He isn’t forever, he isn’t even next year. He’s a moment, a moment you need. And that is what this world is made up of. – J. R. Rogue, Le Chant des Sirènes
Meera languished on the rocks as the sun peeked through clouds on the horizon. Dreams had comforted her desire and now the day broke across the rippled sea as it rolled ashore. The soothing melody of sea and shore combined with the high notes of stirring birds in the canopy reminded Meera she was alive and it was time to take her son in search of food.
* * *
The third day of our voyage brought us into the mountain range that made up thousands of islands that flourished undiscovered as the busy merchant marine and tourist traffic sailed in the main channels uninterested in the secrets found in the rocky crags along the shores hidden away from popular destinations and island colonies. Somewhere in the maze was Meera. I had an idea where she was but no certainty.
We cruised at half speed through the international waterway as our waypoint crept closer to the boat’s icon on the RADAR. From an island across the channel, two blips appeared and made a beeline on an intercept with our current course. The closing speed was too fast for an ordinary vessel. These were speedboats capable of 100 knots on calm seas.
There was no way to outrun them. It could be a group seeking a little sport and recreation. My gut instinct told me they were Raiders that were common in the area. A quick check showed my secret backup responded but wouldn’t get to us in time. We were on our own if it were a raid. The Chris Craft would bring a huge sum on the black market, and dead men tell no tales. Derek was in the galley fixing breakfast. I decided not to take any chances.
“Derek, we have high-speed visitors inbound. Prepare to repel boarders,” I hailed my friend on the intercom and added, “bring up the weapons and body armor. It might get hot in about six minutes.” Derek replied he was on the way.
I pushed the twin engines up to max power and raced for the island maze hoping to lose the possible Raiders in the countless small islands. The powerful roar of the engine pushed the bow up, and we cut through the crest of the gentle waves. So much for the soft life of island hopping.
Derek came on deck laboring under the weight of two automatic rifles and a light machine gun. Four belts of rounds for the machine gun hung around his neck. Slung on his back was a man-portable light antitank rocket launcher. His eyes were wide and his breath labored under the weight of all the gear. He hadn’t made any plans to make two trips. I smiled thinking about what a beast Derek was turning out to be.
We put on our gear, slung our rifles, set up the machine gun, and hunkered down as the boat cut a zigzag path around rocks, coral reefs, and small islands. I concentrated on staying in the blue-green channels that ran like spider webs between all the hidden dangers that could cause us to run aground. Hitting an underwater obstacle at full speed would end our adventure and make us easy prey for the Raiders.
Hey, Buddy! I yelled. Get out the chart and look for a rock island that has a deep cut in it.” I remembered a promising island in the area from my map recon. It had a split in the high lava walls that we could run the boat into to hide. I called out our location and direction as Derek buried his face in the flapping chart.
Got it, Hyp! Derek called out the bearing and range, and I began my twisting maneuver toward our safe harbor. I’d lost the Raiders and our shadow in the ground clutter. If I couldn’t see them, they couldn’t see me. I relaxed and focused on getting us to safety.
I approached the windward side of the island that was made up of an old volcano and ridges. The shore was nothing more than a massive escarpment of stone with the coast a rocky debris field. I couldn’t see the entrance to the split. I cut the engines to one-quarter speed and began to work my way between boulders the size of high-rise apartments.
The channels narrowed, and the seafloor rose. We didn’t have enough clearance under the keel. We needed to lighten our load which meant throwing things overboard. All that floating crap would lead the Raiders right to us.
“Hyp, look, there it is.”
My friend pointed to a dark spot between two massive outcroppings. The opening was thirty yards away. It might as well be a thousand. I heard engines racing as the Raiders entered the channel we had passed a few minutes before. Derek ran to the fifty-five-gallon plastic barrels of supplies with a coil of rope.
“I have an idea. Keep easing in as much as you can. I’ll take care of the extra weight,” Derek shouted above the sound of the motor and water crashing into the rock wall.
Image source: google images