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Escort Duties

By tommygo
Created: 8th March 2021 11:02:36 PM

  1. >Be Anon.
  2. >Specifically be Captain Anonymous F. Aggot of the USN.
  3. >Age 31
  4. >Commanding officer of the USS Stupro. Fletcher-class destroyer. Pennant number DD-452.
  5. >329 souls aboard.
  6. >The date is May 4th 1943 and your vessel has been assigned to convoy escort duty in the North Atlantic.
  7. >Convoy HX-167 set out from Halifax harbour 2 Days ago on your 4 day transit over the expansive waters of the freezing Northern Atlantic.
  8. >Air cover was now a distant memory as your PBY Catalina aircraft were out of range.
  9. >You’re convoy was now at the mercy of the black gap.
  10. >To defend it was your vessel and the collection of 3 Canadian Flower-class corvettes were the only defence for the poor bastards taking the trip.
  11. >They were mostly troop transports and food supply ships for the growing force in the UK.
  12. >The merchant marine had already taken some unsettling losses over the course of the war.
  13. >But you still had high hopes.
  14. >All your buddies from the academy had already had a few crossing under their belt while the Stupro was fitting out in Maine.
  15. >Couple of them even said they sank a kraut sub or two in their letters.
  16. >You hope however your first crossing isn’t quite so exciting.
  17. >But who are you kidding.
  18. >You know trouble follows you everywhere you go like some string of bad luck.
  19. >Keep that to yourself though considering how superstitious sailors can be.
  20. >As you think this you hear the pounding on your cabin door.
  21. >Your eyes dart to the door lit by the circle of morning light through the port hole.
  22. >It moves up and down the door due to the sway of the ship and is like a spotlight guiding your gaze.
  23. >“Breakfast is up, Sir”
  24. >It’s Killick, the messman.
  25. >You can tell by the southern twang in the voice.
  26. >Not the sharpest kid but damn can that boy make breakfast.
  27. >You roll out of your bunk and put on your slippers before shuffling over to the door in the mostly dim compartment.
  28. >You were still in your skivvies but you don’t much care.
  29. >You didn’t wanna keep the boy waiting and keeping up the sharply dressed officer image was tedious task at best.
  30. >The prestige of the position really went to some guys heads.
  31. >You swing open the door gently and look down at the scrappy young man as he stood with your tray of bacon pancakes.
  32. >“Mornin’ Cap, sleep well?”
  33. “Could’ve been better Killick, sea was a little too high to really settle down”
  34. >”I hear ya sir, the boys on the mornin’ watch said they had some spooky weather in early hours. Somethin about technicolour lightnin’. I slept like a top myself”
  35. >You don’t quite get his meaning on the weather so you raise an eyebrow.
  36. >But it’s not important so you just nod to him approvingly.
  37. >He stares blankly for a moment before seemingly remembering why he’s here.
  38. >”Here’s your grub sir, made it up just how ya like”
  39. >You figure however you’d best make a more official start to the day.
  40. >Sets a bad example hiding away in your cabin like this.
  41. “Thankyou son, you never disappoint... but I’d best show my face to everyone don’t you think?. Could you take it up to the officers mess while I get dressed?”
  42. >Killick stands up straighter and looking more alert.
  43. >”Aye aye sir, I’ll set you up a spot. Should still be warm when ya get there”
  44. “Good man”
  45. >You tell him as you shut the door.
  46. >You move around your cabin gathering your uniform from its various storage spots.
  47. >Trousers and shirts from your drawer.
  48. >Shoes from your foot locker.
  49. >Your suit jacket you grab from the coat rack.
  50. >Your body naturally leaning side to side to account for the steady roll of the ship in choppy water.
  51. >You finally finish up by straightening your tie before reaching for your peaked cap and donning it.
  52. >Now making your way out of your cabin and down a handful of steel corridors lit by industrial lights you acsend the steep steps to the officers mess.
  53. >The corrugated steels chimes gently at each step.
  54. >At the top you reach the wooden door embossed metal wording stating you have arrived at the mess.
  55. >As you push open the door and step through you see Killick finishing setting your food out amongst your subordinate officers seated at the table.
  56. >“Officer on deck!”
  57. >You hear a booming voice say in a load outburst to your left.
  58. >Looking over you see the sourc of the sound which is the other messman known as Mr. Moores
  59. >He brings attention to your entry.
  60. >Everyone else quickly rises spinning in place to face you.
  61. >You never saw the need for this but you suppose tradition is important.
  62. >You don’t like interrupting meal times.
  63. >Before they can even finish their salute you motion for them to sit again by waving you hands down.
  64. “Please sit, continue your breakfast gentlemen”
  65. >”Aye aye sir”
  66. >They all say in unison.
  67. >You stride over the table and sit at the spot Killick laid out for you.
  68. >You find yourself between the Chief Engineer and your XO.
  69. >They are Tom Parker and Richard ‘Dick’ Rushford respectively.
  70. >Mr. Parker was a hardy man of short but strong stature and probably knew more about the Stupro than you, he could probably indentify any nut or bolt on the boat.
  71. >A damn good engineer and you were happy to have him.
  72. >XO Rushford was one of the finest officers you knew and the two of you were fast friends when you got assigned the vessel.
  73. >Dick was one of very few men you would confide in on the ship.
