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- Chapter 29: Salmon Fishing -

  The four whales who had the tour of "District" over the Johnston Strait and its surroundings with Sharon's guide at once, broke up with her who returned to "Government Affairs Room" to prepare the event held on the Super Pod day and took a rest.
  Every orcas who passed the party on the way sent greetings toward them friendly. Young orcas came to see the appearance of guests rarely visited with curious eyes like a dolphin. Some of them positively talked to them without shyness, so it was a surprisingly social aspect of killer whale who seems to be aloof because of their eating nature.
  However, Claire could not dispel the doubt that they might have something behind such a generous mask. After all, the image of the killer whale she envisioned was ruthless and cruel that of "Fur Faction" who preyed them.
  Large whales were not food for lunch for killer whales, but the "District" of the minke whale race had to prepare to put out several casualties every year. Oceanic "Fur Faction" sometimes raided on even their "Embrace Sea". In such cases, suckling children swimming slow are tend to be aimed at first.
  Claire once witnessed their predator behavior from afar. The killer whale came near the flock of fur seals who were on the sand beach with wave, and attacked suddenly. The orca hold a small prey and disappeared in the waves again. For fur seals, it seems that suddenly a demon appeared from underwater and have stolen their family. She also heard the tale that a killer whale chewed off elephant seal child into the head, torso and tail at once. Such stories are too numerous to mention if counting up.
  It would be inevitable if they hunt prey to live on a daily basis, and it can be said that Claire who swallow thousands of krill may be more cruel in a sense. However, the mysterious killer whale group like a gang who kidnaped minkey children, made the sea face a hell picture killing hundreds of dolphins immediately, and also Claire and Cherokee nearly caught the teeth two months ago, was raised in her mind and can not be separated from the orcas who live here gently.
"What's wrong, Claire?"
  Douglas asked Claire looking depressed.
  She turned her head by spy hopping and ascertained whether the dark black dorsal fin could be seen near, and said with a whispering little voice.
"I can not trust the killer whales here yet."
"Do you say that Sharon and Stella are lying?"
"No. There is no such intention. Just somehow, I feel that something will happen if we stay here for two weeks..."
"Oh, you are surprisingly nervous, Sister. I'm totally revised the image which I had held for killer whales until now as I knew about them. Although I have no complain even if 'Fur Faction' will stop eating us."
  Cherokee who was the most awkward at first said. Claire certainly admitted what he says. But the fact that the gap was too much inflamed her anxiety.
"That's right. Though, looking at the white fangs that lined up in a row, I don't feel calm."
"Huh, Do you have a phobia of tip? You have seen the inside of my mouth recently."
  Jansen hokily opened his mouth and showed his teeth of the lower jaw.
"Stop it!"
"Well, with peace of mind. If they try foul murder at bed-time, I shall give a head-butting and let them froth at the spiracle. Once I signed a contract with you as a bouncer. Well, I'll loaf about there."
  Jansen turned around and dived swinging up caudal fin above the surface of the water. Claire thought how serious she could depend on the bouncer who would go out to play somewhere arbitrarily immediately after undertook at ease.
"I'm going for a swim for a while."
  Cherokee also followed. Claire thought; I wonder that coward can walks around killer whales alone without hesitation.
"Well then, I also go to eat---"
  When Douglas talked and turned, Clair hurriedly stopped him.
"Please wait, Douglas! Don't put me alone!"
"Ho! ho! What's wrong, Girl? Did you see a scary dream?"
"Don't tease me, Douglas!"
"Well, let's go to 'Dining Area' together."
  Following Douglas, Claire thought that she herself might be the most cowardly indeed. In the strait of the fog and the forest, her weak blow still seem to fade away.

