Rivero and Captain Hammerhead Shark
Date: May 28, 2010
Seduction, betrayal, and more bites than a fetish club.
The Ocean - 100 Miles from Nassau
Three hundred nautical miles sounds like a lot, but it goes by pretty quickly when you're traveling every minute of every day. Especially in the Bahamas.
Piloted by Rivero, Vasha's boat has reached its final destination. It's now anchored at the center of a rough triangle formed by three small islands off the coast of Roleville. The ship's captain is is lounging at the helm with headphones in, a beer in hand, and heavy sunglasses covering the upper half of his face. Presently, he's using a cooler as a bench.
Further toward the bow, Porter is performing a final check on his dive gear. His fins are in place, his hoses are sound, his mask seals as expected, and his kevlar-reinforced drysuit clings to his muscular body. Satisfied, he nods and glances at Vasha. "I'll be back soon," he says, affecting a light and casual tone. "Call me on the radio if Rivero has to move the boat."
Though somewhat incensed that she's being left behind, Vasha's demeanor doesn't show it. She still carries the same indifferent attitude, even going so far as to check the condition of her fingernails as Porter gives his instructions. The answer he's given? A single grunt to acknowledge that she at least heard words coming from his lips before she turns and makes her way back to the bow's sundeck to resume her tanning.
She doesn't wait for Porter to dive into the water, she's too busy rubbing her already dark arms with coconut scented oil. Her skin sparkles in the hot midday sun and just before she lays down on her towel, she unbinds the top of her bikini to minimize lines. Her hair is piled up on the top of her head, once again to minimize tan lines, and through her dark glasses she's eying Rivero with his beer.
"Your concern is touching," Porter says wryly. Grinning, he fixes his mask in place, spins his O2 valve to the 'on' position, and backs up to the railing. He salutes her, his face pinched into a mock-serious expression. Then, without further ado, he flips backward and plummets to the water below.
Splash… Splash… Splash… First glancing left, then right, then left again, Rivero finally reaches into his cooler and picks up another piece of something unidentifiable.
Splash! Whatever it is gets tossed overboard. The lanky mariner strips off the plastic glove he's wearing and tosses it in his cooler. The sickly-sweet smell of decay hangs heavy in the air around him.
She might have been asleep in the hot sun for all he knew, but she wasn't. Vasha's still eying the curly haired man from her position on the towel. Whatever it is he threw overboard doesn't give her cause for concern, working on her tan is likely the only thing on her plate for the next few days. With a heavy sigh, she rolls over onto her back and watches the water.
So blue and peaceful, so clear you can see right to the bottom in the shallows near the reef. The brunette is unconcerned that Rivero might be watching her, she has no shame when it comes to her own body. She's painfully aware of his presence but tries to ignore it, until she spies the first dark shape gliding through the water.
Then another joins it.
Turning her head, she lowers her sunglasses to narrow her eyes accusingly at Rivero. "Is it mating season for the hammerhead already?" Her question comes as a slow drawl, her tone uncaring. She breaks eye contact with the vessel's captain just long enough to spot another and another streaking through the water.
Porter isn't terribly concerned when the first shark nudges him in passing. They do that.
Then the second bumps into him. Now the third. Not only are they curious, they appear aggressive. They aren't biting, though. Not yet. For the moment, they seem content to swoop in small, lazy circles, occasionally snatching the ragged bits of meat that Rivero has tossed into the water.
Cold sweat pours down Porter's back. Very, very slowly, he draws an SPP-1 underwater pistol from the hip holster on his drysuit. Three sharks. Four bullets. Not an ideal situation.
Topside, Rivero lifts his sunglasses so he might better lock eyes with Vasha. He grins impishly and shakes his head, sending his shaggy curls bouncing to and fro. "Don't know," he replies. "But I seen 'em do some strange things before. Best not to worry, pretty. How 'bout I getchu another drink now that we have the boat to ourselves?"
"Mmm.. yes a drink sounds perfectly delightful," Vasha purrs, seeming to accept the man's explanation of things. "But I wish none of what it is you are having. I do not drink from a can." Her haughty reply sounds a little breathy as she ties the bikini top back around her body. It's doesn't cover much more than without. She disappears around the deck and in moments she's up at the helm at his side. A better vantage to see what is going on.
