Post by El Juanico Diez on Dec 19, 2022 10:17:45 GMT -5
May 13th, 17xx
I know that you'll probably never read what I wrote here, simply because the pages will be lost at the bottom of the ocean just like what's left of our torn bodies.
But on the slim chance that I survive, or at least one of the crew does, I want to make sure you know in detail about the terrors that befell us during this stupid enterprise you promoted.
I hope you read all these writings imagining the pain, fear, suffering and anguish you put men and women through for no compelling reason other than your own arrogance, greed and folly.
Be forewarned that the harrowing accounts detailed in the preceding pages, if they remain intact, pale in comparison to the horrors we experienced today, as well as those we are likely to face in the coming days. Typhoid fever, dysentery, devastating storms, and the sandbar that caused the tragic loss of the King Charles II ship—none of these can hold a candle to the nightmare we witnessed today.
I hope that I manage to convey at least one percent of the despair and grief you put us through, and that it will be enough for your nights to be cursed with the worst nightmares for the rest of your days. I will be happy to imagine that despite the violent and extremely painful death that lies ahead for me and my companions, that death will be swift, while you will suffer the torment of never having a peaceful night again. I pray that you do not end your life and that you do not add suicide to your list of sins. My teammates and I swore we wouldn't do that, even though that seems like the most sensible choice given what we've seen today. But we have faith that our souls can be saved, so that we can look down from heaven on the slow and permanent suffering that these writings will cause you.
Post by El Juanico Diez on Dec 19, 2022 10:56:41 GMT -5
... to make it abundantly clear, Captain Chloe Brown left her two-year-old daughter in Waterford under the care of her husband, Ethan Brown, with whom she had shared three years of marriage. Chloe vowed to bring her beloved child a souvenir from the New World, preferably a sweet fruit. Alas, she will never fulfill that promise, as she could not escape the ill-fated Charles II ship in time. I have endeavored to commit to memory what I saw, so that I might sketch a visual representation of the Hermedy and send it to you. May it suffice.
Never forget her name or her face, my sister — Chloe Brown. I implore you to seek out her husband and daughter one day, and beg their forgiveness. It is my sincerest hope that they deny you absolution.
Post by El Juanico Diez on Dec 28, 2022 6:18:14 GMT -5
May 13th, 17xx
Today marks 7 days since we left the Panama Canal behind. We were behind schedule you set. The winds were not favorable, so I had to resort to human propulsion. The chances of a mutiny happening are much greater when it does, but I believe the fighting spirit of the comrades was already too weakened for a revolution. Evidently the remaining ships did the same.
It's not easy to command a hybrid-powered ship. We have to know how to save fuel, take advantage of the winds and in many cases appeal to the arms and hands of the men and women who are my subordinates.
I thought: "At least the crew on the ships will be able to have a little empathy for the crew on the three submarines that accompany us." They have evidently needed to use human propulsion since our departure, as there are no winds on the ocean, and evidently a boiler chimney could not be fitted to them. Of course, the submarines' tugboats make most of the force, but the crew still needs to lend a hand, otherwise these ships would be left behind. That's why I never liked commanding submarines. It's always a hostile environment, but on the other hand, it's these hostile environments that make the most cruel people. And war needs cruelty to work.
Be that as it may, fear of mutiny should have been the least of my worries. As the leader of the New World Western Sea Route Conquest Task Force (you've always been terrible at choosing names) and captain of the Henry VIII Flagship, I believed I had the information I needed to accomplish my mission. But you, my sister, added incompetence to your already mentioned defects. The nautical charts you provided proved useless. And the strength of the enemies we will be fighting has been ridiculously underestimated.
I'm lucky that the Cartographer Officer on the Henry VIII's crew, Officer Quagmire, is a dependable person and has an enviable sense of direction. Although, getting lost far from our enemies' territory instead of confronting them seems like a better idea, given what we've seen today.
I really wish you were here. Oh how I wanted!
We had adjusted the sails to ensure that we were heading for the west coast of the New World. Amazingly, the Pacific Ocean was actually peaceful today. I should have been surprised by all that peace. It was around 2:30 pm when we heard an infernal howl. It sounded like 300 wolves were howling together from the sea.
- Prepare to clash! - I shouted.
