Friday, June 23, 2006

Excerpt #4

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been a while since I have gotten 'round to putting anything up, but I am now finally back to work on this story of mine. Some of you may have already seen excerpts from the story... well, here is #4.

Philippine Sea
24 June 2010 0500 HRS

The surface of the water is placid. Upon it, nine transports steam north toward Japan, loaded with Islamofascist troops and weapons. The ships glide to deliver reinforcements to Nagasaki on an uneventful passage. Sure of victory, the men on board often go topside to breath the warm sea air as they make their way to war.

Three hundred feet below, a lone submarine tracks the fleet in silence. In this self-contained environment there are twenty-one officers and one-hundred enlisted men. Among them is a single woman. Commander Ariel Three Wolves monitors the control panel as two others guide the ship through the depths. At forty-six, she is comfortably svelte; a testament to her disciplined eating and exercise habits. In fact, she could pass for a woman half her age if not for the streaks of gray in her hair.

Standing up, she begins to head for the galley. As she arrives at the door, a young Ensign gets her attention. “Commander, we’ve identified nine transports; Heading 036; Speed 20KTS. No apparent escorting vessels.”

“Identify origin, Ensign,” CDR Three Wolves orders.

As the young junior officer contacts an overhead satellite, CDR Three Wolves orders General Quarters. Trays of food are abandoned and cooking and warming appliances are shut down as the crew scrambles to their stations. Moments later, the young Ensign gets the satellite report.

“Commander, ships identified as enemy transports,” he informs her. “No escorting vessels.”
“Ensign, contact Pearl Harbor and see if Intelligence has any report on ships leaving Davao or Manila.”
“Aye-aye, Commander.”

Over the next several minutes, Ensign Steven Appler sends and receives coded messages. The report from Hawaii informs the man that three destroyers, two cruisers and the IFS (Islamic Fleet Ship) Al-Basrah left Manila two days before and that the two fleets were expected to meet up in about two hours from the present time. The nearest Allied fleet was still more than a day out from Nagasaki, and was expected to engage the Islamofascist flotilla near Okinawa.

“Commander, do we attack?” ENS Appler asks.
“With an Islamofascist battle flotilla approaching?” she replies with a somewhat mischievous grin. “Of course we do.”
“That,” he says with an evil grin, “is what I thought.”

With that, ENS Appler was ordered to bring the sub to 80 feet. While that was being done, CDR Three Wolves orders the torpedo room to load the four forward tubes with the new MK-50 multiple-warhead torpedoes. She is preparing to not only destroy the transports, but also to inflict serious damage on the coming enemy battle flotilla. If all goes well, the fifteen Islamofascist ships will soon join previous enemies of the United States at the bottom of the Philippine Sea.

Several minutes pass as the USS Anchorage programs the warhead on the torpedoes with the coordinates of the transports. Once the torpedoes are launched, their onboard computers will continuously communicate with the overhead satellite to stay on track with the enemy ships, using the programmed coordinates as a marker.

Finally, all is ready. The nine transports continue to steam north-northeast as the USS Anchorage follows behind. The men on the transports are oblivious to the death to be brought to them by fire and water. They continue to talk about all the plunder and pillaging they expect to do when they take Nagasaki. In the holds of four of the transports sit twenty BT-71 tanks, hundreds of rounds of tank ammo, and millions of rounds of small arms and machine-gun ammunition. One transport even carries enough vehicle fuel for ten days of combat.

In the submarine, CDR Three Wolves uses the periscope screen to observe the transport fleet. Determining that they are within range, she gives the order. “Forward torpedo room: Fire all tubes!”

In seconds, four MK-50 torpedoes leave the ship, racing toward the enemy fleet. At one-half mile away from the nearest of the enemy transports, the torpedoes break open and six warheads from each torpedo make their way toward the eleven ships. As they run toward the unsuspecting transports, the crew sits with bated breath. It is several more seconds before the first of the now twenty-four smaller torpedoes finds its target.

Down in the middle cargo hold of the center ship, an Islamic Imperial Army guard looks over a box of rocket-propelled grenades. This shipment should seal Nagasaki’s fate, the man thinks as the ship shudders and then explodes in a huge ball of fire. The ammunition goes off in wild abandon as the fire expands through the ship’s bulkheads, setting off more ammunition.

The lead transport’s captain turns suddenly as the noise of the explosion on the center ship reaches his ears. “Ya’allah!” he exclaims as the afflicted ship disappears into smoke and flame. In the next minute, another ship explodes, casting heads, arms, legs, and even whole bodies of men into the air and onto the water. As the captain watches the convoy, ship after ship explodes in great balls of fire, ensuring that much of what is to be brought to Nagasaki finds itself, instead, moving toward the bottom of the Philippine Sea.

Deep below the surface, the crew of the USS Anchorage cheers as the reports of the hits is received aboard that deep-sea denizen of death. CDR Three Wolves smiles quietly as she realizes that she has already sent the greater part of the Islamofascist supply flotilla to Davy Jones’ Locker. She knows, however, that their day isn’t over, nor that it can be counted a success. The escort vessels are on their way to meet with the transports, and she is certain that they are close enough to have seen at least the smoke, if not the fireballs themselves.