"Captain Rivero, would you be a dear and fetch the bottle of champagne from the galley? I have it chilling… and two glasses I think, yes?" He is treated to her most sultry expression, along with a light trace of her fingertips along his shoulder. "Since we do have the boat to ourselves… we should make it a celebration."
Grinning toothily, Rivero ogles Vasha without a hint of shame. "We should," he agrees, reaching up to scritch at his goatee. Then he winks and turns toward the aft hatch. "Don't you move one of those exquisitely toned muscles. I'll be right back."
One of the sharks finally bites at Porter's leg. Whip-fast, he takes aim and fires. Rather than a traditional bullet, the Russian SPP-1 fires a large, fin-stabilized dart. The projectile takes the shark through the eye, wounding it badly and sending gouts of blood out to stain the water.
Unfortunately, this prompts the other two sharks into a greater frenzy. One tears mercilessly into its wounded companion. The other zeroes in on Porter, who frantically raises his pistol.
"Ohhh… Do not worry yourself…" Vasha sing songs before Rivero disappears, "I will be right here waiting for you." As the man disappears, she turns toward the controls of the boat and quickly zeros in on the radio.
With one eye on the aft hatch, she pulls the mic to her lips and flips the switch to turn it on. "Captain, there is commotion in the waters. I believe I saw Rivero throwing something overboard. Are you in need of assistance?" While she waits for response, she scans the boat for anything she might be able to use as a weapon. A harpoon gun on deck, the knives she has stashed in the master cabin, and her pistol in the same place are the only things that spring immediately to mind.
With a muffled POP and a rush of bubbles, Porter fires two more darts. One misses; the other strikes the shark attacking him behind the gills, disorienting it for the moment. "Eh?" he says as Vasha's voice crackles over the radio. "About time you turned this damn thing on! The hammerheads are on me! Someone's chumming the water!"
"Calm yourself Captain, I will take care of the situation…" Vasha says monotonously, then she flips the radio off. Taking long strides toward the aft hatch, she peeks down just long enough to call out. "Captain Rivero, there is some caviar and crackers as well, if you would be so kind." Then she's off.
Padding quickly across the deck, Vasha slips down to the cabin area and flits into the master cabin. With her Jericho in hand, she slinks along the corridor, peeking and ducking around the corners before finally making it back up to the helm. Then, she cocks the gun and waits.
Champagne and caviar and a sweet piece of ass? Rivero can't believe his luck. He has the requested victuals in his hands and he's whistling a jaunty tune as he makes his way back up to the deck. "This is peachy," he purrs. "I love a good Brut. Can we…"
He trails off when he spots Vasha and the gun. For a moment he is very still, his eyes locked on hers. When he speaks again, his voice has taken on a very different tone. He's cold rather than playful and there's a bare hint of a Czech accent lurking between his consonants and vowels. "We could have had sex before I killed you," he informs her. Then he drops the caviar and swings the bottle in a wide arc aimed at Vasha's head.
Meanwhile, Porter fires his final dart at the disoriented shark. The shot is lucky, slipping between pectoral fin and ribs to sink into vital organs.
That leaves two hungry sharks, one wounded, both angry, neither in a hurry to let Porter go. As soon as he makes an attempt to swim away, they cease their struggling and speed toward him. Grimly, he holsters his empty pistol and draws his dive knife. "Would you please handle that sonofabitch and get down here?" he asks, his voice tinny and tense over the radio.
As the bottle of champagne smashes up against the side of her head, Vasha fires a shot directly into Rivero's chest. She staggers for a brief moment, taking the time he uses to fall to the deck in order to clear her own head. Once the little birdies have stopped singing, she bends down to whisper into his ear. "You have made a grave mistake in trying to knock me senseless…" she whispers, letting her own little secret out. "It is impossible… but for you… You will remain conscious long enough to feel the sharks feeding on your quickly expiring corpse."
