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Deadliest Catch


TheShammySocialist
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[b]Off the Coast of Western Australia[/b]

"Beautiful night tonight, sir," remarked Sub-Lieutenant Carla Thomas, as Commander Lysander Powell looked through his binoculars at the coast of Pihana. As part of the Southern Cross' humanitarian naval patrol, they had been tasked to sit near Kimberley as negotiations continued. If needed, they could provide interdiction support and help out with refugees if the situation needed. They were of little real value combat-wise, however, mounting only a 40mm Bofors autocannon, and two fifty-caliber machineguns, but they could certainly handle themselves against any other small torpedo craft. Most importantly, however, they were tasked with escorting the Joint Supply Ship SCS [i]Supplier[/i], which was the real force behind the humanitarian operation. It provided helicopters and had relief supplies on board, as well as fuel for the task force now currently patrolling off the coast.

"That it is, clear as glass," nodded Powell, a veteran of the service, who was now relegated to reserve duty. Most of the patrol boats were run by reservists, with a few active duty sailors mixed in here and there. "How are we doing on fuel?"

"Still at half capacity, but we might want to top off," nodded Thomas, his acting executive officer. "That storm is getting closer..."

"... And with the extra weight, she'll handle better," said Powell, ending the sentence for her, with a smile. "Good of you to remember that."

"Thank you sir."

"We'll top off tomorrow evening, before the storm hits, so we'll be at full capacity when that storm bowls over us," nodded Powell, heaving a sigh as he looked over at the SCS [i]Supplier[/i], running parallel to them. The patrol boats formed a loose triangle around the larger ship, while the attack submarine, SCS [i]Australia[/i] lurked nearby, lazily following or leading the task force when it so chose, and not making any radio traffic.

"Sounds like a plan sir," nodded Thomas, looking over at the coxswain, Petty Officer Kim Jones.

"Ready to face your first storm, Jonesy?" asked Thomas of Jones, also known as 'Jonesy' to the crew. She was the newest member of the crew, fresh out of training and had training as a coxswain. So far, the young sailor had done well during this cruise, but she had not had to deal with any storms or heavy seas yet, which were sure to come the next night.

"Yes ma'am," nodded Jones, with a confident smile. "Should be fun."

"If you find hugging a puke bucket fun, yes, it should be," chuckled Powell, smiling over at the young sailor.

"We'll see sir," smiled Jones, looking over at him.


[b][OOC: Please refrain from posting for now.][/b]

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[b]OOC: Entry allowed per this [url=http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?showtopic=97237&view=findpost&p=2694692]post[/url].[/b]

[b]Classified - Three Days Earlier - Perth, Pihana (Western Australia)[/b]

The unloading of the container ship SS [i]Madrigal Northstar[/i] was a normal and smooth operation, carrying a shipment of various goods ranging from electronics and vehicles, to piping and toys. It was a general shipment that raised no red flags, considering the fact that nothing on the manifest raised any concerns. Ten of the crew also disembarked around unloading time, looking to "take in the sights" in nearby Perth. A small number of the containers were destined for a privately-rented warehouse outside the port district, where they were brought by container truck, and unloaded in the warehouse, which was then locked. The warehouse renter had used a fake name, and since there were no existing requirements for background checks, the owners granted the use to the man with no questions asked.

The evening following the [i]Madrigal Northstar[/i]'s unloading, a group of ten men quietly entered the unguarded warehouse block. They quietly unlocked the door to the warehouse, and slipped inside the building, and unlocked the chained up containers. Inside three of the larger containers sat three medium utility trucks, all of them painted a dull green color. All three carried vehicle identification markings on their parts that noted they were made in the state of Pihana. The men quickly set to work unpacking other gear, which included maintenance winches and other military gear. The trucks were brought out of the containers quickly and the maintenance winches set over a their flatbed backs, which had a distinct platform and turret-like mounting aperture.

Out of a series of three other containers came sets of five missile launchers apiece, inside the missile launchers, which looked inconspicuously like four large pieces of closed piping, were RGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Missiles. The RGM-84 missiles were surplus from the onshore batteries of the old Australian Free State that had been rustled up since the USC takeover, they used backdated wiring and circuitry, all given telltale signs of their manufacture in Pihana. They had no distinct signatures that would connect them with the Union of the Southern Cross, as they had been carefully handled by black operations personnel who had mad sure to wear gloves in their handling. The missiles matched nothing of the circuitry and wiring used in the more modern Harpoon missiles that were manufactured by the Southern Cross.

