NEW Story: The Greek
✿ This article was part of Vekllei’s Ocean Month in March 2021
In Eyri, the bones of an ancient beast warp and groan in the sun, red skin glinting in the whitecap churn of the shallows, oxidising, broken, ripped open by the sea. Everyone in the North of Vekllei knows about it. Mysteries abound. Even in our atomic century, the humans of Vekllei are enamoured with and terrified by the ocean.
In the Winter of 2018, just three years into Vekllei’s shaky, indigent independence, the TransNorth Oil Company purchased a submarine icebreaker called Sea Serpent from U.S. Oil. It was a crock of shit, built in the late ‘80s to move crude through the Arctic in the difficult seasons. Submarine icebreakers were among the ugliest boats ever made, with thin necks that cut through ice and a warty conn crown.
It was not unusual for no-name oil companies to buy up old shipping stock, but TransNorth was something else. If you tracked its company address, you came to a dilapidated warehouse in Memphis with signage affixed — totally deserted. It appears, following the paperwork, no one at all had purchased the Sea Serpent.
Two months after its sale, an unregistered vessel by chance triggered a decades-old Soviet detection buoy near Vekllei’s EEZ. The Common Interest Watchhawk programme, designed to demilitarise the Arctic after the Atomic War, allowed the Soviets to report the event to Vekllei and the U.K. — perhaps suspicious it was a clandestine U.S. nuclear sub.
Somewhere in a command room of Vekllei’s fledgeling secret service (back then called the Office of National Intelligence, the predecessor to HO/NI), a siren fired off. Sixty minutes later, a military helijet touched down in Basa, a northern military office. A destroyer left port in Montre.
The buoy was working correctly, and the quiet hum of commercial submarine tech was tracked for eight hours, all the way to Vekllei’s territorial waters. There, the mystery vessel was radioed, radioed again, and destroyed. There was no tolerance for smugglers or spooks in postwar Vekllei.
Thirty minutes after depth charges boomed in the North Sea, the Sea Serpent ran aground on an isolated beach in Eyri. It pushed itself right into the shallows, slashing its coolant pipes on the rocks as it capsized into the beach. With ionised radiation glowing faintly in the water, naval commandos stormed the conning tower, now on its side. Radio equipment, maps, chairs — it had all been flung across the dim interior in its capsizing. Inside were eight men in plain clothes, all dead. All were shot — one self-inflicted.
It was not until fifty years later, during the Dallas Crisis and the secession of the Dallas States, that some sort of clue as to the lair of the Sea Serpent emerged. As negotiations dragged on for the Dallas lend-lease of U.S. government properties and infrastructure, a building owned by the Chroma Industrial Concern, a Floridian company subsidised by Washington, was included in a trade of some 614 assets leaked to AB/NI. A young AB/NI asset named Baron Desmoisnes, part of the team filing the leaks, followed up and found Chroma had a warehouse in Memphis.
It appears the Sea Serpent was coming for Vekllei — who says snakes don’t commit suicide?