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By Jason Barney

That Which Should Not Be

“Oh my God,” muttered Jack. Complaining allowed him to feel a little better so he decided to do it again. He added a few more words.

“This is just ass terrible,” he said.

He sat in his small one-man boat on the surface of the Pacific Ocean and wished like hell profanity would be able to clean up the disgusting mess that surrounded him.

What he saw was surprising. He’d expected to find the plastics and discarded containers, but he was terrified to actually witness just how much garbage there was. Man-made objects where everywhere. Some bobbed up and down like children’s toys in bath water. Jack thought that particular image was appropriate until he saw several children’s toys not far from his boat.

It was an embarrassing and careless dump that humanity had created.

Jack Dulles adjusted his knees in his small craft and grabbed his radio. He wondered if discarded radios floated as part of the trash around him. “Hank, this is Jack,” he said. “Are you there?”

There was a slight silence. Hank Brothers, his fellow researcher, was spending his afternoon crammed into a separate research vessel. They were studying the awesome amount of plastic waist the world’s nations had unleashed on the oceans. Jack thought about Hank’s preplanned course and mapping effort and threw a glance to the western horizon. He knew he could not see his friend or the other boat in the distance, but guessed his approximate location against where the sea met the sky.

Jack attempted to see how many different items he could identify in the water around him while he waited for a response. There were plastic bottles, discarded pens, and food wrappers. There was no doubt the most prominent thrown away product from humanity were diapers. He thought about their function and saw the irony. Designed to catch waist from the human body, it was the discarded plastic from baby’s backsides that added the greatest amount of filth to the world’s oceans. He shook his head in frustration and wished they had an extra strength pollution absorbing diaper to help solve the current problem.

“Jack,” finally came the distant voice on the other side of the radio. “This crap stinks, man”. He heard the audio static surround his colleague’s words and wondered if something in the water was screwing with their signal.

Jack looked at the horizon again. “Yah, I don’t plan on spending any more time surrounded by this stuff than we have to. The company helicopter is due back here in twenty-five minutes. That should be long enough for us to collect our samples.”

He pictured his friend engaged in the same work he’d been doing. Both were in craft not dissimilar from little fishing vessels on the lakes of North America. The company had helped with design alterations. The motors had been removed. They’d been replaced with a compartment for the different supplies they had asked for. Beakers, flasks, film, cameras, and a slew of other situational equipment had been tightly packed into a crate that awkwardly fit in the back of each boat. They needed to be prepared, even if the mission was rushed.

The boats had hooks reaching out from the outer sections of the hull. They’d been cargo until they could be carefully plopped into the water by the company choppers. That had happened three hours ago.

“Jack, I’m telling you. This shit really stinks. This is wrong. Nothing should smell this horrible.” He considered what his friend was complaining about and had to agree. The combination of substances and chemicals in the green seawater would be a challenge for any person’s sense of smell. Jack had mentally catalogued it as a combination between dead skunks, ammonia, and rotting fish. He hoped he never had to experience it again.

“Hank, get your samples as quick as you can. Do your work and finish up,” he said as encouragingly as he could. “The company is going to want these samples as soon as possible. Due to the circumstances I don’t think they’ll be happy if we cause them to lose time on this.”

“Believe me, Jack, I’d prefer to get the hell out of here as soon as I can. I’m not wasting any time. I want to get the hell out of here and shower myself in bleach.”

Jack snuck a look at his watch. “Okay, make sure you finish up. The copter will be back in about twenty minutes.”

Two hours later both men and their mini-boats were picked up and safely returned to the company research ship, Valdez. Jack thought the large research vessel had looked lonely on the horizon. Given a choice, even with the research they were conducting, he would rather by on the Valdez than the smaller boats.

Jack felt encouraged by what they had been able to collect. He considered the time involved and thought the collection of samples had gone well. If things had not been so rushed he thought they could have done much better work. They could have collected more samples and gathered a larger amount of filth, but the corporate schedule, weather concerns, and safety issues tended to restrict the research time.

The laboratory explorations came next. Showered and excited to continue the work, both men were in the labs deep inside of the research vessel.

