The Sailing of the Hawaii
©2010 D. Paul Angel
"Report?" asked Captain Barnes, in the privacy of his Ready Room, away from the rest of the CIC crew.
"I saw the flash, too, Captain. It lit up the entire Southern sky. Whatever it was, it was huge," reported Captain Barnes' First Officer Commander Locke.
"The radiation indicators are all pegged, Captain," Said his ship's Doctor Captain Imley. "With the dosage the crew got, I'd say 72 hours before the first symptoms show. Then, maybe another 72 before you'll have about 90% casualties. I'm sorry Captain." She added the latter with more concern for her patients than herself, even though she knew she would share their agony
"Chief?" he asked his Chief Engineer.
"Anything electronic is pretty much lost. Anything mechanical is still working. We lost the FADEC, but the mechanical interlocks engines on line again. Main turrets are working with the original pneumatic and mechanical systems. God bless 70 year old technology, eh? We don't have fire-control worth a shit, sir, but our main batteries can still reach out and touch anything in 30 miles, sir."
"Alright. Chief, Doc, I want you to go ahead and get back to your posts. No one is to speak one word of this. Not one. The electrical systems were burned out by a bus overload fault. It affected the radiation indicators, too. That's all."
"Sir, with all due respect...
"Go ahead Chief."
"Well, sir, in 30 years of the Navy, I've never heard of a, 'bus overload fault.'"
"Good. That's because I just made it up. But no one will tag to it for at least another 8 hours. And believe me, they'll be too busy to think about it. You two are dismissed. Jim, a word."
"Yes sir. Jim, I need you to make sure no one who was on the Bridge with you says anything about the flash. Understood?"
"And there's one more thing I'm going to need you to do."
"Don't be too eager, it's going to make you sick."
"Half-caff, grande soy, mocha. No whip," Admiral Ed Hutchinson said to the Barista at the world's most exclusive Starbuck's, deep inside the inner ring of the pentagon. As he took the cup, declining the ubiquitous sleeve, he noticed General Yates in a corner booth with a couple of civilians, laughing. Laughter was a rare enough thing in Pentagon, let alone with a couple of civilians. Yates shushed them as they left.
As a Marine General, Hutchinson was nominally his superior officer, but the vast schism in paperwork made it, ironically enough, more of a theory on paper than in real life. With his instincts twitched, however, Admiral Hutchinson decided that now was as good a time as any to insist. He followed them down the hall into General Yates' office.
He stood outside the door and held his breath for a moment. When more laughing erupted he burst through the door and, in the kind of booming "I am your GOD" voice that can be heard from one of a Battleship to another, demanded with righteous fury to know, "What in the Sam-Fucking Hell is going on?"
The three men stood immediately, and Hutchinson was pleased to see Yates look extremelu uncomfrotable. The man shriveled before him, even though the two civies did not. What in the Sam Hell is going on? he asked himself.
The civie on the left, the scrawny one with the expensive but badly rumpled suit looked over to the one on the right. The one who looked like a used car salesman at a Ferrari lot. They nodded, and the car salesmen type nodded to the professor type.
"I am Dr. Claude Daubert. This is Heinriech Jencks. I am Professor Emeritus at the American University in Psychology. Specifically, battlefield decision making. Mr. Jencks is a, shall we say, purveyor of fine weaponry?"
"Yates? What the Fuck? Yates?"
"Yates!" boomed Admiral Hutchison again as Yates looked anywhere but at him. Yates ran his hands over his head, down his chest, and fingered row after row of combat ribbons he had there.
"It's all I have, Admiral. All I know." He reached into a drawer, pulled out a flask with the Marine Logo on it and drank deeply.
"Admiral, I can explain. Frankly, it involves things well above even you, or likely anyone currently even in the building. If you would General Yates, the feed? It is, I believe, perfect timing"
As Yates typed on his computer, a live satellite feed appeared. At the center was a large ship in a smallish river. Hutchinson recognized it immediately as the Hawaii, his newest ship, and his oldest.
"Rebuilding a World War II Battlecruiser was a stroke of genius, Admiral. It's armor can withstand any of the current anti-ship missiles designed for sinking lightly built ships. Eighty year old mechanical technology which is unfazed by any EMP. She's perfect. And, as it happens, the type of weapons system that Mr. Jencks specializes in."
Hutchinson felt his skin grow cold. The tiny ship on the screen wasn't terribly detailed, but he recognized now that particular river bend, and knew that his ship, HIS Hawaii, was just outside Pyongyang. It should be off the Coast of N Korea, not in it, Godfuckindammit. As he watched, he saw it fire, and saw part of Pyongyang dissappear in a cloud of dust.
The professor looked at the monitor. "Based on the RNK response, I think they got there sooner than expected." He smiled broadly at Mr Jencks.
Dumbfounded Admiral Hutchinson looked at the smug little man. "Talk. Now," he said, already feeling the little man's throat in his hands.
Professor Daubert noticed the threat immediately, and accurately judging its seriousness, spoke. "Admiral, you must realize that America is at her best when she is fighting. Our Golden Ages have all come as a result of massive mobilization efforts. The problem with the Koreas, the Vietnams, and our most recent debacles in the Middle East stem from trying to go to war without decisive consensus. They are not 'Good' wars; like World War II was. So, we had to make one.
"Mr. Jencks built the largest conventional explosive, and General Yates, with many, many like minded officers, deployed it. The Hawaii's systems were sabotaged before she even left port. These stimuli that I carefully crafted and modelled made them believe that the fleet has been wiped out by a RNK nuclear weapon. They are, in their minds, retaliating."
"My God," was all Admiral Hutchinson could muster to say as he fought back nausea.
"Finally, since their radiation sensor was tweaked to show a lethal dose of radiation as well, this is not a mission from which any of them expect to return. In a few moments, when they're guns are either crippled or out of shells, they will scuttle their ship, choosing a quick, valiant death over the suffering agonies of radiation sickness. We have a war, it is righteous, and, when the RNK recovers the Hawaii, we shall have an opponent worth fighting against."
"We're expecting a hell of year Admiral. America is going to return to a Golden Age, General Yates won't be retired, and, well, there's still time to... ah... invest?"
"You set up my ship to start a war with the idea that she'll go down with all her crew and you expect my support? My Help? You sick sons of bitches!
The harsh bang of the forty-five filled the little office. General Yates returned the gun to it's holster, sat down, and took another sip from his flask.
Half a world away the echo of the gunshot reverberated.
Jim Locke stood over his dead Captain. The 9mm in his hand seemed to pull all of his weight with it in his grip. "The Captain sabotaged the ship as part of a plan to start a war." he said numbly. "Pull out immediately and head back to sea. All possible speed. Ensign, remove his body. He may have been a traitor, but he was a good Captain until then. At least afford him that respect."
The crew, stunned after the craziness of the last few hours, went back to the familiarity their stations and duties. It did, unfortunately, explain everything far too well.
"Uh, professor," said General Yates quietly, "What happens if the ship makes it out of North Korea and comes back safely?"