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- Chapter 28: Welcome by Orca -


  Claire and the three whales came again to the place where the land is visible.
  Coniferous trees stood on the water's edge on the shore of the continent extending to the east side, and told that their journey towards the north went through tropical, subtropical, temperate zones came to the northern hemisphere cold zone. It is summer, the trees of the northern forest that grows thick darkens the green further and the shadows on the water as if competing for the height of the treetop. The quiet big trees seemed to have overwhelmed all landscape with silence. But during this time, active living processes by the agile one were spreading under the water.
  Northern Pacific coast of North American continent called "Turtle Island" makes complicated topography by islands, peninsula and bay, due to the laggard work of glaciers in the pre-geological era. In the ocean in the vicinity, floating fish such as herrings create a dense shoal and salmons who prey them also gathered at once. In addition, various kinds of large animals come in search of those fish. Seabirds such as seagulls and phalaropes bait food while drifting between waves. Sea lions and seals follow with prey under water.
  Family of whales will also come over. Appearing near the coast are minke whales and humpback whales aiming for small herring, they are Claire and Cherokee's races. Meanwhile, favoring big things are the stalwart of the tooth whales along with the cachalot whale, nothing but killer whales.
  Douglas knew that a group of killer whales are making the waters around Vancouver Island, which is in front of them row, their home range. So the four whales went cautiously to the waterway between the islands.
  Claire thought to try to sound information on Joey if she saw a member of "Back Side" clan of the same race, but maybe they will encounter a killer whale earlier. There are also possibilities that the abductor killer whales are getting mixed in orcas with this territorial waters.
  Even though they are irrelevant to the kidnappers, it seemed to be difficult to listen to the residence of the criminal or request extradition to them, who are the same race. She also thought of asking Jansen to let him rely on his caudal fin, but even though he is the cachalot great one, it is at disadvantage too much to oppose alone a large number of orcas in the enemy's camp. Besides, they three whales will surely encumber him.
"I'm unfamiliar with this neighborhood, but do you feel dubious? I don't like this stagnant air. Fellows of killer whale seem hide in the cove somewhere about there and will come from behind suddenly, won't they? My dorsal fin tickles somewhat for quite a while.
  Jansen said grinning. Cherokee was surprised and looked backwards. Person himself said so seemed to be interesting looking at companies afraid rather than fearing. Claire who was impatient complained.
"Don't threaten us, Jansen. Scrape dorsal fin yourself."
"Whew, it is nasty employer."
  Indeed, now the "Dining Area" seems to be off-time, fish and big animals were spreading and they do not show their appearance. It was silent with the bottom and top of the water as if spruce and hemlock trees exceeding hundreds of years of age swallowed every sound. Mist shrouded on the sea, and together with the black forest brought further ominous. There was a small strait which the end was invisible as bent or no passage bay, and so Clare's anxiety was more aroused.
  When the four whales carefully picked up the course and entered one channel, the sound of blow echoed unexpectedly breaking the silence.
"Please stop a bad joke, Master."
  Cherokee gave a voice of blame towards Jansen who had been guarding behind.
"You chump! It's not my work."
"So who did it?"
"Do you know the characteristics of blow now, Douglas?"
  Claire will check with him who has good hearing.
"It must be blow of a tooth whale who has one nostril."
"That means..."
"It seems 'they' appeared finally."
  The whales became strained. Only Jansen was broadminded as ever.
"Where is them?"
"Hmm... the visibility is badly bad in he sea around here."
"That's exactly what I thought."
"What do you mean?"
  Jansen replied Claire's asking while emitting the searching sound.
"Here's a disgusting place as I had said. Coastal topography is complicated and also the forest of kelp is spreading. It's just like a solid maze. It is difficult to grasp the direction in which the sound comes unless the local whales or an accomplished master of sonar. Not only hearing but also the view isn't good since transparency of water is low in this field. Do you think it is just a place to hide from enemies or prey? Of course, the killer whales do not have enemies that need to hide. In short, it is no wonder if there is the agitating point of that gang killer whales around here.
"You read too much of a mystery novel, Master."
  Cherokee complained as his baleen chatter for fear. Jansen said while listening.
"Well, leave it to me. Apparently the opponent seems to be one. Let's see what they are going to do."
