The Butterfly Dragon: Night Boat - Episode 03 (First Draft Complete)

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Changes: The Major Harris character has been renamed to Vice Admiral Harris, seeing as the United States Navy does not include the rank of Major. My first plan was to have the signals intelligence unit be a detachment of the United States Marines, though eventually I determined that it wouldn't make sense for the context of this storyline. Hence, Major Harris is not Vice Admiral Harris.

Excerpts From The Butterfly Dragon: Night Boat Episode 01

Captain George Steadman of the heavily modified Gearing Class Destroyer Many Faced Maiden has been informed of the presence of an American Naval fleet in the waters just north of the Marshall Islands. He quickly summons Alomera Zek to the bridge of the ship:

"That's the third fleet, isn't it?" asked Steadman.

"Correct sir. A Nimitz class aircraft carrier, two Aegis class destroyers and two fast attack craft. Missile Boat Drones. PHM2 Class. Completely unmanned, with stealth capabilities and armed with four harpoon missiles, and eight fifth generation HARM radar homing missiles. Undoubtedly they'll have the assistance of the coast guard of any country whose shores we get close to if they've identified us yet," Norman informed Steadman whose face seemed to pale as Norman spoke.

"Activate the veil if it isn't already!" Steadman ordered.

"Already done sir. I activated it an hour before sunrise as you ordered," Norman responded.

"So in all likelihood they haven't spotted us yet," Steadman asked his first Officer.

"Correct sir. All indications are that they're still in the dark about us," Norman replied.

"We need a distraction. Something to get their attention away from us," Steadman spoke his thoughts aloud.

"We need to use the blackmail database again," Steadman requested of Zek, who looked at him cautiously.

"Tell me who, and what do we need done?" asked Zek.

"We need the third naval fleet of the United States Navy recalled back to port. It appears they might be on an intercept course, and we can't afford a run in with the Navy," Steadman ordered.

"You want me to blackmail a politician into an order of that magnitude? That's going to take some weight, but I think I have just the man for the job. A Navy Admiral himself approaching retirement. A man implicated in an illegal arms deal with Iraq during the early nineteen nineties. He'd likely rather avert a court marshal and lengthy sentence, especially with retirement so close..." Zek offered.

"Ensure that nobody is harmed in the process," Steadman ordered Zek.

"Am I to understand that you're acquiring a conscience after all this time?" Zek asked in amazement.

"No. I just want to ensure that if we're apprehended, that my sentence is shorter than yours," Steadman replied honestly.

"Good, because a conscience in our business can be a liability you know," Zek responded, already growing comfortable with the weight shifting in his favour.

"My lack of a conscience is only a liability for you at this point. Do this, and I'll extend your decryption deadline another week. Don't do it, and I'll shoot you in the foot and throw you overboard into these shark infested waters," Steadman wasn't ready to give up his power so easily, but in the eyes of the crew, that weight was already dwindling.

"Aye Aye, my Captain," Zek gave a mock salute to Steadman as the guard led him to the communications room.


Meanwhile, sometime later, Steadman has discovered something affixed to the side of the top secret stealth technology that he had installed in the Many Faced Maiden before he left port with it. He summons a technician to help him troubleshoot the situation:

"I was hoping you could tell me. It appears to be a magnet. An industrial strength magnet," Steadman said as he attempted to pry it off of the veil.

"If that's true, that would really mess it up," the tech informed Steadman.

"Why's that? I thought this thing was super advanced," asked Steadman.

"Its basically a supermagnet so powerful that it bends radio and light waves at a convergence point about a hundred meters from the hull of the ship, so that they wrap around the opposite side. To anyone looking with visual or radio instrumentation, they'd essentially see nothing," the tech explained.

"So how would an industrial magnet stuck on the side of it affect it?" asked Steadman, who tried again with all his might to pry the magnet off.

"First of all, it would deform the convergence field so that parts of the ship might be exposed and visible on radar. Secondly, the metal parts of the veil would become magnetized and would give false readings on the data display, and once again deform the convergence field, further exposing the ship," the tech summed up the risks posed by the magnet.

"How do we demagnetize the metal siding?" asked Steadman.

"The veil is grounded to the hull of the ship, and would naturally demagnetize over the course of a few weeks," the tech explained.

"Any way to speed that process up?" Steadman asked as he took a third attempt at breaking the hold the magnet had on the siding.

"Not really. We're just going to have to wait it out and hope that its not so bad that the ship is visible on radar and satellites," the tech told him as he managed to free the magnet.