On the horizon there approaches an Islamofascist battle flotilla. The IFS Al-Basra’s admiral looks northeast and sees smoke coming up over the horizon. We are closer than we thought, he muses as he watches the rising smoke. Seconds later, his communications officer gets an urgent coded message, and runs up to him. “Admiral, this has just come to us from the convoy!” the officer exclaims.

Taking the paper with the message on it, he recoils in shock and horror. “Impossible!” he shouts incredulously. “Intelligence told us that the nearest enemy fleet was still a day and a half out from Nagasaki! We shouldn’t have encountered them until at least another two days from now.”

“Submarine?” the Communications officer inquires.
“It could only be. Captain, give orders to all pilots to standby for anti-sub operations,” the Admiral orders.
“Yes, sir!” the carrier captain responds.

As pilots rush to ready rooms and the entire battle flotilla prepares for action, the Admiral considers his next move. He knows that there is a good chance that the attacking enemy submarine is already making way for Tokyo, Honolulu, or Vladivostok. It is also possible that they are heading in our direction, not knowing that we are ready for them, is another thought that enters his head. It is now a game of cat and mouse. Will the offending raider strike for Tokyo and a Japanese Carrier Battle Group; to Honolulu and Pearl Harbor; or will he head for Vladivostok and relative safety.

With mind racing over the possibilities, he sees yet another cloud of smoke drifting over the horizon. Just after that, a fireball goes up looking like a mushroom. There can be no mistaking, now. It is a submarine that is causing such havoc. The Islamofascist Admiral orders all aircraft launched in the direction of the now devastated supply fleet. As the planes take off, the Admiral cannot help but wonder if it is already too late to save any of the ships being attacked.

Back at the USS Anchorage, CDR Three Wolves and Ensign Appler wonder if it wouldn’t be wiser to high-tail it on out before the now fast-approaching aircraft reach their location. As they consider their options, yet another Islamofascist supply ship goes up in flames. Seven of the ships are already descending into the sea, while an eighth burns vigorously. The remaining enemy transport begins to run, but is soon cracked open by two of the smaller torpedoes. Overhead, as Islamofascist pilots approach, there comes yet another piece of disturbing news for the Islamofascists. As two of the lead aircraft enter the area of the transport fleet, two AMRAM-4 missiles slam into them. As the other aircraft turn and head back to their own carrier, three escorting Shawabbi naval fighters break off to engage the oncoming Japanese-marked F/A-18s.

Using the ensuing air battle as cover, CDR Three Wolves and the crew of the USS Anchorage prepare to engage the oncoming Islamofascist battle flotilla. “Lieutenant! Set course heading 334. We’re gonna get ourselves a carrier,” she grimly orders.

“Aye-aye, Commander,” the Lieutenant answers.

The submarine silently glides in the direction of the oncoming enemy battle flotilla. There is now no turning back, as the crew well knows. CDR Three Wolves gives instructions for the forward torpedo room to load two MK-50s and two SK-10 missiles into the tubes. Now less than 40 miles separate the USS Anchorage from the Islamofascist battle flotilla. In the torpedo room two Ensigns program the SK-10s with what is already known about the IFS Al-Basrah. The MK-50s are given the coordinates of the enemy fleet and kept on standby. The SK-10s, however, can be launched from a range of nearly 75 miles away from the given target. This will be the first time the new missiles are used in combat.

“Commander, enemy battle fleet is 35 miles out from us. Do we attack?” Ensign Appler asks.
“Ensign, launch tubes one and three,” she orders.
“One and Three away,” he informs her.

The two SK-10s streak out of the submarine and travel out ten miles before the heads tilt upward. The bottom part separates as the solid-fuel rocket engines propel the missiles out of the water. Once in the air, the two missiles streak upward to an altitude of 20,000 feet. They seek out their target and locate it about six miles out. For another two miles the missiles fly, and then their engine guidance systems turn the missiles shipward. Hurtling down more than 600 miles an hour the two destroying angels head for the IFS Al-Basrah. The ships ringing the carrier open fire with all guns blazing. None of them, however, are able to find their targets until one lucky shot from the IFS Al-Basrah destroys one of the missiles.

It is a futile win, however. The surviving missile bursts open, and four smaller warheads arc along the length of the carrier. At 500 feet, their guidance systems cause each warhead to streak toward a different part of the ship. The last thing the fueling and ordnance crews see is a flash of light as the first warhead slams through the hangar door and into the hangar deck.

Damage control crews race for the afflicted area when the other three warheads strike. One destroys the engine room; a second slams into the base of the carrier’s command island; the third crashes through an elevator and lodges itself in the ammunition room. This last warhead sits idly as an explosives removal crew approach. They don’t hear anything, and assume the warhead is inert. Reassured that it is a dud, the removal crew sets to preparing the warhead for disposal. Seconds later, that final warhead detonates. All five men are thrown into the wall and imprint themselves in the metal. That imprint doesn’t last long, however, as the ammunition is set off, turning the IFS Al-Basrah into a complete ruin.

