Sometime in 2006 or 2007, while I was still a member of, I had the idea to create a story around the game Battleship. The idea was that two or more authors would actually play a game of battleship, beginning by putting our ships on a hidden grid just like the board game, and create a story around what was happening in the game, each taking turns to describe their side of the story. It worked better than I expected.

Myself and another author from the site, I knew only as Rock L., began writing what ended up being a 48 pages of our Battleship story. We didn’t plan any of the story apart from the ground rules to the game and that, for me, made it all the more fun. One of the great things I love about writing this type of ‘campfire’ story — so-called because it’s as if each person is adding a new bit to the story as they sit around a campfire telling it [update: I’ve recently started Campfire Stories with Utility Fog Press to encourage authors to try this type of fun, collaborative writing]– is that you don’t know what the other person is going to do with the plot points you toss out in your segment. Nor do you know what they will introduce in theirs. So the fun is in the melding of the unexpected.

Each week, I will post a new episode in the story here. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed working on it. And, if you want, you can play along, as I’ll give the shots fired and the hit/misses. The first two episodes, however, are establishing setting and have no shots fired.

Battleship: Episode 1

Country: Canada

Location: Atlantic Ocean, near 200-mile limit

Fleet admiral Ben Johnson stood stoically on the bridge of the Iroquois-class battleship HMCS Shaboogamoo. It was the first of its kind. Commissioned under the new National Sovereignty Act, it would not be the last. For too long other countries had ignored the Canadian rights to its sovereign waters but, with the new fleet, that would change.

Johnson lifted his binoculars to his eyes and surveyed the ocean about him. The sky was blue and the water bluer as the fleet cut a swath through the softly rolling waves. Most importantly, it was still quiet. There was no sign of the blips that had been tentatively detected by long-range telemetry.

His two destroyers, HMCS Atikokan and HMCS Nipissing, were just visible running vanguard for the fleet while the cruisers, HMCS Shabandawan and HMCS Lakehead filled the mid-fleet gap. The single aircraft carrier, HMCS Nunavut, matched pace with the battleship and together they held the rearguard.

“The Nipissing reports all clear, Admiral,” the deck officer informed him.

“Tell them to keep scanning,” he answered, without setting his binoculars down. He didn’t like it, not one bit. St. John’s told them something was there, so where was it? Admiral Johnson didn’t believe in ghosts, or phantom ships, or telemetry artifacts. If telemetry says something is there, you better make damned sure you know what’s causing the blip before you go home.

“Admiral, the Atikokan has detected something. It’s faint, but it might be our bogey.”

“Alter fleet heading to new mark, half-speed ahead.”

“Setting new vector.”

The fleet slid ponderously to its new heading as Admiral Johnson continued to scan the horizon.

“Sir, all radar reports strange readings on the forward sweeps.”

“Strange how?”

“We’re reading a large, amorphous, radar-dense signal, sir, but the signal strength is week. It’s like vast EM static is blanketing the area.”

“Fleet to quarter full and fall back to defensive formation.”

“Quarter speed, defensive formation!” relayed the deck officer.

The bridge was tense with anticipation as the fleet slowly neared the strange area. Binoculars locked on the horizon, Admiral Johnson stared forward, willing himself to see the unseen.

Finally, hazy shapes appeared, slowly beginning to focus. As they did, his mouth dropped open and he stared for a moment in stunned disbelief before regaining his composure.

“Full stop. All crew to battle stations.” Sirens blared and the red, emergency lighting flashed in response to his command as crewmen scurried to their stations.”

Read on to Episode 2 and find out who the strange ships are!

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