Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 02

Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 02

Chapter 1

Port Berry, Royal Cay, Bahamas

6:15 AM

At dawn, the Reliance was alongside and the fuel lines were being attached. Dag Jakobsen watched through his camera feed. There were three flat screen monitors set into the wall next to his desk. One was showing the fuel line hook up, the second would show the fuel flow and fuel levels in the form of a bar graph as soon as fueling started. And there it goes, Dag thought. The third was his computer monitor, which had a form that Dag would be filling out as the fueling proceeded. There was a leak in the fuel line coming from Barge 14, but it seemed to be very minor. Dag zoomed in on the connection and saw that it was only a few drops. He made a note on the form.

The Reliance and Barge 14 together made up an ATB, articulated tug barge. While attached they were one ship, but the Reliance could detach from Barge 14 in a few minutes to perform other functions while Barge 14 was being loaded or unloaded.

Dag was lucky to get this slot on the Queen of the Sea. The newest ship of Royal Cruise Line had flex fuel engines and was larger than any other in the line. This was a load of fuel oil, just as a matter of price. They had gotten a bargain on the oil, while the methanol was still pricy. The great thing about flex fuel engines was they could burn anything: fuel oil, ethanol, methanol, even gasoline or crude oil. If it was liquid and would burn, they could use it for fuel.

Then the power went out. Dag lost his video feeds and heard a boom. The boom was followed by a crunching sound, and the ship shook.

That was bad. This was a four thousand passenger cruise ship. It didn’t shake. Not unless there was very, very heavy weather or a tidal wave. Dag was already out of his chair, running for the fuel-loading area, when the emergency power came on.

* * *

Arriving at the forward fuel loading station, Dag heard a welter of shouted arguments. The room was a large one with pipes painted in bright colors to indicate the type of liquid they carried, but even on a new ship and with a good crew this was a working area. Dirt, smudges of oil, and the other natural byproducts of work being done were present and so was a bucket with a mop in a corner, ready to fight the never-ending battle against the oil and grime. Sunlight poured into the space from an opened porthole the size of a garage door. Four fifteen-centimeter-wide fuel lines went from the red pipes out the porthole.

“What was that?” Bayani Pascual asked.

“Dammit, Bayani. The Princess is gone, and so is that bar on the point. Hell, the point is gone. Will you stop asking what it was?”

“But what was it?” Bayani almost whined.

And suddenly Dag was afraid. Because while Bayani wasn’t the brightest crewman on the refueling detail, he was perhaps the most phlegmatic. Bayani was nearly two meters tall and weighed upwards of a hundred kilos. He was the biggest Filipino Dag had ever met, and as calm and unflappable as you could hope for. Besides, Romi Clarke was sounding belligerent, and the little Jamaican was not someone Dag would want to meet in a dark alley.

“Then tell me, Romi. What happened?” Dag shouted over the hubbub.

Romi spun, and then visibly got himself under control. His dark skin was gray under the normal color, and he pointed out the port. “The Princess of the Sea is gone, Mr. Jakobsen. Just gone. Like it was never there. There was a flash, like lightning way too close and a clap like thunder right on it. Then everything was different. And something’s happened dockside.” Dockside was the other side of the ship. The Reliance had pulled up along seaside, as was standard practice. “And the Point Bar is gone. Hell, Mr. Jakobsen, the point is gone.”

Dag almost called Romi a liar, but by then he’d reached the port and could see for himself. To avoid panicking, he focused on his job. He checked the fuel lines. They were still attached. He leaned out the port and looked at the Reliance. Tug and barge were still locked to one another and still tied up to the Queen, but Barge 14’s cylindrical fenders were compressing like marshmallows, as Barge 14 bounced against the hull of the Queen of the Sea. The fenders were big, heavy, rubber cylinders which meant that Romi was probably right about that, as well. Something was disturbing the water and that almost had to be something on shore. There was a shore line visible ahead of the ship, but it wasn’t the shore that should be there. And, sure enough, their sister ship was gone. A vessel weighing almost 150,000 tons had just…vanished.

Dag headed to the wall and pushed the intercom button. “Bridge, what’s going on? Should we stop refueling?”

“We don’t know, Dag,” Apprentice Deck Officer Douglas Warren said. “I’m looking out at a town that ain’t there anymore. I don’t mean it’s wrecked, except the part right next to the docks. I mean it’s gone. As though it had never been built. Even the land is different.”

“Right, Doug. The point is gone. We can see that from here.”

“It’s not the point. It’s us. Us and the docks, and maybe half a block of the port. We’re not where we were anymore. Hell, Dag, the sun’s not where it was a minute ago. Look, no one knows what’s going on yet, but it’s a safe bet we are going to need full fuel tanks. Captain says to top them up.”

“We’ll do that, Doug.” Dag turned away from the ship’s intercom. “You heard, people. We continue refueling.”

It was then that the regular lights came back on.

Dag got on the radio and called Joe Kugan, the captain for the Reliance. The Reliance, with Barge 14 attached, had roughly one hundred fifty thousand barrels of fuel bunkerage, a crew of seven and a top speed of twelve knots.

* * *

Captain Joe Kugan was in the pilot house when whatever it was happened. He was looking at the Queen, not at the shore, so he was only momentarily blinded by the flash, but nearly lost his footing as not just the Reliance but also Barge 14 rocked violently.

