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|Chapter 36: Safety in Numbers|
Lisa, with a determined stride, walked towards Dirk’s chandlery. She wasn’t supposed to be there at all; the plan had been for her to coordinate the pick-up by phone. However, Steve, the captain of Trevor and Joel’s swim team, had been uneasy about facing alone a man he thought to be a killer. The swim team had discussed the issue, and they’d soon decided that all eleven of them would show up that Saturday morning to pick up Trevor’s satellite phone. Then, after even more discussion, they’d invited some friends. When Lisa had learned of this, she’d guessed the reason and decided that she needed to be there.
Lisa glanced ahead, and she saw that she’d been right to come; the swim team’s members were clustered around the entrance to a dock, a hundred yards from the chandlery, having an animated discussion amongst themselves and five huge guys, two of whom Lisa recognized as the football teams’ linebackers. The athletes didn’t notice Lisa’s approach.
“Is there a problem, boys?” Lisa asked in a sweet tone, with a predatory grin on her face.
Steve, who at over six foot four was the largest and strongest on the swim team, turned to blink in surprise at Lisa. “You’re not supposed to be here... Joel said–”
“I know what he said, and I’m here, so deal,” Lisa shot back. Stalking up to Steve, and then glancing at the other guys around him, she added, in a mildly disgusted tone, “I’m guessing it’s a good thing that I showed up. Why are you out here and not in there, as if I didn’t know... there’s lots of you and one of him, but you’re all afraid.”
“You said he’s a killer... he killed Trev’s mom... and he drove by your house!” Steve replied, accompanied by over a dozen nodding heads.
“I said I think he’s a killer, but I’ve been around him more times than I can count, and I’m still breathing.” Lisa rolled her eyes, and then added, in a soft tone, “Okay, I get it, it’s too dangerous for you, there’s just,” she made a show of counting, “sixteen of you. So, you guys wait here and I’ll go get the phone myself.”
The athletes exchanged nervous glances, as male pride fought fear. Finally, Steve said, “I’ll go with you... if some of the guys come, too.”
“No you won’t,” said Joel’s father, as he made his way through the group to where Lisa and Steve were standing, making them all jump due to his unexpected presence. As he drew closer, he added, “Joel told me it was being picked up this morning, so I decided to stop by and make sure it went okay, and on the way, I decided that I want to see that bastard in person, so I’m going in. Dirk’s not going to try anything crazy in his own store. Lisa, if Joel finds out you were going in there, he’ll flip.”
“Good morning, Mr. Styles,” Lisa replied, with a bashful smile. “I was just trying to motivate these big chickens. I don’t think Joel would like either of us going in alone,” Lisa said, casting an accusatory glare at the group of embarrassed athletes.
“We could go along, but stay just outside,” one of the football players said, prevaricating. “For, like, you know, backup.”
“Fine,” Charles Styles replied, giving them a reassuring smile. “Let’s go see Dirk.”
They approached the front of the chandlery where Charles hesitated for a moment before he opened the door. The athletes milled about, glancing every which way, and Lisa stood watching them from a dozen yards away with her arms crossed, fighting the desire to laugh.
Dirk looked up from the behind the counter, his eyes opening in recognition. “Good morning, Charles, it’s been awhile.”
Charles glared at Dirk. “Not long enough, by my reckoning. I’m here for the phone.”
Dirk shrugged, a sour expression on his face. “Fine. I’ll get it,” he said, and reached into the cabinet, pulling out Trevor’s well-used Iridium satellite phone. “Just make sure he gets it.” Dirk glanced out the windows, and recognized a few of the team members. “I see you’ve brought friends.”
Charles replied with a humorless laugh. “Joel asked them to pick up the phone, and I figured I’d stop by to make sure it went okay. They were kind of rattled, so here I am.”
Dirk glanced outside, his emotions warring. “Why would being here rattle them?” Dirk asked, already suspecting the cause.
“I guess that’s par for the course when you’re a murderer,” Charles replied coldly.
Dirk spun around and glared at Charles. “I’ve never killed anybody,” he said, with an edge to his voice.
