was quiet... Although still smoldering. The large Navy blockaid seemed
almost out of place, now. Reluctantly, Murphy found himself back
here. Sue was with him, as well. (This was the condition
she gave, when the Navy asked for Murphy to return.) At present,
she wasn't very popular with either. But her reputation as a
good scientist in her own right, allowed her some clout. Futher
more, she had thown in the fact that Max Harrison was in
Washington, and Murphy would need some assitance.
Either way, the
argument was now mute... Both were on the bay, once again. This
time, the ship was a destroyer. (The damaged recovery vessel had
limped off the Pearl. ) Murphy had brought a considerable amount
of equipment, and was allowed to set up shop on the ship's
fantail. (This would keep the two scientists out of the crew's
way.) The way Murphy saw it, if the Navy wanted them here,
then he would bring whatever he damned well felt like! The
Navy brass felt that Halaekala's eruption should be monitored while
the recovery opperation commenced. This way, there would be no surprises.
The sun had
set almost two hours ago. Now the scientists worked under floodlamps.
As they did so, the massive battleship, New Jersey, dominated the
horizon. Even if it did, only serve as a center of orginization, it's
profile still commanded respect. These being Murphy's thoughts,
as he looked up at her. Sue caught him. "Sorta, gives you
a warm, fuzzy feeling, huh?" She quipped. Murphy leaned over to
her... "Oversized overkill, my dear." He shot back. Not missing a
opportunity to joust, the woman stated. "Funny, I always thought, they
were symbols of overactive testosterone." Murphy, caught off guard,
thought for a moment, shook his head, and went back work.
"What, no comment?" Sue asked. "It's not worth, one." He capped
off, watching the screens in front of him. Sue went back
into work-mode, herself. "How's the thermal looking, now?" She asked.
"Still in the green... It's the radiation, I'm worried about."
He returned. She looked over to the counter. "That's still,
pretty ugly... Must be a freakin' mess down there!" "Worst part
is, they haven't found anything, yet!" Sue gave him a look
of question. "... No core, no nukes, nothing but scrap. Oh yeah,
and a bay full of glowing water!" He added. Sue considered
the situation... Then spoke. "The bottom's got a big hole in it,
and everything's torn up...It could take them awhile." "Needles in
a haystack." Murphy said with a sigh. Then adding " I hope,
Max is doing better than we are." "Speaking of Max... He is
coming back, isn't he?" " Last I knew, he was... Why?" Asked Murphy
Thinking he knew the answer. "Tammy was kinda wondering, thats
all." "Well, that's good news!" Both laughed over this... Until a warning
chimed over the sonar monitor.
"What the Hell?"
Murphy mumbled as he focused on the screen. "What is it?" Inquired
Sue. " I'm getting a bounce...Somewhere over that way." He pointed
off in the genneral direction. "Give a hollar to the bridge,
see if they got it...Would you?" He asked the woman. She
went off to use the fantail intercom. Murphy was hit by
that aprehensive feeling, as he watched the sonar. The echo
'pinged' on. Sue rejoined him. "They're tracking it, too... It's moveing
in, off our stern." "Yeah, that's what I'm seeing, too...But it's
freakin' huge!" He exclaimed. The two looked at each other,
then positioned themselves closer to the stern. Opting for a better
vantage point. Now, a few crewmen had joined them. All straining
to see through the darkness... Looking for anything unusual. Murphy
noticed something else... The silence. The same, unsettleing emptyness
that Max had felt the first time they came here. Staring
hard at the inky black water, wasn't getting them anywhere. The
scientists kept an eye on the sonar screen, checking the location
of the echo. It was about to slide right behind the ship...But,
in front of them. Now, it was a question of depth.
started swelling now... Suddenly, alarms all over the ship went off,
breaking the silence like a bomb. Startled, the two scientists
jumped, but remained glued to thier vantage. The crewmen that had
been watching with them, now scattered to their stations. (General
Quarters had been announced over the squawk box.) Sue and Murphy
kept their eyes focused on the angry water, looking for
a sorce... It didn't take long.
Three or four
large, craggy objects began to parade past... Cutting a sizeable
wake as they went. They were black as death against
the horizons' nightgow. Sue fell back a few steps, but continued
to watch. Murphy never noticed her retreat. He stood
transfixed by the objects. (Or rather, their scale.) The largest
one, had to be twenty feet above the water! His mind
was hard at work, trying to grasp it all. Was this a
group of things, or one really big freakin' thing?? Sue
snapped him ot of this daze, with the most terrible realization
of all... "They're heading for the battleship!" She exclamed. "...Shiit!"
Aside from the
order to General Quarters, the destroyer had done little more,
than track the object. "Do you think, someone should warn them?"
The woman inquired. As she did, the old battlewagon came to life.
Her klaxon's now spoke across the water. "I think, they already
know!" Murphy said, returning to the sonar screen. "Oh sure, Max
get's the coushy stuff, and we're stuck here!" he ranted as he
checked the other equipment. " What the??" He now exclamed, looking
oddly at one of the monitors. "...That ain't right!?" He added. "What
now?" The woman asked as she continued to watch the battleship.
"We got a radiation spike, when that thing went by..." Murphy looked
to the other ship as well. In the direction the objects
had taken. "...Damned thing's, hotter then hell!" They looked at each
other, puzzled by this new development.
From their workstation
on the stern, Murphy an Sue had a perfect view of the
battleship. They could see it's crew manning their stations... And they
could see the ink black water reflecting the ship's lights. The
objects had dissapeared... where? Murphy checked his sonar, but saw
only the echo of 'New Jersey'. The tension mounted with
each minute that passed.
The water started
churning once more... This time, near the battleship. Murphy moved to where
Sue was standing, in order to get a better view. As he
did, The churning turned to boiling. The mighty warship actually pitched
with the distubance. What the hell, was this? thought Murphy. Slowly,
a black shape emerged. Rising up... higher than the ship's main
deck! Murphy strained to define what he was looking at. Then,
it hit him. This was a massive head and neck! The question
of numbers, had resolved itself. This was one, gigantic creature. As
it shifted position, Murphy could make out the objects from
before...They were spines, dorsal fins. With his concepts of reality
totally shot, Murphy could only watch in a silent, numb
fog. He was bearly aware, that Sue had latched on to
his arm. Now, the creature seemed to be looking over 'New
Jersy'... Slowly moving it's head from bow to stern. Suddenly,
the machine guns opened fire. The loud reports woke Murphy
from his daze... The monster reacted as well, with a sound
of it's own. A thundering roar, not of this earth, issued
forth from the thing. The guns seemed to do little more,
than annoy the beast. The agression was met in kind,.. Raising
abit higher, the creature brought it's claws to bare. It's powerful
arms hammered the ship's deck. Destroying many of the gun
tubs, along with the crewmen. Sue and Murphy could feel
their ship moving, as the beast continued it's assault. The
destroyer was swinging about, to get it's own fireing solution.
Without thinking, the two scientists moved along the deck, keeping sight
with the other ship and the horrible creature.