I know that all the information we have about our enemies comes from Corporal Feint, the only survivor of the Task Force to Explore the West Coast of the New World. I have to say that my prejudice against those who wear red uniforms has increased a lot. Corporal Feint, from the army, survived, while all those Navy people died. And by all appearances, he still made a pretty bad report. But it's not just his fault. It's your fault, my sister. You've always had a thing for red uniforms, and you didn't even question him about his incoherent testimonials. Instead of questioning him with due force, you granted him the knighthood title. You awarded medals and more medals to a person who, by all indications, was a coward and a liar! Still, all we had was his reports, and it was on the basis of those same reports that I established the coping strategy for each of the types of enemies we would presumably be fighting.
According to Feint's account, howls meant sea worms. I believed we were ready, and there was among our vessels a ship specially prepared to deal with them: The Queen Anne. I remember when Engineer Baudelaire designed and provided the front turbines for the ship. It was enough for us to line up the fleet of ships, and the Queen Anne would go ahead making room.
From the report, the worms were nuisance but extremely territorial. The original planned route was supposed to preclude an encounter with them if the territory was the same. Either we had gone even farther west than Quaigmire had reckoned, or the worms had changed their territory. Or both things at the same time. Be that as it may, I believed we were prepared to deal with them. But we weren't.
The radiotelegraph officer started to work with his hands, coordinating the ships. My companions knew their duties. Those responsible for the harpoons and cannons were ready. Theoretically, it wouldn't be possible to use such weapons on board, but that's my way of working. Always count on firearms and harpoons. The boiler engineer and his subordinates began to prepare the equipment for the work overload they would face. After all, aligning ships using human propulsion would be impossible. And we would gain human fighters, if necessary.
The worms began to submerge at the very moment that Queen Anne became our new flagship. We heard the noise of the treated wooden turbine starting to turn at very high speed, cutting air and water. It's a really impressive piece of equipment. It spanned the entire bow of the Queen Anne and would still be able to secure space to protect a ship's width to either side.
I don't need to explain to you, my sister, the technical details of how it works, but I need to tell you that they were all useless. The Queen Anne itself is stunning. She is by far our largest vessel, and I believed she would be our guarantee of safety. How wrong I was.
Worms simply swim much faster than ships can move forward, even with steam propulsion. They quickly pulled out of the Queen Anne's turbine range, went under the water, and suddenly they were attacking the Henry VIII, right where I was.
I went to the helmswoman's side. She is one of the strongest women I know. I've fought alongside her against the damned French, and I've seen her kill men much bigger than she is with just a stick. And her nautical experience is even greater than mine. If Okoro wanted she would have become captain a couple of years ago. But she doesn't like having to exercise leadership. Therefore, my sister, if there is anyone in this worlds who deserves the title of fearless woman, she is Okoro. At least she was. Today, I heard her screaming in horror for the first time. I think I'm advancing the subject, she did not shout at the moment things started to give terribly wrong, nor when people began to die. She shouted later that day.
Worms climbed through the ship's hull, ten of them were grabbing some of the men and carrying them to their deaths in the depths of the water. Clark, Harrison, Scott, Young... Sadly passed away. They weren't just names. They were dear people. I wasn't familiar with them, but they had been on my crew for over 15 months. We shot harpoons at the cursed animals, and that was really efficient. They released bluish blood when they were wounded and soon moved away.
Then we heard the sound of wood splintering. For a moment I thought the worms had broken our hull, but luckily it wasn't. They broke a mast off our mainsail. It fell with a clatter, towards the port side. Sadly, Camila Dias is gone. She was close to the mast. I know you remember her and her husband, who accompanied us, Tavares Dias. They were a very peculiar couple, and now they are only half of a couple. And yes, I hold you responsible for his pain, and having to see his beloved wife's lifeless body after being crushed by a pole. If the mast had fallen towards the bow, the damage would have been even greater. It probably would have hit the bridge of the ship, where Okoro and I were, in addition to the many sailors right below us.
The telegraph officer managed to hear a transmission amidst the chaos.
- Captain Mallahan! Ma'am, the subs report that they have visual contact with the only enemy attacking us! They want authorization to use the torpedoes!
That didn't seem to make sense at first. But I quickly understood what it was about. We weren't dealing with multiple worms, but with a single tentacled creature.
- Authorization granted!
The explosion on the ocean floor is barely noticeable from the surface. I was able to read the reports of what happened afterwards. The creature had more than 200 fur on its tentacles, (some submariners claim to have as many as 400). We didn't face even a tenth of the creature's attack power.
