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Full Metal Panic! Chapter Two Commencement By Steve Edward Friday, 1900 hours, Jendi High School Gymnasium Eri Kagurazaka felt her shawl being removed from her shoulders and turned to see who was doing it. Andrew Simms dressed in a tuxedo said “Miss Kagurazaka, it could be a little warm in here for that.” Eri said in reply as she accepted his arm “I am sure it could be Doctor Simms, shall we go and join those in the prom?” Teletha escorted by Sergeant Kurz Weber who like Simms and Sagara was attired in a tuxedo was greeted by numerous graduating seniors as she passed them. Entering the dance floor setup in the gym, Teletha stopped to watch the seniors that had already paired into couples already dancing and then looked towards the stage, where Sergeant Major Melissa Mao had muscled her way to the keyboard and was playing. Kaname Chidori and Souska moved about slowly, Kaname resting her head on Souska’s shoulder briefly opened her eyes and smiled at Teletha then said as they danced past “Teletha, don’t worry. Let the music carry you.” Weber guiding her to the edge of the dance floor said as he began to dance “Madam Captain, it is very easy. Remember just follow my lead.” Then moving off together, Weber and Testarossa moving to a slow ballad joined the other couples. Eri Kagurazaka standing next to Andrew said, “It was wonderful that the exchange students were able to make it. I will miss them in the coming months,” as Andrew watching Teletha and Kurz move about the dance floor said “A new beginning for many. Friendships forged in school will become just memories as they find new friends.” Getting Sergeant Major Mao’s attention, Andrew Simms gave a brief wave, and then as he turned to Eri he said “How about one special for us? I don’t think the students will mind?” Eri hearing the music change smiled and said “Doctor Simms I thought you would never ask. “Madam Captain we should go to the side,” as Kurz led Teletha to where Souska and Kaname were standing. Teletha seeing the other dancers doing the same said, “Sergeant? What is going on?” Souska seeing Captain Simms leading Eri Kagurazaka onto the dance floor said “A very special dance, Madam Captain.” Teletha watched as Andrew and Eri seemed to glide across the floor, their movements seemed perfect. As the couple completed one loop, others soon joined and then Souska spoke, “Madam Captain? May I have the pleasure of this dance?” as Kurz addressing Kaname said, “Miss Chidori? I would be honored to dance with you as well.”


Saturday, 1000 hours, Jendi High School Athletic Field Kaname Chidori’s voice echoed across those seated in the bleachers overlooking the graduation ceremonies as she said “Each of us has a responsibility to care for this world as others have before us and we know what mistakes have been made, the prices paid with those mistakes have been high. We have had those teaching us admit that decisions were at times made in haste. Let us remember what they have taught and use it to help us not make such decisions in haste as well.” Kaname Chidori stepped away from the raised podium and walking from the dais, returned and joined her fellow classmates as the crowd applauded. Eri Kagurazaka rising from her chair approached the podium and said “This completes the graduation ceremonies of Jendi High School. Thank you all for coming.” So it was finally over. Andrew Simms sitting in the bleachers watched as family members of the graduating students hurriedly left their seats to join the graduates on the field. Kaname Chidori who in the distance was giving farewell hugs to her now former classmates had made a point in her graduation speech. Those who care little will have that much less to pass on to those behind them. It has struck a chord with many, but the chatter turned towards the future. Many of the seniors would soon find themselves being juniors again, this time in college. Andrew hoped they would carry what they learned here with them to college, maybe some of them would surprise a few professors along the way. Getting up from his seat next to Teletha Testarossa, she and Andrew descended to the field to meet Kaname. Teletha said as she descended the stairs, “This will be a new day for Kaname as well Captain. We have accomplished much, to ensure that she would see this day.” Andrew holding the gate open said, “Yes you have Teletha, and it was at times difficult but you should take pride in that she did make it,” as Andrew nearly stumbled on the last step as his cell phone began to furiously vibrate. Excusing himself from Teletha, Andrew walked away from the crowd and answered, “Simms speaking,” said Andrew as the voice of Commander Lewis Strong said “Sorry to blow things for you. How soon can you round up your people and be at Point Bravo for pickup?” Captain Andrew Simms turned catching the celebration of graduation between Teletha and Kaname, the happiness and joy of friends enjoying the moment. “Two hours, send the general alert page to all my people only and have them return to the complex for departure. I have most here with me now, but they are scattered.” Commander Strong acknowledged and then hung up. Within a few moments, here and there scattered in the crowd, cell phones began vibrating and Lieutenant Alice Wren turned to find Captain Andrew Simms standing alone in the distant outfield and began walking towards him as did others.


