Got caught up in the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas activities and visits and have been neglectful about adding to the story. So belatedly here is the next installment.
CBS Evening News:
Blue Seas, the activist oceanic environmental protection organization, issued a press release that their ship, the Sea Defender, had intercepted and destroyed two “squidzillas” or gigantic squid that were attacking a migrating Grey Whale. Unfortunately the whale did not survive the attack. They will begin a campaign of fund raising to protect whales as they migrate between Alaska and Baja California.
Five and 21 rallied the other squids in their subpopulation and explained what they had seen with the deaths of 82 and 15 by “funny fish” sent from the “surface shell.”
There was no symbol in the squid vocabulary for explosion, so it was hard to convey what had killed Numbers 82 and 15. Just that “funny fish” rapidly closed on the squids and then there were loud noises, a lot of bubbles, feeling very heavy pressure all over, and both squids had died, as had the whale.
“Number 82 and 15 broke pieces after,” flashed No 21. There was generalized flashing of surprise from the other squids.
Number 5 finally said, “no catch whale if AWL(Above-water-livers) surface shell same place.”
There was general agreement.
In Hong Kong, Lily Chao was watching the world-wide satellite broadcast and saw the report. She excitedly called out to her husband “T.F. Come look at this. I’ll replay it for you.”
T.F. Chao came from his study and watched the short segment in silence.
“This is the organization that was largely responsible for stopping whaling by the Japanese and Norwegians, and now they are going to go after those giant squids that killed Greg,” said Lily firmly. “That’s what I wanted our company to do, but you wouldn’t agree. Well, I’m going to support these people from my own account.”
“Oh Lily. I wish you could put this behind you. All this anger is not good for you. I loved Greg too. I still miss him. But killing squids won’t bring him back. And what if our granddaughter is right? She thinks that they are intelligent and wants to learn how communicate with them. And Jessica’s friend, that oceanographer, tends to agree.”
“T.F., sometimes I don’t understand you. Little Ceci never had a chance to know her father. And she is a child. Of course she wouldn’t feel the way I do about these killer squids. How can you begin to communicate with something without even a backbone? That’s just her childish fancy. And intelligent or not, they killed Greg.”
T.F. didn’t say anything. It was pointless to argue with Lily once her mind was made up. He also wasn’t sure that Little Ceci’s idea was just a passing whim. He had conversed at length with her during her recent visits, and was amazed at her depth of knowledge about squids.
In the meantime, the Sea Defender had obtained and armed more drones and had intercepted and destroyed a young gigantic squid that had ignored or not seen the advice to stay away from “surface shells.” The whale and her calf that had been the target of the squid’s interest, had survived.
“AWLs funny fish kill me-you. what do?” flashed No. 5.
“they keep me-you from whales, they kill three me-you, what do?” flashed Number 5 again.
“how eat if AWL stop us? me-you sink AWL shell that send funny fish,” replied another squid.
“me agree,” said Number 21. “me-you agree?”
There was consensus to proceed with an attack on the Sea Defender. They decided that the attack would be launched at night, when the moon was dark or new, and when the sea was rough, although the North Pacific in spring would not be as stormy as in winter.
The Sea Defender toiled in the wind-generated swells. It was late afternoon and the sky was a dim grey haze.
“Captain, sonar shows that two squids have been following us all day but at a distance of three miles.”
“Any whales in the area?”
“No. Haven’t seen any since last night and there were no squids around then.”
“Well, okay. Continue to track them and let me know if there are any changes. This gale is supposed to get stronger during the night.”
“More dark,” flashed Number 5. “when dark dark-time, get other me-you, Number 21.”
“think enough me-you sink shell?”.
It was well after midnight when the sonar watch roused the captain. “Sorry to wake you captain, but Charlie said you wanted to be called if there was any change with the squids.”
“It looks like they’re heading towards us. And they’re a lot more than two of them now.”
“Detect any whales close by?”
“No, they’re coming straight at us.”
“Okay, I’m coming up. And call Wally too and ask him to meet us.”
“Wally? You going to ask him to arm and launch a drone?”
“Just in case. We don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
By the time the captain got to the sonar room, the squids had closed to within a mile. “Wally, I don’t know what they’re doing, but just in case, bring one of the tin-tuna up on deck and then arm the warhead.”
“It’s pretty rough, captain. Think it’s safe to arm it? With these seas, I’m not sure we can even safely lower it over the side to launch.”
“Just in case we need it, Wally.”
“Okay. You’re the captain.”
Number 5 was coordinating the attack. “me-you go same side. I say me-you one time grab shell, me-you grab, turn shell over.
“Captain, the squids are all on the starboard side now and they’re right below us. What are they doing!?”
The captain had a flashback from an old film, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, where Captain Nemo’s submarine was attacked by a giant squid. “I don’t know but I hope Wally has armed the warhead. We will launch it as soon as it’s ready. Don’t mess with us, squids.”
The drone was ready and swaying back and forth in it’s launch harness. But it was too late. The entire starboard side of the ship was suddenly engulfed in arms and tentacles and the ship lurched and wallowed in the waves.
“We’re going over!”
“Mayday, mayday…” went out the signal just before a searching tentacle lashed into the warhead detonator. The hull of the ship shielded the bodies of the squids from the resulting explosion, but many grasping tentacles and arms were shredded, though they would grow back. Not so the captain, Wally and the other crew members. The capsizing Sea Defender, now with a hole blown in it’s deck, went down rapidly before most of the sleeping crew even knew what was happening.
Aboard the attack submarine USS Oregon. The communications officer to the captain. “Sir, we just received a message from COMSUBPAC. The Blue Seas ship Sea Defender sent out a mayday before all contact was lost. We are the closest ship and have been directed to the area for search and rescue.”
“Just mayday? No other message?”
“Anything on sonar now?”
“Just a few of those USOs around below us but no, nothing else.”
“When it gets light we’ll go to the surface for a visual search, but with the gale, we will have a bunch of sea sick crew who aren’t used to the roll on the surface. And the visibility will be lousy.”
“Coast Guard has an HC-160 on the way from Seattle, for the aerial search.”
Number 68 flashed, “too bad Number 5, 21, 45, 106, 73 no can talk much till arms grow back.”
No. 5 waved and flashed a brief acknowledgement. Missing arms meant a truncated vocabulary.
After five days, the search for the missing Blue Sea vessel, the Sea Defender has been called off. Although some of the recovered wreckage suggests that there had been an explosion, it does not explain why the ship went down so rapidly that there was only time for a “mayday” with no details of what was wrong. No survivors were recovered.