A small town on the northwest coast of the US State of Oregon. Known for its cheese. While connected to the Pacific Ocean via a good sized bay, that bay is fed from so many small rivers of the Cascade Range that said bay is nothing but silt, sand, and mud flats. All commercial fishing and crabbing is done out of the village of Garibaldi, about five miles north by northwest. That’s where Gil Haven keeps his little trawler, Nichole. And, this is where the SPOLIERS begin.
Gil Haven is the major secondary character of both “Friend & Ally” and “Foes & Rivals.” Starting as a careful friend of Nichole 5 Clarke, who he comes to realize is an android, they later fall in love. Skipping way forward, when things go to absolute shit in the city-state of Portland, he and Nichole’s other best friend, Mackenzie d’Arcy, artist and accountant, are given a special grace to pass west to the coast unmolested by the Huns. Hopelessly in love with Gil but knowing she is an artificial person and can never make children with him, Nichole forces her two friends together. And abandons them.
The story picks up a generation later. Gil and his two teen sons and two hired men are at sea when their boat’s engine begins to act up.
Gil Haven, captain of the small commercial fishing trawler Nichole, tried again to bring up the throttle. Their speed didn’t change, making no more than three knots against the north-to-south current off of the northwest coast of what had once been the State of Oregon.
“Joe!” He called to his eldest son, at fifteen. “Come take the wheel. I’m gonna go see what’s wrong. This time.”
His son scampered up the ladder just before his father slid down, keeping the smile off of his young face. Six years ago, after working as crew for eight and using his innate mechanical abilities to keep the old boat running, the previous owner retired and gave her to Gil. When he rechristened her Nichole, he never anticipated she would be as much trouble as her namesake.
Before going below, he had a word with his two hired men, TK and Dalt, as to what was up. They shrugged and kept at mending nets; this was nothing new.
Gil grabbed his toolbox from just outside the engine compartment and nearly crawled into the confined space. To listen to, there was nothing obviously out of the ordinary. In fact, it was almost too quiet…
“Damn head pressure again,” he muttered, opening the toolbox.
While some oil came into the deepwater harbor of the city of Portland, precisely none of it ever came out to the coastal cities, besides the base at Astoria. Oil, gas, and diesel went north into the Centralia Valley of what was once Washington State and south to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. That kept the farms and farmers in production and that kept their little corner of the world from experiencing the die-off in the Breakup of the United States; with one hundred million dead.
So, without oil, engines and motors had to be switched to coal, which was just available. Once Gil had converted this boat, word spread instantly around the other captains and crews and for a year he found himself in high demand.
“And highly paid,” he muttered, using a crescent wrench on a sticky valve. But, once those conversions were over, it was back to fishing.
“Still, it was enough to buy our little farm and once and for all get Mac to stay home to raise the kids and teach and make art. There!” The valve turned a little but the pressure reading didn’t budge. What the hell?
“Dad!” From just outside the engine space, his younger son, Mike called to him. “Joe needs you up top. Looks like Foamfollower is going on without us.”
More crap I do not need. Often working in tandem, the two boats set out early from the docks at Garibaldi, just a few miles north of the town of Tillamook. As the large bay of the same name was just a confusion of tidal sand and mud flats, boats never went too far in. Today, like always, the plan was to drift with the current, with a small motor assist, about twenty miles south before turning around, deploying their nets, and taking in what catch they could. It was once they turned about when Nichole refused to come up to speed. Had they not been able to make even three knots, he would have to beach her, as there were no ports until home. Wiping his hands on a rag, he made his way out, stretched while ruffling young Mike’s grayish hair, and went topside.