Full Metal Panic! Chapter Eight Commencement By Steve Edward Tuesday, 1215 hours, UX-4500 “They would be crazy to carry out such an operation!” as Andrew Simms leaning against the conning tower gun director pedestal, speaking into his headset looked at Acting Captain Kaname Chidori who listened in. The voice of Captain Testarossa replied “Nevertheless, the Emperor Realm is carrying the largest traveling exhibit of its kind. The Chinese National Museum which provided the exhibits of many of which have never before been seen outside of China till now had taken great lengths to ensure the security, but while the ship is underway it has no protection from being attacked in such a way.” Kaname spoke “The exhibit is meant to be one of peace and learning. To have a military presence of any sort would be distracting and of course unwelcome in many countries.” Andrew nodded at her statement then said “The attack against the park ranger patrol craft at the Quasi National Preserve was merely a test. The Emperor Realm propulsion system would be susceptible to such an underwater shock if they used a wire guided torpedo, and since the ship will be in restricted and shallow waters it will be at reduced speed.” Captain Testarossa replied “If that is the scenario, Captain Simms then it is likely that is where the attempt will take place. Can you make it in time to Peleliu to at least intervene?” Andrew looked at Kaname Chidori as he said “I am sure Captain Chidori will be able to carry that out. Just make sure we got reinforcements coming.” Kaname blinked in surprise but nodded “Tessa, we will do our best, Chidori out.” Sergeant Sagara who had been standing behind Captain Simms spoke “It is perhaps best we all prepare for battle?” Andrew opening the waterproof telephone box and spinning the handle replied “That Sergeant would be most prudent” and then speaking into the sound powered phone “Yes this is the First Officer. Make an announcement. All acting department heads to the crew mess in 15 minutes. Prepare to dive, and have the engine room put on notice that we will need everything that the Walter Turbine System can give us, in 10 minutes.” Tuesday, 1300 hours, Groznyy Class Merchant Submarine, Liberation Sergey took a final drag on the cigarette then snuffed it out in the ashtray mounted on his chair then spoke “Ok Crosby. We have two hours before Emperor appears. Is everything setup?” Turning to face Sergey, Crosby replied “So far so good. Everything is in place and ready. Oh yeah no navy forces, I guess the ruse worked boss.”
Wilhelm Becker stood nearby, his brows furrowed as he spoke “Herr Captains with all due respect you have all she can give. We are playing balancing acting with fuel mixtures. Though consumption of supply is better than expected we can only maintain power output for maximum of three hours, before we overheat.” Andrew nodded in the direction of the Acting Chief Engineer then said “Better add speed endurance to our list of short comings, Kaname.” Andrew looked at the growing list of short comings that the UX-4500 had presented so far. The balancing act by both Becker and Wren who was still in the engine room had been enough to bring the UX-4500 to nearly 37 knots through the water. The builders long since dead would likely be proud of their creation, and the oddity of the situation was that instead of pursuing a ship to sink it, they were going to try to prevent such an attack from taking place. Kaname writing it to the list that had been made spoke “So far we have, depth restriction, speed endurance limits, limited precision targeting ability, lack of direct communications except for surface, navigation and of course no direct means of providing support to the Emperor Realm if they are boarded.” Andrew spoke “Yes we have some but we can use those weaknesses to our advantage. The vessel has been identified as a Groznyy class merchant submarine. She is 800 meters to our 76 meter length and of course she is big and fat but she has power to burn. Inside the 100 fathom limit advantage goes to us, as does maneuverability. We can turn inside of her and of course change depth more rapidly. Thanks to Sergeant Major Wu, we have teeth. Wu how many torpedoes have you got prepped?” Wu replied “A total of six, however I will have six more ready by the time of our expected encounter. The automated loading system is fully functional and I might add I have been able to determine that the torpedoes have an extraordinary homing ability, however once fired they are own their own.” Kaname replied “Then utmost care would be prudent to prevent us from accidentally torpedoing the Emperor Realm itself.” Andrew turned to the next page of the hand written battle plan and spoke “Our goal will be to force the Groznyy to the surface, where we can hopefully put some well placed holes in her. We have a total of four fully automatic 88 millimeter turrets that are self loading. Sergeants Pederson and Jaunay will man the fire control stations for those weapons. Sergeant Sagara will man the light machine gun on the conning tower and provide cover for the gun director operator.” Becker spoke “Herr Captain? The Groznyy’s are well armored for ice operations. There are very few weak points.” Andrew setting the paper aside replied “I know. But I think we can manage to do some damage at least till help arrives.” Chidori looking over the final page of the battle plan looked at Andrew “You could choose someone else to operate the gun director, First Officer.” Captain Simms replied “Everyone else will be preoccupied and I am not about to have my commanding officer putting herself in that position, so it is me Kaname and no one else.”
