2034, Part VI: Crossing the Red Line

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“We’ll circle round this space right here,” Kolchak mentioned, pushing a yellowing fingernail at their navigation laptop’s interface. “The Pyotr Velikiy has a tethered submersible aboard that’s going to put an explosive chopping cost on the cables.”

“How massive is the cost?” requested Farshad.

The captain introduced his eyes out of his binoculars. From over his shoulder, he glanced at them warily.

“Simply sufficient to do the job,” mentioned Kolchak.

The captain made a face, after which a transmission came to visit the radio in Russian. Kolchak snatched the receiver and promptly replied whereas the captain dipped his eyes again into his binoculars and continued to scan the open sea. The Pyotr Velikiy was recovering its submersible, the cost having been set. Planted on the horizon was the Kuznetsov, its decks crowded with plane. Kolchak continued to verify his watch, the second hand making its regular orbit across the dial as they waited.

Extra minutes handed in silence.

Then an explosion, a geyser fountaining upward from the seabed. Adopted by a shock. And a sound, like a clap. The whole ship rattled. The water splashed again onto the floor of the ocean. One other radio transmission got here into the bridge. The voice was excited, congratulatory. The captain answered the decision in the identical congratulatory method. The one particular person on the bridge who did not appear happy by the outcome was Farshad, who was confused. Greedy Kolchak by the elbow, he mentioned, “That should’ve destroyed a couple of or two cables.”

The smile vanished from Kolchak’s face. “Maybe.”

“Maybe?” answered Farshad. He may really feel the previous acquainted rage brimming up from the middle of his chest, into his limbs. He felt duped. “That explosion will need to have destroyed each cable.”

“And so what if it did?” answered Kolchak. “A de-escalation between Beijing and Washington hardly advantages us. It would not profit your nation both. Let’s examine what occurs now. The results of this disruption might be advantageous, for each of our nations. Who is aware of, then we would—” Earlier than Kolchak may end the thought, the ship’s collision alarm sounded.

Orders had been quickly shouted throughout the bridge—a brand new heading, a brand new pace (“Reverse proper rudder, full forward left!”), a reflexive set of impact-avoidance measures—whereas each Kolchak and Farshad scanned off the bow. At first, Farshad could not see the impediment that threatened collision. There was no ship. No iceberg. No massive object that assured disaster. There was solely clear sky. And a mist of seawater that also lingered within the air after the explosion.

It was the mist that hid the impediment.

Sharks, dozens of them, a whole college, bobbing upward like so many apples in a barrel, their white bellies offered to the solar. The evasive maneuvers continued. Farshad may do nothing; a sailor in title solely, he could not assist the crew keep away from the collision. The Rezkiy plowed by means of the sector of lifeless fish, their our bodies hitting the skinny hull, reminding Farshad of the ice floes that had so typically stored him awake at evening—dong, dong, dong. Then a far sharper noise mixed with this hole thudding, a noise like a fistful of steel spoons tossed down a rubbish disposal; the shark carcasses had been passing by means of the dual propellers of the Rezkiy.

Farshad adopted Kolchak out to the bridge wing. They turned to the strict of the ship to evaluate the harm. The seawater mist nonetheless lingered within the air. The daylight handed by means of it, putting off sensible rainbows—blues, yellows, oranges, reds.

A lot crimson.

Farshad realized the crimson wasn’t solely within the air; it was additionally within the water. The marginally broken Rezkiy set a brand new course, leaving a large swath of blood in its wake.

The web was out throughout the complete japanese seaboard. Eighty % of the connectivity within the Midwest was gone. Connectivity on the West Coast had been lowered by 50 %.

A nationwide energy outage.

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