I felt sorry for Billy, he could hardly walk as we boarded the night train. “Are you okay, Billy?”
“Yes, I’m fine except a little sore but a hot soak will take care of that.”
We arrived at the ship a little early. “Do you think we’ll be able to board?”
“Let’s find out.”
We walked up the gangway,“Hold”
“I am Lieutenant Stewart and this is Lieutenant Welton. We have papers to report this morning at 0600. We are a little early.”
“Just a minute” We waited while he checked. “Sorry Sir, you may proceed.”
“Colin, do you know where our cabins are?”
“I’d assume they would be where there were when we left the ship.”
“Maybe we should wait. We could go and have a cup of coffee while we wait.”
“Maybe we can get the Chief to fix us breakfast.”
“Colin, it looks like we are in luck.Chief, we boarded early any chance of getting some breakfast?”
“You’ll have to fix it yourself.”I looked at Billy and smiled.
We ended making breakfast for the Chief and his crew. Mexican food, as close as we could get, was a big hit. But all good times come to an end. It was 0600 hundred and we needed to be on deck.
We went to our assigned cabins, then the Captain called for a staff meeting. “Gentlemen, we’ll be going to the Mediterranean to stand on watch.”
“What do you think Colin?”
“I think this is serious. The Captain hasn’t told us everything. Let’s check the wave.”
Walking to the library where the computers are, “Lieutenants, where are you going?”
“We are on our way to the library, Sir.”
“Have you selected your Cabin Boys?”
“No Sir, we need to review their records and conduct our interviews. We planned on doing that when we came back from the library.”
“Lieutenant Stewart, you’ll find out more about our assignment without checking the computer.I suggest you select your Cabin Boy, asap.”
“Colin, he knew what we were going to do.”
“Yes, but if he doesn’t want us to find out on the wave, then I’m sure we’ll find out from him sooner than later.”
We returned to our cabins to begin our selection of our Cabin Boy. Actually, the selection was more important for the boys than the ship’s staff. It was the way for advancement and an important part of training with the subsequent advancement. I reviewed several potential candidates, of these I selected 5 for interviews. I didn’t know who Billy had chosen. Now for the interviews.
Of the five candidates I selected, Billy selected three.
Interviewing brought me back to when I interviewed. I remember how nervous I was and how I wanted to be selected. I narrowed my selection down to 2. So did Billy, he narrowed his down to the same 2. Billy and I sat down to decide who would take who.”
We made our selection and informed the boys. I remember what was said when I became the Lieutenant’s Cabin Boy so I just repeated it to Joel, my Cabin Boy. With this assignment done, I was ready to go and finish my search on the wave.
A certain Commander intercepted me again. “Lieutenant, heading to the library?”
Laughing, “I think not. Come with me.”
“Lieutenant Stewart, I think you are trying to find out why we are going to the Mediterranean, am I right?”
“Well, let me tell you. There's news that the Eastern Emirate has been unsatisfied with the Council’s decision to stop all well drilling except for water. At one time oil was a highly prized commodity. As more countries depended on other sources of energy, the need for oil decreased.The Council passed a law shutting down all wells. This country was the only country that continued to produce oil. They have been storing it in the hopes that oil will be used again as an energy source. A small amount is needed to be fractured into its components. The Council feels that they have enough stockpiled to last for several years.”
“What products? I know about oil being used for the generation of electricity and to make fuel for old gasoline cars.”
“There are more, like ink, types of wax, pens, sweaters, tires, nail polish that the ladies can’t do without, cassettes, curtains, baskets, food preservatives, the list goes on.. Oil has a multitude of uses in our daily life. The problem was that in the old days, oil was used primarily for fuel to power vehicles, planes even boats and to generate electricity. That no longer is necessary and the need for oil for the other uses is minor compared to it’s uses as fuel.”
“So what are we expecting the Eastern Emirates to do? If there's no longer a use for the oil, it doesn’t make sense to continue to pump it.”
“We don’t know what they’ll do or try. We’ll be there as a visual warning to behave.”
Laughing, “To bad we can’t spank them.”
The Commander walked away laughing, I had to tell Billy.
