Day Five Hundred Ninety Nine #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Both the Captain and Tomas were thankful for their deliverance, and the Captain contrite about his attitude of yesterday.

They had been swept up by a patrol when a merchant raised a hue and cry after our friends tried to make a purchase without the mark.

Thankfully such a fervor has not spread out to this area. Yet.

For now the two are content to stay put and consider their options.

Just after noon the darkness returned. I thought it providential in that it would hide us from any pursuers. Elijah, however, considers it a finger pointed directly at us. But he says that without any concern.

Certainly we see no one walking about in the murk.

We’ll know tomorrow.

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Day Five Hundred Ninety Four #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The sun gave promise of burning through the fog by the late hours of the morning.  And indeed were dispelled the minute that the transport service official stepped onto the deck.

Much to the relief it seemed to the local denizens, whom we at last saw milling about in the sun.

Elijah and I took it as our cue to stay out of sight.

The official asked the Captain if he would continue with the ship. As this would require taking the mark, he declined. So did Tomas.

Mr. Kagi spoke up and volunteered himself for consideration. The official was noncommittal and went off to canvass the crew.

He left word that those not staying needed to depart by tomorrow.

Day Five Hundred Eighty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

It was the same warship that loomed over us at the last port. Manned, not robotic. They brought instructions for how our ship is to be handed over.

The port authority briefed our Captain this morning. We are to sail to the mainland, the gateway to the East, and turn the vessel over to the global transport service, based there.

Elijah is elated. He says it is exactly where we need to be next.

However the Captain thinks we won’t be able to go right away. He refuses to make the trip without shipments, and currently there are none from this port. And then there’s the matter of our trading without the mark.

It may be the final stumbling block.

Day Five Hundred Seventy One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

It has taken awhile to sink in. We’ve all been thinking about it since we heard Elijah’s pronouncement. All the more so as we are a day away from our last port of call.

What will it mean to come to the end of our voyage? Will we all scatter? Will the Captain sell his ship? And if that were indeed his decision, would he even be able to sell it without the mark?

What will come next?

All I know is that a great darkness awaits.

Elijah has shared what he knows, but he has not shared what he has seen in visions.

I am confident that will come. Perhaps it will fall to me to give the interpretation.

Day Five Hundred Fifty Six #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

All day the ship has been a veritable hive of activity. We took on a full complement of cargo, for there is a great backlog of containers that ships bearing the mark have refused.

It was also a long day for goodbyes.

Elijah and I each conducted three of our guests to the sign of the fish, and brought back a local to lead more groups. The Raj twin G accompanied the last group to leave after a tearful parting from his brother.

The Captain shared with Elijah the dilemma of the other ship’s captain. He has a pressing need for a first mate and is resisting those with the mark the local authorities are promoting.

Our Captain suggested me.

Day Five Hundred Fifty Five #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Elijah and I met with the Hamashiachites early. We had exciting news. Our queries had led us to a group that meets under the sign of the fish. They are eager to meet with and join our people in their pilgrimage.

We have much to prepare before tomorrow. And we will have to adopt the same strategy to get them ashore as we did to get them on the ship, sending them out by twos and threes.

And all by the end of tomorrow, for the Captain tells us our business will be complete here and we’ll no longer have a reason to remain.

He also learned the other ship needs our help. They do not bear the mark either.

Day Five Hundred Fifty Three #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

The Captain says we will arrive at our next port of call sometime tomorrow. The number of ships passing by has dwindled to a trickle. It’s odd that none of them were curious about our non compliance to the orders of the world government.

One indeed did hail us via the satellite radio, but broke off the connection the minute the Captain proclaimed our non mark status.

When I related this to Elijah, he commented that they are being called in to solidify intolerance against those not bearing the mark. And Tomas piped up that they will most likely be supplied with satellite radios to tie them into the world system, thereby going a long way to its desired goal.

Day Five Hundred Fifty #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

Several vessels passed us this morning, traveling in the opposite direction. They were not within hailing distance, so the Captain attempted to raise them on the satellite radio, but there was no response.

Later, another flotilla of ships appeared on a track inward from ours, and like the first batch on an opposite heading from our ship.

As none acknowledged our radio hail, the Captain brought us to within hailing distance of the lead vessel.

After the customary niceties, we learned that all ships sailing under the protection of the mark have been ordered to proceed to the world capital.

This news made Elijah all the more anxious to get the Hamashiachites to the next port and on their way.

Day Five Hundred Thirty One #DiaryoftheEndoftheWorld

There were no overt signs, no indication on any level that this place was given over to the enemy. Not even any posters of Stan’s image staring down from the walls.

But a brooding sense of malignancy made its presence felt at the edge of our senses.

Elijah and I remained in the ship. One look over the ship’s railing was enough for us.

Tomas took P ashore to school him in the purser’s responsibilities with the dispatcher. The other Raj twin G wanted to accompany them, but was told his charge was to remain with the ship.

Tomas brought back surprising news – we will be allowed to load several containers whose owners don’t bear the mark either.

Astonishing indeed.

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.