Anyway, everything went hazy right after the explosion. A black stain spread everywhere, making underwater viewing impossible. The black spot extended over a radius of more than 20 water miles on the surface. I'm sure that damn animal didn't die. If we'd inflicted serious damage, the stain would have been the color of his blood, but it wasn't. At least, after using the torpedoes, the tentacles moved away.
At this point we decided to go even further west, away from that creature. Quagimire is certain we'll find an island soon... he seems to have a sixth sense for it, or some kind of advance information I don't know the source of. We will repair my ship accordingly, if possible. I hope there is some kind of port on the island. Anyway, we're going to need a better strategy to get through that sea zone. Perhaps a new route.
Now that the sea is calm, the telegraphers have sent telefacsimiles of the creature. And yes, it was after seeing the telefacsimiles that Okoro screamed.
Post by El Juanico Diez on Dec 28, 2022 15:34:34 GMT -5
page 10 -
We are in Panama for three days. That huge ship, Queen Anne, ran aground right in the middle of the channel, in the Pedro Miguel lock. I tried to warn you that such a large ship would be difficult to maneuver between the locks. And to make matters worse, many men took advantage of the forced break and used the train to go to Panama City. They returned with an unusual and contagious disease. I fear the worst.
Post by El Juanico Diez on Dec 29, 2022 11:23:59 GMT -5
20th May 17xx
Things couldn't be worse. When you gave me this mission, my sister, I always wondered why you created such a tight schedule. I misjudged you: I thought you created this schedule based solely on your selfish habit of wanting everything yesterday, even if it means jeopardizing the planning and preparation steps for missions. You never accept to hear a "no" for an answer from your subordinates, even if they explain to you the logical reasons that your wishes are not possible to be met, at least not at the speed you ask. Now I realize that you are much worse than just a fussy little girl who wants something bad and wants it now. You are an irresponsible woman who cares nothing for the safety of the people you send to fight your wars for you. Our late father must be very ashamed of you, wherever he is. He had his faults, but you managed to overcome them all. At least our blood relationship is not known to the people, because seeing what you've been doing, I would have the courage to appear in public even if I were just a third cousin four times removed or fourth cousin three times removed from you.
Until the day we came across the "sea worms" (which weren't worms at all!) I believed that you were just uninformed about matters involving the conquest of the western New World. But did you know that we weren't sent here in such a hurry just because of gigantic animals that needed to be destroyed, which already turned out to be the worst experience of our lives.
After the attack I told you about on the previous page, (the sailors are calling the creature "Kojai") I decided to leave our ship as a flagship, for strategic reasons. If by chance we came across some other dangerous creature, and we had to sacrifice one of our vessels, the best thing would be for the already partially destroyed ship to be hit first and then completely destroyed. Of course, that meant a greater chance of death for me and my crew, so I transferred all non-essential personnel to the Queen Anne (there's plenty of room on that ship to hold everyone). Next in succession to the Task Force is Captain Widdershins, Captain of the Ship Prince Frederick. I am sure that if my death happens and his does not, he will lead the Task Force without any hesitation until his objective is accomplished or until his death, the latter being more likely.
Officer Cartographer Quagmire had basically taken over the duties of Officer Navigator, especially since our Officer Navigator is still suffering from the plague that struck us. We managed to get around a storm that was approaching, but we still caught tough waves. Okoro sailed beautifully, but not without excessive consumption of our coal. I expected to find firewood on the island we were supposed to be heading for, and trust our engine engineer's ability to convert the fuel. Quagmire explained that the referred island appeared in the navigation records that were provided to us, although such records are not very reliable. He didn't remember that detail, but he also didn't expect our Task Force to be forced so far west into the Pacific ocean.
The Henry VIII no longer had a foretopman, as we no longer had our mainmast. So the most disquieting news came over the telegraph from the Prince Frederick:
I knew well what that meant. It meant that we were about to fight a naval battle against the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or in my lingo: "Dutch East India Company". But that was just the tip of the iceberg. That meant that you, my sister, knew that we were competing against the Low Countries for the conquest of the West of the New World, and that was why you sent us here so hastily. If you had only warned us, we would have prepared for a fight against a fleet of ships. But you didn't want to admit your diplomatic defeat, so you didn't tell us. We only prepare to fight monsters, not humans. But now I know, that the real monster is you, my sister.