It took three days to cross the Atlantic and get into position for the Mediterranean Sea. We were essentially to theleft of the entrance to the Sea, moored just off the coast of Northern Africa.
The weather was fantastic so Billy and I spent a lot of time on deck. “We need an old fashion spy glass.”
“So we can scan the area.”
“If you want, you can do that from the bridge.”
Just then a siren was sounded and a cruiser was lowered into the sea. A LieutenantCommander took charge with a crew and took off toward the inlet to the Mediterranean Sea.
“I don’t think so. If it was routine one of us would have commanded the cruiser. This is more important.”
We heard ‘all hands to stations’ and then we saw the ship. It was the same size as the one that carried the children we intercepted a few years ago. I went to the bridge, Billy went to the radio station, we waited. “Lieutenant, man the scope.”
I watched as the scope showed the boat stopped in the water. “Sir, they are repulsing the boarding by Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey.”
“Sound the alarm Lieutenant.”
I did as ordered. “Sir, there are flashes of some type of weapon. It isn’t one of ours.”
The Commander orderedmore cruisers into the sea, and now the older Lieutenants took charge of those with a military force. Soon the vessel was surrounded by our cruisers. I watched on the scope as they boarded the ship. There was a quick fight and then the scope showed the ship to besilent.
I watched for about two hours before I saw a cruiser begin to return to our ship. “Commander, one cruiser returning.”
The Commander waited till the cruiser was hauled aboard before he and the Captain went to the meet the cruiser. I continued to watch the scope, but nothing was happening.
“The Captain and Commander returned to the bridge, “Lieutenant Stewart, you’ll assume the duties of Lieutenant Commander Aberson until he is returned to duty.”
Commander Benton looked at me and smiled.
The ship was sailed to the nearest port. The port authorities took over, our cruisers returned to our ship. Reports were filed, per regulations, and made available to all officers.History proved that if they weren’t made available, the word got out anyway so as not to create rumors and confusion, the reports were made available to anyone who was interested in reading them,that meant Billy and I.
The individual that shot Lieutenant Commander Alberson was held under guard pending Alberson’s ultimate condition. If Alberson returned to duty, he would be sent to the penal colony on the moon for six months. If Alberson couldn’t return to duty and was discharge, he would be sent to Mars. If Alberson dies as a result of the injury, he would forfeit his life.
The laws were meant to discourage breaking the laws and penalties were automatic. If caught, the penalty was applied automatically by the officer in charge. There was no petition to a higher court or bartering, the law was absolute. There was a time when certain individuals were open to bartering or being payed to announce a lighter sentence until a few examples were made. Now, with todays technology, brain scans are used to prove if a person is being unfairly accused or not.
I knew that Alberson would be getting the best medical attention,The medical staff aboard the ships were considered the best in the business, so to speak.
Alberson wasn’t going to be able to assume his duties.His injuries required a longer time to heal and our regenerative equipment wasn’t sophisticated enough to treat him. He would be going to a special hospital where the equipment he would need would be available. From what I understand, several nerves were damaged and this would take some time for them to grow and reconnect. The process would require him to be put in stasis, which we couldn’t do on the ship.
The Captain called a meeting of all staff, “Lieutenant Commander Alberson will not be returning to duty. Lieutenant Stewart will assume his duties and rank. Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander Stewart.”
Billy looked at me and smiled. Later when we were alone he congratulated me in a way only he could.
It was about two months later when I heard that the ship contained crude oil which was being sold below market price to a consortium in Lower South America. When the war was over, South America was divided in half. The southern half consisted of half of old Brazil, Argentina , Chile, southern section of Peru and a small portion of Bolivia. It also includedParaguay and Uruguay.
The price of petroleum was controlled in order to force countries to utilize other sources as a replacement for petroleum. Companies that used petroleum for other products could obtain a permit that would allow them to buy petroleum at a lower price. In order to get the price advantage, they must show that the product was useful, capable of recycle and didn’t harm the environment. A lot of laws were passed based on the experiences of the past. For some companies, these requirements proved costly. So if they could purchase the petroleum without going through the government, they could produce without any thought to recycle or the usefulness of the product. I was surprised to find that there were a lot of products that didn’t meet the law. I was also surprised to find copycat products that were copies of other companies patents.