Then, careful to avoid the glass, she picks the man up in a fireman carry and tosses him over the side of the boat. Breathing a long sigh of relief, she watches the body drift toward the churning waters. The mic is once again lifted to her lips, "Captain… I have chummed the water with my own variety of meat. Do you require further assistance in the waters? Or am I able to resume my tanning?"
The wounded shark immediately swoops in to attack Rivero. The man goes from squirming victim to still corpse in seconds, with shredded pieces of boat captain filling the surrounding water.
The unharmed shark, on the other hand, seems determined to devour Porter. The two are facing off, the shark nosing in to nip and bite at the man's reinforced dive suit, him lashing out with his knife in an attempt to pierce eyes, gills or other vitals.
Each strike leaves Porter more exhausted. He swims backward, trying to put some space between himself and the shark. Behind his body, his questing, groping hand comes into contact with a rough coral outcropping. It's the entrance to a narrow cave.
Porter eyes the slim opening, then the shark, then the opening again. While he's making up his mind, the hammerhead decides to charge. That settles things. Exhaling to make himself as small as possible, Porter wriggles through the gap just in time. Thwarted, the shark crashes nose-first into the coral.
"Captain?" Vasha says over the mic, a little bit of concern seems to crawl into her voice. The deck is full of glass and blood, some of it her own from when the bottle struck her head. "Are you still among the living?"
Her eyes immediately search out the harpoon gun, it is loaded with a single harpoon attached to a cable. Over the side of the deck, the water is churning with blood and bubbles making it almost impossible to see into the depths below. "Captain, please answer me if you are alive."
As he struggles deeper into the cave, Porter slams his head against one of the walls. Not only does this daze him, it jostles the wires connecting his radio's mic to the receiver. He taps the unit with his finger, winces, and hopes his reply is heard.
"Stilll… (static) can't get… (more static) trapped! Be careful!"
Off like a shot, whether it's genuine concern for Porter or whether it's concern for the diamond she may never lay hands on again, it has Vasha clambering down the ladder and toward the lockers inside the ship. He didn't bring a reinforced suit for her, there's only a regular wet suit and it only reaches to the knee.
Slipping it on over her suit, Vasha quickly zips it up at the back and grabs the rest of the gear and her set of knives. She doesn't have the time to check and recheck as Porter did when he was making his dive, so once the tank is secured to her and the knives are strapped onto various parts of her body, she finds a place around the boat that is clear of blood and falls over the side.
Harpoon in hand, she begins a slow crawl around the frenzy of shark and Rivero… or whoever he really was.
The shark feeding on Rivero takes a final mouthful of its bloody prize and departs, leaving the man's head and torso to stare lifelessly up at the water's surface.
A hundred feet away, Porter cowers back in his cave to get away from a shark of his own. The predator is determined, repeatedly ramming the opening in an attempt to get at the man who has cut and tormented it. Each powerful surge breaks off more of the coral, widening the opening and putting Porter in more danger.
Then it happens. A wide enough space is created for the shark to get in and bite down on Porter's arm. Unsurprisingly, he screams. Through the static of his damaged radio, the sound is… unpleasant.
Pausing in her swim, Vasha hefts the harpoon gun to her shoulder and takes aim for the shark that is trying to make a meal out of her meal ticket. Sinking a little deeper, she aims the harpoon just below the great fish's jaw and squeezes the trigger.
The harpoon streaks through the water and clips the giant beast under its jaw, the spearhead coming to a stop out the shark's right eye. Fight or flight, the only two responses capable of a brain that prehistoric. Where one might expect a flight, the fish is so caught in its frenzy it chooses to fight. It begins to race through the water toward the wounded shark. Vasha, still attached to the harpoon by the cable, drags along in the water with it for a quarter of a nautical mile before she is able to release it.
As the two fish duel to the death, Vasha quickly swims toward the mess of coral where the beast was previously attacking. Her hair floats in a mess around her head, her mask is leaking water, and the wound on her head is still seeping a minute trace of blood.
Porter's arm is nearly yanked out of the socket when the shark takes off. Groaning, he wiggles out of his hole and steadies himself. When he's caught his breath, he takes off after Vasha, eating up distance with long, powerful strokes. All the while, he tap-tap-taps on his radio in the vain hope that it will start working properly.
