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Rated: 13+ · Other · Action/Adventure · #1832465
Introduces the setting and some characters
It is the year 2030. The human race is dying; and birth rates are at an all-time low. Numerous people die daily, their bodies often found completely bloodless. No one knows the cause- it is not a disease; although there are common symptoms, such as the slow disappearance of all blood cells, which leaves the body pale, weak, and susceptible to disease... Many have concluded that most of the deaths have the same cause. Both scientists and common people alike have given it a name now feared around the world: the White Death.
It began in 2023, when the world population exceeded seven and a half billion. By 2026, three years later, the population had been halved. Around this time, many of the world’s scientists gathered and took refuge in isolated areas of the world, including Dorris, a small twenty-eight square mile island in the Pacific Ocean. Dorris is located approximately 450 miles west of what used to be Los Angeles, California. The scientists have settled in the city of Cadigan, the island’s abandoned and original settlement.
For seven long years, people searched everywhere for a cure.  On Dorris, scientists built the Cadigan Science Labs (CSL), and began the Search for the Cure Program (SFTCP).  By 2030, nothing had been found, and many lost hope.  The world population had dropped to just one billion.  In that spring, things began to change.
A young biologist in the SFTCP named Kaitlyn Arrens decided to turn her back on reality, and searched for the cure in myths.  With help from a friend of hers, a geologist named Jackson Connors, she found a possible cure. And after four months of extensive research, they made a plausible conclusion:
Legend told of a stone with a power capable of supporting – and even creating – life.  It belonged to a lost lord called King Olmar, who lived to be 857 years old.  The philosopher’s stone, which Olmar had somehow successfully created, was the treasure of a forgotten nation.  Olmar’s stone was the key – the last hope for survival.  Soon, one of the greatest and most important searches in the history of mankind would begin...

         Jackson Connors was driving a red jeep along the Dorris coastline. In the passenger seat was Kaitlyn Arrens, whose golden blonde hair was blowing in the wind, and the sun was reflecting out her emerald green eyes. It was a late summer day, the sky a clear blue and the sun bright and hot. To their right were the docks; rows and rows of ships as far as the eye could see. It was a great mix; there were newer research boats, old tramp steamers, yachts, motorboats, sailboats, and a large fishing boat here and there. To their left was an open market, full of people bustling about from stall to stall. A flock of albatross flew overhead, and a light breeze carried sweet smells from a nearby bakery. A great assortment of bags and trunks filled the back of the jeep. They were going to the southern tip of the island.
          Soon the jeep entered the industrial district. The number of boats dwindled on the right while large factories and warehouses loomed out of the deepening smog. Loud clangs and crashes filled the air. The jeep continued south and re-entered the daylight, leaving the darkness behind them. The southern tip of Dorris was a virtually uninhabited, untouched paradise. The landscape was dotted with lush green grasses, rolling hills, and beautiful wildflowers.
         “Is that our ship?” Kate asked as they neared the south pier, where a large boat was moored.  The pier was covered with crates and boxes, bags, and several vehicles.
         Jack nodded, “That’s it – the Journey.” 
Kate gasped. “That’s Kalvin’s boat?”
         Dr. Kalvin Jones was the leading sponsor for the expedition.  He was a millionaire who had made many important discoveries at the CSL.  He was a good friend of Jack and Kate’s, and to their surprise, he had volunteered his own personal boat for the trip.  This was unusual, for Kalvin rarely gave so much support to an expedition.
         Kate went on, “I can’t believe it – he’s coming too?”
         Jack parked the Jeep and they got out.  He and Kalvin had chosen South Pier for a quiet departure – the fewer that knew, the better.  Kate had heard a lot about the Journey, but she had never seen it.  It was a fine craft; 415 feet from stern to bow, 82 feet wide, with 6 levels.  The bottom of the boat was blue, the sides green, and the top half white.  At the back was a small red fishing crane.  The name Journey was written in gold letters at the front.
         A wind stirred fallen leaves as Kate and Jack walked out onto the pier.  “South Pier” was a 240-foot old wooden deck built years before by Cadigan’s first inhabitants.  From the north it was hidden by hills and trees. Here there was a nice view of the ocean and the island. Jack got out first and kindly opened Kate’s door for her.