  74. >Not because of trust or anything of that nature.
  75. >It just wouldn’t go down well becoming too chummy with seamen you commanded.
  76. >Some other officers line the long table who fulfill many duties on the vessel.
  77. >You respected all of them.
  78. >”How was your rest captain?”
  79. >Dick chimes up and you look over to him.
  80. >”Not exactly flat calm last night sir”
  81. >He continues as you slice into breakfast.
  82. “There was room for improvement Dick, but then again sleeping at sea isn’t really a talent I possess”
  83. >He scoffs quietly and slowly nods in agreement before returning into his food.
  84. >You look around the table before posing the question to the others.
  85. “Anybody else have more luck gentlemen?”
  86. >A few yes sirs and enthused nods can be seen and some others shake their heads to signal their own difficulty.
  87. >One young officer meets your gaze as if he wants to speak but soon looks back to his food.
  88. >He is one of the officers of the watch you believe.
  89. >Mendes or something of the like.
  90. >You leave it be.
  91. >Turning back to Dick you inquire about any new developments.
  92. “Any news from the night I should know about?”
  93. >Dick lays down his utensils and looks to the table as if collecting information.
  94. >Then he looks back to you.
  95. >”Sir the Commodore reported a possible radar contact at bearing 019 about 9 miles from the convoy but the pip was soft”
  96. >You nod with a raised eyebrow and he continues.
  97. >“We still thought it prudent to investigate and one of the Canuck ships swung out to have a look, couldn’t pick anything up on sonar though so we assumed a false alarm”
  98. >You nod once more and clear your throat.
  99. “Who went out to go sweep the area?”
  100. >”The HMCS Leaf sir”
  101. >Dick replies.
  102. >A slight smile creeps onto your face as you nod again.
  103. “I know Leafs skipper he’s a thorough man, he wouldn’t  have called all clear if he wasn’t certain... Thankyou Dick”
  104. >”Aye sir”
  105. “Was there anything else?”
  106. >Dick shakes his head at you.
  107. >”Not that I’m aware of sir everything was calm last night aside from the weather”
  108. >You quickly nod back at him in approval but that reminded you.
  109. >You quickly pivot your head around to scan the room.
  110. >No sign of Killick he must have left after completing his duties.
  111. >You wanted to ask him what he meant by the weather he mentioned this morning.
  112. >Maybe if you see him later you’ll ask.
  113. >But looking back to the table you see Mendes is looking at you once more.
  114. >Thats when you remember.
  115. >He was on the morning watch that Killick mentioned, he was the officer on duty.
  116. >Why not ask him.
  117. >You meet his gaze and clear your throat.
  118. “Mendes isn’t it son?”
  119. >He looks somewhat surprised being addressed directly now, but doesn’t hesitate.
  120. >“Yes sir that’s correct?...”
  121. >He replies quizzically.
  122. “I understand you were on the morning watch is that correct?”
  123. >He maintains direct eye contact as he nods to you.
  124. >“That’s right captain, I was”
  125. “Mr. Killick mentioned something to me this morning which piqued my interest, he said that some of the men on your watch had seen strange weather patterns... a storm which he described as ‘Technicolor’ I think. Do you know what he’s talking about?”
  126. >He furrows his brow and purses his lips as he considers his answer.
  127. >”Actually captain...”
  128. >He begins to speak.
  129. >”On the watch in the early hours of the morning we had sporadic signatures on radar of large cloud formations moving at speed away from the convoy. My bust guess was the centre of the formation was some... 20 miles away maybe.”
  130. >Mendes begins to look tentative.
  131. >You give him a small smile to encourage him to continue.
  132. “Go on son”
  133. >You say causally.
  134. >Mendes sighs and continues on.
  135. >”At that kind of distance sir we didn’t expect anything and soon it dropped off the radar all together... but maybe an hour later without radar signatures my lookout called out on something he could identify of our starboard bow... just under 3 miles away was my best guess.”
  136. >His eyes begin to scan all across the surface of the table as if he expected the answers to be scrawled across it.
>The rest of the officers at the table were now atleast paying half attention while you and Dick listen intently.
  137. >Mendes goes on.
  138. >”I went out onto the bridge wing on the starboard side to see if I could get a look and it was difficult due to the weather limiting visibility... but I did manage to make out what the lookout was seeing. It was definitely a cloud formation like a fog bank but... I-I-It’s colour was not what it should be. Like a bright purple glow from within and the way it moved was just unnat-
  139. >”**Captain requested on the bridge. Captain requested bridge**”
  140. >Your head snapped up the speaker in the corner of the room.
  141. >The intercom rang out with an electronic buzz filtering the voice of the announcer.
  142. >Looks like breakfast is cut short, it’ll have to go cold.
  143. >You look back to Mendes who still looks somewhat on edge.
  144. “Well Mr. Mendes looks like I’ll have to trouble you for the details at a later date”
  145. >You shoot him a friendly smile but he just nods and fixes his gaze on his plate.
  146. >”Aye aye sir”
  147. >He says back somewhat meekly.
  148. >You look to the rest of the officers and nod to them collectively.
  149. “Enjoy your breakfasts gentlemen”
  150. >And with that you turn and walk for the door leading to the corridor that goes to the bridge.
  151. >As you strode away you felt some of the officers watching your departure.
