The Lost Report of Mystic
What's this? MLS is writing something that isn't a Robert Langdon story?! This caught me by surprise as well, but I think it turned out all right.
Think of this fic as a supplemental to the Hunt for Red October movie. That's the mindset I went with as I was writing this. There'll be more notes at the bottom; for now, let's get this story underway!
'This has been one surreal day,' DSRV Mystic Captian Bill Steiner thought to himself, as he watched the dark-haired man from the CIA (Ryan? He vaguely recalled Bart Mancuso addressing him as such) follow the Dallas' captain and Sonar Technician Jones into the Russian missile boat. With nothing else for him to do until Mancuso and his entourage returned from whatever the hell it was they were doing here, Steiner took the time to reflect on just how he ended up here in the first place.
Not even 48 hours ago, he had been relaxing in Maryland, having successfully overseen the completion of his baby's refitted docking collar, when all of a sudden he, former sub operator Skip Tyler, and DSRV pilot George Billy were conscripted to take part in a clandestine mission in the middle of the North Atlantic. While Skip almost certainly knew more about the operation than he was letting on, George and himself were kept mainly in the dark about the true reasons the three of them, plus the Mystic, were suddenly flown out to the Reuben James without being given any prior warning or briefing. In fact, Steiner was positive that, had the more experienced Skip not lost his leg, he almost certainly would be aboard the rescue sub along with the other two men; he certainly seemed eager about seeing something upon their arrival.
Shortly after their arrival to the warship via military helicopter, George and himself had been ordered to board the Mystic, which was then lowered into the frigid Atlantic waters by a series of winches. From there, the duo piloted the miniature submarine over to the awaiting Los Angeles class submarine Dallas, docked with her, and boarded the much larger sub to await further instruction.
About 18 hours later, he, George, Mancuso, Jones, and Ryan had boarded the Mystic, and George had skillfully piloted it over to an absolutely monstrous Russian Typhoon-class submarine that was sitting stationary several dozen meters below the Atlantic waves. He was confused as to why they were even bothering with going there in the first place; they had that sub dead to rights, yet they chose to detonate the torpedo they had sent at it themselves rather than allow it to strike the Typhoon? It just didn't add up.
The DSRV had located an access hatch, docked, and when the larger submarine's hatch had opened, they were greeted by a waft of warm air that carried a strong aroma of tobacco, along with a few other scents he couldn't even begin to place. Heeding the beckoning of the blond Russian officer, Mancuso had been the first one to enter the submarine, followed by Jones, with Ryan bringing up the rear. He and George were tasked with remaining on the DSRV; evidently, what was going on down there wasn't for their eyes or ears.
Steiner was drawn from his thoughts by the loud whining sound of a propeller whizzing past them. It was moving too fast for it to be another submarine, and he had the distinct impression that the object that had just passed them was considerably smaller than even the already diminutive rescue sub. There was only one logical conclusion to be reached.
Instinctually, Steiner turned to look over at George, who had gone deathly pale; given the volume of the torpedo's propeller as it had passed, it had probably missed them by no more than a couple of meters.
"George, was that really what I think it was?"
George didn't get any time to respond. Almost immediately, Steiner could hear the sound of running footsteps, and glancing down the Mystic's hatch, found himself staring into the frantic face of Mancuso.
"Hey, I think someone just shot a torpedo at us!" Steiner said to his fellow captain in mild bemusement.
Mancuso gave him a steely glare as he climbed up the first rungs of the access ladder in the Russian sub.
"No shit, Buckwheat! Get the hell out of here!"
With that, Mancuso reached up, grasping ahold of the handle for the Russian sub's access hatch. Finally registering exactly what that action must mean, Steiner immediately began to protest.
"Wait! Where am I supp-"
The hatch slammed in his face with a tone of finality.
"-osed to go...?" Steiner trailed off, realizing that it was a moot point now. He turned to George, who had gone even paler at the seriousness of Mancuso's actions. He looked about as dumbfounded as Steiner felt, and yet he was the first to break the silence between the two men.
"What do we do now, sir?"
Snapping out of his stupor, Steiner immediately began springing into action. Reaching down, he grasped the handle of Mystic's hatch and pulled it up. Spinning the locking mechanism as quickly as he could so that the hatch would remain secure, he turned back to George.
"You heard the man! Flood the skirt!"
