Authors: Mack Maloney
The Sea of Japan
been at sea for almost four days.
It was a small fishing barge, thirty-four feet long, with a very shallow draft, a cranky diesel engine, and a crew of five. Four scientists were also on board. Two were marine geologists, the other two, triatomic physicists. They were all from the University of Seoul.
They had been plying the waters around 35 degrees latitude and 140 degrees longitude for nearly one hundred hours, through rough seas and very heavy downpours. This typhoonlike weather had been the norm in this area for the past week.
But now it was close to dawn and the weather was settling down. The skies were clearing, the rain had stopped, and the wind was dying to a breeze.
For the first time in a long time, the sea was peaceful.
The senior scientist on board was Dr. Chin Lo Ho, a triatomic physicist with nearly thirty years of experience studying quantum fusion. He’d been at his daughter’s wedding when the Great Blast occurred. He would never forget the feeling of the earth moving beneath his feet and seeing all his wedding guests stagger in unison as they danced the bride’s tribute. The whole reception building shook—the
city of Seoul shook—for more than two hours.
When Ho called his colleagues in the seismic department at the university on the last working phone in Seoul, he learned two were unconscious and two were busy trying to fix their earthquake-monitoring station. The two-hour rumble had been the largest earth disturbance ever recorded, by a factor of
But Ho knew even then that this titanic disturbance had not been an earthquake. Not a natural one anyway. And though it might have seemed perverse, the first thing he wanted to do once the ground stopped shaking was hurry to the east coast of Korea and see what the oceans were doing.
He was finally able to secure transport to the city of Kangnung two hours later, arriving on the coast just before dawn. He and two students set up a small control station on a ridge that rose about seven hundred feet above the sea. At the time Ho believed what he was doing amounted to little more than an experiment in suicide. He was convinced that if his estimates were right, he and his students would be washed away by a tsunami he was sure was going to come sometime later that day.
But it never did.
That was six days ago.
Now, standing on the bow of the fishing barge looking out at the ever-calming sea, Ho’s brain was stuffed with more questions than before. The whole of Northeast Asia was still in chaos because of the Great Blast. Communications were out everywhere, power grids thrown off-line, water main breaks, thousands of scattered fires. But amazingly, no tidal waves, and very little earthquake-related damages. That’s why Ho knew that whatever event shook the Earth six days before, it had not been “natural.”
The biggest question in Ho’s mind was: Had it been “supernatural?”
Ho studied the water before him now, and then turned back to the captain of the skiff.
“Are you certain your coordinates are correct?” he asked Tuk-Pak, the grizzled old skipper.
“They are the coordinates you gave me, Professor,” Pak replied. “Because I’ve never had the opportunity to
sail in waters at these particular coordinates, I cannot tell you if we are at the right place or not. I can only tell you that we sailed to where you told us. Nothing more….”
Ho looked in all directions—all he saw was water.
He checked his map again. Did he have the coordinates right? One hundred forty degrees longitude, 35 degrees latitude. Yes, they were correct.
Then there was only one explanation….
He turned to the skipper and said crisply: “Bring us to a stop.”
Pak motioned to his second in command to kill the barge’s engine. Soon the vessel slowed to a stop.
To the amazement of all on board, Professor Ho then did a very strange thing: He stepped over the railing, and lowered himself down the side of the vessel into the water below.
The crew rushed to throw him a life preserver—but none was needed. Ho simply stepped from the skiff’s bottom rail into the water—and stood up.
Those aboard the barge stared in amazement. For a moment it seemed like Ho was walking on top of the water!
But then the reality of the situation began to sink in—and this was even more startling.
They had entered a part of the sea that, though vast, was at best, just a couple of feet deep.
Ho looked up at them and spread his arms wide.
“My friends,” he said.
is where the city of Tokyo used to be ….”
Off the coast of South America
HE HUGE B-201 “SUPERSEA”
Navy bomber was approximately 250 miles off the coast of Peru when it finally detected the withdrawing Japanese fleet.
The aircraft had taken off from Panama two days before. An enormous aircraft with a crew of forty-two and a dozen double-reaction engines, which allowed it to stay airborne for weeks at a time, it had been flying recon up and down the west coast of South America since arriving in the area.
Its mission was to locate what remained of the once mighty Japanese fleet. At exactly 1234 hours on this day, it had done just that.