  152. >You now briskly traversed the tight corridors leading up to the bridge.
  153. >Occasionally calling out ‘Make a hole!’ to those congesting up the walkway so they know to clear a path for you.
  154. >Being the CO has it perks.
  155. >You now push your way through the door the brings you upto to the bridge do the Stupro and can immediately see how crowded it is. It’s a hun of activity it seems.
  156. >”Captain on deck!”
  157. >The boatswain stood to your right in the doorway to the bridge wing calling out to his fellow crewmates.
  158. >All on deck aside from the few who cannot deviate from their task like the Helmsman etc all stand to attention before quickly returning to their posts.
  159. >The officer of the deck makes his way over to you, a man of 22 by the name of McManus.
  160. >He’s a lot more eager and sprightly than yourself.
  161. >He gives you a salute before opening the conversation.
  162. >“Captain Aggot sir, good morning.”
  163. “Good morning Son”
  164. You say as you shoot a salute back to him.
  165. >”We received an urgent message from the other escorts you’ll want to hear”
  166. >He gestures with his arm over to the starboard bridge wing and you make your way over.
  167. >Stepping through the doorway you get your first breath of the sea air proper.
  168. >The wind was biting cold today and the uniform didn’t offer much resistance to the chill.
  169. >You feel the slight patter of spray across your skin as creating waves smash into the Stupro’s sides.
  170. >The steel beast barely reacting to the seas persistent thrashings.
  171. >You looked out at the great expanse of the northern Atlantic.
  172. >You saw the inky blue peaks and troughs shimmer as the caught the sunlight and watched the fine mist be birthed from the crests of the waves as droplets are blown into the air by heavy wind leaving a light veil over the oceans uneven surface.
  173. >The landscape stretched for miles and miles to the horizon, and you knew that even this vast expanse was a small fraction of the oceans breadth.
  174. >The only things populating the empty swathe of sea was the small fleet you are charged with protecting.
  175. >The 25+ supply and transport ships are behemoths in their own right despite those at the fringes of the convoy seeming to be minute.
  176. >Compared to the Stupro they all dwarf her, even more so compared to the Canadian escorts that accompany you.
  177. >But immediately to the starboard of the Stupro was the commodores command vessel.
  178. >She was a gleaming white ocean liner packed to the brim with men being shipped off to England.
  179. >With your vessel cutting its way through the water to the front of the convoy you were passing alongside her.
  180. >You were able to admire the shear size and power of the colossal ship of the Commodore.
  181. >But before you began to say dream that reminded you why you came out to the wing.
  182. >The message.
  183. >So you turn to the young man stood by the signal lamp holding some paper in his hands.
  184. >The hair poking out from his wooden hat damp from the spray.
  185. >Droplets of sea water hang from his chin.
  186. >His nose red and running likely due to the chill out here.
  187. >He stands up straight to convey the information you need.
  188. >”Sir, message from Captain Ryan, HMCS Gosling, Sir”
  189. “Read it out son”
  190. >You say back expectantly.
  191. >”Sir,  Escort Gosling to Comescort-relay of possible contact by Comconvoy sensors-HF/DF detects German radio signal-bearing 094 degrees-range estimate 14-18 miles-likely U-boat”
  192. >Your eyes widen as he reads the transcript.
  193. >Suddenly you switch on and revert to what you training told you. Now is the time to be serious.
  194. >You snap around to a rough bearing the crewman read out and take a quick scan with your binoculars.
  195. >More choppy seas.
  196. >Not much else.
  197. >You turn back to the lad, this time with determination in your eyes instead of understanding.
  198. >This is no time to muck around.
  199. “Alright son, send back ‘Comescort to Escort Gosling’ will persue possible contact... Thanks’ send that.”
  200. >“Aye aye sir”
  201. >The boy says before quickly turining to his signal lamp.
  202. >As you turned and walked back strode back into the bridge you heard the clacks of the lamps lever as he spelled out your response.
  203. >Now amongst the bustle of the bridge you look to the Deck Officer McManus and tell him firmly and clearly.
  204. “Mr. McManus, I have the Conn”
  205. >He nods dutifully.
  206. >”Aye aye sir, Captain has the conn”
  207. >Turning to the rest of the bridge crew as he says it.
  208. >You now turn as well to face all the men of the bridge as you stand by one of he portholes. The light illuminating your now more serious visage.
  209. >You watch your men’s composure.
  210. >It’s time to start instructing on how best to run this guy down.
  211. “All ahead full, make turns for 36.5 knots”
  212. >”All ahead full make turns for 36.5 knots, aye sir!”
  213. >You hear the order repeated back to you.
  214. “Alright son, right standard rudder 090
  215. >”Right standard rudder 090, aye aye sir.”
  216. >The helmsman also repeating his orders.
  217. >Now turning you reach for the comms handset.
  218. >You need to tell the Canucks of your plan.
  219. “All escort vessels, this is Stupro. I am persuing a potential U-boat contact at bearing 094 an estimated 16 miles range from the convoy. Modify holding patterns to fill gaps in our screen.”
  220. >”Aye Stupro”
  221. >”Aye aye sir”
  222. >”Leaf sir aye”
  223. >You hear all the Canucks respond back one by one.
  224. >Now it’s time to find this guy.
  225. “Right full rudder 094
  226. >”Right full rudder, aye sir”
  227. >You here it echoed.
