The January 2002 Challenge: offered by Setcheti
Write (or rather, *re*write) a movie or TV show as starring our favorite Seven guys. You MAY NOT use an existing AU, you must create your own. (Yes, that does mean you can't just have ATF Team Seven join forces with Walker, Texas Ranger - a crossover is not what we're aiming for here.) You can do the whole thing or just a teaser so long as all Seven are used. Sounds daunting I know, but sit down and watch a few movies or a couple hours of cable and I'm sure you'll come up with something great!
* Hitler's U-boats wreak havoc in the North Atlantic sinking over 1000 Allied ships and threatening to destroy the supply line from America to England. Unable to crack the new U-boat radio codes, the Allies struggle blindly against the German onslaught.
* This story is based on the movie U-571. I've changed it slightly to not include the movie's story line.
* My father's dad (my grandad) had a brother who was on board the Bismark when it was sunk by the Germans.
North Atlantic Ocean - 1942
The ocean was calm; the only movement caused by the S-33 submarine, water overflowed her decks as she traveled through the unruffled seas. Salted sea spray filled the air around the boat, the sun reflecting off the small droplets of water giving the image of a million miniature stars floating above the sea.
A P38 Lightning fighter plane flew overhead, the sound of it's engines a deafening roar within the skies otherwise normal silence, it then rolled to the right making a large semicircle path in the sky to make a second pass. The plane continued on its original flight path, it's destiny unknown to the men watching it from below.
Two men stood on the deck, one still watching the plane disappear into the distance, the other staring through a pair of binoculars. The slightly taller man wore the uniform of a Captain, his coat wet from the water soaring around him shown in the sun. The man who stood beside him wore a similar uniform but with the ranking of a Lieutenant, the executive officer of the boat.
'Buck, what are you thinking about?'
'What makes you think I'm thinking?'
'You've got that thinking expression that you only wear when you're thinking?'
'So, you think I'm thinking.'
'Yes I do.'
'And you want to know what I'm thinking?'
'Yeah I do.'
'I'm not thinking about anything.'
Chris Larabee had been the Captain of the S-33 for the past two years and will continue to be the Captain until 1946 when a serious leg injury will force the Navy to discharge him from service. They will agree that it was a serious loss but they didn't have any other choice because they knew Larabee would not take a desk job.
'You ready?' Chris asked Buck Wilmington.
'Ready as always.' Buck replied.
'Let's go then.'
'Clear the deck!' Wilmington ordered.
The two officers watched as three members of the crew secured the deck gun then followed them down below into the belly of the S-33.
Larabee allowed his Chief to take his wet weather gear while his 1st Lieutenant took care of Wilmington after he jumped down from the third rung. The Captain eyed his crew; they were good men, confident men and the best at what they did. It wasn't an easy job for any of them but they were willing to give their lives to protect their country. Larabee had learned that as a Captain he sometimes had to sacrifice a crewmember to allow the rest to live. He never welcomed the responsibility and would suffer the nightmares for a lifetime. He was living for the day where he no longer had to watch the men who trusted him die for a cause they didn't fully comprehend.
He allowed his eyes to linger on the Naval Intelligence officer standing against the bulkhead; the man had never been aboard a submarine before. The giveaway was the droplets of sweat on the forehead and upper lip but to look into the green eyes you would think that he was a veteran.
'Hatch secured.' One of the crew stated.
'Take us down Mr. Tanner. Depth one five zero feet and ten percent down." Larabee ordered.
'Yes Sir.' Vin Tanner, a man that some thought was too young to be a 1st Lieutenant repeated the order. 'Depth one five zero feet and ten percent down.'
'Yes Sir.' Seaman Jackson, the only black man in the crew confirmed the order.
'Green board.' Chief Sanchez reported.
'Sound the dive alarm.' Tanner ordered. 'Dive!'
The crew became silent; there was always a hushed silence when the S-33, under complete control of it's crew, sunk below the surface.
'Five zero feet.' Chief Sanchez counted down. He was familiar with the boat and trusted it with his life. He had once, in his earlier years, tested new submarines and because of the experience he now knew what to expect of a boat and whether or it not it was capable of meeting the crew's needs. 'Eight zero feet.' He continued to count down until they were one hundred and fifty feet below the surface. 'One five zero.'
'All ahead two thirds.' Larabee spoke with confidence.