Post by El Juanico Diez on Jan 2, 2023 14:51:47 GMT -5
Page 30, Cont.
I asked the radio communication officer to prepare the bridge room for the conference call. In practice this just meant pulling out a chair for me, and having me wear a gigantic headphone and microphone that covered 25% of the table. In general we used the telegraph, but in meetings to make joint decisions, the incredible conversion of radio waves into voice is the best practice. I am still fascinated by these new technologies. At least you spared no expense, my sister. What a pity that this is such a pointless quest, which I probably won't get out of alive. I would like to be able to use all this technology again in something really noble and useful. "Captain, the situation here is critical. The Kojai has been defeated, it is true. But, as you reported, we now have the Dutch East India Company cornering us." - I said.
"I know, ma'am. And the prospects are not good. They are faster and better armed than we are," replied Captain Widdershins. I really didn't know what to do. "We've got to find a way to defeat them without wasting all our ammunition. If we spend it all fighting them, we won't be able to exterminate the next marine enemies we encounter. And if we just run away, we'll be handing those damn Dutchmen over to the West Coast of the New World." ."
"I agree, ma'am. Perhaps we should try a stealthy approach, like an ambush at night," suggested Captain Widdershins.
That seemed like a good alternative to me. But I needed Okoro's opinion. We'd have to stay far enough out of their gun range until dark for something like this to have even the slightest chance of working. The Queen Anne had a good amount of speedboats, to allow transporting soldiers and thus achieving an invasion of enemy ships. But for that to work, our ships would need to keep their distance.
Okoro gave her opinion. "I've fought the Dutch more than once," she said. "They are very good at detecting nighttime ambushes. They train rattlesnakes, which have thermal vision, to give a signal when motorized or manned vessels approach from the sea at night. A sneak attack at night would put us at a disadvantage. And worse than that. this... They're coming at full speed in this wind. I figure by 3am, we'll be in range of them. And the Queen Anne is basically a walking target with that huge size. And most of our crew It's there, Captain." "You're right Okoro, thank you very much." "So what can we do, ma'am?" - asked Captain Widdershins. "I am completely against all this hesitation. Worse than doing something wrong is doing nothing! He who hesitates is lost!" "Planning a tactic is not hesitation, Captain." I said patiently. "Let's make some changes to your idea, Captain. What do you think about using the jet skis to sneak up on the Dutch ships during daylight while they are distracted by the battle? We can use the crossbow weapons with flaming arrows to light the sails and cause confusion on board. We will not invade the ships, but we will delay them. The jet-skis will be easily seen, it is true, but I believe that their speed and maneuverability will give ours a great advantage men."
Captain Widdershins did not hesitate. "This is risky, but it could work. I'm going to gather some of our best men and start getting the jet skis ready right now."
I nodded, satisfied. "Very well, Captain. Let's take care of these Dutch people and show that our country is not easily intimidated."
My sister, I can imagine you proudly reading my words. You probably must have imagined an overwhelming victory against the Dutchmen, using an innovative tactic. You must have started to imagine how you would fill the paintings in the navy museum with the arts portraying the scene of the plan that we elaborated in full operation. I know how you think: an oil painting depicting a beautiful woman like me in an imposing pose, holding a sword, sending men on jet skis to attack Dutch vessels. Nothing is more moving than a story of David against Goliath, accompanied by a catchphrase that came to my lips at a crucial moment. All the blood spilled so far would be forgotten because of a single painting. I can't let the people be deceived like that, I'm sorry. I feel a commitment to the truth, and the truth is, you're killing us.
The end of the battle came around 4 am, and I made sure that as many of the soldiers' remains as possible were rescued. There wasn't much to redeem, though. There was one survivor, who remained alive for 18 hours after the rescue. It was Private Benjamin, whom I had the privilege of being the witness of his honorable passing while he was talking to me.
I walked to the infirmary, removed my captain's hat and put on my face mask. I didn't like that part of the ship, because it reminded me of pain. And suffering. And disease. And death. And the plague that hit us. A few days ago, those cramped and crowded beds were full of infected men and women. Now, there were far fewer. But not because there was a miraculous recovery. Medical officer Ananias met me at the door.
"Is Private Benjamin awake and able to speak?" - I asked.
