Eternal Patrol

It wasn’t until the Second World War that it became obvious, not until the blood of thousands was poured into the sea in the Pacific theater, not until atoms were ripped apart. That was when man first discovered that something else lived on their planet, something older and far more terrifying than the newly discovered weapons they waged war with, something that slept far beneath the waves and was threatening to wake.

Submarines are never declared missing. They were just on eternal patrol. It didn’t matter how long they were out of port, how many decades gone. They were on patrol and that was that. There was one department, though, one group of Naval officers and a radio operator who knew precisely what was going on out in the pacific.

“Sir, we’re being hailed. U-122 is transmitting deep breach coordinates.”
The radio officer turned to look at the officer of the deck and the man nodded, his uniform still as crisp as it was the day they left their port of call in ‘68.
“Set a heading for those coordinates and tell them we’re en-route. Battle stations, boys, it’s show time.”
All around the vessel, men were in motion, busily loading torpedos and monitoring sonar stations. They knew what was out there.
“Should I hail topside, Sir? Let’em know playtime is starting?”
The skipper chuckled quietly.
“Sure, give’em a call. Asahi and Goliath should both be in range if they stuck to their patrol patterns.”
With a quick salute, the radio officer was back to work. Outside, the deep sea was deathly silent and dark as submarines began to gather and head towards the same location.
“U-338, U-122, and K-8 have joined us, Sir. The Commies say they’ll maintain a wide sweep while we clear this junk so we don’t get nailed from behind, Sir.”
Something surged out of the darkness before them, something that bore a passing resemblance to the flailing tentacles of a squid. But no squid had ever been so large, so vicious, or gave off such a feeling of wrongness.
“Air-breathers are in place, Sir. Anything hits the surface and they’ll jump on it.”
Torpedoes were launched from both U-boats with a burst of sound and trailing bubbles behind them.
“Let’s hope nothing makes it past us.”

“How are things looking out there?”
The radio operator stood up straight, saluting as her commanding officer entered her domain. This small Pentagon radio room held equipment from across the decades. It even sported an enigma machine secured to a table in the corner. The whole room was operated by a single officer, a young woman with a no-nonsense expression and her hair tied up in a tight bun.
“The number of deep breaches is rising, Admiral, but they’re keeping up well. The plan to use the wolf packs as scout vessels is more than successful.”
The admiral nodded, drumming his fingers against his uniform hat held in one hand.
“But the number of breaches is rising? That’s worrying.”
The radio officer glanced at the situational map on the wall.
“I’ve been tracking that, Sir, and it looks as though it surges after each nuclear disaster, for a period of about 10 years. We just haven’t had a break.”
“Keep an eye on things then and alert me the moment something changes. And don’t forget the Broadcast is in a week.”
She saluted.
“Yes, Sir. I’ve got it marked on my calendar, Sir.”

“Only friendlies left on sonar, Sir.”
The entire vessel let out a collective sigh of relief. Another breach contained.
“Then we resume patrol, boys. Any casualties in the fleet?”
There was a brief moment of silence as the comms officer listened, then he shook his head.
“U-338 took a bad graze off one of those things, but they’re going to take a near-surface patrol until it patches. No other damage to report.”
“Let them know we’ll cover their normal patrol until they’re good to go again.”
The officer on deck scrubbed at his face and looked at the map, carefully adjusting the patrol patterns to account for the damaged u-boat. There was no way they had enough vessels to cover this whole area. He didn’t have time to think about that, though. It didn’t matter if they had the manpower. He had work to do.
“Shift course 15 degrees starboard.”

The deepest parts of the sea are madness, darkness, and sorrow. They’re twisted places where space bends and time seems to stop. Even now, the depths of the sea are dark, dangerous, unknown. The further into the depths humanity explores, the less humanity understands. Only madness dwells at the bottom of the sea.


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