The Lost Diaries - Book Two
Sarawak Sojourn - service in the Brooke Raj, volume 2 of Captain Arjun Khan's diaries.
Chapter 5 - Beneath the Ocean BlueWe trekked for nigh on half an hour through the jungle to reach the sea-cave which led towards the submersible, with Major Chard and the marines in hot pursuit. As he entered the cavern, which was lit by incandescent lamps, Dr Doomeira called the guards within to stand to and repel the Marines. Mat Soontul, the captain of his guards (and a mate of the harbour master at Kuching – for I now knew he was the one who supplied the schedules of the ships to the pirates) forthwith deployed the Timorese in formation, while I was dragged to the end of the cave, where I was forced to climb into a diving suit.
Major Chard, now seeing his quarry so close at hand, was again roused to battle-fury, and led his men in a headlong charge at the Timorese line. Leaping over the make-shift barricade they had put up, he cut down several of them and engaged Mat Soontul in hand-to-hand combat. Mr. Korzeniowski’s party meanwhile had scattered the Timorese with their volleys, and started to fire on us! Another one of Dr Doomeira’s faithful bodyguards was slain, and the Dr himself was wounded in the arm. But before they could close with us, Dr Doomeira and his men, holding me at the point of their harpoon-guns, waded into the sea.
Mat Soontul, seeing his men bested, threw himself into the sea also.
But Major Chard was not one to give up the fight so soon. With a little help from Mr. Korzeniowski, they and three of the braver marines also donned the remaining diving suits in the cave, and resolved to pursue us into the depths.
But when Dr Doomeira and his party discerned that they were being pursued, Mat Soontul, who had secured himself in a bathysphere, sought to prevent them in their endeavours. Major Chard, still holding his sword, signaled for Mr. Korzeniowski to continue the pursuit, while he held off the mechanical monstrosity.
Yet Dr Doomeira would have escaped with his whole party, had not nature herself intervened on our behalf. For behind the coral forest now emerged a gigantic octopus, which set upon Dr Doomeira’s bodyguards. With the two of them distracted by the creature, I saw my chance to escape captivity and turned to run back towards Mr. Korzeniowski. The dishonourable Dr Doomeira loosed his harpoon at me, but his arm injury impaired his aim, and I was on my way to freedom!
In my excitement I had forgotten that Mr. Korzeniowski could not recognize me under my heavy brass diving helmet, and when he saw me running towards him, all the time waving my arms wildly, he and his men likewise loosed their harpoons at me! I threw myself backwards to avoid the missiles, and thanks to the weight of the boots which I wore I did not fall to the sea floor, but the harpoons sped past me while I was bent backwards over.
As I regained my balance, I continued towards them. But awed by my
seeming feat of acrobatics, Mr. Korzeniowski and his men turned and
fled towards the shore.
Mat Soontul steered his vessel towards me, perhaps hoping to once more capture me to serve his master. But when he was but a few yards away from me, the engines ground to a halt, and I was able to make good my escape. I emerged on shore not long after Mr. Korzeniowski, who would have shot me had I not pulled off my helmet fast enough. We were soon afterwards joined by Major Chard, who had single-handedly slain the giant octopus, and had not forgotten to cut of one of its tentacles to prove his deed.
We set upon the task of collecting the wounded and treating them for their wounds. Fortunately, Mr. Korzeniowski had brought along my medical case from Kuching, and I was able to commence on my task immediately.
The piracy ceased as soon as we returned to Kuching, and Dr Doomeira and his band soon fell from the memory of most. Yet we few ever wondered about his plans and purposes. Under the attentive care of Number Two Ox, Captain Cavor slowly regained his vigour, and he soon decided to keep the young Chinaman as his cabin-boy, which the latter and his father were most grateful for.
. . .