Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dolphins? Dolphins!

"I will kill you."
image from (unknown author)

The Pentagon has recently leaked a controversial, top secret file. Anthony Webber, a clerk who manages dated Navy and Military operations files, came across this jewel and emailed it to a writer on March 15th, 2007. Wallace Hyndman (the writer) gave it to his higher ups (not exactly certain what to do with the information). Then they gave it to me. Then all hell broke loose. 

Military scientists out of Saint John the Baptists’ Marine Base in Honolulu were doing research into the feasible implementation of fully trained, weaponized dolphins. 

According to the report, scientists have investigated the following specific applications:
1. Dolphins as underwater hand-to-fin combat. 
a. Weapons training; ie katana, bo-staff, switch blade, spear gun and bat’leth.
2. Uses of sonar to detect subsurface aqua-battlements. 
3. High pitched EMP rays – AKA, project EEEEEK EEEEEE EEEKEEEE.
4. Death screeches.
5. Nuclear Device Delivery Systems (NDDS).
6. Dolphin launchers. 

The feasibility of the use of dolphins in war is not a new concept, in fact, it has been around for centuries. The Greeks, anticipating war with other island and costal countries, employed dolphins and many other aquatic mammals to do their bidding. 

Dr. Robert Graves (with a rare combination of PhDs; one in Greek Mythology, the other in Marine Biology) believes that much “sea monster” mythology surfaced with the implementation of these oceanic mercenaries. 

“Dolphins,” Graves reports, “are feisty and easy to pay.” I asked him to define “feisty” for me. He thought for a few moments. “Dolphins enjoy hunting. Typically they hunt small fish. However, on two nights of the year, in a rare display of needless violence, dolphins go nuts. They swim fast and quiet, they kill anything they encounter. But they target certain animals specifically. Just what do they hunt, you ask? Whales. Sharks. And even humans.”

“The Greeks,” continued Graves, “we’re brilliant tacticians of battle and they were fully aware of the dolphins' biannual rampage. They believed that they could convince the dolphins to do their bidding all year round."

"Thus," continued Graves, "the Greeks gave the dolphins an outlet for their blood-thirst. Namely, the Spartans (on the rare occasion they took to the sea), the Romans, the Carthaginians, and anyone else who dared cross them. The Greeks toppled nations and kept their sea-borders safe for decades. It's not known exactly when they stopped using these aquatic death-machines.” 
"We are on your T-shirt. We are underneath your bed."

But that’s all history. We’re talking about today’s death-dealing, gun-toting, flesh-eating, boat-maiming, sword-wielding, samurai of the sea. 

“Heck yeah, dolphins are dangerous!” affirmed Suzie Swanson-Baji, a dolphin trainer and rider in Florida’s Sea World. “There are two nights a year when we’re not allowed to go near the tank because they go wild.” 

We brought Dr. Graves down to Sea World during one of these dangerous nights so he could make an analysis of the behavior. 

“That’s it!” he yelled over the screeching and splashing. “You’d better step back,” he told me. Pointing to one dolphin, he added, “that one there hasn’t moved, but it’s had its eyes on you. They can jump 40, 50, even 60 feet at 50 miles per hour. You might as well stand in the middle of the freeway.” 

I asked Mrs. Swanson-Baji if anyone had ever been injured by the dolphins. “Well,” she told Graves and me, “usually they’re fine, fun, even playful. Intelligent. You can see it in their beady little eyes… they’re always thinking, you know calculating, sort of like the terminator or something. Sharks… you know, the ones that everyone’s all afraid of, they’re nothing. They’re dumb. Dolphins will play with you, kiss you, then eat your leg like it's a darn cheese-stick.” 

Ernest Lessing, a 70-something mariner with more years at sea that at land (having been a crab fisherman, swordfish fisherman, and avid diver) was eager to talk to me when he heard I was working on the story. 

“I was working for a man off the coast of Greece, oh… thirty years back. I was diving down, collecting conch shells for a merchant who sells the shells on the shore and who made a mean conch soup. Let me tell you, son, they could make a conch soup back the. Anyhow, there I am, minding my own business when I ketch something fast and silver out of the corner of my eye. A shark? No, I wasn’t that lucky. See, I’ve heard that in ancient Greece they used to train dolphins to kill people, and I guess, hundreds of generations later, the little bastards still have the thirst for blood.” He lifted up a pant leg to reveal a prosthetic limb. “Itches me something fierce, the phantom limb does. I’m hoping that dolphin spits it out on some sea urchins or something.” 

I’d met my fair share of colorful characters by this point in my research. But I hadn’t made much progress on the real goal of my story – talking to someone about the feasibility of using dolphins in militant operations. I’d read the files, but I wanted someone high up, someone who could tell me more than was in the 654 page leak.

I came upon a former admiral, Douglas Archimedes. A decorated, proud, salient, and disowned Marine right out of a Tom Clancy novel. I “came upon” him at a bar in Palay, North Dakota, a small cold town with a population of about 800. I came upon him because he called into the office and said to my editor, “I want to talk to someone about the dolphins.” 

So, I drove up to North Dakota.

“It’s all a big joke… or so I thought, until I did some digging of my own. I was a Marine. A Navy Seal too. I did it all. I was more fish that man – and my exploits earned me high rank and considerable recognition. But, it didn’t earn me the right to go digging around.”

“This was back in the '90s,” he continued. “I was concerned when I started seeing documents… disturbing documents. Some boys had been doing work off an island,” he told me he couldn’t give much detail, “and the dive team kept coming back with strange injuries. It was night operations and it was in deep waters. Equipment would go haywire. Lights would switch off. It was all like a real horror movie. Then, out of nowhere,” he produced a file from his jacket, “Officer James Briggant loses his entire left calf muscle.” He snapped his fingers, “whoosh, gone. Just like that.”

"Then, men started dying. But the mission was important, so they pressed on." Archimedes handed me the document when I bought him a rum and coke. "You're probably wondering why we're in Palay. Well, after you look at that, maybe you'll understand," he said after a few sips he walked out, without even saying goodbye.

I reviewed the files. They were disturbing, graphic in description and graphic in images. Dead bodies, dozens of them. A nameless killer, a deep fear, an abandoned mission. Though much of the report was blacked out, I learned a lot. I learned too much. But I figured out Archimedes' riddle. We were nowhere near the ocean and all the rivers and lakes with 100 miles were frozen most of the year. Archimedes was terrified of the water. 

It wasn't a hard guess what the monsters involved in the incidents off that mystery island were.

“This report means one of two things. One, the dolphins want to kill us of their own accord. This wasn’t the biannual night of feasting. No, this was a month of havoc." A month, he said. The attacks actually lasted six weeks. It took those divers' bosses (whoever they were, wherever they were) six weeks (and twenty eight dead bodies) to think to pull the marines out of the water indefinitely.

"The other likelihood?" the email continued, "someone else is training those bastards to kill us,” Archimedes said in an email to me a few weeks later when I emailed him some questions about the report.

I spent six months continuing my research. What started as a joke, something that couldn’t be true, had flourished into an obsession. 

Soon, I was being investigated. My phones were tapped. My office, broken into, computer destroyed, everything gone, everything except my audio recorder (which is always on me) and my memory. I’m working on another lead now. 

I’m back to where it all began. I’m in Greece, sitting in a small coffee shop in Epidaurus. I'm trying to find the answer to a few simple questions: why are the dolphins out to kill us? Who is training them? If no one is training them, why are they attacking us? Do dolphins have nuclear technology? 

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