Working quickly, the team of men, all plains-clothes members of the Southern Cross' Z-Unit wearing gloves and wearing balaclavas, they opened the other two containers. Inside were mounting systems for the missile racks to be attached to the rear flatbeds of the trucks. Using the maintenance winches, the missile racks were rolled over to the maintenance winches, which lifted the racks into position onto the installed mounting features. The work progressed quickly, the men already having practiced assembling and disassembling the units back in the Southern Cross, once installed on the trucks, the maintenance winches were moved aside and final preparations made. Using intelligence garnered from surveillance satellite flights, the vehicles were given markings that identified them as vehicles of the military of Pihana. These were covered over with removable decals for the transit of the vehicles northward, the removable decals applied over the markings identifying them as utility trucks. The missile racks were covered over with large tarps, which thoroughly covered their deadly arsenal, the tubes of which were painted black to give them a look of being underground piping of some kind.

The maintenance gear that was leftover from the reconstruction process was packed away into one of the leftover containers, which was to be picked up the next morning for transport back to the [i]Madrigal Northstar[/i] under the legitimate guise of being heavy vehicle maintenance parts. The leftover empty containers were to be deposited in the container ports' empty container yard, having been thoroughly checked to make sure there was no way to identify them. After finishing their work about three hours prior to dawn, all ten quickly loaded into the trucks, and carefully left the building, the trucks giving no real identity to their real purpose, they would begin the drive north towards the Independent Australia Disputed Zone. They drove carefully, not driving at excessive speeds, and taking different routes northward along the coast, traveling only between dusk and dawn, the men wearing jumpsuits that identified them as utility workers in the utility company the trucks were supposed to be representing.

Edited by TheShammySocialist
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[b]Sixty Hours After Docking of SS [i]Madrigal Northstar[/i] - SCADF Atmospheric Operations Command[/b]

"All quiet lieutenant?" asked an Air Force Major, approaching his Naval Counterpart in the center of the SCADF AOC Room. He sipped his coffee and looked up at the screen, as the satellite imagery clearly showed the military forces of Pihana halted near the disputed territory.

"No movement since our government asked for more time for diplomatic negotiation," responded the naval lieutenant, with a nod. "Any news on whether the government has even made a breakthrough?"

"Not a lick," sighed the air force officer, scratching at his smooth chin. "The Independent Australians are apparently unwilling to meet with the Southern Cross if officials from Pihana are present."

"This cease fire isn't going to last forever, Pihana's going to bowl over these guys unless something gets through," responded the lieutenant, with a grim look on his face.

"Major, lieutenant, I might have just picked up something," said an air force intelligence analyst, holding his hand up from his work station.

The two officers came over to the work station, and leaned over both shoulders of the analyst, who had taken a snapshot from a satellite feed, and had enhanced it slightly.

"What are we looking at, Sergeant?" asked the Major.

The Sergeant circled three box-like shapes with a cursor about fifteen miles south of the main force from Pihana, near the border of the disputed zone, parked along the coast in a semi-circle pointing outward. He then looked over his shoulder at the Major, "Looks like three vehicles sir, possible military."

"Satellite Operator, I need a focused scan of sector-," started the lieutenant, looking down at the Sergeant.

"Bravo-Zulu 43-45-784, sir."

"Sector Bravo-Zulu 43-45-784," repeated the lieutenant, looking over at one of the operators who handled the satellite feed.

"Adjusting sir, getting you a scan momentarily," nodded the air force warrant officer.

"Could be anything," said the Major, shaking his head slightly. "But, it can't hurt to check."

"Feed is coming through now sir," called out the warrant officer, as the satellite camera lens readjusted and focused in on the area.

"Refresh the visual, Sergeant," nodded the Major, the Sergeant quickly complied and brought up a better resolution scan of the area in the sector. "Much better, but I'm still not seeing anything that tells me they're military, could be gypsies for all we know," chuckled the Major, folding his arms and looking at the lieutenant.