They were deeply involved and intimate with the work Environcorp had invested a lot of money in.

“Could this work?” Jack heard Hank asked as they entered the main research lab. Several company technicians wearing paper white lab coats circled numerous containers that were on the tables in the room. They were filled with the filth of the Pacific Ocean the two scientists had just collected.

Jack nodded at the techs and sensed the excitement in the room. Every person on the Valdez was devoted to the task in front of them. There was no casual socializing. There were no employees lagging around waiting for something to do.

“Hank,” he said, “Environcorp has put a ton of money into this project.” He wondered what the combined cost of all of the salaries in the room were. He linked that with the cost of out fitting a ship like the Valdez and was content to accept there was some very big money invested in their current work. “If the tests we conducted earlier are any indication our methods will be successful.”

“I guess you are right. Its just that I have heard stories of the sorry state of the oceans since I was growing up,” Hank said. “I can’t believe I might be associated with a project that may very well start to clean things up a little”.

The men walked over to a table along the far wall. It had taken Jack a while to get used to the bowels of the ship, but he understood they were working in a level that was below the water line. He wondered if trash surrounded the hull of the Valdez the way it had the tiny boats earlier that day.

Petri dishes with the goop of the oceans were neatly organized like plates of food on a restaurant table. They detected the smell of the Pacific Ocean immediately. Jack felt his nostrils flare defensively and looked at his research partner. He thought his friend’s nose could have jumped off his face. It hurt to smell it.

“I know what you mean,” Jack said. “We have only known dead sea waters. Its hard to think there was time when the ocean’s weren’t all screwed up.” He stepped closer to the table and tried to ignore the stench. “It’s difficult to imagine that our ancestors lived in a time period when there was life out here.” Jack visualized a tarp that had been exposed to various chemicals being placed over a flower garden.

Jack saw Hank take the facemask from his neck and place it over his mouth. “If we are successful maybe there will be life in the oceans again.”

The two scientists employed by Environcorp set to work.

Captain Salter looked like he’d been in command of the Valdez for a long time. If Jack were any judge, the man’s military like presence gave some indication Salter thought the Valdez was his. Jack really didn’t know anything about him, but the suits of the corporation where willing to hand over their multimillion dollar toy boat to him, and that meant something.

“I thought you gentleman would like to see what we are up against,” Salter said.

Jack felt the command presence of the man who had called them to the bridge. Salter stood near the windows that allowed the crew to scan the sea. He wore the same caramel brown uniform he’d typically had on since they’d left Seattle. Jack couldn’t help wondering if he only had the one outfit. The man’s balding head was huge, what little salt and pepper hair he did have was combed straight back. Jack got the impression he was having a conversation with someone from the history books and quickly pushed an image of Lyndon Johnson out of his mind.

Salter paused and moved his eyes to the sky. Jack and Hank followed the man’s glance and could only see the grayness of the clouds. They were a dusky gray. The ocean reflected a full and never ending dullness.

“The company’s satellites have been keeping an eye on us, just making sure everything goes well. They have a lot invested in this. They don’t want anything to go wrong.” Captain Salter said.

Jack got the impression he was not going to enjoy what Salter was about to say. He wasn’t sure what it was, except that the Captain had never gone out of his way to communicate or associate with any of the scientists on board the Valdez. He thought it was better to have the room to work than have some overbearing jerk always looking over his shoulder. Jack felt his level of frustration rise but didn’t think either Hank or the captain noticed.

Green Opportunities” Salter said. “They have assets in the area as well.”

The man didn’t say anything else. He stood gazing at the dreary sky as though he were expecting an attack of some kind. Jack couldn’t help wondering how the arrival of rival environmental company in the area could make things worse. He didn’t think the news was bad and said so.

“You brought us up here to let us know another business is working on the same problems we are trying to solve?” Jack heard Hank ask. “That is hardly news, Captain.”

Jack mentally clapped his hands knowing that the other half of the scientific team was thinking along the same lines he was. If another major business and scientific entity, even a competing one, was serious about cleaning the Earth’s oceans that was a good thing.

