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- Chapter 23: Across the Equator -

  The expedition party consisting of four whales; Claire, Cherokee, Douglas and Jansen, came into the territory of the "Clan of Back Side" passing through the northern equatorial current.
  It was the first time for Claire and Cherokee to enter there and the two young whales could not suppress anxiety and curiosity about the unknown sea. Although it did not seem that there was a special difference just by crossing the boundary line in the color of waves, the breeze of the wind and the sunlight, but two whales felt an exotic atmosphere in each of them.
  On the other fin, it was the visit after an interval of four years for Douglas, he narrowed his eyes by looking over the sea which spreads to the north as to remember the nostalgic incense of the tide.
  Meanwhile, Jansen who had passed through both hemispheres several times did not feel nostalgic particularly. As he said, whether "Front Side" or "Back Side", the sea is the sea.
"Mind, Cherokee. Don't forget that the northern hemisphere is 'Front Side' and the southern hemisphere becomes 'Back Side' from now on."
"I know that."
"Which were you born, Douglas? I have not heard it yet."
"I was born in the southern hemisphere, but the number of years spent since becoming "History Compiler" is almost half."
"Which were you, Jansen?"
"I forgot."
  Claire engraved her memory firmly that now she is standing on the second starting block for searching Joey. And, she definitely decided to take him back no matter what difficulties are waiting for her. The party set goals for searching the evidence and the witnesses of the killer whales who took Joey and started northward.
  Well, let's compare their characteristics again when four whales are complete.
  First of all, Clair of minke whale. She has a total length of 27 feet, and weigh 8 tons, the size is average of female of her race. Her race is the second smallest body among baleen whales following pygmy right whale race and of course she is the smallest in the four whales. On the white ventral which contrasts with the back of dark gray close to black, more than fifty ridges are lined up orderly from the lower jaw to the lower abdomen. The baleens in the mouth are about 300 each left and right, and its color is a pale cream with black fringe. The head has a thin pointy wedge shape, and the ridgeline runs from the tip to the spiracles on the nose muscle. The dorsal fin is rather close to the tail, and it is small and sharp pointed. From there the lower part to the caudal fin is tight. Characteristic of minke whale are two white bands just like shoulder stitches at the position of the back connecting both pectoral fins and the gray patches at the base of the pectoral fins. The diving time is from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, she briefly breathes 4 or 5 times on the surface of the water and enters the dive, but rarely shows the caudal fin above the water surface. The shape of the blow is like a slender egg and blows up vertically.
  Next is Cherokee of humpback whale. He has a total length of 43 feet, and weigh 30 tons, he is somewhat small among male of the same race. His race has the most thickset physique among the fin whale familia. The upper jaw and the tip of the lower jaw have many round bumps, on which barnacles and whale lice borrowing. The dorsal fin like a triangular sail is on the slightly protruding part of the back. The number of ridges on the ventral is slightly less than 20 lines. The number of baleen is about 300 each, it is rough and the color is black. The body color is black on the back, white and black are mixed on the ventral side, black and white spot patterns depending on individual can be seen on the upper surface of pectoral fin and the lower surface of caudal fin. It is also a distinctly different point from other races that the length of the pectoral fin and caudal fin is very long, both reaching more than 10 feet. The diving time is from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, or sometimes more than 20 minutes. After blowing a few times, he enters the deep diving by expressing the raised back on the water surface, at this time he usually put caudal fin in the air at most. To demonstrate varied performances and songs are also notable features of the humpback whale race. Bleaching which shows almost the whole body on the surface of the water is most breathtaking, but in addition to this, there is flippering which strikes the surface of the water with the pectoral fin, head slap which strikes the water surface with the lower jaw, fluke slap which strike the water surface the back side of the caudal fin, peduncle slap which use the back of the caudal fin in reverse, etc. Please imagine that flashy chatter of Cherokee is fully using these body language. Details of the jump and song have been introduced from Cherokee's own mouth before, so let's omit it here.
  Then Douglas of the blue whale. He has a total length of 93 feet, and weigh over 120 tons, according to his age, he is quite a big one among the same race males. Of course, he is the biggest among the four whales. The color of the body is grayish blue, and on the skin there are whitish spots scattered all over. If you look down him under the water from above, you will see a light blue shining. He swim slowly in the ocean with the streamlined smart body. The tip of the upper jaw is somewhat rounded compared to pointed one of Claire. The number of ridges is within 80 lines. The baleens are about 330 on each side, the color is black and the length is over 3 feet. The dorsal fin is small due to the size of the body, on the back close to the tail. The height of the blow is from 20 to 40 feet suitable for the big body. The diving time is 10 to 20 minutes, he builds this mist tower several times at intervals of 20 seconds and then enters the big diving. When diving, he swings up the caudal fin a little on the surface of the sea. Both his swim and dive have the style of the aged sage of the ocean. It may be said that it is a common grace for those of the largest whale race who have overcome the raging history.