  228. >Now turning back to McManus you tell him firmly.
  229. “Bring us up to general quarters son”
  230. >”Aye aye sir, Boatswain...
  231. >The young man lifts his head to attention. A serious look on his face.
  232. >”...sound general quarters!
  233. >The lad nods before reaching to a knob and giving it a quick twist.
  234. >A loud Klaxon sounds off around the ship getting the attention of all aboard.
  235. >After two blasts the boatswain flips down the receiver for the speaker system. He blows his whistle down the receiver to the sound of general quarters and begins to speak with clear authority.
  236. >”General quarters, General quarters! Man your battle stations! We are persuing a suspected U-Boat threat!”
  237. >The klaxon blaring throughout the announcement was now silenced.
  238. >The entire ship has burst into life and activity can be seen all over as the men rush to their positions ahead of the coming chase.
  239. >Some are readying weapons systems while others carry ammunition from their secure lockers to the weapon mounts as the crews jump into action relaying instructions to one another.
  240. >Its all one big commotion
  241. >All those around you on the bridge are rushing around too and all can be seen donning their grey green life vest and M1 helmets.
  242. >A crew member now hands you your own marked ‘CAPT’ and you fit it to your head.
  243. >The ride was getting rougher as Stupro fought against the seas lashings.
  244. >The ships increased speed and the weather picking up really did put a chill in you.
  245. >So before the messenger who brought you your kit took his leave you place and hand on his shoulder and he turns to face you.
  246. “Son, could you go to my cabin for me and grab me my jacket? The fur lined one from my closet? Big gold scorpion on the back. You can’t miss it”
  247. >You say with a half smile.
  248. >The lad simply nods and bolts off through the doorway.
  249. >Good kid.
  250. >Back to the task at hand
  251. >You spin around to use the intercom system and push the button to talk ready to address the CIC manned now by Dick.
  252. “Combat, Conn... Dick were persuing a potential U-boat threat identified via HF/DF. Last known bearing 094, range 14-18 miles. Let me know if the contact shows on your surface radar”
  253. >Releasing the button you only hear static for a moment before Dicks voice crackles through the set.
  254. >”Conn, Combat, aye aye cap. I’ll keep you posted”
  255. >Stepping away from the set you remember you must address the crew on the current task.
  256. >Were all about tradition here.
  257. >You look to the boatswain.
  258. >Meeting your gaze you give him the hand gesture that you want to announce.
  259. >Reaching down for his receiver once more he blows his whistle loud in the appropriate fashion before speaking.
  260. >”Now hear this, now hear this”
  261. >He now steps aside for you.
  262. >Quickly clearing your throat you approach the receiver.
  263. “This is the Captain, our mission is to persecuting the potential contact. I know you can all perform your duties well and professionally, we trained for this and I know no one else who can do this better than you. Make Mr. F. Aggot proud... good luck”
  264. >You step back.
  265. >And now you wait.
  266. >You wait for dicks search radar to confirm the contact.
  267. >You look to your men and they look at you.
  268. >Some with determination.
  269. >Others with fear.
  270. >Finally the intercom hums to life and Dicks voice can be heard.
  271. >”Conn, Combat target has appeared pretty solid and is bearing 099, range 13 miles”
  272. >Silence
  273. >”Gotta be a U-boat sir”
  274. >Dicks voice crackles out again.
  275. “Thankyou Dick”
  276. >You turn back to the crew.
  277. “Helmsman, steady on 099
  278. >The man echoes it.
  279. >A minute or two passes.
  280. >Word from dick comes through again.
  281. >“Conn, Combat target is bearing 102, range 11 miles”
  282. “Helmsman match that bearing”
  283. >He nods.
  284. >”Aye aye sir, steady on 102”
  285. >Minutes start to pass now.
  286. >As you try and close the distance.
  287. >The boys looks jumpy now
  288. >Dont want them getting too ahead of themselves.
  289. “I want full weapon safeties, no one fires a shot without my direct order”
  290. >The warfare officer nods to you in acknowledgment.
  291. >You turn to the portholes at the front of the bridge and look out at the abyss ahead of you.
  292. >How are you supposed to find something you can even see in this massive expanse.
  293. >You watch Stupro’s bow as increasingly larger waves cause it rise in the air and crash down like an axe on the ocean.
  294. >The heavy spray obscuring the portholes before the wipers do their job.
  295. >But between the creating waves splashing into the superstructure and the windows briefly clear you still gaze out intent on seeing any sign of them.
  296. >”Target steady on bearing 102 range 8 miles”
  297. >Dicks voice rings over the bridge again.
  298. >You keep staring.
  299. >The convoy are dots on the horizon at this point.
  300. >You still keep on staring.
  301. >Hearing each waves thunder into Stupro’s Atlantic bow.
  302. >“Conn, Combat, Sir I no longer have him on my scope, looks like he dropped off at 5 miles. Probably dove”
  303. >Dicks voice fizzed over the comms once again.
  304. “Alright dick Thankyou”
  305. >You know look to McManus with a somewhat exasperated visage.
  306. “How fast do these things move down there? It’s about 6 knots right?”
  307. >McManus tilts his head at you but soon nods to confirm.
  308. >You hit the button.
  309. “Dick assuming he’s moving at 6 knots down there on his present bearing can you give me a course to intercept him? Let’s meet him halfway.”