Salter turned his back to the two researchers and put his hands on his hips. There was nothing disrespectful in Salter’s demeanor, but Jack detected tension that was not there before. Salter’s right hand moved to the front of his form, and appeared to grab something from his shirt pocket. His left hand quickly fumbled in his pants pocket, and produced a lighter. Salter turned and lit a cigar as his eyes settled on the two researchers. Jack thought he looked like a parent who didn’t want to tell his children the world was not exactly a safe place. Jack felt embarrassed. He felt his cheeks grow hot.

Salter’s stanse allowed an image of President Johnson standing in front of a 1960s draft board to pop into his mind and he quickly tried to force it away.

“This is not meant to disrespect you, fellas,” Salter said as thick smoke lifted from the edge of the cigar. “You need to know that Environcorp feels it may be necessary to protect its own assets in the Pacific Ocean.” Salter stopped. He stood silent for a moment. Jack got the image of a teacher trying to explain a lesson plan to slow students.

Salter motioned Jack and Hank over to a computer screen.

“We believe our main competitor may be working on ways totally different than the methods you gentlemen have developed. There intent is exactly the same, to try and change the water so it is not like some kind of toilet bowl,” Salter said as he waved his cigar at the computer screen.

Hank said, “You have gotten a look at what techniques their scientists have developed?”

Salter nodded. “Our satellites recorded this just after dawn. The cloud cover was not a problem at the time.”

Jack moved to get a look at the computer display. It showed a massive view of the ocean. At first he did not recognize what was moving across the screen, then he identified the moving propellers of several helicopters. He thought they looked like the rapidly moving wings on insects.

Salter said, “This recording was made while our birds were monitoring an area about six hundred miles off the Japanese coast. Governments do the same, to try and catch polluters. We caught the competition.”

They watched the more than dozen helicopters fall into a straight line. Jack was reminded of his son’s connect-the-dot writing sheets. The copters on the farther side of the image started moving, like horses jumping out of the gates at the beginning of a race.

“That gentleman is not a pleasure cruise. It’s a cleanup operation” Salter said taking a puff from the cigar. Jack got a solid whiff and found he liked and was repulsed by it. Jack’s attention was brought back to the computer screen as more of the choppers moved across the screen.

Captain Salter pointed his cigar at the monitor. “We believe this is Green Opportunities effort to try and compete in this cleanup market. There is not much high-tech about their idea. As you can see here their effort appears is labor intensive. The suits at HQ are shitting themselves trying to figure out just what they are trying to do.”

When the comment left Salter’s mouth Jack turned to Hank. It was almost instantaneous; the way people who can solve mathematical equations compute numbers in their minds. When the scientist’s eyes met, their brains were running through the possibilities.

Hank was the first to speak.

“There is just not much they could do from the air. Either they are attempting to dump something into the water or they are trying to strain it,” he paused, obviously not liking the implications of what he had just said.

Jack tried to mentally balance the positive of having a competitor clean up the world’s oceans and potentially loosing a place in the history books. If the competing Green Opportunities was dumping something into the water to get rid of the plastic they had developed something that would be in direct competition with their own effort.

What they had come up with for Environcorp was still being tested.

“They can’t be dumping anything into the water,” Jack said with excitement dripping from his voice. “Captain, is there anyway that you can freeze this image of the helicopters? Perhaps enlarge it?”

Salter stepped forward and pushed a button on the left side of the screen. The image froze. He turned a dial, readjusted the center of the view and nodded as one of the helicopters became twice as large as it had been.

Jack studied the screen. “There is no way they are dropping anything in the water. Look. If they were doing something like that we would be able to see some sort of liquid storage tanks on the bottom of the choppers. There doesn’t appear to be any.” Jack was having a tough time concealing his positive feels, but he got a certain amount of joy at knowing the chief competitor had taken an approach different than his teams.

Salter spoke up before either Hank or Jack did. “It looks like they are dragging something through the water.”