  The party started moving forward again headed by Jansen, relaxing the speed of swimming. As she noticed this movement, the killer whale who crawled like a shadow while traveling along a bay backed up behind the four whale so far, abandoned the attempt to hide herself and slowly swam right behind synchronize their speed closely with them. However, because of sound of fins was quite not raised, the sound of blowing at the precise interval in increments of ten minutes was the only reason to know the location of the opponent. Jansen and Douglas confirm the position and distance every time the sound of blow rose.
"Advance to the right."
  Where the two branches were divided, the killer whales disappeared in a different way from Janssen's choice. As Claire passed through a narrow water path, she found the killer whales came along the back of the waterways next to each other again, following them. There was no room for doubt that the opponent is monitoring the four whales.
"Well, go to the left."
  As they went on and on, the party gradually entered deep into the complex maze. Jansen's course choice seemed to be guilty.
  When they penetrated into one of the small waterways through several branch points, the opinions of Jansen and Douglas conflicted. Jansen said that he heard the sound of blow backward and Douglas forward.
"Are you in dotage, Old male? That sound certainly was emitted the one who is tailing us from a little while ago. It was behind."
"Hey, don't say that I have senile. When my ear to catch the information disappears, I will lose 'Historian'."
"Anyway, we can go and find out."
  It took a while to get out of the short waterway. The shadow was still behind, and also forward.
  Not only those, a number of shadows beside also swam around the four whales much closer than before. Claire and the companies were surrounded before they knew. Those who surrounded them were carnivorous tooth whales about twenty feet in length, with an intimidating dorsal fin. The number of shadows beyond the water wall was eight in all. Are they a detachment corps of the abductors?
"Damn it, we have been trapped."
"How do we, Master?"
  Cherokee appealed the bouncer, swinging his pectoral fins in confusion. Every orcas surrounded the four whales keeping equally spaced, so there was no path they can escape.
  The killer whales did not emit a single voice, they pretended to be indifferent to Claire, but they definitely guided them in one direction. And at last the party had been driven to one deep end cove.
"Hmm... It is a truly scrupulous trick."
"It's not a case of admiring, Old male. Listen! Form a circle behind me turning your back to the inner bay. Don't let them turn behind!"
illustration   Janssen instructed the three fellows with a low voice, then suddenly he turned around and yelled at a group of orcas squatting with a small eye stuck to the stern head.
"Suck my dick! Come on from wherever, huge panda dolphins! We will not be like the dolphins you got killed!"
"What are you excited alone like a salmon who was chased? We have no reason to vomit such abusive phrases by strangers."
  A female in the center who seemed to be the leader of the killer whales responded with a resolute attitude without being upset by Jansen's intimidation.
"Pshaw! It's a corresponding line for fierce slaughters like you!"
"I don't understand the meaning you say from a little while ago. Anyway, don't you think it is quite wrong comment? May I take it as the insult to all members of Vancouver 'Scale Faction'?"
"Don't feign ignorance! Your malicious works has already come to light! Come on quickly, or return whale calves meekly! Otherwise... What?"
  Jansen pecked his flank by Douglas during a heated discussion.
"Waite a minute, Jansen. What did you say, lady? Are you members of the resident community here?"
  This time the elder blue whale asked quietly to the central orca female instead of the bellicose lone cachalot bouncer.
"That's right. This area is all in our home range. What nerve, invading arbitrarily into the territory of other one and also putting on difficulty of unknown meaning! Since when have peaceful clan like us have to be disturbed a quiet life on a group of hood large whales? Although the elder you seems to be a gentle whale as I saw."
"Well, there are inevitable circumstances for us. Please forgive our rudeness. If you listen to our story, you might can understand it."
"I want to ask you before, but why did you follow behind us sneakily?"
  Jansen interrupted and growled groggy.
"Of course, we don't mind usually if foreign races enter into our territorial sea. However, your actions have suspicious points. Perhaps I shouldn't say so, but the composition of your group is abnormal to all seeming. Besides, single acting adult cachalot male is included in the necessary observation list for the time being. We can not keep our children safe unless monitoring the whale with rough nature. It is natural right for residents to take measures to prevent from some one running amok in the areas, isn't it?"
