Artificial thunder rumbled out from the patch of calm in the middle of the field of endless storm clouds. The port side of the UNS Vengeance was in a hive of activity as her crew manning the guns sent shell after shell towards the giant wiggling sea monster that was forced to the surface by a barrage of depth charges.
The open mounted 3.5 inch guns barked as the firing lanyard was jerked. The breech popped open and a smoking shell casing was ejected out by the recoil and landed right into a collection bin. The loading crew without missing a beat shoved the 9 kg, 355 mm long fixed type High Explosive shell into the tray and locked it in place.
The gunner peered over an open sight and turned a couple of flywheels to adjust their firing angles before stepped to the side holding the firing lanyard. The rest of the gun crew turned away from the cannon and the gunner yanked the lanyard and the cannon roared. The gun shield provided some form of protection from the shockwaves of the expanding gases as the barrel recoiled backwards on its hydraulic shock absorbers.
The sea monster, an eyeless squid like leviathan had a wide grinning jaw that was covered with vicious looking sharp teeth on an oval dome head. The waters around its massive body churned madly as its many tentacles dug into the ocean's surface as it pulled its way across the water. Flickers of shell fire flew towards the giant that was almost as large as the UNS Vengeance.
Water columns spurted up around the sea monster as shells missed or bounced off its thick scale armour covering its body. Those shells that did not miss, exploded satisfactorily with a meaty slap against the leviathan's body, blowing chunks of flesh and dark blood everywhere.
"Give me full speed to engines!" Captain Nimo ordered. "Than hard starboard! Turn and face our stern to that creature!"
"I want my stern guns to be ready to fire once that sea monster is its line of sight!" He said to his weapons officer.
Crew members in charge of the stern 14 inch guns had earlier rushed out to remove the muzzle caps that protected the barrel from storms. Now, inside the turret, loaders were moving heavy shells from the heavily armoured munition bunker onto elevators that sent the shells up to the waiting gun breeches.
The UNS Vengeance, unlike normal operations, could not rotate its main guns as they were locked down. Broadsides could not be fired as both the flight decks of the battle carrier were stacked high with cargo containers. Any firing of the guns directly could potentially damage and ruin the important cargo inside from the shockwaves and this configuration, the secondary weapons of the battleship section also could only fire in a forward and rear arc or function as point defence.
Hence, the main gun turrets had been locked and the UNS Vengeance could only fire her main guns at a fixed angle, either forward or rear and that was what Captain Nimo was trying to do. He wanted the Vengeance to turn to face her rear guns at the sea monster and at the same time to put as much distance away from it.
The distance between the man made leviathan and nature's own leviathan was less than a short kilometre away. The gunners desperately sent shell after shell at the rapidly gaining sea monster whose tentacles constantly whipped around and smashing white walls of sea water up when they impacted the ocean's surface.
Suddenly, a wall of white water appeared from the surface of the ocean seemed to rush towards the UNS Vengeance as a tentacle that was thicker than the barrels of the UNS Vengeance's main guns whipped down towards the ship. The tentacle tip loomed over the side of the rear port side of carrier 'A' and was able to smash the onto the deck when the fleshy appendage slapped against the UNS Vengeance's magical barrier.
A rainbow sheen flickered wildly and like an invisible wall that extended several meters out from the ship's hull, preventing the tentacle from hurting the ship. The frightened crew could clearly see the underside of the tentacle, its suckers opening and closing like so many demonic mouths as the tentacle slide down the magical barrier, drawing angry rainbow shimmers in the air along the way.
Another tentacle came whipping across the ocean's surface, its arrival heralded by a wall of water and the UNS Vengeance shook and even dipped slightly into the water as a large portion of the tentacle and not just the tip landed right over the ship. The rainbow bubble covering the UNS Vengeance could be seen deforming under the weight of the gigantic tentacle that was trying its best to wrap around the magical barrier but was unable to do so as there was no fiction to hold onto the projected shimmering arcane energy.
The mana crystal set on the tips of the MCAs or Magic Converter Arrays glowed brightly and started smoking and a hint of burnt ozone could be smelled in the air around the long magic wood poles. Several magic circuits and runes even started fuzzing out and left scorched marks on the metal decks and bulkheads as the magical barrier was heavily strained.
Magetechs with equipment pouches were filled with mana stones ran around the ship, their radio comms constantly busy updating and informing them of which locations required magic repairs for the blown out arcane circuits, runes and replacement of depleted mana stones.
The sea monster sensing it had caught its prey, let out a keening cry of excitement as it pulled itself closer to its prey. More and more tentacles came whipping over as it sought to wrap its prey into its embrace and drag it down into the depths of the inky waters to slowly feast before the calm ends and the storm resumes.