"Could be a missile battery too, possible anti-ship missiles, but you're right. And with those tarps covering the backs, we won't know until they take them off," responded the lieutenant, with a nod.

"Keep tabs on that area, Sergeant, see if anything changes," nodded the Major, but still looked skeptical. "Nothing to report on, especially if we can't explain what it is, could be a military coast security detail for all we know," he sighed, walking back to the middle of the room with the lieutenant.

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[b]Off the Coast of Western Australia[/b]

"Refueling arms are locked in sir," noted Thomas, stepping onto the bridge as the ships bounced in the slowly worsening seas.

The Joint Support Ship [i]Supplier[/i] had been tasked with refueling both the [i]Alert[/i] and [i]Wary[/i] before the heavy storm blew in later that night. Dark clouds had already blocked out the sunrise, and things were already getting rough along the seas. The patrol boats could handle the heavy seas, but visibility would soon be dropping with both night and the storm arriving. Powell nodded at her, as he looked through his binoculars to the west, out one of the open bridge doors of the [i]Alert[/i]. While the heavy weather would be gone by morning, there was probably little hope that anyone could get any sleep that night, especially on the patrol boats, which rocked hard in heavy seas. At the moment, he envied the submariners aboard the [i]Australia[/i], which they had briefly picked up on sonar passing to their stern, before losing her quickly again.

"The meteorologists change their forecasts at all?" asked Thomas, as she slid in beside Jones, who had taken the helm again after twelve hours off.

"Not at all, still looking at twelve foot seas, or more," nodded Powell.

"Keep her steady, Jonesy," said Thomas, with a grin. She patted Jones' shoulder gently, and continued, "Gotta make sure we don't break their refueling arms, or Fleet will have our butts."

"Aye aye ma'am," nodded Jones, holding her course steady despite the worsening seas.

[hr]

[b]Classified - Fifteen Miles south of Disputed IA Territory[/b]

"If we don't launch now, we'll loose our opportunity tonight with that storm blowing in," said Z-Unit Team Leader Captain Mark Banwell, a veteran 'deniable operations' field officer.

"There has been no word that has broadcast a stand down signal, the discretion to fire is in our hands," nodded Sergeant Vincent Marks, leaning back against one of the trucks. The vehicles had finally been uncovered that evening, their deadly cargo no visible to the world. They had also taken the fake decals off the trucks to give them their 'Pihana' identities, their markings correlating with those of Pihana.

"Sir, we're tracking three patrol boats and one large replenishment operations ship at the moment, close formation. Launch conditions are optimal right now, and with the wind picking up later, we could easily lose the chance," nodded the on-board radar operator, Corporal Richard Toombs.

"Plus, we can use the storm to mask the cover of our escape out, we can get the hell out of Dodge faster with that storm blowing over us," nodded Marks, looking at Banwell, who looked deep in thought. The plan was to split into two five man teams upon launching the missiles, and await further instructions once away from the launch site and secure. They had satellite communications equipment that gave them rather secure feeds back to command. Of course, this could be tapped into, but if this operation went down the way it was supposed to, no one was going to give two thoughts to an encrypted USC code feed from Pihana.

"We're a go, prep for launch cycle," nodded Banwell, after a few moments of silent thought, with an added prayer.

The missile crew sprung into action, still wearing gloves and quickly double-checking the location to make sure they made no identifying signatures in the area. The missile launchers elevated skywards slowly, and coordinates were double checked and targets assigned to each launcher. The two patrol boats running parallel to the shore would bear the brunt of the barrage, as would the replenishment ship. Two missiles would be loosed at the patrol boats, four at the replenishment ship, the men could, at their own discretion, fire the four remaining missiles, but had decided against it. The missile batteries were primed, and armed, with targets set for all the batteries, which carried rudimentary onboard radar that matched Pihana's technology specifications, with fire control rooted directly to a control module that Banwell manned himself.

He sighed, as he looked down at the systems, which were all green, and the radar were giving the signal of locked, he whispered to himself, almost mournfully, "Forgive me, my brothers and sisters of the sea." His thumb depressed the launch button, and the Harpoons began exploding out of their tubes and into the air in cycles of two. Eight anti-ship missiles launched into the air and quickly descended to sea-level, heading for the Southern Cross task force off the coast. As soon as the missiles left their tubes, the teams quickly took off into the heavy bush.

