"It's The Future That Concerns Me"
by Sharon

Chapter One

The dolphins were splashing about, surfing in the bow wave again.
They were so sleek and playful that Lts. Henshall and Kennedy
couldn't tear their eyes away from the sight. Suddenly, Lt. Lucy
Kennedy stepped back on the gray steel deck of the monstrous aircraft
carrier, catching sight of something on the horizon. Borrowing her
co-worker's field glasses, she attempted to determine what the
speck
was. Ahhh, yes, it was one of the majestic tall ships that annually
ventured to the Norfolk, Virginia waterfront to celebrate the Parade
of Sails during the week of Harborfest. Still, the celebration was
almost over and it appeared that the lovely tallmasted ship was
indeed sailing away from the Norfolk waterfront instead of toward
it. How strange.... and after a moment's reflection, Lt. Kennedy
told Lt. Henshall that she was going to speak to the captain and see
what he would advise. After all, she was the senior officer on watch
and reporting odd sightings to the brass was her job at the moment.
Carefully making her way down the narrow stairwell, she knocked twice
smartly on the C/O's door. Her captain replied that she was
welcome
to enter. She popped open his cabin door to find him writing a letter
and he did not immediately look up.

"Lt. Kennedy, reporting, sir", she said.

"Yes, Lt. What is on your mind?", he replied.

"Well, sir, there appears to be a tallmasted ship that has not
only
arrived late for the festivities, but appears to have lost their way
and is headed north toward Maryland. I thought perhaps a radio
communique might be in order to allow them to change their course in
time to make their true destination".

"Interesting..... very well, please do so and report back to me
when
you have completed your task", replied the captain.

"Very well, sir. Good afternoon, sir."

With that she left the captain's cabin and quickly made her way
to
the Radio Officer's shack. She relayed her orders from the
captain,
and the radioman began signaling the tall ship. After repeated tries,
no answer was forthcoming. Strange, indeed. After trying several
different frequencies, Lt. Kennedy suggested that they attempt
signaling her with the heavy duty light beam that transmitted
standard SOS messages. Perhaps the tall ship's radio was on the
fritz
and certainly they would respond to the blinking SOS lights. But,
again, no response from the wooden man-o-war. Feeling a niggling
sense of concern, Lt. Kennedy told the radioman to continue signaling
attempts while she reported back to the captain for further orders.

About 4 minutes later, Lt. Kennedy appeared on deck with the captain
right behind her. He viewed the tall ship through his high powered
binoculars and wondered what the communication problem was. He
decided to alter the aircraft carrier's course slightly to
approach
the wooden ship, just in case she was in distress of some kind and
needed assistance. After relaying the orders to the bridge, the
lovely ship began to grow larger on the horizon. She was, indeed,
spectacular! Gleaming teak wood, beautiful white sails and incredibly
tall main masts that reached toward the heavens. Lt. Henshall joined
his two senior officers along side the rail and whistled his
appreciation of her beauty. Lt. Kennedy looked at her junior officer
and smiled her appreciation as well. The captain removed the
binoculars from his eyes and peered at her deck. She seemed to be
slowing her progress and her sails were being furled now to decrease
her speed. Apparently, the men on board the older ship were
gathering along her rails as well. Perhaps they had never seen such
large a sight as the american aircraft carrier, CVN-245, USS
Jefferson Clinton, first hand. She was the largest and most powerful
in the American navy and the pride of the fleet. She had just
completed her maiden voyage and was now stationed in the Chesapeake
Bay for the duration. As the two ships cautiously moved closer, the
Clinton actually dwarfed the wooden ship many times over. With all
engines reversing at full speed, she stopped dead in the water. Lt.
Kennedy grabbed the field glasses from her junior leutenenant and
searched the deck of the older vessel for clues to this perplexing
mystery. On deck, in complete authentic costumed glory, her crew
were hanging over the sides staring at the steel carrier with eyes as
wide as saucers. They had hoisted signal flags with unfamiliar
graphics on them and were waiting for us to make the first move. At
closer inspection, the wooden ship did not appear to be of American
heritage, but rather made from British design. Curiouser and
curiouser....... it was well known that the British tall ships passed
first by the Norfolk waterfront at the beginning of every
celebration. It was traditional for this to happen. And that made her
appearance on the bay so much more confusing at this late date. It
was eerily quiet on board both ships now. As the wooden ship ever so
slightly tacked in the water, her name could be
distinguished....... "HMS Indefatigable"! She, indeed, was
of
English ancestry....

