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- Chapter 38: Claire in Crisis -

"Good-bye, everyone."
  Claire, who flew away from her companions at "Foison Sea", continued swimming tens of miles rapidity on the momentum. If she stop swimming, she seemed to looking back on the days of the adventure that was even difficult times and fun times with the three friends. She do not hope to realized again that she have to continue the journey alone and to be difficult for her thereby. She kept moving the fins without loosing the speed until reaching the next island chain called Ciepuka, beyond the western end of the Aleutian Islands toward the east bank of the Kamchatka Peninsula, turning from the west to the southwest.
  Beyond the many straits that separate Ciepuka Islands, the existence of the sea that spread to the north was acknowledged. There are breeding spots of the fur seals on the desolate northern islands, roaring of them, who are about to finish the season of raising children in the end of the late summer, occasionally reached on the sea by the wind. Claire who is ill-informed about the geography of "Front Side" can not decide whether to proceed to southwest by looking at Ciepuka Islands chain to the right this way or to go through the strait to enter the sea beyond.
  I wish Douglas was here at such time; Claire thought.
  However, now that she has lost all the clues, there was no need for her to get hasty. She thought that it would be prudent to decide the course after searching for the same race living nearby and being taught about the surrounding sea for the time being.
  When this happens, I will definitely find you even if it has taken until you get adult, Joey; she thought.
  Minke whales of "Back Side" clan living in the Southern Hemispere, Claire belongs to, eat only Antarctic krill. So, their haunt "Dining Area" is just "Fertile Sea" and the migration pattern for each season is also clear. The other fin, since "Front Side" Clan has abundant menu of meals, they often move a shorter distance and changes the "Dining Area" frequently. Their "Dining Area" are in the waters where a lot of fish can be acquired even the latitude is lower than "Foison Sea" because of the conditions such as ocean currents collide. It is one of the rich fishing grounds around Ciepuka Islands where Claire is now. Therefore, she decided to go down slowly to the southwest to contact with the same race there.
  Claire encountered minke whales of "Front Side" who were hunting for bait in one of the "Dining Area" that soon arrived. The five minke females just greeted her and tried to pass through, but one of them noticed that Claire is an unfamiliar face in this neighborhood "District".
"Who are you?"
"My name is Claire, come from the Ross Sea 'Large District' of 'Back Side'. I am searching for my son, but I do not know much about the sea around here."
"From 'Back Side'? No way! You should not make fun of other whales."
  An elderly female in the group gazed at Claire with narrowing her eyes. When she look closely, she noticed that Claire's body is larger than themselves and the white patterns of bracelets and shawls are dull and obscure. After a while, the female opened her mouth with an amazing expression.
"What a surprise! Certainly, your physical body is not that of 'Front Side Clan'."
  Since she gained an understanding of her hometown, Claire tells them stories about searching for the lost sun which has talked to a number of whales regardless of races. Although living in the foreign sea that is separated by ten thousand miles, of course, she did not have to hide it to the members of the same race. And then, Claire totally believed that they would provide her with pleasure if they had something useful information.
  However, when Claire finished to tell the story, the minke female of "Front Side Clan" sentenced the following without changing the severe face.
"You may not go to the sea ahead as well, Claire. As our 'District', We don't want to be involved in such a trouble."
  Next Claire was surprised this time. She puzzled and asked.
"What is wrong? Could you tell me the reason?"
"You are unfamiliar with the sea around here, so you are likely to have danger."
"I don't like to say this, but I came through scenes that would die many times. Sometimes sharks, killer whales, and rogue 'Floating Rock' attacked me. I will not look for a little danger for my son."
  The female looked at Claire with a grim look in her eyes.
"You say it's okay is your selfish. But, as I can not take responsibility, I do not want to welcome you who is a stranger of 'Large District', and the last thing I want that we are getting involved up to disasters.
  At that time, one of the group who left all responses to the elder suddenly broke the silence. She was a female more younger than Claire.
"I was kidnapped my sun last year, too! He was my first child."
  The older female also turned to Claire again after she reproached a bit the young female who remembered her son suffering heartache. She blew a sigh faintly and revealed the reasons for vigilance and refusal to the foreigner with a resigned look.
"There are a lot of "Floating Rock" and killer whales around here, which improves anomalous behavior. It is not uncommon for children to be missing. Although I did not want to spread such a story... The large islands that continue to this south are called 'Whale-Eater Islands'."