"Yes, somehow," replied the Medical Officer. "But he needs to rest. He's in a lot of pain, and he's suffered a lot of trauma, both physical and mental."
I looked at his bed. The man who must have been between 19 and 20 years old, was shaking compulsively. He seemed to stare into space, as if the horror of what he saw was still locked in his retina. Through his trembling teeth he said:
"Captain, ma'am, thank you for coming to see me. I want to give my report."
"I don't think it's a good idea to relive the experience..." Medical Officer Ananias began to say.
Benjamin screamed. A loud, piercing scream.
"Let me speak!! The captain needs to know!!!"
"I will hear you, Mr. Benjamin."
"I have a younger sister. Judy. Don't allow her to come to the New World, Madam Captain, please."
"I promise I will take your report to her and to all the people of our country."
"Thank you Madam Captain..." He seemed to shake less. He closed his eyes and began to speak.
"We were all doing well, ma'am. We piloted the jet skis perfectly well. The Dutch began to fire their cannons. We could hear the shells hitting the water beside us, but we were too fast for them to aim accurately. Furthermore..."
He gave a grunt of pain and touched the area of his left ribs.
"Besides…" he continued. "We didn't make a straight trajectory, as we were instructed. In a few minutes the companions I was taking, along with others who were on other jet skis, were launching several incandescent arrows with their crossbows. The vast majority hit the sails of enemy ships. Many men appeared with their rifles, and started shooting at us. I can't be sure, but I believe none of us were hit by the shots. We quickly turned around and were quickly riding towards our beloved squadron when.. . When..."
He started to shake again. He started to cry. He starts to struggle. The medical officer approached and tried to inject him with a tranquilizer. But it was already too late. Before the injection was given, Private Benjamin must have had a cardiac arrest, and passed away right in front of me. I saw the medical officer kneeling over his body and crying like a child. My eyes fill with tears too. And my heart was filled with hatred for you, my sister.
I can imagine what he wanted to say to me. I can, because I could see using the spyglass. He would probably say something like "But then that monster appeared out of nowhere. It was a giant crustacean with human-like hands, and it started attacking the men on the jet-ski and the Dutch ships. It was so fast, and it was using its hands to pull ships under the water. I saw many of my comrades being killed, and I was grabbed by one of its hands. It severed my left leg, but I managed to hold onto a jet ski and stay conscious. I saw the Dutch ships firing their cannons at the monster, but it was too fast. It pulled one of the ships under the water and it flipped over. And then I passed out."
I think that's what he meant, based on what I saw happening. I said his death was honorable, and I have to say that because he died on behalf of someone he trusted. That person was you. But I know his death was unnecessary, because our being here is something without motive, reason, or purpose. An honorable death, yes, but also an unnecessary death, because of you, my sister.
Post by El Juanico Diez on Feb 25, 2023 16:41:54 GMT -5
It has been a week since we fought against the Dutch East India Company. I am thankful to God that we haven't encountered any of the sea monsters after the attack of Sadowclaw that I described to you on the previous page. After sailing for three days, we finally spotted the island that Quagmire was looking for.
I was expecting a completely uninhabited island, as I never imagined that natives of the New World could have reached so far using their rustic means of navigation. But I was mistaken. The island is large and, therefore, after the lead ship Navio Príncipe Frédéric informed us of the sighting, we got used to referring to the island as Big Island. (See how simple it is to choose a name?) There were other nearby islands. But Big Island stood out not only because of its size, but mainly because of the large constructions at a bay that would serve as our port.
"Is that a lighthouse?" Okoro asked.
"Looks like it." I replied.
As we were still deciding whether or not to approach Big Island, Captain Windershins sent me a message via telegraph.
"Madam Captain, two natives have just arrived on the Prince Frederick ship. They are surprisingly speaking our language and have offered tugboat services and a pilot to dock our ships. They say they will charge a fair price in precious metals for their service and request that those who disembark leave their weapons on the ships."
That message really surprised me. The natives had detected our arrival in advance and were even offering us port services!
As our ships approached the bay, we could get a closer look at the impressive buildings on the island. Large metal and glass structures rose above the trees, with visible pipes and gears indicating the presence of advanced technology. The streets were illuminated by gas lamps and the natives who helped us wore clothes that seemed to mix Victorian style with strange mechanical accessories.
