Taken from Book One of the Atlantis Foundation Trilogy: The Water team of Gustaf and Tamiko have found their control center and now find that they have been tracked and discovered. Now they must decide how to handle the new challenge and protect their secret.
Pirates – Water Team
Gustaf and Tamiko were pretty confident that they had everything under control. Although in the last couple of days, personal tension had increased, they were working through it. They traveled up to the boat every few days, just to see the sky and breath the sea air. On their last trip to the surface, Gustaf had mentioned a need to refill the dive tanks. Then the argument started. Gustaf had just stated that he would make the trip to the local island to get air.
Tamiko had responded with “What and leave me here all alone?”
Gustaf stated “well, it makes sense. You are the more knowledgeable one on the team and you know how things work down there. The center is completely protected and we have made contact with the other teams. What could go wrong?”
Tamiko replied “is this still about my age or that I am a girl and we can’t do the same things as you big strong men?”
Gustaf said “Oh, come on, I thought we had gotten past that. I only suggest that I go, because I know the store owner, I can dicker for a better rate and maybe get a few things that we didn’t have time to pick up when we were there a couple of months ago. Besides, as you have so frequently pointed out, I am a big bruiser that people are less likely to mess with. Although I may draw more attention, I have lived my whole life in these waters and among these people. Right?”
Tamiko knew that she couldn’t fight logic that was well based on facts, but it didn’t make it settle any easier. “So, when do you think you should go? If I remember correctly, last time it took us several days to get here. I am calculating that it will be 3 days to the island, 2-3 days for supplies and another 3 days to return. That does not take into account mis-fortune or bad weather. At least we don’t have to guess about the sea. That we can monitor. I want to make sure that it is understood that you remain in contact with me at all times.” She stamped her foot to emphasize that she would not listen to any pushback.
Gustaf replied “I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can leave tomorrow after reviewing the current ocean patterns for the area between here and the local island. I have not seen anything for concern, but its best to be safe before taking the trip, eh?”
Tamiko didn’t look happy but consoled herself to the knowledge that Gustaf had been a boat captain for untold years and would have a better response to the many challenges that could crop up during the trip. But, she had also been hoping to get a little R&R outside the control center.
It was almost as if Gustaf had read her mind. “By the way, since I will be leaving, there will be enough air in the reserve tank on the boat for you spend a little time exploring the area around here. Since we discovered this place we have not been outside in the water except to the surface and back. We need a better understanding of what surrounds us here and what potential dangers there might be. Now, I am not suggesting you go looking for danger” Tamiko slyly smiled “but we do need to have a map or pictures of the surrounding area. That will give you a change at some diversity, eh?”
Tamiko responded “If I must, I must. Just don’t take too long in coming back, else I might decide to turn into a mermaid and hang out nears the islands.”
They both laughed and it seems to ease the tension. The respect they had for each other was hard won. In the first few weeks of being down here, Gustaf had tried to apply his worldly experience toward almost every decision and every task. Tamiko had the extremely higher IQ and was much more adept at discerning how things worked. She also knew that Gustaf would not take her word for most things (being younger and a girl) and so felt she had to prove herself. After several bouts of head-butting, they began to realize what every team needs to build on. It’s a balancing act. They began to have “chat” sessions and found that once they got past the differences, they really liked each other. Gustaf could be a father figure (when he wasn’t domineering) and Tamiko could be the daughter that Gustaf didn’t have (when she didn’t fight his every decision). Their respect was now mutual. Gustaf began to collect a few things that they had either discovered in the center or brought down from the boat in a waterproof bag. There was one item in particular that he wanted to try but didn’t want to try in a confined space. It looked like a hand held cup saucer. It had an indented center with a stone in the center of that. There were several depression points around the disk at very convenient locations for finger contact. He believed it might be some form of gun or other self-protection device. He just didn’t want to experiment down here where a thousand gallons of sea water could rush in if he made a mistake or was wrong as to its use.
Tamiko puttered around trying to look (and feel) busy without worrying Gustaf. She just had this gut feeling that things weren’t right. If she was twenty years older it would be chalked up to “women’s intuition”, but at fourteen, it might just be last night’s dinner.