"…sha! Where.. located? Vasha! Where are you— there you are! Jesus, hold still."
He lets out a sigh of relief when his radio clears up and he spots Vasha simultaneously. Swimming up to her side, he motions toward her head wound and pulls a small spray tube from one of his many utility pouches. Then, with surprising gentleness, he coats the cut with a layer of heavy, water-resistant medical foam.
Unlike Porter, Vasha didn't take the time to grab a radio for her suit so while he is telling her to hold still, she is looking around for more predators. Pausing just long enough for him to take care of her, she points upward to the long shadow of the yacht then makes a motion with her hand seemingly like a fish.
Her hand finds his uninjured arm and she squeezes his bicep lightly, tugging him upward with her. With a careful eye out for more sharks, she drifts upward toward the boat, halting him from going too fast.
Porter back-paddles to halt their progress. Using exaggerated motions, he shakes his head, points toward the ocean floor, and activates the beacon light mounted to his wrist, shining it on an equally large shape below them.
It's the hulk of a sunken boat. Freshly sunken. Algae has yet to collect in force on the smooth surface of the craft.
Pointing at himself, then insistently down at the sunken boat, Porter cradles his damaged arm against his chest and pulls away from Vasha's grasp.
Her eyebrows furrow together and she shakes her head, making the fish motion once again, this time using both of her hands. Then she looks down toward the boat and then to Porter and shakes her head slowly. Placing a strong hand on his shoulder, she swims near his injured arm, apparently intent on keeping her body between it and whatever new predator decides to make its way toward them.
Quicker than she was swimming up to her own boat, she angles down toward the other one, keeping one hand on him while craning her head this way and that to search out more danger.
It's not easy to lean on someone while you're swimming, but Porter does so. Gratefully. The protective, possessive manner in which he's being shepherded doesn't go unnoticed, either. He smiles fondly at Vasha, but the expression is hidden by his heavy, frogman-style mask.
As they grow closer and closer to the ship, it becomes apparent that it isn't your average fishing rig or cargo vessel. It's trim and sleek, the hull is armored, and several decks guns have been so cannily concealed that one would only spot them from directly above.
Porter steers them toward a large hatch on the ship's forecastle. He grips the sealing wheel with his good arm and tugs, but it doesn't budge. He doesn't have the leverage. Forlornly, he glances at Vasha.
It doesn't take a rocket dentist to figure out what Porter's silent communication is supposed to relay. Thankfully, Vasha is a little perceptive when it comes to the man's immediate needs. Giving him a slow nod, she braces her flippered feet against the outer hull and grips the wheel of the hatch with both hands. Her muscles strain as she tries to budge it. For a good five minutes it doesn't move, still she strains without taking so much of a break.
Finally, the seal cracks and with a rush of bubbles the last of the stale air inside the ship is let loose to wriggle its way to the surface.
Vasha's head turns to look at Porter, then she points to herself and into the hatch, almost in question. She doesn't make a move toward the hatch, she knows enough that she was an unexpected tag-along.
The woman's persistence and perseverance are impressive, to say the least. Porter's eyes widen as he watches her go to work on the door. When she moves on to a silent communique of her own, he hesitates, tenses up, and glances first at the opening, then back at Vasha.
After several seconds of consideration, he nods and beckons her in. Unerringly, he leads her through a series of convoluted twists and turns that take them deep into the ship's bowels. The shark attack has left him winded and bruised; he is forced to take frequent rest breaks and rely heavily on Vasha's assistance. More than once, he expresses his gratitude through a touch on the arm or a brief press of his hand against the small of her back.
When they pass the first corpse, Porter doesn't even slow down. As a Marine combat diver, he has seen more waterlogged bodies than there are stars in the sky. After a certain point, they're nothing more than a part of the scenery. A fixture, like a lamp or a toaster oven.
A dead body is a dead body. A waterlogged and bloated dead body is a little prettier than the ones that Vasha has left behind in the past. She eyes each of them as they swim by, comparing their faces to the old man that she left back in New York. Perhaps Sol would be more appealing this way, rehydrated rather than wrinkled.
