Gender: Male Age: Secret Location: N/A
|Introduction: Take one Russian sub, add crew, eccentric officers and one ruthless and iron-willed Captain as he fights to save his homeland, and chaos happens|
Headlines – Cable News Network (July 4…
In the world of economics today we have the major announcement of extensive deposits of oil and gas just off of southeastern Iceland into the Iceland-Faeroe Ridge. Initial estimates place the total extractable yield at over 100 Trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.3 Trillion barrels of oil at the minimum. News of this discovery has boosted stocks in oil drilling and development companies…
Headlines – Cable News Network (July 8…
Just after midnight local time there has been a massive upheaval in the governance of Iceland as the old guard has been overthrown by a communist junta. Known as the Communist Republic Alliance of the People (CRAP), they have been officially recognized as the new and legitimate government of Iceland by the Russian Alliance. The old government and many of Iceland’s citizens who could escape have fled to European and American lands seeking asylum.
The government of the United States under President Dana Leroy has denounced this unlawful seizure of power by the Communist Republic Alliance of the People. President Leroy stated emphatically she is “not going to stand by while a long time ally of the United States falls under a Communist revolution from within its borders and I call upon those claiming to lead Iceland to stand down and disperse so the lawfully elected leaders of Iceland and her people may return home…”
In economic news today the new government of Iceland has signed a treaty with the Russian Alliance to bring defensive troops in for their protection and extended exclusive development rights of the new oil and gas fields. This is a major windfall for the nearly bankrupt for the Russian Alliance, and has sent oil and natural gas prices in the west skyrocketing overnight…
Headlines – Cable News Network (July 16…
Before the assembly of the United Nations President Dana Leroy spoke at length concerning the matter of Iceland and of its rights to self-determination. Evidence of the June 8 coup having come from elements of the Russian Alliance was presented and the denunciation of the Russian Alliance by most UN members caused their ambassador and his staff to walk out of the proceedings.
A resolution was introduced and passed calling for the Communist Republic Alliance of the People (CRAP) to withdraw from the nation of Iceland, reinstatement of the Iceland government in exile and renouncement of the treaty with the Russian Alliance within ninety days or armed force is authorized to be used.
Many of the governments of the world have offered to serve as neutral meeting grounds between all sides involved in the matter – China, India, Argentina and Brazil chief among them. This move has been supported by the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) while summarily rejected by the Communist Republic Alliance of the People and the Russian Alliance.
Pravda, the official newspaper for the Communist party of the Russian Alliance declared that the first units of army, air force and naval assets have been deployed to and around Iceland to ‘defend our ideological brothers from the imperialist west.”
Headlines – Cable News Network (August 16…
Tensions continue to rise as more armed forces from the Russian Alliance are deployed for ‘extensive sets of maneuvers’ within the nation of Iceland or by naval assets in Iceland territorial waters or the newly declared Iceland-Faeroe Ridge Protectorate claimed by the Communist Republic Alliance of the People (CRAP) as being their nations holdings and thus hands off to all other nations despite the laws of the high seas going back several centuries.
Notice was leaked out from Pentagon and White House administration ‘sources in high places’ that the first naval assets ‘are now in place as are those of the Russian Alliance.’ It was emphasized that the NATO forces, mostly consisting of United States naval assets, in the area are under ‘self-defense’ rules for the time. Under such rules, according to past releases by the Pentagon and Department of Defense, naval units will avoid potential confrontations unless hostile actions are taken against them – then return fire is authorized.
Headlines – Cable News Network (September 12…
The White House daily press briefing has confirmed today that three Carrier Battle groups have been dispatched in the last week to reinforce the two others operating ‘near the region of Iceland.’ Additional Naval Aviation and Air Force Aviation units have been reported by news agencies as arriving at sealed military bases in Britain, Greenland, and bases in Northern Europe.
The Russian Alliance has declared the entire region of Greenland – Iceland – United Kingdom gap region to be a naval maritime exclusion zone. Any nation other than that of the Russian Alliance and the Iceland government who sends in naval forces will have them summarily destroyed if orders for them to turn around and leave at once are ignored.
It has been hinted at by ‘sources within the Kremlin’ that the waters around Iceland have been barricaded by naval mines to prevent free passage by surface and submarine assets of the United States and NATO navies.
The Prime Minister of China again called on all potential belligerents to come to the negotiation tables while time remains. The Pope has also extended the usage of Vatican City as a neutral meeting ground and his staff as personal go-betweens ‘in the interest of world peace and to prevent an avoidable war while time remains to do so.”
Headlines – Cable News Network (September 16…
Urgent release – we interrupt our scheduled programming this evening to bring you the news that a USN destroyer has been destroyed with all hands. As of this time all that can be confirmed by the Department of the Navy is that USS Spruance suffered a ‘catastrophic failure’ due to unknown sources. Speculation though is that a sea mine may have detonated beneath the ships hull and subsequently the onboard ammunition exploded with the resulting destruction of the entire vessel…
Pentagon sources have revealed a sudden upsurge in messages to naval units of the Russian Alliance within the maritime zone around Iceland.
Urgent release – conflicting reports indicate that there is a coup attempt underway in Paris, France by several unknown forces. They claim to have seized or been joined by many elements of the French-navy while fierce battles are being fought by loyalist units who are siding with the lawful government of France…
“Captain Nicholas,” called the incessant voice of Lieutenant Kael, his weapons officer, and roused him from his half-remembered dreams, “we have a ‘most urgent’ message for you and Lieutenant Carl from Northern Fleet Headquarters. I have called for him to meet you in the officer’s galley sir.”
“Just when it was getting interesting,” Captain Nicholas jokingly said, “there I was, the only man on a ship of over 1000 single, lonely and very aroused women who wanted my attention so very, very much…”
He looked at the small clock secured to the bulkhead and grunted at having achieved the miracle of getting four hours of uninterrupted sleep. Taking the encoded message form from Lt. Kael he set it aside while rubbing the last vestiges of sleep from his eyes and then dawning his old gray sea captain’s coat and headed to the smallish officers galley which he regarded as little better than a converted broom closet.
In short order he was joined there by Lieutenant 1st class Carl, political officer of the Iron Fist and a man fully feared by most common seaman of the submarine. Salutes were exchanged and Lt. Carl asked as he took his seat across from Nicholas, “So my captain is this by chance regarding our last ‘discussion’ with the army officers at that pub just north of St. Petersburg? Or maybe the matter when we went on the rampage right afterward and visited many ‘undesirable’ locations?”
Both men laughed at that fond memory from their last shore leave before the current crisis began between the new Iceland government and NATO. While sharing fond memories of the sea with some local women in a tavern, half drunk out of their minds, they bragged how grand the Russian Alliance Naval forces were. Some Army officers disagreed and the resulting fight of thirty-one against two went badly…for the Army officers of course.
“Indeed, after all, how much money did we dump into the whore houses after winning the fist fight against the army generals?” Captain Nicholas chuckled. It amazed him that a political officer, one of the feared guardians of state ideology, could come to love the unmerciful mistress, the ocean, as much as he had over his life. The party had long ago given up on trying to promote Captain Nicholas and allowed the ever efficient and eccentric man to gather like-minded officers who often became the best their nation could put to sea.
“Enough at that Captain,” Lt. Carl said with a grin at the fond memories. “Just like before my first tour on the seas with you – the legendary ‘man of steel’ himself.” He watched the captains facial muscles twitch ever so slightly when called by his nickname. “Sorry Captain, I forgot how much you hate that name.’
Captain Nicholas calmly dismissed it with a wave of his hand, even as the painful memories of how he came to be called ‘The man of steel’ flooded back for a moment until he ruthlessly shoved them back into the darkness.
“Lets get down to business,” Captain Nicholas said as he and Carl began to decipher the message. When they finished their collective gasps alerted crewmembers in the hall something troublesome has happened.
“Here we go ladies and gentlemen, we are coming around to clear the baffles of our dear old lady Iron Fist and so we can hear what is going on behind us…” Sonar Chief 1st class Vladimir grinned as his fellow crewmen moaned and groaned at his old, ragged, time-worn joke.