         “Thank you,” she said happily, looking into his indigo eyes. She always found herself pleased to realize that, at five foot nine, she was only two inches shorter than Jack.
         “It’s beautiful!” Kate explained, staring at the boat. A bell rang in the distance, and Jack saw a man approaching. He was tall, broad-shouldered, gray-haired, and wore large round spectacles.
         “Hey, Kal!” Jack called. Dr. Jones waved. “Hello Jack, Kate, how are you two doing?” Kalvin C Jones was in his fifties, and was really looking forward to the discovery of the cure.
         “I’m good” answered Jack. “I’m excited—things are finally going to change”.
Jack, Kate, and Kalvin were good friends and co-workers. Kate, who had not seen Dr. Jones for some time, replied: “it’s great to see you again. It’s been a while—what have you been up to lately?”
         “That is top secret.” Kalvin winked. “We’ll talk later, on board. I don’t want any of our plans overheard,” Then he smiled. “Well, it is good to see you. Since you are here, I’m guessing that you’re coming with us? You are a pretty important member of the team; it would be a shame to leave you behind. There are still a few rooms left, if you want one.” He obviously hadn’t expected to see her, and she wondered why…
         “No, Kalvin,” Jack answered, “she was only dropping me off and saying goodbye.”
Kate frowned.  “Actually,” she replied,” I am coming – this discovery means a lot to me.”
         “Kate. . .” Jack began, but Kalvin cut him off.
         “Perfect!  I thought you would.  It’ll be nice to have you with us, Kate.”  He looked at his watch, and back at the ship.  “Well, I’d better get going; I’ve got a lot of work to do.  See you two later.”
         Kalvin walked off, and Jack watched as he boarded the ship.  Once he was gone, Jack turned to Kate.
         “Please don’t do this,” he pleaded.  Here we go again, Kate thought – they’d argued for weeks about it. This was his last chance to keep her from going.
         “I’m not staying Jack!”  She exclaimed.  “I want to come with you, I have nothing here.”
         “Kate, I don’t want to lose you!  You’re safer here.”
         “Hardly!  What would you do if I died while you were gone?  I’m no safer from the White Death here than out at sea!”
         Jack paled.  “I didn’t mean that . . .” he muttered, ashamed.  “I meant . . . where we’re going.”
         “Jack, this is my choice.  I helped you discover the cure, and now I want to help you get it.”
         “I know . . .” Jack sighed.  “I guess I’ve given you less credit than you deserve.”  He sat down on a crate, and Kate knelt beside him.
         “Don’t worry,” she said softly, “I promise, nothing bad is going to happen to me.”  Then she stood up, smiling.  “Well, since I am coming, I guess I should get my bags.”
         “And you should get yours too!”  She called back while walking to the Jeep.  Jack watched in surprise as Kate unloaded the suitcases from the back of the Jeep.  He hadn’t noticed the extra luggage until now, although Kate had done most of the packing for him.  Should have known, he thought.  He sighed again and got up and followed Kate to the Jeep.
         “I didn’t think it would be this easy to convince you” said Kate as they got their bags.  “I thought I would have to sneak aboard or something.  I would have, too, if you had said ‘no’.”
         “So you were coming anyways,” said Jack.  They finished unloading the Jeep in silence.
         While carrying their bags to the ship, they met with another team member, William Carson.  William and his twin brother Jordan were Kalvin’s lab assistants, and both were busy loading the crates onto the Journey.  The twins were 25 years old, 6 feet tall, tan, and had curly dark hair.
         William told them about several security problems they had been having that morning.  “We saw cameras flashing and people sneaking about,” he said.  “I think we are being watched.  We were scheduled to leave tonight at midnight, but we might have to go sooner.”
         “Could we be packed and loaded that soon?” asked Jack.          
         “I’m sure we could, but we’d have to work fast; it’s a big ship and we’re a big team—there are a lot of supplies. And if I’m correct, this trip won’t be a short one” said William.
         “You’re right,” replied Jack, “It won’t be short – it could take months.”
