Something has awakened within the Caribbean, staining the once tranquil waters red with blood. Crypto-Hunter Derek Jenner and his team are called in to investigate, but what they find is more shocking than they could have ever imagined.
Not only is a massive beast haunting the Bahamas, but ships and planes across the region are suffering catastrophic equipment failure. Soon, Derek and his friends are among those stranded at sea, waiting for a rescue that isn't coming.
Now they're about to discover a secret in the depths, one that should've remained buried forever. Faced with an insatiable horror from a forgotten era and a mystery that threatens the very fabric of existence, the Crypto-Hunter is about to set sail on a final voyage bound for terror.
Journey to the Bermuda Triangle in Kraken Hunters by Rick Gualtieri, the thrilling conclusion to the Crypto-Hunter trilogy.
If you're a fan of creature rampages from authors such as Max Brooks, Steve Alten, Max Hawthorne, or Eric Brown, then click READ NOW and dive into this sci-fi horror adventure today.
Release date: December 27, 2020
Publisher: Freewill Press
Print pages: 558
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The leviathan lay upon the ocean floor, almost perfectly camouflaged despite its great bulk.
Fish of all sizes swam by unaware while innumerable crustaceans crawled close enough for it to easily ensnare, but it paid them no mind as it slumbered – lazily enjoying the cool current washing over its massive form.
Soon enough it would rouse and, when it did, the ocean would become a roiling frenzy of quick strikes and torn flesh. But for now it was content.
Once, long ago, its species was more numerous, but declining food sources and aggressive competition had gradually whittled their numbers down. Now, only a handful remained in the depths, and encounters with others of its kind were rare as they were solitary creatures by nature.
Those that survived into adulthood were loath to venture into the shallows, often preferring far deeper waters than the hunting ground which the leviathan had claimed as its own. As a result, they were relatively unknown to the world above, not that the great beast cared about such things.
There, safe in its territory, it was king of all it surveyed – doing as it pleased and fearing nothing.
It was a blissful tranquility that wasn’t meant to last.
The ocean floor shuddered, causing the great beast to stir as the sand beneath it shifted and vibrated. Such disturbances were rare but not unknown, an annoyance at best – one that would quickly pass and be forgotten.
Mere moments later, however, a much larger tremor hit, shaking the silty ocean floor and stirring up debris amidst the normally clear waters.
A shockwave from some kind of explosion or eruption soon followed, disturbing the leviathan’s sensitive statocysts and bringing with it a torrent of rushing water that roused it, enough to take a cautious look around. Whatever had just occurred had been powerful enough to stun all of the smaller fish swimming nearby. Curious, but ultimately little more than a minor discomfort to a beast of its...
Something unseen jostled it, like a wave of energy passing through its body, electrifying its brain and jolting it fully awake. The creature scanned the surrounding depths with its keen eyesight, yet saw nothing to account for...
Another invisible pulse passed through it, causing it to recoil. Pain and discomfort flared within its mind and it lashed out with its arms, causing the surrounding water to swirl in a chaotic maelstrom.
Several long moments passed and again the invisible enemy struck, driving the creature into a near frenzy. However, it could neither see nor sense where its foe was. All it knew was that it was being attacked and whatever was responsible seemed to be both relentless and beyond its reach.
The minutes drew out, feeling like hours, as more of the strange energy struck the mighty beast, driving its synapses into an uproar. Soon enough, its misery and confusion gave way to rage. It lashed out again with its many arms, striking at anything that moved. In short order, the water grew thick with the blood of any fish unlucky enough to be within the beast’s vast reach.
And yet still the thrumming continued, relentlessly tormenting the leviathan with its inexorable power.
It scanned the ocean floor again, looking for something, anything, to attack that would stop this assault on its senses. However, all the surviving creatures within the immediate vicinity had fled following its initial fury.
Finding nothing upon which to vent its anger. It began to swim, casting its mammoth form off the ocean floor and toward the surface.
Soon enough, it detected something new, something worthy of its wrath, floating above at the far edge of its domain, daring to intrude where it did not belong. It didn’t know if this newcomer was the source of its torment, but it intended to find out with swift and savage finality.
♦ ♦ ♦
“Say that again, please. I was ... distracted.”
Sydney Treco was actually bored out of his mind. This assignment was bullshit and everyone aboard the floating shit-trap known as the San Cristóbal Tortuga knew it. They were out here for one reason and one reason only: to give the illusion that they were doing something worthwhile.
In fact, the only one who seemed excited was the geologist standing in front of him, a Dr. Rigel, or Regal ... some R-word Sydney couldn’t be bothered to remember.
“Those sediment samples we collected yesterday,” the scientist said, calling up a chart on his laptop, “they’re very unusual.”