He constantly monitored the bank of waterfall-displays before him as he adjusted controls to isolate one sound after another brought to his attention by the submarines powerful sonar systems. He takes special pride in being one of the few people who can identify sounds before the computer systems are able to; thus the Captain puts up with his bad jokes and strange sense of humor…
“Lets see, humpback whales – five mothers and three youngsters in the far convergence zone,” he shook his head at how advanced this latest gear had become to pick up that many whales nearly ninety miles away. The sounds of the whales always have been the finest of music to his ears.
It still amazed him to talk to others about the sea and all the life in it, and the sheer noise conveyed by that perfect medium for transmission. A fluke of temperature differences created these ‘convergence zones’ which allow the sound to bend and flow as if in great arcs averaging thirty or so mikes apart. So a good sonar man with good gear can hear, as he is now, whales’ miles away via these zones.
He loved the whales and the ocean, and since he could not join the universities to become a marine biologist, to work the sonar on a submarine helped him do his duty to country and his brethren of the sea, and fulfilled his love for all that lives beneath the waves…
“Fish, fish, shrimp and krill, one family of Orcas close in…”he paused and pressed his headphone closer to his ear, “…they just scattered as if something panicked them…” all in the sonar room watched his eyes flare wide as he detected the one sound no submariner wished to hear.
“Torpedo, torpedo in the water!!!” Vladimir yelled not bothering to use the inter-ship communications system. “Torpedo at 171 degrees, high speed and very close!”
On the bridge of the Iron Fist, an advanced Tango II – class Russian Alliance nuclear submarine, Lieutenant 1st class Joseph, second-in-command of the boat, shouted “Helm hard left rudder and flank speed ahead, give me 20 degree down angle on the bow planes and flood forward ballast tanks. On my command launch four decoys at five second intervals. Sound battle stations and call the captain to the bridge if he is not on the way already.”
Lt. Joseph continued to watch the banks of controls and listened above the din of the battle stations alarms and slamming of watertight doors each station chiefs calling back information he needs to fight the boat. As the boats angle of descent increased he braced on a steel support and fought hard to keep his balance.
He began a silent countdown as sonar continued to call the speed and distance of the rapidly closing torpedo so he can time the release of the decoys perfectly. Ping – Ping – Ping, came the sudden high-pitched cry of the torpedoes terminal-homing active sonar, telling all onboard of the Iron Fist that their date with destiny is now at hand.
Each pulsation of the torpedoes sonar came closer to the last, and the high pitched scree –scree – scree sound of its propulsion became audible as the final distance closed. Lt. Joseph watched the navigator update the charts as his fists shook in terror and then turned to the main overhead clock on the bridge. “Its now or never,” he said under his breath, hoping this final trick will work – make a ‘knuckle’ of disturbed water by a fast turn and dive followed by the release of the decoys and if the torpedo goes after them they will live for a short time to face their adversary…
If not, then they have done their duty for the Russian Alliance.
Captain Nicholas and Lt. Carl fought against the down-angel of the sub as the clarion call for battle stations resounded across the sub and men sped along the way, leaping like rabbits over bulkheads closing behind them. Nicholas growled in primal rage at the base of the ladder to the bridge and began to climb, muscles straining with each rung he pulled himself up along.
Lt. Carl struggled to keep up but finally had to admit to defeat as Nicholas pulled himself unto the bridge in a storm of curses and swears strong enough to make metal bend and buckle. All who heard his bellicose language knew the captain was mad, and thus in top fighting form for this confrontation beneath the waves.
“Prepare to launch decoys…” Joseph began, the first traces of sweat showing on his face.
“Belay that,” thundered a new voice on the bridge. “Helm, bring us to course 160 degrees and open outer tube doors one through four.” Captain Nicholas nodded as each order was called back and instantly executed. He worked his way across the bridge to stand next to Vladimir and grimly smiled as the ping-pings from the enemy torpedo grew ever louder.
“Well Joseph it looks like I do owe you that steak dinner after all,” the captain said with a rueful chuckle. He had taken his first-officer up on the wagered steak dinner in regards to battle being carried out over the growing mess of Iceland. “Remind me to never underestimate the insanity of the NATO navies…”
“Captain,” called out Chief Vladimir, “single submerged contact bearing 096 degrees, close in and estimated at 750 feet in depth. We have high rate of bearing change so he is in close and is evaluated as a nuclear-powered submarine at medium speed. Flow noise across the hull is blanking out part of our systems.”
“Acknowledged Sonar,” Captain Nicholas called out as he continued his mental countdown.
“Engines to full stop and level off the bow planes, order full quiet through the ship. Oh and remind anyone that if one noise is made by anyone I will stuff them into a torpedo tube and launch them into the sea myself.” The bridge crew nodded and smiled as they went about their deadly business, determined to vindicate the trust their captain – the sternest, most demanding of the entire Russian Alliance – had placed in them.
“Now, launch the decoys,” Captain Nicholas ordered. Moments later at five second intervals, four small containers slewed away from the Iron Fist that released predetermined patterns of noise and swirling screens of bubbles to deceive the torpedoes sonar towards it and not at the Iron Fist.
“Captain the torpedoes are ready to fire,” whispered Lt. Kael from the weapon control station. When Captain Nicholas nodded in confirmation he returned his full attention to the banks of panels and kept one hand ready to throw the cover over the torpedo firing switch.
Through the hull all of the crew could hear the screeing of the enemy torpedoes engines and propellers as they moved towards the decoys. They have survived their first brush with death in the opening rounds of a war they had not wanted, but are now thrust into.
Sonar Chief Vladimir called out, “Captain single Rubis-class nuclear submarine 016 degrees, at eighteen-hundred meters estimated, making turns for 12 knots.” All of the information was fed into the ships fire-control systems and then crunched to ensure the optimal means of annihilating their adversary by putting a torpedo-on-steel.
“You know Joseph the biggest mistake most submarine skippers made in the Great War of the last century was not following through their attacks,” Captain Nicholas said to his second-in-command and then ordered a cup of strong tea be sent up for himself and Joseph. “I have no intention of repeating that mistake. Weapons officer, match bearing and shoot.”
Moments later the ship shuddered under the forces of compressed air and displaced mass of the torpedoes being launched.
“Helm,” he continued, “Ahead 1/3 and be ready to execute our ‘Crazy Yankee’ maneuvers incase the torpedoes miss.” He leaned back on the ships hull, struggling to maintain his iron-disciplined façade for the rest of his men.
No matter what, he would not let anyone see how scared he had been when that torpedo passed meters away from their home. Right now his fury was directed for two people and two people alone, the first is his enemy on that blasted Rubis submarine; the other is at himself for allowing his sub to be ambushed in the first place!
“Captain what is going on?” called out the high-pitched, mouse-like voice of Lt. Carl. He railed at himself for such a show of undisciplined behavior many may interpret as fear and cowardliness.
“Carl we have been fired upon first by our neighbor a few hundred meters ahead of us,” Captain Nicholas declared, feigning anger and contempt for the political officer. “Our orders do allow for the act of self-defense do they not?”
“Of course they do Captain,” Carl confirmed as he fell into his ‘political officer’ role. “I just came forward to demand that any prisoners we take are duly interrogated and then shot.” He joined in with the light laughter they gave off at his obviously insane joke; as everyone knows in a sub vs. sub battle in the depths, there never will be prisoners taken.
“Gentlemen a few minutes ago we received a message from Northern Fleet Headquarters.” He scowled at the now belated warning, “warning of ‘potential hostilities from rouge elements of the French Navy.’ It appears a plot has been discovered to start a major naval war between the Russian Alliance and NATO and the United States so they may eventually invade and seize Iceland plus the new oil and gas fields for themselves.”
“Captain,” called out Chief Vladimir, “torpedoes closing with the Rubis submarine…he has heard them, our units sonar are now pinging his hull. He has gone to full speed and has begun to blow his air tanks…”
Everyone onboard knew the truth of this fight, for the captain of the Rubis-class submarine had grown overly confident and assumed the Iron Fist to be easy pickings. He had not expected the Russian sub to turn and strike back as fast as she had, and now the inexorable laws of physics guaranteed the next lesson he and his crew learn is their very last.