  310. >Dick gets to the point.
  311. >”Aye aye sir”
  312. >You leave him to it for the moment.
  313. >You look up to scan the bridge.
  314. >Everyone’s looking intently at you.
  315. >You can’t meet all their gazes.
  316. >The comms buzz and Dick comes back so you don’t have to.
  317. >“Conn, combat, we ran and the course is 105 if we wanna cut him off”
  318. “Thanks Dick, let me know when we’re within 3 miles of his expected position”
  319. “Aye aye sir”
  320. >You hear back from dependable dick.
  321. >Looking back to the helms man you call out.
  322. “Alright son come right to 105, we’re gonna find this guy”
  323. >”Come right to 105, aye sir”
  324. >The helmsman calls back.
  325. >Leaving it in his hands for the time being you step outside to the port bridge wing.
  326. >The portholes were too limiting in these sea conditions.
  327. >You look across your vessel as you see all your men dutifully and eagerly manning their battle stations.
  328. >Many sat atop and amongst the dual bofors mounts.
  329. >You continue to scan the horizon for your target over the next couple minutes hoping for an indication.
  330. >But at this point your Deck officer appears on the wing beside you.
  331. >”We’re now 3 miles out from the expected position sir.
  332. >You look him in the eye knowing how close your getting to this prey.
  333. “Good, now we’re gonna have to root him out with the sonar and we’re going too fast, make turns for 22 knots Mr. McManus”
  334. >”Aye sir, make turns for 22 knots”
  335. >He responds quickly before heading back inside.
  336. >Part of you wants to stay out here and monitor the seas for any sign of the German.
  337. >You know you can’t do any good from out here however and head into the rear of the bridge to monitor the Sonar operator.
  338. >Stupro has now slowed enough that she can make good use of her sonar.
  339. >Now the pinging starts.
  340. >Standing in the doorway you watch the young lad at his station like a hawk.
  341. >He clicks the machine into life and listens intently.
  342. >*ping*
  343. >Nothing.
  344. >*ping*
  345. >Still nothing.
  346. >*ping*
  347. >”Contact identified bearing 106, unknown range”
  348. >The operator is concise in his speech.
  349. >Your brow furrows as you wait for developments.
  350. >*ping*
  351. >...
  352. >*ping*
  353. >...
  354. >*ping*
  355. “What can you hear son?”
  356. >He looks to you out if the corner of his eye then back to his set.
  357. >...
  358. >*ping*
  359. >”Contact is steady on 106 sir”
  360. >*ping*
  361. >...
  362. >*ping*
  363. >...
  364. >*ping*
  365. >”Contact is dead ahead sir, possibly just over a mile”
  366. >He looks over to you then back to the screen and starts adjusting his dials.
  367. >”He might be turning sir I’m not sure”
  368. The operator chimes up again.
  369. >You take this cue to go back to the head of the bridge.
  370. Gazing back out your portholes you look for any kind of sign of him amongst the spray as the churned and foaming water gently laps over the deck after every wave.
  371. “Come right to 106
  372. >The helmsman is alert and echos the order instantly.
  373. >You get the feeling that blood is running high.
  374. >You keep staring.
  375. >Just keep staring anon and you’ll get him.
  376. >But that’s how you spot it.
  377. >On the horizon.
  378. >Not the U-boat.
  379. >Something of greater stature.
  380. >A pillar of cloud, reaching down the surface of the ocean.
  381. >Even from here it could be seen swirling at speed.
  382. >Faster than any twister you saw back home.
  383. >This seemed far more violent, the lightening within seemed to ripple up and down the monolith almost like a pulse.
  384. >A few arcs or lightening could be seen breaking out and cracking into the morning sky.
  385. >But strangest of all.
  386. >The colour
  387. >An almost neon shade, the brightest purple you ever saw.
  388. >The anomaly sat just off your starboard bow, maybe 5-6 degrees or so.
  389. >It enamoured you. It’s almost hypnotic.
  390. >”Contact dropped off scopes sir!”
  391. >That snapped you out of it.
  392. >Cloud chasing can wait.
  393. >There’s a real threat out there that needs your concentration.
  394. “Sonar commence search pattern. 20 degrees to either side”
  395. >One of the crewmen wearing his mark II talker was now relaying all info from the sonar man.
  396. >”Search pattern 20 degrees port and starboard,aye sir”
  397. >The operator shouts from his post.
  398. >”Holding steady on 106”
  399. >The helmsman also chimed in.
  400. “Very good”.
  401. >Your gaze is locked on the waves.
  402. >”Contact bearing 078, unknown range”
  403. >You whipped around at that.
  404. “Left rudder, hard over!”
  405. >You shout out pacing to the port end of the bridge.
  406. >”Hard left rudder, aye sir”
  407. >You hear called out.
  408. >The harshness of the turn in this weather meant the vessel was less stable and she was leaning over a good 20-25 degrees as she swung round.
  409. “Ease off and meet her at bearing 106
  410. >He echoed that too.
  411. >You’re so close.
  412. >You need precision and clarity right now.
  413. “Now report bearings as relative”
  414. >“Aye sir, all stations report bearings as relative”
  415. >Deck officer McManus called out to the bridge.
