Cachalot Author:Alan Dean Foster A world of ocean...As the approaching storm stirred the sea, the gray polymer dock began to bob gently. The elderly fisherman could have moved to one of the more stable streets of the floating town, but when dealing with the creatures of the ocean, he preferred the feel of their environment. — There was a tug on his line, and he reeled in a smal... more »l yellow fish with 4 blue eyes. It woudl serve him better as bait for larger game, the old man decided, and dropped it back into the water.
Suddenly there was another tug, much stronger. The fishing pole curved down toward the sea in a wide arc, drawing more and more line. A shape was just barely visible in the dark water beyond--a shape that moved very quickly, and grew to enormous proportions as it neared the dock. The old man's eyes widened in terror. Crying out, he flung away his fishing pole and ran toward the town. He did not make it beyond the end of the pier.
2 days later, when the 1st of Rorqual Towne's wandering fishing fleet returned to the spot, they found no trace of what had been their home, nor any sign of the town's 800 inhabitants. To a marine biologist it was the chance of a lifetime, the fulfillment of a dream. And Cora Xamantina needed a dream fulfilled just now.
As the shuttle entered Cachalot's atmosphere, Cora tried to remember all the things she'd read about the water world. There was virtually no dry land anywhere; the few permanent human installations, such as Commonwealth headquarters, were located on reefs build by creatures very much like the corals of Earth. The rest of the population lived on floating towns--a wonderfully efficient adaptation and yet, Cora was certain, not nearly as efficient or wonderful as the changes that must have occurred beneath the surface of the sea.
Long before her birth, a guilt-ridden human race had tried to atone for centuries of slaughter by transporting Earth's surviving cetaceans to Cachalot. A covenant had been made between whales and men--a noninterference pack that neither side dared violate. Cora could not help but wonder at the progress the huge sea mammals had made.
Within hours after her arrival, she would have reason to suspect that cetacean progress had taken a devastating, deadly turn.« less