Everyone cringed as the deep rolling sounds caressed the Iron Fist’s hull. No exuberating or rejoicing came at the destruction of an enemy and their close brush with death. Chief Vladimir called out the sound of sea water flooding in through the Rubis’s ruptured hull, the desperate blowing of all air tanks in a final act to reach the surface, the silencing of her engines and then the last screaming cries of metal as the hull bent, buckled and collapsed as the dying sub descended passed its crush depth to the ocean floor so far below.
“Communications officer get a detailed report ready for transmission to North Fleet Headquarters detailing all that has happened.” He snorted and shook his head, “everyone understand this much, the very war our leaders have sought to avoid has begun. Hopefully we can contain it to a few rouge elements of a European Capitalist Banditti who seek to steal what is not theirs by right.”
“God help us all,” Lt. Carl said, a sentiment shared by his captain and fellow officers as they came to grasp that their narrow escape with death was the opening move in a larger war at sea.
“Indeed may he help us all,” Captain Nicholas said. “Now then, get the message prepared and make your rounds of the crew and ensure they know what has happened. To battle fear of the unknown we must use truth, and truth is we beat them…and beat them hard.”
Chief Vladimir said a silent prayer for the dead of the Rubis-class submarine. No matter what side they are on, all are sailors who live in the hostile depths of the ocean and thus brethren of the same order. He startled from the noise which flowed into his headphones and shook his head.
Clicking on the intercom he said “Captain we have a distant contact…” here his voice broke slightly, “sounds of a torpedo warhead detonation and a submarine hull collapsing.”
All personnel on the bridge came to a momentary silence as Captain Nicholas acknowledged the report. So it is that in the game of hunter and hunted, sub vs. sub, another hunter has gained their first kill.
“Thank you,” Captain Nicholas said to the sailor after signing for the encoded message. “Now please call for Lieutenant Carl to come join me at once. Tell him we have a ‘most secret’ message from our North Fleet Headquarters.” He returned the sailors salute and turned back to the ever present paperwork on his clipboard until the lieutenant arrived in under a minute.
He handed the encoded message form over to the political officer who acknowledged its authenticity, jointly retrieved the ‘most secret’ codebooks from the ships safe and returned to translate its contents. What they read in the deciphered passages was no less shocking despite the recent brush with death hours before.
Northern Fleet Headquarters to all submarines stationed off of Iceland…
Submarine forces of the Russian Alliance have been engaged by rouge elements of the French Navy, a force which includes most of their advanced Rubis-class submarines. Twelve hours ago a coup began against the Imperialist government of France by the self-declared “Free Rabid Animal Teams” or FART for short, and battles still rage in many towns and province capitals. All communications with Paris and the heads of the French government have fallen silent.
Six hours ago the President of the United States of America joined with the NATO Imperialist governments in condemning this coup and publically stated their awareness of the rouge naval units. The next statement minutes later confirmed orders had been given to confront and eliminate all ‘enemy naval submarines from the maritime exclusion zone.’
Moscow center has stated this will mean any and all Russian Alliance submarine forces will be engaged without any warning by submarines of NATO.
Effective immediately all submarine commanders are authorized by the Prime Minister of the Russian Alliance to engage in unrestricted anti-submarine warfare at will inside the declared maritime exclusion zone; all surface and aircraft are not, repeat not, to be engaged unless you are fired upon first. No nuclear arms are to be used unless so authorized by the National Prime Minister.
Additional updates and instructions will follow as events dictated by the current crisis demand.
All of us know the duty put before us by the state and will carry it out to the fullest for defense of the motherland. Good speed and good hunting.
Captain Nicholas sighed and then activated the intercom system, “All officers not specifically needed for the manning of battle stations assemble at once in the officer’s galley for a war meeting. Also, the presence of Sonar Chief Vladimir escorted by Political Officer Lieutenant Carl is required as well.”
Seamen watched as Sonar Chief Vladimir nervously headed to the officers gallery with the stone-faced political officer everyone rightfully fears. In moments the procession is joined by the summoned officers who walk in mute silence, unflinching, no emotion showing save a savage flame that burned in their eyes. Many of them said a final prayer for Vladimir, assuming he will soon no longer be among the living after a summary execution by Lt. Carl for some unspeakable crime against the state.
When they were assembled Captain Nicholas read the message to his officers, “Gentlemen we have our orders and our duty for the motherland to carry out. I expect the usual level of absolute perfection and diligence we are all accustomed to carrying out and there is no room for mistakes. Those who make one when clashing with enemy subs are soon among the dead.”
Vladimir sat through the entire meeting perfectly still, his skin turning clammy as sweat began to build upon his brow. He was amazed at how much information the man could process, calmly read dispatches, asked any pertinent questions, gave orders in his calm and crisp mannerism typical of the ‘man of steel’ and them shared in ribald jokes with Lt. Carl, jokes that would have any other man in the Russian Alliance jailed or executed on the spot!!!
For over two hours the terrified Sonar Chief absorbed all of this until Captain Nicholas declared “Now we come to the important matter of what to do with Sonar Chief Vladimir. Political officer Carl, will you read, according to naval standard procedures, the message we have received from North Fleet Headquarters.”
Lt. Carl stood as did the other officers save for the captain who irreverently leaned back and placed his booted feet on top of the table and lowered his cap over his face. Lt. Carl began to read the message when Lt. Joseph chided the captain, “Captain with all due respect sir we must follow procedures to the letter in these matters. If I am to defend Vladimir properly then…but you are right, when the state determines someone is already guilty who am I to say otherwise…at least I can claim to have tried to defend him before he is shot…”
Sonar Chief Vladimir looked at Lt. Joseph in alarm, bordering on complete panic and choked on the denial he could not force past his lips. He looked to the captain to protest his innocence and noted his wicked grin, then the same grin on all officers present.
“Sonar Chief Vladimir please stand at attention,” Lt. Carl said while holding the message before him in one hand, the other in his hip pocket gripping what appeared to be a small firearm. His eyes turned ice-cold as that of an executioner about to deal death to one more of his victims. “On this day September 16, for outstanding performance of his duty and keeping the Prime Misters son from having his tail shot off,” Carl pointed to himself, “and for keeping said son’s uncle alive and still fairly useful to the navy,” he pointed to the Captain, “you are now officially promoted to the ranking of Lieutenant second class and may God have mercy on your soul for the captain shall show you none.”
Vladimir shook his head in disbelief as Carl pulled a small box from his pocket and tossed it to Lt’s Joseph, and then he joined in the affixing of the new rank insignia on Vladimir’s shirt collar. Congratulations and hand shakes were in short order followed up by a single half-shot of vodka that Lt. Carl had somehow found onboard the ship.
“Now then,” Captain Nicholas declared, “one more matter to inform everyone about. At the end of this tour of duty, assuming we live that is, Political officer Lieutenant Carl will no longer be onboard. He has earned his long sought command of another submarine and survived under his uncles’ stern tutorage for three whole tours with his sanity intact.”
“Congratulations Carl, he who is soon to be called ‘boss.’ And best of fortune, for you shall need it,” Nicholas said to the utterly flabbergasted political officer. He recalled the same look and feelings when he received his first command at sea, and knew then and there that Carl would never advance high in the government or in the navy ranks, as he loved the sea more than the party or for promotions.
“Captain why don’t you grab some sleep,” Lieutenant Joseph suggested. “We will call the instant something comes across our path.”
“Very well then Joseph,” the captain said, grateful for such good men as he commanded, and headed for his quarters, “standard wartime instructions are still in full effect. If a hostile submarine shows up, call me if time permits otherwise shoot first and then call me.”
“Yes Captain,” Lieutenant Joseph acknowledged as he headed back to the bridge.
“Captain,” Lt. Carl called as he climbed up into the bridge with a message slip in his hand. “We have a VLF signal from Northern Fleet Headquarters, symbols only for us to continue with current mission orders.”