In another location on the ship, Alomera Zek has managed to procure a mobile phone which is usable thanks to the cellular towers on the nearby city of Enubirr on the Kwajalein Atoll. Unbeknownst to Steadman, Zek uses the phone to call Dantos, an old contact from Columbia during Zek's days as the most powerful criminal industrialist and ruler of the world:

"What is it. What can I do for our revolutionary messiah?" asked Dantos.

"I need you. I need a reputable crew. I need a frigate. You know the one I'm referring to, right?" asked Zek.

"She's safe in port, as we speak, but she may be deployed again soon. I can get the crew together in a day. We've been waiting for your signal. However, we're going to need a little help from above. Someone to coax the port authority to look the other way?" asked Dantos.

"Consider it done. I'll make the arrangements so that you'll have a window of opportunity tomorrow in the evening. About seven Columbia time. Are we clear on this request?" asked Zek.

"We are, but without a destination, we're as good as dead in the water," Dantos insisted of Zek.

"Within three days, we'll be south of Puerto Ayora, on the west side of the Panama Canal. I'd like for you to intercept us about a hundred nautical miles due south of that point, at -2.1690 degrees South by -90.2868 degrees West," Zek told Dantos, checking the coordinates he'd scrawled with a pen on his right forearm.

"If you take care of the Port Authority for us, you can count on my arrival," Dantos assured Zek.

"You'll need an armed boarding party if we're to procure control of situation, if you understand my meaning," Zek asked him discretely.

"Oh, I most certainly do. That brings me to another topic. You are aware that something has overtaken the Americas. North America especially. It is as if evil spirits have inhabited the people and is driving them crazy one by one..." Dantos explained to Zek.

"My allies here have mentioned that something strange is happening in society American and Canadian society, but they couldn't explain it to me in any meaningful way. You say that it is driving people mad?" confirmed Zek.

"It is like a communicable disease of the mind. It is driving some mad, while others become automatons, as if without a will of their own. These are obviously the end times and a sign that the time is right for a revolution! Who better to lead the people than our own messiah! Alomera Zek! Viva Revolution!" Dantos exclaimed over the phone.

"Perhaps it is best to to know whiskers from teeth first, before we leap directly into the jaws of the Jaguar. We first will deal with our obstacles at my location, then we'll uncover the mystery about which you speak, from the safety of our own little fleet," Zek assured him.

Excerpts From The Butterfly Dragon: Night Boat - Episode 02

Just south of Puerto Ayora, a smaller ship converges upon the Many Faced Maiden and when it is close enough, a battle ensues. The two ships fire upon each other as a boarding party is sent from the smaller ship to the Many Faced Maiden. With the arrival of the boarders, a mutiny on the Many Faced Maiden begins as gunfire on the deck of the ship erupts. Steadman uses his crew radio to alert the rest of the crew about these new developments:

"All hands! We have a full scale mutiny on our hands! Repeat, Zek is leading a mutiny! I want the tactical team to retreat to the bridge immediately while all other guards are to report to the mid section deck to protect the ship at all costs!" Steadman ordered his crew.

Steadman was chilled to the bone when he heard another voice over the radio.

"To the rest of the crew. If you join my mutiny, I promise you each a million dollars up front and a high paying position in my new organization. If you bring me Steadman alive, I will up that payment to ten million dollars and promise you a position on my board of directors. You see, his leadership has failed to produce the kind of results to which you're entitled, especially my pendejo brothers and sisters. Join my team and you'll be rewarded and respected for your effort for my organization. If however, you'd rather remain loyal to a man that on his way out, I can only promise you a quick death. The choice is yours," Zek's voice cut through the static of battle, catching everyone's attention.

"Don't listen to him! Remember all of those thousand bodies littering the harbour of Treadwater Island? A thousand of them they pulled from the water. If you join his organization, there's a good chance your fate will end the same way. He plays by his own rules, and if you don't fit into his plan, you're as good as dead, and he'll try to push you in that direction just to cut down on his costs after he's enlisted you. I'm prepared to offer every one of you the same exact same deal. Bring me Zek alive, and you'll be paid ten million. Those of you who mutiny against my leadership and the rest of the crew will be thrown overboard. As simple as that," Steadman responded to Zek's gambit.

As the five mutineers found Steadman, he turned with his SMG, ready to mow them all down if he had to. Instead, the tactical team cut down two of them quickly, the three remaining ran for cover with the  remaining boarding party, using a hidden hand signal to let them know they were friendly to their cause.

"Let's get you to the bridge sir!" the leader of the tactical team said to Steadman, who got to his feet and ran for the stairs.

From that point on, the crew of the Many Faced Maiden was split in two.

The Butterfly Dragon: Night Boat - Episode 03

The Head

"This is a serious situation! We need to brainstorm a plan to get this under control and now!" Steadman addressed the tactical team, a handful of guards and Norman, the ship's acting Captain and one of the few real sailors on board.