Captain Teletha Testarossa did not miss the activity. Sergeant Major Wu, Sergeant Pederson, Sergeant Jaunay and even Ensign Aryl all were headed for where Captain Simms was standing. About to follow, Teletha felt a firm hand on her shoulder, it was Souska Sagara’s as he said “Captain Simms has been recalled and he and his crew are returning to Melida Island. Saturday, 1200 hours, Private Field, Tokyo, Japan Captain Simms had seen the scene repeated many times, but in greater numbers. This time it was just Charlotte Ward with her husband Drake with her son giving a last hug to her husband before he boarded the plane. Captain Testarossa intruding on his thoughts said “You did not have to take this mission Andrew. I could have taken it.” Andrew said in reply “I asked Commander Strong to assign the next mission to the Morison, Tessa. It was my choice.” Commander Ward gave a soft kiss to the forehead of Charlotte then knelt before Raymond and said, “Take care of yourself and study hard. You will not have long before you will be attending Jendi High School as a junior. Uncle Andy has been able to get you into the new junior class coming up, so make me and him proud. Ok squirt.” Raymond said in reply, “Dad, just take care of yourself,’ as Drake ran his hand through his son’s hair and stood. Captain Teletha Testarossa turned to Captain Simms and said “What ever it is Andrew, do be careful.” Captain Simms offering his hand, shook Tessa’s and said in reply “That is what I will do. See you at Melida Island.” Saturday, 1530 hours, Apartment of Captain Testarossa, Mithril Apartment Complex Kaname Chidori sitting on the balcony with Teletha Testarossa stirred her tea as she said, “Teletha, I saw you leaving with Captain Simms to the airport. I thought you might have flown back with him.” Tessa sipped her tea then said, “I went to see him off. It was the right thing to do.” Tessa pondered why she did so. Andrew had practically kidnapped her from Melida Island in the first place. Her nervousness about possibly embarrassing herself in public has not happened, thanks in large part to Commander Ward and his wife Charlotte. Andrew had gone out of his way to ensure that she would enjoy the prom and had even danced with her later, after the waltz he had performed with Miss Eri Kagurazaka. The unexpected applause had been something had surprised her at the end of her dance with Captain Simms. He had not rushed the dance but guided her through several movements that neither Souska or Drake had shown her and made it seem as she was the focus of the prom. Then there was Kaname, who had next danced with Andrew. The Rumba, a fast paced dance had set those on the sidelines to clapping with the beat as Andrew and Kaname twirled about. The final dance was with Kyoko Tokiwa who had no date. Kyoko overwhelmed by being asked to dance a waltz, had completely forgotten to take a picture, but Kaname had not. Kaname had captured several photographs of a smiling and laughing Kyoko as Andrew moved about the dance floor with her.


