For All Nails #201: Notes from the Investigation (Part 2)
by David Mix Barrington (with thanks to Noel and Johnny)
Admiral Daniel Bain was a worried man. Not the least of his worries was that until a week ago, he had been a mere Commodore, one of dozens within the warren of cubicles that was the NUSM pyramid. Now he had an admiral’s rank, and an admiral’s responsibilities. It would have been a demanding situation at the best of times, but these were not the best of times. In fact, it would have been hard to imagine a worse time.
Seventeen days earlier, the Secretary of War had used an atomic bomb of a new and terrifyingly powerful type to kill tens of thousands of people on the island of Bali. Now he had vanished, along with a new atomic-powered submersible, several members of the top Army and Navy brass, and an entire naval battle group. The battle group had apparently defected en masse to New Granada, while the Secretary, the brass, and – most importantly from Bain’s perspective – the submersible remained missing. Add in the problem of getting up to speed on the various projects that were now Bain’s responsibility, and keeping the President updated on their progress, and it was a wonder Bain could find any time to sleep.
Bain thought of Frank Medeiros over at Naval Intelligence, like him a suddenly-promoted Admiral filling in for a missing superior, and wondered how he was managing. No doubt Frank was wondering the same about him.
His aide, Lt. Commander Julio Santiago, knocked once, then stuck his head in the door. “Admiral? There’s some wet-behind-the-ears looie from Army Intelligence to see you."
"And why might I care, Santiago?"
"Well, sir, I said I'd check with you, because he had a note from that guy Villalobos."
"Villalobos. Colonel Villalobos? Colonel Bart Villalobos?"
"Yeah, that's the guy."
"Tell me, Santiago, since this is my day for mysteries, what did this note say?"
"Just 'talk to this kid'."
"Well, Santiago, I think you're right. Send the kid in."
The lieutenant indeed looked wet behind the ears in his rarely-worn dress uniform, his rank insignia somehow suggesting that they were fresh out of a small velvet-lined box.
"Castor, sir, uh, Admiral-sir, Edgardo Castor."
"What can I do for you, Lieutenant Castor?"
"Well, uh, Admiral, sir, I think Colonel Villalobos thinks that I can do something for you."
"And what might that be?"
"Well, uh, Admiral-sir, uh, it's my assignment for intel, that I've been on, sir."
This was like pulling teeth. "What was your assignment, Lieutenant?"
"Uh, sir, it's a little awkward--"
"Lieutenant, if Bart Villalobos thinks I ought to hear it, then he must think it's not too fucking awkward for me to hear now, wouldn't you say? Now what was your assignment?"
"Sir! My assignment was to attempt to penetrate the security of a specific NUSM facility on Oahu and report on its contents and activities, sir."
"The Army ordered you to spy on the Navy."
"Yessir, exactly, sir. We do it all the time, sir, sort of a quality control thing, sir. Admiral-sir. I think your guys spy on us, too. You see, it's better our own side finds the breaches in the security instead of--"
"I'm familiar with the concept, Lieutenant, thank you. What was the facility?"
"What facility on Oahu did you investigate. No, let me guess. Building G-27 at Pearl, an empty storage hangar?"
"Why, yessir, Admiral-sir, how did you know? It was supposed to be empty, but the number of cleaning guys going in and out was all wrong, there had to be something real going on inside."
"And your orders were to find out what."
"Yes, sir, Admiral-sir. It turned out to be an active submersible pen, sir, for the submersible transport Cochise. Atomic engines and everything. But you knew that, right?"
"We're talking about what you knew, Lieutenant. Keep talking."
"Well, you see, Admiral-sir, I recruited some of the squids, I mean the naval personnel, who were cleaning the place. I was even inside myself a couple of times."
"Money, sir, mostly, for one guy it was a girl. I think they thought I was a Tory, sir. I don't think any of'em would have come over to me if they knew I was the Army."
"Probably not, Lieutenant. Continue."
"Well, by late September I had a pretty good report ready about the whole operation there. I was thinking we'd really put one over on the squids, I mean the Navy, begging your pardon, Admiral-sir. I mean, sir, if the Tories could find out half of what I did about one of our subs, your security would be a real problem--"
"I get the picture, Lieutenant. So this is when you reported the existence of this submersible to your commander in Army Intelligence."
"You see, I kind of decided to forget. You see, Admiral-sir, I wasn't working for Colonel Villalobos then, it was Major Marichal, who reported to Colonel Falcone."
"The Major Marichal and Colonel Falcone who are now missing."
"Yessir. With the impeachment thing going on, and me being not quite sure whether my bosses were right, I kind of decided to forget to file my report. And with my being new to the assignment and all, they didn't check too closely on what I was doing, really. Besides, I wasn't too sure the squids with the submersible were truly right squids, I mean truly loyal naval personnel, I mean, yeah. Admiral. Sir."
"Not truly loyal personnel."
"That's it sir. So when Colonel Villalobos took over my section, and I told him about it, he didn't think they were truly right squids either, and he thought maybe we oughtta tell you about it."
"And you have a report on this submersible."
"Yes sir, Admiral-sir, I got pictures of the boat, I got pictures of the officers, I got plans of the thing, I got when she sailed in and out--"
"Sailed in and out?"
"Yes sir, she went out three times, then sailed on the 13th and she's been out since. Don't think she'll be back, either, 'cause they've mostly packed up by now--"
"Wait a minute, did you say plans?"
"Oh, yeah, didn't I say that? When I was in the pen myself I did the safe -- really cheap one it was -- and pictocopied all the plans that were in there. You want 'em? I figured it was your boat, you knew the plans for it, so why would you want 'em, but it would still be pretty embarassing for the squid security-- anyway, do you want all these plans and pictures and stuff?"
"Yes, Lieutenant, I'm afraid that I do."
(Proceed to #202: Bullet the Blue Sky.)
(Proceed to 11 January 1975: Interruption.)
(Proceed to All the World's a Stage.)
(Return to For All Nails.)