Jack didn’t bother to conceal his feelings. Neither did Hank. It took Jack a moment to realize Captain’s Salter’s stance had changed from one of interest to frustration. At some point in the last couple of seconds his arms had folded, his cigar had landed in his mouth and he eyebrows had become a straight line. The look on his face told Jack he didn’t like not understanding the competing company’s cleanup method.

“They are basically trying one of the first ideas ever postulated in the ocean cleanup effort,” he said gesturing with his hands. “Captain, what they are dragging behind each helo is a massive net, or scoop if you will. They are attempting to grab as much floating plastic collect it. What they are dragging must go at least four or five feet deep. It has to be designed to catch as much of the plastic as possible.”

“You two look happy about this. Should we be worried that Green Opportunities is out in front of us on this stuff?” Salter asked.

“Not at all,” Hank said. “This news is pretty good for our project.”

“Why?” Salter asked.

“Its just a simple matter of cost vs reward, sir. The Pacific Ocean is huge, it’s the largest body of water on the planet. The Great Plastic Garbage Patch is enormous. While the technique they are using will certainly be effective in small areas, it has no chance of ever practically being large-scale solution. It just takes too long,” explained Jack.

“What if they wanted to go big with this…with slower vehicles, boats perhaps, over a larger swath of territory?” Salter asked.

“Don’t get us wrong. This technique has some potential, but the manpower involved is just crazy. The amount of time cleaning up the oceans would be enormous. It would be like a dozen people trying to rake an area the size of Arkansas”.

Not that humanity needed much time to kill off almost every life form in the oceans, Jack to thought to himself. Historians disagreed when the problems really started to mount, but the two generally agreed problem periods were the industrialization of the late 1800s and the explosion of plastics during the 20th century. The planet’s biosphere may have been able to cope with either event, alone. The combination had proven to be the reading of the last rights for life in Earth’s oceans. Humanity never set out to intentionally destroy everything in the seas, but they had managed to do just that.

Jack liked that he was working on one of the teams that might be able to turn the tide. Over the last several decades, scientists had forwarded the idea that Earth’s oceans could recover if given enough time. Nobody thought it would happen instantly, but careful planning and long-term projects could restore some of what once was.

“Captain,” continued Jack, “compared to what Environcorp is about to test, what these guys are trying is a totally different approach. Think of it in terms of effectiveness. If this was the middle of a blizzard they would be using a fork to get the snow out of their drive way. Nobody has ever been able to develop a strainer small enough to capture all of the plastic particles. And the scope of the project just can’t justify the amount of work their effort would take. So while they scoop snow with their forks…let us show you how we intend to get all the pollutants out of the Pacific.”

For the first time in the several week voyage of the Valdez, Captain Salter was in the science labs. Jack and Hank had postulated why he had avoided visiting them. While Valdez was a very large ship it’s size did not prevent someone from being able to explore it in just a few hours. Salter was no doubt familiar with his vessel and knew where the science labs were. He could have come down to check on their progress at any time, but he hadn’t. As he passed through the descending stairs from the deck above, Jack thought it was a little odd to finally see the man down where they worked.

“I’m aware of the general intent of your efforts,” stated Salter following them through the tables and counter tops. “I doubt your work will surprise me.”

Hank replied before Jack had the chance to open his mouth. “It isn’t a matter of trying to surprise you sir, it is a matter of showing you the difference in what you just saw and what could very well be save the oceans.”

Jack heard Salter offer a grunt somewhere between students receiving busy work as homework and someone not totally interested in exploring the details of a discussion. Regardless of the amount of data Salter cared about, he had accompanied them to the labs. He was aware that on his own ship, Salter did not have to be down here with them.

“The savior of the oceans, huh?” Salter said, folding his arms. Jack got the impression the man was trying to find something to do with his hands.

The sanitary demands of the lab didn’t allow for tobacco products.

They passed a dozen or so lab techs that were looking over the equipment. Jack and Hank were excited and walked like two young kids who wanted to show their father how well they had been able to complete their chores. By the way Salter carried himself Jack understood the captain didn’t have plans on being with them for long. They reached the back of the lab, where they spent most of their time. Hank let Jack retrieve the samples. He pulled out a large sliding tray. It was at waist level and inside there were five dishes. Each dish had a different shade of a bluish gray liquid in it.

