he should be able to finish the job tomorrow night and with the makeshift tool, slide the bolt back and let himself out. 

He had dozed off when the bolt was thrown back and the door pulled open.  The guard, Na’alu, stood in the doorway.  “Come,” he ordered. 

Slowly, Lee sat up and then with equal deliberation, he stood.  Not only did he not want to call attention to the sagging cot, but he wanted to keep the last of La’ani’s drink down.  And his joints hurt.  Everything seemed to hurt, he thought dourly.  The nasty little demon in his middle tormented him again and he sagged against a wall sucking in a breath, then another.   Na’alu had the good grace to wait until the pain had subsided before pushing him forward. 

Lee had to stop again before they got to the laboratory door.  It seemed activity exacerbated the condition.  The guard opened the door and Lee glanced in, looking for Mendon.  The scientist was nowhere to be seen. 

“Chair,” Na’alu said, pointing to the lab chair halfway across the room. 

“Gladly,” Lee panted. The illness was coming back with a vengeance and it was all he could do to stay on his feet.  It seemed to take forever, but Na’alu stayed strangely aloof, only watching his progress with a seemingly disinterested eye. 

Lee leaned over the arm of the chair, the pain almost causing him to pass out.  Wish I could, he thought.  Honor, courage, commitment, came the unbidden thought.  He focused on the rest of the core values-- "I am a United States Sailor. I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and obey the orders of those appointed over me. I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world. I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage, and Commitment. I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all."   He found he had actually said the words aloud.  But what were they worth to him now?  Bitter, he already felt he had lost the honor with which he had served the past fifteen years.  Courage?  It seemed to have vanished, too.  All he wanted to do now was die.  More pain gripped him and he moaned.  The litany had served to do one good thing.  Lee didn’t remember getting in the chair, but somehow he had and with a sigh of relief, he sagged against the back.  Commitment….   He had to get away.  He owed it to the men to tell them about these two maniacs.   They had proven themselves the equal of anyone in the People’s Republic or anyone else they had tackled over the years. 

But how?  How could he do that when he couldn’t even stand up straight?  Lee had no idea how long he sat there, resting when he could, but finally the far door clicked and Mendon sauntered in, whistling.   “Well, well, I trust you had a restful night, Captain?”

Lee said nothing.  He didn’t feel at this point that there was any good reason to irritate the man, although he couldn’t see any advantage to sucking up either.  Mendon continued to whistle as he took Lee’s vitals, drew blood and checked a chart. 

“Good, very good.  You cannot imagine the great pleasure it’s giving me to have you as my special test subject, Captain Crane.  I have always had a very special place in my heart for United States Naval personnel.”

“I’ll bet,” Lee muttered, his anger rising. 

Mendon laughed.  “But as much as I would love to stand here and watch my biological agents work on you, it has served its purpose and I need you for the next phase of my plans.” 

Pain and nausea gripped him again.  “What, bamboo shoots?” he hissed between clenched teeth. 

“Oh, no, Captain.  Nothing so crude,” Mendon said, as though horror struck.  “I detest those methods of information extraction.  So unnecessary.  Using bio-chemical agents are much more effective.” 

“Yeah, less blood to clean up,” Lee said caustically.  “The drugs are a much cleaner form of sadism.”

Mendon’s hand shot out and Lee felt his head snapped to one side of the headrest.   “I would have gotten that information from you the first night if it had not been placed electronically.  And if I had the time, I would still be able to figure a way around that problem, Captain.  He was leaning so close that Lee could feel his breath.  “However, you will serve a much higher purpose,” he said in a low voice.  “You will be the instrument in the destruction of my most bitter enemies.”  He pulled back and looked at Na’alu, but the guard was by the far door. 

Lee felt the blood rush to his head and anger supercede any discomfort he felt.  “What’s the matter, Mendon?” Lee asked sarcastically.  “Don’t want the boss’s right hand goon to spoil your own plans for world domination.”

Mendon’s face was suffused with anger, his eyes bristling with hate. 

“And since when did you become poster boy for the ranks of Islamic purists?” Lee added, knowing that he would regret it later.

This time when Mendon struck, it was with enough force to send the American into a pain free abyss of unconsciousness. 

 

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

 

The tension in the control room of the Seaview was palpable.  Everyone gazed at Nelson as he climbed down the ladder from the deck and strode toward the ops table.  Their eyes held hopeful optimism. After all, they wouldn’t be getting underway if there hadn’t been some substantial news.  They were ready.  Everyone had responded and all hands were on board by midnight. 

Nelson was pleased.  No regular Navy crew could have done half as well.  He ventured to guess that none were as loyal, either.  It was 0200 hours, but there was no reason to wait.  He ordered the hatches sealed.  Then he took the intercom and drew in a breath before making his announcement.   “This is the admiral.  As soon as I am finished making my announcement, we will get underway.  We will travel quickly and with a minimum of contact with the outside world.  As far as anyone beyond this boat is concerned, we are traveling to Wellington, New Zealand to check on a lead we received about Captain Crane.  However, our real destination is a small island about five hundred miles northeast of there.  I am very certain that we will find the captain there.  Once we are within three hundred miles of our destination, we will maintain total radio silence.”

“It has taken the unflagging efforts of many of you as well as people at the Institute to get this information and it will take all of you to bring it to a positive conclusion.”  He looked into Chip Morton’s eyes.   “And by the grace of God, we’ll soon have Captain Crane back on board.”  He put the mike back in its cradle and nodded to Morton.  There were murmurs of excitement that fell just short of cheering.   Harriman Nelson knew exactly how they felt.  He had wanted to cheer as well, but decorum being what it was….    “Carry on, Commander,” he said.

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“And Commander.”

“Yes, Admiral?” Morton said.

“The equipment I ordered?”

“Stowed, sir,” Morton said crisply.  Anxiety was written all over his face, along with the unsaid, ‘Let’s get this show on the road.’

Harriman Nelson really smiled for the first time in heaven only knew when.  “Very good, Chip.  I think I will go down and check it out.  And our guests?”

“They are settled in the guest quarters and Captain Crane’s quarters,” Morton responded. 

“Very good.  Perhaps I should see them first.” 

Morton said nothing. 

Nelson had a half smile on his lips.  “Well, Commander, what are we waiting for?  Take her out.”

“Aye, aye, Admiral,” Morton said happily, jumping to action and giving several orders almost at once. 

Nelson strode out of the room.  When he arrived at Lee’s cabin, he hesitated.  He thought he heard two muffled voices.  It was hard to figure out if they were angry voices, or just loud.  Finally he knocked, then opened the door when one voice bid him enter. 

“Ah, welcome, Admiral Nelson,” the very proper British voice called out. 

“Thank you, Mr. Prandjit,” the admiral replied.  “Mr. Ajaamil.”  He walked in the room, wondering which one of the two men had been the cause of Lee’s capture and Dr. Mendez’ death.

 

 

Chapter 10
Foam on the Large Wave Prologue
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents
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