A stand-alone story, set before the events of “Eleven Days to Zero”
I stood in the observation nose, watching the waves wash again the great windows. Yet one more achievement of my friend and employer, Admiral Nelson. The windows could withstand pressures far below conventional materials and yet give us a glimpse into the nearly unknown world of the open sea. The windows were just one of the unique features of the magnificent gray queen that was mine to command.
Seaview. There was nothing else like her. Built like no other, she could withstand pressure that no other submarine could tolerate. She had weapons to give any surface ship a run for her money and her unique propulsion system gave her speed and maneuverability so far unmatched by anything above or below the sea. And she was mine, all mine.
Well, not all mine. To be fair, I was just the figurehead. I had a hundred and twenty-five men, the best and the brightest the Navy had to offer, hand-picked by the admiral. They worked together like a well-oiled machine. I couldn't have been more proud of them. They were ready for whatever the world had to throw at us. We could take on any challenge and welcome it.
Seaview had a dozen officers to see to it that she ran smoothly and efficiently, also handpicked by Nelson, most before he approached me with the offer to captain his creation. Strong, young blood from the best ships in the Navy, there was a lot of potential there. Most were working out just fine, but I did have my concerns about a few of them.
Bishop, for starters. He was a good man, he wouldn't have been picked for this boat if he didn't pass Nelson's requirements, but the man was going to have to loosen up. He had a slightly inflated opinion of himself and his rank. The sooner he realized those bars on his collar did not automatically confer wisdom, the better off he would be. He was too quick, too sure of himself. If he didn't watch it his brisk attitude was going to cause trouble. With any luck I could talk to some sense into him, get him to loosen up a bit before anything happened.
O'Brien was another good man. He still had a lot to learn, not quite sure of himself yet. Seaview was a good boat for him to grow up on. He could go far once he got a few missions under his belt and gained a little more self-confidence.
I had reservations about my Exec. Morton was young, too young, I thought to be Seaview's XO. But I had to admit he was damn good at his job. He knew Seaview's computers like the back of his hand and could probably trace every wire and circuit blindfolded. When he barked, the men jumped. And Morton could bark. When he walked into a room everybody stood up straighter and paid a little closer attention to their jobs. Maybe I was being too hasty in judging him. The admiral never wanted anyone else for Seaview's first officer and I wasn't going to argue with Nelson's instincts.
“Skipper, the car has arrived. The admiral is waiting for you topside.” Morton's voice broke over the intercom, breaking me from my musings. I picked up the nearest mike to answer.
“Very good, Mr. Morton. Inform the admiral I'm on my way up.”
“Aye aye, sir.” Morton replied back, as efficient as usual. I slipped the khaki jacket on and tugged the hat down over my head, heading for the stairwell. Forces were growing and Seaview was being called into service, a test of her crew and her abilities. Nelson and I were on our way to a top secret meeting with some of the world’s brightest scientists to discuss options for countering the massive earthquakes threatening the world. Nelson had a theory and he was going to present his solutions at this meeting. If the admiral got his way, and I've seldom seen him not get what he wanted, Seaview would be instrumental in stopping what could be a world catastrophe.
Topside found Nelson waiting for me at the dock, his briefcase in hand. He saw me and a brief smile crossed his lips, one of the few I'd seen from my friend since the earthquakes started.
“You ready for this, John?” he asked me, as an aide opened the doors for us. Nelson climbed in and I followed.
“Seaview's ready. Once we talk these pig-headed scientists of yours that your plan will work, we can set sail the minute we get back. Morton has been briefed on the situation. He's double the security around the dock in case somebody gets the idea to take Seaview out of the equation. Somebody might slip in, but they're gonna have a hell of a time getting out.”
“Very good. Let’s get this over with, shall we? We've eleven days, and not one minute to lose.” Nelson replied and tapped the driver on the shoulder. The car pulled off the docks. Looking back through the car window, I watched the gray silhouette of the elegant submarine grow smaller. I wasn't sure what the future had in store for me, but I was positive Seaview would be ready for it.