Charles shrugged, and projected an air of indifference as he replied, “So you say, and I can’t prove that you did. But to my mind, you’ve done something damn near as bad; you turned on your own son, for something he has no control over. That makes you scum in my book, murderer or not.”
Dirk clenched his fists. “I don’t want my son ruining his life, and as for my life, that’s none of your damn business, Charles.”
“Trev’s a good kid and he’s the one being hurt,” Charles shot back.
Dirk’s temper flared, and then died under a sudden flood of guilt. Deflating, Dirk let his shoulders slump. “I know, and I hate that,” he said softly.
Charles studied Dirk for a few moments, and then, in a more civil tone, said, “There’s no point in us arguing, and those guys outside look like they’re getting even more nervous. I’ll get the phone to Trevor.”
Dirk’s eyes fell on the phone, and he studied it for a few moments. “I forgot to ask Trev if he has his charger. I better get one...” Dirk said, in a sad, quiet tone, and then reached into a drawer. Pausing, he returned his attention to the phone, picking it up to examine it. “This has been around a few years so I don’t know how good the batteries are. I’d rather give him a new one.” Dirk unlocked the cabinet where he kept the new satellite phones, and reached to the back, where he always put the newest stock. He pulled out a box and handed it to Charles. “These have a service activation card in the box. Tell Trev to charge it up and have the card with him when he calls the service provider, and transfer his existing account to the new number. I can’t do it now, because you have to call from the phone and it’s better to fully charge them before their first use.”
Charles took the box, which was still sealed in hard cellophane, and studied it for a second. “Will do.”
Dirk opened the cash register and took out two twenties. “Here, for the shipping,” he said, trying to hand the banknotes to Charles.
Charles waved Dirk off and walked towards the door. “I’ll handle that.”
As Charles opened the door, Dirk said, “Thanks for letting Joel go with Trev. If either of them needs anything during the voyage, let me know.”
Charles hesitated at the door, puzzling over the unexpected phrasing. Dismissing it, he continued out the door.
Outside, box in hand, Charles let the swimmers lead the way away from the chandlery, something they were obviously very eager to do. Lisa fell into stride beside him, and she glanced at the box. “You got a new one. So, how did it go?”
Charles shrugged. “I hate that bastard and I let him know it, so about as well as you might expect.” Turning to look at Lisa, Charles added softly, “I don’t want you anywhere near him, and neither does Joel. Stay away, for your own sake, okay?”
Lisa nodded, frowning. “Okay, but I wouldn’t have gone alone, and now I have no reason to go at all. I just wanted to be sure Trev got the phone.”
After they’d reached the parking lot, the athletes began milling around in discomfort, embarrassed by the fear they’d shown. It was evident that they wanted to be anywhere but around Lisa and Charles, and although Lisa was tempted to skewer them further, she said nothing as Charles thanked them and bid them goodbye.
Once they were alone in the parking lot, Lisa glanced at the box and asked Charles, “Will there be room in the package for some tortilla chips? Trev loves those.”
“Yeah, he’s cleaned me out of ‘em a few times,” Charles said, smiling at the memory from happier days. “I’ve got an appointment in half an hour, but if we hurry we can get some chips for Trev. The parcel shipping place is in the strip mall a few blocks from here, and there’s a mini-mart there as well. Follow me.”
Twenty minutes later, they finished packing the shipping package, with the satellite phone’s box nestled securely amongst the packing material and two bags of Trevor’s favorite tortilla chips. Charles pulled out a printout of the e-mail from Trevor and Joel, and carefully copied the information for the Suez Canal Yacht Club, addressing the box to Trevor, in their care.
With Joel at the starboard wheel, Atlantis rounded the northeast tip of Rhodes and the city of Rhodes – Also called Rhodes Town – came into view in the distance, off the starboard beam. The most prominent feature was the massive castle, the long-ago bastion of the Knights of Rhodes.
Atlantis turned south, cruising down the eastern coast, to a bay at Kalithea, five miles from the city and the site of thermal springs and a resort. Trevor had picked the location because it was a popular anchorage, and he hoped that Atlantis would be inconspicuous amongst other yachts anchored there.
