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[personal profile] gone_byebye
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Uruguayan Fishing Vessel Vieras-1
Vicinity of 48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W
Captain's Quarters

"Are they still on our six, Bauzá?" asked Hector Forteza without lifting his head. The fishing boat's captain hadn't slept in days- not since the Australians had come after them- and no longer trusted his own judgment.

"No, Captain." Bauzá shook his head. "The Coast Guard dropped off the radar some time ago. Are you all right?"

"I wish." Forteza ran his hand over his face. "This whole trip has been nothing but fiasco from beginning to end."

Bauzá glanced at his captain, trying to judge how much Forteza meant what he was saying. Finally he said, "It was a good idea in theory. The toothfish haul was fantastic."

"You don't have to make me feel better." Forteza shook his head. "A nation doesn't send ships with men with guns after foreign fishing boats and then just let them go. There'll be Australian lawmen waiting at the docks in Montevideo. We're all screwed. You watch."

"Well, we were fishing in their waters," Bauzá said. "That was factored in, though, wasn't it? We all knew-"

"Captain!" came a cry from Vieras-1's main deck. "Captain, come quickly!"

Forteza shook himself off and jumped to his feet. That was one of the Hierro brothers, and neither Raumar nor Luis was the kind of man to get excited lightly. "What's happening?" he called back.

"Just get up here! Now!"

Forteza swore.

Bauzá reached the cabin first, but it didn't much matter. Forteza was right behind him, and Raumar Hierro was all but hopping up and down and flailing his arms. "Captain," he said, pointing at the ship's instrument panel, "look at the bottom scan, first, and then ."

Forteza blinked, but did as he was told. After a moment's staring at the navigational display he said, very quietly, "I haven't slept since Sunday morning, Hierro. Is the ocean floor supposed to be that close?"

"No! It's not! And neither are they!" Hierro jabbed a finger towards the sonar, where-

"Madre de Dios. The Australians called their friends," was all Forteza could think to say at the sight. There were at least twenty vessels closing in on their position from all sides.

"What do you want us to do?" Bauzá asked. "Run for it?"

This was not the sort of thing a man wanted to have to deal with unless he had a good deal more coffee in him than Forteza did; he rubbed at his eyes, trying to think-

"Attention," crackled the radio suddenly. "Fishing vessel Vieras-1, this is the captain of the People's Liberation Army Navy destroyer Harbin. Your course leads you into internationally forbidden waters-"

"What the hell is he talking about?" Forteza demanded of the other men. "What internationally forbidden waters? We're nowhere near the Antarctic sanctuary!"

"-reverse course immediately or face full military sanction-"

There was a burst of static and another voice overrode the first. "Vieras-1, this is the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Chikuma-"

Another crackle. "-guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney-"

"Jesus Christ, Captain, who did we piss off?"

"Captain," said Hierro quietly, "the sea bottom is rising…"


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Raymond Stantz

February 2014

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