The Old Girl's New Tricks, Part VII

Things start winding down. Finally. < ![CDATA[

Chapter 30

Captain Blythe
clenched the arms of his seat with a deathgrip. It was the only sign
of the tension he felt.

had acquitted herself quite handily — as had he personally. One
Japanese cruiser sunk, one sinking, and two mauled, along with four
destroyers sunk and the critical convoy shattered, at the price of
two destroyers and a moderately-damaged battleship. As he had noted
before, the battle was won as soon as the destroyer
savaged the convoy — everything else was pretty much irrelevant.
Blythe and his entire force were, to be harsh, expendable — even
more so than the Japanese escorts. But the transports and their
precious cargo — those were irreplaceable in the struggle for
Guadalcanal. The Japanese had lost this effort to win the fight for
the island, but they could still make the victory even more expensive
for the Americans. And bagging a battleship — even one as old and
obsolete as the
— would be a great propaganda victory, to counter the two
ships the US Navy had sunk in Iron Bottom Sound.

Unwilling to show
his anxiety, Captain Blythe waited for the inevitable shudder to
shake his ship, and the plume of water along her port side indicating
yet another massive hole being blown in her hull. The two prior
torpedo strikes had wounded her seriously, costing her speed,
maneuverability, and forcing her deeper in the water, and he knew
that a third hit — anywhere — would be a fatal blow, barring a
miracle. But there was nothing he could do but wait and hope and

And so he did.
Long seconds passed.

Too many long
seconds passed.

Rose shouted, unable to keep the glee from his
voice. “Four clean misses forward, one hit on the bow — and it
was a dud!”

Blythe let out the
breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “I suspect the Japs
didn’t think we’d slowed down that much, plus the rattling we gave
their cages with our main guns, threw their aim off. Well done, men.
Keep pounding away on Baker. Mr. Foster, status on Dog?”

Foster paused to
check. “Still slowly swinging around. He hasn’t even got us 45
degrees off his starboard bow yet. We’ve got time before he can
unmask his port torpedo mounts.”

“Keep me posted.”
Just then, the bridge shook fiercely. “That one felt like it hit
pretty close to here. Mr. Tripp, get a report from Damage Control on
that last shot. Mr. Rose, keep firing on Baker until further notice,
but have Director Two keep that solution on Dog.”

passed along the report. “Hit to the superstructure, sir. We
lost the bakery. Several casualties and fire.”

recalled the baker with the beautiful backhand from the Line Crossing
ceremony. He had a brief image of the man standing, stunned, while
covered head to toe in flour, like something from a Three Stooges
short. But he quickly dismissed the vision — flour was quite
flammable. Blythe had even heard of some silos of flour exploding
from a careless spark. “Keep me posted, Mr. Tripp. Mr. Foster,
how’s Baker doing?”

“Not good, sir. Several fires,
she’s slowing, and major structural damage — her forward stack’s
pretty much gone. She’s down to just her aft turrets firing. I think
she’s pretty much out of the fight.”

“Dog’s getting
towards bow-on with us. I think he needs a bit more working over.
Have Director Two take over the turrets after two more salvoes — I’d
like him at least silenced, if not sinking.”

sir. Two more salvoes, then shift aim. But we have a pretty tight
angle on Dog — some of the aft turrets are pretty close to being
masked by our superstructure.”

Blythe nodded. “Tripp,
see what Commander O’Leary thinks of coming twenty degrees to port,
rudder at his discretion.”

Tripp spoke into the handset,
then relayed the message. “Chief Engineer says a little less
than standard rudder should be OK, but he stopped making promises on
anything ten minutes ago.”

“Understood. Make it so.”

interrupted. “Sir, I don’t think that last salvo will be

Blythe looked out the windows, then stepped
on to the port wing and borrowed a pair of binoculars. (Well,
commandeered — no one was about to say no to the captain.)

The devastation of
Baker stunned him. The forward guns were wrecked. Turret one was
aiming in two directions, and turret two had partially fallen on
turret three — apparently at least one hit had torn away a hefty
chunk of two’s supporting barbette. The bridge was a mass of flame.
Stack one was half-gone, and stack two had its top half flopped over
towards the stern. The center of the ship was a twisted mess, with at
least two major uncontrolled fires going. The aft guns were still,
and he could see smoke pouring out of the roof and one barrel of the
last one.

panned back to the bow, focusing lower. Several large holes showed
where the
shells had tore through the cruiser’s thin skin, and he could see
flames flickering inside several. When he got to the bow, he saw the
jagged stem where one shell had apparently clipped the ship without
detonating. And a careful look at the waterline showed she was making
hardly any wake.

