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Top Secret

Posted on 26 Sep 2022 @ 10:36am by Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Watts & Lieutenant Commander Ciara Mcclellandi & Lieutenant Ronnie Broward & Lieutenant Isabel Castillo & Command Master Chief Petty Officer Hector Gonzales

Episode: E1: A Historic Voyage
Location: Officer Country
Timeline: Date 2025-05-04 at 0615

Liz made her way to the quarters shared by the supply officer and engineer first. She figured rousting the chop and ENG would be easiest seeing as she didn’t have to request the meeting in front of the one department head, although acting, that wasn’t invited to the meeting. She reached the door of the stateroom after stopping in her own to finish putting on her coveralls and to grab her radio. She knocked on the hatch cringing at the knowledge she was disturbing the sleep and rest of three officers at once.

Ciara was a lighter sleeper on the sub then at home. So she heard the knock on the hatch and headed over to find out what had resulted in disturbing her rest. Clad in PT gear she tried to tame her hair which was doing its best impression of a rat's nest.

She then saw Liz, "Commander?"

“I need you and Isa in the ward room ASAP,” Liz said. “If you beat me there it’s a secured meeting so have Isa inform the galley to keep out and switch on the privacy light,” Liz ordered.

As the wardroom was used for sensitive meetings and activities at times. Only those with an invitation from the Captain or Executive Officer were to enter the wardroom when the privacy light was lit.

"Aye ma'am." Ciara responded, "I'll let her know." With that, she disappeared back into her quarters and began to get dressed quickly, not really caring about her hair. Their third roommate rolled back over and went to sleep.

"Was that the XO?" Isa mumbled, tugging at the privacy curtain. She'd woken from a particularly nice dream and was, admittedly, reluctant to relinquish the last few minutes of sleep afforded her. But if Liz was dropping by the room to rouse them it was for good reason.

"T'was." She paused, "We got a meeting, said to tell you she wants the privacy light lit, and to keep the galley out for the time being. sounds serious." Ciara tied on her boots before zipping up her jacket.

Legs swung down over the side, careful not to bump Ciara who was already half dressed. Isa's preferred sleeping in a touch less than what she wore on the sub, but managed to get by with a pair of small PT shorts and a sports bra. Hoisting herself off the bed she moved to her locker and pulled out her coveralls, stripping her shorts off quickly and beginning to tug the coveralls on.

There was the usual brief pause as the Engineer tried to tame the bedhead that was her curse. They then headed out to the wardroom.

After departing from the stateroom shared by the female half of the department heads she next made her way to the door of LT Broward, LT Finch, and formerly LT Williams. She banged on the door to this stateroom next and stood to the side waiting for it to open.

Ronnie looked up as he finished lacing his running shoes. He had woken at 0600 per his usual routine and had donned PT gear to get a quick workout session in the boat's small gym. He opened the hatch and saw the XO standing in the passageway. "XO, good morning," he said with a surprised look on his face.

"Good morning, I need you in the wardroom for a briefing as soon as possible. Lieutenant Finch doesn't have the clearance for this one so we'll have to leave him in the dark for now," Liz explained, knowing that the Canadian officer could likely hear her from inside.

"Of course, ma'am. I'll be there as soon as possible," he replied as the XO nodded and proceeded down the passageway. After he closed the hatch, he stripped off his PT shirt and pulled a fresh set of coveralls from his closet. After changing into his coveralls, he laced his boots and grabbed his radio before exiting his stateroom.

After rousting the NAV Liz made her way to the Chief's Mess and knocked on the hatch. For some reason this particular waking felt the most awkward as it would disturb the most people especially if someone wasn't in the mess portion of the room and she had to enter the sleeping quarters.

"Enter," Hector called from his place at the small mess table. He kept his tone low to not disturb the other chiefs, before taking a sip of coffee from his mug and looking up to see the XO enter. Standing from his chair, "Good morning ma'am. What can i do for your?"

"Need you in the wardroom asap, Master Chief," Liz said, with a look that those who had ever served as part of a command triad would understand to mean it was serious.

"Aye aye ma'am," Hector said as he caught both her look and tone. He stood and grabbed his ball cap, coffee long forgotten as he followed her out of the Chief's Mess.

Liz arrived in the wardroom with the COB directly behind her they had come together. The others were already assembled with a fresh pot of coffee being placed by a CSS that Liz quickly shoed out the door. She checked to make sure the security light was on and then filled a cup of coffee listening to the quiet conversations of the others assembled all on their feet awaiting their captain.

Ronnie stirred his mug of coffee before taking a sip as he waited with the others. When the XO and COB had entered, he stood at attention before relaxing and taking another sip as he waited with the others for the CO to arrive.

Hector entered behind the XO and stood adjacent to the entry door as he held his ball cap in his hands and kept them clasped infront of him. He had nodded to the senior officers when he entered as they waited together.

