View Full Version : The Commandant (for your entertainment)

11-16-2008, 05:06 PM
Sticking it up here to prevent clutter on the story thread, it's probably gonna be continued. For your enjoyment, not meant to be taken too seriously. (duh)

Surabaya, January 20th 1942

The pale morning sun shone on the naval base which was buzzing with personnel from four different nationalities, not including the locals. Most people wore a navy uniform of some description and the urgency of the ongoing desperate situation was clearly propagating from their manner, as if a bomb or shell was about to drop from the sky any second. The war was not going well for these, the assembled forces of ABDA Command. Amidst all the rushing, running and shouting, a man walked calmly along the docks. He wore a stained brown woolen sweater, corduroy trousers and a two week beard. A worn kit-bag was flung over his shoulder and an immaculately crafted roll-up hung loosely from the corner of his mouth. His appearance suggested he had no place here at all but he seemed to feel quite at home. Slightly younger than he looked and smelling of a long period of not having seen much soap, he continued on his way, drawing long satisfied pulls from the roll-up which was utterly illegal among the ammo crates stacked all over place. His clothes lacked any sign of rank or nationality but his casual yet deliberate step suggested that he was a military man. He turned the corner of a big ammunitions storage and strolled up to the black US Fleet submarine which was moored behind it on the quay. An armed guard, on station by the boardwalk, straightened his back, tightened his grip on the largely ceremonial rifle and announced in an authoritative voice: 'HALT! This is a restricted area!' The man froze mid-step, his right foot suspended in the air and he took a few moments to regain his composure while his eyes fixed on the well polished and oiled rifle.

'Hi there, Yank,' he finally said, blindly flicking his cigarette away to his right, 'Is this The Plunger?' The cigarette landed five feet from the entrance of the ammunitions storage, where another guard rushed to stamp on it with his boot, muttering inexplicable profanities before going back to his post.
'Maybe. What's it to you?' the armed guard replied, feeling wonderfully secure in the authority provided by his being armed. 'Ah good. Place rest! No, that's wrong. Uhm...oh yeah. At ease!' said the man, and he stepped up to the boat, swung his kit-bag from his shoulder and moved to walk past the guard onto the boardwalk. The guard opened his mouth but failed to come up with the right words and ended up looking like a guppy fish. An officer who had been observing all this from the bridge of the submarine reached deep into his eloquence and came to the aid of the guard. 'WHAT!... do you think you are doing?' His voice was completely successful in conveying the precise amount of dry wit and arrogance which he had been aiming for. His noble Irish descent served to add to the air of superiority. Again, the man on the quay arrested his casual trot and he turned to look at the ginger haired officer. The latter climbed down from the bridge and was already looking forward to dealing with the situation in a satisfyingly official and regulated manner. This was an excellent distraction from the boredom which had plagued him for as long as they had been docked here in this forgotten corner of the wharf.

The man on the quay smiled at the officer, dropped the kit-bag and produced from it a crisp and clean set of papers which contrasted with his appearance in much the same way as a broken barstool contrasts with a moonlit night. 'I am Lieutenant Commander Van Moon of the Royal Dutch Navy, I will be the new commandant of this boat.' The guard snapped to a surprised attention upon hearing the rank while Van Moon flipped through the pages in his hands which seemed to contain personnel files among other documents. 'You are the first officer?' The first officer, for he was indeed just that, snatched the papers from the Dutchman's hands and found himself looking down on his own file, right behind the new patrol orders for USS Plunger (SS 179) under the command of a LtCmdr Van Moon, assigned by ABDACOM, Surabaya naval base.

