Thoughtful - Chapter 15
We would have made it too …
The next hour passed painfully as Lady and her crew tried to makes sense of their current situation. With the damage reports in, Lady now knew that a large section at the rear of the Anhinga was a shattered mess, and it was all the hydro-pumps could do to keep the water out while they set up a temporary pressure field. Beyond that Turing wasn’t sure what to do. Pressure shields were designed for small ruptures, they chewed up tons of power to generate and they were a short term solution only. What he really needed was something that could actually repair the hole in their vessel, but any hope of that was still two days’ dive from where they were. Perhaps one if they hustled. Breathing in deeply, Turing turned to Sagan, who was thankfully uninjured and had now joined him to review the damage.
‘I hope you’ve got some tricks up your sleeve Sagan, otherwise we are royally screwed to hazard a guess,’ he stated in a voice that was bordering on defeat by way of exhaustion.
‘Look at our beautiful Anhinga …. What have they done to her?’ Sagan mumbled under his breath, reaching out to touch the scarred metal of the Sub’s wound, and ignoring Turing for the moment, lost in thought.
‘Sagan? Tricks?’ Turing prompted, his face creased in concern.
‘What? Oh yes, well, this …’ replied Sagan, gesturing to the gaping hole in front of them, ‘this is an insult as well and an injury.’
‘Are you alright Sagan?’
‘Hmmmm? Yes, yes I have a way to fix … at least patch her until we can get to … our original destination … but it will take a few hours to repair her.’
‘Time we don’t have.’
‘I don’t like it any more than you Turing, but it is what it is.’
‘You’re a good man Sagan, and let’s both hope … well I won’t jinx us by saying it,’ Turing smiled, but it was more like a grimace.
Their position stunk, and it was getting decidedly more peaky by the second as Turing watched Sagan with interest. Reaching around his side, Sagan pulled a small, silver box out of a satchel, which hung loosely at his side. Flicking out two slender silver arms on each side of the box, he attached the portable pressure filed generator to one of the sub’s inner walls. Inching it forward, he got it as close to the hole as he could. The less space it had to cover the better. Pushing back a clear plastic cover on the front of the thing, he used the small keypad underneath to tell the device to set up and emit the pressure field. It was weak, and when the hydro-pumps were turned off, it bulged inwards a little with the force of the water trying to come in, but it held the water back for now.
‘Phew!’ exhaled Sagan, steeping back and admiring his handy work.
‘What next?’ asked Turing, all too aware that this was a temporary solution.
‘Well, I’ve been working on something that can get us to … you know … anyway, I’ve been trying to modify the molecular structure of the Mellion immobilisation foam, you know, what we call “cotton candy”, so that it forms a long term seal but it’s not … it’s nowhere near finished, it still only lasts a few hours,’ Sagan admitted with a sigh. It was his turn to feel defeated.
‘Well that might at least get us somewhere?’ Turing half-stated, half-suggested hopefully.
‘It’s worth a try,’ said Sagan
‘Anything is, this being on the surface lark makes me nervous,’ admitted Turing.
‘Where even are we?’ asked Sagan, just realising he hadn’t bothered to check in on their progress some time.
‘Middle of the old Atlantic,’ said Turing, ‘it’s the only stroke of luck we’ve had, no one around for miles, we’re still sitting ducks though should anyone find us.’
‘Right, I better get back to that foam then.’
While Sagan worked on a way to keep everyone from dying, and Charlie tried to put the broken ones back together, up on the Bridge Lady and Strychley were glued to the radar screen, looking for anyone who might be coming for them, to take advantage of their misfortune. So far all was quiet, but they were still uneasy. Up here in the surface like this they were sitting ducks, and not just from other subs. Overworlders might find them as well, and then who knew what would happen. Capture and servitude or disintegration and death. Neither were appealing options.
The seconds ticked on, and soon the inevitable smacked into them with the force on inevitability. At the edge of their impact zone, the mortifying blip of another submarine strayed into view. So they would not be alone for much longer. But who was it stalking them? Was it friend or foe? Was it Demise? Was it a Scrapper? It would be a few moments before they knew.
‘Shit,’ whispered Lady under her breath, and beside her Strychley breathed in sharply.
‘Want me to scan whatever that is?’
‘Yes please, get ready to Fizz them out if we need to alright?’ said Lady, using the slang term for one of their most effective non-lethal weapons.