Trevor and Joel anchored Atlantis near four other large yachts, and lowered the Zodiac.
Within minutes, they were racing north across the calm, blue waters, enjoying the hot morning.
Joel, with a practiced touch, guided the Zodiac into the entrance of Mandraki harbor, with the old walls of Rhodes on the starboard side, and the end of the harbor jetty to port. That jetty end, unbeknownst to Trevor or Joel, had been the site of the Colossus of Rhodes, over two thousand years before.
As they approached the dock beneath the city walls, Trevor glanced around, and seeing no sign of an approaching customs officer, said, “I think we’re okay here, this port info I looked up said that this is the public dock.” Trevor carefully avoided mentioning that it was Joel’s last port call of the trip; something that they both were trying to avoid thinking about.
After locking up the Zodiac with a bike chain, they headed ashore, shirts in hand, walking along the road at the base of the city walls, looking out across the marina at a row of recreated old windmills. Once again, Trevor and Joel lost themselves in the wonder of a new and exotic place, heading north, circling the perimeter of the walls. Soon, they came to a preserved section that had once been a moat and was now a field of grass between high walls, decorated with ancient cannon and a path lined with massive stone cannonballs.
They continued on after snapping a few pictures, to the old castle, pausing to peek inside some gun ports.
Entering via the high west gate, they glanced up, seeing the bottom opening of a vertical shaft that receded into darkness. “Any idea what that’s for?” Joel asked, looking around for an explanatory plaque but finding nothing.
Trevor scratched his head, and then glanced around. “We’re in the middle of a gate, so my guess is that’s where they’d pour boiling oil and stuff down on attackers.”
“Not exactly a welcome mat, then,” Joel replied, shaking his hair back, and then adding, “I’ve never seen anywhere like this. It’s kinda like the walled hill towns we saw in Italy, but it has a ton more fortifications.”
Inside, they took a short tour of the old Grand Master’s palace, never realizing that it had been largely rebuilt after an armory explosion in modern times, and then headed south, into the old town. The first things they saw were the minarets of two large mosques; a living reminder of the island’s five centuries of occupation by the Ottoman Empire.
They crossed the ancient cobbled courtyard, feeling the hot sun, and then entered the narrow streets of the old town itself. The streets, lined with shops and stalls of all sizes, were crowded with tourists, and Trevor and Joel kept walking, losing themselves in the maze of the medieval streets.
“I smell food!” Joel declared, sniffing the air.
“You’re always hungry,” Trevor quipped.
“And you’re not?” Joel shot back, elbowing Trevor.
Trevor grinned and laughed. “Yeah, I am now, for sure, and something smells good. Let’s find it.”
They ambled on, just a few more yards, until they noticed an archway in the solid wall of buildings to their left. On the right-hand side of the archway was a menu, and a quick glance made up their minds. “Let’s have a look,” Trevor said, entering the vaulted stone corridor, which was only a dozen feet long.
They emerged into something very unexpected; a tropical garden, complete with fountains and a thatched-roof bar, crafted out of a large courtyard. All around were the stone walls of the surrounding buildings, sheltering the tropical oasis and making it a world apart from the chaos of the streets.
“A bar, too. Cool!” Joel announced, looking around at the open tables scattered beneath the trees and vine arbors. Picking one near a fountain, they sat down, and soon a waiter appeared to take their order: Dolmas, also called dolmades, a Greek delicacy of which they’d grown fond. In this case, the version they ordered was made with chipped beef and rice mixed with herbs and olive oil and wrapped in grape leaves. Joel couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted beer or cappuccino, so he ordered both and Trevor did the same.
They sat and relaxed, drinking their beers and coffees as they waited for their food, listening to the jabbering of a parrot. Joel took another look around, and with a nod, said, “I never expected anything like this here. It’s sure as heck not Greek, more like a Hawaiian theme for the garden and bar.”
“Yeah, that’s strange, but I guess it’s no different to us having foreign-decorated places at home. I like it; all the plants make it shady and cool.”