“Very well then, have the orders recorded in the ships log and signed as well. Return to patrol depth and resume our established course.” Captain Nicholas turned back to his navigation charts that he has obsessed with for the last five hours. “Carl and Joseph come over here and I want your best opinions and options on something that has been bothering me for a time…summon Vladimir as well.”
The three lieutenants gathered with the captain and listened to his theory of the Rubis-class sub which nearly had sunk them earlier in their patrol. Step by step he walked them through the evidence of the sea terrain and the sonar tracks presented to him by Vladimir and the unusual whale sounds they had encountered in the region.
“Vladimir how certain is you of your information?” Lt. Carl asked of him, already knowing the answer.
“Very much so, Lt. Carl…sorry Carl, very much so,” Vladimir said, still not used to his new ranking. The informal nature of discussions between officers pleased and surprised him to no end, though everyone still called Nicholas by his title of Captain, for he is Iron Fists mind, heart and soul in one body.
“I never got to go to university to study about the oceans,” Vladimir continued, “but the navy has been kind to provide me with research tapes of whale and orca pods in the northern seas. I ran them through the system to check against the ones we have been running into lately and found an anomaly that I had to inform Captain Nicholas of…”
He continued to explain the ‘anomaly’ of sea noise from the whales and the orcas. The shock on the faces of Carl and Joseph turned to horror as they realized how vulnerable they truly were in this region against the rouge French naval forces.
“Now then for the good news,” Captain Nicholas said, “We have been plotting the ‘whale-farts’ and ‘orca-cry’ sounds and concluded this…”
“It’s there gentlemen,” he said as he tapped the maps once again, “Remember Vladimir stated those Orcas fled before the torpedo was detected. Those were real Orca’s hunting near us, and scared away by artificially made ‘Orca-cries’ from the Rubis-class sub before it fired upon us. We now know as well what the ‘whale-farts’ means…and yes that is my term for it…they are the underwater sonar-telephones used for inter-sub communications.”
“So that Rubis was guarding the biggest game in the area we could hope to find?” Lt. Carl stated with a growing grin. He looked like the legendary hungry-wolf who has cornered his prey and prepared to have dinner. “Now the next question Captain, how do we get into that area and destroy this brute?”
“Entering the northern region is not the problem; Captain Nicholas has done so before,” Lt. Joseph said, “what matters is that we have a shot for the greatest prize ever: A Boomer!” He clenched his fist in imagined triumph, desire flaming away in his eyes at hunting for such a prize.
“This undersea war commenced just over two days ago and we have heard mixed results,” Captain Nicholas said with satisfaction. “Aside from the Rubis two smaller subs have fallen to our torpedoes. I wonder though how many of our fellow submariners will be on eternal patrol and how many empty docking berths will exist in Northern Fleets bases. Vladimir has begun to pick up far convergence zone noises from American subs, and that means more hostiles or potential hostiles coming fast.”
“I want this bastard of a missile boat for another reason,” he clenched his fist and growled out his remaining words, “he carries missiles with a range to strike Mother Russia and most of the eastern shore of America. Fired from here how the Russian Alliance could not be blamed for it happening no matter what the truth? No matter the outcome, the rebels who currently are fighting for control of France, the ones our own government have denounced before the world, will win. They become the new super power kids on the block.”
“So do we go for it gentlemen or not?” Captain Nicholas asked, to which they looked upon him with hunger in their eyes for the ultimate prize of a ballistic-missile sub added to their list of kills. “That’s what I thought, so be it then.”
“Helm, bring us to course 312, two-thirds speed and hug the bottom,” Nicholas called out and grunted as his orders were executed. The Iron Fist tilted as she came to her new course, the engines vibrated the deck enough he could feel it through the bottom of his feet.
“Let the hunt begin…” he softly whispered to himself.
Sixteen hours had passed since the new course was set, the hunt for the French boomer underway at this time. Whispers passed between departments of the sub flowed along with the cooks bringing cold sandwiches and tea while they manned battle stations.
These rumors only grew into iron-clad certainty as the Captain bypassed a German diesel-sub snorkeling at the surface that would have been easy prey for their torpedoes. The one man who asked the Captain about the sub they bypassed received such a withering look he nearly fainted on the spot, thus confirming the rumors that they were after bigger prey.
Lt Carl moved from section to section as well, giving short inspirational speeches to the men and thanking them on behalf of the motherland for their duty. He also told them of the suspected prize they now hunted for, and took fierce pride in their nods and determined looks – looks of revenge for lost friends and family, desires for fame and recognition for taking down a boomer, and of the loyalty they have with their captain.
On his way back to the bridge Carl ran into Lt. Kael, weapons officer of Iron Fist, “Evening Kael, how is all in the engineering room today? Hopefully the tea kettle will not affect the slight glow you have from so much time back in there lately?”
“No Carl,” Kael stated, long used to the joke of a naval engineer of a nuclear-powered sub ‘glowing in the dark’ from being too near the nuclear reactor. “It does make it easier to read at night but keeps the wife up. It’s one of those cases of pulling double duty – we sailed without the chief and I am qualified for both weapons and engineering so…” he shrugged at this point and got a friendly chuckle from the political officer.
“Good thing too,” called out the captain from close enough both men nearly leaped out of their boots. “Now then Kael, give me the official report for the engines and power plant.”
“Captain the power plant is approaching meltdown due to the coolant having ceased to flow days ago and we lost the propellers five minutes past. I have men outside shoving the ship along an inch at a time…” Karl stopped his descriptive report when Nicholas grinned and wagged a finger before him. “The ship is fine from end to end captain; we’ll be ready when we find that ballistic armed beast.”
“Good, now I have my part to take care of and guide us through the rocks ahead,” Nicholas calmly said as he headed for the bridge, “and hopefully not run into them like last time.”
“Depth sounding shows ten meters clearance under the hull, we are moving at creep speed Captain,” Lt. Joseph whispered to Nicholas. No matter how many times he went over the next part of the Captains plan to bag that French ballistic missile sub he still had to shake his head in disbelief. Only the captain would be crazy enough try this idea out and probably make it work.
“Raise scope and activate underway lights forward, tower and periscope. Prepare for maneuvering orders and be on top of your game or you will walk home after being fired out the torpedo tube,” Captain Nicholas growled at everyone on the bridge. “Helm, come to course 010 and hold depth, the gap ahead is narrow. Weapons have four torpedoes readied with tubes flooded and doors open, I don’t expect to face any opposition on our trip through the passage, but its best to be prepared…”
Captain Nicholas watched the stone outcroppings pass by as he maneuvered the Iron Fist step by step along the narrow, twisted and utterly convoluted passage. He twirled the periscope to one side and then back, calculating speed, distances, times and other variables needed while the lights pierced into the depths eternal darkness and caused startled fish and plankton to flare with iridescent fires before they disappeared into the night once again.
“The passage” as Captain Nicholas mentioned is officially called by the Russian Naval High Command as “The Maze’ or “Hells passage.’ Before the fall of the USSR a narrow path of valleys had been discovered among the rocky peaks and crags jutting from the ocean floor between Iceland and England. Mapped in exacting detail by robotic subs and manned submersibles, they had been declared passable by the smaller fleet subs such as Iron Fist and avoid the NATO SOSUS detection network with contemptible ease.
The reality of navigating the ever changing, insanely swirling mass of currents and tidal movement had been that of a nightmare come to life. The one effort attempted resulted in the Northern Fleet High Command orders to never traverse the passage save for the gravest of reasons.
Right now, Captain Nicholas deems the risk of a ballistic missile nuclear submarine which is in the hands of a rouge force hostile to his nation as reason enough to violate the standing ‘no navigate’ orders. Thus he had it recorded in the ships log that this risk is on his orders and his alone. He is the captain, and thus he alone will face any blame, assuming they survive to do so, that falls upon the ship for violating such orders.