  Claire was still unable to feel secure alone for a few days, and so she acted with Douglas in general. Jansen often takes independent action as is his habit, and from time to time he seemed to leave the island and went offshore and deep sea. He only said "Yo!" lightly even when she meet him occasionally, and was like indifferent to her concerns. It would be the hardest task to defeat him even if a pod of killer whales attacking all in a bunch, but it is out of the question that he would be absent when it comes to the crunch. Claire thought that there was a preposterous bouncer.
  For some reason or other, Cherokee often disappeared somewhere. He was quite delighted when he was with her and was like to be full of vacation in the quiet strait. However, Claire felt that his brightness was false and he was hiding something to them in a different meaning from the killer whales.
  One day, when Claire was accompanied with Douglas's meal, Sharon greeted her.
"Hello, are you having meals?"
"Hello, Sharon. You are much more beautiful today."
"Oh, you flatter me. It was the first time to be paid such a compliment by a baleen whale, hehe."
  You ought to know better at your age, Douglas; Claire thought and glared him sideways.
  But to be honest, her slender dorsal fin, smart streamline body and the pattern that contrasts with black and white drawing a smooth curve is really beautiful, and her appearance floating on the water surface and shining on the light of the sun was attracted the viewer. Actually, this glossy black-and-white spot pattern dissolves in the fluctuation of the complicated ray when looking under the sea, and also plays as the role of dexterous camouflage. Their beauty is one with hidden danger. Anyway, Sharon was surely a beautiful female among the orcas in Vancouver.
"Don't you eat meals, Claire?"
"Well, no. I have no appetite now..."
  The "Dining Area" where the two whales came was separate from that of orcas with different menus, and Douglas was eating a flock of krill while swimming with his large mouth opening. Claire did not feel like eating because her head was full with Joey and both killer whales of the kidnappers and surrounding her, so she was just looking at his meal.
"Is that so. I'm going to eat from now. Will you go to visit our fishery if you don't mind?"
"Please let you do so. I will have a little more meals here. I have to take a lot of nutrition from now in order to support this physique, ho! ho!."
  Are you willing to join me with a killer whale alone at the place where she would slay the prey?
  Claire appealed to him with eyes, but he smiled at her and also responded with eyes; It's all right, you needn't worry.
  Seeing she is hesitating, Sharon added.
"Of course, I will not forcibly recommend it. If you don't like to see such things in front of you."
"Yes, I have nothing to do now."
  Claire inevitably followed Sharon.
  Two whales swam in side by side. looking in side, their length is almost same. As Sharon felt that the guest whale has not solved her fears and caution against the host yet, she talked to Claire with a friendly attitude to relieve her mental strain.
"Where did the other two whales go?"
"I don't know where are them. Though Jansen is always like this."
"I'm so jealous you. I sometimes wish I could exchange more with foreigners. However, even socializing among the same race is sometimes bored since troubles or to be decided things occurred."
"I think that is natural. The case like us is an exception. It's because such an incident has happened, if it has not, we have never meet each other. Besides, every members are misfits, hehe. I wish I could earlier return to my relaxed daily life with the colleagues in 'District', to an ordinary mother like before."
  Sharon gazed at Claire, who closed her eyelids and sunk in thought, and twittered casually.
"There may be no reason to envy mutually. We will just live a life with all our might in each fate..."
  Claire opened her eyes and looked back at Sharon. Claire realized at that time that a female orca swimming right next to her now, who is a member of the invincible predator whale race and posses excellent speed and power cannot be compared with her race, is just one life as same as herself. She thought; Even though she has fangs that can chew whales, dolphins and seals, I can surely put trust in Sharon.
  Sharon became happy to know that awkwardness disappeared from Claire's swimming and she opened heart to her, and so turned a somersault in front of her friend.
  Sharon tells Clare about their salmon fishing on the way.
  Orca's Salmon fishing carry out during summer to autumn when they migrate. The salmon fryers who got off the river grew while migrating in the wide Pacific Ocean for four or five years and return to the born river to accomplish the lifetime feat of spawning in this period. Although Claire felt compassion as a mother to catch salmon who came to lay eggs just before the goal, some salmon as food for predators such as killer whales, sea lions and land animals like grizzly bears and the remainder safely leaving descendants and will cultivating many lives again. It's providence of nature. both killer whales and salmon can continue to prosper by knowing their own place.
  Salmon is the most important food for killer whales living in the Johnston Strait. There was the first fishery of this year in last week, and then North "District" held a small festival. It is to appreciate the grace of Meta-Ceti, enjoying entertainment with celebrations everyone, and nothing different from that of other dolphin and whale races.
"I guess if salmon will look at you, they would surely be petrified as thinking a large mouth enemy come."
"Oh, how rude you are!"
"But it is strange that you whales who have such a big mouth can not eat fine krill or small herring."
"I am wondering, too. You killer whales with such a small mouth can eat us big whales."
"Oh, I have never eaten a whale!"
  Sharon especially emphasized saying "never".
"We 'Scale Faction' orcas eat only fish. I promise you, It's true! Although the largest King salmon is more than three feet in size. There is no one who has attempted whales among fellows of our 'District'..."
  In the last line her expression turned cloudy. But she did not say the continuation. Even becoming friends with each other making a joke, there may be things she can not say yet.
  Soon, a small beyond islands cove came in the two whale's sight. From now on, Clare actually see will observe the salmon fishing heard in the talking. The members of Sharon's pod already gathered there and waited her. Every members were lined up in front of the cove.
"It seems driving has already ended. We use calls and flippering sounds to drive salmon and keep them in one place. This is the first stage of our fishing."
  Indeed, when Claire looks into the cove with sonar, crowded salmon is panicking. "Now, I also have to join from the second stage. Please back off and watch staying there."
  When the orcas whispers a school of salmon into one corner of the cove, they started fishing with a signal of Sharon's whistle. The orcas made a fence surround salmon, and one by one in turn entered in it and pursue salmon. The other members stopped salmon trying to escape and drove back them towards the fellows to threaten hidden salmon between rocks and kelp clapping the water surface with fins. When one captured the prey, he/she switched to another orca to ensure that all the member in the group feed. It was a unique fishing that teamwork by family with close links speaking.
  Soon the number of salmon decreased and the killer whales stopped chasing after the prey. Claire thought that the fishing has finished already, but Sharon said as grin.
"There is still the third stage."
  When she was watching, the killer whales started somewhat strange behavior. Coming close to the rocky coast, they floated on the surface of the sea and began to shake the body up and down. As their bodies shook, the surface of the water gradually waved. Waves repeatedly strike rocks and break down white. It seems that as if the leading role of the game changed into the sea and the land from orcas and salmon.
  When Claire was wondered what they were doing, salmon's body floated up after a while. The salmon stretched to the surface like a drunker.
"How did you cause the phenomenon now!? It looks like magic!"
  Claire asked Sharon opening her eyes widely. Sharon responded with her body rocking more vigorously.
"Hehe, if salmon escape to the back of the rock crack, you think we will not be able to get them? However, when making up the waves like this, since salmon dives in a narrow gap, they bangs the head and the body against rocks, so they shall surrender after all. Do you understand?"
illustration   Claire marveled at the preeminent brains of the killer whales who are never inferior even with the ability to make "Extension of Forelimb" of "Furless Seal". And, it is a proof of their wisdom that they never uproot prey with it.
  Sharon seems to have captured big salmon.
"Yas! I did it, Claire!"
  Claire also waved the pectoral fin towards Sharon making merry. Her family was famous for its outstanding fishing performance among the North "District". The fishing results of today were well enough. For the first time since Claire came here, she could have a pleasant moment.

