Finally, I am getting around to posting the thrilling conclusion to Operation Dark Waters (or what I did while my kids were on their summer vacation.) While the little Goofs are at sleepaway camp I write and send them stories (here is 2015's story about how I travelled to Japan to save the world by eating sushi). If you haven't been following the story (or have forgotten) here is: part 1 - part 2 - and part 3.
July 11, 2016
Operation Dark Waters
Undisclosed Location North of the Arctic Circle
USCGC Polar Night
Something huge came on the SonScape. It looked like a giant spider on the back of a turtle. Or maybe it was a sort of castle. It was the Nautilus! The five maple leafs formed a V and flew at it. We could hear their communications.
“Look at the size of that thing!”
“Cut the chatter, Red Two, eh,” Inspector MacKenzie ordered. “Accelerate to attack speed. This is it boys!”
The Captain and several on the bridge grinned. The maple leafs began crisscrossing the Nautilus. We often lost sight of them; they came so close to the giant ship. We watched smaller objects, missiles, fly back and forth. Several seemed to hit the Nautilus. This went on for several minutes, maybe half an hour. We heard a scream over the intercom.
“We’ve lost one!” Inspector MacKenzie said flatly, “But I think Nautilus is hurt. We’ll keep at it! You just stay silent and we’ll drive her to you!”
More watching. More waiting. Then, we heard MacKenzie scream and a maple leaf flew straight at one of the spires. The maple leaf was gone, but so was a big part of the spire.
“Choppers up! Assault teams ready! ALL weapons locked and loaded. We don’t know where Nemo will break through the ice, but we need to be ready to open fire the instant she surfaces.”
The Nautilus began looming larger.
“Oh no,” the Captain muttered, her face ashen. “Nemo must know we are here. He’s going to surface under us. He’ll ram us from underneath!”
“Captain, there’s no way,” the electronics officer countered. “We are in full stealth mode!”
“Nemo has survived out there a long time, we don’t know what he knows. OK! Bring the engines back online, I want full speed double-quick. That may not be fast enough to get out of Nemo’s way, we can’t push through this ice that fast. ALL HANDS! Every crew member possible, get into assault gear and GET OUT ON THE ICE! Every diver needs to join the diving team!”
|This is the USCG Polar Star, an ice-breaker and cousin ship to the Polar Night. Not pics of the USCG Polar Night are available since its existence is super-double secret classified. But it gives you an idea.|
The Captain looked at me, “That means you Mr. Mannes, you are a diver!”
“Sir, I’ve never been out of the tank and don’t I need to take that pill?”
“Mr. Mannes, there is no pill. Some people can live underwater. You are one of them. Get with the diving team!”
I joined the divers at the airlock. There were about twenty-five of us. Most had knives, some strange looking guns and orange bricks. They handed me a pair of bricks and showed me how to cinch them to my belt.
The airlock opened and we plunged into the dark waters.
We saw the Nautilus coming at us. The Polar Night had gotten her engines up and was pushing through the ice – slowly. Huge, like a fairy tale castle, the Nautilus came up fast and struck the Polar Night a glancing blow in the stern. The Polar Night is a big ship, but the force pushed her half out of the ice. She slammed back into the water. The force of the collisions generated huge waves pushing us far from the two ships. We heard over comms that the ship was still operational. We could hear the Polar Night’s secondary and light batteries open fire. Captain Mastronati was trying to get a little more distance so she could deploy the main guns. If the Captain hadn’t realized Nemo’s plan, the Nautilus would have surfaced directly under the Polar Night and probably cut her in two.
We could hear the surface assault teams making their way across the ice to board the Nautilus. They were taking fire. We began swimming in for our own attack. It felt long, but maybe it was only a few minutes. I was told to hand over a brick. Lt. Patil, the diving team leader, placed about a dozen of them in a circle at the lowest point of the Nautilus we could reach. We swam away and there was a crash and a concussive wave. Underwater explosives.
We swam into the hole and through the flooded corridors of the ship. It was strange, we couldn’t see very well. So I can’t tell you much. We came to an area not yet flooded. My lungs were heaving. Not because I was tired from the swim – that seemed easy. But the air felt wrong. We heard voices ahead. Then several divers moved forward, guns at the ready.
There was a burst of gunfire and our scouts signaled we could go ahead. There were seven men in the room. Six were dead. They were dressed like gentleman from Downtown Abbey. I went to the man still alive and asked him where we were on the ship. I didn’t understand his answer – but one word sounded familiar.
“I think he’s speaking French!” I yelled. “Can we patch in the Canadians?”
We did, and Staff Sargent Munro said, “He says you are too late. Nemo’s dreams will be realized because of… I couldn’t quite make it out.”
“Cthulu!” I cried. “That’s the word I recognized. Nemo is working with Cthulu, that’s the other sea monster – and they’ll destroy and enslave humanity.”
“Give me your other brick,” Patil ordered. “We lucked out. This is the break room for the ships engine. We’ll blow it and get out of here.”
A few minutes later we were back in the dark waters. A huge blast threw us as our explosives detonated. Cheering underwater is not very satisfying. It just comes out as a bunch of blubs. But cheer we did. The Nautilus, scourge of the seas for over a century, was no more.
About an hour later I was standing in the Captain’s briefing room with her top officers. My lungs burned with every breath. Captain Mastronati was talking, “Thanks to Mr. Mannes, we now know who the real enemy is. Cthulu. We’ll do field repairs and then start hunting. The surface teams captured several other prisoners and seized some materials. We’ll learn more from them. We have won the battle, but there is a long war ahead of us.”
The Captain looked directly at me, “Mr. Mannes I’d be happy to continue your detail. You were an asset. But you have an even bigger decision to make. Your lungs are on fire, aren’t they?”
“You are adapting to your nature. You are meant to live in these waters. It will take about a year of living underwater. There are others like you and the polar bears will look after you. After a year you can again breathe air, for perhaps a few hours at a time. You don’t have to do this. If you stay out of the water the feelings in your lungs will pass in a few weeks and you’ll return to normal. You’ll never again dive in the deep. It is your choice. You can go back to being Dr. Aaron Mannes. Or, you can fulfill your destiny as Aqua-Mannes!”