There was never a need to shout within the confines of the submarine. Equipment: an internal radio and manual speaker allowed the senior crew to speak to the engine and torpedo rooms. Voices could still be heard over the sound of dripping water, there were leaks aboard the boat but nothing that would cause concern.
'Buck, Mr. Standish.' He said nothing else, there was no need, the two men would follow him to his quarters.
'Yes Mr. Larabee?' Standish sat cramped in the corner on a small stool while Wilmington stood against the door and the Captain sat in a chair at his desk. The room was simple and spared of any sort of ugly memorabilia of Larabee's travels. A nice wooden frame that stood on the corner of the desk held a picture of a woman and a small boy. His eyes blinked then shifted focus when Larabee's form came into his line of vision.
'I want to know why you're here?'
'I'm here to make sure the job is done,' said Standish.
'That's the official reason.' Larabee leaned back in his chair and folded his arms. He frowned when he noticed that Standish wasn't swaying with the boat but instead sat as though he were on solid ground. 'I want your reason.'
'It's my job Mr. Lara-'
'Bullshit. You told JD that you'd never been on a sub before. I agreed until now,' said Larabee.
'He does look sort of comfortable doesn't he?' Wilmington observed.
'Yes he does.'
Standish looked from one man to the other. His reasons were his own. They didn't need to know to why he was here to complete the mission. He broke out in goose bumps when the memory slammed home. Nausea immediately swallowed him, he was drowning all over again.
'Excuse me, I need to . . .'
'You need to what?' Larabee stood up and moved closer to the man. The handsome face had suddenly become pale. The Captain knew the look and smiled down at Standish. 'You going to throw up?'
'Yes,' said Standish.
'What?' Standish glanced up and stared at Larabee through wide eyes.
'I want to know why you're going to throw up.'
'I don't have time fo-'
Larabee grabbed a fistful of shirt and hauled the smaller man to his feet. 'And I don't have time for your shit! This is my boat and my crew. I'm responsible for every life on board this boat. Not you. Me!'
'Do you want to know before or after I puke on your shirt?'
'We go no further until you explain to me why you need to be here.'
Standish knew of the Captain's unmoving, unflinching wall that was built of solid stubbornness. He could imagine the hell his mother must have gone through; Larabee had no doubt been born that way. A Standish was also capable of standing firm, unfortunately, this wasn't going to be one of those times. There was no way in hell that he was going to be able to fight every crew member on this boat, if Larabee decided to turn around, there wouldn't be anything he could do to stop him. Once they returned to base he could have the man arrested for disobeying a direct order but that wouldn't accomplish the mission. Only Larabee and his men were capable of taking U-571 off this planet.
'I,' he sighed deeply then swallowed the bile that was resting in his throat. 'I was-'
A sudden rap at the door stopped him from having to explain himself.
Wilmington opened the door and stepped out. He returned less than ten seconds later.
'Radar contact, zero one zero.'
'Yes Sir, exactly where Mr. Standish said she would be.'
Naval Intelligence had approached Larabee's Commanding Officer requesting the S-33 and her crew to undertake an Intelligence operation. Apparently they wanted the best in the US Navy and they believed S-33 was it.
'We need a crew that is considered the best,' Standish started to explain, 'to go up against Germany's best.'
'I didn't know Germany had a best.'
'U-571,' said Standish. He smiled revealing a gold tooth. 'Do I need to say more?'
'No.' Larabee replied with understanding.
U-571 had so far taken out of the war: twelve supply vessels, two medical vessels, and six submarines. Almost everyone who came within firing distance of her torpedoes usually didn't live to tell the tale. The Captain and crew of U-571 were greatly admired. They were the enemy and had taken out two medical ships but you had to admire their determination to win the war for their country.
'What do you want us to do?'
'We are going to take her out of the business of war.'
'What do you mean we?' Larabee frowned at him.
Larabee's Commander stood up, walked to his officer and said. 'Lieutenant Standish has operational control, anything he wants he gets.'
'Get the boat ready, you leave at 0600 hours.'
'Yes Sir.' Larabee saluted then left the office.
'Enemy speed eight. Angle on the bow, sixty,' said Larabee.
'Enemy speed eight. Angle on the bow, sixty.' Tanner repeated.
'Mark set.' Seaman Notting reported.
'Depth set,' said Jackson.