The next morning, Gustaf got up early and put on the deeply heavy Greek coffee to brew while he began to monitor the sea readings for his trip. He had been at it for only a short time when Tamiko appeared.
Gustaf said “Couldn’t sleep again, eh?”
Tamiko replied “not too bad but I did toss and turn a bit. I think I was thinking too much about your trip. How about you?”
Gustaf said “slept like a log. Woke up thinking of a nice cup of coffee. Since I am leaving, I figured I could use the last our coffee grounds. I will be able to replace them in a few days.” There was a glint in his eye, like he was going to say something more, but checked himself
Tamiko asked “have you completed your diagnostic on your route to the local island?”
Gustaf replied “I have almost completed it, I need about another thirty minutes. Nothing unusual so far, so it looks like I will be able to get going by late morning.”
Tamiko sighed and walked over to her station at the communication array. She glanced over the panels, screens and switches. What is that blinking red light for? She walked up to the console and read the tag under the light. SURFACE. Now why would that be on, if Gustaf had not seen anything to cause concern on his monitors? She started to adjust the monitors and the surface buoy camera that was near the boat.
Oh crap! “Gustaf! Come here, NOW!”
Gustaf looked up from his review, saw the look on Tamiko face and came running. He looked directly to the screens, then the camera. Damn! He saw a boat anchored next to theirs with a walk ramp placed between them. Someone was on the boat.
“Tamiko, can you swing the buoy camera around toward the other boat? We need to get a look at them if we can. I think it highly suspicious that they show up within hours of my leaving.”
Tamiko responded “I don’t think they just showed up. According to the log, it looks like they arrived in the wee hours of the morning, before the sun came up. It makes sense as we were not aboard so there would not be any lights. To be honest, I hope they are pirates and not the gentlemen from your house.”
Gustaf said “I had forgotten about those guys, I was just thinking pirates and what they would take. We need to make a decision. If we can tell how many of them there are, we might be able to overpower them. If there are too many, we need to figure out a way to scare them off.”
Tamiko maneuvered the camera to a better vantage point but neither of them could see the intruders.
Gustaf said “Well, that didn’t help, but based on the size of their boat and that we don’t see anyone, I gotta believe it’s a small party. If they have left anyone on board their vessel, it would be one or two at the most. I suggest we gear up and pay them a little visit. If we can take their boat, it might give them an incentive to leave and if it doesn’t, we may have to handle them in a different manner.”
Tamiko was confident in her abilities when it came to defending herself, however, this would be an attack. They had surprise on their side but depending on who was up there, this could become messy. She knew Gustaf had more than a boat captains training in these matters but she had never truly seen him in combat. She did feel his confidence in himself, so she was hoping that would be enough. They quickly geared up in silence. She took the spear gun. Gustaf would be using hand to hand, so it had better be quick.
The team swam to the surface using rebreathers so as to reduce air bubbles announcing their arrival. It took them under ten minutes, stopping every few hundred feet to adjust to the depth and to make sure they had not been spotted. They broke surface twenty feet from the rear quarter of the “pirate” vessel. It did not appear there was a guard. Gustaf had Tamiko step onto the loading bar in the rear of the boat first. That way he could watch for assailants. Nothing moved. He climbed aboard and made for the hatch to go below. Tamiko stopped him and made the motion of someone sleeping. If you were quiet, you could hear the soft snoring above the light wave lapping on the boat side. Gustaf moved forward more slowly to focus on the direction of the sound. The guard was still sitting in the driver’s chair. His chin was on his chest and he was softly snoring. Gustaf borrowed the spear gun and dropped the butt on the back of the sleeping guard’s head. There was a snort and the guard tilted forward. Tamiko stepped forward and braced herself to keep the guard from hitting the wheel and any gadgets that might make noise. Gustaf helps her slide the guard to the floor. Funny, the guy didn’t look like a pirate and thug, just a normal weather beaten island type of guy. Gustaf took his gun and felt a little more comfortable.
Gustaf and Tamiko were pretty confident that
Gustaf motioned for Tamiko to stay put and watch for any returning pirates while he scouted down below. He slowly descended the ten steps to the lower cabin. There were three bunks present, all empty, that had been recently occupied. He continued to look around the room for other clues that might tell them who these people were. He found another pistol in a drawer and pocketed it. There were a lot of papers on the small folding table under the porthole window. He picked up several and began to quickly review them in the early morning light coming in through the porthole. This didn’t make sense. These were maps of the Greece and its surrounding islands, implying these pirates were not familiar with the region.
