The year is 2018. Global warming has moved the Arctic ice cap northward in the Bering Sea, adversely affecting the Eskimo winter hunting of marine mammals. Open water year round on the Alaskan western shore makes the coastal villages accessible to Marine traffic. The state has ordered increased resupply of food and other necessities to the Eskimos. The governor is motivated by her desire to render the Eskimos completely dependent on the state. Inuit separatists form pirate bands to interdict the resupply vessels along the coast. A tugboat captain working his way northward discovers his cargo includes enough heroin to supply the entire Inuit population. He fights pirates, drug dealers, and assassins to complete his tasks and rescue a young Inuit and help him find and bring to justice the murderer of his grandfather. Amid the turmoil the tug skipper wrecks his tug on the ice, tangles with the Russians when his tug is blown into the Chukchi Sea and Russian waters by a storm, and finds romance in the form of a comely salvage diver…
Time line: March, 2018. Global warming continues to threaten the way of the lives of the many peoples on the earth. Island nations face inundation by rising sea levels. Venice is completely under water. Along the Alaskan littoral, winter break up is accelerated from May to mid-March. The permanent ice cap is receding. Marine mammals, traditional food of ethnic Eskimos are migrating north, following the ice. Hunters are forced to range farther afield, on thinner ice, for their subsistence.
The causes of global warming are still a subject for debate in Washington, D.C. and worldwide. Al Gore has died frustrated and unsuccessful in his mission to convince the world that humans are causing climate change.
Alaska State government goals include assimilation and modernization of the native peoples. The modus for such transformation takes advantage of global warming to move the native populations from their natural way of life to total dependence on the government. Supplies are increased to outlying villages to compensate for decreasing marine catches. The governor of Alaska has decreased shares of oil profits to the Inuit. She wants the natives to grow increasingly dependent on the state government of Alaska for their subsistence.
Radical forces led by a native coalition in Kotzebue, a fishing village on the coast of the Bering Straits, dedicate themselves to maintaining traditional Inuit values. They make plans to drive the government agencies and commercial sea carriers from their waters.
Bobbie Jack, known by his closest friends as BJ travelled over the Bering Sea for three days and nights searching for ice flows where seals and walrus habitually collect. He had thought about taking his outboard powered whaling boat, but he knew he’d have to travel far and might not be able to carry enough fuel. So instead he paddled his kayak, the skin covered boat built by his father’s father, inherited by and passed down to him from his father.
BJ stopped paddling and sat surveying a large ice floe rising about 1000 feet out of the sea. He chewed a strip of muktuk, a salty-sweet tasting, high caloric jerky made from whale or seal blubber. The floe stretched for miles northward and provided a likely hunting ground. His kayak bobbed gently on the calm water, swells and birds were the only things moving.
Bobbie’s attention was drawn to a dark spot two or three miles away against the white wall of the ice floe. Could be a walrus anyhow. He stored the partially gnawed chunk of muktuk in his parka, picked up his paddle, and turning the kayak toward the dark spot, moved slow and steady toward it, all the while concentrating his attention on the spot as it grew larger with his waterborne stalk.
He stopped paddling when he confirmed it was indeed a large walrus resting on an ice shelf just at water’s edge. Bobbie Jack reached for his rifle, wrapped in sealskin and stored between his feet in the kayak. He checked to ensure the old bolt action 30.06 was loaded and frost free, before he resumed his paddling.
Slow and steady wins the day. One stroke and then rest as the kayak glided forward. When the seal hide boat came to rest, another stroke kept it moving toward the ice floe and the reposing walrus. Bobbie Jack approached within a half mile of the reclining walrus, before he heard the sound of diesel engines somewhere to the south.
Gotta go faster.
He sped up as much as he could and still maintain silence. The engine noises grew louder. Bobbie saw the flash of tusks as the big mammal raised its head in alarm. The Inuit hunter dropped his paddle and raised his rifle. Too far—too far. Gotta try it anyhow.
He looked down the iron sights at the chest of the walrus just starting to move toward the water. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the sea-going tug pulling a barge loaded with supplies directly toward him. He squeezed the trigger, timing his shot to compensate for the rocking of the kayak. His shot went wide as the walrus slid into the water and disappeared below the surface.
“Shit! God damn! Bastards.” He worked the rifle bolt shoving a cartridge home, aimed generally in the direction of the tug, and fired. He didn’t really mean to harm anyone. He was acting out of shear frustration.
When several shots were fired from the direction of the big tug, Bobbie flinched and ducked instinctively, before he saw a large native whaling boat appear from around the stern of the tug. They were shooting at the cargo hauler. The tug slowed and went dead in the water. Natives swarmed over the rail. Bobbie sat spellbound as the Inuit band took the tug crew captive. The pirates proceeded to dump the cargo into the sea and set the white men adrift in a small boat.
These must be the pirates I’ve heard about.
After dousing the tug and its now empty barge with petroleum, the corsairs set it afire, reboarded their boat, and turned their attention to Bobbie Jack.