When he regained his balance, he looked around and saw that the world had been replaced by a new and different place. Instead of the flat landscape typical of islands in the Bahamas, he was looking at an island which didn’t have much in the way of elevation but had more than he’d been looking at a short time before. The vegetation looked wrong, too, although he couldn’t have said exactly why. Kugan’s knowledge of botany was abysmal and his interest even lower.

For a moment, he felt a strong desire to panic or beat the crap out of someone. By the time he was back under control, the radio call from Dag was coming in. Given the circumstances, Joe was tempted to tell Dag to screw himself and stop the pumping till they knew what was going on. But he didn’t. There were contracts involved and if he refused to finish the refueling, he would be in a lot of trouble. The Reliance or Barge 14 was still bouncing against the Queen, but most of the wave front was gone on out to sea. The waves had stirred up the water and what had been fairly pristine Caribbean ocean was now a lot cloudier.

Off an unknown island

Late afternoon

Lars Floden, the captain of the Queen of the Sea, looked down the table at the assembled staff. The conference room on the bridge deck was full. It was on the port side, just aft of the bridge and had one wall of smart glass windows. Right now the windows were set to opaque white. The opposite wall had cabinets and a counter top to hold whatever was needed from snacks to papers. Also a projector, so that the smart windows could be used as large display screens if needed.

Jane Carruthers was doing a really good stiff upper lip. He wasn’t surprised, as she was very British, even for a Brit. A thin woman, with a ready smile that hid her thoughts admirably. The hotel manager was not in the chain of command, but was — in a sense — second only to Lars in real authority, and in some circumstances, she might hold even more.


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16 Responses to Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 02

  1. Randomiser says:

    So, they’ve got an oiler , a tug and ‘flex fuel engines’! Well that answers the obvious objections to a cruise liner having much impact in c323 BC. Set up much?

    (Are flex-fuel engines a real thing on big ships?)

  2. Don Benson says:

    By hotel manager, are they talking about the purser? When I was working on passenger ships, the purser ( regardless of how the show the Love Boat cast him), was the most important, or the second most important, person on the ship.

  3. Kim Schoeffel says:

    The flex engines are fine for the cruise liner, but what about the tug. If it only runs on diesel, it’s dead in a few months. That is unless they use the diesel fuel on the liner to keep it running. The barge has methanol.

    Next loading and offloading the liner will be interesting with it built to deal with modern docks.

    All sorts of opportunities!!!

    • Doug Lampert says:

      Modern cruise liners have LOTS of life boats and small craft. I’ve twice been on one too large to dock at a port or stopping to let people go to wilderness areas where that unloaded passengers that way.

      Fuel for the small-craft will eventually run out, but if they’re careful and have multiple tanks for fuel and reserve one for small craft fuel then that could be years.

      If they were loading fuel they may well be close to empty in terms of passengers (if they’re new and were loading fuel they may be completely empty in terms of passengers), which means they may have non-fuel supplies for several months.

      • Richard H says:

        Based on the blurb, it’s probably not empty of passengers, as there is at least a historian aboard. However, it’s possible that the ‘passengers’ involved may, largely, be the staff.

        Were I the author, I’d probably use it as an excuse to have plenty of upper-middle-class professionals in our expeditionary party… for better or worse. They probably will need machinists and woodworkers at least as badly as Grantville did, and they’re not going to have as much of a library because that’s all on the internet they left behind, these days.

        • Andy says:

          Between the passengers, the crew and the ship’s network they may have a full offline copy of wikipedia, documentary and entertainment films, maybe even a stash of ebooks.

          I expect them to be much better off, in terms of access to information. And this is not going to be a series like 1632. They’ll struggle enough to survive, before recreating technology.

      • Ron says:

        Been a huge fan of the 1630’s series and having worked on cruise ships I have “gamed”this scenario more times than I can count! Ships engineers and the technical section general include a machinist could easily build gasifers for the small boats.

    • Ron says:

      You could commission a barge from a boat builder probably for next to nothing. Some more modern tools (built in the machine shop) and teach him any of the numerous ship building innovations of the interceding millennia. Then push it with the tug or the ships tenders.

    • Randomiser says:

      Nope the liner is taking on fuel oil from the barge because that’s what was cheap. I guess the tug will happily run on it too. I haven’t a scoobie how far 150,000 barrels might go. Nor do we know how full the barge was, only it’s capacity.

  4. Ron says:

    Used to work on board a cruise ship as an environmental officer for nearly seven years. The ships on which I worked were gas turbine driven. they ran on marine gas oil (a distillate akin to diesel) we tested bio diesel with no issues beyond a small drop in efficiency, some of the diesel ships in the fleet would filter and add waste cooking oil to the bunker fuel they fed the diesels. Cruise companies are constantly looking for greater fuel and emission efficiency so it could be possible to see a flex fuel concept engine.

  5. Geoffrey Nichols says:

    Sounds like someone went on a cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (Quantum of the Seas?, Empress of the Seas?) and decided to write the trip off on his income tax as research. I noticed he used “Sea” singular and dropped “Caribbean” from the name of the cruise line.
    Since I am leaving on a cruise this Sunday on Freedom of the Seas, maybe I’ll have a chance to ask the Captain what he thinks of the book cover.

  6. Summercat says:

    FINE I’ll buy the e-arc. I wasn’t gonig to get anything done today anyhow.

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