I’m still about a thousand words ahead in this story, which is good as, having got Gil off the warship and back on land, I’ve hit something of a stop. I’ve seen a little past that (the local mayor, introducing Gil’s family) but there’s no drama. There’s no plot. That, coupled with being oddly tired this AM, has me staring off at nothing, waiting for someone to start talking to me.
Do the political powers of Portland and/or the Kingdom of Columbia freakout over the Russian ship? Who was it in their intelligence apparat who dropped the dime on Gil and his relations with Nichole 5? Questions with no answers. Yet.
“I was completing a Masters in mechanical engineering at Portland State University. That fell apart when the horsemen of the Nation first took central Washington, then the city of Portland.”
“And you and your woman not only survived but escaped. Lucky.” The officer poured them both more tea, giving more sugar to Gil.
“It…” Do I or don’t I? “It wasn’t just luck. My friend, well, my girlfriend at that time, was special and helped us to survive.”
“That is Nichole Clarke? The machine?”
Gil flinched so bad tea rained onto his waterproof coat.
“How…?” he began. Grammatikov lifted the single sheet and turned it so Gil could see it. In their language, he understood nothing. He did note that the space for a picture in the upper right was blank.
“Once aboard, Gusev gave you name to intelligence officer. He message Fleet HQ. This came back,” he said, turning the paper around and laying down. “You are known, through the machine, to intelligence organs back home.”
He took a handkerchief from a pocket and wiped at the little mess on the table before setting it aside.
“Thank you for truth, Keptin Haven,” the lieutenant said, standing. “Gusev also say your bay very shallow. We shall send you home now.”
But as Gil stood, warning horns began. After five, a voice announced something over the speakers. He watched Grammatikov come to a decision.
“It is battle stations,” he explained. “Unknown ships to the north. Please to come with me to bridge until this resolved.”
Unknown ships to the north? I was just in this scenario.
While crewmen dashed this way and that, they all managed to make way for their XO. Up several ship’s ladders, he followed the lieutenant through a hatch, which was closed and dogged shut behind them, onto the bridge. Several looked at the civilian foreigner but no one commented on him. The XO spoke quickly to who looked like a radarman before issuing a string of orders. Gil did note the empty captain’s chair toward the back of the cramped room.
“In CIC,” Grammatikov explained to his look. “Appears to be cutter and smaller ship just ahead, closing on us.”
“Probably a patrol from Astoria,” Gil wondered. “Your ship is easy to see from shore.”
The XO just grunted. At that, the radio came to life.
“Russian warship. This is SS Zephyr of the Kingdom of Columbia. You have violated the twelve-mile limit of international waters. Please explain yourselves,” a deep, male voice said.
Grammatikov spoke a few words to a petty officer who spoke into a microphone attached to one of the panels on the bridge.
“This IRN Golitsyn. In passing off your coast we note trawler in trouble. We approach and offer aid. Trawler now on way to Tillamuck. We leave presently,” the Russian said in better English than the officer.
“Why are you still here, Golitsyn?” they asked.
“We bring trawler keptin aboard for tea.” They really do have trouble with that word. “We return him now to Tillamuck.”
There was a pause.
“Very good and thank you for your help. We shall linger in the area to see you off, Golitsyn. Godspeed. Zephyr out.”