Lt Carl leaned over the navigation charts and softly whispered to Lt Joseph. “How is it possible to make use of the passage? The Captain acts as if he has some kind of special knowledge of this route when Headquarters has declared it a no travel zone…”
“Carl this may come as a shock to you but Captain Nicholas navigated this passage not once but three times to prove it could be done since he took command of the Iron Fist. The official records only show one effort to cover the entire route, but I have been with the captain on all three voyages.” Lt Joseph grinned at the shock on Lt Carl’s face.
“Now then,” Lt Joseph said with due seriousness, “Carl we have twenty hours of heart stopping motion to deal with in navigating the passage. Lets do our part in supporting the Captains efforts and then we get on with the task of ending that boomer threat to our homeland.”
“Good point,” Lt Carl declared, “that boomer has to go no matter the cost to us, the homeland and the children there have to come first before all of us.”
With an order growled at the helmsman the Iron Fist commenced its journey along the passage, and into a time when it and all aboard shall become legends…
Captain Nicholas grinned at the sight of a seal playfully swimming around the periscope, “Passage is widening and appears to be clear, keep current speed but hug the bottom by twenty meters above the nearest depth on the charts. Gentlemen we are officially out of the passage and nary a scratch on the hull.”
Everyone on the bridge breathed a collective sigh of relief until Captain Nicholas snarled at them all, “No time to relax now, we may soon face another sub in the region as the rebels may have knowledge of the passage as well and posted a gatekeeper on this exit…kill the external lights and lower the periscope.”
With that reminder the tension thickened considerably as all the bridge crew redoubled their vigilance…for the captains warning was proven to be providence sent just minutes later.
“Captain,” whispered Lt. Vladimir (Sonar) into the voice-powered microphone which linked his station to the Captain. “Lone contact bearing 379 degrees, low-speed and at our current depth, wait one. Confirmation, it is a Rubis-class sub, and based on the sound of her propellers I think we are in her baffles…’
Lt Carl and Joseph began a manual chart to track the contact as information was fed into the fire-control system for the torpedoes by Lt Karl. Minute by minute the distance closed and heartbeats quickened in anticipation of the dreaded cry of an inbound torpedo coming their way. Point by point the data accumulated, and finally Lt Joseph whispered, “We have a solution captain, Range 2500 meters at 5-knots, it appears we are in his baffles after all…”
“Then he is, as the Yankees say, ‘dead meat’,” Captain Nicholas declared with a fiendish grin.
Nicholas momentarily turned his gaze to the political officer. “Carl, as you’re to have a boat of your own after we get back home, I give you leave to take the shot…” He leaned back against the ships hull and assumed his usual unreadable ‘man of steel’ expression while Lt Carl nodded in acknowledgement of the order.
Lt Carl breathed deep and then whispered to Lt. Kael “Torpedo tubes one and three, match bearings and shoot.” He felt the grand old lady Iron Fist shudder twice as compressed air ejected each torpedo out of its tube, and the subtlest of shifts due to the helmsman trimming the ship to keep her on an even keel.
He grinned as Lt. Kael whispered the time to impact and that both torpedoes were ‘running hot, straight and normal.’ That grin of delight and awe lasted until reality crashed home, and made him comprehend he has just fired real weapons, at real enemies, for the first time in his life.
“Carl,” Captain Nicholas spoke without taking his eye away from the periscope viewer, “you’ll do fine. Each of us has to cross the Rubicon at one point or another in our lives. Now gentlemen lets get ready incase our gift to that bastard ahead somehow misses or he has friends in the region.”
Sonar continued to feed updates on the Rubis submarine, the torpedoes, and anything else remotely of interest in the area, such as the infamous ‘whale-farts’ that denoted the activities of their hunted prize – the boomer. In short order each one was plotted and a baseline established, and conclusions deduced from the mass of data…
“Captain we have the bastard,” whispered Lt. Joseph, “the boomer appears to be on an elliptical course roughly ninety kilometers ahead and accompanied, based on the occasional ‘Orca-scream’ of their sonar, by at least two more Rubis-class subs.”
“Very good and keep tracking,” Captain Nicholas growled as he mentally calculated responses for any action the Rubis will take in the near future…plans rendered redundant by the unrelenting laws of physics as the twin torpedoes inexorably closed the gap between them and their prey. Onboard sonar detected the faint noise from the subs propeller and locked on for the kill like the remorseless robotic vehicles they are…
A faint cheer went up across the sub as the echoing roar of their torpedoes caressed the Iron Fist. The enemy has been dealt another blow, ambushed in like manner as nearly claimed their ship just days ago.
“Direct hit with the weapons Captain,” called out Lt. Vladimir “his engines are silent and he is blowing ballast tanks to…huh?”
The sub shook about as the hammering blow slammed into the titanium hull. Lights flickered on and off, and men grabbed anything handy to keep from sprawling to the deck while the helmsman fought to keep the boat on an even keel. Lt Carl and Joseph shouted for damage reports in the same instant, resulting in sheepish grins being shared between the two.
As the thunderous noise continued to echo and writhe across the seabed Captain Nicholas roared out orders to the crew which quickly reestablished order in the bridge. “Get a full report on any injuries and on all systems as quick as you can, make sure especially all key systems are fully functional…”
Just then the first casualty was reported…
Lt Joseph ordered Lt Vladimir to the sick bay, praying that the man’s hearing had not been completely shattered. The massive secondary detonation from the now dead sub has flooded Vladimir’s headphones with such a wailing of noise he collapsed to the ground, eyes clenched shut and gritted his teeth to try and keep from screaming in pain.
“Captain this is Joseph, Vladimir is hurt and evacuated to sick bay for the time I am assuming lead of the Sonar Department,” he whispered to Captain Nicholas after donning the discarded headphones and microphone. He confirmed the breaking up noises of the Rubis along with the sound of something unusual going on…
“Captain we have something going on from the dead Rubis…” Lt Joseph said and on orders linked the noises to a set of headphones donned by the captain on the bridge. “Captain this noise is coming from exactly where the Rubis sub was when that massive explosion followed with our torpedoes impact.” That sound chilled him to the bone, as it reminded one of a thousand hot skillets having droplets of water dumped upon them and sizzling away instantly over and over without end.
Captain Nicholas knew what it was from past experience, having barely survived his first sea patrol on a doomed nuclear sub after graduating the Naval Academy of Science. “What you are hearing is the results of a nuclear fuel-mass from the Rubis reactor after exposure to the chilled sea water. Our torpedoes ruptured not only the hull but the reactor vessel as well; intelligence has mentioned that the Rubis advanced reactor design also had problems venting hydrogen gas that accumulated in their cooling systems…there will be no rescues for the subs crew.”
As he adjusted the magnification of the periscope no one noticed the slight quiver in the captain’s gloved hand as he recalled the wail of alarms amidst the chaos of alarms and flickering lights as the reactor threatened to go critical. His captain of the soon-to-be lost Victor-class nuclear submarine screamed for all ballast tanks to be blown dry in a desperate bid to save everyone before the power failed completely. Nicholas had taken up his evacuation station near the conning towers hatch when the sub broached the churning seas surface in the middle of a fierce storm.
He, the second officer, the political officer and seventeen men made it clear of the sub in the first inflatable raft when a massive explosion tore the sub apart and sent it and the remaining crew to a watery grave after the reactors containment vessel had ruptured and exposed the radioactive core to the open sea.
For thirty-seven days they fought the seas, using improvised paddles, until at long last a Norwegian freighter spotted them and picked them up for a heroes return to the Russian Alliance who had declared them lost at sea and presumed dead.
Nicholas cringed at the heroes parade down the streets of Moscow which followed, and his being presented the ‘Hero of Russia,’ metal for his unrelenting drive and determination to get his fellow survivors home after the second in command and political officer succumbed to their injuries. His iron-hard persistence had earned him the nickname ‘Man of Steel.’
Secretly, he hated it every time it was used in reference to him, as he only wanted to do his duty to the nation he so loved and create a better future for the nation’s children he will never sire due to the radiation absorbed from the submarines reactor breach.
That is why he is so determined to liquidate the boomer, for the children now living and those to come.