"Oh, my God," gasped Lt. Henshall, "It's the Indy;
It's the bloody
Indy!!!".
Both Lt. Kennedy and Captain Clayton snapped their heads toward the
junior naval officer.

"Lt. Henshall, do you know this ship??!!!" queried the
captain.

"Er, well, in a manner of speaking, sir. You see, I just finished
reading a book about Horatio Hornblower who was stationed on her, and
she was the pride of the British admiralty..... I never knew she
really existed, but it appears that she does, sir!!!!! "

What now, sir?", whispered Lt. Kennedy.......
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Chapter 2

Leftenant Hornblower watched in amusement as the ship's kitten,
Cougar, scampered by him on the deck. Well, perhaps his name was a
slight overstatement, but don't tell Cougar that!!! He was a very
handsome little kitten, with gorgeous black stripes intermingled with
long, luxurious gray fur. He also had a very bushy tail that gave a
snappy little tail flick when he was not happy with a situation. He
sported huge yellow-green eyes that were always very round and filled
with curiosity. Watching the kitten playing actually made Horatio's
watch go by more quickly.

"Rats, and fieldmice!!!! .... this loverly feather seems to have a
life all it's very own!", muttered Cougar under his kitty breath.
Having one of those mysterious bursts of energy that young kittens
are so famous for, Cougar pounced on the wispy sea gull feather just
missing it with his sharp pine needle kitten claws. At that very
second, a gust of wind floated the feather upwards toward the lofty
main mast. Climbing the riggings in full speed mode, Cougar, with
typical feline agility, ascended to the crow's nest with nary a
false step. The sea gull feather was just starting to float out over
the sapphire blue ocean and Cougar was still attempting to snag it
with multiple thrusts and parries of his beautifully striped paw.
Out of the corner of his eye, Cougar suddenly caught site of a large
object looming on the horizon. It was gigantic and he had never seen
the likes of this in all his 12 weeks of life. Mesmerized with
wonder, Cougar stared at the large apparition. Why, it was a gray
steel behemoth the size of Gibraltar!!! And it appeared to be headed
straight toward the Indy, herself. Immediately, Cougar realized he
had to get word to the Officer of the Deck. This was no less than
his duty as required of him in the Feline Articles of War. There,
was, however, one minor detail he had forgotten to consider in his
haste to ascend the mast. .... uhmmm.... he, uh.... er...... did not
know how to get down without a little .... um, help from his
friends...... With no further ado, Cougar commenced MEOWING at the
top of his little kitten lungs. After a moment, Lt. Hornblower lifted
his head to see what all the hullabaloo was about. He immediately
recognized the newest crewmember hanging by his claws on the highest
sail.

"What the devil is that young upstart doing up there?", Horatio
thought. "Certainly he doesn't expect me to climb up there and bring
him down."I'm sure he knows by now of my deathly fear of heights."
Looking frantically about, Horatio spotted Lt. Kennedy coming up the
hatchway hole. "Archie, Archie..... come here immediately!!!!",
shouted Horatio. Lt. Kennedy walked quickly over to his best friend
with a quizzical look on his boyishly handsome face.

"Good God, Horatio, what has you in such a state?" Horatio was
wearing a look of extreme fright mixed with a fierce scowl, the likes
of which Archie had rarely witnessed.

"Look up to the crow's nest, Archie, and you will see the cause of my
distress", thundered Horatio.

"Well, well, well, it appears that young Cougar has "treed" himself
on His Majesty's main mast!!! My, my and he is "caterwauling" at full
lung capacity. Well, Horatio, you know your duty. You must assist our
newest and youngest crew member with the utmost haste!" Lt. Kennedy
smothered a grin and snuck a look at Horatio's perplexed
countenance.

Summoning up the last reserves of nerves already stretched beyond
endurance, Horatio said, "Lt. Kennedy, as Officer of the Deck, I
request and require that you immediately climb the riggings and
rescue our errant fellow officer. That, my friend, is an order".
Archie was quite surprised to say the least. It was a very rare
occurrence for Horatio to issue an order to him, especially in such a
brusque tone of voice.

With merry blue eyes twinkling and a melodramatic "aye, aye", Archie
scampered up the ropes with the grace and surety of a tree monkey. As
Archie maneuvered closer to Cougar, he attempted to soothe the young
kitten with his soft-spoken voice. "There, there, little Cougar.....
I am here to help you. Not to worry, my fine fancy feline, you are
safe now. I will just tuck you into the pocket of my blue topcoat and
we will be away...... well, just as soon as I pry your sharp little
claws out of the sailcloth. There we are, my furry friend." Having
detangled Cougar's claws from the sail, Archie was completely caught
off guard when Cougar landed "spot on" on the top of Archie's head.
He sunk his claws into Archie's golden locks and clung on for dear
life. "Cougar", hissed Archie, "not only are you perched very
ungentlemanly on my head, but your claws are scraping the very life
out of my scalp!!! Let go!!!!" Cougar continued to hang on firmly.
In fact, he decided to crawl further down Archie's hair until he was
completely enmeshed in Lt. Kennedy's ponytail.