The war with Japan had lasted not quite nine months.
It had begun with a massive Japanese bombing raid on the American naval shipyard at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1998. Soon after that, Japanese forces attacked and occupied the Panama Canal. A few days later, huge troop-carrying submarines began landing Japanese forces, first in Peru and then throughout South America.
This initial invasion was not opposed by the Peruvians. To the contrary, they celebrated the Japanese occupation—at first anyway. The Japanese Imperial troops rapidly took over every country on the South American continent except Brazil. With its new territory consolidated, the Japanese occupation quickly turned brutal as the conquerors forced the native citizens to become slaves and servants, while new colonists from Nippon exploited South America’s untapped resources, mostly cattle and oil.
It took awhile for the United States to gear up for war with Japan. America had just won a fifty-year struggle against Germany, and the country’s resources and its citizenry were exhausted. But after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and Panama, there was never any question as to the United States’ reaction. It was just a little bit long in coming.
The element for winning this war, and making it last just a few months instead of fifty-plus years, turned out to be a weapon that had fallen into the hands of America’s staunchest ally, the United Kingdom, through very serendipitous means. A joint team of American and British scientists working in an ultrasecret laboratory inside a hill on the isolated West Falkland Island created a “saturated warhead” nuclear bomb whose power potential was so intense, even they didn’t know just how much destruction it would cause.
Coordinating several feints as attacks on Japanese forces in Panama and in South America—including a land invasion from Brazil—the U.S. sent a lone airplane carrying the “superbomb” on an odd transpolar mission. Its goal was to drop the superbomb at precisely the right moment on the city of Tokyo.
Flying under complete radio silence, this bombing mission was accomplished. And Honshu, the main island of Japan, was utterly devastated, and literally sunk, as a result.
What happened during that bombing run and the fate of the crew were not known.
In fact, many people in the U.S. were still unaware of the superbombing, thinking instead that the Japanese simply gave up after the lightning-quick invasions of Panama and occupied South America.
However, the reality of the situation was different—and still top secret, as were the names of the crew that had piloted the enormous B-2000 superbomber that had dropped the incredible weapon.
The most secret element of all was the identity of the superbomber’s flight commander.
Only a handful of people in the U.S. military knew that his name was Hawk Hunter.
Now flying over the recently spotted Japanese fleet, a man known only as “Y” had his nose pressed up against one of the many observation bubbles located along the fuselage of the huge B-201 Navy bomber.
Y was an agent for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). What he saw below was a fleet of thirty-six ships. Most of them were mammoth troop-carrying submarines, with a few equally large aircraft-carrying submarines mixed in. They were all riding on the surface; apparently none of them had enough power or ambition to submerge.
They were a ragged group. Once mighty and fierce, most of these vessels now looked rusty and in an advanced state of disrepair. Each was flying an enormous white flag just above its bridge. Many had coffins lined up on their decks.
Looking down at them, Y could not help but feel a pang of sadness in his chest, albeit just a small one. This was a navy in retreat, a disgraced and defeated force, returning to a homeland that simply did not exist anymore.
What could be sadder than that?
He arranged to have a few miles of long-range TV instafilm shot of the retreating fleet and prepared to send a detailed report back to OSS headquarters in Washington. But just as he was heading for the communications room, he met the radio officer coming out. He was holding a folded sheet of yellow paper held together with a piece of bright red tape.
“This just came in for you from Washington,” the comm officer told him. “Level Six priority.”
Y just stared at the piece of paper. Level Six was the security level used only in times of war—or a similar crisis. The war with Japan was over. Why, then, would a message for him be rated so high?
“Did you read it?” he asked the comm officer.
The man nodded sheepishly. “Couldn’t help it, sir,” he replied.
Y just shook his head. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Just give me a heads-up. How heavy is it?”
The comm officer just stared back at him.
“The heaviest,” he said.
Y reluctantly took the message from him. He’d been planning to take two months of R and R after this flight was completed. Now he knew that idea was probably in serious jeopardy.
“It doesn’t say anything about a promotion in there, does it?” Y asked the comm man jokingly.
The officer just shook his head. “No, sir,” he replied. “But it does say you should prepare for the biggest assignment of your career.”
Y’s face fell a mile.
“Damn,” he said, turning the secret message over in his hands. “I don’t like the sound of that.”