Bobbie sat unafraid as the pirate vessel slowed alongside his kayak. A native stood in the bow, wolf fringed hood thrown back to reveal an acquaintance of Bobbie’s family from Savoonga, St. Lawrence Island.
“Ahoy, Bobbie Jack. How goes it anyhow.”
“Billie Ray, what brings you this far north?”
“Hunting. We heard the whites were moving cargo to Point Barrow early this year.” He pointed his thumb at the burning tug. “This one won’t make it. What you doin’ anyhow?”
“Huntin’. Not doing much good anyhow.” Bobbie related his loss of the walrus due to the interference of the tug.
“Come on along with us. We saw seals a ways back. We will help you take some home.”
Bobbie climbed aboard the whaler and tied his kayak to a cleat. The pirates sped off southward along the ice floe.
More than 1000 miles to the south, in Juneau, a conference was being held in the Alaskan capital. Its subject: Global Warming.
The conference room was set up with tables in a circular array similar to that of the United Nations, but on a smaller scale. In attendance and in addition to Alaskan State senators and representatives were the managers from the entire native corporation on the western periphery of the state. They were led by Joe John Taliktirug, factious native leader from Kotzebue.
Commander Josh Anderson represented the U.S. Coast Guard, his six feet topped by black hair, graying at the temples. He looked imposing in navy blue uniform.
Also in attendance were Canadian, Russian, and Japanese representatives as well as Ricky Schmidt, Western Leader of Green Peace. An empty place at the circular assemblage was reserved in memory of Al Gore, recently succumbed to stomach cancer.
Leading the conference was Governor Talmadge Livingston, wearing a pants suit that complemented her blue eyes and showed her auburn tresses to advantage. In the three days of meetings all interested parties were given the opportunity to give speeches supporting their various agendas.
Joe John spoke last. His hour-long diatribe excoriated Federal and State policies and activities, including the Alaska State Department of Fish and Game. He left no stone unturned including the Bureau of Land Management, the Environmental Protection Agency, and even poor Al Gore whom he said had been a vacuous and ineffective scoundrel. He condemned Green Peace for failing to take the extra militant measures against an obvious international conspiracy to destroy the Inuit people and their way of life forever.
Governor Livingston ended the conference with a rap of her gavel and an abrupt departure from the podium. Walking down the hall toward her office, accompanied by her trusted aides, she spotted Izzy Greenleaf and indicated by a slight movement of her head that she wished him to accompany her. Turning to one of her aides, she said, “Jim, ask Commander Anderson to join us in my office, will you?”
“Yes, Governor.” He dropped back and went off in search of the Coasty.
Governor Livingston scowled and nodded. She hated to be addressed as “Ma’am” and insisted she be called “Governor” or by just her nickname “Tal.” Now she entered her spacious and well appointed office and sat behind her teak desk. Her remaining staff of four, poured coffee for themselves from the ever present pot at the rear of the office. One of them poured a cup with cream and two sugars and placed it in front of the Governor. She nodded her thanks and sat silently toying with the fossilized bear oosik (penis bone of a brown bear) she kept on her desk.
Josh Anderson entered Tal’s office, poured himself a black coffee, and sat down with the others.
Tal sat silently and stared at her staff, one by one. When her glance settled on Commander Anderson, she studied his colorful service ribbons (brag rags she called them), then dropped the oosik on her desk as she locked eyes with him.
“What is this report I received about another freighter being burned with all its cargo?”
Josh shifted in his chair. He averted his eyes. “I received the report this morning. A seagoing tug and its barge were dumped and burned near the Russian Border off Point Hope. The crew made it to the village. They suffered one death, a casualty of the cold.”
“And how is it that I received a report a full day before you?”
“You must have a better intel net than I have.”
“Indeed. With all your resources, this is the third interdiction we’ve had of the shipping lanes this year. What are you doing in Kodiak? Sitting on your—laurels?” She smirked as she glanced at his medals.
“Ma’am—er, Governor, that’s a lot of water out there. The Eskimos cover it like a blanket. They know our every movement, the positions of all our cutters at any time.” He spread his hands. “We’re doing the best we can.”
She stood. “Your best isn’t good enough, Josh! I want this piracy stopped—now! It’s costing us too much money. Maybe I need to speak with my contacts in the pentagon.”
The Commander shook his head.
“Then get your ass in gear and stop those pirates . . . don’t just sit there. Get on it, man!”
The Coasty jumped up and left.
Tal said nothing for a few minutes, gauging the effects of her dressing down an official of the Federal Government. When she spoke it was subdued.
“What are your thoughts about the conference?”
“I thought it was very productive,” said her senior aide.
“In what way?”
“Well . . . well, um, we got a lot of input from each of the participants.”
“Bullshit. What did we accomplish?”
She looked to one of her other aides.
“I gotta be frank. I don’t think we accomplished much,” a college student intern from Anchorage said. “We have no action plan and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do to ameliorate the situation.”
“Yes. Ameliorate the situation. Oh, but yes my dear, there is . . . That will be all ladies and gentlemen. Please go.”
She looked at Izzy. Her glance told him to stay.