  Claire caught a glimpse of Jansen with his lower jaw open while the orca talking. When her eyes met him, she was about to burst out laughing in spite of herself.
"Shit, I have made an awful blunder!"
  He tweeted awkwardly with his pectoral fin hitting the flank. Claire and the two whales blew tenderly as it seemed to have solved a serious misunderstanding.
"Well then, would you please let us know your sticky situation? Who should I ask? Mr. Hot-blooded cachalot? Or, sure enough, Mr. blue?"
  As the other three turned their eyes towards Claire, she moved forward in front of a dignified orca female getting slightly nervous. The orca leader stared at the mink female who did not change much with herself in size with a look seemed a little unexpected.
"Errr... My name is Claire, belongs to the Ross Sea 'Large District' in 'Back Side'. Please forgive us for interrupting your home so suddenly. We have been traveling for a long time and did not know the circumstances around here. Well, I am the responsible whale at all times. These whales are all my collaborators. Jansen, the cachalot male is serving as our escort, so he became a fight back just like a moment ago. I apologize from me on his behalf."
  Claire told the orca about the outline of the incident beginning with Joey kidnapping. The leader female seemed terribly surprised to know that Claire and her companies had traveled all the way from the southern hemisphere. For her "District" is coastal settlement type with less movement among the killer whale races, she did not leave the Vancouver Island neighborhood except for seasonal migration. Her eyes looking for a small baleen whale had even been with respect.
  Still, she questioned Claire without compromising a polite and tense tone.
"I understood your talking in general. However, unfortunately I can not accept it according to face value. Because the behavior of the criminal group of killer whales you told is far more common than you who surprised us. As If believing in your words, probably that killer whales are still closer to 'Fur Faction' than us 'Scale Faction'. However, we have some exchanges with 'Fur Faction', and they share the pride of our race with us even though their lifestyles and beliefs are different from us. Their behavior is still eccentric too much to consider as the same race with us that to kidnap minke children wandering like a shadow, to slay all dolphins they meet, and to make insensible large migration from the Southern Ocean beyond the equator to here Vancouver. Are not you lying or exaggerating in your story? If any lies are included, that assertion is blasphemy against our race and you will have to make a corresponding amortization. Can you see my eyes straight?"
  the killer whale female lined up next to Claire and looked at her eyes. Even though she is "Scale Faction", it is a similar species of the Southern Ocean "Fur Faction" that they preyed on whale whales, with the most feared whale of the living creatures living in the sea, with a distance of just a few feet It felt freezing comfort for Claire that confronts. A chill ran down Claire's spine when she come face to face just a few feet away with the most feared tooth whale among the marine living things who is the same race as "Fur Faction" living in the Antarctic Ocean which have preyed baleen whales. However, even if she asked her breast, there was no error in what she had to say, so she endured her glance and looked back at her eyes.
  I'm fully aware of that the name of proud your race is dishonorable, but I certainly saw the whole fact with my own eyes exchanging glances with you now. I have to rescue my little boy, Even from the mighty opponent who is the same race with you; Claire thought.
  The two whales stared at each other for several minutes at the same posture as if they were solidified, but the leader orca soon stepped aside.
"I understand. Apparently, you seem to be a straightforward and devoted mother. If your story is true, I must say that it is very disgraceful and embarrassing for our race..."
  The killer whale female closed her eyes and bit her sharp teeth tightly. She raised her face again and said with a gentle voice to Claire.
"If you don't mind, how about staying in this sea for a while? Meanwhile, I will gather the information you are requesting from my clan in apology."
"But..."
  Claire looked at her three companions.
"Not bad. Let us have a break for a while."
  As he said so, Jansen stretched out like raveling his muscles and drew an arch over the waves.
"If we can cooperate with them, how are you going to accept her kindness?"
  Cherokee also nods in Douglas's word.
  The orca female said with a smile.
"That's settled. Please come with me. Our 'Chief Governor' is waiting. I'm sorry but will you tell her the story once more?"
  After saying that to the guests, she instructed to fellow orcas speedily.
"Oh, was she not the leader of 'District' here?"
  Cherokee whispered to Douglas in a low voice.
"Yes. It seems that her age is still young. Maybe she will be a candidate for the next term."