“Gentleman,” Salter said. “I am looking at…?”

There was a brief moment when Jack wondered if the captain even cared. He wondered if Salter had come down because he had nothing else to do. Jack again found himself thinking about Salter’s motivations for not having paid them a visit all the time the Valdez was at sea. His mind could not provide an instantaneous answer and he responded to the captain anyway.

“You are looking at five different containers with different levels of exposure to something we call Plasteat.” Jack said with a touch of pride. He was sure the captain was well aware of this level of information so he unloaded the specifics. “Plasteat is not in the developmental stages as has been speculated by stock holders and the press, sir. What you are looking at is reality. The tests are nearly over. Plasteat is basically ready for mass production. Captain, what you are looking at is a genetically engineered bacteria which breaks down plastics… and consumes them. Each dish is a different level of polluted ocean water. Each container holds ocean water with different levels of exposure to Pasteat. We are just confirming the work. Plasteat breaks down the plastics and eliminates them from the water in every test.”

The captain looked from Hank to Jack and then returned his eyes to the experiments. Jack continued to have a hard time reading the captain. He acted like a man looking at the morning paper but not really interested in any of the headlines. Salter seemed distracted by something that went beyond not being able to grab at his cigar.

“This is why corporate headquarters is so concerned, huh? I have to admit, even I wasn’t aware you guys were in the final stages of testing the stuff,” Salter said.

“What do you mean, concerned?” asked Hank. “Why is Environcorp concerned?”

“Daddy…?” asked the voice on the other end of the line.

Jack tried to get the attention of his three-year old son without much success. He loved hearing from his boy, but the momentary start and stop to the conversation had become tiresome. Jack tried to say something, then Brandon would start to talk. Silence would be followed by both of them trying to chat again. Holding a cell phone conversation with someone half way across the world was difficult enough. Doing it with a toddler would test the patience of a saint. Jack just wanted one uninterrupted and complete conversation.

“Brandon…listen to Daddy…” he said.

“O.K. Dad,” came the little one’s voice.

“Daddy loves you and misses you. I can’t—

“Daddy?” asked the voice.

“Brandon, could you put your mommy on the phone?” he asked.

“I love you, Daddy,” his son said. Before he knew it his wife was on the line. She told him to hold a second then told him she’d tried to stop a bowl of yogurt from making a mess on the kitchen floor.

“Sarah, I don’ think he has fully grasped the idea of a phone conversation.” He heard her laugh, which made him wish that he were home in West Virginia with family. In a few weeks he could be home. He enjoyed his work and he knew that at times it caused problems in their marriage, but he couldn’t help missing them. Especially now.

“I want to be there with you guys,” he said. He wanted to be back home in West Virginia with them. He decided to tell her most of the truth.

“Honey, my guess is that after about ten days of these final tests the company will be confident to go to the government and start negotiating a contract. They won’t need Hank and I for any of the legal stuff. They’ll push all of the legal crap out to the lawyers. After that, there will be some attention to detail about handling the work we’ve done here, making sure its probably stored and then I’m done. I’ll be flown back to Seattle, and then from there…home. ”

‘I can’t wait, Jack,” he heard her say. He knew she was being truthful. He could hear the pain of separation in her voice.

With Environcorp impressed enough with the Plasteat he would be home. He’d be in bed making love to his wife. He would be on the floor playing cars with his son. Jack wouldn’t be half way across the world away from his family. He’d be working from the corporate lab and doing work only miles from the house.

After a couple of minutes the phone call ended. Jack felt lonely and isolated. He didn’t think his voice had given away anything. He didn’t think he’d revealed that the Valdez might actually be in danger.

Jack sat in his room with only his lamp light on. He was on the edge of his bed having trouble dealing with the nervousness he’d been able to hide from his wife. He’d wanted to tell her but knew that she would just worry.

What Captain Salter told he and Hank and scared the shit out of him.

Six days later Hank and Jack were again in the small boats. The craft were only a few dozen feet apart, riding the aggressive waves of the North Pacific. Both men had remarked how much angrier the waves now were. A week ago, while they’d been collecting the first set of data, it had been a calm day.