'You gotta be kidding me!' Dignity quietly slipped away as a vein revealed itself on the Irish American's forehead, the officer's blood pressure had gone up by a significant margin. The Plunger had been sitting here in Surabaya for weeks now, after the captain was sent off to hospital with a bad case of penile warts. Secretly, the XO had been hoping that he would be promoted and put in command for their next patrol. After all, things were tight and they needed every able boat out there on patrol. And now the brass sent some damn foreigner to command his beloved boat? This was just too wrong. Van Moon reached to retrieve his papers from the XO and cleared his throat from a slimy obstruction before speaking again. The rasp was testament to an unholy number of daily fags and he attempted to spit the product across the forward deck of the boat. The phlegm projectile failed to make the crossing to the open water and tangled into the boat's railing wire. 'Hmm,' he muttered admiringly: 'This boat is bigger than I expected, isn't it not.' The Dutchman went over to inspect the yellow slimy blob now half hanging from the wire. 'Sorry about that, I clean it up.' And he produced a disgusting piece of cloth from his pocket with which he returned the wire to its former glory. He smiled. 'Right, now to business? As you say it in America?' At least the obstruction seemed to have cleared from his throat.

The XO felt his vein throbbing while he wondered if he was technically supposed to be subordinate to this pig or not. The Dutchman rasped his throat again and grinned: 'Ok, Lieutenant, erm, Ogilvie. We sail out tomorrow. Get all food and ammunitions on board proper. I want all the officers and senior warrant officers in the mess after lunch for a little meeting. Meanwhile I wish to see my hut. Where do I sleep in this big beautiful thing?' Lieutenant Earl Ogilvie now noticed the smell which protruded from the woolen sweater and coughed. 'I'm sorry, Sir, but there must be some mistake here. Let me go and clear this up with Headquarters right now.' The Dutchman smiled again, which seemed to somehow add a chin under his bearded jaw and said: 'No apology necessary, Lieutenant, we all make mistakes. I just come from Headquarters. It's all ok. Oh and your previous captain says hello, he is recovering well and he works for admiralty now. He also has a message for you personally but it is a bit rude, ok.' The armed guard smirked which he could safely do with his back turned to the officers. Nobody liked the XO much. But then again, this new guy was not very promising either. The guard was worried that they would all miss their old skipper before long.

11-16-2008, 05:09 PM
Lieutenant the Honorable Earl Ogilvie spent the rest of the morning raising hell at HQ but his effort went largely unnoticed due to affairs there already much resembling hell. The closest he got to a result was being brushed off by the duty officer from the Intelligence Corps. 'I know he is a bit weird but this guy comes straight from Europe and he's the best we've got available at this time. Just take care of your boat and let him take care of the enemy, alright? Now get outta here, we're busy.' Ogilvie skulked back to his beloved boat which was now no longer his and couldn't wait to initiate a nice bloody revolt against anything injust, spearheading the boat's staff, brandishing regulations and possibly a cutlass. This mental image cheered him right up and he had regained much of his usual arrogance by the time he reached USS Plunger again. He found the boat rife with gossip as he entered into the control room. Van Moon had been strutting around the submarine after he left, flashing his unnerving grins against anyone who got in the way and shaking the hands of the few brave ones who had stood their ground against the smell. 'Hi, Van Moon, how are you? Hi there! Van Moon is the name, what does this button do?' And so on.

Now, the new commander was in his hut, taking a short nap before lunch. The rest of the officers were having a private meeting on the aft deck, using the barrel of the 3 gun to slam their fists on if they needed to fortify an argument. They were contemplating the pros and cons of mutiny and they took quite a while to reach a decision, largely because they rather valued their current lifestyles. Young, well dressed navy officers were very much in fashion at the parties which were thrown so often these days. The nurses and the wrens in the city were making sure to enjoy themselves as long as it lasted. As an alternative, the firing squad just failed to compete. In the end, it was decided that the disgusting Dutchman should probably get a chance. 'But just the one!' the XO insisted.