Joel’s gaze fell on a small fountain in a rocked pool, and then back to the preening parrot. Beside it, he saw what looked, at first glance, like am oversized cast-iron birdbath. He stared at it for a moment, and then noticed the sharp rod in the center. “A sundial,” he said, standing up so he could see where the shadow fell on its engraved arc of numbers. The engraving included smaller lines between the hours, denoting five minutes each. It was a large, ornate piece, obviously placed and aligned with great care and precision. “It’s way off. I set my new watch to Atlantis’s nav system when I got it, and it’s seven minutes past one, but the sundial says about fifteen minutes past noon,” Joel said, angling his head slightly as he studied the sundial.
Trevor checked his own watch, and then stood to look at the sundial. “Yeah, Rhodes is a little west of the noon point of the Eastern European Time Zone, which accounts for the eight minutes part of it, plus they’re on Daylight Saving Time so an hour ahead, which is why your watch is about fifty-two minutes faster than the sundial. There are some seasonal changes that affect it by a few minutes either way, but that’s the basics. Time zones can be confusing, but it used to be worse. Railroads invented time zones so their schedules would work. Back before train schedules were an issue, they used to set time locally, so noon was when the sun was at its highest point in the sky.”
“Bookworm. You got that from learning celestial navigation, right? Do you still need that, with GPS and all the modern stuff?” Joel asked.
Trevor shrugged. “Maybe. My dad says that GPS is great, but electronics and batteries can fail, so he made me learn to use a sextant and star tables as a backup. I wasn’t too happy about it at first, but then I was out on a charter east of Nassau last year and saw some people on a yacht waving like hell at me. They’d had an electrical system failure so their main nav and comms were out, and the only handheld GPS aboard had dead batteries. They had no idea which way to go to get to Nassau, even though it was just thirty miles away. I don’t think they even knew how to use a compass, which was the only working nav gear they had aboard. I lead ‘em in until they could see land, but that taught me that my dad was right,” Trevor said, as a sad look crossed his face.
“You miss him; that’s why you get sad when you talk about him,” Joel said, in a quiet tone.
“It’s not just that... It’s not knowing if he killed my mom. Every time I remember Dad, it reminds me of that, and the last time I saw Mom.”
Joel looked at the sundial again, as he said, “I’ll be home in a few days, and I’ll start working on the underwater archeology angle you thought up. As soon as you get home, we’ll be ready to go find Ares. At least then you’ll know, one way or the other.”
A faint smile appeared on Trevor’s face, and he replied, “Thanks. Just knowing I’m not alone in this... that means everything to me right now.”
Before Joel could reply, the waiter arrived with two platters of Dolmas and another round of beers. The food, plus the extra beer, snapped Trevor out of his down mood, and soon he was laughing and joking around with Joel, his troubles, for the moment, dispelled from his mind.
After their lunch, Trevor and Joel continued to explore the old city, leaving the tourist areas behind.
They entered one of the many small fountain squares that are common in the region; just an old water fountain, once used to supply water to the population, sitting in the middle of a white-pebbled courtyard. At each corner of the base sat a half-buried stone cannonball, which were ubiquitous in the area, due to tens of thousands of them having been used as siege mortar ammunition during the Siege of Rhodes. The fountain’s square base was engraved with the symbols of the Knights of Rhodes, and Joel noticed that one was oddly familiar. “Trev, isn’t that a Maltese Cross?” he asked.
Trevor looked and nodded. “Yep, the Knights of Rhodes relocated to Malta and became the Knights of Malta when the Turks conquered Rhodes.”
The lack or tourists made it peaceful, but it was not unoccupied; a flash of black darted out of a doorway, racing across Trevor and Joel’s path, just inches from their feet, making them both jump.
Trevor chuckled and pointed at the jet black interloper when it reached the fountain. “We nearly got run over by a cat.”
Joel watched for a moment, as the cat rubbed against the base of the fountain, and then leaped up and twisted around, to lick at the trickle of falling water.
“Uh, isn’t it an old sea superstition that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck?” Joel asked, a smile creeping onto his lips.
Trevor laughed, watching the cat. “There are a ton of sailor superstitions, but I don’t think that’s one of ‘em. Black cats are considered lucky at sea, but unlucky on land. Some superstitions have black cats as being good luck, some as bad. In some superstitions, the same black cat was both good and bad luck.”