“When did Captain Salter say he would be back to pick us up?” asked Hank.

Jack knew he was asking the question because of nerves. Hank was as nervous as he’d ever seen him. His colleague was constantly looking over his shoulder and glancing at the horizon line. Jack thought he looked like an inexperienced criminal who had broken the law. He kept looking around like he was expecting someone to come along.

Jack had to admit he felt a bit nervous as well. On the Valdez he at least felt safe. The news Captain Salter revealed had been upsetting. It was part of the reason he and Hank and agreed to test the Plasteat a little earlier than planned. There was nothing to loose and everything to gain by rushing the tests along. All they needed to do was find a section of surface water with high enough levels of pollutants. They were finding the North Pacific was home to plenty of garbage.

“Hank, you know he said he would be back at noon. Now stop asking.” He checked his watch, just as he had done ten minutes ago and told his colleague they had thirty-seven minutes left. Salter and the Valdez were nowhere in sight, but the larger ship was probably just over the horizon.

“I’m telling you man. I’m happy this thing is going to work. We gotta get out of this, though. We gotta get done with this cleanup effort and get the hell out of here.” Hank said in a panicky childlike way. “Companies spying on each other, competing with one another to this extent…”

Jack couldn’t blame him. Neither of them had been able to do their jobs the way they wanted to after Salter had told them about the activities of Green Opportunities. The rival company knew they were falling behind in the cleanup technology. Salter had told them Green Opportunities had invested enormous amounts of money in the effort to win the government contract to clean up the Pacific Ocean. The success of the rival depended on the government contract. A mistake could mean no government deal, which meant the possibility of going out of business. The real disturbing information was that Green Opportunities had recently harassed and threatened Environcorp assets in the area. Salter had provided an ominous list of specific Green Opportunities less than friendly activity.

“Listen, Hank, just calm down. Part of the reason for us coming out here two days early is too make sure we are not in danger. The Valdez has put itself between us and any Green Opportunities ships in the area. The section of water it’s testing isn’t that far off. We are out here now because Salter said those arrogant bastards may have gotten a hold of our testing schedule. If we get this done, and it isn’t going to screw with the results, because we both know Plasteat works, then we can finish our work and go home,” he said in the most calming tone he could muster.

The look on Hank’s face didn’t change. His attitude, his demeanor, his entire outlook on working on the project had altered when the captain revealed why he had not been below decks to pay a visit to them. According to Salter they had been carefully trying to avoid Green Opportunities. Modern technology allowed one pissed off company to track the boats of the competition pretty easily. Salter had told them Green Opportunity motorboats were circling them like buzzards. Occasionally one of the helicopters came close enough to probably snap some pictures, become an annoyance, and then move on.

“Look,” Jack said. “The only thing we can do is deploy our cargo and wait for the ship to come back and get us. Are your drums ready?”

Jack referred to the three fifty gallon drums filled with the Plasteat bacteria each of them had tied to their boats. The plan was to unseal and unleash their contents over board. The outer casing of each drum was hollow, which allowed it to float. The plan was to get them in the water and simply allow the bacteria to drain into the sea. The randomness of the ocean waves would push the bacteria in enough directions to get another good sample of how effective Plasteat was.

They heard the helicopter before they saw it.

After a moment of listening both men agreed it was coming from the north. Hank was in a bit of a rush and had managed to get two of his containers into the ocean. Jack was a little more deliberate and made sure the thick bluish fluid was draining properly. He wanted to make sure he was doing things right even if he were as nervous as his colleague.

The thumping of the helicopter’s approach was masked by the surface of the water. They did have the knowledge that there was supposed to be no flybys in the region. Jack’s eyes danced across the horizon. He caught the nervous panicky look on Hank’s face.

“When you finish putting your bacteria in the water—then you can call for help. Whatever is approaching lets remember to get our work done first.” He felt the need to add something that was encouraging. “Besides, the Valdez will be returning for us soon.”