“She’s done
for, gentlemen. Cease fire on Baker, focus all guns on Dog. We’ve won
this fight, but that last cruiser can still keep us from enjoying

Chapter 31

five of the
massive turrets started their slow turn to starbard to challenge the
last surviving Japanese cruiser, Commander Foster got an urgent
message. “Captain, lookouts report Dog’s opening fire again with
her bow turrets!”

Blythe scowled.
“So they’re giving up on the sneaky approach. Just as well; they
never fooled us, anyway. They only have four guns that can see us;
we’ll have ten on her shortly.”

statement was punctuated by four splashes that all fell well short of
“Looks like it’ll take them a little time to find the range. Mr.
Rose, have the Director fire the guns as soon as they are on

Blythe’s order was rather well-timed; it was
punctuated by the roar of the ten guns firing a near-full broadside
of almost four and a half tons of steel and explosives.

Which also fell
short of the mark.

could take a while,” Blythe muttered to himself. “Mr.
Foster, what’s the latest word from the

collecting survivors, still towing the
asking if we will accept their assistance.”

Commander Aspin for you. His guns would barely scuff up that
cruiser’s paint, but he still wants to do what he can. Tell him to
continue as per existing orders.”

series of splashes erupted as the Japanese shells creeped closer. In
seeming response, he
roared again, and also fell short.

Commander Rose
spoke up. “Sir, perhaps we should switch to half salvoes until
we find the range.”

Blythe considered
the suggestion, then rejected it. “It’s a sound idea, Mr. Rose,
but I think not. The crews might appreciate the slowdown, but I don’t
feel inclined to skimp on ammunition. Besides, each shell we fire is
that much less weight we have complicating our flooding, and I’d like
to maximize our chances to hit — and number of hits.”

Rose nodded. He
was used to having his suggestions rejected, but Blythe was never
harsh about it. He was far from a martinet; he had no problems
accepting suggestions from his officers. He didn’t always take them,
but he always gave them consideration, and often gave his reasons for

then, the
shook, and the echoes of an explosion rattled the bridge. Before
Blythe could ask, Tripp was on the handset. He put it down with a
smile of relief. “One hit, starboard side of Turret Two, no
damage, just some torn-up decking, sir!”

Blythe wasn’t
so… well, blase about the hit. “That turret’s already out of
action, with a shell stuck inside the right gun. I hope that impact
didn’t rattle it too much, Mr. Tripp.”

Tripp let his
smile slip away. He hadn’t connected the hit with the prior damage.
“I’ll get a crew right on it, sir.”

Blythe let his
voice raise slightly. “You’ll do no such thing, Mr. Tripp. That
turret is sealed, and will remain so until after the combat has
ended. We will take no chances of causing any further harm to this
ship or her men.”

Tripp, abashed,
replied meekly. “Yes, sir.”

Rose found himself
nodding. Blythe’s attitude towards questions and suggestions didn’t
extend to exceptionally stupid ones, and Tripp’s idea of opening the
sealed turret in the middle of combat certainly qualified. He wished
there was something to take the attention away from Tripp.

Fortunately, there
was. “Sir, direct hit on Dog’s bow! We’re losing her in the
smoke!” He paused. “Sir, lookouts say she might have

Chapter 32

A ragged cheer
started sweeping the bridge “Belay that!” Blythe barked,
bringing to a quick end. “Save the celebrating until we’re sure
there’s something worth celebrating.” He glanced at Foster. “Get
me a confirmation on that last report!”

Foster snapped
back to sobriety. “Aye-aye, sir!” He picked up the handset,
demanding answers — and quickly got them. “Dog’s still coming,
sir. Hit on the bow, smoke might be obscuring her forward guns, and
several near misses off her bow made it look like she might have gone
up, but she’s still in the fight.”

“Still turning to
her starboard?”