The UNS Vengenace finally turned enough that its stern was facing directly at the sea monster. The triple barrel 14 inch cannons adjusted slightly and roared with the voice of a god. The three 14 inch shells spun out in a shower of sparks and smoke and in that super short distance, which was like knife fighting range for a battleship classed guns, the three shells easily punched through the slimy scale covered leviathan before detonating outside its body.
The leviathan seemed to freeze up as three holes appeared in its body and it even felt its internal organs quaking painfully when the shockwaves of the 14 inch shells exploding behind its back. It let out another keening cry, this time of pain and shock and coughed out blood that fell like rain over the UNS Vengeance, dyeing its decks purple red.
It gave another keening crying as its tentacles unwrapped its self around the magical barrier and it turned and dived under the sea, its passage creating massive surges of waves that rocked the UNS Vengeance. In its wake, a dark stain spread out across the ocean's surface and the crew cheered.
The rain and wind came again and helped scrubbed the gore and blood away from the ship's decks and hull. Already the sharp fishy smell had disappeared only to be replaced by the smell of rain and salt. Crew and magetechs in storm gear braved the storm and waves as they replaced the burnt MCAs and redraw ruined runes and arcane circuits.
"I would guess that it is very likely we will encounter more and more sea monsters the deeper we go," Dr. Sharon said as she peered out of the viewports through the storm to see the shadowy figures working on the dangerous decks. "And chances are, those sea monsters use the lull and calm patches of the sea to feed."
"So you are saying we can't get any rest?" Captain Nimo asked as he stood with his feet apart and his hands holding on to the support bars over his head to keep himself stable under the pitch and roll of the sea.
Dr. Sharon tried to give a shrug as she held on tightly as the deck suddenly tilted sharply to the side. She waited until the pitching of the deck ended before replying, "I really have no idea... No one has ever studied the ecosystem of this place before!"
"We will proceed as normal and deal with it step by step," Blake suddenly said from his seat. "There is no turning back now!"
Captain Nimo nodded as the statement was true. They had already sailed more than a week into the End Zone and there was not really any point to turn back.
"By the Mountains! You long legs are crazy!" A growl came from the side. Grand Lord Hammerfall was strapped into a seat and looked like a small grouchy grizzly teddy bear. His thick beard and hair finally had the chance to be oiled and combed properly but still, with his hair tied back and his beard covered half his face and body, he still looked like a teddy bear. "No one is able to cross these waters on an ocean faring ship! It's a death wish!"
"Yet, their ancestors made the crossing," Blake replied icily. "Your point?"
"Bah!" Grand Lord Hammerfall spat to the side. "Magic was a lot more powerful compare to today!"
"Too late to complain now," Blake gave a shrug at the grouchy dwarvan. "We already almost half way across..."
"Urgh! You short ears are even worse!" Grand Lord Hammerfall shook his head. "I don't know why I agreed to this madness!"
Blake ignored the dwarvan's complaints and turned to Dr. Sharon and Captain Nimo. "If Dr. Sharon's theory about the sea monsters is correct..."
"Captain Nimo, the Vengeance will go into condition red every time we enter a calm," Blake commanded. "If there is no attack, half the crew will be rotated out for some R and R, while the other half stand watch."
"As for the rough part," Blake gestured out of the viewport. "We can only endure it. The Vengeance is built to handle rough weather. And our systems can detect dangers both on the surface and underwater."
"Unless-" Blake's sentence was cut off when the bridge navigator suddenly yelled out.
"Captain! Whirlpool detected straight ahead!" The navigator called out. Conversations quickly ended as everyone turned their eyes out to the main display screen on the bridge which was showing a view from a camera mounted at the middle prow of the trimaran battle carrier.
The image showed churning waves rotating in a circular motion that was slowly but visibility gaining speed. Dr. Sharion worried expression eased off as she saw the image and said, "That should be a newly formed whirlpool."
With the size and mass of the UNS Vengeance, whirlpools unless spinning at speeds of over 20 knots an hour would not pose a threat to the ship. The UNS Vengeance could easily power pass the turbulent waters with some effort but otherwise, it would not endanger the ship.
"Entering whirlpool effect in... three... two... one..." The navigator called out in a cool voice as the prows of the Vengeance disappeared in a spray of water as it hit head on against a wave. The helmsman spun the wheel as he countered the effects of the spinning waters as he kept to their heading.
The speed of the ship dropped slightly as the water currents attempted to drag the Vengeance with a displacement of over 120,000 tons away from its heading. Twelve massive powerful propulsion screws spun rapidly as they countered the power of the water currents and pushed the Vengeance out of the effects of the newly formed whirlpool.
Grand Lord Hammerfall let out his breath as he unconsciously held it in after he witnessed the image of the whirlpool on the big magic screen. He shook his head at the attitude of the long legs around him who seemed not even fazed by their lucky escape and wondered why was he so stupid to agree to join on this crazy ship for the hundredth time.