         “Months?”  William exclaimed.  “How is the food going to last?  And the fuel?  And what if we run out of water?”
         “We have enough food to last half a year, and we could always use the crane for fishing; we could use ethanol if the fuel runs out; and we have filters for fresh water” Jack explained.  “We answered those problems weeks ago, we didn’t overlook anything important.”
         “Does Kalvin know about the spies?” Kate asked.  William thought for a moment.
         “I don’t think he does,” he said, “he seems too busy to listen to anyone right now.”
         “He did seem to be in a hurry,” Kate remembered, “he didn’t stay and talk long.”
         “Strange of him . . .” muttered William.  Then he laughed.  “Well, I can’t talk too long either.  I need to get back to work if we are leaving tonight.”
         “Alright then,” said Jack, “It was nice talking with you. I’ll try to come out and help later.”
         “Thanks Jack!” said William.
         “See you later!” said Kate.
         Then William walked away, and Kate looked back at the ship.
         “Shall we go in?” she asked, pointing to a doorway on the boat’s side.  Jack took a deep breath.
         “Yes, let’s go.”

         They walked off the pier and entered the ship.  It was nice and cool inside the Journey.  The ship was newly decorated – inside it was like a 5-star hotel.  The walls were smooth and white, the carpeting soft, sand colored; the windows washed and perfectly clear.
         “It’s so . . . clean” commented Kate, for not even the labs were this pristine.
         “It wasn’t like this a few months ago,” said Jack.  “It was quite a mess; Kalvin’s done a lot of remodeling lately.”
         They walked down a long hallway towards the end of the ship.  Kate saw a bright room ahead.
         “This is the lounge” said Jack.  They entered a large open space full of sofas, bars, and tables.  In the center was a fountain, and at the end of the lounge was a flat screen TV.  In a corner they saw Kalvin whispering to one of the Journey’s crew members.
         Kalvin noticed them and stood up.  “There you are,” he said, smiling.  “Care to join us for a minute?  I was just having a word with our captain.”  The man Kalvin had been talking to stood up.
         “James!” gasped Kate.
         “Hello, Kate” he replied.
         James Harrison was Kate’s godfather; ever since her parents died in 2015, he had looked out for her and helped her in schooling and work.  He was a tall, thin, white – haired man in his seventies.  He had been sailing all his life, had never lost a ship, and he even rescued several fishermen in a storm in 2017.
         “You’re our captain?” Kate asked.
         Harrison smiled.  “Does it make you happy?”
         “Yes!  This is great!  Did they hire you or did you sign up?  Where have you been the past few weeks?”
         “Whoa, Kate, slow down!” he laughed.  “It’s a long story, so we’ll talk about it at lunch.  Why don’t you go to your cabin and unpack your things, get settled in?”
         “Sure, where is it?” she asked.
         “You just go back down that hallway, and it’s the third door on your right.  Cabin 5,” Harrison answered.
         Kate thanked him and started back down the hall, counting the doors as she passed them: “One, two. . .” On three she stopped.  A gold number 5 was painted on the door, which she opened.
         Bright light filled the room, which was long and rectangular, through wide windows.  She had a brilliant view of the sky and the ocean, which spread unbroken to the horizon.  The room had white walls, a navy blue carpet, a small kitchen, living room, and a queen sized bed.  All the furniture was black and smooth, and on the wall was a flat screen TV.
         Kate set her luggage down and walked to a door on the outer wall, and stepped out onto a balcony.  She leaned against the railing and sighed.
         “So do you like it?”
         Kate jumped and wheeled around.  Jack was in her doorway, laughing.
         “Jeez, Kate!  It’s just me.”
         “How’d you . . .?  Don’t do that again!”  She exclaimed.  They were both laughing now.
         “You left your door open, and I saw you were out here, so I decided to join you.”
         “Oh.”  Kate relaxed and looked back at the sea.
         “Sorry I scared you,” Jack said.  “Lunch is starting soon.  Are you hungry?”
         “Yeah, where is it?” Kate asked.
         “It’s onboard, up at the front.”
         They walked back through the room and back into the hallway.
         “Where’s your room?” Kate asked.
