The Warrior Whale

27 Sep

“Now that war has begun,” said the admiral in a grave voice, “your unit will have a new, expanded mission to train our creature for.”

Captain Alton Brain, the cetologist in command of the secret station waited with dread to learn what was going to be required of him and his biological staff. His past several years had consisted of training a giant blue whale for naval espionage and surveillance. What could possibly be added to that difficult, delicate assignment of animal training?

“What does the admiralty now want from us?” he asked his superior with trepidation.

Admiral Gene Perth unexpectedly rose out of his chair and stepped over to the window that looked out over the whale lock where the home berth of the great oceanic whale lay. He looked down at the great resident, over 100 feet long and weighing some 200 tons. Its dark blue form rested in the morning sun.

The general officer turned his head toward Alton, still sitting behind his steel desk and anxious to hear what new orders he was about to be given.

“They want to make our Falo more than what he now is, a carrier of spying cameras attached to his back. The need is to train him to attack and sink small enemy seacraft. We are to turn our blue whale into a combat fighter, a secret destroyer of light vessels. I think it is a hard order to fulfill, but we have to make a strenuous attempt to carry it out with success.

“What do you think after hearing what is wanted of our command?” The Admiral looked with a serious frown at the director of the cetological station, a shining glimmer in his gray-blue eyes.

Alton decided to ask a question before giving any answer. “Is there any way of our getting out of such an assignment? It is like requiring a miraculous result when we are only beginning to find out how far it is possible to go in the education of a great blue whale. No one can say with certainty how far we can develop the skills and knowledge of our Falo, not yet.”

The Admiral turned and looked out at the whale lock again. “You may be right, Alton, but we must make the attempt as ordered from above. There is no way to change or reverse what they have decided we do.”

“I will have to work out some means of communicating to Falo what we want him to do for us,” muttered the scientist. “No one knows whether the large mammal can be made into a fighter and destroyer. We are ignorant of the emotional nature of the blue whale. As far as I know, no one has studied one of them in a situation of conflict in the ocean. I will have to start from scratch.”

Perth bit his thin lip. “Time is of the essence. You must get at it at once, Alton.”

Dr. Brain had volunteered for duty in the Canadian Navy because he was promised to be assigned a research post centered on his research specialty of cetology. The whales were his lifelong interest, ever since growing up on the coast of Nova Scotia. He had no expectations of being faced with any wartime service or duties. I should have known better, he now realized. Our navy, like all the others of our present world, exists for the purpose of combat at sea. Our primary function by definition is one of conflict and destruction.

Alton had received promotions and decorations through his successes in making a whale into an instrument of naval intelligence. Falo was able to bring back video pictures of Icelandic installations and ocean vessels with the tiny cameras attached at locations over his gigantic body. In peacetime, he had become a valuable instrument of espionage in the North Atlantic and elsewhere in the world’s oceans.

But now, with actual war declared in Ottawa, training for attack and capsizing enemy shipping had to be devised and begun immediately.

I have to make a deliberate effort to do as ordered, the troubled biologist told himself as he went to work on the newly posed problem.

Late that afternoon Alton went out to the whale lock to be alone with Falo.

His purpose was to clear the path forward in terms of the plan to make this blue whale into an offensive weapon in the sea war then going on.

He saw how happy and excited Falo was to see him. His enormous eyes glowed with recognition of who this human being was. My beloved comrade, the one who communicates with me and to whom I express what I think and feel. The man who conveys commands to me, indicating how far and in what direction I am to swim in order to approach particular harbors and fleets of vessels.

Alton smiled at the creature with whom he had established psychic contact. Has whale to human or human to whale communication ever before been achieved? the cetologist wonder.

Of course, he had never informed anyone on the staff what he was doing with his mind. Admiral Perth had no suspicion as to why spying by the whale had attained such successful results. Over hundreds, then thousands of miles, telepathy had occurred between man and cetacean animal.

His present task was to inform his partner about the new endeavor, in which Falo was to become an actual war combatant. There would have to be complicated preparation of the destroyer for his hazardous mission. How was he to react to defensive fire aimed at him? Or to the thundering noise of artillery? There were many hard lessons needed to prepare the underwater warrior.

“I have a new sort of hunt for you to be involved in,” he transmitted to Fala. “It will be something that you have never done before, my precious friend.”

Alton proceeded to describe the long voyage planned for the whale, as well as the rough game in which he would be a player far off in Icelandic waters.

When Admiral Perth returned to the whale station in Labrador after several weeks, he received a report from the director about the progress made in preparation of Falo for the projected attack on the Icelandic fleet.