“Yes, sir.”

me as soon as we’re 25 degrees of her bow. Until then, continue

Blythe himself was
starting to feel fatigued. The fight hadn’t gone on all that long —
he glanced at his watch, and it had been less than an hour — but the
adrenaline had worn off and he felt exhausted. He wondered about his
men with more physical duties such as in the guns and the engines, or
his damage control teams, and was amazed they were still on their
feet, let alone still fighting the ship.

interrupted his thoughts. “Sir, message from the
— that last Jap destroyer was playing possum and opened fire on
them. She and the
fire, and she’s on the way to the bottom. No damage, no casualties.”

felt his heart turn to stone. Maybe it was the fatigue talking, but
he didn’t care. “Order the
skip any rescue operations for any Japs. Let them stay in the

Foster spoke up softly. “Captain, regs and
the law of the sea are clear. We can’t just ignore men in the water.”

glared at his exec, but realized the man was right. “Belay that
message. Tell
are to take no unnecessary risks, but if they can rescue any Japs,
they are authorized to do so. Repeat that last part — they are
authorized, but not ordered to do so.” Then, under his breath,
he muttered “Thank you, Mr. Foster.”

Foster nodded. One
of the key duties of any exec was to protect hit captain from
himself. It was extremely rare that he was called upon to perform
that duty with Blythe.

the guns continued their roars of fury — but much more slowly. Under
ideal questions, the
fire her guns every 20 to 30 seconds. At this point, it was closer to
a full minute. The guns were hot and starting to sag slightly, the
crews had used up all the ready-use ammunition, the shells were
having to come from deeper in the ship, and — most importantly —
the crews must be dead on their feet. Prior, Blythe had never run a
drill or firing exercise for longer than half an hour. It was nothing
short of miraculous that there had been no jams or serious mechanical
failures in the main guns — several had missed a salvo here or there
due to problems, but they had been tended to quickly and the gun was
brought back into service in less than a minute each time.

Blythe commented
on that to Commander Rose. Surprisingly, Rose had an answer. “Part
of that’s due to Lieutenant Bennett, the captain of Turret 2. After
they evacuated their turret, he talked to the other turret captains.
He’s been splitting his crew among the other five mounts, and they’ve
been spelling the regular men as needed. We essentially have an
entire extra turret crew that’s relieving the men in the other

“That young
man is definitely getting a commendation once this is all over. But
he’s still getting his verbal reprimand for not evacuating the turret
immediately as ordered.”

Rose smiled. There
was no way that the reprimand would ever show up in Bennett’s file,
but Blythe would still make it clear that disobeying orders was not
something to be undertaken lightly — even if it did possibly save
the ship. The message Blythe would impart would not be “don’t
ever do this again,” but “if you do do this again, you
damned well better be as right as you were this time.”

Just then, Foster
sang out. “More hits on Dog, sir! Her forward turret’s out of
action, big fire amidships starboard, and she might be slowing down!”

Blythe whipped his
head around. “What’s her current angle?”

“We’re eight
degrees off her bow.”

For the first
time, Blythe let himself smile. “Gentlemen, we just might make a
clean sweep of this fight. Continue firing, of course, but I’m liking
the way things are going right about now.”

Tripp noticed his handset was ringing. He picked it up, listened, and
turned pale. He then hung up and turned back to Captain Blythe.

Commander O’Leary reports we’ve got a critical situation aft.”

Chapter 33

Captain Blythe
bolted across the bridge and grabbed the handset. “Harry, Bill
here. Talk to me.”

The Chief Engineer
reported. “We’ve had a major steam rupture in Boiler Room Two.
Several casualties. We’ve got the room sealed, but there are still
men inside.”

Blythe fought down a shudder. He’d never
seen, in person, what superheated, pressurized steam could do to a
human body, but he’d seen photos. He shoved the images out of his
mind. “How will it affect our performance, Harry?”

paused, thinking. “We can jerry-rig around it for a time, keep
up speed and power, but it’ll put a lot of stress on the rest of the
entire plant. So we can keep up as is, but I’m offering no guarantees
for how long. And any more hits will not be helpful. I recommend we
get out of this fight as soon as possible.”

arguments there. Would it help to stand down any of the aft guns?”

“Not really.
The ship’s built to stand up to her own guns firing. I’m more worried
about incoming shells — and especially torpedoes.”

and logged, Mr. O’Leary. Keep us posted if things change.”
Blythe put down the handset, then had an idea. It might not be a good
one, but he had to find out. He called Boiler Room Two.

there was an answer. “What?”

Blythe was so shocked,
he let the insubordination slide. “This is the captain.