  416. “Keep steady on this bearing we need our range”
  417. >“Aye sir, steady as she goes”
  418. >You know you’re closing in.
  419. >The storms seems to be too however.
  420. >Damn the weather we need to sink him you think to yourself.
  421. >You still occasionally eye off to the right to get a glimpse.
  422. >*ping*
  423. >...
  424. >*ping*
  425. >...
  426. >*ping*
  427. >...
  428. >*ping*
  429. >”Range 1000 yards, bearing starboard 01”
  430. >Your ears prick up
  431. >You’re so close you more almost on top of him
  432. “Helmsman be ready to make rapid manoeuvres”
  433. >“Aye aye sir”
  434. >The lad is still sharp.
  435. >*ping*
  436. >...
  437. >*ping*
  438. >”Sonar reports contact bearing port 015, range 1000 yards”
  439. >The relay man states concisely.
  440. “Left full rudder”
  441. >“Left full rudder, aye sir”
  442. >Your eyes locked to the waves once more.
  443. >”Sonar reports contact bearing 006, range 800 yards sir”
  444. >What’s he doing? Hard left?
  445. >He’s trying to juke us.
  446. “Right standard rudder”
  447. >You’ll take him wide and intercept him.
  448. >He might even think you lost him.
  449. >But you realise you heard nothing.
  450. >You spin around to see the helmsman and deck officer staring at you quizzically.
  451. >You don’t have the time to explain this to them.
  452. >You eye the lad down until he eventually double takes at the wheel.
  453. >”Right standard rudder, aye aye sir.”
  454. >The vessel begins to swing back around to the right.
  455. >This brings the oncoming storm across your bow.
  456. >Jesus it looks close. Maybe less than a mile.
  457. >Some of the other men watch as it transits across the bridge.
  458. >it’s very quiet
  459. >Only the slight creaking of the Stupro and crashing waves can be heard.
  460. >In spite of the raging storm closing toward you.
  461. >”Sonar reports no contacts”
  462. >You expected this
  463. >Just wait till she swings around.
  464. >*ping*
  465. >...
  466. >*ping*
  467. >...
  468. >*ping*
  469. >...
  470. >*ping*
  471. >...
  472. >*ping*
  473. >”Contact reacquired bearing starboard 019, range 700 yards sir!”
  474. >Found him.
  475. >”Contact bearing starboard 012”
  476. >You stare out the porthole.
  477. >”Contact bearing starboard 014”
  478. >You keep staring.
  479. >”contact bearing port 001, range 500 yards”
  480. >You break off to look to the warfare officer.
  481. “Mr. Grimm I want a standard pattern of depth charges on standby”
  482. >He meets your gaze.
  483. >”They’re ready sir”
  484. >You look back out to sea.
  485. >Stupro is cutting through the waves like a monster and she won’t be stopped.
  486. >*ping*
  487. >...
  488. >*ping*
  489. >”Contact bearing port 001, range 400 yards sir”
  490. >*ping*
  491. >...
  492. >*ping*
  493. >”Contact bearing dead ahead, range 300 yards sir”
  494. >Keep staring.
  495. >*ping*
  496. >...
  497. >*ping*
  498. >”He’s going dead slow sir”
  499. >Keep staring
  500. >*ping*
  501. >...
  502. >*ping*
  503. >”Contact inside minimum range!”
  504. >Keep staring.
  505. >*ping*
  506. >...
  507. >*ping*
  508. >“Over-revving screws!”
  509. >The sonar man having thrown off his head seat appears in the doorway from his station. Wide eyed.
  510. >”HE’S TRYING TO GET UNDER HER!”
  511. >You snap round.
  512. “Mr. Grimm now! Fire them now!”
  513. >You force your way to the bridge wings as you hear Mr. Grimm behind you.
  514. >”Standard pattern roll and fire! Roll and fire!”
  515. >Now outside you watch as the rear of the ship ignited in activity.
  516. >Groups of men roll the charge can off their rails at the stern of the ship and you can see the starboard side launchers toss them high in the air then falling back down into the drink.
  517. >The splashes were loud but the following detonations were thunderous.
  518. >Spires of white spray launched from the sea some 10-15 feet high accompanied by the veritable thunderclaps produced by the detonations.
  519. >As Stupro steamed away from the launch position you watched intently through your binoculars at the spot you just hit.
  520. >You watched for any sign of a hit.
  521. >Seconds ticked by.
  522. >Then maybe a minute.
  523. >Nothing
  524. >With a sigh you turn to McManus ready to give orders to loop around for another go.
  525. >But just as your mouth opens the sound is drowned out by another voice.
  526. >“OIL!”
  527. >Your view snaps up to the lookout above you.
  528. >”Look sir, oil and debris off the starboard side!”
  529. >You peer back down the binoculars.
  530. >There it was.
  531. >A thick black blanket now growing on the ocean surface, with scraps of metal plate littered within.
  532. >Your heart sank.
  533. >You were relieved to get the job done and protect the convoy.
  534. >But.
  535. >Those were human lives.
  536. >50 of them.
  537. >And now they’re gone forever.
  538. >Not even a body to be seen.
  539. >You just stared at it.
  540. >That black blotch is all you’ll see of the souls you snuffed out.
  541. >Slowly you turn back to your men as the spray hitting your neck brings you back to your senses somewhat.
  542. >You see them all, their eyes locked onto you.