With every break that Porter takes, Vasha glances around them, the mask fitted to her face has a little water in it but it seems to have stopped flowing in. The whites of her eyes a little irritated and pink from the ocean water floating around near them. On their last pause, she seems a little restless and impatient, actually swimming forward a few feet dragging Porter behind her.
Porter brings them to a halt near a doorway that's fitted with an electronic swipe lock. Awkwardly, he digs a keycard from his utility pouch and runs it through the reader. With a beep and a click that's tangible but not audible, it swings open.
There's only one thing inside. An ICBM. Once you've seen one, there's no mistaking it for anything else.
The spy glances at Vasha, shrugs, and digs a screwdriver from his belt pouch. Matter-of-factly, he crouches next to the missile's access panel and gets to work.
The ICBM isn't as surprising to Vasha as what seems to be underneath it. For a brief moment, Porter's light caught a glimpse of something brown that darted backward when the man swan closer. Moving behind Porter, Vasha gently takes him by the hand, heedless to whatever he may be doing at the moment.
Moving his wrist slowly, she points the light to the underbelly of the missile, shining the light slowly from one end to the other. Nothing. Frowning, she makes another pass, this time catching the little glimpse of a brown head before it ducks back.
The brief sighting is enough to cause the woman to scramble backward in the water and swim toward the door. Try as she might to pull Porter with her, he ends up face to face with an 11 foot Moray eel.
Though Porter's underwater pistol is spent, he's not entirely fangless. His dive knife is sturdy, dangerous, and nearly ten inch long. Reflexitively, he whips it out and jabs it at the eel's face, piercing one of its nostrils.
Unfortunately, a nostril is not a vital organ. The moray opens its mouth and shakes its head, scattering droplets of blood and poisonous saliva into the surrounding water. It might not be mortally wounded, but it is in a great deal of pain.
Seizing his moment, Porter pushes away from the ICBM and swims directly at the eel. At the last second he veers to the side, circling around to straddle its back and hang on with his uninjured arm.
The eel struggles in Porter's grip, its slippery skin proving a tough match for his glove. As it writhes, Vasha pulls one of the knives strapped to her thighs and swims toward the pair. The eel lashes out at the woman, striking her with its gaping maw and tears a hole through her wetsuit. The rake of sharp teeth rips through her skin like a chef's knife through a tomato causing her to drop the knife and recoil backward.
Not to be outdone, she pulls another knife with her uninjured arm and swims at the two of them again, this time getting right in between Porter and the writhing sea snake between his legs. With a quick slice, she manages to slit a long cut from its jaw to its gills.
When Vasha is struck by the eel, Porter grits his teeth and screams a scream that only he can hear. An angry, warlike scream. He has officially lost his cool.
The operative pulls a flare from his belt, strikes it against the eel's rough skin, and thrusts it into the gaping wound below its maw. Grinning fiercely, he probes around and leaves a trail of molten phosphorus in the wake of his exploration.
The flare is quick to ignite inside of the eel and with a few more thrashes from its quickly tiring body, it begins to still and then sink, still burning from the inside. Its eyes turn from an iridescent brown to a milky hue, indicating its demise.
Once it has stopped struggling, Vasha lets go and swims down to the floor to find her missing knife. The one in her hand is tucked back into its sheath as she feels along the bottom for the missing one. Unable to find it, she looks back up to Porter and twitches her eyebrows together. Her finger juts twice to the panel, as though pointing him back toward his task.
Porter already has the can of medi-foam in his hand. He depresses the trigger, but nothing comes out. Frustrated, he shakes the can and tries again. No joy.
Grunting unhappily, he dives back down to the ICBM, but not without glancing back at Vasha more than once. When he reaches the panel, he goes to work with the casual precision of a man who has performed a task countless times.
Remove outer panel. Disconnect wires leading from battery to detonator. Remove neutron trigger. Remove conventional explosive. Remove U-235 masses. Contain separately.