"This is incredible! I've never seen anything like it," exclaimed sailor Johnson, marveling at the sights before him.
"What the hell is that train passing by?" exclaimed sailor Parker, pointing to a metal line that crossed the city.
"This island is a true treasure trove of technology!" exclaimed the ship's engineer, Mr. Cartwright, amazed at the mechanical wonders he could see everywhere. I thought that converting the fuel might not be so difficult with so many resources on the island.
The fact is, we couldn't believe we were in front of such an advanced society on a remote island. And as for docking, I can say that the service was really well done and worth every penny. Even the submarine crew relied on the excellent pilot, who knew every detail of the marine terrain near Big Island. Speaking of the pilot... he really caught my attention. I was able to talk to him when it was Henry VIII's turn to dock. His name is Keanu and he's 30 years old. He's really tall... You know, sister, I'm a tall woman myself, but he's even taller than me... He must be about 2 meters. Keanu has tanned skin, dark and wavy hair... He told me he learned about the marine terrain while surfing. And he speaks our language so well... He was the one who explained a little about the place to me. Apparently, maritime currents have been bringing all kinds of materials, recordings, and documents from around the world to Big Island for many generations, as well as shipwrecks from various parts of the world. But back to what matters, Keanu is single and has deep brown eyes and a firm, deep, and loud voice. And he was wearing a white shirt with the buttons open... And what muscles he had... His thigh and butt must be harder than concrete. But soon the ship was in the port and he jumped into the water and swam towards the Queen Anne. As he swam, I realized that Okoro was also eyeing him up.
"I think I'm going to like this island, captain," she said as she left the bridge.
I don't know why I wrote these details to you, sister. I think for a moment, since we left, I forgot about the war and the death that surrounds me since I joined the Royal Navy. For a moment, I was just a woman desiring a man, and so was Okoro. And for a moment, I felt a little envy of Keanu. Now that it's been a few days since we arrived here, I understand why not only Keanu looked so handsome, but also so many men around here are really good-looking. It's because they don't carry the scars of war on their bodies or in their hearts. I think living in peace beautifies people. In this case, I guess I'm not as pretty as I thought I was. The women here are also stunning... Well, I guess Okoro and I never had a chance... I really wish to live in peace forever.
Post by El Juanico Diez on Feb 28, 2023 15:38:29 GMT -5
I'm sure the following information will certainly interest you much more. I asked most of my men to stay on the ship while Okoro, Quagmire, and I disembarked. I had requested that each captain disembark with only two trusted sailors. I left the medical officer, Ananias, in charge of the ship while we were away.
The woman who greeted us at the port introduced herself as Kailani and said, "Aloha!" with a beautiful smile.
"Hello," I replied. She was beautiful. She had long, dark hair tied up in a messy bun with a colorful feather. She wore a linen shirt with lace on the sleeves and a leather vest with many pockets.
Soon we formed a large group of sailors and headed towards a building near the port. The building appeared to be made of red bricks but had aesthetic details in cast iron on its façade. It had four floors and many windows with colorful stained glass. On the façade, we also saw a name in a language we did not understand: "Hui Mālama Moku Kahakai," but Kailani quickly translated, speaking with a strange accent: "This building is the Port Navigation Company, which is the company that is providing port services for you." The word "company" surprised me a bit.
Kailani continued: "The elders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will meet with the captains of the ships in the auditorium of the building."
As we walked, I observed the port more closely. There was a large metal crane that must have been used to load and unload cargo from ships. The few people working at the port wore leather jackets and wide-brimmed hats. Some of them wore protective glasses, and they all seemed very busy and focused on their tasks.
We entered the building and passed by a receptionist who wrote down our names. Finally, only the captains were directed to the auditorium, while the others stayed in a room next to the reception.
Before we separated, I indicated that Okoro was the leader of that group. Even without weapons, she is a deadly woman. The auditorium was small, but all 12 captains fit there. We sat around a table, and soon the three elders arrived.
One of them, an elderly man, wore a white linen shirt with mother-of-pearl buttons and a skirt made of palm leaves. His skin was wrinkled and brown, and his white hair was combed back in a long braid. The other two were women, one younger and one older. The younger one wore a long skirt and a linen blouse with a leather vest, while the older one wore a long dress with a crochet shawl.
I looked around the table, analyzing the elders sitting in front of me. I could feel the tension of the other captains around them. The elders didn't seem to feel the same tension, politely smiling as they greeted each captain.