  543. >Some faces like stone, others beaming with big smiles.
  544. >You scan through them all.
  545. >McManus finally steps forward.
  546. “Congratulations captain, that’s our first kill, hopefully of many”
  547. >Gods you hope not, not if they’re all like this.
  548. >You force a smile and try to push your way through the crowd to get back inside.
  549. >You see the messenger stood there holding your jacket. And he hands it to you.
  550. “Thank you son”
  551. >You say as you take it from him and after taking off your life best and helmet you begin putting it on.
  552. >”sir”
  553. >he says calmly while saluting you before taking his leave.
  554. >Putting on the jacket brought some physical comfort.
  555. >And with it some comfort for the soul and you feel protected by it.
  556. >Turning around once again you see McManus is hovering over you as you lean toward the charts. And you see the other bridge crew hovering over him.
  557. >”Is there anything I can do for you sir?”
  558. >He asks this with a somewhat quizzical tone.
  559. >You simply look him in the eye.
  560. “Son... just get me back to that me head of that convoy”
  561. >You tell him bluntly.
  562. >”Um... Y-yes sir... I’ll make turns for best speed to the convoys centre column”
  563. >You simply nod and he turns to go about his business.
  564. “Another thing actually”
  565. >You called out to him and he turns back to his captain.
  566. “Coffee, black with a few sugars... that’s all son”
  567. >He nods again to you and turns to the door.
  568. >You look back down to your charts.
  569. >”Killick, get the captain some coffee and sugar would you?”
  570. >You raise your head again reminded of what you’d been ignoring.
  571. >The storm pillar.
  572. >You craned your neck up to see it was just off your port bow.
  573. >Maybe 1000 yards away, and while the water is relatively calm here looking more toward its base you see how much choppier it is.
  574. >The claps of thunder can now be heard faintly and the lightening is now illuminating the water left on the deck.
  575. >It’s mesmerising.
  576. >But you still sense it’s danger.
  577. >As the turn to head back to the convoy is now being executed you get the feeling your vessel will give it a wide birth.
  578. >You’ll be able to clear it
  579. >You won’t have to weather that storm.
  580. >”TORPEDO!”
  581. >”Sir sonar reports launch transients bearing 090 off the starboard bow, closing fast!”
  582. >You snap back into action and step out onto the starboard wing again.
  583. >Your lookout now echoes what was said moments prior.
  584. >”Sir torpedo trail spotted bearing 090 closing at 900 yards.
  585. >Many men run past you back to their positions.
  586. >You peer down your binoculars in search of the tin fish.
  587. >The tell tail white streak was easy to spot.
  588. >It’s coming right at the Stupro.
  589. >Were you amongst a wolf pack?
  590. >How many others are there?
  591. >How are we only finding them now?
  592. >These questions don’t matter until that torpedo is dealt with.
  593. >You spin back to run into the bridge.
  594. “HARD LEFT RUDDER!”
  595. >”Hard left rudder aye sir!”
  596. >The helmsman wasted no time.
  597. >But was it fast enough?
  598. >Only one way to find out.
  599. >Running back out to the wing you watch as the ship finally begins to swing herself round.
  600. >With her going hard over she begins to tilt severely.
  601. >First by 10 degrees.
  602. >Then 20.
  603. >Seemingly all the way to 35 degrees as she desperately tries to haul herself clear of the torpedo.
  604. >You even felt her bones creak at the exertion of the turn.
  605. >The torpedo seems maybe 200 yards away now.
  606. >You can’t tell if she’ll make it.
  607. >There’s only hoping now.
  608. >150 yards.
  609. >100 yards.
  610. >50 yards.
  611. >25 yards.
  612. >It’ll be close.
  613. >Just as the torped is close enough for you to see the paint work on its visage and its silhouette is refracted by the surface of the water the bow seems to shift itself just enough to miss the tin fish.
  614. >Only by a handful of feet if that.
  615. >But a miss is a miss.
  616. “Meet her!”
  617. >You call out to the helmsman now knowing Stupro is safe.
  618. >As the ships levels out you look to the crewman by your right.
  619. “Son I need you to shoot me a bearing on where that came from”
  620. >He’s looking in your direction but not at you, just past you.
  621. “Son did you hear me?”
  622. >You ask again.
  623. >”C-C-Cap?”
  624. >He stuttered his word out at you while you stared at him.
  625. >You’d had enough and wondered what had his attention so you spun round to look down his eye line.
  626. >But it was there, clear as day.
  627. >Maybe 200 yards dead ahead.
  628. >The storm.
  629. >You were awestruck.
  630. >But still able to think.
  631. >Why did no one alert you if the towering storm ahead? >Were they all so distracted by the torpedo?
  632. >You think on what to do.
  633. >That storms is too much for the ship to take.
  634. >And at this speed there’s no way you can make a turn in time to skirt it, it must be a 200 metres wide.
  635. “ALL BACK EMERGENCY”
  636. >No response.
  637. “I SAID ALL BACK EMERGENCY!”
  638. >It was said back this time, the helmsman clearly awestruck as well.
  639. >You feel the turbines shudder to a halt and begin to reverse. The ships momentum being bled away.
  640. >It’s not enough.
  641. >You’re still going to be drawn in.
  642. >You quickly move in to the bridge and call for all others out there to join you.