"Hmmmmm, it doesn't smell like a dead fish!!!", mused Cougar. "Uh,
oh.... I heard a rumor that these ponytails aren't real, but are
merely glued onto their heads. I'd better let go of this "prop" and
find a more secure perch." Carefully shifting his weight and paws,
Cougar finally climbed onto Archie's shoulder, much to Kennedy's
relief. Archie quickly scooped the mischevious kitten into his coat
pocket and descended to the deck at warp speed. Once on deck, Cougar
climbed up to peer over the edge of Lt. Kennedy's pocket. There was
no time to spare. He had to tell someone about the gray monolith
heading their way. "MMREOW!!!", Cougar screeched. Archie looked at
his little companion and then at Horatio.

"I wonder if he is trying to tell us something, Horatio.....?
Normally, he is such a brave little lad, and, well this is out of
character for him.......perhaps something has spooked him". Horatio
spun around and with his spyglass extended at full length, surveyed
the horizon before him. At first, he thought it was a giant gray
cloud bringing with it a major storm, but upon further viewing, he
realized that it was solid in construction and very huge.

"My God, Archie, look at this!", Horatio barked as he handed Lt.
Kennedy his spyglass.

"H'ratio, what in heaven's name is that?"

At a complete loss for words, Horatio finally found his voice and
said,"I have never seen anything like it. I think it best if you run
below and get the captain." Cougar was frightened out of his little
kitty wits. But he had done his duty, although not without a few
blows to his proud kitten dignity. He sure hoped that Mr. Kennedy
would not relate his panicky attempts to find safe purchase while
on the top sail. Ah, well, that is the least of our problems right
now. Scampering down the hatchway opening, Archie knocked smartly on
Captain Pellew's cabin door.

"Come in", ordered the Captain.

"Sir, Lt. Kennedy reporting, sir. There is a large object headed our
way off the starboard side. Lt. Hornblower has requested your
presence on deck immediately, sir".

"Very well, Mr. Kennedy. Let us go on deck right away", said Capt.
Pellew. The captain paused for a moment and looked at Archie. "Uh,
Mr. Kennedy, you are somewhat out of uneeform. You are quite
disheveled and your queue looks as if crows have been roosting in
it. What is the meaning of this inappropriate display?"

"Uhm, er... well, sir, I had to rescue little Cougar from the mast
and he.....". Up popped Cougar from Archie's pocket and mewing his
protest, he sprang onto Archie's shoulder and gave a disgusted flick
of his tail at Lt. Kennedy. He would not have his good name
besmirched so easily. He dug his claws into Archie's shoulder and
snapped his lovely bushy tail twice more in quick succession. Archie
realized his error and just let the sentence hang in midair. Luckily,
it seemed that Captain Pellew wasn't even listening to him, but was
instead preoccupied with the mysterious gray thing on the horizon.

"What in God's name is that monstrosity???" he bellowed. "Mr.
Hornblower, signal all hands to quarters immediately. We must be
prepared for all contingencies here."

"Aye, aye, sir, replied the Officer of the Deck. As he relayed his
orders to the crew, they took their respective battle stations. An
eerie quiet seemed to settle on the ocean as well as the deck of the
Indy.

Matthews stepped quietly next to Mr. Hornblower and with eyes as wide
as doorknobs, he began muttering under his breath. ".... wait til
Styles sees this. He'll never touch another drop of rum again..."
Captain Pellew's mind was working overtime trying to reconcile what
his eyes were reporting to his brain. After taking a closer look
with his spyglass he recognized a white flag flying on the gigantic
gray ship. Did this mean what he thought it meant? Or could it be a
ruse to get their guard down? Then he noticed that a powerful beam of
light was blinking on and off in their direction. Was this an attempt
at communication with the Indy? If so, how should he reply to it? In
their excitement to see the gray ship, some of the crew members were
actually hanging off the side of the Indy. And little Cougar was
scrunched down as far as he could go inside Archie's nice warm
pocket. He trusted Mr. Kennedy to protect him at all costs. After
all, what was the worst that could happen? Surely there would be no
dogs on this mystery ship... or could there be? With hammering
hearts, the crew of the Indy waited to see who would make the first
move...........