[hr]

"Whoa whoa whoa!" yelled Thomas, as warning systems lights started flashing all over the command station. "Skipper, we got missiles inbound!"

"What!?" said Powell incredulously, about to pick up the radio receiver as the channel suddenly became a flurry of panicky voices. He picked up the receiver quickly, "This is [i]Alert[/i], can we get a confirmation on those missile launches?"

"Coming straight at us, [i]Alert[/i], we're breaking refueling operations and are moving to engage," came the reply from the [i]Supplier[/i], which was armed with two CIWS cannons.

The radar was showing the incoming missiles closing fast, as Powell hit the 'General Quarters' alarm, the ship springing into action almost immediately, although it was probably already too late. The ship quickly broke away from the refueling arms, but Powell looked back to see the [i]Wary[/i] unable to do the same. For some reason, it appeared that the refueling arm wasn't able to disengage from the patrol boat, and the crew was already working furiously to unhinge it. Panicked radio chatter flooded the system, and even the voice from the communications officers aboard the [i]Australia[/i] could be heard, having finally broken radio silence.

"[i]Wary[/i], this is [i]Supplier[/i], get that fuel line unhooked, [b]now[/b]," yelled the communications officer aboard [i]Supplier[/i].

"The connection is cross-threaded! We're working on it [i]Supplier[/i]!" yelled the skipper of the [i]Wary[/i], Lieutenant Commander Jack Georges.

"Those missiles are closing fast Jack, get your keister unhinged!" yelled Powell, as the [i]Alert[/i] turned towards the oncoming missiles in an attempt to decrease the size of their target signature. "Thomas, be ready to deploy countermeasures!"

"Working on it sir!" replied Georges, his voice determined mixing with fear.

As the missiles closed with the task force, the [i]Supplier[/i]'s CIWS battery opened up vigorously, and in the close distance, two flashes were seen, followed by at least one more. Powell watched in horror, as the still struggling [i]Wary[/i] took a direct hit forward, right next to the spot where the crew were desperately trying to loose the vessel from the refueling arm. The [i]Supplier[/i] had cut the fuel flow, luckily for itself, the luck ended there however, the second missile aimed at Wary impacted amidships, touching off one of the magazines and almost completely obliterating the already obviously doomed patrol boat. Powell fired his own countermeasures, but the single surviving missile kept coming and found its mark on the forward 40mm turret, exploding on a point-detonated round and imploding the bridges' windows. The entire bridge crew, including Powell, Thomas, and Jones, along with several other members, had ducked to the floor at the sight of the oncoming missile. Three personnel were killed outright, and five more seriously wounded by the blast which also cut all power in the ensuing explosion.

The [i]Supplier[/i] took a direct hit to its helicopter deck, one of the missiles hitting a parked SH-60 Medium Utility Helicopter and obliterating it on deck, scattering burning aviation fuel all over the rear deck of the ship. The second missile impacted against the hanger, but failed to detonate, the big vessel shuddering violently against the onslaught of missiles. The missile that impacted the hanger was stuck halfway in through the hanger bulkhead, and damage control parties quickly moved in to disarm the missile, and also extinguish the burgeoning blaze on the outside hanger which threatened to spread to lower decks if not handled properly.

The [i]Supplier[/i] and patrol boat [i]Forewarn[/i] (having escaped the barrage, behind the [i]Supplier[/i]) began transmitting the open channel message;

[quote]"This is an emergency broadcast from Southern Cross Task Force [i]Goalkeeper[/i], we have taken anti-ship missile fire, one vessel sunk, one vessel disabled and without power, one vessel with onboard fire. Repeat, this is Southern Cross Task Force [i]Goalkeeper[/i], we have come under heavy attack from anti-ship missiles from Pihana, and have men in the water."[/quote]

The attack submarine [i]Australia[/i] began tracking the missile origins and making a secure transmission to Southern Cross Command, the submarine stayed close to the damaged task force, at periscope depth. The crew had gone to 'General Quarters', and with coordinates pinpointed, cruise missiles were being quickly loaded for launch from the vessel. They were ready to take vengeance for their fallen comrades as swiftly as they could, this was the final straw.

[b][OOC: Anyone can post now, official statement thread to come soon.][/b]

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