"My name is Sharon, I support the 'Chief Governor'."
  Sharon gave the two whales a sidelong glance, and began to swam leading them. She seemed to have sharp ears, just as an associate leader of orcas. While swimming, she advised to Jansen as she recalled.
"Your name is surely Jansen, isn't it? I admire your courage, but should you be more careful in wording? Otherwise, a bad reputation that the cachalot whale race is uncultured and impolite shall spread. You will sure become a harem master, so you had better consider that the manner and attitude of talking to the different races are representative of the face of own race, and make it suitable for it. We orca race are always respecting courtesy as presentable as the top of the marine living world."
"Shit! Don't say things like mothers. I have no intention of using sluggish honorific in the least."
  When she heard Jansen's complain, Claire imagined that he must have troubled his mother at a very young age and welled up a chuckle.
  Claire and the companies were invited in a quiet cove at the back of the Johnstone Strait that was sandwiched between Vancouver Island and "Turtle Continent". Sharon introduced the party to a discussion site that the administrators of Vancouver North "District" she belongs always use. The orcas of "Scale Faction" who live around Vancouver Island is divided into two "District" of the north and south. Each "District" is made up of a large number of family herds called pods.
  That cove was really small, so they were worried whether Douglas with full length eighty feet would enter into there. A dozen of killer whales who shared administrative affairs were head to face there. The perception that males who do not experience childbirth and child rearing are lacking in foresight and that they are not suitable for politics is like common among whale races, and so most of them were females. The "Government Affairs Room" became turbulent for a moment as a huge different races group including a cachalot male. Some one were surprised and tried to escape, but they quickly recovered their calm by Sharon's roar.
"Shame on you! Don't panic as Orca in front of the important guests!"
  A female who did not show any upset only one swam ahead. Elegance of her demeanor became more experienced than Sharon. Her age looked more than fifty.
"Thank you for your good work, Sharon."
  After saying so to the favorite pupil, she turned towards Claire and said a welcome speech with polite words.
"Welcome to our 'District'. My name is Stella, serving as 'Chief Governor' in Vancouver North 'District'. We have accepted a lot of travelers so far, but there is no case that least‐expected visitors like you come. Please excuse misbehavior of clans. Well, apparently, you seem to have a difficulty apparently, don't you?"
  Like the leader that she has unified one hundred and several tens killer whales for long years, Stella immediately realized that Claire's sudden visit was due to special circumstances. In addition, she has seen that Claire is the central personage of the party.
  Clare soon told her about the matter as she told Sharon a while ago. Stella also clouded the gentle facial expression of wrinkles like as Sharon by listening to the outbreak of outlaw killer whales, but she did not put suspicion as Sharon brought them by trusting them.
"Hmm... It is a strange incident. And it is an unfortunate incident, for you and for us having the same name of orca. Currently, there is no information that such a group of abnormal killer whales invaded or witnessed in this area. However, we will not spare the greatest aid to you as we do. There is nothing to hide them as the same race, so please don't worry. Acts that hurt the name of the race must be suffered appropriate retribution. Please wait until the day of the Super Pod after two weeks. Then, we can ask South "District" to summarize the report. If criminals passed nearby, those who were in charge of the patrol at that time might be sure to find and memorize them."
  Indeed, Claire and her companies also caught on this alert line.
"What is the Super Pod?"
  Cherokee who has the nature of a questioner asked. Sharon replied on behalf of Stella.
"The Super Pod is like the bigger size of 'Assembly' of the whale races in general. It is held with various events at the beginning of the summer every year. All the orcas in Vancouver neighborhood are gathering together. We are busy preparing for it now. Please join us because it is troublesome."
  Sharon seemed strict in her work as Maurine who is "Chief Governor" of Clare's "District", but she seemed to be merrily like as a young female when she talked about Super Pod. It was transmitted to Claire that all the member of orca here are looking forward to this day. Is the Super Pod a fun gathering that makes the hearts of "Governors" emphasize?
"Sharon, I will undertake other office, so teach the guests a bit of the geography of this neighborhood. You may take them to 'Dining Area'."
"I see. Well then, please come here."
  In this way, receiving the surprising hospitality of the killer whales, Claire and her companies got the occasion of resting in a long journey of pursuit.


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