Tuesday, 1500 hours, Samuel Eliot Morison TDD-2 75 knots the readout displayed, as Lieutenant Takenaka turned to face Commander Ward and Major Gonzalez. Both men were looking at a tactical display of the target area just east of Peleliu. Ward spoke “We will surface in 15 minutes. Major, you will operate under the guise of a UN air group and proceed to Peleliu. Koror International Airport will be able to refuel your aircraft when needed. We are still in the dark as to the exact position of that Groznyy, but you have digital photographs uploaded into your target systems. Captain Simms onboard the UX-4500 is making a high speed run towards the target area and will attempt to engage the target so be aware of what you are shooting at.” Major Gonzalez replied “The digital photographs of the UX-4500 will help. The only thing that my weapons system will target will be that Groznyy.” Lieutenant Takenaka spoke “Commander Ward, Melida Island just forwarded information on that submarine. They have been able to identify it by name as well who may be in command.” Marcy gave the PDA to Commander Ward who began to read. Pausing briefly he looked up “Has Madam Captain been informed?” Teletha holding a nearly identical PDA returned it to Commander Mardukas then spoke “Then he would be skillful?” Commander Mardukas replied “Sergey as he is simply known now was among the best the Russian Navy had turned out, and considered among his own peers the most ruthless. The Liberation as he named it was purchased through a straw intermediary in Europe two years ago; and then he and Liberation disappeared for a period of time turning up in the Middle East where the Liberation had been refitted in a shipyard in Dubai.” Kalinin then spoke “Sergey took on various cargo assignments but also other operations which included assisting Greek archeologists in an underwater survey and recovery near Greece some seven months earlier. It was shortly after that assignment ended that the whereabouts of Liberation remained unknown till now.” Teletha spoke “And likely the seed that was planted that gave him the idea to pillage shipwrecks.” Tuesday, 1600 hours, Emperor Realm Captain Carmichael if he was nervous or concerned did not show those things to Lee Wong. The strange message alerting them that the Emperor Realm to the possibility of an attack was received by Captain Carmichael with his rather ordinary reply “Very well Number One see that appropriate defensive measures are taken till the UN force arrives,” then Captain Tony Carmichael strode off the bridge and took to his chair on the bridge wing. Lee Wong notified the ships security director who in turn had mustered the lightly armed personnel who normally stood guard in port to man certain areas of the ship topside.
Petty Officer Carter carefully watched the depth gauge as she held the UX-4500 at periscope depth. Behind her kneeling at the periscope, Captain Simms who peered intently into the device then spoke “Bearing Mark! Range Mark!” then he slapped the handles to their upright stowage positions as Acting Captain Chidori sent the periscope to its storage well. Sergeant Jaunay replied “275 degrees, Range 7300 meters.” It had been a daring thing to do, but Andrew had read the logs of the former captain who had related that at high speeds, the UX-4500 created a barrier of bubbles when submerged, and coupled with the exhaust system of the Walter Turbine System, the 85 year old German submarine was in essence a self-generating prairie masker. The prairie masker system as he had related to Kaname created a wall of tiny bubbles that if picked up by a sonar system would appear to be nothing more than likely a passing rain cloud, and to any casual listener they would ignore it and on the approach to the eastern side of Peleliu Island, he hoped that the sonar system of the Groznyy would just dismiss it as well. Turning his hat around Andrew stepped away from the periscope then said “Ok, Larkin. Your turn, find that submarine!” as Acting Captain Kaname Chidori took position near Petty Officer Kayla Carter spoke “Down angle five, speed 7 knots come left to new course 270 and set depth of 100 meters.” As Carter acknowledged the orders, Simms picked up a sound powered telephone handset and said “Set Condition One throughout the boat, ship is on silent running. Battle station torpedo” and Lieutenant Alice Wren with Wilhelm Becker shifted the propulsion system to all electric drive. Unlike the sophisticated sonar systems of the Tuatha de Danaan class which were coupled to the massive computer system of that submarine class, the UX-4500 had been built with a bow mounted sound dome, which was filled with fresh water housed the emitter and hydrophone and what ever the hydrophone picked up was transmitted back to the operator who had to make the decision if what he or she heard was mammal or machine or just nature. Petty Officer Cal Larkin had his personal preferences and that was listening to the raw data and not that which had been already filtered, scrubbed and cleansed by some machine. “Emperor is slowing, Madam Captain. I have medium speed diesel sounds from starboard bearing 015, twin screw. I believe it will be the pilot boat.” Andrew looked up from the chart table briefly at Chidori who gave a silent nod, as Larkin slowly turning the dial on the control panel spoke again “Got a transit. Bearing 261, Range estimated 5000 meters.” Crosby cursed silently at the careless crewman in the cargo hold and held his breath waiting for the complaint to come which it did. The intercom chirped and the speaker emitting Sergey’s voice “You damn fool keep it quiet down there. We begin in 15 minutes, don’t screw it up now!”