  643. >They need shelter from what’s coming.
  644. >McManus is silent next to the charts, at a loss for what to do.
  645. >Everyone else looks to you with a measure of panic in their eyes.
  646. >They want to know what to do.
  647. >Truthfully you don’t know
  648. >But as the waves increase in size and the winds and spray reach typhoon levels you need to make a choice.
  649. >You’re on its threshold
  650. >You can’t back up from it despite the engines best efforts and there’s no way she can turn nearly fast enough.
  651. >Only one option left.
  652. “All ahead full make turns for 36.5 knots, keep steady on this heading!”
  653. >The crew is stunned.
  654. >They look at you like you singed their death warrants.
  655. >That might be what you just did but you believe it’s their best hope, we’re dead if we don’t try anyway.
  656. >”You heard me boys, we’re going to have to power through this thing. There’s no avoiding it in time”
  657. >Shepishly at first but with increasing pace they get to work in setting this steel Lance up for her charge. You feel the engines kick in again under you.
  658. “She can take the bearing boys”
  659. >You say that more out of hope than certainty.
  660. >But you aren’t telling them that.
  661. >You now see Stupro pick up pace as she now breaches the outermost walls of cloud in the storm.
  662. >The wind is already vicious.
  663. >And she’s bucking like a mule with the intensity of these waves.
  664. >She’s back up to 11 knots.
  665. >And she’s holding together.
  666. >You move to the portholes of the bridge in the slightest hopes you can see what you’re sailing into.
  667. >16 knots. And your pushing further into the pillar.
  668. “BRACE BOYS THIS IS GONNA BE ROUGH AS ALL HELL”
  669. >You shout out at them over the howling wind and see the men cling to whatever they can.
  670. >looking back out there intense lightening arcing all around the vessel in the distinct purple hue.
  671. >With every wave it feels like she’s rising and falling 10s of feet each time.
  672. >28 knots.
  673. >Her stability is worse for wear as she pitches and rolls in the most obscene ways you’ve never experienced.
  674. >Some of the bridge crew are being thrown around in rolls that feel like 45 degrees to port and starboard.
  675. >36 knots.
  676. >You heave your way over to the comms and try to get in contact with the chief engineer.
  677. >He answers immediately.
  678. “Chief we need to try for 38-40 knots to push out of this thing! Can you do it?”
  679. >There’s a pause before a voice garbled by static chimes up.
  680. >”Captai-, -f we try an- -o that we run the -isk if str-pping a turbine!”
  681. >You mostly make out its contents.
  682. >Holding down the button to reply you state.
  683. “Cheif, better a stripped turbine than a foundered ship, just do it”
  684. >And just like that over the noise of the wind and lightening you feel the engines strain and groan and the steel monster tries desperately to thrash its way out of the storm.
  685. >41 knots.
  686. >If it weren’t for the dire situation you’d be impressed.
  687. >You reach what seems like the centre of the monstrous storm.
  688. >And it was this point you realise the direness of the situation, the waves threaten to capsize the ship while sapping her of her strength, the screws weren’t even in the water half the time so you made little progress.
  689. >The vessel seemed to crack and wail under the strains of the impacts, the throwing and falling.
  690. >You felt this might break her back
  691. >Now seemingly without warning.
  692. >The truly godly displays of lightening arcs were intensified the arced all around the ship.
  693. >Bolts seemed to forge what looked like a cage around Stupro.
  694. >Confining her to her death in the storm of biblical proportions.
  695. >This whole time you all but shut down.
  696. >Merely watching as the carnage unfolded.
  697. >As did the men who were still standing.
  698. >But as if by magic.
  699. >As Stupro reached the apex of one of her rolls and returned to an upright position.
  700. >She stayed there
  701. >She was motionless
  702. >And this brought other factors to your attention as you stood up straight once more.
  703. >While the wind howled around the ship in the great tornado, it could no longer be heard, or felt.
  704. >And despite the countless lightning strikes on the ship even those close to the bridge. There was no damage, no burns, no scorching, no electrified surfaces.
  705. >We were all somehow safe.
  706. >And in this state if near delirium you shuffled back outside.
  707. >And looked down.
  708. >The water was now hundreds of feet below you.
  709. >Water still trickled off the bottom the ship and took the long fall to the base of the pillar, you could even see the red anti-fouling paint on her underside.
  710. >You weren’t even really realising what was happening to the ship you just felt happy knowing you weren’t in immediate danger.
  711. >But looking to your lightning cage it began to change
  712. >It began to contort itself around the ship
  713. >It formed a globe around her.
  714. >with gaps you could still see through like prison bars.
  715. >You simply stood and watched, to see what will happen.
  716. >You reach down for your cap which lay by your feet.
  717. >And you don it.
  718. >You though ‘if I die here... I should die as a captain’.
  719. >As you fitted it to your head you looked back to your cage.
  720. >It began to move.
  721. >It spun
  722. >Faster and faster
  723. >Until it was all a blur.
  724. >Now the brightness intensified, more and more.
  725. >You could no longer see, you had to shut your eyes.
  726. >And with that, as you stood scared yet accepting.
  727. >For you Captain.
  728. >Everything went dark.
  729. >You lost consciousness.
  730.  
  731. End of part 1
Navy Human alternate history military feels pony anon in equestria

Escort Duties

by tommygo