A second or two later, the sound of water could be heard beneath them, as the tunnel that connected the two subs rapidly filled with seawater. With the tunnel, referred to as a skirt due to the fact that it hung beneath the small sub not unlike its namesake, was finished its flooding cycle, Steiner wasted no time. Even as far down as the DSRV was, they could still hear a siren coming from the Reuben James, as well as hearing a low-altitude helicopter buzzing overhead.
"Lift off, George!"
George flipped a few switches, and with a mild bump, the DSRV detached itself from the missile sub, and began slowly drifting up and away from it. His order having been carried out, Steiner once more addressed his pilot.
"Gimme the news, George."
George peered over at the various monitors in his wheelhouse. While not nearly as sophisticated a setup as a larger submarine would have, Mystic nevertheless had the requisite sonar system that all underwater vehicles needed in order to be of any use. In particular, as a rescue vehicle, she needed to be able to navigate potentially hazardous wreckages, and therefore, while the sonar within the immediate vicinity of the sub gave back results accurate to within the inch, the most the DSRV could pick up at a distance was the general locations and directionality of objects in the water.
"Well, Bill, it looks like there's a new Russian boat about 3 miles to the northwest. That's the one that shot at us; it sounds to me like it might be an Alfa-class attack sub. The Dallas has accelerated and is making a starboard turn, probably to get into a better position, and I can hear the boat below us revving up to begin making maneuvers."
George looked up from his screens to peer over at his captain.
"Now what, sir?"
It only took Steiner a moment to assess the situation they were facing and come up with a suitable plan of action.
"Well Georgie, here's what we're going to do: all these subs look like they're about to start duking it out any second now, which means that it'll be impossible for the Mystic to have the time to dock with any of them, friendly or otherwise. Also, if that torpedo just now means anything, this new boat isn't friendly, and means business. So what we are going to do is shut everything off besides the life support and the passive sonar, and just drift quietly until things settle down; the last thing either of us need is a rogue torpedo locking on to our DSRV if we start moving around."
"So what, we're just going to sit here and do nothing?!" George exclaimed.
Steiner gave his pilot a stern look.
"At this moment, that's the best thing we can do. Mystic is a rescue vehicle; she was never meant to be in a combat situation. We simply don't have the means to survive any sort of hostile encounters, and any overt actions we take will inevitably reveal ourselves to this new Russian's sonar. Our best bet of surviving this is to remain as still and as quiet as possible, and wait until everything quiets back down. Shut down everything but the life support and the passive sonar arrays."
George looked uneasy at the prospect at essentially becoming a sitting duck in the middle of a three-way submarine battle, but complied nevertheless.
"Shutting down nonessential systems, aye sir."
George reached over and flicked a few more switches. Immediately, silence descended within the sub as the DSRV's single propeller slowed to a stop, and not a moment too soon, as the sonar blipped quietly.
"Looks like the Alfa's firing at the missile boat again, sir."
Beneath them, they could hear the missile sub's dual propellers whining as it began to accelerate from its idling position. A quick glance at the sonar showed that it was making a starboard turn, having previously been facing due south, and seemed to be acquiring a course of-
'No... That can't be right...' Steiner thought to himself.
"George, can you give me an exact bearing for that torpedo?"
George leaned over and checked his gear. At the moment, there were three large shapes around the outer edges of the screen, all of which were moving, and one small object which seemed to be heading towards one of the larger shapes.
"It seems to be coming from heading 3-1-5. Due northwest, heading towards the southeast."
"And the sub we just detached from? What's its course now?"
George paused, staring incredulously at his monitor. Swallowing thickly, he turned back to Steiner.
"They're heading directly into that torpedo, Bill; the Typhoon is now on course 3-1-5."
For a moment, neither man spoke. Neither man so much as breathed. What could they do? From the Mystic's on-board speaker, they could hear the increasing frequency of pings as the distance between torpedo and submarine rapidly closed. Steiner bowed his head and simply waited for the inevitable sound of a detonation.
Yet none ever came. After about a minute, the pinging abruptly stopped, and the sound of small objects clanging and clattering against metal could be heard. George looked over at Steiner, his eyes wide.
"Sir! The torpedo, it-it didn't explode! Do you think it might've been a dud?"
Steiner gave a distracted shrug, his mind racing. Dud or not, he knew with absolute certainty that the captain of the Alfa was already preparing to launch another strike. One doesn't launch a torpedo on a whim, and someone determined to kill their own countrymen certainly isn't about to let their quarry slip away on account of a single faulty torpedo.