Captain Tony Carmichael scanned the ocean beyond in thought while waiting for the bar pilot and harbor pilot to arrive. Any thought of requesting an armed escort had been fleeting. The only vessel that carried armament was a small police cutter in the harbor and it would be no match against a submerged intruder. The Howard’s were brothers and had served the Palau area with much distinction, so when Jamie and Edward Howard joined him on the bridge wing, he made a change of plans, being that he had once commanded cruise ships whose very passengers wanted to see a much as they could; Carmichael had obliged so many in the past. However this time there would be no sight seeing, and the only safe place he knew was the shallows of Palau, and the Emperor Realm under another name had navigated these very waters before and he knew that the ship could do it again. “What the heck?” as Cal slowly turned the dial he turned to Captain Chidori and spoke “Madam Captain? The Emperor just made a hard left turn and its speed is increasing!” Andrew straightened up and handset in hand spoke “Make depth settings 60, 40 and 20 meters respectfully on heading 261. Fire tubes 1, 2 and 3. Reload!” Sergeant Major Wu slammed her fist down on the master launch control then watching as the lights flashed to red Wu replied “Tubes 1, 2 and 3 fired electrically!” Sergey in momentary disbelief stared at the stern of the Emperor Realm as the sea boiled from beneath then shouting to launch the shock torpedo which would now never reach its intended target, the sonar man to the rear of the control room screamed “Torpedoes Captain! Torpedoes starboard side!” First Officer Lee Wong standing next to Jamie Howard who now steered the Emperor Realm towards what surely would be a heavy grounding felt the concussion of the detonation. The small torpedo launched by Liberation, never meant to chase a ship exploded in the wake 100 meters astern, showering a surprised Chinese circus performer with sea water as she practiced on a balance bar. “Delta Four to Delta Leader, detonation observed astern of Realm. No visual on launch point,” as Major Gonzalez grunted a reply he wheeled the F-35 B Strike Fighter into a harsh 12 G turn passing the former cruise ship and his supersonic passing, the near thunderclap added to the noise caused the Emperor Realm to rock. “Hard Right Rudder! Hard Right Rudder! Full Ahead!” as Sergey tried to turn Liberation, torpedo number 2 at a set depth of 40 meters slammed into the aft hull near the engine and reactor room detonating, blowing the aft cargo hatch askew and sending sea water pouring into the near empty hold filled with armed men. “This is Delta Two; I have an underwater detonation four thousand meters from Realm and a lot of bubbles. Looks like 4500 has scored!” Major Gonzalez replied gazing towards where the most likely area of the torpedo launching took place “Very good. Weapons hold at this time. Delta Two and Four, you are to maintain position with Realm. Delta Three you are with me. We cover 4500. Fire only if fired upon when submarine surfaces.”
