Chapter 5 (on the F. Scott)
I woke up on the floor of the control room. Tom was passed out on the couch with his hat over his eyes. Jimi Hendrix ‘Are You Experienced’ original release from 1967 was skipping on the record player. We were up late last night drinking the Captain’s new bourbon.
Gram made coffee while Tom updated him on the F. Scott’s new software. The Mechanical Gills were in bad shape. Years of neglect had left them useless. Tom needed two weeks to take the system apart and replace everything. Gram turned to me.
“Show him what you found at the museum,” said the Captain.
I walked over to Tom and handed him my notes.
The Koi of Hungwa was originally built in Beijing, China in 1419 during the height of the Ming Dynasty. The Emperor Zhu Di had a vision in his sleep. One night the Sea came to him in his chamber and whispered in his ear.
“Take my eyes and build for me a fish that will control the tides of the ocean, the wind that blows the sails and the waves that break upon the shore. Do this and you alone shall be my master and I will do your bidding.”
The following morning Zheng He, the admiral of the Chinese Navy returned home from his voyage to the other side of the world. Among the many treasures he presented before the court were two stones, each the size of a walnut, smooth as silk and dark as the bottom of the ocean. He called them the Eyes of the Sea. Zhu Di saw these two stones as a sign. He ordered his generals to find the greatest metal smiths in the land and bring them to the Forbidden City.
A year later the Koi of Hungwa was presented to the court. The two dark stones were secured in place as the eyes. The Sea kept its promise. Any command the Emperor whispered to the Koi came to be. Enemy ships were destroyed by waves the size of mountains, while no ship from the Empire encountered another storm at sea. Zhu Di crushed his opponents effortlessly and for five years he was Emperor of the World.
In 1424, Zhu Di died. The Mandarins took control of the Forbidden City and ordered the destruction of the Koi of Hungwa. It was believed that Zheng He himself fled with the fish to Constantinople, where he remained under the protection of the Byzantine Emperor until 1453, when the city was conquered by Mehmet II, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
“Tom, I need you to stay here and fix the Gills. Lewis, you and I are going to Istanbul.”