"Captain Leonard?" asked the Australian, and once Carl had confirmed his identity with a handshake, "Vice Admiral Gus Waber."
"Admiral, sir," said Leonard with a quick salute.
"No need for that, skipper, I'm just a crazy old sailor who happens to have a high rank."
With a boisterous laugh Waber pounded Carl on the back. A queer sort of half smile flittered on the edge of crossing Leonard's lips. He could tell immediately that he liked this huge, swaggering man.
"The largest ship in Australia, the world in fact, is this aircraft carrier, captain," said Waber, "Code name Supership but we call her the Leviathan. At twenty kilometers long, the Leviathan must have more guns on it than the rest of the allied fleet combined."
Waber prepared to bask in the other's envy and awe, but seeing that Carl was merely mildly interested, he continued on with his tirade.
"The Leviathan is commanded by Vice Admiral Gus Waber, the best damn sailor in Australia. At least, I think so," he said with a chortle, "Look, captain, even though I'm one of the highest ranking officers in the Australian navy, I never thought of myself as anything but a regular old sailor, in a fancier uniform, okay?"
"All right, admiral," said Leonard, then wryly, "Or seaman, if you'd rather be called that."
"Admiral, I want to give you a hand here, but I need to know a couple of things."
"Anything you want to know. I can't keep security under these kind of conditions."
"All right, first: why doesn't anybody know about your Supership?"
"My government ordered me to keep this a top secret mission, even though it is so major. We couldn't even tell our allies, for fear of something like what just happened happening."
"I think we can assume Mongolia's on to you."
"It would make sense. I've been killing their ships damn near since the start of this war."
"I think Mongol commandos took over that frigate. And I think they loaded it up like a fireship and crashed it into you."
"Well, shit! Is anybody out there looking for them?"
"I sent out some boats and divers to find them," said Leonard, "So calm down."
Waber nodded, but he was staring off into space.
"My Leviathan..." he said distantly.
"Look, admiral, we're going to give you some help with repairs."
"It doesn't matter, Captain Leonard," said Waber bitterly, "She's going to sink. Decades of work, and a bunch of fucking Mongol terrorists blow a huge hole in us so that we start taking on water. We're not going to make it."
"You're going to make it," said Leonard fiercely.
"We don't have half the supplies we need to seal that hole, captain. It'll take almost a full day because of our sheer size, but we're going to sink no matter what happens. Just take as many of my crew members as you can hold and go."
"You do have enough supplies, admiral. Can the Leviathan hold my crew?
"Well, easily, but..."
"Then I want you to scrap the Farragut and seal that god damned hole."
"My God...You're not really going to give up your boat to save mine, are you?"
"This Supership is a lot more important than my little destroyer to the war effort, and you know it."
"Thank you," Waber whispered, and a moment later regained himself and began yelling out orders.
"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov
Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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