Jens and Tove Elfesen are married scientists who work at Kristiansund Sea Mammal Institute, Norway. At the opening of the novel, are recounting a sinister past incident in which Jens went missing, only to discover that he had been kidnapped by the US Navy. The incident in question occurred some 16 years ago. Jens is now the director of the institute, and is responsible for having made an incredible inter-species breakthrough, in which Jens had managed to communicate with a dolphin by the name of Kong. Through this breakthrough, Kong can express himself at a human level by the use of the various devices which the institute has developed and made available. Kong teaches Jens about his history and the ways in which dolphins live and communicate with each other. The revelations go well beyond simply being able to express their needs. Jens discovered that dolphins have complex internal lives. They are capable of abstract thought, and spirituality.
The dolphins are not confined, but in open water and come and go to the Institute as they please for stopping by to communicate with Jens and others at the Institute. The primary focus of Jens research is when and how to reveal these discoveries to the rest of the world. Because of the communication technology they developed, the dolphin subjects that the team are studying can communicate underwater with humans both vocally and visually and are even capable of reading the printed word or of using the internet.
The implications of this discovery has importance well beyond the sphere of simply mammal research. The capability of the dolphins to be used for warfare and espionage hangs over the project now as they think about its’ future and plan for ways to expand their research. Tove receives a call from Egil, an old associate who has become the Director of Military Research. Though there are concerns about how the discovery would be used, the funding which the military can provide is critical. Jens and Tove agrees to discuss e4xpanding their research by collaborating with other researchers. As a result, discussions are had to form two research teams and for how to select dolphin subjects to be studied at other facilities.
Egil speaks with his Christian, the heads of the Norwegian Defense Ministry, who makes arrangements for the two of them to meet with the Norwegian Prime Minister at a local pub. The meeting comes together, and the information about the discovery stuns the PM. In addition to this, he speak with him about a strange belief which the dolphins hold. Namely, that if communication between humans and dolphins is ever fully established, this will end the world, which coincidently conforms to the old Viking prophecy about the catastrophic end of the world, which was referred to in the Norse sagas as Ragnarok. None the less, the preparations continue, and international alliances are made as the situation begins to have the first hints of an arms race as countries around the world try to get involves. Jens and Egil meets with NATO and the US Navy, and there are plans made to establish two new research site somewhere outside of Norway. The research with NATO is in Great Briton and another with the US Navy is at the Woods Hole Institute in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Tove meets with Freya, a member of Kong’s family pod to discuss the logistics of a relocating a dolphin to the Woods Hole institute in Cape Cod. Through discussions with members of the pod, Tove makes progress in figuring out how to best make arrangements for selecting new dolphins for research in the US. Finally. Dolphins named Frigg and Betsy agree to participate, but specify certain requirements for the project they will need, like at the Kristiansund facility, freedom of movement. Dolphins are also selected for other new research site in development at St. Andrews in Great Briton.