“Hard right rudder, new course 005, Take us to 90 meters. Activate the Walter Turbine System, speed to 20 knots!” spoke Captain Kaname Chidori. Andrew did not counter the order having already discussed the tactical maneuver in advance. The UX-4500 still had 20 meters of water to play with and Andrew knew Kaname would use every single centimeter if she had to. Larkin who had to turn down the speaker that carried the underwater noises of the struggling Liberation spoke “Target is in a hard right turn, projected course will be 165 to 170 degrees!” Andrew spoke “Good water for 3500 meters on present course. Recommend coming left to 200 degrees and set depth at 30 meters, speed 7 knots.” Kaname spoke “Very well First Officer, make it so. Prepare for second launching. Recommendation for homing launch and proximity detonation is confirmed. Spread angle 1.5 degrees all tubes. You may fire when ready.” Andrew looked briefly at Sergeant Sagara then speaking into the sound powered handset to Sergeant Major Wu in the torpedo room “Load all remaining tubes. Set all torpedoes to homing acquisition and proximity detonation, spread angle is 1.5 degrees.” Wu replied “Understand Sir.” Crosby picked himself of the deck and regained the catwalk that would take him to the control room. He had heard the screams, the roar of water and then silence after the explosion. What had attacked them? The Liberation was vibrating badly, a bad sign that indicated it was dragging wreckage with it. Most likely the aft loading hatch, Crosby thought. The huge one piece assembly would fold outward and then downward when surfaced. The secondary loading ramps attached to the hatch were no doubt swinging about in the current. As Crosby entered the control room, Sergey stared at him coldly then said “You will best be ready to leave. They will show no mercy.” Crosby, limping as he walked said “What about the others?” as he waved his hand about the control room. Sergey replied “They will take their chances with you. Congratulate their captain for me.” Major Gonzalez in a tight turn viewed the scene playing out below. The clear blue waters of the Pacific could not hide either submarine. The Groznyy leaving a trail of oil and frothing water in its wake was trailed by the UX-4500, and as he trained his video nose camera onto both submarines, the furthest to his left emitted a stream of bubbles then the tiny wakes of what it had launched became visible. “Mother of God” echoed Major Gonzalez’s voice as it was repeated on the bridges of the Tuatha de Danaan and the Samuel Eliot Morison. Captain Teletha Testarossa counted the tiny underwater torpedoes then said “Lieutenant Commander Kalinin, when we are within air range, launch all helicopters for sea rescue,” as the multiple flashes of light played across her face from the video screen. “Battle Surface! All Hands this is no drill Battle Surface! Stand-by for at sea rescue and recovery!” as Kaname spoke she watched Captain Simms followed by Sergeant Souska Sagara climb the ladder to the conning tower.
Commander Drake Ward blinked in surprise then spoke “Marcy, prepare to surface. Get every Helo we got air born that can do sea rescue. They will join with the Tuatha de Danaan Sixth Air Group, and recall the strike fighters. They won’t be needed now.” Tuesday, 1800 hours, Emperor Realm, Malakal Harbor Captain Tony Carmichael rarely took alcohol in any form but now he did as he tossed back the glass of Scotch Whiskey, the aged brew from the Laphroaig distillery on Islay Island in Scotland. Seated before him a man who called himself simply Kalinin spoke “It was fortunate you took the action you did. Your surprise maneuver did wonders.” Tony waited as Lee Wong carefully poured more of the Scottish Whiskey then waving Wong away replied “A gut reaction. The UN message said submarine, so I knew the shallows was the only place to go. I give a lot of credit to the bar and harbor pilots. They know these waters well, as it was we barely cleared the reef.” Wong carefully placing the bottle back with the cabinet spoke “It was a mere 2.5 meters according to the fathometer. Mister Kalinin, the submarine that saved us would it at least be possible to thank the captain and crew?” Andrei replied “I regret that will not be possible, but your message of gratitude will be passed along.” Lee Wong bowed as Carmichael hefted his glass in salute then said “To the Toy Box! A small boat that packs a powerful package.” Kalinin lifting his own glass replied “Yes indeed.” Captain Testarossa turned towards the bow as she stood next to Kaname then said “Was it necessary to fire six torpedoes?” Andrew stood back within ear shot his good arm crossed over his bandaged and slinged arm as he braced against the gun director as Kaname replied “Yes it was Tessa. As some would say it was a wounded animal and still a danger.” Tessa running her hair through her fingers glanced at both Andrew and Souska. Andrew with his arm in a sling on shrugged at her silent question then turned away looking towards the distant Peleliu Island as it slowly receded in the distance. The torpedoes detonated and had literally lifted the late Liberation to the surface, breaking its back as it did so. Andrew the first out of the control room into the conning tower had raised himself over the edge to view the sinking submarine and much to his surprise as well as that of Sergeant Sagara, he had come under fire. The lone gunman oblivious to what was going on around him was spraying the conning tower of the UX4500 and Captain Andrew Simms was knocked backwards by an incoming round. Souska coolly activated the fire control director and the fore and aft turrets mounted on the conning tower of the UX-4500, which were slaved to the director turned and he depressed the firing button. Whoever had opened fire on the UX-4500 would never be known. The impacts of the 88 millimeter shells shredded the conning tower of the Liberation and sent a clear message to the other survivors who quickly began tossing their own weapons into the sea.