Of course if any of his crew dared to imply he is sentimental, he will just fire them out of a torpedo tube…he does have to keep up appearances after all.
Captain Nicholas moved to the navigation table and spoke to the political officer, “Carl you will have the bridge until Joseph is free from Sonar. Move us along this course…” his finger traced out a sweeping arc ending at a very specific oceanic outcropping. “Yes Carl as you figured out already this will bring us to the edge of that boomers circuit and is the perfect spot for a grand old ambush if we get there first.”
“Now then, have the galley pass around cold sandwiches and tea for everyone as soon as possible. I want full stomachs and a ready crew for when the boomer is in our sights.” Captain Nicholas nodded as Lt Carl acknowledged his orders, “Begin to rotate the crew to ensure they are rested as well.”
“One more thing that occurred to me about these ‘Orca-screams’ we assumed are the Rubis sonar systems being used. Why would anyone announce their presence as often as we have been detecting, especially around a prize such as that boomer?”
Lt Carl’s face turned ashen gray as the answer slammed home with terminal force, “Minefield.”
“Exactly,” the captain said as he nodded his head, “That spot is where we finish the fight Carl. Get us there and try to avoid putting us into or upon any rocks. Also maintain quiet throughout the ship, I want that boomer on the bottom. Just keep us clear of any minefields though, having fish swimming around inside a submarine is one way to ruin a good day.”
He looked hard at Lt. Carl, “It would be supremely foolish to imagine that massive blast was not heard by them or anyone else. Act accordingly and use your best judgment, but that boomer has to be our priority…”
“Gentlemen I want this to be clear,” he whispered to his officers with a cold, iron-hard voice, “we paid back the Rubis by ambushing it as they did with us. Keep alert as there may be others in the area and other NATO subs hunting the boomer as well if they know its here. Remember our orders and the warning from Naval Headquarters, the NATO and USA may regard us as an enemy and attack without notice.”
“Now then, wake me in eight hours or as needed,” Captain Nicholas instructed as he headed for his bunk.
“Captain we have communications from Northern Fleet Headquarters,” the communications officer leaped back as Captain Nicholas roused from his sound sleep and jumped to his feet in a blur of motion. “Sir, Lt. Joseph is on the bridge and instructed me to inform you that Lt. Carl is in the officer’s galley and Lt Vladimir is able to resume duty in Sonar when needed.”
The Captain grunted his acknowledgement and dismissed the communications officer after taking the message. In short order he met with Lt. Carl in the galley and they commenced to translate the message. The resulting message sent Nicholas into a complete rage so hot many wondered if the Iron Fist’s titanium hull would melt though and admit the crushing waters of the ocean.
In turn, Captain Nicholas visited each of his officers and nodded at the mixture of shock, horror and outrage that came upon their faces as they read the message…
Northern Fleet Headquarters to all submarines stationed off of Iceland…
The rebels of the “Free Rabid Animal Teams” (FART) continue unabated in their folly to overthrow the lawful government of France where the loyalist armies of France will finish the matter within a few months of time.
The rebel naval elements are being engaged by the Russian Alliance with fierce determination, dedication and unflinching sacrifice in the face of insurmountable odds. There have been losses to date yet the rebels forces have suffered even more in number.
All submarine forces in the vicinity of the maritime exclusion zone are alerted that NATO submarines are active in increasing numbers, and are not, repeat NOT, engaging any submarines of the Russian Alliance per orders of their respective governments.
Thus all Russian Alliance commanders are ordered to not engage any NATO submarines unless fired upon first.
Also be advised that the French government has warned that a number of tactical nuclear torpedo warheads have ‘gone missing’ and are presumed to be onboard the rebel submarine forces. In addition there are some indications, unconfirmed at this time, that one or more ballistic-missile submarines have sided with the rebels and may be on launch stations at this time.
It is the opinion of the Fleet Intelligence section, in affirmation with the dedicated and always-correct KGB and GRU services of the state that the probable nuclear-armed torpedoes are with any submarines escorting the boomers and there may be other anti-submarine systems, such as the American SUBROC system that are also armed with nuclear warheads.
“God help us, nuclear-tipped torpedoes and Lord alone knows what else around the boomer,” Lt Joseph said with a voice akin to the whisper of an open grave.
“Yes indeed,” Captain Nicholas growled and slammed his fist on the hull in growing fury as his quest to blow the boomer out of the water grew ever more difficult. “Now let’s get the Iron Fist into position and prepare to send that boomer to the bottom once and for all.”
For four hours the two Rubis-class nuclear submarines moved across the rocky undersea crag known as the Isis Sea Mount. Their onboard sonar, designed to mimic the sounds of Orcas and other major sea life, swept across the shifting misshapen mass of rock, mud and silt. The constant noise of the ocean currents across its seven square kilometer surface demanded the usage of active sonar, to ensure none of the defensively laid sea mines have ripped free of their moorings.
For the hundredth time in their mission the commanders of the two rebel subs communicated via the undersea phones to coordinate the next portion of their patrol. Both had heard the apocalyptic demise of a brother sub far to the south, and both captains agreed that a drifting sea mine had detonated against its hull, setting off a chain reaction of mines and torpedo warheads that tore the submarine asunder instantly.
Thus they concluded that the Russian pathway, ‘The Passage,’ cannot be navigated by anyone and should be left alone save for the few moored mines already in place. In short order both submarines split up and headed out on their established patrol routes, designed to ensure they kept well clear of the outermost minefields set to catch surface ships and submarines that blundered into them.
“Captain the Rubis subs are moving away at 305 and 215 degrees respectively.” Lt Joseph whispered into his microphone as he monitored the waterfall displays before him. “Both are slightly increasing speed, estimated at 12 knots, they have ceased to communicate with the underwater phones, so no more ‘whale-farts’ for the time being.”
“Any sign of the boomer or other submarines in the region?” Captain Nicholas asked as he entered the sonar room and examined the displays with his keen eyes. Lt Joseph pointed out all possible submarine contacts near and far, some of which corresponded to the sound signatures of NATO submarines occasionally engaging in battle with the rouge naval units.
As for the boomer, she had neared the surface a couple of hours before and has reduced her sound signature to such a degree they only had intermediate contact for short spans of time. Nicholas softly growled and tapped the glass covered screen. “Here Joseph, watch this area, my gut is telling me we will have our prey in just a short time…”
“Yes sir, consider it done,” Lt Joseph said, eager as his captain to find and eliminate the boomer. “Captain how is Vladimir?”
Captain Nicholas sighed, reluctant to deliver the news, “His hearing is shattered, or so our medical aide says. So he is confined to his bunk until we can return home and see how good of medical care he can get. Right now I am concerned about this sudden change to the boomers behavior, I talked with Kael and he agrees, the boomer may be on standby for a launch order.”
He recalled the chart that Lt Kael, his weapons officer, had produced and overlaid with the distances for the boomers ballistic missiles. Sixteen missiles lay ready to fly within its missile tubes, ready to fly and unleash five nuclear warheads upon eighty targets, presumably major cities and military bases. In Europe, the United States and in Russia over two hundred million lives are at risk of nuclear death if he and his crew failed to sink that boomer.
Captain Nicholas jumped a bit as Lt Joseph tapped him on the shoulder. When the lieutenant pointed to a small spot on the screen, both of them grinned as the familiar sound signature brightened ever so slightly and shifted to one side.
“Very good Joseph,” he said, “very good, our guest has arrived and is about to get the final meal he so richly deserves.”
In short order Captain Nicholas ordered battle stations to be silently manned and the Iron Fist raised from the swirling muck and mud of the sea mount. “Carl, you owe me a steak dinner on your new command whenever we get back, that little trick of mine worked after all eh?”
“Yes captain, and a trick I will do well to remember,” Lt Carl said. When the captain brought the Iron Fist to rest among the swirling currents and muck and mud of the sea mount and reduced all systems to the minimal needed to power the ship and the sonar, everyone understood the wisdom of his choice. Then a complete surprise followed, for the captain ordered a slow release of compressed air from the ship, creating a subtle field of bubbles that, when combined with the sound-absorbing tiling attached to the hull, negated any noise radiating outward.