  When listening to the female's words with melancholy, Claire's heart beat fast for a moment.
illustration   We have life in the middle of the territory of avid "Floating Rock" unfortunately. There is no choice but to accept that it is also destiny for us. Do yourself a favor, Claire. Turn back to 'Foison Sea'. And then go back to the east side of the Pacific Ocean or the sea of 'Back Side'. It is better for you to give up that lost child."
  As so advised, the leader female took the other place with the group.
  I wish I could ask the young female more about the circumstances, Claire thought.
  Claire felt sad looking at the members of the north clan going away in a gloomy swimming appearance which seemed to have thrown the future of the clan halfway. The presence of "Floating Rock" and to be selected by them as dessert after slaughtering big races deprived brightness from the atmosphere inside "District" here like as "Fertile Sea".
  In fact, we minke whales should have loved to swim freely and cheerfully in the water as much as dolphins, she thought.
  Anyway, the course has already been decided for Claire. The culprit who abducts minke children of "Front Side" must surely be that killer whales acting like a shadow. She convinced that Joey would definitely be in somewhere ahead.
  "Whale-Eater Islands"... I can not stop trembling even to say that word. It is just a name that is suitable for the end of my journey, isn't it?

  It was a certain afternoon when the fog lasting several days finally faded. Claire headed further to the south and have entered deep into "Whale-Eater Islands" on the strong cold current. Claire's anxiety grew more and more whether that idiot's killer whales or "Floating Rock" would attack from somewhere in the fog.
  I would be fine at this time if Cherokee will sing even it is out of tune. Oh, I have said that out of tune. Whatever, he himself is not here anyway, Claire thought.
  Unexpectedly the sea level was astir and told someone coming. Claire got so nervous and made a streamlined body strengthened, but she learned that it was not necessary. It was a herd of hilarious dolphins, who should be hilarious, to came with white waves.
  The dolphins were the Dall's porpoise race. Dolphins are divided into two types: dolphins and porpoises. The porpoise races has little beak in many dolphins, it is petite and feature length is rarely exceed seven feet. In addition, while dolphin's teeth are conical in shape and pointed, porpoise's teeth are spade shaped and with a flat tip. Dall's porpoise who is large as porpoise has clear black-and-white patterns like a killer whale in the body surface. Their race has two sub-races, Dalli type and Truei type, which differ in the size of the white part on the ventral side, each of which further includes "Large District" divided into several sea areas.
  Dall's porpoise is a fanatic jumper who is like jumping competitions same as twice a day cod and squid's meals. Dall's porpoise jumps continuously in the air from one to the next and hop literally the surface of the sea. This swimming method called porpoising, which continues jumping in the air near the sea surface, is suitable for reducing the resistance of water and speeding up. When they see a lot of dolphins jumping and jumping, the big baleen whales are also getting a tipsy feeling led them to do it.
  However, the group of about ten Dall's porpoises coming from the front, had somewhat a sense of tragic resemblance to Claire's race whales earlier.
"'Tsukinbo' comes!"
"'Tsukinbo' comes!"
"It will kill us!"
"We will be killed by it!"
"'Tsukinbo' is scary!"
"I'm scared!"
"It will exterminate us!"
"We will be exterminated by it!"
"Several years until the day of destruction!"
"Several days until the day of destruction!"
  Porpoises passed beside Claire while crying unanimously. Claire was puzzled with inexplicable eyes while seeing the porpoises leaving while crying. The high pitched words of Dall's porpoises could not be heard details, but the words "kill" and "exterminate" were clearly expressed in the lyrics. Although it seems that it points to something 's name, the meaning of the word "Tsukinbo" was completely unknown.
  Even so, I wonder why the pretty porpoises are singing such a bloody song while jumping, Claire thought.
  When Clare was feeling sunk and thoughtfully wandering, across another flock of Dall's porpoise came again. These new porpoises were not singing sorrowful songs. However, they were with "Floating Rock". When porpoises see "Floating Rock" kicking a wave and gliding over the sea surface, they have a habit of going to the side as they want to surf together.
  While carefully keeping a distance, Claire looked at them from the surface of the water. The "Floating Rock" which seems to be a kind of "Fish-Eater" came in the middle of the group of porpoises. It seems that there is a small creature on board the tip of the "Floating Rock" in the direction of movement. Is that "Furless Seal"!? It grabbed something elongated with a forelimb that was longer than sea otter but with no smoothness. It flew through the air, stabbed in the dolphin's waist trying to across the front of "Floating Rock".
