Authors: Philip Roy
OTHER BOOKS BY
Me & Mr. Bell
Seas of South Africa
Frères de sang à Louisbourg
Blood Brothers in Louisbourg
Outlaw in India
Ghosts of the Pacific
Journey to Atlantis
Copyright © 2015 Philip Roy
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior written permission of the publisher, or, in Canada, in the case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from Access Copyright (the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency).
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Typesetting: Julie Cochrane, in Minion 12 pt on 16
Cover Art & Design: Nancy de Brouwer, Massive Graphic Design
Paper: Ancient Forest Friendly “Silva” (FSC)—100% post-consumer waste, totally chlorine-free and acid-free
Ronsdale Press wishes to thank the following for their support of its publishing program: the Canada Council for the Arts, the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, the British Columbia Arts Council and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Book Publishing Tax Credit program.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Roy, Philip, 1960–, author
Eco warrior / Philip Roy.
(The Submarine outlaw series; 7)
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN 978-1-55380-347-8 (print)
ISBN 978-1-55380-348-5 (ebook) / ISBN 978-1-55380-349-2 (pdf)
I. Title. II. Series: Roy, Philip, 1960– . Submarine outlaw series; 7.
At Ronsdale Press we are committed to protecting the environment. To this end we are working with Canopy (formerly Markets Initiative) and printers to phase out our use of paper produced from ancient forests. This book is one step towards that goal.
Printed in Canada by Marquis Printing, Quebec
I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Captain Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Society, and lifelong protector of whales, dolphins, and all creatures of the sea. Not only has Captain Watson been a great source of inspiration for the creation of this book, but he has graciously allowed me to include a fictional representation of him, and of the Sea Shepherd Society. It was a generous granting of an ambitious request. It is not often a writer is given the opportunity to fictionalize an active, living hero. It must therefore be emphasized that, though parts of this novel may be based upon real events and characters, the content is fictional, and is the sole responsibility of the author. Captain Watson and the Sea Shepherd Society cannot in any way be held accountable for what is written here.
I must thank Ron and Veronica Hatch for their continued guidance. The books in this series have become increasingly challenging to write, and their commitment to the project has been absolutely steadfast. Thanks also to Meagan, and to Nancy for her cover. I am deeply grateful for the support and guidance of my wife and agent, Leila, whose patience, insight, and energy have kept me on track far more often than I can even remember. I am so fortunate to have the support of my children: Julia, Peter, Thomas, Julian, and Eva, all who weigh in on my projects regularly, and are my greatest source of inspiration. I’d like to also acknowledge my mother, Ellen, and sister, Angela, who generously make me feel my work has good purpose. I must always mention my best friends: Chris, Natasha, and sweet Chiara, whose friendship and home remain my sanctuary. And lastly, I must thank the many readers I meet in schools, shows, and online. The readers of these books have been the richest source of feedback and ideas, and I value their support tremendously.
“We are in a war to save our oceans
from ourselves. And if we lose,
we all lose because if the oceans die,
we all die—it’s as simple as that.”
— CAPTAIN PAUL WATSON
A HUNDRED YEARS AGO, I would be on my way to World War I. I’d have to lie about my age and say I was eighteen, as a lot of boys did. Then they’d give me a uniform, a rifle, and a gas mask. They’d ship me across the sea with thousands of other recruits, and we’d fight in the trenches of northern France, beside soldiers from other countries. Behind us would be horses, artillery, and ambulances. In front of us would be barbed wire, bullets, and poison gas. We’d huddle in the middle, and fight the best we could.
Probably I’d die, the war would end, and the enemies would become friends again. That’s what happens: things go back to how they were before the war began, mostly, until twenty-one years later, when they’d do it all over again in World War II.
Now I’m on my way to a different kind of war. It’s complicated. I’m not sure who the enemy is. I’m not sure what the weapons are, or who my allies are, or even how to fight. I only know that I can learn.
This is the war of my time, the war to save the planet.
We were sailing across the Indian Ocean from South Africa to Australia, along one of the least travelled routes in the world. It was mid-afternoon. The sea was choppy but not swelling. The sun was out, and clouds were drifting across the sky from the north. We hadn’t seen another vessel in almost a week. Neither had we seen a shark. But we had seen lots of jellyfish, in fact, thousands of them. On the radio I heard a scientist say that when everything else in the sea was dead and gone, there would still be jellyfish.
I had climbed out of the portal onto the hull while the sub was moving at fifteen knots. It wasn’t something I normally did, but I wanted to watch the action of the rudder while the sub was sailing, because it seemed to me it was pulling us to starboard. When I examined the rudder at rest, it was fine. I needed to see it in motion.
I was wearing the harness tied to a ten-foot rope. It was an unbreakable rule to wear the harness when the sub was moving, a rule I never disobeyed. The sub was twenty-five feet long, but the distance from the portal to the stern was just slightly more than ten feet. I could reach the stern, but couldn’t look over the edge, so I went back inside, untied the harness, and retied it to the next-shortest piece of rope, which was thirty feet. I hesitated for a moment, wondering if I should cut the thirty-foot piece in two, but decided against it. If I fell into the sea, I’d have to pull myself only twenty feet back to the sub, which wasn’t far. And chances were, if I fell, I’d grab the rope on my way down anyway, and just pull myself right back up. I was pretty sure of that.
When I reached the stern, I bent one knee to the hull, placed both hands down, and gripped the steel with my fingers—the position a runner takes at the starting line. I peered over the edge. The propeller was churning the water into invisible ribbons. It’s funny how you can see movement in water like that, without lines or borders or colours or anything, like waves in the air over a hot road. It was so fascinating for me to watch because I almost never got to see that. To look more closely at the rudder, I shifted my position, putting more weight on my right hand. But as I moved, and took the weight off my left hand for just a second, my right hand slid across the steel on something slippery, like bird droppings, I lost my balance, and, with the movement of the sub, went headfirst into the water.
My immediate thought was to make sure my limbs were clear of the propeller. But that was not a problem because in the two seconds it took to fall, the sub left me five to ten feet behind. Contrary to what I had believed, I did not manage to grab the rope on my way down. The sub was now dragging me behind it like a buoy. No need to panic, I thought, I was attached to the rope with the harness. All I had to do was pull myself back up. But the rope had jammed itself between the rudder and propeller. The moment I reached thirty feet, and the rope grew taut, it went down. In an instant the rope was severed by the propeller, and I was cut adrift.
The full impact of what had just happened didn’t hit me right away. I simply assumed I would simply swim back to the hull and climb up. In fact, I didn’t even start swimming immediately, but waited for a few seconds, just three or four, to catch my senses. Then, I sprang into action and began to swim. It was tricky, though, because I couldn’t swim straight into a spinning propeller, I had to swim to the side of it, which I started to do.
Very quickly I realized I wasn’t swimming fast enough— the sub was pulling away from me. So, I shut my eyes and threw everything I had into it. To my utter disbelief, I couldn’t seem to gain any distance on the sub. In fact, she kept pulling further away from me.
I swam harder. I swam harder than I had ever swum in all my life. I swam until my lungs were bursting and I was seeing spots. It made no difference; I could not catch her. I stopped swimming because I had to catch my breath, and watched with horror as the sub sailed away.