It sounds more complicated than it is. Once he's stripped the wires, Porter yanks out the neutron trigger and stuffs it into his belt pouch. The chunk of military-grade explosive is pulled out and set aside. Then comes the real fun. The highly reactive U-235. The stuff that puts the 'nuke' in 'nuclear.' It comes in the form of two small, heavy metal spheres. Each is tucked into its own lead-lined sack, both which are placed in his cargo pouch.
When he's done, he adds a finishing touch of his own. A block of C4 rigged with a ninety minute timer. Coupled with what's been left behind, there's more than enough explosive to destroy the ICBM and most of the boat. When everything is situated to his liking, he turns to Vasha and offers her his uninjured arm for support on the way out.
Vasha's eyebrows knit together as she sees the explosive being placed and set. Not being able to say anything reduces her to angry mime, mostly an array of arm movements which would only be more pronounced by yelling if she were able. When her little tantrum is over, she grips his hand, lacing her fingers with his and tugs him along.
Past the dead bodies, she swims at a furious pace until they reach the hatch. Then she stops and waits for a moment, peeking her head out to look for the hammerheads that almost had them before. Finding none at the moment, she glides up and out of the hatch before letting Porter out.
Avoiding the bends is a slow process. One that seems to take much longer when there's a countdown to catastrophe occurring directly below you. Porter grits his teeth and stoically avoids looking down as he paddles toward the surface with Vasha at his side.
When they break waves and hit air, Porter rips his mask off and lets it dangle behind his back. "Come on!" he shouts, grabbing Vasha's hand and starting up the diver's ladder on the side of her yacht.
Being pulled up the ladder by Porter is something that doesn't quite suit the fancy of the South African woman. "I believe it was you that said you do not come on command, Captain." She growls as she climbs the ladder and onto the deck.
Rather quickly, she strips herself of the diving equipment and then the flippers and suit. "How do you propose we move the vessel? I was forced to fire our captain and I am not knowledgeable on the operations of a yacht." Carefully, she makes the slow climb up the ladder to the helm. The bits of broken glass force her to pick her way across the flooring.
"I was a Marine before I became a spook," Porter replies. "I've never moved anything this big, but it can't be that different from a patrol boat."
Like Vasha, he's quickly ridding himself of his gear. Mask, fins, and dive suit hit the deck with wet, splashy plopping noises. When he's stripped down to a snug pair of navy blue swim shorts, he slings the pouch holding the U-235 around his neck where it'll be safe. He steadies it with his injured arm, wincing when the myriad of bruises brush against it.
"Find a medkit!" he calls out to Vasha as he makes his way toward the controls. "Bring it to the bridge and I'll patch you up!"
Leaving him to yet another facet of his many talents, Vasha climbs down the aft hatch and searches the galley for a kit. The bite on her arm is throbbing, looking down at it the jagged tears in her skin almost makes her sick to her stomach. Unable to help herself, she does actually wretch in the garbage. Shivering, she turns the tap on and runs her arm under the flow of cold water.
Maybe a yacht is a little different from a patrol craft. The tiller and throttle are present and easily identifiable, though. Porter noses them around toward open water and starts them off at a reasonable speed. Fast enough to get away from the explosion, but slow enough that any other vessels will have plenty of time to see them coming.
Once they're on the move, he takes off at a flat run, pelting through the ship in search of Vasha.
In the galley, Vasha is slowly picking at her wounded arm, cursing at herself in Afrikaans for being such a child about a simple bite. Finding something small and hard lodged in the ragged edge of meat and skin, she pulls at it with her fingernails until a tiny tooth is extracted. It is laid to the side before she runs her bleeding arm under the sink again.
When Porter rushes into the small room, she raises her head to look at him and then lowers it back down to continue her careful nursing of the wound. "What are you doing away from the helm? If you crash my yacht, I will expect compensation," she barks at him, her guttural accent sounding much more harsh than usual.
"If I crash your yacht?" Porter asks, smirking. Briskly, professionally, he assembles disinfectants, bandages, and sutures. "I'm not the one who hired a captain based on how pretty he was," he continues. "Now hold still. When you spend as much time as I have in countries with no hospitals, you pick up a few things."