Chapter 11 - The Hunt

It was near dawn, the time when sea lions along the coast left the shallow water shelter of their islands and rocks to hunt for food. Knowing there was safety in numbers, they set out in great packs. Thousands bunched together, heading for the open ocean. On the way back, it was different. There were some who took longer to catch breakfast than others. They were the stragglers. The ones hunted by sharks. This morning, however, the sharks were hunted as well.

“Everything set?” Poison Flower asked. She was supervising the launch from the lead go-fast boat inside the loading dock. The crewmen shouted and pumped their fists in the air, ready to go. There was a lot of money to be made. Using her headset microphone, Poison Flower talked to the remaining crewmen in the communication center. “Any traffic? Any problems?”

“Just a pod of whales a few minutes ago. Nothing else.” Several species of cetaceans came to nearby Mossel Bay each year to give birth to their young. Humpbacks, orcas, and Southern Wright whales were common in the area.

“Any new messages from the Foundation or the little Worthy boy?” she asked.

“The boy told them he would wait at Gansbaai,” replied a crewman. “Maybe he expects to hear from you?”

“He’ll have a long wait,” she said. “Let’s go.” She signaled the waiting crews. The massive loading door opened. Commands were shouted. Instructions given. One by one, the go-fast boats left the mother ship and picked up speed, heading for the killing zone.

The Hunt

When the last one had left, pumps started up, expelling the seawater. The door slowly groaned closed. Lights in the interior of the loading area went dark.

Two black-suited figures swam inside just before the door sealed shut. One of the figures turned on a narrow-beam flashlight. The loading area was deserted as they emerged from the water. They moved quietly to a ladder leading up to a walkway.

One of the figures wore a black wetsuit, a mask, and a compact rebreather unit that gave off no bubbles to give away their presence. The other figure was much smaller, wore four little fins, and a smaller rebreather unit. The face behind the custom-made mask still looked a little like a crazy Siamese cat.

Tyler helped Brutus up the ladder and helped him off with the gear. The Nous Venons was just below the surface and next to the hull of the huge ship, its autopilot keeping it in place.

The trip from Gansbaai to the Zubr had been made in orca-mode: an operation that quieted the sub’s engine noises. It couldn’t go as fast, but it was virtually silent. And the sub’s underwater speakers transmitted the sounds of a pod of whales—orcas—that would confuse any vessel listening, such as the mother ship.

Tyler silently made his way to a large electronic panel. He had copied the ship’s plans onto his palm computer. He opened the panel. Referring to the drawings in his computer, it only took him a few minutes to find the circuits he was looking for. He made several adjustments.

Then it was time to find Alena and Jakob.

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