  The last is Jansen of cachalot whale. He has a total length of 67 feet, and weigh 65 tons, He is the owner of a physique that is comparable to a master led a harem. While baleen whale is a streamline shape squeezing at both ends of the body, his race has a hammer-like head that protrudes largely, so he is shaped like a cylinder thinning towards the tail. The forehead like a steep cliff is dignifiedly majestic. On the hard skin of dark gray, the scratches he received in the many fights that he has passed so far are engraved all over the body. Some of them also contain traces of circle suckers from bait squid. The lower jaw whose conical teeth are aligned about 20 on the left and right is slender and is retracted further than the tip of the upper jaw without teeth. Rounded pectoral fin is not so large, and dorsal fin is just a small step rising lined behind the body. Since small eyeballs are embedded in the side of the skull, he can not see back and forth unless he tilt the body. Single spiracle is opened biased toward the left side of the head, so the blow is also sprayed at an angle of about 45 degrees to the left diagonally forward. The other fellow's blow are mostly water vapor, but his blow contains large droplets of water. The diving time is outstanding among the four whales, and it may rise to more than an hour from 40 minutes. Once levitated, he stay on the sea surface for about 10 minutes, blowing as much as 30 to 50 times, then turning triangular caudal fin into a deep long dive. The life pattern was quite different from the other three, and also because of his personality, he did not act with three whales who were swimming side by side, and came from behind them alone.

  Cherokee was smitten by Jansen and tried to humor flattering him, but he was given a kick when he went too far. Jansen did not seriously get angry to "youngster with baleen". Cherokee still tried to hear the story from Jansen somehow.
  His cowardice has already been completely cleared to Claire and Douglas and Jansen will not be opposed from the beginning such as adventure of humpback youngster. There are more or less of himself boasting stories in the repertoire of Cherokee's talk, so it is unlikely that those are accepted to the three whales any longer. Then, the only way to kill time is to listen to other whale stories. Claire is reluctant to say that she is not good at speaking in public, and the Douglas's story tends to be solemn. Cherokee wanted to listen to the story of the cachalot whale race from Jansen's mouth who has little knowledge about his life without having compatibility with their own race.
  However, Jansen only replied "I'm in no mood to do.", and he had unkind attitude to him at all. Thus, Cherokee got a little challenge on how to make this stubborn cachalot whale feel like talking.
  The four whales took turns at guard duty while aiming one way north. It was also to prepare for the invasion of atrocious killer whales, but they do not know when a monster like that huge great white shark will attack. However, there are no signs of such abnormalities at the moment, the tropical blue sea has been wide and continues deeply.
  Claire sometimes dreamed. It is the same dream before that Joey has been swallowed by a horrible monster. The identity of the giant monster was still unknown, but she remembered the horror more than from the huge great white shark. That figure becomes more real day by day, and she always wakes up from that nightmare in that the veil of blue haze is taken away after a while. For a while after waking up, she was unable to suppress intense palpitations.
  When she was a child, Claire sometimes got a bad dream. In such a case, her mother took the daughter under the previous "Narrator of the Future" before being attacked by "Floating Rock" yet.
  "Narrator" gently stared at her eyes and soothed the mother that you do not have to worry with a quiet tone. As he said; "Every whale has the potential to become a prophet, and we receive the implications about future events on a daily basis though we do not notice. And only those who can correctly read the message contained in that dream can be 'Narrator of the Future'."
  It is not clearly memorable what kind of content the dream she saw when she was young, but she felt that the fear of the dream she saw recently seems to be several times more than that in her childhood.
  Claire thought; Whatever meaning is hidden in this dream...
  The ominous premonition swirling in her heart combined with the prophecy of the present "Narrator of the Future" further encouraged a vague anxiety over "something" that is waiting for at the end of this journey. Clare thought that she was glad not to be "Narrator of the Future".
  The party rushed through the very wider ocean where almost nothing was found, except occasionally meets the stray life creatures.
  After five days breaking through the equator, Jansen who was wandering around the depths unexpectedly came to Claire and murmured; "Dolphins come." Soon, the noisy cries of lots of dolphins arrived at the ears of the other three whales.
"They are spinner dolphin and pantropical spotted dolphin."; Douglas said.
  Spinner dolphin and pantropical spotted dolphin living in the tropical zone of the Pacific Ocean are traveling through the open sea from hundreds to thousands of flock. These two races form a living community even though they are each different race, so they are taking of rest and meal time alternately by taking the legitimate system. Since spinner dolphin is nocturnal and pantropical spotted dolphin is diurnal, they can protect themselves from shark attacks in the middle of the ocean where there is no place to hide in the way that one watch-keeping and feed prey while the other is dormant.