         “It’s right next to yours.” Jack said.  As they walked the dining hall, Jack told Kate more about the ship.
         “The Journey has 140 cabins.  There are 28 crew members, 16 cooks, and 6 doctors.  Plus you, we have 52 people on the team.  Then there’s Kalvin, and Andrew Zorray, a mechanic who’s sponsoring us.
         “Upstairs we have a full lab set up, and there’s a laundromat downstairs.  Up on the top deck there is a pool and a tennis court.  The ship also has a huge storage area, for the vehicles and equipment.”
         “We’re here” he said when they reached the end of the hallway at the bow.  They entered the dining hall.  On the walls were many island photos and paintings, and on the sides were the ship’s wide windows.  The tables were yellow, the walls red, and the floor and the curtains were orange.
         At the far end of the longest table sat James and Kalvin, who were deep in conversation.
         “We’re here James!” announced Kate.
         Kalvin got up.  “Oh yes.  Lunch time already . . . I’d better get going . . .” he muttered; then hurriedly left the room.
         “Hello again, why don’t you sit down?” Harrison said wearily.
         “What was that all about?” Kate asked, worried.
         “Ah . . . Well, your friend Dr. Jones is in a sudden hurry to leave.  He believes . . . that we are being watched,” James explained.
         “That’s what William thought . . .” said Jack, “but there’s nothing to worry about, yet.”
         An Italian man came out from the kitchen, carrying a tray of salads.
         “Here’s our head cook – Chef Valdez!” Harrison announced.  Eric Valdez was the manager of a restaurant a block down from the Cadigan Science Labs.  The Valdez Inn was a favorite for many CSL workers.
         Eric distributed the salads to the group.  “Chicken salads on the menu, so it’s the whole meal” he explained to Kate’s puzzled look.  He then crossed the room to a small intercom where he announced that lunch had started.  He came back to them and sat down.
         “I’ll try to keep the meals on schedule from now on” he apologized.  “On our voyage, lunch will normally be at noon.”
         Jack checked his watch – it was nearly one o’clock.
         “Are all your supplies onboard yet?” asked James.
         “Almost, we have a few dozen crates left to bring in, but I don’t think they are going to fit.”
         “They will” Jack said.
         “Where’s Dr. Jones?” Eric asked, looking around the room.  Harrison sighed.
         “Dr. Jones has gone out to inspect the vehicles before they’re all on board.  He seems worried that either something will go wrong, or someone will follow us.”
         Valdez laughed.  “Follow us? James, you know perfectly well that very few dare go as far as we’re going, these days.  Most are too scared to even lose sight of the island!  And anyways, who could afford it?  Dorris does not have many like Dr. Jones,” he said.
         “Or Zorray,” Jack added, “and besides, who would know where we’re going, or what we are looking for?”
         Harrison nodded, deep in thought.  Valdez checked his watch, and jumped.
         “Oh my, look at the time; I’d better go finish those salads!”  He got up and ran back to the kitchen.  By now the dining hall was full of people.
         “What exactly are we looking for?” Harrison asked his voice low.
         Not everyone knew the secret – only Jack, Kate, Kalvin, and a few others actually knew what they were searching for.  Kate looked at Jack.
         “Should we tell him?” she whispered.  Jack nodded, and they turned back to Harrison.
         “We are looking for a mineral I have named Vita formatter,” Jack answered quietly.  “ Some have called it the Fountain of Youth, others-”
         “The philosopher’s stone . . .?” whispered Harrison, for he had heard similar stories in his lifetime.
         “Exactly- Legend says that ‘Olmar’s Eye’ was a diamond that had power over life – it could support it, sustain it, and even create it.  We believe it can stop the White Death.”
         “So it’s true? The legend is true?  You really think this diamond is the cure?”
         “Yes . . .” Jack said, “Yes, we do.”
         “How did you find out about all of this?” asked Harrison.
         “I started it,” Kate said.  “I decided to try myths and stories – we have found nothing in reality.  Then I read about the legend of King Olmar, and it seemed promising.”