Tessa stepped away from Kaname then motioning for Andrew to walk to the aft observation platform spoke as she stopped at the railing “Captain, we do our best to preserve life and what transpired today goes all against this. Why did you allow it?” Andrew looked back towards Kaname who still faced forward “Because that submarine was still a danger as Kaname said. That crew was still clearly armed, and they would have ruthlessly attempted to take over this submarine to make good an escape. We can try to give mercy, but when need be and when it is refused the only course of action will be death. You will have my full report by Saturday evening Madam Captain and I would like you to think about this. We took a big chance today and a British author named William Pett Ridge said it the best “When you take the bull by the horns…what happens is a toss up.” Andrew tipping his hat with his good hand departed then without further word entered the hatch to the control room; the captain’s landing less desirable than anticipated, “Damn that smarts…” coming from below as Tessa rejoined Kaname she looked downward to see Andrew sitting on the deck trying to rub his shoulder as Sergeant Major Wu appeared to help him up. Tessa spoke “Your First Officer has taught you well Kaname. I will expect a full and complete report from you as well Saturday evening. Until then may you have a safe voyage.” Walking aft to the deck ladder that would take her to the main deck, Tessa looked about one more time before descending to the deck below. The evidence had been overwhelming, the armor piercing bullets penetrating the conning tower upper works was evident, and so were the blood stains. Kaname waited till Tessa had boarded the Zodiac and it had cleared the side then picking up the sound powered hand set and turning the call crank she spoke “Dive, Set depth to 150 meters, speed to 15 knots. Now Dive!” Slamming the door shut, she turned to Souska “Well what are you waiting for? Get below Mister!” as the sounds of vents opening allowing the waters of the Pacific to cascade into the tanks, Kaname yanking the lanyard release for the hatch followed Sagara to the control room below. Wednesday, 0800 hours, Tokyo, Japan Mithril Apartment Complex Charlotte Ward turned to greet the Krieger sisters, Gerwalta and Galatia as they sat down at the breakfast table, then turned back to the television broadcasting the morning news. The English language ticker scrolling across the screen caught Gerwalta’s attention as the newscaster showing considerable movement as he reported the breaking news story turned to his fellow newscaster as pictures began flashing on the screen and one in particular stayed frozen as the ticker continued to scroll “Mysterious submarine! Is all authorities are willing to say. Intervention by this submarine prevented an act of piracy against traveling exhibit that was so recently visited Japan…” Gerwalta spoke “My god! It is the 4500!” Charlotte Ward looking closely at the fuzzy picture replied “Well if it is, it’s hard to tell.” The smoke from the firing cannons obscured the submarine but Galatia looking around the Common Room found Herman and pointed to the television then said “Herman! The guns worked!”
