Pinkerton sat in his quarters for the remainder of the evening stewing over the suspicious circumstances both of his escape and his rescue. He had to find a rational explanation for it all. The Catamountans locked him in his quarters on the PASTI, but never pursued him after he went overboard through the porthole. The Atlantians had found him in the middle of the Indian Ocean like they were looking for the coin in the bottom of a glass of vodka. Neither of these sets of circumstance quite added up to him. Pinkerton went above decks to look at the stars and collect his thoughts. The night air was crisp and cool, and Pinkerton felt at ease in a comfortable chair on the deck. He decided to dissect one of the events at a time, starting with his current hosts since they were the more present issue.
The Atlantians had come to see him twice in orbit, the second time obviously didn’t go well for them, but they were determined to retrieve him from his exile. They must have had a good reason to expend such a large amount of resources in the middle of a war between the two hemispheres. Pinkerton recalled the comments made by Alexander just before he departed the Catamountan ship, that his genes were being replicated. That must have been the motivation for both the Catamountans and the Atlantians, to create a race of super-soldiers using the Inspector’s DNA.
Even so, the Atlantians could have collected all they needed by force to complete the task, yet they did not. The Queen herself asked for his permission only after the Catamountans had already stolen his genetic code forcibly. Pinkerton was treated as an honored guest here, but everything seemed so scripted.
The Admiral on this ship seemed a bit more of interest to Pinkerton, he had heard someone whistling that tune in the ‘University’. He never saw the person, but the pitch and tone of the whistling had been unmistakable. The Admiral must have been in the lab when the Inspector was there. That had been more than fifty years prior, and the Admiral only looked to be in his late-40’s to early-50’s.
“How did they find me?” he mumbled as he stared at the waxing crescent moon overhead in the clear night sky.
The Inspector theorized that the Atlantian medics must have injected a tracking device in him during his examination back in the Habitrail he called home for five decades. That was the only explanation he could come up with at the time. It seemed logical enough that the people bringing him back from exile might want to know where such a volatile – and apparently important – man was at all times.
He felt relatively at ease with the story he had worked out in his head for the Atlantians, they had gone to retrieve him from orbit and inserted a tracking device. After he was taken by the Catamountans, the Atlantians began tracking him looking for an opportunity to retrieve their ‘guest’. They brought him aboard and suspected that the Catamount forces had taken what they wanted and discarded the Inspector when they were done with him. The Admiral’s whistling to the tune of Gymnopédies No. 2 had to just be an eery coincidence.
The Catamountans obviously were ruthless, having taken the time to destroy an Atlantian spacecraft and killing every one of its crew to take Pinkerton from them. They never quite treated him well, and they never went looking for him after he escaped from their ship. This bit stuck in Pinkerton’s craw. Even if they had what they wanted, why would they take any chances with allowing their enemy to recover the all-important specimen? This brought him back to the thought about a tracking device, maybe Haruki had found the tracking device and told Alexander about it. Maybe not, it could have just been a flippant disregard for Pinkerton’s abilities. They must have thought he would surely drown before being found or finding land.
A young petty officer had been standing nearby watching the Inspector argue with himself silently. She tapped him on the shoulder.
“Sir, you seem angry and confused.”
“I am a bit confused, trying to rationalize the irrational.”
“I understand that sir, but maybe you should go to bed.”
“Novel thought, but it isn’t likely that I’ll be able to sleep.”
“Sir, I don’t care what you do in your quarters, but you have five minutes to get below decks before breathing becomes an issue.”
“Are you threatening me, sailor?”
“No sir, I’m warning you that this ship is submersible and we are scheduled to land at the Port of Tokelau. It’s down below.”
Pinkerton chuckled quietly, drug his chair back into the forecastle and made his way down the passageway to his quarters. He couldn’t help it, he stood staring at his porthole watching as the crystal clear waters rose then turned aquamarine followed by black in the fading moonlight. The ship made port just before sunrise, and the Admiral announced that all crewmembers were to be on a liberty pass until the full moon. A raucous noise emanated from the crew quarters, and shortly thereafter the ship was ghostly quiet except for the whistling of the Admiral. Pinkerton sat there in his quarters for the better part of an hour before Samira found him still aboard.
“You can leave whenever you like, Inspector.”
“I’ve not been free to come and go since I signed up to be a lab rat many, many years ago.”
“You’re safe here in Tokelau, no harm could possibly come to you here. Go out there and experience living outside of a box.”
The Inspector walked up to the cantina across from the entrance to the submerged seaport, they had a number of books on the history of the war lying on tables and a decent buffet of South Pacific delicacies. Pinkerton retrieved a book about refugees, a plateful of lumpia, and a drink that smelled like coconut. He took his treasures to a well-lit booth in the back of the cantina and promptly devoured them. The book left him with an unsettled feeling as he read through passages about massive migrations and the beginnings of a new ice age.