Kaname said as she stood to get more tea, “Captain Simms certainly made a lot of girls happy last night at the prom. Kyoko fell head over heels for him after the dance.” Tessa said in reply “Andrew has that effect on people. He can remind some of their father’s.” Kaname returned with more tea and sitting back at the table said “So it is tomorrow, ok with you?” Tessa smiled, “Yes Kaname it is. You will commence your advanced training as a “Whispered” and I will guide you.” Saturday, 1700 hours, Melida Island Mithril Western Pacific Combat Base Lieutenant Marcy Takenaka tapped the last item on the check list of the PDA and pressed the update button which sent the information to the Situation Room, twelve stories above his head. Sergeant Troy Gallium walking off the loading ramp leading to the Samuel Eliot Morison said as he approached and saluted the lieutenant “That was the last of it, Sir. The deck crew is securing the equipment for sea now.” Lieutenant Takenaka said in reply as he returned the salute “Thank you Sergeant. See to it that the crew is mustered for immediate departure.” Commander Lewis Strong tapped the keyboard then said, “She was originally a T-AK class transport ship of the Cape Class; the length as built 172 meters or 565 feet old English measurements, with a beam of 23 meters or 76 feet and tipped the scales weighing in at about 23296 metric tons. The vessel was purportedly retired in 2015 and stricken from the ready reserve fleet of the United States Military Sealift Command, however it continued in service as a special transport until its mysterious loss in the early 2020’s.” Captain Simms seeing the vessel being holographicly displayed before him studied the display. Standard configuration for a dry cargo ship designed and built in the early 1950’s, it had served in the US Navy then in the US Military Sea Lift Command until its retirement from the ready reserves. Its last assignment had been the transport of the final stockpile of Sarin Nerve Agent. Commander Strong tapped another key and as a new image appeared he said “A specialized transport container was utilized for the transfer of the Sarin Agent. There were a total of six units, weighing when loaded at 65 metric tons each. Each container carried a separate capsule manufactured from stainless steel and aluminum with brass inserts.” The exploded view of what the capsule would look like briefly appeared. Andrew stood and said, “Ok, so just how much Sarin was on the ship?” Lewis said in reply as the shipping manifest appeared, “All told, 30 tons. The Sarin was in liquid form and the original containers were inserted into the capsules when then were inserted and sealed in the primary shipping containers.” Doctor George Albert jotting down the information said, “Captain Simms, the lethal dose of Sarin in liquid form is 1000 to 1700 mg and if ingested by breathing is less than 75-100 mg. There are only two things nastier and that is Soman and VX.”


Simms approached a display monitor and said, “Sarin was and is still a dangerous chemical. Invented in Germany in 1938, its primary use was on the battlefield during World War II and later in the 1980’s by the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in Northern Iraq before the first Gulf War. Then it was utilized as a terrorist weapon by the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo Sect in 1994 at Matsumoto, Japan that killed seven and in March of 1995 at Tokyo that directly killed twelve and thousands more were injured after it was released on the transit system. The leader of that sect, Chizuo Matsumoto or to his followers at the time Master Shoko Asahara was the result of attempting to divert an investigation by authorities into the murder of an anti-cult lawyer and his family in 1989. Matsumoto and eleven of his followers were sentenced to death and the sentences were eventually carried out by the year 2015.” Commander Strong smiled and said “Succulently well put Captain. And now the reason we are here is because that missing transport has been found,” and as Commander Strong brought up a graphical display of JUAS logo he said “The Japanese Underwater Archeological Society, was conducting a search for a sunken World War II Japanese Imperial Navy Submarine, or I-Boat as they called them back in those days. The most infamous of the I-boats the I-26. The JUAS is doing research on the sub and crew of that sub, and was hunting for her near her reported sinking position. Well low and behold they find the missing transport instead of the sub.” Andrew said as he returned to his seat, “Somewhere south of the reported sinking position of the I-26?” Commander Strong said in reply, “Yes. They had done an extensive search of the coordinates and found nothing so were doing a side scan sweep of the Palau range and plateau. The target appeared and they sent an ROV down to take a look and found her. Of course with no markings discernable they marked it as an unknown wreck and sent in the particulars to various governments. Mithril got a match and with what it is likely carrying they want to make sure that the cargo is destroyed to prevent salvage; and if the contents are still intact, you are hereby directed to destroy the contents of the wreck completely and ensure that the containers themselves are opened to the sea.” Doctor George Albert tapping his pen said, “If the individual containers are still within the main transport carriers; shoving torpedo after torpedo won’t work. Those containers were designed to withstand proximity explosions, everything from routine industrial accidents to military explosives was considered. We used much smaller scale containers when shipping biohazards in the military Andrew; and I can attest to how well some of those things were built.” Commander Strong picked up a small square block of grey and slid it across the table and said, “That will not be a problem with that. The weak points have been identified and a sufficient quantity of C-12 has been loaded on the Morison to deal with the containers. It will be up to the Scorpions that have been loaded on the Morison to place the charges. Besides the goal is to crack them open and get the individual transport cells out and destroy their contents.”