The Fizz behaved just like the bubbles in a champagne glass, sticking themselves to the outside of whatever they came into contact with, encasing it in a glittery, bulbous film and incapacitating it. Aside from interfering with radio signals, you would be suspended in the water, and slowly dragged upwards, though you’d never quite reach the surface, because as each bubble popped you lost buoyancy and dropped back down.
Strychley got to work, but before she could complete the scan the sub hailed them.
‘Pick up please Strychley,’ suggested Lady as her mind raced through all the possibilities of what this could be. Hoping against hope that this interaction would be benign.
‘Hail Bowie, identify,’ said Strychley, nervousness making her voice treble slightly.
‘Commander Fury, at your service!’ came the instant reply, ‘you look like you’re in a bit of trouble Anhinga, over.’
Lady sighed and smiled. This was their first bit of luck in days. Fury Commanded the submarine, Marvyl. It was pretty obvious where he drew his inspiration from, but Fury proudly made no bones about being an MCU fan. Of course it was much easier to get your hands on old films rather than actual comic books. Comics had long been outlawed by the Government Politick because of their undesirable creative influence, and burned on massive pyres as a symbol of ‘repentance’. Fury often lamented that he would never be able to hold an Iron Man or Spider-Man book in his hands, and he could only ever rely on images he’d found of several old comics on an old USB. He kept this USB on a chain around his neck, which some might have found odd, but to Fury this tiny object would always be priceless. It was finding this object, and unlocking its secrets, that had eventually set him free, leading him to the Underworld, and this new life, where his mind was valued not seen as a disease. He revered it, almost like a talisman.
Though she would never admit it, Lady had a bit of a thing for Fury. He was super smart, a terribly nice human being, and brave as all get out. He was also well-read, a total nerd and while not handsome in a general sort of way, he had a devilish charm that went on for days. Lady had met him not long after she had left Cal and Royale, back when she was still learning the intricacies of running with the Anhinga, and before she had really started customising her sub. Embarrassingly at the time, the Marvyl had snuck up on them in open water and scared the beejeezus out of Lady and her fresh crew. But despite this awkward meeting, Lady had let Fury and a small contingent of his crew aboard the Anhinga. Over drinks, they found they had much in common. It was an instant connection, and since then had been able to count on each other whenever a perilous situation arose, or they needed to conduct a raid on the Overworld.
Stepping up to the radio, Lady clicked on the transmission button and sighed in relief.
‘Fury! Boy am I glad to hear it’s you, even if you are an inveterate scoundrel,’ she teased him.
‘What the hell happened to you? It looks like the ass has fallen out of your bird.’
‘That would be a fair assessment,’ Lady responded, but there she stopped. She didn’t really want to have to say what she knew was coming next, even though she the only two who would hear her were Fury and Strychley. Taking a deep breath, she knew she had no choice.
‘Looks like it was an inside job … ’ she paused, not sure whether or not to tell him about the smaller explosion from a few days earlier, but ultimately deciding to keep it to herself for now.
With this bombshell suddenly revealed, deafening silence greeted her, broken only by the intermittent crackle of the commsline, while Strychley looked at her in alarm. Lady nodded solemnly, and waited for what seemed like forever. She knew fury was taking this all in, and that he would respond, but she hated waiting all the same. Eventually Fury’s voice came back online.
‘This is some heavy stuff Lady, what’s the current situation over there?’
‘A large explosion has taken out a large portion of the rear of the sub, we took on huge amounts of water and had to surface before we hit bottom, we pumped out the water and have a pressure shield in place while Sagan is working on something to get us to Royale where we can dry dock and make repairs,’ Lady explained.
‘Hmmm…. Crew?’ prompted Fury, and Lady could almost feel him working through the problem.
‘Multiple injuries, no deaths thankfully.’
‘Well that’s something … shit Lady, this is messed up.’
‘I know it Fury, can you help us? We’re running out of time up here,’ Lady pushed him gently. She needed action right now, not statements of the obvious.
‘Yes of course, I’ll set up a cloaking shield around both subs and surface next to you, then I’ll come aboard with a small clean-up crew, we’ll work as quick as we can and it’s not going to be pretty but I think we can patch the Anhinga up enough to get you to where you need to go.
‘Thanks Fury, and thank the maker who let you find us, I owe you big time,’ Lady responded, clicking off the commsline.
‘Where did he get a cloaking device that can create a perimeter?’ asked Strychley, clearly impressed.
‘It’s called a shimmer,’ Lady offered, ‘it’s modified Mellion tech, but we have bigger concerns right now, I’ll let the crew know we’ve got company,’ Lady added, feeling suddenly exhausted.