Charlotte seeing the next picture that of the sinking Liberation said in reply “And I think the torpedoes did too!” Commander Lewis Strong adjusting his seat turned back to the newscast that he was monitoring and shaking his head spoke to no one in particular “Somebody somewhere is going to clean up that photo and they will find a World War II German Submarine taking on a 21st century Merchant Submarine, and the rumor mills are going to go nuts!” Saturday, 0900 hours, Melida Island, Mithril Western Pacific Combat Support Base Escorted by the docking squids, the UX-4500 entered the underground complex. The crews of the Tuatha de Danaan and the Samuel Eliot Morison lined the decks their respective submarines as the diminutive 78 meter long UX-4500 approached it specially prepared dock. Acting Captain Lieutenant Kaname Chidori stood at attention returning the salutes of the gathered crews. Captain Simms standing to her rear, spoke into the sound powered handset “Ok Chief. Finished with main engines. Shut the turbines down.” Then replacing the handset as Lieutenant Chidori once acting captain stepped down from the raised platform, she and Captain Andrew Simms walked aft and descended to the aft deck where the remainder of the prize crew joined them. A small gangway was moved into position then the footsteps of those gathered on the dock began as they made their way onboard. Captain Teletha Testarossa saluted then spoke “Permission to come aboard.” Kaname stepping forward saluted smartly then replied “Permission granted.” Sergeant Major Guan-yin Wu, standing to the rear of Captain Simms at first pondered the slight smudge on her captain’s jacket. Dismissing it simple as a result of brushing up against something that might have been rusty; but as her eyes came back to the same area it had grown larger. Sensing movement to his right Andrew glanced over to see Wu looking down at him and frowning as she did so. Wu took her hand and placed it onto his arm then said “With all due respect Captain, you are bleeding.” “Not one word Sergeant Major,” said Andrew softly. Wu gripping his arm even tighter spoke out loud, “We need a medic team NOW!” Saturday, 2200 hours, Melida Island Medical Infirmary Lieutenant Alice Wren and Ensign Aryl sat together in the observation room that adjoined the hospital room. The beeps of the medical monitors were their only source of company for the moment. Their commanding officer lay unconscious in the hospital room.
Aryl spoke “It is like she does not even care what happened to him! Tessa knew very well he was injured, she made out like it was a complete surprise. You were there you saw him Alice.” Alice replying “Doctor Albert came onboard and treated him, and they were alone together. George dismissed the medic and said he would deal with it personally.” “Deal with it personally?” said Aryl. “What about when Tessa came onboard? Did she have any idea just how serious it was?” “No she did not,” spoke Lieutenant Kaname Chidori. Lieutenant Alice Wren and Ensign Aryl came to their feet as Kaname entered the room. Walking to the observation window, Kaname looked in briefly then said “When Andrew was hit, Souska took over. Nobody else could get topside because of the incoming fire, so Souska was the one that opened fire on the gunner. It was two minutes of hell. The boat was shaking violently from the recoils of the guns. I was debating on firing another spread of torpedoes, but it would have been a massacre, since the concussions would have killed anyone in the water.” Lieutenant Wren spoke “The call from the conning tower, it was Andrew? I remember Petty Officer Larkin shoving the phone towards you. You were on the circuit for the torpedo room with Wu.” Kaname taking a seat spoke “Larkin said it was Captain Simms ordering me to hold firing any torpedoes, because there were men in the water. When Souska finally stopped firing, I had Wu abort.” Ensign Aryl spoke “The wound, it was what Doctor Albert called a clean through? Were Doctor Albert and Andrew hiding something? Alice, you said that the doctor dismissed the medic.” Alice Wren spoke “It looked bad when Andrew came down. He was helped forward by the medic to his cabin, then the medic came back and told us to call the Morison to have Doctor Albert respond, then he went back forward. I guess you heard the radio traffic in any case, but George was flown from the Morison, cabled to the deck since it could not land.” Kaname looked back at the window then said “An hour later, Andrew and the doctor come walking aft, Andrew with an arm and shoulder in sling. He of course finds out Tessa is coming and by then the Samuel Eliot Morison has arrived. He and the doctor goes topside, and Andrew stays there till Tessa arrives and he talks to her privately about something and decides to go below.” Lieutenant Wren replied “Andrew fell while coming down the ladder… I remember Wu helping him up…” “And that was Tuesday evening after I left?” Doctor George Albert stood within doorway looking at Lieutenant Wren. Alice replied “Yes it was Sir.” Doctor Albert entered the room looking at those gathered then said “Still stubborn. As for the part about it being a clean through wound, Ensign it was, but there was additional damage in there.”
