WWIII Novel: Chapter 9 Excerpt


10 June, 1987

Hanily raised the binoculars to his eyes and peered out at the vessel five miles off the starboard bow. He was standing on the destroyer’s starboard bridge wing. Beside him the lookout also had his glasses trained in the direction of the small, almost squat-shaped gray ship steaming along at twelve knots.

“So, there he is,” Hanily breathed, gripping the binoculars tighter. He, in this case was the Lira, a Russian intelligence-gathering vessel purpose-built for SIGINT work. Lira, and his fellow snoopers had become frequent visitors to the east coast of the United States in recent years. Every three months Lira, or a similarly equipped ship would trail its coat in relatively close proximity to the coastline while on its way to or from Cuba. His top speed was a paltry 16 knots, so the journey was generally a slow one with stops made at strategically selected points off New London, Norfolk, and Mayport.

Right now the Soviet AGI was forty-seven miles east of Wildwood, New Jersey and steaming north. As luck would have it, so was Scott. The morning fleet update had indicated that the Lira would likely be off the New Jersey coast for much of the afternoon, so this encounter was hardly a surprise. Hanily was bringing his destroyer up to the weapons locker at NWS Earle in Colts Neck, NJ to onload munitions and then conduct a series of weapons tests tomorrow and the day after before returning to Norfolk.

Lira had company nearby for most of the trip north from Cuba in one form or another. USN ships, aircraft, and submarines had been shadowing him constantly. Sometimes the shadow was inconspicuous and passive, and other times it was noticeable enough for the Russian sailors to understand clearly their activities were not going unnoticed. For Hanily and Scott, the Lira’s appearance came at a good time.

He was just starting to find out what his crew was all about. The first three weeks of his new command had been encouraging. His predecessor left him with a sharp, well-trained, and motivated crew. Morale was good, they regarded their ship as their home and handled her well. In the coming days Hanily would find out how well his officers and sailors could fight their ship and work under pressure. And the crew would have the opportunity to watch their new CO in action and see how he measured up to their former captain.

He lowered the binoculars and popped his head into the pilothouse. “Mr.Flemming, let’s go to general quarters,” he ordered the officer of the deck. There was no sense in wasting an opportunity for Scott to get some training in under realistic conditions.

Note: One more pre-war excerpt will post on Tuesday. A relatively longer one. Then on Christmas night, I’ll put up an entire chapter from the War section of the manuscript. 😊 – Mike

18 Replies to “WWIII Novel: Chapter 9 Excerpt”

  1. Gotta keep a trail on those while they potter along the coastline…

    Though the part which had me grinning – chapter 9 and still pre-war means lots to get my teeth into … roll on Feb, Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, the pre-war stretches through 15 chapters give or take. Some are pretty short though. It doesn’t drag very much.
      Plenty to dig your teeth into, Luke.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yeah, its tricky. You want to set the stage but not overwhelm. I knocked mine down to around 200 or so and that was a chore. Still might shave a few pages off if possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I quite like that the preamble lasts a bit – I’m often taken aback on rereading that the run-up in Red Storm Rising is less than 100 pages. Sure the shooting is exciting, but setting the scene / the assembly is a key part of the good adventure novel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Ian. I didn’t realize the run-up was less than 100 pages in Red Storm Rising. I thought it was longer. Interesting. I agree with you, setting up the stage and building up smoothly is important. That’s something a lot of contemporary writers seem to forget. They prefer using flashbacks.

      Liked by 1 person

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