“How so?” There was only one type of unusual that would have roused Sydney’s interest and that was confirmation that they’d found a pocket of natural gas, the bigger the better.
“We’re not certain yet.”
“We found traces of iridium along with the expected minerals, which in itself is remarkable. But there was something mixed in with it, trace fragments of a metal of unknown origin.”
“Unknown origin?” Sydney asked, perking up.
“Well, maybe unknown is too strong a word,” the scientist replied, pushing his glasses up on his nose, no doubt to emphasize his nerd credentials. “What I mean is we haven’t identified it yet. We’re still analyzing the samples, but we think...”
“Oh.” Sydney’s interest dropped again. Why was this asshole bothering him with this crap? The guy was getting all worked up despite admitting they were still working on it. Was he really that bored, too? The sad thing was, Sydney had seen this before, had gotten his hopes up despite sketchy seismic data. Then, invariably, when the results were double-checked, there was almost always some excuse: contamination, machine error, or human screw-up. Every fucking time. It seemed to be the story of his life.
His official title was Offshore Installation Manager. On paper, he was in charge of this expedition by the ZarroGreen Oil and Gas Company Limited, named after its founder Miguel Zarro – one of the richest sons of bitches in South America.
The reality was somewhat less grand, though, and probably the reason he’d been passed over for the far juicier Gulf expedition he’d been hoping for. That Guerrero bitch had never liked him, not since that fuck-up in Bolivia when they’d been forced to abandon a drill site due to one of his team being photographed handling a highly endangered frog. And now, with her recent promotion, she was in prime position to turn the screws.
The result had been his assignment to this floating asylum. That the weather had been perfect only accentuated the fact that he was in the heart of the Caribbean, yet unable to enjoy any of its splendors. Hell, they were barely a hundred miles northwest of Turks and Caicos. One short helicopter ride and he could be relaxing on a beach with drink in hand, but instead he was busy being slowly driven mad.
“So, why exactly are you bothering me with this?” Sydney asked, interrupting some other nonsense the geologist was pontificating about. “Go finish your analysis.”
“I just thought you might want to know.”
Sydney opened his mouth to correct the over-eager scientist when the cabin shuddered, grinding those thoughts to a halt. A moment later, he felt the ship lurch beneath them, and then the lights began to flicker.
“We’re done here,” he said with finality, reaching for the phone on his desk even as the geologist beat a hasty retreat. He put the receiver to his ear, impatiently waiting until it was picked up on the other end. “Mind telling me what the hell that was?”
“I don’t know,” Jenson Greaves, the ship’s first mate, replied. “But whatever it is, it’s causing everything on the bridge to go haywire.”
“Sonar, geo-positioning, hell, probably the coffee maker, too.”
“What the fuck?” Sydney replied, more to himself than the officer. “Get someone from the floor on the box. I want to know what those clowns are doing.”
A minute or so later, Eddie Gunch, the drill crew’s toolpusher, got on, although Sydney could barely understand him – the previously crystal clear connection now garbled with static. “We’re ... working ... it, Treco.”
“Working on what?”
“I’m not... We were jetting ... when ... hit something hard and ... drill kicked in.”
“Yeah, and...,” Sydney prompted, doing his best to try and fill in the gaps.
“And that’s ... shit went nuts. I think ... hit a methane pocket. We’re checking things now.”
Must’ve been a hell of a pocket to take out the entire fucking bridge, Sydney thought, not that he gave a rat’s ass about the bridge, the crew, or the whole damned ship for that matter. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. He cared about it from a budgetary sense. It wouldn’t have surprised anyone at headquarters if this operation turned out to be a bust. Hell, it was practically designed to be. But equipment damage was a whole other ball of wax. Shit like that would be dumped on his shoulders in a hot second. “How’s the drill?”
“Pretty sure ... stuck... Trying ... retract it now ... some damage.”
“Just fucking great.”
“Might take ... some time ... know for sure. The controls are...”
“They’re acting ... weird. Not ... respon...”
That was all he got before the line fell dead, the coms apparently following the lead of whatever the hell else was going on.
♦ ♦ ♦
Fucking wonderful! Sydney stepped on deck, heading for the ship’s derrick. This was just his luck. The entire operation had been pretty much designed to be a cluster-fuck from the start, but a necessary one. ZarroGreen wasn’t about to let their hard-fought drilling rights expire via entropy. They’d lost most of their bids in the Gulf, minus the expedition Sydney had been jockeying for, but had made up for it by greasing pockets all across the Caribbean. Too bad they’d been mostly forced to sideline any real development in the years since, thanks in part to several high profile lawsuits wreaking havoc on their stock price.
But now, those rights were up for renewal and, if ZarroGreen didn’t show at least some effort on their part, they could very well lose them.