Andrew having examined the C-12 said in reply “Just how deep is that ship Lewis?” Lewis tapping the keyboard said in reply “She is sitting at about 1250 meters, give or take a few.” Captain Simms muttered something inaudible then said “Terrific. Any supposition on how it ended up there?” Commander Strong nodded, “Considering the advancement of meteorology back in the 2020’s, one can still never second guess mother nature, which is likely what happened. The late captain of that vessel, thinking the typhoon was well clear of his path sailed right into it after it made a sudden and unexpected course change. It was the same typhoon that ravaged the base where that ship was going in the Caroline Islands. In the turmoil that followed, an extensive search was launched in extreme secrecy but no trace was ever found nor was there any radio calls received. The base was to have been shut down after the Sarin was destroyed, but with no Sarin to dispose of the base itself was abandoned due to extensive storm damage.” Commander Ward looked at the plotted position of the ill-fated ship and said “We can assume that the civilian search team is now busily looking elsewhere? I don’t fancy us meeting up with their mini-sub at an inopportune moment and neither does Captain Simms.” Commander Strong clearing the screen said, “They are well clear and are concentrating their search to the north again. If anything the worst you could encounter would be the odd fish or two.” Andrew taking that for what it was worth said, “Lewis, just keep us advised on their movements just in case. Commander Ward, we will sail at 1900 hours and training on the ROV’s are to be conducted in the moon pool by Ensign Aryl and Lieutenant Alice Wren when the equipment is ready. That is all. Dismissed.” Commander Strong about to depart the briefing room was stopped by Captain Simms who said, “Lewis? Would you have all of the blue prints of the load out configuration as it was on that ship sent to the Morison and of course all the blue prints of those containers. I want to study them at my leisure while on the way. Oh by the way, if any information on the I-26 comes to light would you mind forwarding it to me.” Lewis turned his chair in puzzlement and said “Um, sure. Any particular reason?” Andrew Simms unsmiling said, “Yeah, that sub nearly killed one of my ancestors in 1944 after it sank a merchant he was on in the Indian Ocean. I just would like to know where its true position is, that’s all.” Sunday, 0800 hours, Apartment of Kaname Chidori Kaname stood in the center of her apartment taking one last look. Next to her sat her single piece of luggage in which she had packed a few civilian clothes and photographs of her family. About to pull the tow handle of the suite case she was stopped by Souska Sagara who said, “Miss Chidori, I will attend to that for you.” Kaname’s hand brushed the handle at the same time as Souska’s as he pushed the handle back in and lifted the case. Kaname smiled, “Ok Souska, if you must. Lead the way.”


Outside standing next to the van was Captain Teletha Testarossa and Lieutenant Commander Andrei Kalinin who watched Souska and Kaname descend the staircase together. When Kaname following Souska entered the sidewalk, Commander Kalinin turned and opened the door then said, “Lieutenant Chidori, good morning.” Teletha waiting as Souska loaded the suite case said, “Kaname? Did you get everything you wanted?” Kaname turned to look back at her apartment balcony and said, “For now Tessa, I have everything that I want. Let’s get going.” Charlotte Ward waved a silent farewell to the vans as they passed. Teletha gave a brief wave back as the vans rounded the corner and left the apartment complex. Entering the apartment, Charlotte pondered the future. As Drake had explained things to her, the “Whispered” carried within themselves information that when deciphered correctly had helped establish the basis for Mithril itself and for its advanced weapons, powers sources and equipment. There were ways to force that knowledge out of a “Whispered” but it was drastic, barbaric, and inhumane. The correct way was through specialized training which allowed the bearer to actually access the knowledge by learning to by pass the memory barriers that were in place. Captain Teletha Testarossa would help Kaname with that task. If done incorrectly and under the wrong conditions irreversible brain damage would result. Kaname who had been given exercises to practice by Teletha had already been able to access much of the information she carried, but not understanding how to put the many and varied equations to speech and written form had hit a stumbling block. Charlotte hoped that the young woman would be successful in learning what she needed to do, otherwise the chance of an abnormal situation occurring could be very real. 1000 hours, Melida Island Mithril Western Pacific Forward Combat Base Commander Lewis Strong entered the Situation Room and brought his chair to a stop before his custom made control desk. The irregular sounds of computers, chirps of alarms came to his ears as Commander Richard Mardukas entered from his office and joined Lewis. Commander Mardukas giving a cub of coffee to Commander Strong said “Madam Captain and her entourage are 45 minutes from landing. I noticed Commander you have placed a watch on the Japanese civilian research team, any particular reason?” Lewis sipping the coffee said, “Captain Simms requested it. He wants a heads up in case they turn south again, that’s all. Even though they are nearly 1500 kilometers apart, Andrew does not want them coming at him unannounced. That survey team is mapping the Palau range north of the island chain; because they did not locate what they were looking for they are mapping the entire area apparently.” Commander Mardukas knew all too well that the listed position of a sinking ship could differ from that of its final resting place. Contrary to popular belief, a ship does not ordinarily travel in a vertical plane when sinking, but will sink in a horizontal plane and then there is the landing on the ocean floor and the terrain itself.


