Day Five Hundred Twenty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The cargo was loaded back in the holds, with room to spare, no need to place any of the containers on deck. An official from the world government stood by watching everything. He even made a pitch to the Captain extolling the benefits of bearing the mark. The Captain declined politely without explanation.

We managed to take on a pilot without an accompanying government representative.

He missed the boat.

When beyond the harbor, Elijah met with the Captain to talk about the next port up the coast. The Captain wanted to skip this port and strike out eastward. But Elijah argued for the risk as he judges it the best port from which the Raj family can start their journey.

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Day Four Hundred Fifty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Tomas kept an eye on the pilot as he directed the ship out of the harbor. And for good reason as it turned out. Tomas countermanded his order to increase speed at a critical juncture, and relieved him. The Captain then sent him back to his tug.

Tomas finessed the ship out to the channel. He set a straight course for the northern end of the island, but Elijah convinced Tomas and the Captain that a better strategy would be to continue north out to sea and to come at the island port city from out of the north.

So it was a long but uneventful passage. And we arrived in time to see the departure of a robotic warship.

Day Four Hundred Fifty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Hurry up and wait. The tune called by our hosts. At one time, all for getting rid of us at the earliest opportunity, only to turn around and hold us here while they check on rumors of stowaways.

I don’t believe it possible. The Captain and Tomas have been fastidious in their efforts to keep anything from being surreptitiously placed aboard. Especially as Elijah warned them that an attempt would be made to compromise us.

Late in the day they gave up and allowed us permission to depart, hoping that we would put it off till tomorrow.

The Captain decided to leave immediately rather than be forced to endure the like later.

The pilot took us out into the night.

Day Four Hundred Fifty Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

A whirlwind of a day. At the crack of dawn the tug returned with our guests of yesterday. We were granted permission to enter the harbor.

The pilot took us in.

A berth had been cordoned off for our vessel, and as soon as we docked, Emil’s special container was offloaded. All the while the political officer kept Elijah and I under close observation.

If the three containers we were to take back had been ready we would have been out of there in no time. But they weren’t. Granted they had an excuse, they had not been expecting us.

So we had to wait.

Elijah asked permission to go ashore and was denied.

My request as purser was granted.

Day Four Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

A tug chugged out early to the roads where we three vessels were waiting for entry. We were surprised to see that each vessel received two men from the tug. The mystery was cleared up come time to receive our own charges. One was a pilot, the other was a political officer representing the world government.

The latter made it very clear that we could not enter and conduct any business unless negotiated by someone bearing the mark.

The Captain countered that we were not desirous of entering for any purposes of commerce, but rather only delivering a shipment to the city’s governor from his sister city on the island.

This stymied the duo. They returned to port for instructions.

Day Four Hundred Thirty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

I too, caught sight of the ship that Elijah spotted yesterday. And I also believe it to be our former vessel.
It appears now to be holding station off the harbor, awaiting a pilot or permission to enter. On one hand it is reassuring, giving us more time to get to the city; and on the other (at least in me) engendering a concern that it may be gone before our arrival.
Our progress is much as before -stumbling along in starts and stops. Elijah and I now use the down time in different ways. He meditates. I continue the search for ways up.
Recently the presence of homes on the heights raises hopes that they are serviced by roads.

Day Three Hundred Eighty One late morning #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah writes:

We had no opposition to our entry into the harbor. No signal nor any communication from the robotic warship.

A swift boat came out and ordered us to heave to. They brought a pilot to bring us in. Within the hour we were tied up at a pier.

The Captain was absent the rest of the day and all night chasing down the harbor master.

In the morning he reappeared. He now knows how and where to offload his cargo, but has also learned that although the warship allows ships in, none have yet been cleared to leave.

Day Three Hundred Sixty Seven #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Things always look different in the light of day. Or so Elijah is fond of reminding me. And so he does now. What was invisible in the dying light, now stands out in full relief. Though by contrast, where Elijah had been and what he had been doing is still “invisible” to us.

The harbor of this port is wide and deep, easy to navigate. The Captain took us in without the aid of a pilot. It is his home port, hence his familiarity, and what he has seen has shaken him to his core.

No ship stood at anchor to greet us. Instead, two rested with broken backs atop the nearer tall buildings.

Otherwise, all life has been scoured away.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah tells me it was all due to a growing hardness of heart. He saw retribution coming.

The patrol boats dispatched in pursuit of us did not even make it out of the harbor. One minute they were roaring along at full speed, the next they were dead in the water.

The pilot scheduled to take us out never did show. How providential that one was supplied to us.

The teamwork exhibited by the crew – old and new members together, has brought great satisfaction to the Captain in this new day. They were so bent to their tasks that they did not witness the streaks of light descending through the sky behind us.

They did see the glow of destruction.

Day Three Hundred Fifty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

We had cast off the night before and were awaiting a pilot in the roadstead in the growing light of morning, when a tug hailed us and drew alongside.

It did not deliver our pilot, but rather a group of three young men sent for by Tomas. They have volunteered to replace some of the hands that had gone with the First Mate. The Captain gave his approval, no doubt helped along by the fact that none of them bear the mark. And one of them, a fisherman in these waters, offered to pilot our ship out.

When we were underway, Elijah took me aside to share some news, the Hamashiachites per his instruction are all safe in the hills.