Lt Kael grinned at the sheepish smile on the political officer who nodded in turn to the man. “The captain knows his stuff, I may be getting a command of my own and I still have volumes to learn from him.”
Captain Nicholas called out his orders, “Helm, bring us to course 273 at two knots, flood and open outer tube doors one through four and be prepared to fire. Kael, be ready for a snapshot if we run into a sudden mess or two.” He turned to the chart table with Lt Carl and began to finalize his plans for the coming battle.
“Captain,” Lt Joseph called through his microphone, “we have him, and the boomer is advancing at seven knots on course 274. He is headed directly for us and estimated at 8900 meters, depth 80 meters.”
“Well done Joseph,” Captain Nicholas said, he turned to Lt Carl and grinned, “it looks like he will pass just over us if we continue on our current course…what the…full stop!”
The helmsman acknowledged his orders as everyone cringed at the sound of a steel cable softly scraping along the hulls edge. Seconds passed as the Iron Fist slowed to a halt, the cable continued to sound off as everyone held their breath, wondering if each beating of their heart would end in the crushing detonation of 1000 kg of high explosives before the sea flooded the boat, sending her to the bottom forever.
The helm called out zero-speed as they drifted along with the current until the cable cleared the submarine and allowed everyone to begin breathing once again. Some finished the prayers they had begun, grateful to God for a second chance on life.
“Now that we are past that, let’s get back to the hunt,” Captain Nicholas said, as unflappable as ever even though his heart remained lodged in his throat for some time. “Helm, keep to current course and return to two knots speed; we have about one hour to get into position and give him our final greetings.”
“Captain,” Lt Carl began, his hand shaking slightly, “what would have occurred if the mine had carried a nuclear warhead?”
“Kael, tell him,” Captain Nicholas ordered. The sight of Lt Carl turning ten shades of grey as Lt Karl described the immense pressures and temperatures such a nuclear blast would unleash, rendering the entire ship into a soup of plasma as everyone instantly vaporized or wound up crushed between the port and starboard hulls as they compressed down to a space of about four centimeters in thickness.
“After that Carl,” Lt Kael stated, “one either finds himself before God’s throne or welcomed into a paradise for all of time, or standing before a dude with horns, pitchfork, and a spiffy red suit…’
“Ah I see,” Lt Carl said with an impish grin, “Either God or my old uncle who once headed the KGB…very good point Kael, very good point.”
All of the officers on the bridge chuckled at the attempt at humor and the last tension from their brush with the sea mine drained away. Now only a solid determination remained, to end the menace of the boomer before she could fire on their homeland.
At this point the communications officer came over to Captain Nicholas and whispered that for the third time no messages have arrived at the indicated hours from Northern Fleet Headquarters. No signs at all of anything going on in the greater world…he ordered all the communications gear to be double checked to ensure it is still working correctly.
For the first time in many a year Captain Nicholas prayed, hoping against hope that the silence means a problem in the communications systems. The other probability, a nightmare indeed, means his homeland has already been reduced to ashes by the missile launch of another undetected boomer.
When he looked around the bridge he saw the looks upon the faces of Lt Carl and Kael, who had caught the all- too-brief fearful expression. They respectfully kept their silence, determined to play out their roles of being in total control of themselves as is their captain, the legendary ‘man of steel.’
Minute by minute the Iron Fist continued on its way above the sea mount, closing the distance to ambush the boomer while final checks were run on the weapon systems and torpedoes. The captain sent Lt Carl to inspect the ships compartments, and to remind all of their duty.
Minute by minute Lt Joseph whispered into his mike the slightest change in course or speed or depth in the boomer as it remorselessly closed the distance, unaware that its date with destiny and destruction was soon to be at hand. His eyes blazed bright with the rage he has felt for the boomer, the instrument that may unleash flaming death upon his homeland if he makes the smallest mistake while working the sonar systems.
Minute by minute Lt Kael updated his fire control systems as the data came in from Sonar. His eyes monitored all the displays for the slightest deviation that indicates any problems, anything, that will hinder the delivery of their torpedoes onto the hull of the boomer. One hand held its position on the cover over the launch button, ready to lift it and launch the instant Captain Nicholas gave the order.
Minute by minute, as the distance closed, Lt Carl moved through the ship, compartment to compartment, and called upon everyone to do their duty to the fullest. As he returned to the bridge he hesitated as he understood this will be the final time he will be ‘one of the men,’ so to speak – he is a political officer after all – and knew in his heart he will miss it.
The next submarine he boards will be as ‘the captain’ and ‘the old man.’
He has always wanted his own command, and now, when it should gladden his heart, he is not sure if the life of a submarine captain is truly meant for him. Lt Carl ruthlessly shoved those thoughts out of his mind, determined to do the duty demanded of him by his motherland and his fellow submariners. He will deal with the future when it arrives, for now; other duties demand his fullest attention.
Minute by minute the entire crew of Iron Fist, from the Captain to the newest member, acted with one mind and one purpose, the perfect fusion of many beings and their submarine into one entity, which focused on the death of an enemy just ahead of them…
“Helm, all stop,” Captain Nicholas whispered, his grin feral and wicked as the hunt approaches its culmination, “We are here gentlemen and well ahead of that boomer. Nothing else seems to be around to interfere, so lets make sure nothing else is about to surprise us…”
Lt Joseph interrupted him, “Captain the noise from the boomer is growing steadily on course 274, speed is now 3 knots, at 1300 meters, estimating depth at 150 meters...”
The bridge crew grinned at this wonderful news, their prey stood dead in their sights. Captain Nicholas prepared to give the firing order and do away with the boomer at long last. “Kael, on my mark, firing sequence will be tubes one, four, two, three, and standby for a snapshot if we need to follow up…”
“Captain the boomer has come to a complete stop,” the words from Lt Joseph caused all of the officers on the bridge to look at each other in alarm, “hull popping noises…captain he is coming up rapidly, no attempt to hide his movement….OH SHIT!!!”
Captain Nicholas did not bother to ask what disturbed Lt Joseph so much, as only one noise could at this point, “Kael FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! Get them gone now at the boomer!”
Lt Kael pressed the firing switch four times, loosing all four torpedoes at five second intervals into the sea. He called out successful launching as the helm fought to keep the Iron Fist on an even keel. He hit the switches to open the remaining torpedo tube doors, and reported them so.
“Captain what is it?” asked a startled Lt Carl. He paled further when Lt Joseph called out the words no one wanted to hear, “…he’s flooding missile tubes and opening the launch doors…”
“Kael increase speed on the torpedoes to full and nail that bastard’s hide to the wall now!” shouted Lt Carl and Captain Nicholas in the same instant. Lt Kael looked sheepishly at his captain, who responded with an impish grin of delight.
“Helm increase speed to 15 knots and move us off the sea mound, 15 degrees rise on the bow planes and make our depth 100 meters,” Captain Nicholas called out as he picked up the bridge phone and contacted the torpedo room. “Listen well,” he told the Chief of the torpedo room, “get those tubes reloaded as quick as you can we are going to have to fight our way out of here…”
“Twenty seconds to impact for first torpedo, five seconds apart for each one in train…” Lt Kael called out, the excitement in his voice becoming contagious to everyone on the bridge. “We have him now captain, he is out of time and luck.”
No one needed to be told that all too familiar sound of a close-in, powerful, active sonar caressing the hull of the Iron Fist. Hearts surged into many a man’s throat as pulses quickened and Captain Nicholas commenced the fight to keep his crew and submarine alive.
“Left full rudder, flank speed ahead, 40 degree down angle on the bow planes,” Captain Nicholas shouted. “Fire off four decoys, five seconds apart and brace for impact. Anyone who wishes to pray or do a final confession I suggest you get started now.”
“Captain, the boomer has launched torpedoes, two, three, no four torpedoes coming in fast, he is holding at 30 meters in depth…decoys are being unleashed in the water around him.” Lt Joseph kept calling off the numbers for the inbound torpedoes as the clock remorselessly counted down in the race between the boomer preparing to launch its missiles and the torpedoes of Iron Fist that seek to send it to the bottom.