Studies of previous ship and even submarine sinking’s had proven that the vessels would travel great distances before hitting bottom in deep water and when they did so they were moving sometimes at speeds exceeding 20 knots and the impacts were violent. Mardukas recalled privately to himself memories from his childhood of watching documentaries on shipwrecks and among those he had watched had been the heavily documented Royal Mail Ship Titanic. Though the late Titanic resided at nearly 3810 meters, or about 12,500 feet old English measurements, the cargo vessel that Captain Simms was after sat in only 4,000 feet of water in old English measurements or 1250 meters and it could be easily reached with most deep diving submersibles. The 3000 meter or 9,800 foot crush depth would not be a factor for the Samuel Eliot Morison or for the Tuatha de Danaan. Unknown wrecks would attract curious salvers, and since JUAS had reported the cargo vessel as such, Mithril had decided that it would be best to ensure that no part of its cargo was recoverable. Commander Mardukas briefly looked at the Situation Board and said “Commander there is another concern. Perhaps one should be alert for wildcatters?” Lewis crossing his arms said “That would be unfortunate for the buzzards. Andrew would take a very dim view of those types.” Wildcatters was a polite term for salvers looking to make a profit, and with little regulatory controls, salvers would conduct salvage of wrecks. Some had crossed the line when it had come to military wrecks. Military vessels by their very nature were many times sunk in combat carrying crewmembers to the bottom. Considered war graves by many nations, they were to be left alone, untouched and no items were to be removed, but as Mardukas knew all too well, that line had been crossed in recent years with disturbing regularity. The cargo ship was considered a military vessel since it had a military crew vice a civilian crew and the United States having classified its cargo would not reveal any information pertaining to what it carried. Mithril aware of the missing ship and its cargo for nearly 10 years had patiently waited for such a discovery by a research team to take place. This would not be the first such vessel that Mithril had endeavored to locate as there had been others. Long forgotten cargoes had been discreetly destroyed to prevent them from being salvaged, and to keep horrific cargoes out of untrained and unprepared hands. Lewis moving a computer mouse over his screen highlighted the area of the sunken cargo vessel then said, “Anything on the surface in a 500 kilometer circle of that wreck will trigger an alert and 300 kilometers if it is subsurface. All we can do is hope for the best,” as he clicked the mouse button and on the Situation Board, the area of the Pacific he had highlighted turned crimson red. Pressing a button on the intercom, Commander Strong said to his watch team “Gentlemen and ladies, if anything enters that circle I want full ID on it, and no matter day or night I want to be notified. The only exception to that is the Samuel Eliot Morison, as she has full clearance. Anybody else, they may have to answer to Captain Simms in a very bad way. Stay alert. That is all.”