And yet, the next sound they heard didn't emanate from the Alfa, but rather from the Typhoon.
The sound was faint, distorted by both distance and water, but Steiner had recognized it at once for what it was.
Steiner and George shared a stunned look. They both knew that a submarine was perhaps one of the worst places in which to discharge a weapon. A single stray bullet in the wrong piece of equipment could be catastrophic for everybody on board. Damage to the ballast controls for instance, would keep a sub from changing its depth, effectively leaving both officers and crew stranded at whatever depth they were at until a rescue operation could be carried out.
'Well, whatever the hell just happened,' Steiner thought 'it doesn't seem to have damaged the boat, at least. Thank God for small favors.'
Indeed, the Typhoon was now beginning to make a large, sweeping turn, skirting around the path the torpedo had just taken in order to get behind the Alfa.
Steiner looked over at George. A second round of gunfire? Just what the hell was going on in that sub?
He didn't have long to speculate, because soon after, another three shots could be heard by the sonar.
Pop! Pop! Pop!
It was at this point that George, who had been listening to the sonar in an almost trance-like state, found his voice again.
"Bill! The Alfa's on the move!"
Indeed, shortly after the larger missile submarine had reached its current position behind the smaller Alfa, it had begun accelerating, making a sharp turn to the right, while simultaneously going into a dive.
'It's trying to shake them off,' Steiner realized. Being the larger submarine, the Typhoon would be slow to follow; it took a lot of time for something with all that mass to reach any sort of useful maneuvering speed, and by the time they did, it would be too late.
For the fourth time, the sound of gunfire echoed in the cramped space of the DSRV. This time, however, the gunfire was accompanied by the sound of clanging pipes, the hissing of steam, and Steiner would later swear that he had heard a faint scream in the milliseconds between the shots.
"George, where's that Alfa now?!"
"Sir, it just got behind the Typhoon-"
A loud whooshing sound could be heard; a third torpedo had been launched by the attack sub, and given the pinging that had immediately followed it, the weapon had armed itself as soon as it entered the open water.
George removed his headset, and flicked a switch so that the audio now broadcast exclusively through the speaker system; listening to an explosion via a headset was just asking for the listener's hearing to be damaged, if not outright rupturing one's eardrums, and for anyone interested in pursuing a position as a sonar technician, those injuries were often career-ending. Steiner clenched his fists, and tried to brace himself for the inevitable.
And then, to the complete surprise of both men, the torpedo's noise abruptly changed. What had been a steadily increasing rate of ping and echo, suddenly jumped. As if something had obstructed the initial sonar pulses.
Steiner turned to George, who was looking almost thunderstruck at his monitors.
"George?" Steiner asked curiously.
The DSRV pilot turned to his captain, a massive grin blooming across his face.
"Bill, you aren't going to believe this! The Dallas just intercepted that torpedo! They're getting that torpedo to follow them!"
The sound of rushing air reverberated from the speakers; the sound of the Dallas' ballast tanks rapidly being filled with air. Almost immediately, the American ship began a steep ascent to the surface. Not long after the sub began rising, the sound of hissing issued forth from the speaker; thousands of tiny bubbles, which could only be that of a countermeasure device.
A submarine such as the Dallas came equipped with such devices in the event of needing to evade detection by enemy sonar. It worked by releasing a device which contained a compressed air cylinder. As the gas within was released in the form of tiny bubbles, the noise of which interfered with a torpedo's sonar, making it think that the wall of bubbles was a large object; essentially making the torpedo think the countermeasure was the submarine. Such countermeasures however, only worked for as long as the torpedo was approaching or within the cloud of bubbles; once it passed through it, the torpedo would wander aimlessly until it could find another target to track.
High above them, Steiner and George heard the Dallas breach the surface of the ocean, and return to it with an thunderous crash. The two men exchanged relieved looks; from the sounds of things, the Dallas had managed to lose their tail.
'Good thing, too,' Steiner thought. 'Dallas is our only ride out of here.'
Their relief didn't last long, however. The Alfa's torpedo had cleared the bubble screen and was resuming its search for targets. Fortunately for the rescue sub, they were perpendicular to the torpedo's current track, and with the Mystic running as quietly as possible while still allowing for observation, the torpedo ended up sailing right past them without detecting them.
Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!
This time, both Steiner and George paled. Five more gunshots had just echoed across the Atlantic waters. Drawn to the noise, the torpedo began to turn towards it, and soon had a firm lock on the Typhoon sub. Fortunately, the missile submarine had enough distance between it and the torpedo to allow it to perform some maneuvers without getting instantly blown out of the water.
