This is purely an experiment in writing. The following is a short fiction piece in which I have attempted to take all things steampunk to sea. Please let me know your thoughts and impressions. No time like now to act like Victor Frankenstein.
Cat and Mouse
The Captain of the USS Endeavor fixed his blue stare on the rippling horizon. The massive ninety-foot paddlewheel of the carrier plodded a frothy course through the Atlantic’s undulations.
“He’s out there,” Captain Walker said peering through the large glass observation dome.
The ginger-haired skipper flicked the first two digits of his upturned hand.
“Aye, sir.” One of his Junior Officers set the small brass tube in Walker’s meaty palm.
He scanned the choppy waters for any sign of his foe.
“Right paddle, half-stop,” he barked to his crew in the observation dome. “Bring her around to starboard.”
Two of Walker’s First Classes echoed his order. The taller of the two slammed the paddle lever down to the large ‘half-stop’ in red lettering, and then brought it back up to its neutral position.
“Right paddle, half-stop, sir.”
“Very well, Jones,” Walker said as he studied the seas.
“Coming around to starboard, sir,” the Quarter Master said.
Walker set down his telescope and put the receiver to his right ear.
“Lookout,” he said watching his other shipmates scurry across the foredecks of his vessel, “anything from your vantage point?”
The young Seaman rotated his large set of binoculars around on their post. “Nothing from here, sir.”
It’s not going to get any easier once the sun sets, he thought eyeing the orange and black clouds to the west. Might be time for aerial –
The Endeavor’s warning sirens cut the still of the evening air.
A cluster of white tees and dungarees amassed amidships off the port side. “Enemy sub off port!” several sailors exclaimed jabbing fingers to Walker’s eleven o’clock.
Walker flipped the switch on his console and picked up the small receiver.
“Battle stations, battle stations! All hands.” His voice rang out over every nook and cranny on the massive aircraft carrier.
“Get me a line of bearing on that fish,” he said pointing his spyglass in the direction of the sighting.
“Sir,” a Second Class said from behind her position, “I have them at 74 degrees, four minutes, two seconds at a distance of six miles.”
“Copy that,” Walker said. He turned to the short portly man to his left. “Commander?”
“Sir,” the Endeavor’s Executive Officer said.
“Get three of our birds airborne on that line!”
“Aye, aye, sir,” his short sidekick said.
Walker watched as three planes made their way out onto the flight deck. An aviation deckhand fired up the front propeller on the first bi-plane. Its narrow-spaced pairs of wings unfolded as four more handlers locked them into place. The pilot shot a thumbs-up from his cockpit to the handler in front of his plane. The jet engine on the underbelly of the fighter fired to life pushing the restraining cables to their limits. The handler stepped to port and motioned his hands down the flight deck. Each of the AC-231 Avengers bolted down the runway and darted off into the darkening skies en route toward the enemy.
“Left paddle half-stop,” he commanded. “Bring us around on their bearing.”
His able crew executed the order with precision as the observation dome slowly spun counterclockwise. Once the bow of the vessel had reached the desired point, the Endeavor sped all ahead into the fray.
The three Avengers wove narrowing circles around the last known position of the enemy submarine.
“Any sign of them from above?” Walker asked. His inquisitive gaze rolled toward his XO.
“Nothing yet, sir,” a pilot said through broken static.
“Get me another line of –”
A bright blue bulb flashed over the copper map of the Endeavor on his console.
“Direct hit off starboard, sir,” a Lieutenant said studying the map.
The hand receiver next to the blue bulb rang into his bridge. Walker knew who was on the other side and what they wanted.
He placed the handset to his ear. “Walker here.”
“Looks like I win this round, Tim,” the voice said over the weak connection.
Walker watched as the black metal body of a giant swordfish broke the surface a quarter of a mile over his right shoulder. The boat’s clear bubbles glared back at him like a huge pair of insect’s eyes.
“I won’t go as easy on you next time, Mike,” he said watching the sub bob on the waves.