Tracking New SONAR Surface Contact...
Bearing 45 degrees off bow, Range 60,000 meters
Speed 20 knots, heading 185
ID index Aegis III Cruiser
85% chance USS Hunley CGN-105
Surface Engagement Mode Active
Rigging for Low Acoustic Signature
Contact Within Missile Attack Envelope
Contact Outside Torpedo Attack Envelope
The captain turned away from the screen, ignoring the glowing green buttons that would give him further information about the target. It was all easy stuff - armament, sonar capability, recent actions - trivia really. Computer guided lasers had ensured the accuracy of every weld before the keel touched water, automatic systems replaced all but twenty of the crew, and tiny robots flowed in every sailor's bloodstream to keep them healthy on patrol. Yet, the captain's bones would be dust long before a machine could truly command a vessel like this. It could tell him what the ship was and where it was going - but the why took human intuition.
Why was only a single member of the six ship flotilla at LOST SEC sortie? There were certainly better candidates for lone patrol in that group. Two in the group were electric sub hunters could go almost as quiet as its prey, and carried deep trolling passive sonar. This cruise might as well be probing for the sub with a white cane.
Why did it leave port at all? No one else had recently sortied surface combatants into the gulf. There wasn't much point in engaging a missile bombardment of the Rio Grand fortifications. Half the towns were under de Zufinga's mob enforcers, others under controlled by the military
Finally, why should the captain let it live? This ship had been operated near the north coast of Chile in the 2030s.
The Drone War had been an ugly conflict. Someone up north had believed they could fight a war without an army - using drones and targeting power networks to shut down the target. However, they had overlooked the reality of distributed power generation. To truly stop such meant targeting every household with a solar cell, find every buried oceanic thermal engine, and track hundred of tiny wind farms. Once exposed, they tried to redouble their efforts, and claimed defeat from the jaws of victory, but it was a process not unlike Vietnam and Iraq.
The Moreno was a sub given by the Russians. They had actually given no less than five craft from their fleet rather than the spillways in turn for prompt payment. Of course, the money paid for far more capable "Pike Class" ships - but the rapid deliver certainly vexed the yankees.
So the question remained. The captain now had a chance to wreak some vengeance upon the nation that had killed so many of his family and friends. That wouldn't bring them back, nor would it this new age more bearable for mankind as a whole. But for a small group of them, it would bring honor lost, and some measure of joy.
Perhaps the forces of chance and god knew better. He staked the life of the ship on the heads side of a coin and flipped it. The metal disk bounced off the low ceiling, flew past his head, and rolled into the tight space beside the bed.