Elsewhere, roughly a league south of the Epsilon facility, Captain O’Brien of the VS Falcon ascended onto the deck of his ship and noticed a certain grimness sweep over the open ocean. O’Brien was a man of the sea, just like his father and his father’s father. Indeed, his men would often joke of it when they were on leave and sharing drinks at one of Edith Post’s taverns, saying that men of his ilk had more salt in their veins than they had blood. Therefore he loved the sea, but he also feared it, for it was the wind of that very sea that tried as it might to tear away his white captain’s hat, and he had to hold his hand on his head to keep it from flying off.
The VS Falcon was one of the fastest military ships in Pearl Isle, however it had little in the way of durability. It was a remarkably thin vessel for its size, and was designed more or less for the transport of goods that required special protection. That being said, his patrolling crew were always readily armed, and O’Brien one day hoped to see the anti-artillery cannon on the stern of the ship in action. Against a band of pirates the VS Falcon would hold its own, as its captain had proven on several occasions over the years. In the deepest part of the ocean, where storms raged with unrelenting wrath and waves towered above like watery mountains, the Falcon would struggle, however O’Brien had faith in his crew and his vessel. Against a third and much more unthinkable enemy; the ship, the crew, and the captain, were entirely in the hands of God – for all the good that he did them.
The VS Falcon was sailing smoother than ever, in fact, like the falcon that was her namesake she glided with such grace upon the sea that from afar she appeared to almost hover above the waves. This was indeed true until the ship was taken by a sudden jolt, and Captain O’Brien was nearly thrown off his feet. All matters upon deck halted for a moment and the men glanced around in confusion. To the captain something didn’t make sense, so he called his quartermaster. “Mr. Morrison. Have you any knowledge of what has stopped us? Have we run aground?”
The quartermaster, Mr. Morrison, was already running his fingers over the map of that particular region. He raised his head to the captain. “No reef on the map, sir,” he reported. “We ought to be in open seas.”
With this in mind, Captain O’Brien ordered his men to look over port and stern side in search of any ship debris that they could have run into, however no such debris was reported. “How peculiar,” he said, as he stroked the new growth of his beard – which served as a reminder of how many days he had spent at sea. In doing so he gazed into the sea, suspicious that this was merely another one of her mysteries. “No reef. No debris. What the blazers did we run into?”
There came another terrible jolt, ten times as powerful as the first one, and this time the captain was thrown to his knees. What followed were the horrendous screams of metal scraping against metal, but it came from below the water. As the Falcon violently shuddered the captain stumbled to the other side of the deck, thinking that perhaps they were under attack by pirates – however this was all to discrete for a pirate raid. He reached the guardrail and Mr. Temsworth – one of his more esteemed sailors – pointed a finger towards something near the hull. “Look, sir!” he alarmed. “There’s a shadow in the water. My word! It’s tearing a hole in our hull!”
Captain O’Brien pulled away and marched to the quarterdeck. “That’s it. All hands to battle stations! I don’t know what that thing is but I’ll be damned if I let it make a single dent in my ship!” He turned to the gun deck, where the infantrymen were collecting their rifles. “Get the harpoon gun,” he ordered. “Let us see just what this thing is made of.”
Now, the harpoon gun that they possessed aboard the VS Falcon was no feeble regular harpoon gun, as it was designed with one purpose and one purpose alone – putting holes in other people’s ships. The thing was more of the likes of a cannon and required four men to use it – one to set the missile in place, two to turn the spokes and set it to fire, and one man to aim it. When it was brought to the side of the ship Captain O’Brien was still staring into the dark depths of the sea, and a fury had overcome him. He saw his enemy lurking beneath the safety of the waves, and although he knew not what it was – although he suspected it might have been a submarine – he hated it all the same. He pointed at it with his hand, saying, “Aim for that shadow and fire when ready.”
The gun sang as it was fired and the harpoon whistled as it soared and then slashed heavily into the water. A third, much more ferocious jolt shook the VS Falcon, and the captain was certain that by now the lower decks were taking in water, but something else much more disturbing gripped his attention. After being hit by the missile, the thing in the water turned flanks and fled with a speed unlike anything the captain had ever before witnessed. What’s more, a dark and red mist rose to the surface of the water, and the captain realised that whatever they just shot with that harpoon had bled. Mr. Temsworth observed all this with astonishment. “I have never seen a sub move in such a manner, sir. And I sure as hell have never seen one bleed before. Captain, if I may ask, what on earth are we dealing with here?”
Captain O’Brien observed as the blood trailed off through the water towards the mainland. “Nothing good,” he replied. “Mr. Morrison, set a course north-east and follow that unholy blood trail. I want to know what this thing is.”
They followed the feint cloud of blood for a time, but eventually it disappeared, and with the mainland close to the north their unforeseen enemy disappeared within the depths. A wind of silence brushed over the Falcon, and no one spoke as all eyes were glued to the sea. The shadow was gone. “Do you see it?” cried one of the men, and he was answered by various shouts of “Nay!”
Captain O’Brien scratched at his beard. “Curse that infernal thing. Okay, Mr. Morrison, send a transmission to Edith Post and report this encounter; and have a team of engineers inspect the damage to the hull…” There can a fourth jolt, as dreadful and terrible as the last three, and only then did the monster reveal itself.
It came in a grotesque mass of tentacles exploding from the depths of the sea. The giant arms, speckled with suckers the size of a man’s face, and metal barbs that could run a man through like a piece of meat, enveloped themselves around the VS Falcon. Seawater rained from the sky in a storm of screams of wails, and amidst the foamy white water below the captain gaped at the colossal giant’s sinister eye as it beared down upon them. Within the chaos, sunlight glistened from an obscene metal contraption that clung to one side of the creature’s body, encircling the massive eye.
In a state of half dumbfoundment, Captain O’Brien made a sign of God– even though he was a man of subtle faith – for this creature before him surly abided in the very depths of hell. Trembling, he had no choice but to order his men to attack. The creature bled, which meant that it could die, however a darkness had overcome the men, and O’Brien felt that his death was close at hand. Still, he determined to slay the monster.
Clouds erupted from bursts of rifle fire upon the deck, and the colossal flinched and shrieked and drew back as it was riddled with bullets, but then one of its tentacles swept over and knocked one of the men from the deck, and he fell screaming into the water. Another slid over the side of the ship like a giant snake, and when two men unloaded their rifles into it the snake shot up and hurled one man into the bridge. Meanwhile, Mr. Temsworth guided the harpoon gun into position. The men loaded the missile, turned the spokes, aimed and fired, and the giant spear soared through the air and collided with the colossal monster’s armour. It howled in anguish and hurled its tentacles in every direction, essentially smashing the VS Falcon to splinters. Soon enough the bridge gave way and collapsed into the lower decks, sending wood and metal flying, and dozens of men were diving overboard. Indeed, Captain O’Brien watched in despair as Mr. Morrison hurled himself from the deck, and he had half a mind to join him, seeing the state of the ship and their chances of surviving this at all. But he was a military man and a prestigious one, and although he could have never anticipated that such an enemy even existed, he planted his feet, picked up a rifle, and fired.
The next thing he knew he was no longer on the deck of the ship, and the ocean was quickly rising up towards him.ns220.127.116.11da2