Forty-five minutes later Captain Salter stood on the edge of the deck of the Valdez and cursed his inability to successfully complete his mission. All of the work he and his ship had been sent out to do floated as ruined piles debris on the top of the Pacific Ocean.

What was left of the two small research craft probably wouldn’t be able to complete a full vessel. There were boards and different chunks of duroplastic bobbing in and out of the waves. Salter couldn’t help but look and wonder which man had been on which ship. There was no sign of the bodies.

As his eyes scanned the debris he had to admit he never particularly cared for the younger one, Hank. He thought the kid came across as to insecure and wondered if the young man had ever really had the confidence to survive in the world of corporate competition. He had liked Jack, though. Even when he’d spent a ton of time over the last three weeks playing cat and mouse with rival companies and really not making time to see how the science of the mission was developing, he still thought the ambitious researcher’s heart was in the right place. Jack had a respectable passion.

All indications were that it was in the wrong place now. It was probably just a piece of organic matter floating in a nearly dead ocean. Sharks would have had a feast. But there were no more predators in the seas of Earth. Captain Salter felt the need to scan the horizon. It was obvious all of the predators and killers were above the seas.

Green Opportunities was a company of vultures. The incident that had likely killed the two men had certainly re-enforced that. Those who had killed Hank and Jack were worse than scavengers. They’d killed not out of a need for survival. They’d killed out of greed.

“Farnsworth,” the captain said as he gave up on finding the unseen enemy on the horizon. “I want you to go down to the communications room and review all of the frequency tapes from the last hour of broadcasting. We can’t change what has happened here but I want to know if there is anything we could have done to prevent this. Maybe there is some indication of what transpired here.” As the crewmember departed Salter thought his words sounded unrealistically hopeful.

Corporate Head Quarters would want some answers to this incident. On the way to the bridge Captain Salter found himself wondering why Green Opportunities had needed to kill Hank and Jack. He wanted to know why the two men had needed to die.

United Press Corp Report, Washington DC

Executives at the environmental business Green Opportunities and the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced the creation of a joint venture project to cleanup pollution in a large segment of the Pacific Ocean. Speaking at a function Tuesday evening both sides confirmed work will begin on efforts to remove the buildup of the deadly plastics still accumulating in what has become known as the “Great Garbage Patch”.

“We are very impressed with the approach Green Opportunities managed to come up with,” said EPA Chairman Ekoj. “There were several competitive offers on the table for the government funds, but ultimately we think we have chosen a partner with a sensible long term agenda. Their efforts to improve the water quality will be labor intensive and will involve a contract of several hundred billion dollars.”

The Board of Directors for the company was ecstatic when named the government’s choice. While no official comment was provided they did offer a brief statement saying, “We look forward to a clean Pacific Ocean. Our development of a straining technology effective enough to remove the broken down plastic particles in the water is an achievement worth investing in.

In a related development the Labor Department reported it would be initiating a massive new employment program to get enough workers for the project. After months of tough economic news the administration of president Moats confirmed tens of thousands of people will be hired for the effort.

Presidential spokesman Lehman elaborated on the win-win scenario that has developed for all of the parties involved. “The most basic idea is we wanted to invest taxpayers dollars wisely and put money into a program that is bound to work. The government will be employing tens of thousands of Americans and giving them good paying jobs. All of this, and we get the added impact of affecting the environment in very positive way…”.

Independent Global News, Fleming Pennsylvania

Further negative news rocked the environmental business Environcorp when it was learned several of the company’s executives have been embezzling money for months. The government claims at least six executives were involved in a scheme to swindle shareholders out of significant amounts of capitol.

This news comes only a few months after Environcorp experienced destructive fires at its technology development facilities in West Virginia. Company spokesman said they were still trying to assess the reasons for the fire and had not ruled out foul play. The government maintains Environcorp’s inability to adhere to safety codes lead to the fires that killed thirty-seven people and effectively shut down their technology division.

These are only the latest in a series of unfortunate events that have plagued the company. Some months ago it lost its primary research craft off the coast of the North West United States. The Valdez, a state of the art vessel which the company had invested large sums of money in, mysteriously disappeared with all hands…