Start with the Czar d'Oz Announcement
Synopsis: In the year 2112, the characters retreated to a basement shelter to weather a monster tornado. Making an early trip to the local seat of government, they uncovered information pertaining to an experimental time machine located in Seattle. Making good their escape in the experimental TOTO vehicle, they have made it to the territory of the Southwest Czar. They've survived an encounter with two surreal characters en route Las Vegas. In Vegas they form an alliance with Jefe, the Southwest Czar, to take a short cut to the Emerald City.
"General quarters, general quarters…"
[A pier. The screen shows a warship in profile. An unseen crane is lowering TOTO to the tiny flight deck of the ship. Captain Horatio Frothinghampton, Julius, Peter, Martin, and Zeda are on the pier. Frothy holds a document with thick fold lines in front of himself, and addresses the four.]
Frothy: What kind of a fool's errand is this? "Spec Ops Team", my Neon. White. Ass. You two [nodding at Julius and Peter] have obviously never fired anything heavier than a PowerPoint bullet. Ms. Zeda here could easily beat either one of you. What's that hint of a smile, Julius? Martin is the only one of you worth a fart in a firefight. Sorry Dorothy.
Can I talk you out of bringing the chariot? That car on USS Alinsky has the appeal of a brickload on a greyhound. Orders are orders, but loyalty to country and crew requires I at least ask.
And what's this "Infiltrate Seattle?" You realize that there is a vessel traffic safety system in Puget Sound? They'll have mustered a full-on pipe band to greet the four of you geniuses at the pier.
Forget I said any of that. Czars are Czars. Eternals are Eternals. Other than informing you that this trip is as transparent as a lie on a politician, I've no need or desire to know any of the details.
Ms. Zeda, you'll sleep in the sick bay. Julius, Peter, and Martin, I believe the Executive Officer has you in the Chief's Mess. High tide's in six hours. I request you be aboard, with your last bit of toiletry shopping done, in four, so we can set the Sea and Anchor Detail smoothly. I like it smooth.
"All hands man…"
[A bridge scene in red light, with darken ship set. Martin talks to Frothy, who is seated in his Captain's chair. They have coffee.]
Frothy: How are your compatriots doing?
Martin: Zeda's wishing she'd gone into the Navy instead of hotel management. Julius is winning the quantitative end of the barfing contest. I think Peter still has the edge in distance. Those guys are laid out in the stateroom. Trying to keep them hydrated.
What's it like in the modern Navy, Captain?
Frothy: It's all the same. We swear the same oath we always have. The President has the regional Czars. The Northwest Czar owns the 7th Fleet, since they were retracted from Japan in 2059. I work for the Southwest Czar, of course. 3rd Fleet has been out of San Diego since Noah was a bosun. Each fleet still keeps one aircraft carrier in commission, though parts and funding are hard to come by, and deployments are irregular. Why deploy when the two West Coast carriers have to share an air wing?
The bulk of the Navy is small sea control units like Alinsky. This is about the 4th generation of the Littoral Combat Ship concept. Alinsky, of course, is the best damn ship in the Navy. We've just been in the yards for hull cleaning and refit--she was looking a bit rough when I took command, I'll admit, but she's clean and ready for action.
Martin: How do you call a ship named for a man a 'she'?
Frothy: Why are all German rabbits der hase? One could say it hearkens back to a pre-Obama gender consciousness. One could also say that Saul Alinsky was a bitch. Or, one could just accept that we have these traditions older than the US Constitution, and no amount of political wind-shifting shall alter this cultural glue that holds us together.
Martin: Fair enough. Where are you from?
Frothy: I'm from just outside of Portland, Oregon. I've been sailing these waters all me bloomin' life, and will probably retire to be a ship's pilot around here.
And what of you? You're a veteran of that expedition into Zambiniland at the end of Patrick Daley Obama III's administration 20 years back, no? I presume that's how you got so shot up. That is, if you're inclined to speak of it.
Martin: What's to say? Zambiniland didn't pay their vig. Or their leaders got uppity. Or some Eternal wanted to clear out the territory for a new golf course. Or the arms merchants needed to clear inventory. Or the Pentagon wanted live fire training. Or the Indo-Russian alliance needed taming. Or all of the above. Davos gave the signal. We packed up and deployed. We got there and were mostly bored, with occasional firefights. And severe injuries. Also, lots of civilian casualties.
Frothy: I was an Ensign. We spent the whole conflict anchored at Fernando Poo. This was due to low fuel, and the Zambini Navy, of which exactly no units in their Order of Battle ever got underway. Your analysis is as good as any I've heard, by the way.
Martin: Well, I'm getting some sleep. We're two days out of Seattle?
Frothy: Yes. Around tomorrow midnight we'll be near the mouth of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, or Straits of Wanna Shagya, as they say. We'll take the low-traffic entry at night and aim to be in Seattle in the early morning.
Martin: Great. Thanks.