“Two inbound torpedoes drawing away rapidly…they are headed for…” Lt Joseph called, pulling the earphones away a moment before the thundering crash of torpedo upon torpedo detonations occurred. Moments later the Iron Fist shook from the force of the blasts, though they were distant enough to have no chance of breaching the pressure hull.
“Full rise on the bow planes, full stop and bring us to 150 meters in depth,” Captain Nicholas shouted as the next thunderous roars swept across the depths of the sea. “He used his own torpedoes to counter our own, but he only has four torpedo tubes gentlemen…”
“Captain the boomer has reached launch depth, seven of his missile tubes are open and the tubes flooded, five others are flooding right now!” Lt Joseph called out. He took an old rag and wiped the building sweat from his brow. In the distance he heard the noise of at least four Rubis class submarines reach flank speed and begin to close the distance on the Iron Fist.
“Captain we have four Rubis-class submarines accelerating and coming in our direction,” Lt Joseph called out as his voice began to break. He knew that in mere seconds he will be the first to hear the ejection of the ballistic missiles into the sky from their launch tubes, and the sound would herald the beginning of Armageddon for his homeland.
“Go active on the sonar!” Captain Nicholas shouted as the Iron Fist swung around to align with the boomer. He knew they had one shot left. “Kael, ready the snapshot and let them fly in one salvo, have them go active the instant they leave the tubes…”
The heavy bell-like ring of their active sonar swept out into the oceans depths.
“Boomer is at 354 degrees, 1200 meters and 30 meters in depth. He is flooding his remaining missile launch tubes captain and opening the outer doors,” called out Lt Joseph, now on the edge of a complete breakdown. He knew there is no time for the torpedoes to reach their target before the missiles flew.
“Launch!” shouted Captain Nicholas, only to discover a moment later that Lt Kael had already sent the last of the four torpedoes down range in anticipation of the launch order. He nodded his appreciation at the initiative shown by Lt Kael and ordered the last torpedoes to be loaded and readied.
“Helm, prepare for flank speed on my order and line us up with the boomer,” he calmly stated. Everyone knew that the Captain planned on sacrificing the Iron Fist to sink their enemy in a final impact of sub on sub if the torpedoes missed. They saw Nicholas nod as his order was acknowledged.
“Joseph status on that boomer,” Captain Nicholas called out. No response came, nor did it when he called out twice again. The microphones of his headset squealed as someone tried to speak and Lt Carl sprinted to the Sonar room to see what is wrong.
“Captain this is Carl,” Lt Carl called out through the headphones he had donned, “the boomer is steady and her last launch tube doors are now opening, her torpedo tubes are being flooded at this moment and our first torpedo is ten seconds from impact with the rest five seconds apart after that…”
“Carl what happened to Joseph,” the captain asked, “is he…” he ceased in mid sentence, seeing two men help the babbling Lieutenant from the Sonar room. “Get him to sick bay as quietly and quickly as you can, and see if the doctor can help him out.”
He shook his head at the cost of this fight, Vladimir down with burst eardrums and now Joseph has suffered a complete collapse under the incredible strain they have all experienced. He made a note to write letters of personal commendation for all of his command officers performance…assuming they got out of here alive that is.
“Captain the torpedoes are…” Lt Carl began to say when his next words became moot.
Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!
Four detonations that arrived in five second intervals, the force of the detonations rocked the Iron Fist.
“Captain the boomers power plant has stopped and he is attempting to blow his ballast tanks, correction, the sub is breaking up,” Lt Carl called out. “No indication he has managed to loose any of his missiles, repeat, we have no indications of the missiles being launched.”
“Time to leave gentlemen,” Captain Nicholas said, “Helm come to course 189, 15 knots and head us back to the passage.”
The sound of metal that deformed and strained against the relentless pressure of the sea carried through the Iron Fists hull. Moments later everyone heard the all-too-familiar hollow boom of the boomers hull staving in on its way to the bottom of the ocean.
“Captain we have multiple detonations of torpedoes in the distance, at least thirty miles where the Rubis-subs are located…” Lt Carl stated as he tried to make sense out of the sudden bursts of sound and activity upon his waterfall displays. “What is going on here…captain it appears we have at least three submarines assisted by aerial craft, probable helicopters, engaging the Rubis-submarines?”
Captain Nicholas grunted as he moved to the navigation table, preparing to call out new orders when he saw a messenger from communications arrive with a slip of paper in his hands. He looked over the plain text language and saw the confirmation coded delivered with his mission orders for open-air emergency communications…
That alone meant it came directly from the Prime Minister of the Russian Alliance…
Northern Fleet Headquarters to all submarines in the maritime exclusion zone…
On direct orders from the Prime Minister, all submarines are to commence hunting for the lone ballistic-missile submarine now confirmed to be with the rebels who are even now being mopped up by the loyalists of the French government armed forces. It is believed that the ballistic-missile sub has been issued launch orders to be carried out within the next 24 to 48 hours, so this is to be a priority for all submarines in the area at (coordinates attached)…
Communications have been silenced due to sabotage carried out by enemies of the state nearly 48 hours ago. They have been restored to 100% efficiency as of this time under the merciful supervision of the KGB who kindly graces all of us with their stern presence and the machine pistols carried at the ready in their hands.
Reply at once upon contact or destruction of the indicated ballistic-missile submarine.
Captain Nicholas laughed and scrawled out a short message, gave it to the messenger and told it is to be relayed at once, in the clear, to Northern Fleet Headquarters. The young man saluted and tore off with due haste to pass on the communiqué.
Eight hours later, as the Iron Fist headed back to the passage a crewman appeared and handed two message forms to Captain Nicholas who immediately began to decode them with Lt Carl on the bridge.
The first declared…
Northern Fleet Headquarters to all submarines in the maritime exclusion zone…
The current trouble with rebel forces in France has ceased with their surrender to the loyalist forces of the French government armed forces. The few remaining elements of the rebel naval forces have accepted the unconditional surrender demanded of them by the French government and under escort by armed NATO ships, are being led to secure bases for the crews to face justice and summary execution.
As per orders of the Prime Minister the maritime exclusion zone has been discontinued and all governments of NATO and the Russian Alliance have agreed to mediation sponsored by the governments of India, China, and many smaller nation states.
The second message caused a loud and long laugh of pure mirth-filled delight for Captain Nicholas. The crew on the bridge watched, utterly amazed, as he smiled and activated the ships intercom for all departments…
“This is the captain with a message from Northern Fleet Headquarters, and signed by the Prime Minister of the Russian Republic that reads…” he grinned again at the imagined reaction of all his crew, “to the crewmen of the Iron Fist, you have the praise and thanks of the people and government of the Russian Republic for taking the initiative and seeking out and destroying the enemy ballistic-missile submarine. Due to your efforts the lives of millions have been saved in the motherland and around the world. For your gallant action Captain Nicholas, you are awarded the medal of Hero of the Russian Alliance and promoted two-grades in rank and all of your crew is hereby promoted one-grade in rank. Congratulations to you all, and you are hereby ordered to return home at best speed.”
“Well done everyone for our short war is now over, its time to head for home,” Captain Nicholas said, finally relaxing for the first time in what seemed like ages.
“Helm, set our course for Northern Fleet base Alpha, best speed possible,” Captain Nicholas called out, “Carl, we will need you to head the Sonar department for awhile longer, as we need to keep alert in case any enemy subs remain in our path.”
No more submarines barred their path home, and they returned to a heroes welcome long remembered in the years and decades to come, when a crusty old sea captain and his crew dared to do the impossible and confront their enemy, determined to put him on the bottom before his homeland could be reduced to ashes by nuclear fires.
So it is that the name of Captain Nicholas, his officers and the crew of the Iron Fist became a legend not only to the Russian Alliance, but unto many others in the world as the daring and courage to destroy that lone boomer and prevent the slaughter of tens of millions of innocent civilians.
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