“I have been guiding our blue whale out into the North Atlantic waters and putting him through rigorous exercises simulating the sinking of enemy ships. I used small wooden models of well-known battleships and destroyers that will be his combat targets when I take him into dangerous zones later on.”

“You have used the small pursuit craft assigned to the station?” said Perth.

“Yes,” nodded Alton. “Falo has become used to the way he must maneuver in order to approach near any enemy ship that he encounters. He will be concealing himself out of sight under the ocean’s surface. If sonar should detect him, there would be nothing suspicious about a large whale swimming close to Iceland. Defense facilities will never be able the danger that he poses to their sea vessels.”

“The whale knows what he is expected to do?”

“We have practiced with tiny models of all the major classes of ships in the navy of Iceland. His memory is very good in remembering what the real ones will look like to him.”

“You will accompany him on the motor launch?”

“As far as I can with cover and safety. The plan is to leave in the next several days, when our weather reports tell us that conditions are highly favorable for swift, easy passage across.” Alton grinned with satisfaction at the way things were proceeding.

A dawn of glory and splendor rose over the whale station as Falo led the motor launch into the waves of the Atlantic. Alton set his blue Arctic eyes on the outline of his cetacean friend, visible in water just below the service. He rarely looked away from what was now a weapon of war.

Small, black-and-white storm petrels accompanied the swimming blue whale.

At intervals, Falo would surface, raising his shoulder and blow hole above the water and sending up a spout over 40 feet high.

Alston watched its magnificent lower body, noting the orange tinge along the bottom. He saw the gigantic mouth with its 300 plates of the upper jaw, each of them over three feet long.

This is the largest animal that has ever existed on this planet, the biologist told himself. It is twice as heavy as the largest of the dinosaurs. The tongue has the weight of an elephant, the heart inside Falo is equal to an automobile.

Do all blue whales possess the telepathic powers of this individual? pondered Alston as the brilliant sun lit up the day over the Atlantic.

We have reached the zone surrounding Iceland without being detected in any way, communicated the human partner to the whale. For now, you and I have to separate. While I remain here in the central ocean, you are to proceed onward in search of enemy shipping of some sort. Whatever you find and attack, must then sink to the sea floor. That is the way of a naval war such as this.

I go forth in order to obey what has been ordered, thought the blue giant. Will the result of my effort be death and destruction? It appears that way to me, my dear friend. There will be an unknown number of people sacrificed to the fishes of the deep, no doubt about that. Terrible deaths will result from the action that I am commanded to carry out.

Do you know the coming victims, or are they total strangers to you as they are to me?

It is a horrible slaughtering that is expected of us. We are to become killers of the ocean who destroy without limit. That is what you and I will then be.

Falo swam toward the great island with which Canada was at war. He stayed below the ocean’s surface, only going up to have a look ahead from time to time. The moment came when he caught sight of a small cruiser, but it was not alone. A small distance behind this vessel he was able to make out the silhouette of a destroyer, then the form of an old-fashioned battleship, a relic of the out-of-date navy of Iceland. This appeared to be the forward section of an outgoing fleet heading into the Atlantic.

Then the blue whale sighted something unexpected and unusual. Falo was startled to see a member of his own species. In a few seconds, a second whale appeared. Before long there was a third.

This had to be a cetacean escort for the attack fleet that was sailing away from Iceland. That was the only possible explanation for the presence of a number of giants of the sea.

What Canada had achieved, Iceland had managed to match.

Falo felt confused and puzzled by this unforeseeable complication.

Alton was waiting aboard the motor launch for some report on what was happening in the zone where the Icelandic navy held supremacy.

When the message arrived in his mind, its content was shocking. His thoughts were shaken to their foundation.

I have located an entire fleet of enemy ships leaving the naval port on the west coast and heading in a direction toward where you and I departed.

There is a squad of beings similar to myself surrounding these vessels and providing a protective shield in case of attack from the sea. This situation is one impossible for me to cope with. What can I do? I swam all the way here in order to sink ships made of steel. But I found living creatures like myself in front of the fleet sailing into deeper waters. Your plan of action is no longer one that I can carry out. There is no way for me to accomplish that now.

For these reasons, I have turned about and am making a retreat westward, the way that we came. I feel sorrow and embarrassment at this inability of mine to perform as required. My decision is to make up for the disappointment that you will now have in relation to myself. I am profoundly sorry for the harm this will cause to your reputation and that of the station you command. I ask you to forgive me for my part in causing it.

I cannot and will not return to the life that we enjoyed together. We shall have to part and follow separate paths. I shall roam the oceans like my species has done since the start of our existence. We may, by chance, cross paths in the future. If not, I thank you for all you have done for me.

You have been the best friend a whale like me could ever have had.

Good-bye and best wishes from your Falo.

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