Larabee, looking through the telescope said. 'Range five hundred, set torpedo speed thirty five knots.'
Tanner again repeated the orders.
'Two Fish in the water!' Dunne yelled above the orders that were being given. 'Heading straight.'
JD Dunne was one of the younger members of the crew, he had signed up when his mother died after fighting breast cancer for just over a year. There was no one back home to worry about him. The Captain had made him part of his adopted family, a decision that caused him to silently pray day and night that he didn't have to send the young man to his death.
'Right full rudder!' Larabee ordered knowing that his crewmen wouldn't hesitate in obeying him.
'Right full rudder!' Jackson repeated.
'Three zero meters!' JD held the headphones against his ears to hide out any other noise.
'Tubes one and two!' Larabee stayed calm and continued to give.
'Tubes one and two ready!' someone yelled back.
They waited with baited breath for the torpedoes to hit.
'Two zero meters!'
The sound of the creaking bulkheads caused some of the crew to start praying.
'Two more fish in the water!' JD rubbed the sweat from his forehead before it ran into his eyes. He wasn't worried, he was scared shitless but he trusted the Captain to do everything he could to protect them.
Knuckles turned white as hands gripped their wheels tighter. Eyes lifted upward as ears strained to hear every noise outside of the boat.
'Keep turning baby.' Larabee whispered.
'Torpedoes one and two missed!'
No one moved. They were still aware that there were two more fish in the water.
'As soon as they pass I want you to bring her back around Mr. Tanner!'
'Two Zero meters and running straight!'
Larabee hung his head and closed his eyes; the prayer that he spoke was silent, meant only for one person's ears.
Breaths froze in young lungs when a torpedo scraped along the outside of the submarine. When the sound stopped they knew they were safe for now.
'Left full rudder zero one zero!' Tanner ordered.
'Zero one Zero Sir!'
It seemed as though they turned back faster.
'Torpedoes one and two fired! Lining up three and four.'
'Fire torpedoes three and four!'
'Torpedoes three and four fired!'
'Fish running straight and normal.'
Now they waited silently for another reason. It was a matter of kill or be killed.
The boat rocked violently in the wake of the explosion.
'I hear bulkheads breaking up!' JD couldn't help but smile; they had managed to get through another mission without losing a life.
The submarine continued to throw crewmembers about during U-571's obliteration.
'That was too easy,' said the Chief.
'Too easy.' Agreed Larabee.
'Contact zero four zero!' Dunne leaned out the door of his small compartment.
'Two of them?' Standish pulled himself up from the floor and grimaced at the dizziness that filled him. He touched the right side of his forehead. Blood covered his fingers when he pulled the hand away.
'All ahead full.'
'Your going to run!'
'I don't run from anything Standish! We're going to need some more room to do this.'
'Then do it! I want that fucking ship at the bottom of the ocean on a permanent basis!'
'I plan on doing just that! Now get out of my way.'
'Do it Larabee or I'll have your job in a shit bucket!'
'Full right rudder! Prepare torpedoes!' Larabee pushed past Standish and made his way back to the telescope.
'Captain,' JD leaned out again, 'she's turning with us!'
'All ahead two thirds!'
'All ahead two thirds.' Tanner repeated.
'Left full rudder!'
'They're not changing course Sir.' JD reported.
'That means we're both going to come around in a circle to face each other.' Larabee muttered.
'Torpedoes one and two ready Sir.'
'We let her fire first.'
'And if she doesn't miss?' Standish asked.
'Cocky bastard aren't you.'
'I didn't get this far by being a girl.'
The crew prepared themselves for another fight and another for what might be their impending death.
'Enemy speed six. Angle on the bow forty.'
Standish moved back against the bulkhead. He'd rather have his back broken than go through this again.
'They're coming around.' Larabee spoke to himself out loud. 'A little bit more, just a little bit more. They're going to fire any second now, as soon as we're facing each other. Don't shoot until you see the white of their eyes.'
'One torpedo in the water!'
'Thank you JD. I'm going to have to buy everyone a drink if we survive this one.' He was able to see the trail of the torpedo in the water. He hated the sight of it. 'It's coming right for us but is it going to hit, we're going to have to wait and see.'
'Two zero meters.'
'Any second now. Imagine, our lives being decided within a matter of seconds. If only my wife and son had seconds, I could have saved them and at the moment they would be sitting in the kitchen drinking coffee and worrying about Buck and me. I'll get home and argue with Sarah about why she had allowed Adam to drink coffee. Then I would stay awake all night with him and . . . damn I have to stop doing that.'
