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Posted on May 16, 2006 in Armchair Reading, Front Page Features, TIAOW

The Incorrect Art of War [Episode 18] – Dive! Dive! Dive!

By A J Summersgill and Jim H Moreno

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Starring:

Doctor Sinister

Doctor Sinister. An evil Supervillain with an insane lust for power. Although his secret island base has seemingly been destroyed, the Doctor still plots to become future Emperor and Warlord of the planet Earth. Enjoys the company of cats and cloned genetically modified Dinosaurs.

And featuring:

General Menace. Graduated from West Point Military Academy with honours, served for twenty-five years in the US Army, reaching level of 2-star General in command of training facilities before being recruited by Doctor Sinister to command his New Model Army of World Domination. Has a penchant for cigars. Narrowly escaped the apparent destruction of Sinister Island with his lord and master.

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EPISODE 18 – "Dive, dive, dive!"

Schools of fish serenely go about their business as twilight descends across their quiet part of the mid-Atlantic Ocean. Away from the majority of trade routes and fishing fleets, their lives are relatively peaceful in this part of the world. The sea is silent, calm, and empty.

But not for long…

As night finally takes a hold, distant vibrations reach the fish through the water…something is coming…something massive.

The darkened depths are suddenly a flurry of activity as a huge shape thunders through the water, sending fish scattering in all directions. The shape is long, metal, streamlined, with a large tower at the top and fins sprouting out from the sides – it is an enormous submarine. With multiple torpedo tubes at the front and banks of missile hatches adorning the mid third of the hull, the vessel is supremely powerful…and fast. As it effortlessly pushes its way through the Ocean and disappears into the gloom, the fish reassemble and look at each other, stunned. It’s not every day that a submarine from the Imperial Sinister fleet goes by…

Meanwhile…on board the ISS Leviathan

Doctor Sinister sits at a control console in his personal quarters on board the massive flagship of his submarine fleet. His room is huge compared to all the other chambers on board the vessel, and yet with the low curved ceilings and lack of natural light, he still feels like he is trapped, the room is nothing compared to his old quarters on his secret island base.

There is a knock at the door.

General Menace: Can I come in my Lord?.

Doctor Sinister: Certainly General, or should I say Admiral?

(General Menace enters to see Doctor Sinister turn to face him. On a large stately bed, two Siamese cats stare at him intently. The General gives them a disgusted look before looking back at the Doctor)

Erm…Admiral? Sir?

Why, yes, Admiral. On the basis that our Army just got wiped out in their barracks, we’re essentially reduced to a fleet of missile subs – it kind of makes the rank of General a bit redundant.

If it’s all the same to you Sagacity, I think I’ll keep the moniker, I never was much of a fan of the sea.

Suit yourself. Is there any news?

Well, we’re trying to connect to our satellite network, but we’ve forgotten the password and so we can’t link up to see what’s happened to the island. But…

But?

We’re fairly certain it’s completely gone my Lord, radiation levels in that area are off the scale according to our remote detectors and there’s an odd glow over the horizon.

We were lucky to link up with the Leviathan.

Absolutely my Lord, the Ocean is so mind-bogglingly big that the onboard computer told me the chances of our underwater escape pod being picked up by a passing friendly submarine before the deadly radiation killed us were two to the power of two hundred and seventy-six thousand, seven hundred and nine to one against.

Reminds me of a telephone number I once had in Islington. Tell me, any news from the rest of the fleet?

We’ve made contact with the ISS Retaliation and the ISS Punisher, we’re trying to rendezvous with them now. The other vessels have still not responded.

Well, keep trying, We need to regroup what’s left of our forces.

Indeed my Lord, and what’s more, the Leviathan is a little low on supplies, she was headed back to base to restock when the island was nuked. I’m hoping that one of our other boats has some Cigars on board.

Boats?

Yes your Excellency, I’ve never been entirely sure why, but submarines are referred to as boats rather than ships. It’s all terribly confusing.

(A klaxon blares and the lights suddenly dim and turn red)

Uh-ho.

Let’s head to the Con’.

Agreed.

(The two men leave the room and head down narrow corridors to the crowded and sophisticated Con’ room where a group of worried looking submariners sit looking at their instruments. General Menace confers with the Captain before heading back to the Doctor)

There’s another sub’ stalking us. We spotted it up a few moments ago, they are currently right behind us in our wake, probably trying to work out who we are, we were lucky to pick them up.

Hostile?

Well, it can’t be one of ours my Lord, they are nowhere near. It must be hostile. The Captain suspects it is an American attack submarine – specifically designed to hunt boats like ours down and kill them.

Well that’s easily sorted, fly an American or a British flag or something.

Errr…my Lord, we’re underwater, we can’t fly any flags here.

Well, then get someone outside and paint a flag on the hull.

Ha ha ha…

You heard me.

Eh? I beg your pardon? My Lord?

You heard me. Get someone outside and paint a flag on the hull. Now. Do it!

Yes Sir. Right away your Excellency. (To the Captain). You heard the man – get someone kitted out and paint a British flag on the hull. Now!

(There is a scene of general commotion as the orders are passed on)

Heh heh heh. That’ll fool them.

Yeah, right. Errr…I mean, yes, of course it will your Superiousness – it’s a brilliant plan! (A distant scream is heard from the deck below) Well that’s something, it sounds like they just found a volunteer. (There are clanging noises as hatches are sealed and then, after a few minutes, metallic footsteps can be heard on the outside of the hull)

Excellent. Whilst he’s doing that, let’s see who we’re facing.

