The God Wars
By Dwayne MacInnes
North Atlantic: July 23, 1944 0105 Hours
General Gregory Crist stood on the deck of the Baltimore class heavy cruiser the USS Pima. He took in the night air, the stars twinkling in the clear sky. It was just the day before when the convoy had left New York Harbor on their way towards England. He had never been on the ocean before. However, he was relieved to find that unlike many of the recruits on the RMS Olympus, a converted British luxury liner, he did not experience the displeasure of seasickness.
Crist looked off the deck into the inky black ocean wondering if there was a U-boat out there waiting for them. The German's wolf pack strategies had not been doing them much good lately. However, there was no telling when they might take a shot at the fat convoy anyway.
The baby flattop, the escort carrier USS Kiska, was riding along with the Pima. Any u-boats patrolling the area had to stay low during the daytime so that the aircrew on the Kiska would not spot them. However, airplanes could not fly off carrier decks during the night. Therefore, the convoy could still face some brave German captain trying to halt some of the reinforcements destined for the European invasion.
"General Christ," a young seaman said behind the general, interrupting the army soldier's line of thinking.
"Crist, son. The 'I' is short. I am not the Lord," General Crist replied in his usual dry humor.
The sailor thinking the general had rebuked him quickly saluted. "Sorry, sir, I meant no offense."
"Relax," Crist said smiling to put the boy at ease before he returned the salute. "I assume you have a message for me."
"Yes sir, Captain Arnold wants to know if you would like to join him on the bridge."
General Crist followed the young seaman to the ship's bridge. He had not yet met the captain. He had spent most of his time in his quarters reading various reports about the Normandy invasion. It was either that or walking on the deck taking the salty sea air, or enjoying a cigarette. Sometimes he did all three.
A dim red light bathed the bridge in an eerie light which allowing the crew to work in the darkness and limited the light that any prospective underwater predator could see. All the sailors wore a lifejacket and a standard issued steel helmet, both painted blue. The captain was talking to a sailor wearing headphones. From the snatches of the low conversation, Crist reasoned that this was the sonar man.
Captain Arnold looked up from the sonar station towards General Crist as the general approached the helm. The helmsman kept his eyes forward in the dark night guiding the cruiser, and therefore the entire convoy, towards their destination.
"General," Captain Arnold said extending his hand. "I've been anxious to meet with you all day. I'm sorry my duties have kept from any pleasantries."
"Think nothing of it captain," Crist said returning the handshake. "I'm sure being in charge of a convoy can be challenging."
"Yes sir, it can," Arnold replied. "Would you like some coffee?"
"Yes, if it is no problem."
"None at all," Captain Arnold nodded towards the sailor who escorted Crist to the bridge. "Two cups please, ensign."
"Aye, captain," the ensign saluted and exited the bridge.
"Well, general would you be interested in knowing about the make-up of this little convoy?"
The general smiled and nodded his head.
"You have our flagship, the Pima, which you are on. We also have two destroyer escorts the Blake and the Phillips. There is also a new Fletcher class destroyer John Reynolds and the escort carrier Kiska. That is the teeth of our little armada.
"Now we are riding herd on one LST, the hospital ship Respite, the British troop ship RMS Olympus, four cargo ships and one fat tanker. All bound for merry ol' England, where they will be divided up and sent on various missions.
"Our job is to get them there in one piece. The German's job is to sink as many as possible. We have all our sonar crew listening for any baddies that may be trying to stop us. They are on passive sonar, which is just fancy lingo for microphones in the water. If we need we have active sonar. It makes a lot of noise but it let us know where everything is underwater. The draw back is that it also lets anything that may be hunting us know exactly where we are as well." "That is pretty impressive captain," General Crist replied looking around the interior of the bridge. He noticed the usual array of equipment, like the compass and radio as well as the sonar station. He also noticed a large mechanical device that seemed shoehorned onto the deck. It normally would not have gathered his attention because he did not know what belonged on a bridge and what did not. However, several men in white lab-coats were operating this one.
"If I may ask captain, what is that?" Crist said pointing to the large machine.
"That my dear general is Washington's newest little toy. I don't even know what it exactly is supposed to do. But I am assured it is supposed to protect the entire convoy from u-boats."
The ensign soon arrived with the two tin cups of hot coffee. As the two senior officers drank the java, the captain continued to give the general a tour of the ship's bridge. Suddenly the sonar operator held up his hand and motioned for the captain.
"Sir, I have multiple contacts to the southeast," the sonar man stated.
"Alert the fleet," the captain replied. "Son, you have a count on the contacts."
"I am not sure, but it sound like three maybe four U-boats, sir."
Before Captain Arnold could issue any further orders, one of the men in a lab coat approached the ship's captain.
"Captain, let me use the device. I assure you it will work," said the man.
"Very well, Dr. Reno," Arnold said. "But we'll still prepare for battle."
Dr. Reno walked over to the machine. He started instructing his men and they in turn began flipping switches, turning knobs, and pulling levers. An ominous whirring noise began to emanate from the interior of the Pima. Soon a green fog started to envelop not only the cruiser but the other ships in the convoy as well. In an instant, the outside world disappeared.
Every person on the ship began to get weak as a strong sense of nausea hit them all. Crist knew it could not be seasickness for some of the seasoned crew were even grabbing their bellies. He somehow knew that every person in the convoy was experiencing the same sickening effect.
As suddenly as it began, the machine causing the ominous whirring and nausea began to spark. Smoke billowed out from behind its panels. Dr. Reno ran to the main shutoff switch. However, before he could activate it, a blue-white bolt of electricity shot from the machine and struck the doctor. The doctor fell forward and managed to land on the red lever of the shutoff switch. The whirring and nausea instantly ended.
The green fog also disappeared revealing the convoy in a blue sea bathed in the bright rays of the morning sun.