'Ten zero meters.'
'All ahead full.'
'All ahead full Sir.'
They were no longer yelling. Again it was silent as they listened for the impact knowing that they would feel it before they heard it.
'Fire torpedo one!'
'Torpedo one running straight and normal.' JD closed his eyes in relief. 'Torpedo missed Sir, just.'
'We're only going to need one shot, no more,' Larabee didn't realise that Standish had moved closer and was now listening to his one sided conversation, 'they're going to be sending letters to their wives and mothers. God help them. At least it's something I don't have to worry about. No mother, no wife and no son.'
Standish knew what had happened to Larabee's family, he had done a full check on the man and he's crew before selecting them. It was a tragedy that no man or woman should go through. To lose your spouse and child at the same moment in time wasn't right. If it weren't for Wilmington, Larabee would still be in the gutter or even worse, dead and buried next to his family.
'Just a little bit more, I can't see the whites of their eyes yet. A little bit more, that's it, almost . . . almost . . . al . . . most. Fire Torpedo!'
Standish held on to something, he wasn't going to fall down again.
The submarine shifted when the explosion occurred. This time the crew cheered and hugged each other. It was another day of going home.
'That was a little bit harder.' The chief grinned.
'Drinks are on Standish when we get home!' Larabee yelled out.
'Good lord.' Standish moaned.
A head, a head that was full of nightmares, fell to hit the top of the beer soaked bar. Thud! The noise was loud enough to cause a few heads to turn. Their concern disappeared when they realised who had created the noise, all except one. That one person eyed the man with interest. The entire crew was on leave, they should have been enjoying themselves, all of them, but one wasn't happy and there had to be a reason for the man's misery.
Music played on, other members of the crew unaware of what was about to happen. Women laughed and flirted with the young men. Wives, grateful for their husband's safe return, clung to their arms refusing to let go. Children, who didn't really understand what their father did, or why their mothers were quiet when daddy wasn't around, ran around the tables, their laughter of joy reminding the crew of what it is they fought for.
He had moved along the bar, his men stepping back to allow him through, and sat down on the empty stool. A drink was ordered and paid for; they had taken out U-571 and U-528, you would think that the country would pay for their drinks. No words were spoken, one man didn't expect a conversation, the other waited for the right moment. It was hard to talk to a man while his head rested on the bar. But after a few seconds the head lifted so he spoke his name not knowing if he really wanted an answer or not.
There was the answer and he seriously considered following the instruction but something was eating at this man and he wanted to help. It wasn't something that he normally did, unless it was one of his crew but he saw something in Standish that reminded him of himself after his wife and son had died.
'You never answered my question,' said Chris Larabee.
Standish twisted the stool until he was facing Larabee, his jacket was unbuttoned and the shirt hung loosely around a slim waist. An attempt to tuck it back into his pants failed, his hand kept fumbling and falling to his side. He gave up, lifted his chin, and spoke, his Southern accent thickened by the alcohol. 'What question was that?'
'Why did you come on the mission?'
'To see the job done.' Answered Standish.
'That's the off-'
'No, I went to see the job done.'
Standish emptied the shot glass then held it out for the bartender to refill. The man behind the bar stared at the empty glass; he wasn't going to refill it until the Lieutenant paid for his last three drinks.
'No,' said the bartender.
'I assure you that I am perfectly drunk,' said Standish.
'I know that, it's just . . . well Sir, you haven't paid for the last three yet.'
'Put them on my tab Jack.' Larabee nodded to the man. Sometimes you had to drink yourself into a stupor to numb the pain, if only for the night.
'Sure Mr. Larabee,' Jack filled it and asked Larabee. 'Are you having one yourself Sir?'
'Had enough for the night thanks Jack.' Chris smiled when Jack nodded and sighed in relief. It seemed that everyone knew about his past drinking problem. They only wanted to make sure it didn't start up again; he knew that and was grateful for the concern. When you have no family you begin to think that you are the only person in a world, which there is no one who cares but he'd been shown that it didn't have to be that way.
'Have you ever been on a submarine Mr. Larabee?' Standish asked when Jack moved away.
'Stupid question don't you think.'