"Welcome to the island of Kahakai," said the middle elder, with a calm and gentle voice. "Feel free to call it 'Big Island' as we were informed that you refer to it. I am Kaimana, and these are my colleagues, Leilani and Malie. Together, we form the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At least for the next two years."
"We appreciate your hospitality," I replied. "But I would like to ask something: how did you know we were coming?"
Leilani smiled. "We maintain an observation post on this island. We can see the entire ocean from it. We observed you arriving and organized everything to receive you."
"But aren't you afraid that the ships that arrive here might be enemies or pirates?" asked Captain Hogarth, who heads our supply ship Edward VIII.
Elder Kaimana replied, "Of course, we are afraid, but we know that most navigators who come here are good people. Besides, we have a good trade relationship with neighboring islands, and it is important to maintain that connection. We cannot let fear prevent us from doing business."
I nodded, but I was still suspicious. I raised another issue, "We have some sick sailors on board our ships. Do you have any medical service here?"
Kailani replied, "Yes, we have a local hospital that will be happy to receive them in exchange for precious metals. The value will certainly be fair."
I sighed and understood that everything on that island was geared towards money. I was already strangely feeling at home, even though I was so many miles away. I didn't know if the quality of medical services on the island would be good enough, and I was still suspicious of everything. "Thank you for the information. We will consider your offer."
The elder named Malie asked, "We have some very important questions to ask you. 'Where did you come from?' and 'What is your objective in sailing these waters?' are the first ones."
I looked at the other captains. They nodded, indicating that they agreed that I should share the information.
"All the captains present in this room also come from a set of islands. But they are very, very far away from here, far beyond what the best telescopes you have could see. Our other sailors come from various different lands, but all of them are subject to the government of where I come from. A few years ago, we were able to conquer and colonize the eastern side of the continent that is closest to here. We call it the New World. But exploring the western side proved impossible by land, due to various different factors, all confidential and not shared with us. So, our leader planned to explore the west coast of the New World from the ocean. The first fleet that came was totally destroyed by sea monsters. We are the second fleet, which has the mission of eliminating the monsters and allowing the sea route to access the West Coast of the New World."
The three elders looked at each other. They seemed surprised by my sincerity, but not exactly surprised by the content of my words.
After a few moments of silence, Elder Kaimana replied, "These pieces of information are truly remarkable. You do not understand the true nature and purpose of those monsters. I am not sure if the council would allow us, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to pass on all the information we have about them, as this information is really very sensitive in the condition we are in. But on the other hand, without this information, you would be completely killed by those 'monsters,' as you call them, no matter how well armed you are. Could we suggest that you stay on the island, for at least a week? Next week, we will have a council meeting, and it would be good for some of you to participate. Perhaps it is possible to have a cooperation agreement between our archipelago and yours."
"That would be great," I replied without hesitation. I noticed the satisfied smile of Captain Windershins.
Kailani said, "If you and the other men and women who accompany you do not want to stay on the ships all the time, we can host some in the homes of residents who have agreed to receive guests in exchange for..."
"Precious metals at a fair value," I completed the sentence.
Kailani said, "You learn quickly, Captain. Since there aren't enough spaces for everyone, I think you can arrange a rotation schedule." Captain Turner, from the 1st Submarine Queen Catalina, said, "That's great. I think the submariners deserve priority, Captain Mallahan." I agreed. Any day outside the submarine was a happy day for its occupants.
Malie then opened a folder she had with her and took out 13 documents. She handed one to each of us. She said, "This is a map of our island. You can see highlighted areas where there are accommodations as well as places you may be interested in visiting during your stay. We have many bars and restaurants scattered around the island. Additionally, you may need to make repairs to your ships. In this case, the shipyard is also indicated on the map, located in another bay on the island."
I looked at the map, searching for Kianu's house to see if there might be a vacancy for me there. The map was really well made, and the information was very clear. I smiled when I realized that Kianu had offered his house as accommodation! But then I felt a chill run down my spine. All the pieces of the puzzle fit together in my mind. What happened in the Panama Canal, the message telegraphed by Captain Windershins, the conversation I had with Kianu, and finally the document in my hands... Yes, everything fit together. And everything led to only one possible conclusion. And that, my sister, for the first time made me feel a greater hatred for someone else than the hatred I feel for you.