Sunday, 1300 hours, Melida Island Officers Quarters Kaname Chidori placed her Mithril identification badge on the table near the door and returned to the living room of her quarters. Two doors down from her were Captain Teletha Testarossa’s quarters. Kaname nearly laughed when she saw her name plate on her own door, Lieutenant Kaname Chidori. Lieutenant Alice Wren and Ensign Aryl lived on either side of her, but neither was there as Kaname learned that both had sailed on the Samuel Eliot Morison. Having set the photographs of her family on the wall of the living room; Kaname turned her attention to the kitchen which she found well stocked. Busying herself with making tea, Kaname nearly missed the knock on the door because it was so soft. Calling out and answering to her visitor, Kaname undid the locks and opened the door to find Captain Testarossa dressed in civilian clothes and said “Tessa, please come in. I was just making some tea.” Teletha entered and said as Kaname closed the door, “I brought you a house warming gift,” and presented Kaname with a bowl filled with potpourri which she set on the coffee table. The tropical fragrance of the dried flowers, the sweetness of them could be smelled by Kaname as she finished making the tea and brought the tray to the living room where Teletha was waiting. Setting the tray on the table, Kaname poured the tea for Teletha and then sat across from her and said “Teletha? The training that you are to help me with, how difficult will it be?” Teletha setting her cup down then smiling said, “It will not be all that difficult. You already have the ability to access what is within, but only in a jumbled method. I will help guide you into releasing the barriers so that you can access the hidden memories in a proper way that will help you understand what you are seeing. The techniques are passed from “Whispered” to Whispered” and you will eventually help others in the same situation.” Kaname remembered the first time she had accessed the information and it had been under trying circumstances. Sergeant Souska Sagara utilizing an Arms Slave called Arbalest equipped with a Lambda Driver had battled it out with a terrorist named Gauron in a Russian forest. In a half daze, Kaname had issued instructions to Souska that had allowed him to utilize the full potential of Arbalest against his opponent and Souska had been successful. It would only be later, that she and Teletha would encounter the late Gauron face to face on the Tuatha de Danaan when he tried to take over the Artificial Intelligence of the submarine. In the ensuing battle, Teletha was injured and incapacitated and Kaname had herself taken control of the mammoth submarine using the TAROS system after Souska sent Gauron over the side into the Pacific by using the Tuatha de Danaan’s catapult system.


Kaname said “Teletha? Will these techniques allow me to maintain my awareness? I mean not being in a daze if you know what I mean.” Teletha responded “You will be fully aware of your surroundings once you understand the techniques. It will be like when we merge to communicate; only you will not be in communication with another “Whispered.” Sunday, 1700 hours, Samuel Eliot Morison TDD-2 “Ok ladies that is enough for today,” said Bert Lance as he approached the edge of the moon pool and hooked up the ROV’s to the lift system. Lieutenant Wren and Ensign Aryl stepped out of their respective control stations and stretched their arms and legs. Pressing the button on the control box, Bert watched as the ROV’s broke the surface of the moon pool and then moved to their storage racks. Bert Lance setting the ROV’s into the storage cradle switched off the lift and turned to Lieutenant Wren and said “Good work on untangling your unit. Even though it’s hard to simulate debris on what might be found on a sunken wreck, it is still good to know how to untangle an ROV. Ensign Aryl good work on the camera angles, working together as you two did made it seem simple and quick to get out of the jam.” Lieutenant Wren said in reply, “Mister Lance? Our primary goal will be to chart a path for the Scorpion to get to the containers. What would be the case if the cargo vessel has no opening large enough to allow the entry of the Scorpion?” Lance said in reply, “Then we would have to make our own. The Scorpion can be outfitted with an electric cutter and a smaller one can be attached to each ROV. If that happens we can program the Scorpion and ROV’s to operate by computer control to cut the openings without human intervention, but let’s hope we don’t have to go that route because it is time consuming.” Captain Simms’s voice called out over the announcement system, “Mister Lance, Lieutenant Wren and Ensign Aryl. Report to Mission Briefing,” as Bert Lance wistfully looked at the ROV’s he said “Looks like Andrew has already started planning on how we are to get into it. Shall we go ladies?” Lieutenant Taz Norton, the Intelligence Officer of the Morison stood at the podium. Pressing a control button, Taz said “The video footage is from the JUAS research team that found the ship; though it was a brief pass of the wreck they also took several still photographs. Overall condition is good though several of the yard and stay rigs have collapsed and are blocking the hatch entrances, we still can get inside.” Bert Lance had seen worse, but the interior of the cargo decks were accessible. Bert said in reply “Well that means the top levels are accessible, but the lower cargo holds will be our primary concern. The containers per the load out blue prints were placed in the lowest most level of each hold. Still we can have hopes that the lower hatches may have shifted enough to get clearance.”


