Chapter 12 - Mixed Messages

Tyler and Brutus made their way along deserted passageways. The door into the communication center was open and Tyler paused, carefully peeking around the corner. Two crewmembers were there. They were supposed to be monitoring radio and satellite traffic, but they must have become bored because their headphones were sitting on the counter and they were playing a card game of some kind. Tyler took a deep breath and continued.

He figured Alena wouldn’t be too far away. He and Brutus crept past the open door and continued down the passageway, trying the handles on the doors they passed. They were all locked. He signaled Brutus. The terrier sniffed at one of the doors, then scratched at it with his nails. There was movement on the other side.

“Alena?” Tyler whispered.

“Tyler!” came the answering whisper.

“Hold on a second.” Tyler pulled out some special tools and, moments later, the door swung open.

Alena was laughing and crying as she hugged her brother. Brutus was bouncing around in joy at their feet.

“We’re not out of this yet,” Tyler warned.

“They’ve got Jakob next door,” Alena said. “We’ve been tapping on the bulkhead to keep each other’s spirits up.”

“Let’s get him.”

A short time later, the team was reunited.

The plan was working perfectly so far. Of course, that’s when things started going wrong. The speakers had been turned up in the communication center and the crewmen were listening in confusion.

“We’re trying to find the owners to open negotiations with them, Tyler. But it may be awhile before—”

Then came Tyler’s voice: “But time might be running out. Isn’t there something more we can do?”

“That sounds familiar,” said one crewman. As they listened, they realized they were hearing exactly the same message they’d heard earlier. It was repeating, word for word.

They didn’t know that Tyler had edited several long conversations with the Foundation into a long, repeating loop that the Foundation’s satellites then transmitted, making anyone listening think Tyler was still on the Sea Worthy in Gansbaai harbor.

“Something’s wrong here,” said the other crewman. “You’d better let the Captain know.”

The man shuddered. “You let her know. I’ll check our prisoners.” He left the room quickly.

The other man picked up a microphone, dreading giving the bad news. “Captain. We’ve got a problem—”

When he had explained, the enraged screech that came out of the speakers could be heard throughout the command center.

Mixed Messages

Jakob and the A.I. team were on deck, heading for a ladder, when they were discovered.

“You!” came the shout from behind. “Stop!” They turned to see a crewman almost upon them, holding a gun.

“Brutus! Gun!” Alena called. The dog launched himself at the man, grabbing his wrist. The man screamed and dropped the weapon.

Meanwhile, Tyler was talking hurriedly into his Bluetooth headset. “Nous Venons. Surface.”

Beneath the ocean, the sub rumbled to life and floated to the surface.

While one crewman writhed on the deck, trying to pry the jaws of the dog from his injured arm, the other crewman was running toward them, shouting. Jakob was moving to intercept him. As the crewman swung his fist, the tall Zula ducked aside and stuck out his foot. The man sprawled headlong onto the deck.

Tyler yelled, “Over the side! Now!”

“Brutus! Let’s go!” Alena said. The brave dog loosened his hold on the man’s wrist and headed for the side with the rest of his team.

Then, with Tyler carrying Brutus, the team scrambled down the ladder, jumping the last few meters and landing next to the waiting Nous Venons.

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