Sunday, July 10, 2016

SummerCamp Stories 2016 - Dark Waters Part 1

While the little Goofs are away at camp, I write them stories. Last year I traveled to Japan to save the world by eating sushi. This year, the nautical theme continues, but is way, way different.

June 30, 2016

Undisclosed Location North of the Arctic Circle

USCGC Polar Night

I could not tell you this before, but the clearance process means everything reaches you about a week after it happens, so there is no danger of releasing classified operational information.

I have been seconded to a top secret Coast Guard Icebreaker, the Polar Night. This ship is unlisted in the official records, so you can’t see it on the web. It isn’t like the other Coast Guard Icebreakers. This ship is designed to go deep into the Arctic for months at a time. It is actually a combination icebreaker/submarine.

It has on board laboratories for biology, physics, chemistry, you name it! The ship has its own super-computing facilities and can do a full on genome in house.

I don’t know much about why they want me here or what I am supposed to do. We’ve only been at sea for a day. I got here on an emergency jet to Barrow, Alaska. I got on bored the ship and immediately it submerged and headed for the North Pole. I haven’t even had ships orientation.

But here’s the craziest thing about this ship. In the middle, almost as though the ship is built around it, is an enormous water tank – bigger than an Olympic Pool! I asked about doing laps in it, but they said no, they had to keep it at Arctic temperatures. That doesn’t sound right, because I’ve seen people – not in wetsuits – swimming in it (they also didn’t have scuba gear and were really deep in this tank.)

The food is pretty good, but not much variety. Fish-sticks, fish-sticks, fish-sticks.


July 2, 2016

Undisclosed Location North of the Arctic Circle

USCGC Polar Night

This morning (well you don’t really know if it is morning, we are deep under-water and when we surface, it’s Arctic summer so the sun is up constantly, so day and night have no real meaning), the ship sirens woke me. The intercom blared, “Report to battle stations.”

I threw on my clothes and reported to the bridge. I didn’t know what the Captain wanted me to do, but she told that was my battle station.

“Mr. Starrs,” Captain Mastronati ordered, “Best estimates, how big is our encounter and what is it.”

“Predictive engine says a SeaSlug, about 20 tons. Confidence is on 45%,” the data tech answered.

“SeaSlug…” I muttered, “Is that a new kind of Russian mini-sub, I’ve never heard of it.”

Mr. Lopez (who was actually a woman I’d had lunch with – fish-sticks) whispered, “This is not a Russian sub. You’ll see. I’ll answer any questions.”

The Captain ordered the tech crew, “Get us in closer and get it up on SonScape.”

I heard the distant hum of the ships engines get a little louder, still quiet considering the size. A giant hologram appeared in the middle of the bridge.

“That’s SonScape, it’s an in-depth visualization of the space around the ship using sonar,” Lopez whispered.

Something moved through the corner of the hologram, just crossing the corner – fast.

“That is NOT a SeaSlug! Way to fast.” Mr. Starr exclaimed.

“Mr. Trang, I would like to try our new pulse lance. Do you think you can hit this thing?”

“Yes sir!” Trang said with a grin.

Then things were silent. We waited. The blip flitted across the corner of the hologram a few more times. Then it was solidly inside the hologram, swimming around. A weird conic blur went through the hologram towards the “thing” and it stopped moving.

“Nice shot!” someone exclaimed.

“Move in closer for pick-up. Divers ready at 50 meters,” the Captain ordered.

A few minutes later the “thing” on the hologram was close.”

“Let’s show Mr. Mannes what we’ve found. Visual!”

“Dr. Mannes,” I muttered, but stopped talking suddenly. The hologram shifted to a giant projection. Nest to the ship was an enormous sea creature. It didn’t look like a fish, more reptilian, like a giant lizard with bumpy skin and huge eyes. Except it had four little T-Rex arms near its mouth.

“A little one. Only 20 tons,” Lopez whispered. “About the size of a blue whale.”

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