“How can one cat be both good and bad luck?” Joel asked.
“Eighteenth century pirates believed that a black cat could bring both kinds of luck. If a black cat walks towards you, you will have bad luck. If a black cat walks away from you then you will have good luck. But, if it walks onto your boat and then turns around and walks back ashore, your boat is doomed to sink sometime during your voyage.”
The cat’s head swiveled around, and he stared at Trevor and Joel with baleful yellow eyes. He jumped down, walked directly towards Trevor, pausing at Trevor’s feet before rubbing at his ankle once, and then, as if startled, dashed off towards a narrow alley.
“He walked both towards you and away from you, so is that good luck or bad, and why do you know this stuff? You read up on anything to do with the sea and sailing, don’t you?” Joel asked.
Trevor shrugged. “Julie had a book about superstitions, and I looked at it a few times. And I can say conclusively that what just happened was bad luck, for you,” Trevor replied, fighting not to grin.
Joel arched an eyebrow. “Why me?”
“Because it gives me an excuse to do this,” Trevor replied, slugging Joel in the shoulder and then darted away, laughing.
“I hope you know that’s sexual harassment!” Joel shouted, rubbing his shoulder.
With the black cat forgotten, they raced off, with Joel in pursuit, their laughter echoing off the ancient walls.
They reached the beachfront, and Trevor paused to check his watch. “Okay, it’s late enough back home to call,” he said, sitting down in the shade. Joel sat beside him, and they called Lisa, who as luck would have it, was playing tennis with Bridget. Lisa told them that the satellite phone was on its way to the yacht club in Egypt, and then after a long three-way conversation, she turned the phone over to Bridget.
After an exchange of greetings, Bridget said, “Trevor, I’ve transited Suez on a yacht, and it can be a bit daunting if you don’t know what to expect. Do you have an agent?”
Trevor hesitated a moment, and then replied, “Yeah, I do, and they’ve e-mailed me instructions. I’m booked for the transit convoy on September 6 th, but I have to be there at least twenty-four hours before.”
“With an agent, you should have little difficulty, but I strongly advise arriving no later in the day than late afternoon; the channel to the yacht club includes a branch of the Suez Canal, and there is always heavy shipping traffic. It’s not a place to attempt for the first time in the dark...” Bridget went on to explain about the transit procedure itself, and warned Trevor to have plenty of small bills and cigarettes on hand, for Baksheesh – a sort of bribe commonly asked for by canal pilots. Trevor had heard that from the Canadians, but listened politely, making a mental note to buy some cigarettes. “Oh, and Trevor, make certain that you contact your agent as soon as you arrive, and meet with them to pay the fees as early as you can. Otherwise, any delay might mean losing your transit reservation, necessitating several days wait for another one. There is only one transit convoy for yachts each day,” Bridget said, in a pleasant but formal tone.
“Thank you,” Trevor replied. “It’s great to talk to someone who has done it before.”
“You really should avail yourself of the opportunity to see the pyramids while you are there. If you ask at the yacht club, they can arrange transportation for you to Cairo. They are magnificent, and to see them, along with the Sphinx, rising from the desert sand, is amazing,” Bridget added.
Trevor thought for a moment, and then replied, “I’d like to, but that’s a long way. I’d have to leave Atlantis unattended, and I really don’t want to be spending more money than I have to right now.”
“Do think it over. It would be a crime not to see them while you are so close,” Bridget said. Then, changing tack slightly, she added, “Make a point of talking to the other yachters awaiting transit. You’d be well advised to make their acquaintance, because the best way to transit down the Red Sea and past Somalia is in a convoy of yachts, for security. Those form up at Port Suez, at the Red Sea end of the canal, at the yacht club there.”
Trevor nodded thoughtfully. “I’ll do that. I’ve heard that there are some issues with pirates in the area, so a convoy sounds good, thanks.”
Bridget felt that she’d gone as far as she dared without arousing suspicion, and said, “If you need anything, just call me at any time. In case I don’t speak to you again before your passage, be sure to enjoy it: it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
“I’m looking forward to it... sailing Atlantis across the desert is going to be a blast. I’ve seen pictures of the canal and the sand dunes on both sides. Uh, any advice on the food? Is it safe to eat there?”