         Jack said, “I began studying it, and I found there was a great chance the diamond was real.  The story says Olmar’s Kingdom was on an island, which would explain why it’s never been found. I think it is some type of radiation that affects life around it. Also, Kalvin and I found proof of the island’s existence in government files and managed to get a few records of sightings of the island. We can’t get the satellite images of the island because the government is blocking it for some reason. The negative side of this is, once we reach the island, it might block all communication. The government wouldn’t have wanted anyone stranded there to get the word out. That is why no one is ever found when they go missing there. Please, do not tell anyone that this island is in the West-Central Atlantic.”
         “You mean the Triangle?” Harrison exclaimed.
         “Shh!” Jack whispered, “Yes. The Bermuda Triangle is a place of mystery, and home to countless legends, many disappearances have occurred there, the government has been hiding it, everything makes sense.”
“So you know where the island is?”
         “Pretty close.  Like I said, you can’t find it with satellite imagery, but I did some research, and I found a 5000 square mile region of the Triangle that is barely known or explored, with a massive heat signature.”
“And we’re going to search that area, until we find this island?”
         “Yes,” Jack said.
         “And what if we don’t find it?”
         “Then we would have failed, and all hope will be lost,” answered Jack.  “But I assure you – we will not fail.”

“So why is there all of this secrecy?” Harrison asked.
         “Well,” Jack said. “It’s rather hard to explain.  Basically, if this mineral were to fall into the wrong hands, the person who has it could take total control.  We need this cure – if a greedy man took it, he could put a ridiculous price on curing, and to survive we would have to pay it, or die.  He who has the diamond also could control who gets cured – who lives, and who dies.  It would be like the holocaust, like having a second Hitler.  That’s why we need this secrecy.”
         “I see now,” Harrison said.
         They all finished eating in silence.  Then Kate spoke up.
         “So what is your story?” She asked. “You said you would tell us at lunch.”
         “Right,” said Harrison, “and so I will.”
         “Three months ago,” he began, “I was on a fishing trip down south.  A storm came, and so I had to leave a day early.  When I got back, it was still raining, and I was wet, tired, and cold.  I was just settling in when I heard knocking on my door.  ‘Who could that be?’ I thought.  I didn’t think anyone would now I was back yet.
         “I opened my door, and found a young man waiting in the rain.  He looked Italian, in his thirties.  He was wearing a nice suit, so I guessed he worked at the labs. ‘Welcome back, Mr. Harrison,’ he said, ‘very sorry to interrupt your rest, sir.  I do hope your trip was productive.’ ‘It was,’ I said.  He nodded, smiling. I let him in, and we sat down.  ‘What is your request?’ I asked.  ‘Request?’ the man asked. ‘I can see you want something’ I said, for I could see that he was impatient, and nervous.  I wondered why. . .
         “’Well,’ he said, ‘I have been assembling a team for a search over the Pacific, and we need a good captain.’ ‘I might be interested,’ I said.  ‘What is the search for?’  He was silent for a moment, and it seemed as if he was trying to decide whether he should tell me or not.  Then he said, ‘we are looking for ‘Godstone’, a new found mineral, and are hoping to start a mine for it.’  ‘When do you plan to leave?’ I asked him.  He thought for a moment.  ‘We do not know yet.’  He then stood up and went to my door.  As he stepped outside, he turned back to me.  ‘I do hope you’ll consider this job,’ he said, ‘The pay is considerable.  I’ll return in a few days to hear your answer.  Enjoy your evening.’  He then left.  I saw it was still raining.”
         He paused, remembering.  A waiter came and took their bowls.
         “Over the next few weeks, he returned often, asking if I’d made my decision; if I was ready yet.  I turned him down each time.  Then, a month ago, the visits stopped.”
         “Do you know why?” Kate asked. There must have been an important reason, she thought. People do not plead for something and then just stop. She hoped they had given up.
         “No,” Harrison said.  “My only guess is that they found another captain.”
         “That’s what I was thinking,” Jack said, “but who is it?”
         “That is a good question: who?” replied Harrison.  “The best captains on Dorris that I know of are captains Truadis and Jiro.”
         “Don’t forget James Harrison!” Kate added.
         “Thank you, Kate.”
         “Do you think he knew?” Jack asked.  “It’s all very suspicious . . .”
