USS Pasadena- Celebes Sea, North West of Aust TF
The Pasadena’s TACEYE DRONE’s radar activating and her own powerful surface and air search radar suddenly radiating was like a nuclear explosion on a dark night, any vessels with military warning gear for over 200 miles now knew of the submarines presence and the airborne radar. The reaction of those now in the know, varied according to whose side they were on and to a certain extent what their mission was at present. For the two Chinese Military formation one of aircraft from the PLAAF now closing on the Australian vessel who was conducting its Freedom of Navigation Exercise and the surface attack group of fast attack craft, the game had changed. Their presence was known and time was working against them.
As soon as the radars from both the drone and the Pasadena’s own unit got radar returned and the signals were received back and processed, the action taking seconds, heads shot up and persons started moving in the CIC. The low flying Backfire bombers were easy for the Pasadena’s air search radar and the drones multimode radar to detect, the surface flotilla was till yet to far away for any of the surface or airborne sensors to detect. Rapidly the composition of the low level attack aircraft was compiled, speed, heading and probable load out were all bundled into a short link 16 transmission to the Australian surface ships, within minutes they had received back a terse response, thanking them and requesting that the data feed be maintained as long as possible.
The XO grabbed the message form from the communications specialist and handed it to the captain and spoke. “ well it didn’t take the Australian long to respond” he said with a smile, the XO knew full well just how anxious the Aussies would be but also what was coming their way.
“ I’ll agree with That Xo” the Captain said,” Lets drop back our speed to 6 knots and secure all communications and radar’s except the two drones, what’s the battery life on the ROTS unit looking like at the moment” he enquired. The ROTS units were not large and although they had state of the art dry cell composite lithium light/zinc plated batteries, the hover duration was still not long enough for most commanders. All the operators knew that the Mk 3 units were due to commence operational trial and for daytime operations with their own built in PV cells their hover time was measure in hours. The current mark 2 hovering a2 miles east of the Pasadena still had 20 minutes of battery life, its maximum hover duration was 90 minutes, three times greater than anything commercially available at present.
Whilst the activity ramped up in the Pasadena’s CIC, the drones overhead continued to feed data both to the Pasadena and the Australian warships, HMAS Perth and Melbourne. Seeing that all was as it should be and the Pasadena was operating at its normal 100% efficiency, the Captain wandered over to the plot table and expanded out the current tactical map.
The XO was watching the CIC and at the same time keeping a small tab on the submarines Commander, noticed his plot table map change. Deciding that his Captain was deep in thought about an aspect of the operation the XO wandered over as well, stoping and waiting for his commander to acknowledge his presence, the XO didn’t have to wait long. Looking up the Captain spoke.
“Those PLAN attack boats certainly need support and I do not believe for one minute they are this far from home without it,” he said, his voice matter of fact. Pointing his index finger to the northern side of the island of Pulau Singhe . This island was north of Sulawesi some 150 miles in a small chain that bordered the eastern edge of the Celebes sea. Sitting atop a volcanic ridge the island were rich thick jungle paradises, but with little in the way of commercial ventures, Pulau being the largest in the small chain stretching up 300 miles to the Island on Mindanao of the Philippines.
Tracing a line towards the island the Captain outlined his new plan.
“XO, I plan on drafting a new op change message to PACFLT once we have the details worked out. I want you to plot me a course that will take us slightly north of Pulau some 50 miles, before turning to port somewhere north as we cross the ridge. One we drop over the sea ridge into deep water again our tail should be working once more and we should, I’m hoping be able to detect in the second or third convergence zone any surface vessels the PLAN have stationed on that side of the island”.
The XO nodded his understanding, clearly already plotting his movements as his eyes flitted back and forth across the map. Seeing that the XO was up to speed and clearly understood the Captains intentions he pushed on.
“ Once we make our turn to port and the tail comes on line, we should be on a heading of 136, south easterly, the sea states pretty good, just slight swells , not that at 800 feet we will know. I’m hoping we find a good sound channel down deep, with no bad weather lately the sonar conditions should be optimal. I want our run for the ridge to be at 20 knots sprint drift, work up a schedule and just in case we happen upon any PLAN subs out here” his finger tracing the section of the map approaching the ridge,”, and that’s a possibility so let’s have Mk 50 ADCAPS in the 2, 4, 5 and 6, I want two, block 7 Harpoons on line as well”
The Captain stood upright, stretching slightly to work some kinks out or whatever it was, as he groaned loudly in the process, eliciting a few smiles from those in earshot, he slapped his hand back down on the plot table.
“ Well XO, what have we missed…I should say, have I missed so far and you have not yet pulled me up on” the Captain asked, the humour level present in his voice clearly understandable buy the XO.
The XO had his face screwed up in puzzlement meets deep thinking expression, as he relaxed his features he spoke,
“Sir, the only thing I would suggest is that we have a think about asset coordination if we have to strike that PLAN RAS group. It might be worthwhile to have PACFLT see what assets are on Guam, we might be able to stage a coordinated strike against the RAS if required and we do not as yet know what we are up against. As for the approach, it looks solid, we can angle east a bit more out into deeper water if the sonar conditions are not good enough and that also lets us approach from depth, but picking out any PLAN SSN or SSK in the shallows will be bitch, the background noise from the reefs and island in close will mask them” he said.