  The tragic scene of Rex's death was reproduced on the back of Claire's eyelids.
  The pierced porpoise seems to be off the critical point and continues to swim while raising a shrillish scream, but the second elongated "Tsukinbo" attacked him again. The small porpoise was lightly drawn up on the back of "Floating Rock". Other porpoises seems to be unable to understand the situation of what happened at all and are clinging around the "Floating Rock" that swallowed their friend while chanting "'Tsukinbo'! 'Tsukinbo'!?"
  What stupid porpoises anymore! Although they are genius when playing, why their brains are not working at a critical moment!
  Claire who become irritated shouted with "Interlanguage for Blowers" loudly toward porpoises smaller than her race's baby, since she can not leave them in trouble.
"Get away from there, by 'Floating Rock'! Come quickly here!!"
  However, it was not porpoises that came to her.
  The blow of "Front Side" minke whale is hardly visible, whereas in the Southern Ocean it is clearly captured that their white blow are blown up by 3 to 6 feet. Due to the temperature, or water drops in the northern hemisphere are shy, Claire's blow has become thin since she came to the sea of "Front Side", but her blow was enough to attract attention of "Floating Rock" searching for prey dolphins.
"No way!"
  "Dolphin-Eater" seemed to change its mind suddenly after discovering Claire's blow, stopped to catch Dall's porpoises who had been eaten regularly and changed the course to the direction of Claire.
"Stop please. Because I'm busy looking for my son. I really don't have time for you."
  Claire reversed and dives in the water.
  I'm in trouble. Even though I have just arrived, here is nothing but the place called "Whale-Eater Rock", Claire thought.
  Claire tried to shake "Floating Rock" off by speeding up.
  Well, I have to obey what Rex told me, to Choose course randomly, she thought.
  However, that "Floating Rock" seemed to be strongly intrigued by the rare big trophy who stuck to the dolphins' group, and it has relentlessly attacked. Suddenly at this moment the word of Douglas came up with Claire's mind.
"There are 'Rocks' that disguised 'Fish-eater' or 'Dolphin-eater' among those outsiders 'Whale-eater'."----
  What he was talking about was like this!
  Yes, as Claire came to realize, "Floating Rock" living in "Whale-Eater Islands" includes not only authentic "Whale-Eater Rock" but also "Whale-Eater" which mimics other "Rock", and "Rock" occasionally change to "Whale-Eater" from while one preying with dolphins or fish. The reason why genuine and counterfeit "Whale-Eater" are jumbled together among the same "Floating Rock", the somewhat complicated circumstances of the "Furless Seal" society was of course not to know for Claire.
  Now "Floating Rock" got on perfectly in the form of accompanying with Claire, and it was watching the moment to release "Tsukinbo" which is the same type of "Extension of Forelimb" as the harpoon. She had palpitations and hurt her heart. The interval of blowing has gradually shrunk. Unfortunately, there was no shelter of ice to escape in this warm sea unlike the Southern Ocean. Land was about 30 miles west, but that was the "Whale-Eater Islands" which is the base of "Floating Rock". Warm seawater was felt increasingly hot while she kept speed, and her whole body feels like boiling. The nightmare escape scene in the Ross Sea was remembered clearly. Instead of rescuing Dall's Porpoises, apparently she is going to be a menu of "Floating Rock" today.
  No more! It's the same pattern as before. I wonder if there is anything affinity between me and "Floating Rock". Now Rex who had protected me has not here yet. "Help me, Jansen!!" To say that, it can not reached him. Ugh, I'm so dumb.
  Claire saw "Furless Seal" standing on two hind legs across the back. It was looked into the black shades behind the sun. It was a small beast like a skeleton shrimp that body length was as small as the prey Dall's porpoise. The creatures, who she nearly saw for the first time, was shaken on "Floating Rock" while carrying a horrible elongated thing to the forelimb.
"I beg you, 'Furless Seal'. Could you just let me off? I can not get killed now."
  However, Claire's desperate petition, ceaseless squirrel, 4 feet of body panting which was used to swim with overworking the heart, and gazing eyes swaying up and down between waves, could not appeal to "Furless Seal". It was aiming for a rare big prey with an empty eye of emotion.
"I'm sorry, Rex. I could not fulfill my promise with you."

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