"Get coffee and sit," Lewes announced, as he stopped at the hatch closing it behind him. For those who saw the action it would not be lost on them the importance about what was about to be discussed when he locked the door to the wardroom so that no one without a master key to the submarine which included only those on the command triad could unlock from the outside.

Ciara had filled her coffee cup and just took her first sip while the caffeine sparked her neurons and made her feel more awake, she took her seat around the table and waited still letting the caffeine do it's work sparking synapses to awake.

Pulling the chair out from the table, Ronnie sat and took another sip of his coffee. He set his mug down before pulling his notebook out and setting it in front of him. He noted the COs expression and tried to read into the nature of this impromptu meeting. He also noted the CO had locked the hatch when he entered.

The captain carried a message clipboard which had nothing displayed on the outside of it and move to his seat at the head of the table without bothering with coffee the cup he had when he began reading the dispatches was half empty on his desk in his stateroom still. He waited until everyone was seated and had all of the intense gazes of concerned senior staff staring back at him.

"The FBI has been able to thwart a terrorist attack that was to be perpetrated against a government-in-exile that is located in Washington D.C.," he began. "This terrorist attack was to be carried out by agents of the People's Republic of China. Identities of PRC intelligence personnel have been confirmed to be people that are currently being held by the FBI and Homeland Security."

That made Ciara blink, in surprise. What was going on back home?

The news filed the empty space in the room as Ronnie thought about the potential implications. He clasped his hands in front of him on the table. His fingers went to his wedding ring and he began twisting it around his finger. His thoughts, as he was sure everyone else's, went to his wife back home. Did she know about this?

Isa had made the mistake of taking a mouthful of coffee just as the CO was explaining the news and had the discomfiting experience of swallowing hot coffee just a little too quickly. Her expression turned dark at the news, and she set her mug down, wrapping both hands around it as if it were something of an anchor.

"As of now this is not released to the public beyond there was a thwarted attack and that security is being increased. They are not releasing details saying it's an ongoing investigation. This information is currently CO eyes only releasable to those with top secret clearances as needed. I am releasing it only to those here as we are going to have some increased concerns when we return toward the pacific fleet AOR. As I imagine we can expect more coming down the pike," Lewes said.

"Fuck," Liz responded, the shock on her face had been evident while the others were responding but the CO had gotten to adding to the details before she could form an intelligible response. Of course at this point there was nothing intelligible and her audible response came with no thought.

"I assume there have been no changes to our orders as of yet?" Liz asked.

"No, but, I just sent that we have exited the ice and I expect more before we reach New York," Lewes said, flatly. "What is our response here? And we need to tell the crew what has been released publicly by announcement or do we just put it up with the routine news?"

The CHOP considered the question quietly, the sudden idea of changed orders making her stomach turn slightly. They hadn't received new orders yet, though, and she told herself that a few times over. No use getting ahead of herself. "If it's being downplayed by Washington, it doesn't seem like it needs its own announcement," she finally offered up.

"I would tend to agree with that," Liz said. "If we make some grand announcement it might seem like we're trying to highlight something without highlighting it. Though playing devil's advocate to that this is an operational safety concern. We have a thwarted terrorist attack on US soil and whether we tell them who did it or not there is concern of others... Submarine all by itself in New York City letting people aboard. That's a target not even considering what Fleet Week will add to it."

Ronnie considered what was being shared at the table before he spoke up to offer his own opinion. He agreed with Isabel that there would be no need to to make a formal announcement if the higher ups were choosing to not disclose said information. One the other hand, it would be prudent to advise the crew to be vigilant when they pulled in to NYC. "I agree with the XO, sir. One the other hand, we should at a minimum advise them to keep an eye out when we reach New York," he said.

"Master Chief?" Lewes asked.

Hector contemplated for a moment before looking towards the CO. "Well sir, I think we should inform the crew of heightened tensions with the PRC, but not mention this failed attempt. The crew needs to be on alert before we pull into New York. This will also give them the time to prepare for any potential deviation from our orders," he said while he looked around the room.

Ciara made some notes, she may have looked composed but her mind was darting everywhere, she knew one of the first e-mails she'd get aside from her father wanting to know what was going on, would be Sofia who would want to know what this meant, and she knew she had to answer. That and she was sure that crew would have questions, especially those junior crew on their first deployment.

"Telling them it was the PRC is exactly what we can't do," Lewes said.

"We need to inform the crew," Liz said. "Not telling them will be a mistake. They need to be alert and they should be aware of what everyone else is aware of. And we can stall a day and wait to see if we get anymore guidance from COMSUBPAC."

"Yeah, we'll go with that," Lewes said. "We can't tell them it was China but we need to up our security. I say we give it twelve hours and re-evaluate and give us time to drills if needed before we arrive in New York."

"Brush up on your boarder repelling procedures and other security drills," Liz said, looking to her DHs.


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