“We’ll get back to you!” And the line
went dead.

Blythe stared at
the handset. He’d never been hung up on aboard his ship before, and
wasn’t quite certain how to handle it. But he knew that voice. He
couldn’t put a name to it, but it was definitely the Master Chief
who’d taken on the role of King Neptune just a few scant weeks ago.
If he was that rude to his captain, the situation back there must
indeed be dire — but not helpless, if he was still fighting the

But appearances
had to be maintained. He spoke into the dead handset. “I see.
Carry on, and report to the bridge or the Chief Engineer when you
have news.” As he replaced the handset, he turned to the rest of
the bridge crew. “Major steam leak, Boiler Room Two. We have men
trapped in there, and they’re fighting to control it. Chief Engineer
says we can maintain speed and power for the time being, but we need
to get this fight over with as soon as possible. Mr. Foster, what’s
Dog up to?”

“Still turning and burning. Her forward
two turrets are still firing. She’s got us about 15 degrees off her
port bow.”

“I thought
her forward turret was out of action, Mr. Foster?”

thought so, too, but apparently either the lookouts were mistaken or
they fixed it up right quick.”

Blythe grunted.
Even the lookouts had to be getting worn out. “Keep up the
shooting. We need to get her out of this fight before she can fire
off those torps.”

Arkansas’ guns
roared once again, but slightly out of sync. It was like the old girl
was exhausted, out of breath, gasping and stammering with her main

One way or
another, this fight had to end, and end soon. “Mr. Tripp,
consult with Mr. O’Leary. If we turn into Dog and increase speed,
we’ll buy us more time out of his torpedo arcs. See if he can scrape
up any more speed, and how much right rudder he will

Tripp nodded and picked up the handset,
repeated the Captain’s request, and then held the phone away from his
ear. Even across the bridge, everyone could hear — not the words,
but certainly the tone.

As Tripp replaced the handset, Blythe
shrugged. “Well, it seemed like a good idea. But once Dog has us
in her torpedo arc, we’ll be turning right full rudder — even if I
have to toss Mr. O’Leary overboard personally.”

The bridge crew
chuckled. The Chief Engineer’s temper was quite well known. Foster
chimed in. “You just might have to do that, sir.”

one brief moment, Blythe found himself regretting his command style.
He’d instilled in his crew a sense of independence, a willingness to
think and act for themselves on occasion, and now it was biting him
on the ass. But, he had to admit, in each case the offending crewman
had a point. The gun captain had done exactly what Blythe would have
done — in fact, what Blythe would have ordered him to do if he was
utterly merciless. And the chief engineer was doing all he could to
keep the
afloat and in fighting condition despite her grievous wounds.

No, after careful
consideration, Blythe didn’t regret reaping what he had sown. But
that didn’t mean he had to like it all the time.

more the Arkansas’ guns roared another staccato salvo. It was down to
a simple matter of time — would the
inflict enough damaging hits first, or would the Japanese cruiser
survive long enough to fire her portside torpedoes? Blythe had
tremendous faith and pride in his men, but they’d already performed
far above what anyone could expect. They needed one more miracle to
survive the fight — and Blythe feared they’d used up more than their
share this day.

Chapter 34

fired yet another salvo off at the devastated Japanese cruiser, a
thought occurred to Captain Blythe. “Mr. Foster, an update on
that ship.”

Foster quickly spoke up. “Still afire,
still turning. We’re about 20 degrees off her bow.”

Blythe nodded.
“How long has it been since she last fired?”

Foster started,
then checked. “A bit over two minutes, sir. Sorry, I should have

“And what’s her current speed?”

he checked that, too. “Ten knots and dropping. Sir, I apologize.
I should have been paying better attention.”

“Yes, you
should have, Mr. Foster — but I should have asked sooner, and the
spotters should have called it to your attention. We’re all
exhausted. Just file this away for future reference.” Blythe
gave his exec a quick nod and reassuring smile. “But she’s
slowing, guns silenced, and still a good ten degrees shy of opening
up her port torpedo arcs on us. I think she might be out of the

Foster carefully
considered the matter. “She hasn’t struck her colors, or
signaled any intention of surrendering, sir. We’d be more than
justified in continuing to fire.”