  Claire witnessed it after a while when the friendship with Sharon seeded and she began to be able to swim this area alone at last.
  On that day, Clare saw Cherokee being alone. He was restless and seemed to be waiting for someone. When she tried to call out him, two young male orcas appeared and they had a couple of words with Cherokee. While worrying someone watch him around, he went to somewhere with the two killer whales.
  Claire left the spot with a sorrowful thought.
  She thought; Cherokee is surely threatened by that killer whales. He must have been intimidated that it would be terrible if he inform on us. Then he is also faint of heart, so he can not open us with frightening. What he is requested? He may be being bullied as elimination of frustration that they can not touch the nearest whale. Or... I have to talk to Douglas and Jansen.
  On that evening, Claire counseled the two companions at the time without Cherokee.
"What do you think? I shall be all anxiety when I think what he is doing... He may be caught biting, hit by caudal fin or gnawed the tip of the fins as exercise of hunting. There are things about the abductors as well. I think we should leave here secretly."
"You are a big worrywart. Are all the females so? The kid seems to not be threatened or teased particularly as I see. He is quite restful now."
  Jansen said with an amazed look to Claire revealing circumstances with a serious talk.
"But I witnessed him being brought in as suggested by killer whales! Because it's about Cherokee, he may be have already passed the limit since the stress is too strong."
"Pshaw! He's not a type to become a masochist. The kid scream just stroked by suckerfish."
"I don't believe in a bit, too. It may be something else reason. Why do not you ask him directly?"
  Not only Jansen but Douglas also did not take Clare's concern seriously. It seems that there is no other way except to ask himself by hearing somehow.

  The next day Claire asked Cherokee with determination.
"Answer honestly, Cherokee. Have you hid something recently to us?"
"Ha? What is it?"
  It seemed like a somewhat frustrating appearance in his tone asked back. As expected; Claire thought. "You are intimidated by killer whales, aren't you?"
  Cherokee was surprised and said to Claire looking at with scary eyes.
"What do you mean? Why should I have to be threatened by them? Please do not hold a strange suspicion, Sister."
"Hey you, show your body a bit."
  As she said so, Claire circled around the Cherokee peremptorily and carefully looked at him whether any scratch mark remained somewhere. He protested stirring.
"What is it, Sister? Please don't stare other whale! I'm innocent!"
  There is no such wound in his body except a bit trace like a white streak in places.
"It's strange..."
"What strange is you, isn't it? It is unlikely Sister to doubt Orca fellows."
  Cherokee muttered frustratingly and then went leaving Claire.
  Claire thought; Is it my misunderstanding? No, there can not be such a thing, I absolutely saw it. I'm surely catch your tail...

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