”You would be fine at the yacht clubs, but anywhere else, it would depend on where, I suppose. What I would strongly advise is to avoid drinking the water. Some people on a yacht transiting with us became very ill that way. Just be cautious, and enjoy your passage. I’ll hand the phone back to Lisa now,” Bridget said, satisfied with the conversation.
After talking to Lisa again, Trevor and Joel continued their walk through the city, and then, as the sun set, they returned to the restaurant where they’d had lunch, and had their last dinner in Greece.
When they reached the dock, they clambered into the Zodiac, seemingly without a care in the world, but that mood was to prove ephemeral.
When Trevor glanced at the outboard motor, he froze, seeing a red piece of paper tied there. “Uh oh,” he mumbled, taking the paper in hand and reading it.
The paper turned out to be a notice in four languages, declaring that the boat had not received clearance, and must remain in place until cleared at the customs office. “Shit,” Trevor said, assuming that the notice was from the Greek port customs office. “They could impound us and hit us with a crapload of fees and fines. If we try to sail, they could see us and send a patrol boat after us.”
“I guess we took one risk too many,” Joel said, in a downcast voice.
Trevor stood still for a moment, and then glanced around, looking for any sign of a customs officer. “They could come back any minute, so we better get out of here, I’ll just ditch the notice; that way, if we’re intercepted, I can say I never saw it and had no idea. It’s better than nothing,” he whispered.
They had no way of knowing, but their fears were largely unfounded; the notice had been left by the harbormaster, who worked out of the customs office building and whose primary motive was to ensure the collection of the twenty-euro docking fee, a fee which had not been mentioned in Trevor’s port information. The notice had been printed in a similar style to a customs document for that reason. The danger was that if they were seen racing away, they would draw the very attention they were trying to avoid.
Trevor’s brow creased as he looked around the marina. “I don’t see any officers, or anyone watching. Let’s put out to sea. I don’t think they’re too serious if all they did was leave a notice, but I don’t want to risk it. This was our last stop in Greece anyway, so we should be okay.”
Cringing from the noise he knew he’d make, Trevor fired up the outboard motor, backed away from the dock, and turned towards the harbor entrance, doing a leisurely five knots. With a concealed motion, he crumpled the notice and slipped it into the Zodiac’s wake.
As soon as they were clear of the harbor mouth, Trevor turned to starboard to follow the coast, running the engine up to full throttle as they skimmed over the dark waters.
“What do we do when we get back to Atlantis,” Joel said, just loudly enough to be heard over the outboard’s roar.
Trevor glanced astern, looking for any sign of pursuit. “It depends... If we’re being chased by then, by something faster than Atlantis, we should pass her and keep going. The Zodiac can do over twenty knots on calm seas like this, so we have a good chance of outrunning whatever is after us and then hiding. If we can’t lose ‘em, we run the Zodiac up on a beach and escape on foot to work our way back to Atlantis. Unless you’ve got any ideas?”
Joel shrugged. “Sounds good to me, but you’d lose your Zodiac.”
“Yeah, but better that than risking Atlantis, or us... Shit, why did this have to happen on our last stop in Greece?”
“Blame the black cat,” Joel said, with a touch of gallows humor.
A few minutes later, they spotted Atlantis’s silhouette against the lights around the bay. Trevor looked around. “I think we’re still clear. I’ll go past her, then circle around and come in from the bow, between the hulls, and kill the engine. As soon as we come out between the sterns, you jump aboard and get the anchors and I’ll get the Zodiac hooked to the davits.”
As soon as they emerged from under the transom, Joel jumped up and grabbed the rail, heaving himself into the cockpit and then racing forward to haul in the anchors.
Trevor hooked the Zodiac to the davits, and jumped aboard Atlantis, slamming his hand down on the switch to raise the Zodiac and then fumbling in his pocket for his keys.
Trevor made certain that the active radar transponder –The Automatic Information system referred to as the AIS – was off, and fired up Atlantis’s engines, moving forward over the anchor so that Joel could raise it.