Out on the deck of the Many Faced Maiden, the sound of small arms fire punctuated the air. A couple hundred meters away, the burning hull of the smaller ship had slowed to a stop. Not only was that ship sinking, but it was ablaze as the fuel tanks caught fire.

"We need to sleep and eat. If we can get a hold of the galley and protect it, we might be able to starve them out," suggested Carver, the tactical team leader.

"What about the engine room? If they have control of that, they can stop us dead in the water any time they want," Norman reminded them.

"Not to mention the veil, and the code breaking team decrypting the recipe for the SY349 formula," Steadman thought aloud.

"The five of us can capture and hold the galley. That should be our first priority. The rest of the guards can help mop up the boarding party on the deck. There's a good chance that most of the boarding party and the mutineers have already retreated into the lower deck and quite possibly to engineering. We could booby trap all routes from engineering in such a way that they'd be pinned to the aft section of the lower decks," Carver suggested a plan of action.

"Alright. That's a good start. I want six guards here protecting the bridge. We can't afford to lose this. Carver, take your team and capture the galley if need be. Have another six guards hold it as you advance towards engineering. Booby trap the bottlenecks and hold those points until we know more about what's going on. Everyone clear on this?" asked Steadman.

"En route now!" Carver responded, leaving the bridge with the rest of the tactical team to head to the galley.

Steadman left six guards on the bridge, taking the rest with him to the deck of the ship where the fighting was quickly subsiding.

The Tail

The last of the remaining boarding party had retreated into the lower decks and innards of the Many Faced Maiden. The mutinous crew that had agreed to be a part of this plot, which had gained traction from a week earlier helped to cover their retreat.

They streamed through the halls of the lower decks collecting food, tools and gear where they could, their ultimate goal was to get to the engineering section of the ship.

Dantos led the boarders through the halls towards the rear quarters and main engineering, his SMG as firmly in his hand as his Cuban cigar was perched in his lips. The cigar however remained unlit, as it was reserved for the day they'd take the entire ship.

"Alomera you old devil you!" Dantos said as he was let in through the doors to the main utility room, where Zek had setup his temporary headquarters.

"It is good to see you in person again Dantos," Zek shook his friend's hand firmly.

"It looks like we've traded in our prison bars for steel and salt water now, haven't we?" joked Dantos.

"The peaks of waves are as liberty is to those to whom the depths of their troughs are oppression. Just ask any sailor..." Zek responded astutely.

"Or surfer..." Dantos joked, patting Zek's shoulder.

"We should get down to matters at hand. We're going to need food, and they've no doubt already got the galley under their control," Zek insisted.

"I think a full out assault on their numbers, especially pinpointing the one you call Stearman..." Dantos began.

"Steadman. He's a particularly clever one. Do not underestimate his cunning," Zek advised them.

"We could raid the supply cache. There's another cold storage much closer to here that holds food and medical supplies in case of an emergency. At least we could avoid a front on battle until we've fully regrouped and reassessed our situation," Sanadra suggested.

"Remember that they too are regrouping. Steadman is at his weakest. I suggest we engage him full out in a frontal assault, perhaps find a way to flank him and trap him on the bridge. If we can cut the head off, the rest of the body will fall," Dantos pushed his plan.

"He needs the engine, we need the bridge. We both have sufficient negotiating power, for he is the head, and we are the legs. We both need supplies to survive and the head cannot move without the legs, as much so as the legs cannot merely just wander in circles without direction. I say we reinforce our position here while Dantos and Sanadra take a handful of armed men to procure supplies as he suggested. We will make contact with Steadman once we're in a position of strength. Booby trap all access halls to this point, leaving them only bottlenecks that put their superior numbers at risk," Zek ordered his men.

"I've already posted guard positions in trios along the choke points. We're safe from any counter-attack and if they should attempt any such thing, we'll have sufficient warning," Garcia advised Zek.

"Well I should think him a fool if he should choose to attack, for we already have that which he wants the most," Zek smiled deviously.

"And what is that?" asked Dantos, the cigar shifting in him mouth.

"The decrypted chemical recipe and manufacturing process for the SY349 formula..." Zek smiled again, holding up the hard disk he'd secretly procured when the tech team had cracked the encryption only twenty two minutes ago.

The Coming Of Birds

Steadman kept his vigil on the bridge while a team of reinforcements backed up the remaining guards on the main deck of the Many Faced Maiden. Now nearly half a kilometer away, the smaller ship from which the boarders had arrived had tipped sideways into the ocean as what remained afloat was consumed in flames. A pillar of smoke at least two kilometers tall rose up into the sky.

