ESE of Islas Malvinas
July 16, 1945
Grand Alliance Taskforce 15
Konteradmiral Eric von Schwarz was glad that he was inside of his flag bridge as the weather outside was living up to the name for the region, Furious Fifties. High winds were wiping the ocean white and sending freezing spray across flight deck of the 28,000 ton carrier that was his flagship; plus they hadn't even reached Drake's passage. Once again the Konteradmiral wished that the Americans had repaired the Pacific locks of the Nicaragua Canal. While the war in Europe had ended the fighting verse Dai Nippon showed no end in sight. The Canal Raid just the latest reminder there was still a great deal of fighting to be done. Which made getting the task force and the cargo ships back to NeuBrandenburg all the more import...
Blinding light washed over the ships of the task force and when the normal gloom of the South Atlantic returned there was nothing there but choppy waves.
Time Line Alpha
ESE of Falkland Islands
Von Schwarz picked himself up from deck slowly and wiped his lost breakfast from his face. From sounds of wrenching and gagging the 60 year old flag officer wasn't alone in having lost control of his stomach. The air was heavy with ozone and more than a few of the bridge crew could only moan.
"Repo..." Cough. Pausing to clear his throat and gather himself the admiral tried again, "Status Report! Ship and task force!" While the order didn't have the normal sharp crack Von Schwarz wanted it was at least clear.
Slowly the flag bridge crew began to respond to their Admiral's command and went to work discovering what had happened.
Then a young seaman next to his admiral pointed wordlessly out the window. Where there had been gloom and freezing mist was now clear skies.
Taking in the sight, Von Schwarz opened a door and walked out on to the flag bridge wing. Outside was a hint of the bone chilling cold that marked the weather before but it was fading and the seas were calm.
After a few minutes Max von Einem an officer with the two strips and crown denoting a Kapitänleutnant joined his admiral out on the wing of the flag bridge. Von Einem blond hair flutter in the gentle breeze that they found themselves in. "Admiral all ships of the task force have reported in except for one of the merchant ships... the Atlantis. No sight of her."
The Admiral found himself looking aft of his flagship for the missing merchant. Closest ship was a Schlachtkreuzer, SMS Landgraf Schultz; 17,500 standard tons, nine 240mm guns in triple turrets and 34 knots. To Schultz's starboard was the Arethusa-class of light cruiser of the Royal Navy, HMS Artemis. The British cruiser was traveling as part of the task force till she split off to head to her own destination in the Pacific. Continuing to look around there was one merchant bulk carrier but it was the Seedrachen not Atlantis. With a frown on his face Von Schwarz turned to his Flag Lieutenant, "Any response to radio?"
"No Admiral, and radar is down but no other ships in the task force report contact with the Atlantis."
Nodding at the information the Admiral then asked, "Any damage to report?"
Shaking his head as he replied, "At this time nothing appears to be lasting, Kapitän zur See Reinhold is working on getting the radar restored. The American Destroyer William Walker reports her radio is down and is reporting in by signal lamp. We are still gathering reports on the rest of the taskforce."
"Order all ships to search for debries, wreckage and survivors in the water, perhaps the Atlantis sank. Also tell Kapitän Reinhold to get a recon mission spotted on the deck. I want a look around us for a source of that flash..."
As the morning went by things became stranger and stranger. First they had failed to raise Grand Alliance South Atlantic Head Quarters in Freetown. For that matter they couldn’t raise any Grand Alliance Base, Command or Ship. Other than some very low powered Morris transmissions, some of which were in an unknown code there was very little radio traffic over all. This ignored the strange weather for the time of year which had to be some type of record in terms of temperature.
Then the NBFW Furies had over flown the Malvinas and seen unknown warships in main harbor for the United Provinces Island. While the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata were neutral in the war unknown warships were always a source of concern. This is especially true with everything else that was going on. So a Grumman Avenger equipped with a camera pod was ordered to over fly the harbor. A rush order was done on the film.
Von Schwarz, his staff, Kapitän zur See Reinhold and as many of the other ship captains that could be brought aboard as practical. The glossy photos were being passed around the admirals table. Also several recognition books open and they were attempting to match the ships. Von Schwarz had a thought on the capital ships but kept it to himself waiting to see if any of his officers noticed the same thing. At last Commander Harrington of the HMS Artemis spoke up.
“Well you might think me barmy but these ships look old Invincible class dreadnought armored cruisers.” The Royal Navy officer said to his fellows. Holding up one of the pictures, Harrington pointed out details on the ships. “Some about the ships is off… I can’t quiet put my finger down to what though.”
Lt. Commander Vans of the USS William Walker said, “Besides the fact that they were all scrapped after the Kyoto Naval Agreement back in the 20’s.”
Harrington replied with a prize example of English Understatement, “Yes besides the fact that the ships shouldn’t be there.”
A Korvettenkapitän of one of the destroyers spoke up, “Did the British sell any…”
Commander Harrington shook his head before the destroyer commander even fished his question. “In a word, NO.”
Von Schwarz leaned forward, “I believe that Commander Harrington is correct.” A few years at the NeuBrandenburg Embassy in London as a naval attaché a life time ago allowed the admiral to not mangle the English Officers name. “I will also add that this ship…”
Tapping for emphasis at photo of the beached pre-dreadnought battleship the Admiral stated, “I believe this is also British, Canopus-class. Another ship that was long ago sent to the breakers cutting torch. The other ships in the harbor…” Pausing to point at the various smaller ships, mostly some type of small cruiser, “Are also of a similar… vintage.”
Kapitän zur See Reinhold leaned back in his chair, “By vintage you mean from a generation ago, Great War era ships.”
The Admiral’s face was hard as he answered, “Yes and the reports from the Torpedo Bombers crews is that they are flying the White Ensign.”
At last the Admiral’s chief of staff spoke up, “Sir while I agree that these ships are strange but what about Atlantis?” Unspoken of course was the ships cargo. It was an open secret that following the defeat of Red Germany the only reason the NeuBrandenburg Taskforce was in European waters was to collect as many samples of German technology as they could and bring them home. Atlantis had been one of the two cargo ships tasked with this mission. The Americans, British and Tsarists had gotten the best examples already and most of the top scientists, those not in hiding, but the opening had been too important to ignore; even if it was in many cases just the dregs. With Atlantis missing half of their cargo and perhaps the better half was gone; not to mention the ship’s crew.
“Franz, you handed me the reports. Multiple ships reported that the flash started with the Atlantis. She, her crew and her cargo are… gone.” The admiral said to his chief of staff, who had been in charge of gathering things. The man had put a great deal of effort into this mission.
Turning back to the officers, “Gentlemen we are out of contact. With what happened to Atlantis I want some type of clarification as to what to do. I don’t know what those ships are doing in the Malvinas but they appear to be British so I am detaching Artemis and Z-158 to go make contact and find out what is going on. Commander Harrington you are senior so you are in charge, you understand my needs?”
“Make contact with these people and then get in contact with Alliance HQ.”
Satisfied the Admiral turned to the other ship commanders, “In the meantime the rest of the task force will continue west towards the Drake Passage but at reduced speed. Also we will continue recon operations.”