“True enough,
Mr. Foster. But on the other hand, our own crews are exhausted, we’ve
depleted a lot of our ammunition, and the non-stop firing of our guns
can’t be good for all the damage we’ve taken. I think, all things
considered, it would be safe to cease fire and see if the survivors
are interested in surrendering.”

“Yes, sir.”

Rose, order all guns to cease firing, but keep a steady aim on that
cruiser. Then reduce speed to eight knots and bring us about to
starboard — I want pass three thousand yards off her starboard beam
before we start withdrawing due east, as per our orders.” He
paused. “What’s the latest word from the

checked. “She and the
are about 15,000 yards off, closing in at 12 knots.”

if the
still has any torpedoes aboard, and if she’s capable of firing.”

moment, sir.” Foster spoke quickly to the radio shack. A moment
later, he got his answer. “Yes and yes, sir. One five-tube
launcher still loaded and in service.”

Blythe nodded.
“Tell them to stand by. If that cruiser doesn’t indicate some
kind of surrender, I may order them to deliver the coup
de grace.
them to form up off our stern and stand ready.

Foster relayed the
message to the radio shack.

slowly pulled her bow around to starboard, her guns pivoting equally
slowly, keeping a steady aim on the wrecked enemy ship. “Mr.
Tripp, now that things have calmed down a bit, I think we could stand
an update on damage control.”

“Aye-aye, sir.”
Tripp spoke to the volatile chief engineer, then relayed the message.
“Flooding has been all but stupped from the portside amidships
torpedo hit. On the starboard aft hit, still flooding, but
controlled. Between the two, the list to port is less than one
degree. Boiler Room Two is still offline, with no reports. All fires
are out. Current casualty count is 37 dead, 61 wounded, six men
missing from Director Three but presumed dead, and eight men
unaccounted for but presumed to be in Boiler Room Two, which is still

Blythe sighed.
Over a hundred men dead or wounded. In the big picture, it was a very
small price to pay for the victory they’d won. But despite all his
training and indoctrination about the reality of combat, he still
felt the burden. He would personally write the letters to the
families of each lost man, personally visit with each of the wounded.
“I want word from that boiler room as soon as possible, Mr.
Tripp. Tell Mr. O’Leary that is to be his top priority after the


As his crew went
about their orders, Blythe stepped out on to the port bridge wing.
There were smudges of smoke on the water, indicating the graves of
two of the Japanese cruisers. Off a bit, he could see the two
surviving destroyers closing, one sister pulling the other along.

had been a hell of a battle. One old (OK, he admitted himself,
obsolescent and long overdue for retirement) battleship and three
destroyers against four Jap heavy cruisers and four destroyers. It
was only that he’d caught them by surprise that the Americans did as
well as they did — a clean sweep, at the price of one destroyer
sunk, another crippled, and a severely battered battleship. Blythe
almost resented the
having come through the entire fight unscathed. Worse, she could
claim the scalps of two of those destroyers and a good chunk of the
convoy that was the true target all along. Commander Aspin would be

that wasn’t fair. He’d known Aspin for some time. He’d take pride in
his crew’s accomplishments, but he’d make certain that the rest of
the group got the full credit they deserved. The
only achieved what she did because of the efforts of the
and the
he wouldn’t let any mention of the
go by without noting that she had, as the old saying goes, “stood
on the shoulders of giants.”

Feeling slightly
refreshed, Blythe returned to the bridge. “What’s the word on
Dog, Mr. Foster?”

Foster snapped to attention, then
remembered Blythe’s standing orders. The shooting may have passed,
but the fight wasn’t over until the captain declared it, and the ship
was still at general quarters. “She’s gone dead in the water,
and lookouts report at least some of the crew is abandoning ship. And
the lookouts are disagreeing whether or not she’s sinking. I think
it’s safe to say she’s done for.”

probably true, but no sense taking any chances. Keep a close eye on
her, and stand by the signal lights. I’d like to give them the chance
to formally surrender.”

“You know
they won’t take us up on that, sir.”

“True enough,
but as you reminded me earlier, it’s not about them, it’s about us.
We have to give them the choice.”

when they don’t accept?”

“Then we put her out of her
misery. I’d like to let the main guns finish her off, but the Bates
still has five torpedoes ready to go. And as a wiser man than I once
said, ‘you don’t sink a ship by making holes that let in air, but by
making holes that let in water.'”