[Morning. General quarters. The bridge. Frothy, wearing binoculars, bridge-to-bridge handset at the ready, stands at center stage by a pelorus. The helm and lee helm are manned. There is a flashing light both at stage left and right. A quartermaster is at the light at stage right. Everyone is in battle dress. Zeda, Martin, Julius, and Peter are at stage rear, out of the way. Martin and Julius are both hanging from a cable running from left to right across the bridge in the overhead. Their heads hang down in exhaustion.]
Frothy: Belvedere, what is the status?
Commander Belevedere, the Executive Officer (XO): Sir, the USS Ayers, one of our 7th Fleet sister ships, under command of CAPT Jeremy Murdoch, has signaled intent to stop and search us.
Frothy: Screw me gently with a chainsaw. [Keys the bridge-to-bridge radio] Ayers, this is Alinsky: Murdoch, lay by your dish.
[The quartermaster codes furiously on the light. The words scroll up the right half of the screen at stage rear like a chat room transcript.]
Alinsky QM: (WTF?)
Ayers QM: (Murdoch pissed, screams you're smuggling. Frothy won't get by him.)
Frothy: Ahead flank 3.
Helmsman: All ahead flank 3, aye. Port and starboard engines ahead flank 3.
Murdoch B2B: Alinsky, Ayers: Heave to. Steer course 190 at 5 knots. Let's have a cup of coffee.
Frothy: This Murdoch has been an upward-failing loser his entire life, like that degenerate brother of his, Justin. [Keys the B2B, snarling] Ayers, Alinsky: Why don't you tell me what you read in the news today, Plebe? [Puts down the radio] What I'm about to do simply couldn't happen to a bigger jackass.
[The screen at stage rear shows the tracks of the two ships. Ayers comes down from the North, Alinsky up from the South. They pass several hundred yards apart, Alinsky East, closer to shore.]
Frothy: Left full rudder.
Helmsman: Left full rudder, aye. My rudder is left full.
[The stage tilts towards stage left, and Julius and Peter sag and moan. The quartermaster on the flashing light moves laboriously across the stage using the wire to man the other flashing light.]
Ayers QM: (Murd yells, flank 3, we chase. Our XO warns CO to calm down.)
Alinsky QM: (Frothy in yr CO's head.)
Murdoch B2B: Alinsky, Ayers: You're in my waters. I'm within my rights. Don't make this worse than necessary.
Frothy: [Eyeing pelorus] Rudder amidships. Steady course 090.
Helmsman: Rudder amidships, aye. My rudder is amidships. [The stage returns to level.] Steady course 090.
Frothy: [Keys the B2B] Ayers, Alinsky. Plebe, you have neither any idea what you're talking about nor business standing on the bridge of a warship endangering good sailors. Break off pursuit now, and I'll forget the ass you've already made of yourself.
Ayers QM: (Murdoch threw XO off the bridge.)
Alinsky QM: (No f'ing way.)
Ayers QM: (Way)
Frothy: [Bending over pelorus intently, shooting an angle out in the right side of the audience] Quiet! In about 40 seconds, I will be giving an order for left full rudder, and we'll shoot a narrow gap in a submerged ridge that only a local would know about. Murdoch's crew should be telling him to do a crash back right now and avoid the shoal waters, or not. Stand by…LEFT FULL RUDDER! [The stage again tilts towards stage left, and the quartermaster works his way back to his original position.]
Helmsman: Left full rudder, aye. My rudder is left--.
Frothy: RUDDER AMIDSHIPS! ALL AHEAD ONE THIRD!
Helmsman: Rudderamidshipsaye, myrudderisamidships. Allaheadonethirdaye, allaheadonethird.
Ayers QM: (Aground!)
Frothy: Left standard rudder.
Helmsman: Left standard rudder, aye. My rudder is left 15 degrees, no new course given.
Frothy: Steady as she goes.
Helmsman: Steady as she goes, aye. Steady course 080.
Frothy: Very well. [Keys the B2B] Ayers, Alinsky. Standing by to render assistance. What is your status?
Ayers XO: Sir, Ayers XO here. I have assumed command. Captain Murdoch is down. We are in radio contact with 7th Fleet, they're dispatching a wrecker to assist us getting off of this rock. Respectfully recommend that you lock up your logs and put in to Everett, Washington to await the admiralty hearing, sir. Ayers out.
Ayers QM: (CO struck a lookout. Bosun got up. Laid CO out. CO very still.)
[Another officer, the Chief Engineer, enters from stage rear.]
CHENG: Captain. I'm not sure if a propeller knicked the seamount during the gymnastics, but I've got a hot starboard line shaft bearing, and I recommend we don't go above all ahead one third until I've had time to stop things and inspect it.
Frothy: Very well. XO, you have the deck. Get us moving towards Vancouver, Washington at one third. I have to draft a message to 3rd Fleet explaining what I understand to be the situation, that a 7th Fleet ship is aground, and I have an engineering casualty requiring immediate attention. I also have to call some people in Vancouver to make arrangements.
Next Episode: Vancouver.
Next Episode: Vancouver.
Copyright 2009, Christopher L. Smith