"That's not good," commented Trebor, one of Steadman's reinforcing guards as he examined the wreck in the distance.

"By the time they can muster any sort of response, we'll be fifty to a hundred clicks away, not to mention that we're completely invisible to any form of electromagnetic detection systems. We're essentially invisible," responded Dennis

Dennis turned to see a man he did not recognize, flailing on his back as he struggled against a gaping chest wound.

"Heads or tails?" asked Dennis.

"...I'm with maintenance. I repair the sump pumps..." the man gasped as he struggled to speak.

"Heads or tails?" repeated Dennis.

"...heads..." the man spoke, gurgling.

"Do any of you recognize him?" Dennis asked  his fellow guardsmen, all eighteen of them.

They each took a look in turn, and none could recall his face.

"Sorry. The odds aren't in your favour," Dennis said as leveled his SMG at the man's chest, pulling his trigger.

As the man laying on the deck dying, from the corner of his eye, Dennis saw something flying overhead. Quickly and completely silently, it shot by just above them and disappeared beyond their vision in one fell swoop.

"What the hell was..." Dennis didn't have a chance to finish his sentence before they were hit by the double sonic boom of a jet that had been traveling at mach 1.5 and had slowed upon arriving in the vicinity of the other sinking ship.

Most of the men had protective inserts in their ears, and even with those in place, the shockwave hit them like a ton of bricks.

"What the hell was that?" asked Steadman of Norman.

"That was a jet. Depending upon whether that carrier we spotted earlier is tasked with a Marine or Navy fleet, its either an F-35 Lightning II, or an F-22 Raptor..." Norman speculated.

"Can't we just identify it on radar?" asked Steadman.

"And break electromagnetic silence? That pilot would detect us immediately, and relay our position directly back to their fleet operations carrier," Norman advised him.

"Did it see us?" asked Steadman, suddenly panicked.

"We've got no alarms for their detection systems or missile lock so we can assume that they're just investigating the wreckage of the other vessel," Norman told him.

"Accelerate the ship to full speed and set a course out of here!" Steadman ordered Norman.

"I strongly advise against that sir. We'd leave a long visual wake in our aft, which could be spotted by any recon jets or drones they'll be sending to the area, especially after having spotted the wreckage.

"They don't know what happened. That means they have no idea that it was a firefight between us and that ship," Steadman told Norman.

"They will know sir, and soon. We have twelve hours to vacate the area, but we can't move at full speed until night fall," Norman told Steadman, who rubbed his chin deep in thought.

"Why?" asked Steadman.

"The difference between how water reflects light at day versus night. Their detection equipment was designed to detect the wake caused by opposing force submarines and submersibles. Most of it is designed to respond to the polarity of light when reflected by the turbulent wake of a ship. At night, that polarity signature is reduced enough that there's only a three percent chance of a signature detection per half hour of tracking. At daylight, those odds are ninety two percent," Norman explained to Steadman the mechanics of maintaining operational stealth during manouevres.

"Not to mention that Zek might not play ball if he has control of the engine room," Steadman thought out loud.

"He has just as much if not more to lose. We have plenty of bargaining power," Norman agreed.

"We'll proceed along our current route at the speed you suggest, and at night fall we'll accelerate to full speed for an hour, and for the remaining six hours of night we'll slow to three quarters until daylight. Understood?" asked Steadman.

"Aye, Sir," Norman responded affirmatively.

"Carver? How goes your operation?" asked Steadman into his headset.

"Got the galley, zero resistance. We're reinforcing it now and ensuring that the internal camera systems are set to a new channel. One that Zek doesn't know and can't access. We're about ten minutes from moving out to procure the decryption equipment, over," Carver reported to Steadman.

"Hold off on scouting the halls to main engineering. He might have already setup traps there. Let's assume that the cutoff point for us is midship until we make contact. Setup traps along our bottlenecks to reinforce the guard points," Steadman ordered Carver.

"Roger that. We'll report in within the next twenty minutes. I've got a lot on the go, so over and out," Carver said, busy working on the cameras.

As Carver signed off, the old dial phone rang beside Norman.

"Who could that be?" asked Steadman.

"Who do you think?" asked Norman, somewhat sarcastically.

Steadman picked up the phone and put it to his ear.

"Captain Steadman here," Steadman spoke into the old headset.

"Captain Zek on this end," Alomera Zek responded.

"What would you like to discuss?" asked Steadman.

"It seems that we have some negotiating to do," Zek smiled, holding the decryption drive in his hands.

To be continued in The Butterfly Dragon: Night Boat Episode 04

Credits and attribution:

Artwork: Amy WongWendy PuseyGhastly, Brian Joseph Johns, Daz3DUnreal Engine...

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