From The Depths - Part 1

[ This is one of my very first G.I.Joe stories and it has taken me several months (close to a year) to get it to this level of development. With the support of readers like you providing me with up-lifting comments, I felt it was time to rework this story and finally publish it for you to read. So without further ado, enjoy this two-part installment called FROM THE DEPTHS - an original story within the G.I.Joe universe that includes an original character created by me. ]

"ETA is fifteen minutes to base, sir," his second in command reported.

Drake Luxen nodded but provided no verbal communication to his second because there was no need. And besides, he had other things on his mind, namely completing this mission. G.I.Joe was practicing land-to-sea operations overhead and he was on the lookout for an enemy attack if one was coming, but knowing his enemy, he suspected nothing less. Since being promoted to commander of an underwater unit of Undertow he had successfully completed every mission he was given despite occasional interference by G.I.Joe and he intended to keep his track record at one hundred percent. He wanted this mission to go precisely according to plan.

At present he was in command of transporting a highly sophisticated and sensitive particle laser to a secret COBRA underwater base two hundred kilometres off the coast of Bimini, Florida. Transport of the laser started under the cover of darkness at 0200 hours and they were given a specific route to follow straight to the base. So far they hadn't hit any trouble, and Drake Luxen was pleased with how the mission was proceeding. Everything was going according to plan.

He briefly glanced down at his watch and confirmed the time stated by his second, and smiled. Indeed, they were a good fifteen minutes to completing the mission, but remarkably they were ahead of schedule. Cobra Commander will be pleased, he thought. Turning his glance, he examined his Undertow unit swimming a close ten meters behind him with the particle laser in tow. And he never thought he would be so pleased to be a part of COBRA. Precision and strong leadership brought success. COBRA's philosophy was if only the United States was as efficient as the men and women of COBRA were, then perhaps wars would be avoided through collective ambition rather than fought with hopeless futility and the loss of good soldiers. Luxen believed in that philosophy, however, there was one snag: COBRA didn't want to share the world, they wanted total unquestionable rule, and that's where the entire philosophy broke down.

As Drake Luxen swam ahead of his unit he suddenly felt an unusual vibration in the water and stopped in his tracks. At first he thought it might have been a large school of fish swimming very close to where he was and as the water was so dark and murky at this time of night that wouldn't be out of the realm of plausibility. But something else bothered him about the vibration. When he was a boy he loved the water and fell in love with its clandestine world. And almost immediately felt a certain unexplained connection with the ocean, one he couldn't explain. He had the ability to sense vibrations in the water similar to that of a shark's sonar if some invertebrate swam into its territory. He used this underwater clairvoyance as a deep-sea diver while in the United States Navy, but told no one. Now with COBRA he used his gift to the fullest extent. And something about this vibration made him nervous. It was a large vibration, and very directed. Through years of developing his gift he had learned to distinguish different vibrations in the water from all forms of underwater life. Fish have their own specific vibration pattern and larger creatures such as sharks and whales have another. However this vibration was not associated with a creature from the depths. He drew only one conclusion.

"Lieutenant, prepare the troops, we have company," Luxen told his second in command.

His second swam to the others and told them an attack was imminent and to prepare. Drake Luxen could hear his second's directives clearly from the communication device inside his scuba mask that each Undertow had. He didn't know who the enemy was, but it didn't take long for him to find out as a unit of divers swam into sight. And on the side of one of their water sleds was a painted G.I.Joe symbol. "Undertow unit, evasive manoeuvres. Defend the laser, attack the Joes." Luxen shouted out orders. And his unit responded with an offensive attack.

G.I.Joe returned fire.

Soon the two parties clashed in battle, and an ambitious Joe attacked Luxen with a knife, lunging at him from a water sled with purpose. The Joe used his knife to slice through the water with precision, but Luxen was able to avoid the man's attack by falling back on years of training and defensive techniques that he had learned though countless training exercises with COBRA. The Joe slashed at Luxen again and again Luxen avoided the man's attack, and soon the fight came a stand still as neither the Joe nor he could get the better of the other.

Suddenly a torpedo was fired from a COBRA water sled and the explosion rocked the area around them as it destroyed a G.I.Joe water sled. An eddie current from the explosion pushed the Joe off balance and Luxen was able to get the advantage. Luxen grabbed the Joe's left wrist and incapacitated the man's knife hand. The Joe struggled to free his hand as Luxen held on tightly but the man was unsuccessful in his attempt. Luxen then took his own knife and sliced through the water cutting the man's wetsuit at his chest. Bubbles of excess oxygen use emerged from the Joe's scuba mask and the man grabbed his chest as streams of blood started to exit out of the wound. Luxen then took hold of the Joe's breathing tube and cut it with his knife.

The Joe's breathing tube whipped around in sporadic movement and the man tried to restore his oxygen intake as Luxen stood back and watched the futile attempt. After thirty seconds the Joe began to slow down as his oxygen ran out. Soon after, the Joe took one last look at Luxen and keeled over as he lost consciousness. Luxen treaded water and stared at the Joe as the man floated aimlessly slowly becoming buoyant. He had never killed anyone before, even in his years with the United States Navy. But then of course he was with research and development and not with a special elite unit like Marines or S.E.A.L.S.

He was a member of COBRA, but he was cold-hearted and quickly took a breath from his scuba mask, then gave his mask to the unconscious Joe. Seemingly Luxen thought he had actually killed the man, but after fifteen seconds or so the Joe regained conscious and started to breath again. The Joe looked up at Luxen puzzled and Luxen nodded with acknowledgment. The Joe gave him the same nod. They exchanged the mask so Luxen could have some oxygen.