Sadly, this was, at best, a fishing expedition as far as Sydney was concerned. The seismic survey of the site below them – a narrow shelf between the shallows and where the bottom dropped by several thousand feet – had been noted as having potential merit by the higher ups. To Sydney that was shorthand for not having a fucking clue. Problem was, the company was in too big of a rush to risk botching a dig more likely to yield fruit.
The company’s top exploratory teams were currently busy elsewhere, their fleet spread too thin. So when the suits finally noticed that the clock was ticking, they did what they could in the fastest and cheapest way possible.
The Tortuga was one of ZarroGreen’s oldest drillships, due for decommission by year’s end. It seemed the perfect solution: send an old ship that wouldn’t be missed to make sure their rights didn’t expire. If something was found, great. Better equipment would be called in. Even if not, though, so long as the company could show they’d done their minimum due diligence, ZarroGreen could continue to sit on their rights until they were ready to mount a more serious operation.
Unfortunately, the Tortuga wasn’t exactly in topnotch condition. Everything about it was old, rusty, and generally unpleasant.
It wasn’t a surprise to anyone aboard when stuff broke down. However, for seemingly everything to go haywire at once was both new and not something Sydney wanted to hear. That meant he needed to kick the drill team’s ass until they got their shit back in gear.
As he climbed the stairs to the drill floor, he amused himself with a petty fantasy in which this stupid-ass ship finally gave up the ghost and sank beneath the waves, through no fault of his own of course. He envisioned himself sitting on a beach, a babe on his arm and a drink in his hand, watching it go down like the fucking Titanic.
A few roughnecks passed him on the way, barking out greetings which he didn’t return, being too preoccupied with not getting his button down shirt any dirtier than it already was. That was perhaps what he hated most about this rig. Everything, even the control room, felt like it was encrusted in a thin layer of grime.
That included the personnel.
Eddie met him about halfway up. Sydney stopped without offering the toolpusher a hand in greeting. “Please tell me you have good news.”
Before Eddie could answer him, though, the ship lurched again, this time far more violently than before.
“I thought you said the drill was stuck.”
“It is,” Eddie replied, looking around. “That wasn’t the...”
The deck shuddered beneath them as emergency klaxons began to blare. From his position, it appeared the ship was now visibly listing to one side.
“What the fuck?” Sydney barked as both men grabbed hold of the railing. “Did something hit us?”
“Way out here?” Eddie replied, holding on with a death grip as they were a good fifty feet above the main deck.
A rogue wave maybe? Sydney knew all about those. But they had a clear view of the horizon. The sea was calm and clear with nothing in sight that could...
Eddie’s eyes suddenly opened wide. “What the hell is that?”
Sydney turned to follow his gaze and what he saw made him wonder if maybe the fumes from the derrick were causing him to hallucinate. Surely there was no other rational explanation for what he was seeing.
Something was rising up past them, coming from the sea itself. It appeared to be an impossibly long fleshy mass, covered with massive suckers that scraped along the side of the ship as it continued to climb.
And it wasn’t alone.
Sydney immediately recalled a movie he’d seen a few years back, something about pirates and CGI fish men. Whatever was rising from the deep now reminded him of the monstrous beast from that movie, one with tentacles which had...
Whatever these things were, one of them wrapped around the superstructure upon which they stood, bringing with it the groan of tortured metal.
It was crazy, absolutely impossible, yet somehow it was happening, mocking reality all the same – like something out of a drunken sea yarn.
As the ship listed further to the side, Sydney held onto the railing for dear life, but Eddie wasn’t nearly so lucky. His grip slipped and he went tumbling past the offshore manager into the open air. For one surreal moment, the toolpusher reached out, as if hoping to catch hold of something by sheer will alone, and then Eddie was gone – slamming into the deck below and staining the rusty metal with his blood.
The ship began to lurch more violently. Sydney was no structural engineer, but it was painfully obvious the rig was beginning to give way under the assault of the nightmare tentacle wrapped around it.
His feet slipped out beneath him as the Tortuga came dangerously close to capsizing, and he found himself hanging by his fingertips over fifty feet above the surface of the water.
The screams and cries of the crew could be heard amidst the fatigue of metal being strained beyond its capacity, but nothing mattered to him beyond his own predicament.
I knew this fucking mission was cursed.
Almost as if in answer to his thoughts, a great mass of orange-brown flesh emerged from the sea below. He had time to glimpse one massive eyeball glaring up at him and then his fingers slipped and he fell – desperately hoping to hit the water instead of the deck, but knowing it would likely be the equivalent of slamming into solid concrete from that height.
Somehow, though, the thought of a quick death wasn’t nearly as frightening as the alternative.
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