WHAT the HELL? Here was a document hiring these thugs to search for Gustaf and Tamiko specifically. AND, it was authorized by the Foundation. The letter voiced concern that a team of researchers had gone missing. The team’s tracking devices implicated that they were moving around in the region but their current whereabouts could not be pinned down specifically. The “rescuers” were authorized to locate the team using whatever means were necessary. They were also authorized to detain the team as well (if necessary). They were further instructed to signal the foundation upon completion of the assignment and await further instructions. It referenced the maps and provided latitude and longitude of their last known location. The letter was dated less than a week ago.
The sun was gaining strength through the portal and forced Gustaf to remember the other two empty bunks. He quickly replaced the papers and climbed the steps to the deck above. He approached Tamiko.
“We have a problem” he whispered “the foundation is looking for us. When we dive to the center, the tracking devices must cut out. They sent this team after us a week ago. They told them exactly where to look. We have to figure out if they have already reported arriving here and finding our boat or not. If not, we need to make sure these guys don’t get a chance to report our location. I am getting a really bad vibe about our little Foundation guys.”
Tamiko’s face went from shock, to fear, to determination, all in less than a minute.
“OK, how do we handle it? How many are there, do you know?”
Gustaf replied “I counted three used bunks below and we have one of them already. That leaves two more. Our advantage is that they don’t seem to be very professional. At least this guy doesn’t. The foundation probably wanted to keep a low profile so they didn’t go to the mob. These guys seem to be free-lance bounty hunters. We know they are here but they don’t know that we know. We also know our boat better than they do. I am hoping that if they are on board, they trigger one of our booby trap surprises. I think it’s better for us to wait for them to return. We can catch them off guard while we remain in control of situation.” He took the pistol that he had found below and handed it to Tamiko.
He said “I hope we don’t need these but we need to be prepared for anything.”
Tamiko said “what if they are in the water, looking for us?”
Gustaf replied “I think that is highly unlikely as it was still dark when we surfaced and they would not be diving without lights.”
Tamiko took the gun and sighed lightly. She seemed to relax a little. Tamiko had lightly bound the guard, so Gustaf improved on the bindings just in case the thug woke up. He scrummaged around and found the one item that everyone keeps for emergencies, duct tape. He taped the mouth of the thug and used it reinforce the bindings. They settled down to wait.
It was only fifteen minutes later that a flash bomb and concussion grenade went off on their boat.
Gustaf jumped up and said “you stay here and watch things from this side. I hope they were searching together, as it would have got them both at once. I’ll just slip over and see what happened. I will signal you if I have them. Don’t come over! Either way, we will know the outcome in the next couple of minutes.” With that, he headed to the gangplank and quickly slipped over to the Diomedes. As soon as he was on board, he slowed his progress. He needed to know which of the booby traps had been triggered and if the two pirates had been together or not. After only a few minutes, he spotted the smoke residue for the flash bomb. Good, it appeared to be the trip wire at the top of the back stairway. If the concussion didn’t get them directly, he was hoping they may have tumbled backward down the stairs. He glanced into the galley and the two staterooms as he passed while making his way to the rear of the boat. Nothing he could see caused concern on his part. He held his gun at the ready but in a familiar and relaxed way as he approached the stairway. He peered down the last few feet of the hallway, making ready to move quickly if he needed to. A man lay half way across the top step, as if he had been climbing from the level below when he tripped the bomb. He showed definite signs of a concussion grenade. He was bleeding slightly from the nose and the ears. Gustaf quickly checked for a pulse. Faint but definitely discernable, He was breathing, even if it was shallow. Gustaf peered over the man and down the steps. To see if anyone else was visible. Another man lay at the bottom of the stairs. He quickly descended to make sure the thug was not dead. After checking for a pulse, he quickly bound both men and duct taped them for good measure. He then retraced his steps to the gangplank and called over to Tamiko. You could almost hear he release her breath when she heard him call out.
The Atlantis Foundation Books