         “I really have no idea.  It is quite possible.”
         “Did you volunteer to be our captain?” asked Kate.
         “Not exactly . . .” replied Harrison.  “It was quite interesting: being an old friend of mine, Dr. Kalvin Jones came to my house just a few days ago pleading for me to be captain.  His story sounded just like the other man’s – a big search, large team, going far out – they were the same details.”
         Kate was about to speak again, but she was interrupted when a young sailor came over to their table.
         “Captain Harrison, sir, you are needed on the bridge.”
         Harrison got up.  “Thank you.  I’ll be there soon.  Jack, Kate, this was a good talk.  I’ll see you later; but for now, just enjoy the rest of your day.”  He then turned and followed the crewman out the room.
         Jack stayed for a few minutes, surveying the room.  “Well, I promised William I’d help out so, we’ll talk again later.  Why don’t you have a look around?”  He smiled, got up, and left as well.
         Kate remained in her seat, trying to fit everything together.  Who wanted James as captain?  Why did they quit?  And what, she thought, was he really looking for?
         Godstone, she thought.  She looked around the room – nearly everyone was gone.  She stood and left the diner.
         When she reached the room, she saw that the sky was grayer, cloudier.  Kate noticed a small basket on her bed.  In it she found a note and a little box of chocolates.  She wondered who’d sent it and looked at the note.

I know it’s not much. Please Enjoy you stay. Have someone give you a tour if you need one.

         She didn’t recognize the handwriting, but didn’t care at the moment; she jumped onto her bed and relaxed.  She turned the TV on and started flipping through the channels, munching on the chocolates.  Then she closed her eyes and slept.

         “Ms. Arrens?” a girl’s voice called.  There was a knock on the door.  Kate opened her eyes and looked at her clock.  5:02- She’d only slept for two hours.  It was still bright outside.
         “Dr. Arrens?”  The girl called again.
         “I’m coming,” Kate called.  She got up and went to her door.
         The girl was Carina Torres, a young CSL Trainee.  She was working as an assistant for Kate.  At 19, Carina was just over five feet tall, with long dark hair and glasses.  Her skin was pale and she wore a white lab coat, the common dress at CSL.
         “Oh, hello, Cari, You’re on the team too?”  Kate asked, excited – Carina and she were great friends- they’d worked on all sorts of projects together.  Being around Carina always cheered her up.
         “Hey Kaitlyn!  I have a message for you . . . do you know Mark?  He wants to play a game of tennis and talk to you.”
         Oh great, Kate thought.  Mark was one of those guys who couldn’t help showing off.  He was a very active person, six four, tan, and covered in muscle.  Kate knew he’d had a crush on her since college, but she didn’t care for him like other girls did.  They were just friends.
         “Alright, then” Kate mumbled.  She closed her door and followed Carina; down the hallway, up a set of stairs, and onto level four. They passed a small library, and several lab stations. Carina led her to a second staircase. She passed a glass door, and through it Kate saw the ship’s bridge; full of controls and maps and crewmen.
         They climbed the stairs, and Kate stepped onto the open top deck. The sun was out again, the clouds receding. By the side railing Kate looked down at the ocean, thirty feet below. Up ahead towards the end of the ship was a tennis court in a large cage. They passed by a pool, full of shining clear water.
         “Hey, Kate!” a man called, as she neared the tennis cage. Kate groaned as Mark ran over, opening a door in the cage wall. While entering the cage, she noticed that the metal was almost half an inch thick, way too thick for a normal chain link fence. Tennis wasn’t the only thing Kalvin built this for… she thought.
         “Care to play?” Mark asked, handing out rackets. Kate took one, Carina shook her head.
         The Journey’s ‘tennis’ court was small and cramped, at the deck’s rear. Since this part of the ship was only fifty feet wide, the court was not full size. Kalvin had built it a week before, claiming it was for “extra entertainment”. Since there was a pool, a theatre, a gym, and a lounge on board this seemed pointless, but Kalvin had insisted on installing it.
         Mark served the ball. “Are you excited? I bet this’ll be a fun trip.”