  This hybrid group includes not only dolphins but also allies of the fish race named yellowfin tuna. As dolphins are excellent in their ability to detect prey, tuna feeding on the same medium-sized fish prefers to fall under the shade of dolphins swimming near the water surface. Instead, dolphins use tuna which breaks up the flock attitude instantly against the shark's attack, as a kind of alarm device. Such a stunning multifarious marine living community was very useful for these creatures who live in a vast ocean. However, incidents that backfire adversely often occurred in recent years and threaten the survival of dolphins.
  Until they noticed the existence of four big whales, the dolphins were exchanging words, but they lowered their voice as soon as they approached. It could be seen from their attitudes the tight air that is incompatible with the scenes of the exchange of courtesies daily whales and dolphins.
Claire unintentionally remembered the hourglass dolphin who she encountered at Rex's tragedy in "Fertile Sea".
  While feeling embarrassment, she moved forward and greeted them with "Interlanguage for Blowers".
"Hello, dolphins. Is there anyone who can listen to me?"
  Three scouts of pantropical spotted dolphin served as a daytime came closer to Claire. The four whales felt that much more disturbing gaze was poured on them during that time.
"Hello, great races. Do you need something to our Rangi kau 'co-op'?"
  One who opened his mouth looked around the mixed party of big relatives with a nervous tongue that did not seem like a cheerful dolphin. The dolphins' attention seemed to be directed to Jansen who is behind and their gaze was gathering at the dignified body of great cachalot whale while Claire was talking. They were also wondering why the smallest minke whale is speaking on behalf of them.
"We have traveled all the way from the sea of 'Back Side'. Actually, I'm looking for a flock of killer whales with minke whale kids. Did anyone see them around here?"
  The Three dolphins looked at each other and kept silent for a while and stared at Claire's face seriously. A roar was also raised from among the rear group. Most of spinner dolphins also awoke. Representative dolphins gathered slender beaks together and exchanged words in a low voice for a few minutes, but eventually one of the older inquired while revealing vigilance.
"I would like to ask you for your purpose."
  Claire briefly explained that his son was kidnapped by unidentified orca, and she was pursuing them from "Fertile Sea" to the equatorial waters. The dolphins again consulted. The tumultuous arguments were fluttering in the back herd. Although the dolphins' high-pitched voice could hardly be distinguished by Claire, it seemed that some of it apparently included outright criticism against her.
  The older dolphin opened his mouth again.
"We know that killer whales. But I do not want to talk about them, if possible. I do not know if you deserve credit, but let me teach you as there is nothing disadvantageous by not teaching. Because we had already suffered a disadvantage. We witnessed a group of orca while we were moving three days ago. Although they did not seem to show interest in our 'co-op', we decided to dispatch volunteers and observe them with a certain distance in mind as it was a time-of-day outing. Young dolphins who watched over sent reports regularly, but we lost contact with them just yesterday. And this morning, we discovered the twelve miserable dead bodies sent out from the herd. The scar was certainly due to killer whale. They were killed soon without finding signs of danger and informing us. As sharks had already gathered, we had to leave the corpse at the site and left there. According to the last reports of the scouts, the killer whale group had a size of less than 20, and strangely they were accompanied by whale kids."
  This time Claire and fellows took the opportunity to face the face. There is no doubt they are brutal orcas group of kidnapping Joey. Claire felt the whole body strained.
"Which way did the killer whale headed for?"
"They were going straight ahead north. It is simply unbearable to come here."
"Thank you very much."
  Claire bowed to the dolphins and turned towards the three whales.
"Please wait. Are you sure that you are going to follow after that cold-hearted killer whale!?"
  One dolphin who was at the side of the older was surprised and asked.
  Claire once nodded and left behind the group of frightened dolphins with her colleagues.
"Oh, also it will be to increase the feast of shark."
  She heard they lamented behind.
"This is going to be an interesting thing. I have an itch to try my teeth of the lower jaw at it."
  Jansen speaks with an unbelievable smile.
"My baleen feel itchy."
  The face of Cherokee who said so was pale.
"Let's go to the north!"
  The party took the course to the north with Claire's command.
  Douglas shouted unexpectedly when he had been firing a search echo frequently in the direction of travel when only two hours had passed since they parted with the dolphins.
"There! It's 15 miles ahead!"
"Isn't there a mistake, Old male?"
  Cherokee asked, expecting half a missing.
"Yeah, no doubt. It is about 50 mid-sized whales. It can not be determined from here, but perhaps Joey and the other hostages are also in it."
  It was just the moment when the four whales tried to accelerate, they heard the dolphins' screams from behind.

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