Foster nodded.
“Truer words were never spoken, sir. But I find myself hoping
they do surrender. They put up a hell of a fight, and I have to
respect that.”

“Also true, Mr. Foster. But remember,
they’re from a warrior culture. Surrendering is a grave dishonor for
them. Dying for their emperor is the greatest honor they can aspire

“I know, sir.
But still… this still feels a little like an execution.”

“I know, and
you’re not entirely wrong. But this is war, and they are the enemy.
Until they have made their surrender abundantly clear, we have no
choice but to treat them as hostile. And remember — Japan never
signed on to the Geneva Conventions. Those rules only govern us as
much as we allow them to.”

Just then, Lt.
Tripp stepped up. “Sorry to interrupt, sirs, but we have word
from Boiler Room Two.”

Chapter 35

Blythe turned to
the junior guest officer. “Please, Mr. Tripp.

“Commander O’Leary reports the room was
opened from inside. When the line ruptured, one man was killed
instantly, two more severely injured. Chief Carbone ordered the room
sealed, then led the men in closing off the line, patching it up, and
restoring the room to fully functional status. But just as they
finished, he dropped dead on the spot. Doc says it must have been a
massive heart attack. One of the injured also died, but Doc says the
other should survive. Commander O’Leary says that if that room stayed
offline, we’d probably never make it back to Noumea.”

Blythe sighed. Chief Bob Carbone had been aboard the
his entire career, eventually rising to the senior chief of the ship.
And he’d embraced the role of “King Neptune” on many
occasions, doing great honor to the tradition. Of all the casualties
he’d heard of so far, this was the hardest. Blythe had had very few
dealings with the Chief, but he knew that Foster had worked quite
closely with the man.

He thought back to
that final conversation he’d had with Carbone, when the Chief had
hung up on his captain. Blythe decided, then and there, that he’d put
the Chief in for a Navy Cross.

Blythe needed some
air. He stepped out on to the starboard wing, Tripp quietly at his

pulled slowly alongside the battered, burning wreck that had once
been one of the Emperor’s proudest cruisers a scant 4,000 yards away.
Her guns were trained at the wreck, but silent.

Captain Blythe
forced himself to stare at what he had wrought. Battle had always
seemed so… abstract before. In exercises, there were never any
casualties or damage. Today, he’d been in a battle — and all five
senses had been overwhelmed. But his ship had been only damaged —
here he saw the direct results of the orders he’d given. She was
barely recognizable as a warship any more.

Tripp? What is the complement of a

Tripp was instantly beside him, equally
awestruck. “About 800 men, sir.”

“And do you
see any signs of survivors, Mr. Tripp?”

Tripp paused as
long as he dared, then slowly answered. “No, sir.”

would be your recommendation, then, Lieutenant?”

Tripp again
paused. “She’s finished, sir. I’d say let her go. She’ll likely
sink on her own soon enough.”

Blythe let a bit of
compassion trickle into his voice. It came across as regret. “Look
at her stern, Mr. Tripp. What do you see?”

borrowed the binoculars. “Her name, sir. In Kanji — Japanese
writing. She’s the

you, but that’s not what I meant. Look a little higher.”

raised the lenses slightly. “Her flag? We already knew she was
Japanese, sir.”

“Those are her colors, Mr. Tripp.
Her crew hasn’t struck them, and by the laws of the sea a
surrendering ship indicates her status by lowering her flag. By law,
she’s still an active enemy warship, and we have not only the right,
but the duty to capture or destroy her.”

“But there
might not be anyone aboard left alive. Or in a position to reach the

“That doesn’t matter, son. Our duty is clear.
She has to go down.” He sighed again. He found he’d been doing a
lot of that today. “The only question is, do we do it with our
guns, or…” he paused and gestured astern, “…do we let
the Bates
use up the last of her fish?”

considered the matter. “We have a lot more shells than she has
torpedoes, and they’re a lot cheaper. Plus, we did the rest of the
damage, so by rights we should be the one to finish her off.” He
saw Blythe’s eyes tighten, and knew he was on the wrong track. “On
the other hand, this is war. We’re in hostile waters, and none of us
are moving very fast. Since time is of the essence, I’d say have the
finish her off.”

smiled. The young man was learning. “Good call. But just in case
the fish don’t work, we’ll hold position. Have the
between us and the
and send her to the deep. If the fish don’t work, we’ll finish her
off with our guns.”


A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Armageddon...