After what seemed like forever, Joel shouted, “The anchors are aboard,” and Trevor pivoted Atlantis, heading out to sea, accelerating to fifteen knots.
Trevor glanced back at the lights of Rhodes, and as Joel joined him in the cockpit, said, “Take the radar reflector down and stow it in a bilge, below the waterline.”
Joel grabbed the halyard and hauled the cylindrical reflector down, and then stashed it in the bilge. As soon as Joel returned, Trevor turned off Atlantis’s running lights, and then turned hard to starboard, until his heading was due east. “With no radar reflector or transponder, Atlantis is hard to see on radar, because her superstructure is mainly fiberglass. That’s one reason why smugglers like catamarans; they’re fast and hard to see when they don’t want to be seen. I don’t think anyone is after us, but we can’t be sure.”
For the next hour, Atlantis raced east, and Trevor kept looking astern with his night-vision scope, searching for any sign of pursuit, and then scanning the horizon for any shipping, due to the danger of collision. He spotted the lights of quite a few distant ships – he was in a busy shipping lane – but nothing that appeared to be heading for Atlantis. Trevor finally began to relax a little, and clicked on Atlantis’s running lights. “We’re out of Greek waters, so we should be safe now. I’ll give it another couple of hours to be sure, and then power up the active radar and AIS.”
Joel took over the night vision scope, keeping watch for signs of trouble. After a few minutes, he responded to Trevor’s last comment. “I know you said you did something to the AIS when you had to run from your dad, but is there anything in there the Greeks could use?”
Trevor shook his head. “I don’t think so. It transmits our heading, speed, hull type, length, and beam. I used to have Atlantis’s name and Maritime Mobile Service Identity in there. That’s how the coast guard was able to find me and tell Dad when I was off Bimini. So I edited it; I just changed the final number from eight to nine and changed the name to ‘Atla’, so it looks like an abbreviation for Atlantis. Hey, remember that name; there are internet sites that tap into AIS shore data stations and in many places, like the Suez Canal, you can see the shipping displayed on a map on the sites. You and Lisa can watch Atlantis transit the Suez Canal.”
Joel laughed, nodding. “Okay, count on it. Hey, can we keep track of you across the Indian Ocean that way?”
“Nope; that’d only work close to shore where there’s an AIS shore station, or if I pass a ship that uplinks its AIS receiver to shore via satellite, like the way the Coast Guard knew I was off Bimini. It’ll work for Suez, though, and a lot of busy straits and other high-traffic areas. The Coast Guard has access to a lot more AIS data than the websites do though.”
“Cool, and you’ll have your sat phone too,” Joel said, and then hesitated for a moment before saying, “Your father wants you to circumnavigate, so do you still need to worry about being tracked and him stopping you?”
Trevor stared out at the dark sea, the wind blowing in his hair. After a few moments, he sighed. “I don’t know. He has to realize that when I get back I’ll do everything I can to find Ares. If he’s guilty, he could get ideas about taking Atlantis as I get closer to turning eighteen. Once I’m eighteen he’ll have no way of stopping me, but until then, he could have Atlantis taken, if he can find me. Dad’s lawyer could have done that, by having the Italian police seize Atlantis when he found us, so I don’t think Dad wants to right now. Or, maybe Jim isn’t in on all of it. I just don’t know, but I can’t take the risk. Besides, what happened back at Rhodes reminded me to be cautious; no more taking risks that I don’t have to. I’ve got no good reason to let him know where he can find Atlantis, so I won’t.”
Joel moved over to stand beside Trevor, and put a comforting arm across his shoulders. “That must really suck, not being able to trust your own father. I remember when I had to swim out to bring you those glow-plug wires; I thought it was all just a big misunderstanding, but the way he refuses to talk to you about what happened... He’s hiding something, there’s no other explanation.”
“So you don’t think I’m being paranoid?” Trevor asked, giving Joel a friendly light nudge in the ribs.
“Yeah, I do think you’re paranoid, actually,” Joel replied, chuckling. “I just think you’re right to be.”
© 2010 C James
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.
Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.
Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading.
A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.