13 April 2012
By Curtis C. Chen
"You check those corners, sailor?" the Chief of the Boat barked. "Those lines are off by half a degree and our visitor doesn't materialize!"
"Re-measuring now, Chief!" I replied, and placed my protractor on the deck again.
I knew COB was exaggerating, but I'd learned early in my naval career not to argue with anyone who outranked me. If it wasn't likely to kill me, I just did it.
After re-checking all the angles on both pentagrams and making sure they lined up, floor to ceiling, I stepped out of the circle and reported my progress.
"Very well," COB grumbled. "Rosebud!"
The Seaman's real name was Roseler, but after that RKO flick, everyone called him "Rosebud" as a tease. He jumped forward, holding his clipboard. I did my best to get out of the way. COB's quarters weren't exactly spacious.
"You got the incantations there?" COB asked Roseler.
"Aye, sir!" Roseler said, his voice cracking. And people said I sounded like a girl.
"Corrected for position, depth, and speed?"
"Aye, sir! I've got the math right here—"
COB waved the clipboard away. "I can't read your damn chicken scratches! Just make sure you're doing it right!"
Roseler looked like he might cry. "M-maybe you'd like to do it yourself, Chief?"
"Do I look like a motherfucking magician?" COB roared into Roseler's face. Their noses couldn't have been more than half an inch apart. "Now incant that fucking spell so we can receive our goddamn visitor!"
"Aye, sir!" Roseler buried his face in the clipboard. I had one hand on my belt, ready to deliver a kidney-punch as soon as I heard a mispronunciation. I didn't want to be on this boat if anything went wrong with a teleport.
"Sometime this year, sailor!" COB shouted.
"Aye, sir!" Roseler stood up straight. "Hagitaa! Moro-ven-schaa! Inlumtaa..."
Both pentagrams pulsed blue and white. Roseler finished the incantation, only going a little flat on the last syllable, and a pillar of light flashed into being between the two circles. A moment later, the light faded, and I saw an officer standing in the pentagram, wearing... a skirt?
"Permission to come aboard, Chief?" the woman said.
She looked about my mother's age, and she wore lieutenant's bars and the most perfect makeup I'd ever seen. But the expression on her face, and the fact that she'd just teleported onto a submerged attack boat in the South Pacific, told me she wasn't here to entertain anyone.
"Permission granted, ma'am!" COB said. "Sorry the Captain couldn't be here to greet you. We're playing hide and seek with some Japs."
As if on cue, the entire boat groaned and rolled to starboard. I was impressed that the lieutenant managed to keep her balance in those heels.
COB shoved Roseler and me back. "If you'll follow me, ma'am?"
The lieutenant looked at the pentagrams. "You're not going to clean this up?"
"These two can handle—"
"You secure those surfaces, Chief," the lieutenant snapped. She looked straight at me. "Seaman Gray can show me to the bridge."
Image: USS Ohio (SSGN 726) in dry dock, January, 2004