For a brief instant, it looked to Steiner as if the sub was making another starboard turn, but in actuality, was simply making a wide turn to port. Not an unheard of tactic, but what worried the DSRV's captain the most was that the Typhoon was now on a direct collision course with the Alfa, with the torpedo trailing it rapidly closing the distance. At the moment, the two submarines were about 1000 yards apart, but that distance was speedily closing with every passing second.
By the time the subs reached within 300 yards of each other, the sonar only showed one great blob; being in such close proximity to each other in relation to the DSRV's position, both subs registered to the Mystic's outlier sonar as the same indistinguishable shape. The absence of the sounds of a collision however, told Steiner that the subs must have been passing each other, probably with only mere meters of open water between the two ships.
It was at this instant that the torpedo that had been chasing the Typhoon finally arrived at this meeting point between Russian submarines, and this time, it succeeded in finding a target.
With a deafening boom, the sound of one of the submarines exploding rocked the icy Atlantic waters. Even without sonar, the dull thudding sound of the explosion passed through the DSRV with enough energy to nearly throw George from his seat.
Steiner quickly looked over at the sonar readout, but quickly ascertained that it was a futile effort.
Not unlike the countermeasure that Dallas had dropped earlier, a side effect of any underwater explosion was the creation of an enormous volume of bubbles. These bubbles, in conjunction with the sound of the actual explosion, made Mystic's sonar in that particular direction useless; all that it would be able to detect would essentially amount to a misshapen blob on the screen. There would be no way to tell which submarine the torpedo hit for quite some time.
Several long moments of silence passed. Aside from the noises of the Reuben James' and Dallas' engines, the waters around them were virtually silent; there was no noise whatsoever coming from the direction of the explosion to indicate that there was another sub in the area.
Finally, it became all too much for Steiner. Flicking a switch, he tuned his radio to a specific frequency and decided to risk breaking silence.
"Reuben James, this is the Mystic. Mind explaining to us what the hell is going on here?"
There was a brief pause, before a deep voice Steiner had never heard before replied.
"Mystic, this is Vice Admiral James Greer, Deputy Director for the CIA. You'll be debriefed upon your arrival here, but for now, consider this situation classified by executive order of the President of the United States. All that you need to know if questioned is that a Russian submarine was lost in these waters on this day due to a catastrophic reactor failure. Dallas will be by to rendezvous with you shortly. I must stress that you are not to discuss the events you witnessed today with anyone without express approval from either myself, my organization, or from select individuals you will learn in your debriefing. Do I make myself clear?"
Steiner and George shared a startled look. Another CIA agent? And what reactor failure? That was clearly a torpedo that did one of those submarines in! And what about the second Russian sub? What about Mancuso, Ryan, and the rest?! What the hell happened to them?!
Realizing he wasn't going to get any answers about this anytime soon, Steiner pressed a button on the transmitter of his radio's microphone.
"Uh, aye, sir. We'll be seeing you shortly for our formal debriefing."
The radio fell silent.
As the sound of the Dallas approaching the DSRV got louder and louder, Steiner turned one last time to George. He gave his pilot a tired grin.
"It's not like anybody would believe us anyway, right George? Hell, we were there, and I still don't believe it!"
And there we have it! Just a few quick notes before I wrap this all up:
Steiner and George are NOT OC's! You actually see Bill in the dockyards scene, and learn his last name by reading his jacket when he's in the DSRV. George doesn't officially have a name in the film, so I used the name of the actor who played him.
This story takes place in the movie version of Hunt for Red October. I am fully aware that the book is vastly different than the film, especially for the ending scenes. It is actually one of my favorite films, and is definitely my favorite Sean Connery film.
I tried to keep everything that happens in this story as accurate to the film as possible; the number of gunshots at each instance were as accurate as I was able to count by watching the film. In addition, if you watch the movie, you'll find that all the events that occur in this story mesh perfectly with the events of the film, only told from the DSRV crew's perspective.
If you were wondering why Steiner and George don't know the names of the Russian subs, keep in mind that this was a secret operation; information was on a strict need-to-know basis, and the two men were essentially chauffeurs for the main characters in the film. They don't know the name of the Red October because they don't need to know.
I think that covers everything. Be sure to drop me a review if you liked it, and favorite/follow if you really liked it!
-Mad Library Scientist