Aye aye my Lord. Might I suggest that if we make a turn to Starboard we can try and get a better sound contact than the one we have. Right now our own propellers are masking them from view.

Good plan Admiral.

Erm…that’s General…Sire…

Whatever. make it so.

(As the Helmsman turns the vessel, it banks sharply and the crew hang on to whatever is available as the deck slopes beneath them)

Contact confirmed sir – computer identifies it as an American Sea Wolf class nuclear attack submarine.

That’s easily sorted, hail them over the radio and tell them we’re a new kind of British missile submarine on a proving mission.

Sorry my Lord, that’s impossible, radio waves don’t transmit underwater.

But…I thought you told me this was the pride of our fleet?

I did my Lord.

With the most up to date equipment?

Yes, my Lord, but we can’t change the laws of physics…

Oh, never mind – let’s raise the periscope then. I know that’s possible – I’ve seen the movies.

Also no good my Lord, the periscope is only useful for looking at objects on the surface of the Ocean – we certainly can’t use it this deep and at this speed.

Argh! This is ridiculous Admiral!!

It’s General, your Imperiousness.

Oh, forget it. In that case, let’s take a look at them on the display. Activate the viewscreens!

(The crewmembers look blank)

My Lord…

Gentlemen, I grow tired of this insubordination – firstly I have to repeat myself to order someone out onto the hull to paint a false flag, then I get told that first our radio, and then the periscope don’t work, and now I have to ask more than once for the viewscreens to be activated – what’s going on?

Your Majesty, this is a submarine, not the USS Enterprise from the 24th century – we don’t have viewscreens here.

Why the hell not? I paid top dollar for this vessel to be fitted out with the most up to date equipment, and you’re telling me we don’t have viewscreens? Where did the money go?

Your Excellency…NO submarine has viewscreens. It’s impossible for us to see outside.

I find that hard to believe…

There wouldn’t be anything to see your Majesty. Firstly, we’re underwater, secondly, it’s night-time anyway, and thirdly, the general murk of the water would render it impossible to see more than a few feet in any one direction.

You’re kidding me? Then how do we steer this thing?

By the use of skilled Navigators and Sonar my Lord. The Captain sets our speed and course and the Navigators calculate our position by timing how far we travel at a set speed – the Sonar covers the rest.

Sonar?

Yes my Lord. It’s an acoustic detection system. Sonar stands for SOund NAvigation and Ranging. We have trained operators listening for sounds in the water using specialist equipment, that’s known as passive Sonar. We can hear other vessels in the ocean that way. (The General points to one of the consoles) Or, by hitting this button here, we can send out a "ping" in the water to listen for the reflected sounds as it bounces off other objects. By analysing the time it takes for a ping to return, and the shape of the deflection, the crew can work out the bearing, distance and size of the object.

Amazing what new technology they have these days…

Actually my Lord, the concept was first devised to detect icebergs in 1906. Then when the First World War broke out, efforts were directed towards the detection of submarines. By the time of the Second World War, different sets of equipment were available for the detection of surface and submerged vessels. The Battle of the Atlantic wouldn’t have been won without Sonar.

Cracking! Then let’s ping away. (The Doctor hits the button and a loud electronic "ping" echoes through the ship)

No! My Lord! That’s no good at all! Now that we’ve done that the enemy submarine behind has instantly spotted precisely where we are from our "ping" – it works both ways you see.

But you told me they already knew where we were…

Only in a very general sense my Lord, they are as blind as we are. They were some way behind us, probably trying to analyse the sounds from our engines to ascertain if they know who or what we are, now they know what we are, and where we are headed.

You mean they can’t actually see us? Then why the hell do we have a man outside painting a flag on the hull??

What? Because you said..

Find the fool who suggested the idea and have him shot…meanwhile, let’s get out of here…increase to maximum speed Captain!

No…your Excellency…

(It is too late, the submarine hums with power as the propellers begin to rotate as fast as they can and the vessel accelerates into the night. Suddenly…there is an alarm on one of the consoles…)

Now what?

Sonar contact my Lord! The American submarine has fired one…no two…torpedoes.

But why? They don’t know who we are, let alone that we are hostile!

Well, given that submarines of this size are exclusively military in design…we were already looking suspicious in their eyes. Not to mention the fact that we’re loitering near the site of a recent nuclear strike. Then we turned to see them, more suspicious activity. After that we gave them a "ping" and bolted off away from them at maximum speed – I’d say that’s a pretty fair indicator that we are not exactly friendly. I can’t honestly say I blame their Captain for deciding to attack.

Can we evade?

We can try, but already those torpedoes are closing. (Another alarm sounds) And another two have just been fired at us.

Shall we saunter in the direction of the escape pod?

Sir, it’s cramped, hot, and it has inadequate toilet facilities. (The alarms grow in intensity). Plus I’ve got to share it with your cats. (More alarms howl and flashing lights appear on every console) I wouldn’t have it any other way. Let’s go!

torpedo.jpg

Will Doctor Sinister and Admiral, errr, General Menace escape this latest underwater peril?

Will the ISS Leviathan become the first victim of a Sea Wolf nuclear attack submarine?

Will Doctor Sinister ever live a "normal" life again?

And where are General Menace’s cigars?

Find out in the next enthralling episode of…The Incorrect Art of War!!

A J Summersgill

andrew@armchairgeneral.com

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