The Captain looked at the XO, “ Good call X, maybe if we have to go in we could have any air assets from Guam beat the bushes, any surface attack if required on anchored units, will flush them out to sea and at the same time any subs will have to surge forward too……that’s a perfect opportunity, Ill draft a message to PACFLT requesting support and what we think”. The Captain Satisfied spun and headed out of CIC “ XO has the Con” he called before disappearing through the black curtain into the communications department.
( Celebes Sea disposition diagram)
Woomera Rock Range: 200 kilometres North of Adelaide South Australia
US / Australian Joint Quantum computing research facility.
“ Hot, fucking hot, stinking hot, boiling hot and hot enough that camels, Arabs and the unwashed fucking ferals don’t want to be here and don’t give a fuck what we do do here……………………. And! …. and and I might also bloody add too far and TOP FUCKING SECRET! To have a regular air service in or out. Christ!, what made me take this bloody job Bob…remind me please”. With his outburst over, sitting in his sweat stained white coat, Dr Simon Bedak slumped back into the deck chair nestled in the lee of the portable hut. It was currently 42 degree C in shade he was sitting in and the sun had not yet reached its apogee, the flat dry oven heat hinting at worse yet still to come.
Sitting opposite him in stony silence was his American counterpart Dr Jenny Medway Phd. Jenny could clearly see that Simon was struggling with the heat,
“hell” she thought, “we all do, so stop fucking whingeing like a pom and cowboy the fuck up” but she would never tell her boss that to his face, instead Jenny opted for her more usual conciliatory tone and actions. Standing up in her canvas shorts and work wear like top, not a lot unlike what that former Australian crock hunter Steven Irwin used to wear, Jen strode over to the Professor, stopping a pace short of him she leaned forward, her top button of the shirt was already undone and gravity simply did the rest.
“presto” she thought, it took a half a second for the Professor to look up and less than half that again for him to register that he was looking at her tits and his dick side of his brain to engage thus completely forgetting about what had caused the funk, Jen guessed. Or tried not to, what the next two or three second thoughts were as she straightened up , spinning she strode back towards the main building, its camouflaged wall blending completely with the rather barren landscape about the range.
Stopping at the security door, Jen looked back towards the professor,
“ Come on professor, I want to run back through our Q bits data log and verify the last test run, if those numbers are right, when we scale up next month over in the lab, we might just be fucking famous” the last statement landed, Jen could see, the professor like most men in his field was proud, and they had been working on the Quantum Computer system out here in the purpose build facility with DARPA specialists and themselves for over 6 months now.
Selected Professors from the University of New South Wales, MIT and selected other universities around the country had lent their best and brightest in the field of Quantum mechanics and computing, Australian was leading the field and the United States new it. As soon as it had become evident the Australian Defence Force in cohort with selected academic affiliates were close to a breakthrough the United States had decided that they needed to be part of the program, it came as a significant shock to the representatives of DARPA, MIT and the US government, that the Australian’s were at least 5 years ahead in quantum research and on the cusp of a significant breakthrough, the Military and civil benefits of which were almost unimaginable.
The professor wave a hand,
“yes I know, I know, but the sooner the ports complex and the pool are back in service the sooner this Professor will be significantly happier, it’s bad enough being out here with little break time and under constant observation, one might think the big bad Russians or Chinese are about to steal away our secrete….some 300 fucking miles from the coat line of northern Australia, what a crock of shit that is” he exploded, kicking the sand gain and storming towards the door where Jenny was standing patiently.
As the professors approached she unlatched the fly wire screen covered in black files which didn’t seem to mind the outback heat one iota.
Catching the door as he strode up beside jenny, she watched as his eyes stole a small sideways glance at her chest, ‘ Jesus “ she thought, and then it hit her. The prof must have been thinking about her, stealing the odd glance and she had not noticed. ‘M’wake up girl he’s a male, you should know better” she thought, chastising herself for the naivety.
Opening the door, the professor turned towards Jenny, “My apologies my dear, I o not like to complain but it can be trying” he said, Jenny noticed that his gaze again shifted, but not to her chest, he was now looking puzzled and over her shoulder.
Jenny turned around, putting her hand up in a salute like manner to shade her eyes from the harsh glare of the sun she ‘squinted’ like most Australian seemed to do out and then was taken aback.
“Professor” she said, “is that some aircraft approaching out there that I can see” as she pointed to the group of specs now far of in the distance. The Professor continued to scan the horizon, Jenny noticed that he seemed a little tense, but could not figure out why, still squinting, jenny thought she could make out another group of dots. “Professor” she called, before a small white trail left the second group of dots and blossomed on the first group. Just as she watched the funny white trail and cloud appear, the research facilities Sirens went off and Jenny watched as the bulky off cabins placed around the Facility suddenly dropped their side like somebody had pulled out the pins holding them up, as the sides dropped away, the remaining roof section neatly folded upwards and then back on itself creating a small awning, protecting the gear underneath. It took a couple of second, but as the first visible unit not 200 meters away started rotating Jenny suddenly realised what they were.
“ Oh Fuck me, Professor” she screamed, the professor coming back out of the Air conditioned door to look across at what Jenny was looking, clearly annoyed the sirens, his look changed from disapproval to concern instantly…”SAM’s” he called, realising that the specs on the horizon were getting larger and the white lines were missile smoke trails, he grabbed Jenny by the Arm, “inside now, we need to get to the secure area an get our data” he cried. As he shoved Jenny passed and relocked the secure door, he could hear ground vehicle engines above the warning Siren and men yelling, soldiers he thought…yes, our soldiers.