Captain Simms said “Bert, I can see very little evidence of metal decay from the lack of formation of rust sickles around the hull and equipment, can you explain that?” Bert sipping his coffee replied, “Better metal. That ship has been on the bottom for only about eleven years and at its resting depth there is no exposure to sunlight or numerous visits by explorers so hence the lack of the “classic” Titanic looks. Bert stood and walked to the display monitor then said “The ship was originally a military cargo vessel so it was built to specs using military grade steel, which unlike that giant pile of iron powder that remains of the Titanic, the cargo ship if left undisturbed should fully decay in about 110 years. One thing that attributed to the rapid demise of the Titanic was the repeated visits and explorations of the ship. I still cringe when I see the video footage of those early ROV’s knocking down rust sickles. Each time one came down, they were in essence destroying the ship piece by piece. The key factor was lights. Titanic had lain undisturbed for nearly 74 years in utter darkness and cold until 1986. Add the lights of the exploratory vehicles which excited the microbes consuming the hull of the Titanic and you get an explosion of microbes. The researchers have themselves to blame for the collapse of the forward section in 2008 because of their visits. The aft section had already fallen upon itself in 2004. Over exposure to lights ensured an explosion of microbes that finally consumed the cheap metal of the Titanic.” Andrew said in reply “So we are going to be dealing with a still relatively strong ship then?” Bert Lance turned back to the video monitor and said “She is going to be a tough nut to crack, unless she is buckled somewhere on the lower hull we might have to cut our way in from above or the sides and then there is the matter of those transport containers. The outer shells are titanium and the bolts holding the halves together are made of the same material. Corrosion will be minimal, so things will not be easy.” Andrew making notes on his PDA said, “Let’s say we can get in and set the explosives to crack the containers. Would the sudden pressure rupture the individual cases so that the sea water would neutralize the contents?” Lance reviewing the specifications of the shipping containers said in reply “That would work. If the protective shells are damaged, then the interior containers could crack open and release their contents if there is an implosion of sufficient force. The release of the Sarin should be a non-issue in the environment. Perhaps Doctor Albert can verify that.” Doctor Albert grunted then said “At the depth the ship is resting, the Sarin will not reach the surface in any measurable strength. I recommend the continuation of destroying the outer containers.” Captain Simms stood and said “Very well then, that is our first option. Mister Lance, review the layout of the vessel with Lieutenant Wren and Ensign Aryl and make your planned entry based on that limited video and photographs we have. We will update things when we arrive in the morning. That is all, dismissed.”