"I'm not a killer," Luxen started to explain, "just a man doing his job."

The mask was exchanged again and the Joe took a couple of breath. "So am I." And the Joe produced a pair of handcuffs and cuffed Luxen around the right wrist. "You're under arrest," he said. Luxen gave the Joe a perplexed stare and the Joe then lead Luxen to his water sled where the Joe collected extra scuba gear stored in the aft compartment for emergencies. Luxen was given back his own mask as the Joe slid on his new scuba mask and oxygen tank.

"You may have me dead-to-rights, Joe, but you'll never attain the particle laser. As we speak it's on its way towed by two of my Undertow. It pays to prepare for an attack in advance."

"We'll see." The Joe took Luxen and handcuffed his other wrist. "Whether the laser escapes us or not, the fact of the matter is you're not going anywhere. So where is that laser headed?"

"I'm not telling you anything, Joe. Find the laser on your own. You were smart enough to find my unit within this murky soup, so put those same surveillance techniques into similar practise," Luxen blandly said. "By the way, how did you find my unit? We were well out of range of any sonar equipment and our depth was deep enough to mask our silhouettes."

"A fisherman was taking a late night walk at around 0200 along the Bimini coast shoreline and spotted some suspicious activity, divers moving a large cylinder into the water, he thus informed the authorities and they in turn informed us when they suspected it might be COBRA."

"You guys really move fast."

"When it comes to COBRA, we take no chances," the Joe said. "And since we suspected that you were transporting the particle laser, we ceased our land-to-sea night operations and came down here. And as we speak, your underwater base is under attack by unified forces. So no matter how you look at it, you've lost. So tell me, where is that laser?"

"The sonar device should tell you, it's attached to my belt," Luxen said.

The Joe plucked the sonar device off Luxen's belt and read the readings. "Present position has it less than a kilometre west of here. Looks like your boys don't know that the underwater base is under attack and are heading straight for it." The Joe smiled at Luxen. "Game over, you've lost."

Luxen sighed. "My wife is gonna kill me," he said.

"Well, you should've thought of that before joining COBRA," the Joe said almost pleased.

Suddenly both men heard a horrible, blood-curdling scream from inside their scuba masks; it came from their communication devices. A second scream just as horrific as the first then followed seconds later, each scream clearly from two distinct individuals.

"What on earth?" Luxen said.

"Wetsuit, this is Falcon, come in," the Joe said. "Did you catch that? What was that?"

"Looks like we stumbled into a school of hungry sharks at dinnertime and presently they're enjoying a two course meal of COBRA-a-la-mode," Wetsuit replied. "They just attacked two Undertow and ripped them to shreds. We can't get near the particle laser; there are just too many sharks. Get your butt over here and bring your shark repellent. Where are you?"

"Not far," Falcon said. "I captured the commander of---"

"Shoot it, shoot it." Wetsuit started to say, but then the transmission abruptly ended.

"Wetsuit, come in. Wetsuit, come in." Falcon looked at Luxen. "My friends are in trouble."

"So what do you want me to do about it?" Luxen blatantly said.

"You're gonna help me or I'll leave you here handcuffed," Falcon said.

"I rather stay here than make my way into the lions den, they're aren't any sharks here." But Luxen spoke too soon as a shark passed through the water sled's headlights about two meters in front of them. "Don't make any sudden moves, a sharks visual acuity is based on movement. It can't see you of you don't make a noise."

"Then shut-up or it'll hear you," Falcon said.

"Sharks can't hear," Luxen said. "They hunt their prey by using sonar in the water. Just relax and don't panic. As long as you don't make a move it won't attack." Suddenly Luxen felt a speedy vibration from behind him and turned around, quickly ducking as a shark attacked where his head was two seconds earlier. "What the hell? It must be the air bubbles that are disturbing the water and causing eddie variances. We're not safe. We hafta get out of here."

Falcon mounted the water sled. "Get on," he said. And once Luxen was on the sled behind him, the vehicle sped off as fast as the thing could take them. However, in water, sharks had the advantage, and the sled wasn't fast enough to outrun the animal. But just before the shark overtook them, Falcon pulled hard right and out-flanked the man-killer.

"If my hands were only free I could shoot the shark," Luxen said.

"Uh-huh. I'm not giving you a weapon."

"What's more important, giving me a weapon or escaping with your life? Sharks have no mercy. They don't care if you're fighting on the side of good or evil. If they think you'll be a tasty snack, they will eat you. Sharks have no known predators so they're not afraid of anything or anyone. Giving me a weapon might just save our lives. I don't intend to be eaten."

"Alright. There's a laser customized for underwater use in the holster on my right thigh, grab it."

Luxen shifted to the right and attempted to get the laser with handcuffed hands but the speed currents almost threw him off the water sled and he grabbed Falcon again. "No go, my hands are cuffed." Luxen looked forward and saw a shark coming straight at them. "Look out!" he shouted.

Falcon saw the shark at the last second and bumped it as he shifted to the left. Luxen was thrown off the water sled, but managed to grab Falcon's laser before he did. He then fired at the shark as it came near. With his clairvoyant gift he knew seconds before the shark would attack and fired at it before it got within striking distance. Falcon came back for him and fired the water sled's lasers at the shark scaring it off. With a brief moment to spare Falcon carefully aimed a pistol at Luxen's handcuffs and shot the metal restraint between them. Luxen was free. But seconds later the same shark returned and charged Falcon. It bit into his oxygen tank with its sharp teeth and pulled him off the water sled, ripping him through the water.

To be continued…