Doctor Albert stood at the observation window and said “Andrew and I we go way back, before any of you were born. His stubborn streak started back then, you can ask Kalinin about that. Kalinin at the time was on the other side, not opposing us but after the same objective. As things turned out it was double cross both ways. Andrew, a young lieutenant has to take command of his force after the squad leader was killed.” Pausing a moment Doctor Albert looked at the medical readings then continued, “No Arms Slaves in those days. Just an exoskeleton suite with Kevlar, and he and Kalinin figure it out about the same time that everyone was set up. So they combine forces to fight their way out. The battle was harsh and intense, no quarter given and no quarter taken. Turns out Andrew got banged up badly, had to dump the suite in the middle of the final battle and it was he who brought it to an end, took out the bad guys in one final charge carrying a package of C-7. Then after the blast Kalinin sees him walking back, nonchalant like.” “The scars to his upper body?” asked Ensign Aryl. Doctor Albert nodded “So you have seen them?” George chuckled then said “Forced marched. Twenty kilometers, nary a word to anyone or even Kalinin, even forced the extraction team to take Kalinin’s troops with them. It was at the airfield where I met him. Kalinin carried him in straight from the bird, two maybe three clicks to the medical tent on foot. Lays him down on the table in front of me and unlimbers that AK-74 he was carrying and uttered two words “Fix him”. Lieutenant Kaname Chidori stood then said “Why did he hide it Doctor? He could have easily asked for relief?” Lieutenant Wren spoke “Because we were not home yet. He had to see the mission through, and he did not want Tessa to see you fail.” Doctor Albert turned and spoke “He had me patch him up, long enough to last till the UX-4500 got back to Melida Island then he would be a good sport and go to medical. I should have guessed he would pull a stunt like that. The Madam Captain did not know just how serious it was herself.” Doctor Albert looked briefly at the wall clock then said “Visiting hours is over with, and I think for some of you it is past your bed times. Now off with all of you and that is an order.” Sunday, 0630 hours, Melida Island Medical Infirmary At first upon waking up, disorientation was the least of his problems. Sergeant Major Guan-yin Wu had shown up early and was sitting in the observation room when she saw him stir. Mind still blank, Andrew befuddled tried to get out of bed. His right shoulder reminded him of what happened. The alarms at the on-duty nurse station sounding in the distance followed by the door crashing open and a nurse then Wu who was close on her heels running into the room, gave Andrew another part of the puzzle.
“Captain stop moving! You will tear something again!” as Wu and the nurse struggled to hold Simms down, heavy footsteps followed by lighter ones came down the hallway. Sergeant Troy Gallium, without pausing drops what he is carrying onto a nearby counter and picking up the nurse and moving her out of the way he steps in and presses Andrew back into the bed and holds him. Commander Ward slapping a wall intercom station says “Alert Doctor Albert immediately. His patient is awake,” as Andrew Simms looks up at Wu in puzzlement and asks “Where the hell am I?” An hour later, Doctor Albert removed his stethoscope and placed it in his jacket pocket and said “So you don’t remember?” Andrew looked at the doctor still puzzled and said “Not really. I remember standing on the deck of the 4500, and then Wu coming up next to me and grabbing my arm. What did I do? Fall overboard?” George spoke “No, but you did some more damage to your shoulder and you had internal bleeding which I might add likely started last Tuesday. You have had a considerable number of people worried.” Andrew listened as Doctor Albert described the events and he even touched on the conversations with the “Whispered”. “So Lieutenant Chidori does know by now,” asked Andrew as he tried to adjust his pillow. Doctor Albert replied “More than you care to know. Oh you have some visitors too. Commander Ward is one of them and he wants to speak privately before anyone else.” Andrew nodded, “Ok show them in, Ward first please.” “Sorry gentlemen and ladies, this is private,” as Commander Drake Ward pulled the privacy curtains and then deactivated the intercom to the observation room. Pulling a chair to the bed, Drake removed a PDA from his jacket pocket and then gave it to Andrew as he spoke “Kalinin passed this along. Background on the crew of the Groznyy, mostly mercenaries only worse; not even Mithril would have touched them and two were initially reviewed but dropped from consideration altogether.” “It’s Afghanistan all over again…” spoke Andrew as he laid down the PDA. Drake Ward sat back in the chair, “Only this time you did not do it. You kept Lieutenant Kaname Chidori from going through the same guilt trip.” Andrew picked up the PDA the spoke “I was 22at the time. She’s 17, so is Tessa and Alice. Kaname is bright, strong and cool under fire as is Tessa and Alice. When will be the day they will have to make that decision?” Drake coming to his feet and walking towards the drapes and to turn the intercom on replied “Hopefully never.” Andrew holding the PDA the said “Besides me, who else has the complete background?” as Drake paused before opening the drapes then said “Kalinin and now just you. I’ve deleted mine.” Andrew picked up the stylus and enabled the delete function, then confirming he wanted file deletion, the tiny device beeped once and the file disappeared. Andrew tucked the PDA beneath the sheets, and then said “Tell them to come on in.”