Monday, 0700 hours, Melida Island Research Center Teletha remembered the first time she had herself undergone the training, and at the mere age of 13 the discovery of what she carried had resulted in the development of Mithril’s front line equipment. She had listened in awe as Kaname Chidori spoke. The Lambda Driver of the Arbalest had been still the most unstable of Mithril’s equipment. Kaname’s quotation of power formula’s and intermix ratio’s of palladium reactor would go far in helping solve that stability issue. Kaname Chidori lying in the examination chair could see Teletha sitting at the observation window and waved as a nearby scientist said “Lieutenant Chidori, thank you that will be all for now.” A nurse approached and removed the sensors that had been attached to her form fitting body suite then raised the chair so Kaname could exit and said “Captain Testarossa will meet you in the waiting room. Thank you very much for your effort.” Teletha having come to the waiting room, joined Kaname as she exited the research lab, “Kaname, after you change please join me in my office and then we will take a tour of the base and show you places you have never seen.” Having changed and joined Teletha, Kaname walked with Teletha as she gave Kaname a tour of the base. Both women entering the Situation Room heard the soft chirps of alert tones as various situations around the globe presented themselves to the watchers within the room. Teletha led Kaname to where Commander Lewis Strong was sitting at his desk and said “This room is among several that Mithril has in operation. While we do concentrate on events in the Western Pacific, it also monitors situations that are taking place in other parts of the world.” Commander Strong hearing Teletha behind him turned and greeted her “Good morning Madam Captain, Lieutenant Chidori,” as the huge display screen seemed to pulse in different colors. Captain Testarossa said in reply, “Commander Strong what is the status of the Samuel Eliot Morison?” Lewis, his hands running across the control board on his desk said “As of 0800 hours, the Morison is on station. Captain Simms sent a routine message stating they were beginning operations. We won’t know anything for at least several hours, since they had to go deep and are therefore below max communication depth.” Kaname said in reply, “Max communication depth Commander?” Commander Strong nodded then said in reply “That is correct Madam Lieutenant. We are still at an impasse when it comes to direct communication at depths beyond 150 meters. Though each submarine is equipped with a buoy that can be released from greater depths, that option is rarely used unless communication is of an urgent or emergency situation; however local short range communications are still viable but the Morison is deep over the site of a ship


wreck and is so in covert fashion. Communications silence will be the norm for the next 24 hours.” Kaname viewed the highlighted crimson red region of the Western Pacific where the computer icon marked the last position of the Morison before it descended and said “Tessa? What is Captain Simms doing?” Captain Testarossa said in reply “He is ensuring that something deadly will never see the light of day again.” Giving her thanks to Commander Strong, Teletha spoke “Kaname, it is time for my morning briefing with Commander Mardukas. Please come this way.” Commander Mardukas stood as Captain Testarossa knocked on his open office door and entered then followed by Lieutenant Chidori they continued to an adjoining conference room where Lieutenant Commander Andrei Kalinin stood waiting. Andrei waited till Teletha and Kaname took seats then handing her a folder with printouts began the briefing. “Good morning Madam Captain, the world wide situation as it stands as of 0800 hours this date, includes 15 border disputes, 4 low level assassinations of political figures two of which occurred in Africa and two in Europe in the last 24 hours. Mithril Europe reported that they have been successful in shutting down a medical lab that was dealing in “Whispered” research. Two subjects were rescued and are enroute to Mithril Medical Facilities.” Teletha remained silent as she shuffled the printouts, reading them quickly as she did so. Coming upon the last two Teletha paused and said “Commander Mardukas? What is this about a former World War II base belonging to Nazi Germany being reportedly discovered in the Pacific?” Commander Mardukas said in reply, “An archivist doing research came across a reference for a supply request for the purported base, and it was forwarded to Mithril. There may not be anything to it, but it would bear to have the island position checked.” Teletha said “Commander Kalinin would you please display the position of the alleged base.” Commander Kalinin said as the chart of the Indian Ocean appeared then as the computer zoomed into the area “Madam Captain, at least on the charts there are no islands there which however does not preclude saying that it did exist at one time.” Lieutenant Kaname Chidori looking as the screen which displayed nothing but blue ocean said “Commander? You said Germany?” Commander Mardukas cocking an eyebrow slightly said, “The Madam Captain said that Lieutenant Chidori. But yes it was reportedly a Nazi Germany Base.” Teletha spoke, “In the later stages of World War II Germany was actively engaged in trade with its allies in this region which was at the time Japan. They would have likely established such a base for purposes of refueling both ships and submarines and to use the base even launch attacks against their enemies.”


Kaname said in reply “Teletha, I know about that. Andrew, I mean Captain Simms taught several classes regarding Japanese war time trade with its allies, but never said anything about them establishing a base.” Teletha addressing Commander Mardukas “Have a satellite view of the area taken, and if there is an island there then request a second pass for closer examination. Inform me when that has been completed and the results known. That will be all Commander, Lieutenant Commander.” Captain Testarossa leaving the chair said to Kaname, “Lieutenant Chidori, please come to the range with me. We have to see how well you can handle a fire arm.” Kaname looking somewhat surprised could be heard asking Teletha as they walked out “What do you mean fire arm? You mean a gun?”


Full Metal Panic Commencement Ch2