         Kate hit it back. “Sure...” she mumbled. She knew that at any moment he was probably going to ask her out again and she would have to refuse again. They kept playing, and after several minutes Mark spoke up.
          “So . . . I was wondering – since we’ll be together for a while on this ship – if you would like to –“Kate cut him off.  “No Mark – we’re just friends, ok?”
         “Oh . . .” Mark groaned.  “Well, it was. . .”
Kate felt, more than heard, the explosion coming from the shore.  The blast rocked the Journey, and they saw a large fireball over the railing. Smoke and fire billowed off the pier and obscured any details. Carina screamed.
“What the hell was that?”  Mark yelled, as they ran out the tennis cage.  They looked at the pier: originally there were crates covering it, now it was raining dust, debris and burnt supplies down on the ship along with what remained of the crates themselves. Some workers had been blown off their feet, but now they were moving towards the hole to investigate.
Kate saw Jack run towards the ship, most likely to spread the news. Kate had no doubt that news of an explosion on the pier would infuriate Kalvin. He was a very nice person, but he could get real mad, and with all the stress he was currently under it would be a good thing to avoid him for the rest of the day.
The air was clearing now, and everything was calm. The workers were laughing, and at first Kate couldn’t see why. She gave Mark a puzzled look and he chuckled.
“Clothes. They blew up clothes!”
Kate laughed, “It’s a good thing that was all!” seeing now several burning coats lying across the pier.
“Could have been worse…” nodded Mark. Moments later there was a loud shriek as dozens of sparklers, fountains, flashers, bottle rockets, and roman candles went off all over the pier. Mark and Kate ducked as a rocket zoomed over their heads.  Carina shrieked as another rocket whizzed past just inches from her face.
“They’re all aimed at the boat!” Mark shouted over all the noise. They cautiously peered over the side. The fireworks had died down, and many workers were now rushing to put out small fires that were starting. Mark, Kate, and Carina all relaxed.
“It’s over now.” Mark said to carina, whose eyes were closed tight and full of tears. Kate knew she was very emotional, and the explosives had shocked her greatly. Kate just stood there, looking down. She couldn’t think, couldn’t speak; everything had happened so fast.  Then she remembered something.
“Jack!” she whispered, and she turned and ran.
“Wait! Kate, where are you going?” Mark called after her. She ignored him, running past the tennis cage and the pool, heading directly for the stairs. She had to find him, had to make sure he was okay. I’ll check the bridge first, she decided. At the bottom of the stairs she burst into the bridge, gasping for breath. A sleeping sailor jumped awake, nearly falling out of his chair.
“Oh! I’m sorry!” she apologized.
“S’all right…” he muttered. Except for him the room was empty.
“Where is everyone?” she asked.
“No idea!” he shrugged “I think the captain went down to the lounge earlier, you might find him there. As for everyone else, they could be anywhere.”
“Thanks!” she said, and bolted out and back down the hallway. She got back to the fourth level and sprinted to the lounge.

In the lounge she found Kalvin, James, and a couple people who had been on the pier. Among the group were William, and Jack. Kalvin and James were speaking to Jack, who appeared the most hurt. Kalvin, as she had expected, seemed furious, and James stressed.  She noticed a burned hole in Jack’s left sleeve, and then gasped when she saw the bloody gash by his shoulder.  William had a small gash on his brow, blood still slowly oozing out of it.  The others had similar scratches and burns.  A grim doctor was bustling around the group, hurriedly cleaning their wounds.
Kate walked slowly towards Jack, in a daze. She knelt by him, looking sorrowfully at him.
“What happened?”  She whispered.
“I’m okay Kate.  Don’t worry, it’s just a cut.  A piece of metal flew at me during the explosion. . .”
“Fools!”  Kalvin muttered.  “We should have noticed the wiring and explosives!”
“Why the explosives though?”  Kate asked, turning to look at James.  Harrison stepped forward.
“I have a guess: someone wants to delay us.  There isn’t that much damage, all they would need is extra time.”
“We need to leave real soon.”  Kalvin announced.  “James, tell the crew to hurry up and finish loading.  I’ll call the rest of the team.  We leave in two hours!”
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