'I am drunk Mr. Larabee so please expect a stupid question or comment.' He waited a moment watching Larabee carefully. He had been warned that if he didn't deal with it, if he didn't talk to someone he would out of job. 'Have you ever been on a submarine before?'
'I was on one today actually.' Larabee answered.
'Have you ever been on a submarine when a torpedo hit?'
Larabee frowned, he was so surprised by the question he hesitated before answering. 'No. Have you?'
'No . . .' Standish allowed his mind to wonder back to the moment of impact.
The force of the explosion had propelled him forward, a burning wind tried to force it's way through him as he fell to the deck of the German U-boat. Fear of death hit him with as much vigor as the explosion had. After a few seconds he managed to raise himself up off the deck, he at first refused to turn around, he knew what he would see and it would be something that would haunt his dreams until the day he died. He pulled his sight from the safety of the deck and turned his head.
Behind him the burning flames reflected off the water. Smoke filled the air above the submarine; it was already sinking. Paper floated down around the debris that filled the water between the boats. Snowflakes. They looked for a moment like snowflakes but they didn't melt when they hit the water. Among the debris were bodies, men he had lived with in close quarters for the last three days.
The worst was the screaming.
'Chief, there's still men in the water . . . there's still men in the water.'
He heard the voice of the young crewman and felt the same way, but they couldn't, they had to dive before a second torpedo came, one that would be aimed directly at them. The Germans couldn't take the chance, the u-boat was either under American or German control. Either way the u-boat would have to be destroyed.
'Clear the deck! Now!'
'We had to leave them there in the water,' Standish refused to look at Larabee, he knew the man was nodding in understanding. It was something that was part of war, you had to sacrifice to save others. Once the danger was passed you returned to look for survivors; most of the time there wasn't any.
'Were you part of the crew?' Larabee asked because it wasn't as bad if you didn't know the crew personally, if you didn't know they had parents, wives or children.
'No, I was only on board for two days but you get to know them pretty well in that time. Most of them were young, too young.'
'Sometimes I think about giving it all up.'
'Do you think you ever will?'
Larabee consider it for a moment. 'As bad as it is to watch someone die, knowing that you're partly responsible . . . I worry that more lives would be lost if I wasn't there.'
Standish raised his empty glass. 'Here here.' He swallowed the liquid just as the sea had swallowed it's victims.
Two men were swimming towards the deck, both desperate to get on board so they didn't have to die. One yelled out in German hoping the American would save him over his comrade that was just as close to rescue as he was. But there was a shift in the eyes, and the German was losing to the American.
He threw out a rope. God he hoped the man caught it, there wasn't going to be time to throw it back. If he stayed out here any longer he would drown along side the men still in the water. He pulled with all his strength when he saw the pale shaking hands grab hold of the rope. It was only a matter of seconds before he had the man (a man who didn't look older enough to shave) running towards what he hoped was a still opened hatch.
After one last look at the sinking sub he pushed the man in front him down the hatch.
'Secure the hatch!'
There was no stench of death, the dead had been buried in the sea and the remaining German crew that hadn't been shot when the Americans took over had been taken prisoner only to die when one of their own took down the enemy's sub.
'The battery had enough power left in it to allow us to dive and then maneuver around to face the enemy, the diesel engine had been damaged and there was only one torpedo left.' Standish felt himself lean to the left and in fear of falling he reached out and grabbed Larabee's arm. 'Excuse me, I didn't mean to-'
'No problem.' Larabee kept his arm steady until the man regained his balance.
'Don't know how they did it but they took out the u-boat with only one torpedo. Took them about ten minutes to do it though and by the time we went back up there was no one . . .'
'Whatever it was, the mission, it had to have been worth the lives of those men. I'm sure what you did has saved more than what was lost that day.'
'Yeah, but it doesn't always help. We had to leave them there. Boys.'
'It's a war Standish. We're fighting for our Country, our freedom. Those boys mothers.'
'I think I've had enough to drink Mr. Larabee. I'm going to head to my quarters and sleep for the rest of the night.'
'We're doing the right think here Ezra.'
'They died not knowing if the mission was a success.'
Lieutenant Ezra Standish nodded even though he didn't believe what Larabee had just said. He was going to spend the rest of his life thinking about the men who died, the boys who never married, never fathered children.
'Good night Chris.'
'Good night,' said Larabee. 'Pleasant dreams.' He added after Standish had left.