Van Moon entered the officer's mess in a new woolen sweater. This one was yellow and slightly less stained. He had apparently discovered the small sink in his quarters as the beard was gone and so was most of the smell which had disturbed so many of the crew that morning. 'Hi,' he grinned, 'lunch is served?' 'Yes Sir.' Ensign Abercrombie made a confused exit and came back with the cook on his heels. They ate in silence and when the table was cleared and the coffee was being sipped, the air in the mess was pregnant with tension. Van Moon looked around and seemed satisfied. He pulled a cumbersomely large and terribly worn out dictionary from his pocket in which it had barely fitted and placed it before him on the table. 'Ok, I trained with the Germans before the war and I killed the Germans during the war. Now I am here with you. I am very good at shooting ships but I do not know how your boat works, ok? So, we make an appointment.' 'Appointment, Sir?' The Dutchman shook his head, sighed and reached for the dictionary which he began to browse. 'No, agreement! We reach an agreement. You do your boat thing, I do my killing ships thing, we learn from each other. Ok?' He looked round, nobody argued. 'Ok, anyone of you went to university perhaps?' Second Lieutenant Voge and Ensign Zabriskie raised their hands. 'Zabi, Zabiskr.. oh poop, Voge you will stay close to me and help me with the language. I want to learn American good.' 'Well, Sir,' Voge took to his new task with vigour: 'You learn American well.'

'Thank you, ok. This afternoon we make an inspection of the ship, tomorrow we sail. Questions?' Watch Officer Lieutenant Garrett gathered his courage and coughed. 'Excuse me, Sir, but how come a Dutchie gets to command one of our proud fleet boats?' Van Moon turned to him, grinned sheepishly and said: 'Because I asked them nicely, ok.' Lieutenant Symkiewicz went red and burst out: 'Oh come on now, that turkey just don't fly! What if...' but he stopped his outburst as Van Moon was casually scribbling a note into the dictionary. Voge peeked and laughed as he read the scribble: 'Rural - when angry: Turk he don't fly'

'Ok. Now, cigarette outside after lunch.' Another unnerving smile and Van Moon stood up, dictionary in one hand, a small bag of shag in the other. 'Smoking on board is only ok in an emergency,' he said, 'join me on the wintergarden if you want.' And he made his exit. 'The what?' 'Beats me.' Several officers went after him because they wanted to smoke, several more followed because they wondered what he meant. Van Moon was found standing on the aft AA platform, leaning against the tub wall and studying the 20mm while smoking another one of his foul reeking roll-ups. 'So how do you shoot at sea targets?' he inquired, pointing at the wall of the tub. 'We don't Sir, that's what the deck gun is for.' 'Oh,' he said with a sad frown. 'We must cut some of this down then. Where is the Skipper?' 'You are the Skipper, Sir.' 'No, I'm the commandant. Where is the skipper, the one who drives the boat?' Ensign Rufino caught on: 'Oh he means the chief engineer.' He went down to the control room to find chief petty officer Wickham. 'Hey chief! Where are you? Capt'n OK is asking for you, I think he wants to make some, ahem, modifications to the boat.' Rufino said with a malicious grin. He got the result he was looking for and the chief came screaming past him up the ladder, growling like a bull. 'Goddamn Dutchie better think twice before messing with my boat!'

XO the honorable Earl Ogilvie was rubbing his hands in anticipation of the clash between the chief and the commander but the clash never came, much to his disappointment. Rufino was sent to report on the goings on and he found the chief high up on the bridge, smiling down on the Dutchman who was lying on his stomach up on the forward deck, head sticking out over the deck by the bowplanes. 'Again!' he yelled. The chief passed down the word: 'Deploy dive planes.' The commander laughed and yelled: 'And now back!' And the chief made it so: 'Retract dive planes'. Van Moon got up, elated. 'Haha good, ok! What will you Yanks think of next.' He had found an easily gained friend in the chief, simply by liking the boat and all its technological and mechanical marvels. The two of them went on to enjoy all the other advanced bits of kit which were scattered throughout the boat. The new captain took it all in and the chief was delighted to have a fresh pair of ears for his rather long-winded technology lectures. Rufino let them be and returned to the mess to give the XO the bad news.