Back at the now destroyed transport fleet, the last of the Shawabbi fighters is downed, leaving the fleeing anti-sub aircraft without a defense. Nor, as they soon learn, do they have a place to land. The most senior remaining officer tells his fellows that they must find and destroy the enemy submarine if it is the last thing they do. Every one of them agrees and begins their sub-hunting. Little do they know, however, that the USS Anchorage has descended to a depth of 1000 feet and is now getting into the midst of their now carrier-less battle flotilla.

As the Islamofascists search futilely for their hidden enemy, CDR Three Wolves decides that she has done enough damage for one day and orders the crew to head for Honolulu. The USS Anchorage continues undersea for another twenty-four hours before surfacing again near Iwo Jima. From there, CDR Three Wolves send a coded message back to Pearl Harbor, requesting return to Hawaii and a rest for her crew, who have been at sea for seven months now. Permission to return for refit and rest comes back in yet another coded message.

One week later, the USS Anchorage enters the port of Honolulu and the United States 1st Fleet/Pacific Command Base at Pearl Harbor. Standing on deck, all crew members not directly involved with steering the submarine to its mooring await orders and permission to go ashore. Many, including CDR Three Wolves, have not seen their families in over a year. For some of their family members, it has been a long, yet endurable separation. For others, the time apart from their family members aboard the USS Anchorage have been at least half of, if not their entire, lifetimes. ENS Appler is himself a new father to fraternal twins who have never actually seen their father in person. CDR Three Wolves has two grandsons she has never seen, and a husband who himself has only recently returned from blockade duty in the Caribbean.

However, joyous reunions are delayed when FADM George Hallsten boards the USS Anchorage. He receives the salute of CDR Three Wolves on behalf of the crew and begins to speak.

“Commander, welcome home! Commander Three Wolves, it is my pleasure to award the crew of the USS Anchorage with the Distinguished Service Medal for the action on 24 June 2010 in the Philippine Sea. During this action, you and your crew were not only responsible for preventing reinforcement and re-supply from reaching the enemy invading Japan, but destroyed the IFS Al-Basra, one of the enemy’s newest carriers, using an unproven weapons system.
“In addition, during your seven-month patrol in dangerous enemy water, your submarine accounted for twenty-eight enemy transports, six enemy destroyers, four enemy cruisers and one enemy aircraft carrier. The intelligence information gathered has also been instrumental in the defense by our troops and those of our allies of the city of Hue in Vietnam and of Nagasaki in Japan. On behalf of a grateful nation, I, Fleet Admiral George Hallsten, award you, Commander Ariel Three Wolves, and the crew of the USS Anchorage, with the Distinguished Service Medal.”

Finishing the speech, he takes the medal and pins it on the chest of CDR Three Wolves. He also hands her the velvet box with the uniform ribbon, and then salutes her. He then steps back past the gangplank and calls out each member of the crew, from LT Edward Johns right through to ENS Steven Appler and on down to the lowest-ranking seaman on the vessel. After another hour, the ceremony is over except for one more announcement.

“Commander Ariel Three Wolves, step forward!” FADM Hallsten orders.

Commander Three Wolves approaches and halts at the prescribed distance from the Fleet Admiral. “Commander Ariel Three Wolves, you are hereby promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral, Lower Half from the rank of Commander. You will be reassigned to North Atlantic/Mediterranean Command Headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia as Undersea Operations coordinator.”

With that, he removes a star from its velvet box and pins it to the lapel of the new RADM (LH)
[1]. He steps away and she salutes. With this action, the ceremonies are all ended with the exception of RADM (LH) Three Wolves giving a short farewell. When all is said and done, she bellows, “Crew, at-ten-shun! Dis-missed!”

The men on board move in a rushed order down the gangplank and toward their families. Wives and mothers, fathers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters reunite joyfully. The chatter is boisterous and full of relief as every member of the crew has returned safely to their families. There are two very special reunions, however.

RADM (LH) Ariel Three Wolves seeks out her husband, RADM (UH)
[2] Henry Three Wolves, and runs to meet him. The two embrace, and then kiss passionately. He tells her how much he missed her and how their sons are faring. Both sons are serving in the Army, one in Texas and the other at San Jose. Knowing the sons are both currently alive and well, Ariel thinks only of the coming night, when she and her husband will renew their bond.

ENS Steven Appler rushes to his wife and the two babies he has never seen in person. They are both nearly a year old. He has been away for their entire lives, and is happy to be home. His wife, Hannah, hands their son to him, and then their daughter. As he holds both of his children and looks over at his wife, he recognizes why he has been away for so long. Their faces compel him to continue the fight; to stand against an enemy who would enslave, abuse, or murder them. ENS Steven Appler, his wife Hannah, and their children Johanna and Wesley, disappear into the crowd and toward a waiting minivan. They leave the milling crowd and the submarine behind as they return to Honolulu proper to get to know each other again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good....nuff said....

5:40 PM  

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