Entering the Throat of Kraken

The little boat was getting tossed around more than she’d expected and it was making her a little queasy. The reduced gravity only served to amplify the effect. Dr. Hena Hanover was entering the Throat of Kraken.

Officially it was the Seldon Fretum, a narrow straight separating the northern and southern basins of Kraken Mare, but the nickname better captured its essence. The currents were strong, the waves high, and the boat light and difficult to maneuver. But this was still the simplest route to the large island, Mayda Insula. That’s where team three had set up camp. That was two weeks ago. Four days ago they stopped checking in.

The strong updrafts coming off the Mare made it too dangerous to attempt landing on the island directly, and even so, there were no teams left in orbit and no aerial vehicles available. The hummocky ice around the northern basin made land travel by buggy impossible. A slow trudge through the slush on foot was impractical. Boating through the straight was the only option.

It was daytime on Titan, but it was no brighter than a full moon on an overcast night on Earth, though the light was the color of tangerines. For a moment, Dr. Hanover craved a juicy tangerine, imagining its pulp between her teeth and its nectar dripping down her chin. A few years on a freeze-dried diet leaves a lot of room for cravings. But then a methane wave pounded the boat and turned her stomach over again. Team three had reported whirlpools in the straight, but luckily she hadn’t come across any. Yet.

In all, there were four teams of three. Simultaneously, all the other teams stopped reporting. Occam’s razor said the problem was on the receiving end, but they disassembled and cleaned their entire comms system, found no errors, and still maintained contact with the satellites. So they’d split up—a plan she was fully against, but she was not the commander—and each headed out to find one of the other teams.

The knot in her stomach was not entirely due to the chop. It had been growing steadily as she got closer to the island, minute by minute. She had a sickening premonition that the Throat of Kraken was a more apt descriptor than it was ever intended to be.

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