Read A New World: Taken Online
Authors: John O'Brien
He wouldn’t normally send a message as they were instructed to run silent out of respect for the Philippine government.
They were to head to the Strait of Hormuz to monitor shipping, in particular any Iranian Navy activities, and then have a deep, silent run home to Bangor to drop off the team and report in.
That part Captain Leonard will still accomplish.
He dives the sub and they crawl near the bottom of the sea before hitting the Pacific.
They spend their time monitoring the important passageway and then they run slow, deep, and silent for the duration of their crossing.
It takes time but they cross the large stretch of water.
Most of it spent in the normal rut and routine of a mission complete; complete if not successful.
He briefs each member of the surviving team; individually at first and then as a group.
They each tell a similar story; a horde of people attacking out of the blue and not a shot being fired by the other side.
They have either rehearsed their story to the nth degree or they’re telling the truth.
Both have chilling ramifications and Leonard is hard-pressed to decide which one he believes.
The only anomaly for the passage is the complete lack of communications.
They are deep so can only receive communications sent on the ultra-low frequency, which is especially for subs operating at low depths.
They don’t get many communications in that manner but there is usually some.
For the duration of the passage, they don’t receive even one which confuses Leonard to an extent.
“Check the comm gear,” he orders the chief of communications.
“Already have, sir.
Several times,” the chief reports.
“Check it again.”
They arrive outside the entrance to the straights of Juan de Fuca.
They rise to periscope depth and look for their escort.
Not only does Captain Leonard not see the escort that should be waiting, as they have arrived on schedule, but there is a distinct lack of the normal shipping.
This is a busy channel feeding Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and all of the ports along the Puget Sound.
The USS Santa Fe waits just off the normal shipping lanes.
Nothing goes in and nothing emerges.
Against protocol, Leonard sends a flash message that they are waiting.
No message answers.
The Executive Officer says for direction.
“Take us in nice and slow.
Avoid any traffic and continue to make calls,” Leonard finally says.
They ease the fast attack sub into the straights and proceed up the long entrance.
The town of Port Angeles slides off to their starboard side and eventually they see the city of Vancouver off in the distance to port.
They see this as Leonard occasionally raises the periscope to get his eyeball on things.
The passive sonar indicates absolutely no traffic operating in their vicinity.
Either all of the gear onboard has stopped working at once or there is no one around.
Time passes and they catch sight of Seattle through the periscope.
The usual ferries are silent and a few plumes of smoke rise into the cloudy sky.
Leonard can’t see the usual flotilla of sail boats or cargo vessels plying the waters.
There’s not even the usual one or two kayakers out.
He continues trying to contact the base on the flash channels but there is still no reply.
His thoughts wander to the team leader’s story but his mind refuses to go in that direction.
There has to be a plausible explanation
, he thinks looking over the empty waters.
They’re not entirely empty as he sees several vessels anchored but none are moving.
Perhaps there is a Homeland Security ban on these waters for some unknown reason,
But that wouldn’t explain the lack of communications.
They would normally be squawking loudly with one of their attack subs breaking communication protocols.
If it was any large-scale attack on the United States, they would have heard something and protocols would have been initiated.
They make the turn into Bangor.
Through the periscope, Leonard zooms in on the base proper.
Nothing is moving.
The usual people walking amongst the building, the dock workers, the cars driving to and away from the bunkered docks are nonexistent.
The look is one of total abandonment.
He has the periscope transferred to one of the viewing monitors.
“What do you think?”
Leonard asks his exec.
“Looks like no one is home, sir,” the exec responds.
“My thought exactly.”
“Well, what do you want to do, sir?
Should we motor in?”
Park us off the main channel.
We’re staying here until we figure this out.
Have communications send over the UHF emergency channel and see if we can pick up any military traffic.”
The communications operator receives word and dials up the UHF emergency channel, “This is the USS Santa Fe on UHF guard.
# # #
John is a former Air Force fighter instructor pilot who transitioned to Special Operations for the latter part of his career gathering his campaign ribbon for Desert Storm.
Immediately following his military service, he became a firefighter/EMT with a local fire department.
Along with becoming a firefighter, he began a career in the Information Technology industry starting two large casinos in Washington as the Information Technology Manager and becoming the Network Manager for the Washington State Legislature, the Northwest Information Technology Manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Network Systems Manager for Hollywood Video.
Currently, John is self-employed with his own Information Technology consulting company, consulting and managing various businesses with their information technology needs.
He also volunteers for a local youth center managing their computer lab.
As a former marathon runner, John lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and can now be found kayaking out in the waters of Puget Sound, mountain biking in the Capital Forest, hiking in the Olympic Peninsula, or pedaling his road bike along the many scenic roads.