Two weeks later… Monday, 1100 hours, Quasi National Preserve The whine of the electric winch stopped, and then as the shouts of the deck crew faded; Genji Akio seeing the nod from his sister Emiho, he pressed the release button and then the large splash took place as the first of four solid steel containers sank from view. The two men standing off to the side watch as the rigging process was repeated and Genji released the containers into the ocean. The smaller of the two men had been introduced by Kalinin as Doctor Andrew Simms and when the man had presented his credentials, even Emiho was impressed. The JUAS had been contacted to assist with returning the illicitly taken silver shipment to the Quasi Preserve. When the aircraft arrived at Osaka, it carried UN markings. Its cargo escorted under heavy guard to the Jen Maru where it was loaded and the ship sailed. Genji had asked for an explanation of why the silver was being returned and Doctor Simms had provided the answer. “The silver was taken illegally. Because of its status of being removed from a protected area, the original owners or claimants, the United States Military can not lay claim as they are signatories to the UN protection zone and preservation treaty. The silver must be returned to where it was taken.” And so as the last steel box crashed into the sea and sank from sight, Emiho approached the taller of the two, Kalinin and spoke “As requested, the items have been returned. Can we be of assistance for anything else?” Kalinin raised an eyebrow slightly then turned to Andrew, “Doctor?” Friday, 0400 hours, Osaka US-Japan Joint Operations Base, Quarantine Pier Rear Admiral Franklin James Adams adjusted his trench coat slightly then turned his attention towards the fog shrouded channel. The orders had been very explicit and their origins were from the Pentagon. “Two tugs. Full military crews, Top Secret clearance and above only, package pickup at Osaka Sea Buoy…” and so forth as he mused. Nearly a month earlier the base had scrambled every hunter-killer sub and destroyer it had to find a rogue sub. Of course it turned up near Peleliu and damn near caused a war, had it not been for some submarine that engaged it in broad daylight. The base Public Affairs Officer had been hammered by inquisitive people and rumor mongers asking about the mystery sub. Many enterprising individuals had been able to clean up the lone close-up photo that had spread around the web. Who in the hell still put guns on their boats in the first place?
His Intelligence Officer had even been surprised when he could not find it, until a search of military archives turned up a hit. Franklin who had just received the message about the special pickup had looked at the photograph twice to be sure. Of course he had the classified satellite photographs, overhead shots only but it was a German U-Boat, caught in the act of firing its guns into the sinking Groznyy. The noise of the diesel-electric drives of the tugs reaching his ears, Rear Admiral Adams stepped closer to the edge of the pier. His aide offering him coffee which he accepted stepped back to watch as well. “Line handlers stand-by,” the speaker of the lead tug announced. Then out of the rolling fog, the bow of the UX-4500 came into view and Rear Admiral Adams dropped his coffee in disbelief as the truth floated past him. Friday, 1600 hours, Melida Island Mithril Western Pacific Combat Support Base Captain Testarossa moved her chair back from the desk, then stood and walked to the window where Captain Andrew Simms was standing, “I would have to say Andrew that your report was complete for the engagement. I am pleased overall with how things turned out.” Andrew spoke “I regret the delay and my behavior. It was unbecoming.” Tessa replied “Hardly. In truth, I suspected you had been wounded worse than you wanted to admit. You hardly ever moved from the gun director till we had our conversation, then you left Kaname alone. I saw Sergeant Sagara go below first then Lieutenant Chidori. She issued the dive order. I was surprised to still see you walking when the UX-4500 arrived.” Andrew smiled then spoke “Things were a bit fuzzy at that point, but overall Lieutenant Chidori did rather well. If there is nothing else Madam Captain may I have permission to leave?” Captain Testarossa replied “Very well captain. You are dismissed.” Walking from the office, Captain Simms headed for the break room. Lieutenant Kaname Chidori and Sergeant Souska Sagara standing in his path were at the entrance. Lieutenant Chidori spoke “You did not have to take the responsibility, Captain.” Andrew smiled slightly then spoke as he stepped around her, “Sometimes Kaname, rank has it privileges.” Fini.