Disclaimer: notes transcribed as is, no editing has been made so as to preserve my original feelings as I read the chapter.
Part 6, Around The World And Above; Chapter 7, Admiral Xu Zhicai.
[Note: For the sake of clarity, Western naval designations have replaced the authentic Chinese.]
It seems the Chinese authorities allowed the zombie virus to ransack their country. The army really thought that throwing more people/soldiers to the zombie hordes would solve the problem. Idiots. Pity the poor fools who just ended up as fodder, someone else to be eaten and thus join the ranks of the undead.
Obviously Admiral Xu had no love for the plan to save his country, but orders are orders I guess and he obeyed.
He understands now, of course, but there seems to have been some hostility towards a certain Captain Chen and his plan.
If the army hadn’t been so arrogant, as the Admiral puts it, perhaps they wouldn’t have dismissed the Redeker Plan so carelessly. The army truly was secure in it’s superiority over this and any threat.
They really were dense about the whole situation.
So, it fell on China’s navy to find the solution to this devastating virus. How can they save their people, their civilisation. There was and is no cure.
Captain Chen’s plan, according to the now Admiral Xu, was to escape the mainland. Alone and without authorisation.
It seems that Captain Chen was Zhicai’s commanding officer at the time, he explains how his family was on base already but that his shipmates had to get word to their relatives.
The plan being that they would “get underway” fully stocked with the usual supplies, plus the families of those crew members assigned to the Admiral Zheng He submarine.
All this had to be done in secrecy, otherwise the powers that be would have screamed treason from the highest perches in government.
The crew weren’t even allowed to tell their families why they were asked to converge at Qingdao, their dock.
I can’t imagine the emotions that could have threatened to overwhelm them when they finally set sail. To adhere to routine and then willingly mutiny your own vessel. To ostracise themselves from a country that is and always will be, home. No matter what anyone else may think.
They were not traitors. They just had the means for survival and grasped hold of it with all their might.
He talks of how the civilians were integrated into everyday submarine life. The necessity of soundproofing the mess hall so that the children had somewhere to use as both a playroom & schoolroom. Zhicai calls it the art of noise discipline and all the civilians, adults & children, learned this skill. They had to, for they did not know if their government had indeed labelled them as traitors & fugitives. Avoidance being the new “routine”.
Not just of the Chinese but of all civilization regardless of former nationality.
Really this is more Captain Chen’s story and of the choices he made from the moment he mutinied from the navy. Naturally it affects the crew, speculation about the state of humanity was rife. One Lieutenant Commander Song (the reactor officer) made the mistake of creating a watercolour, in which the end of the world was portrayed and the only things walking the earth were zombies.
Obviously he was punished and made to paint happier, positive murals. All rumours & speculation were put a stop to. I can understand how it would affect moral, but there’s also the children to think about. Since coming aboard their nightmares were now something they could wake up from, rather than the horrific reality that dwelt all around them.
The Admiral reckons that Song’s actions in particular forced his Captain to re-establish contact with the rest of the world, even if they were just listening to transmissions rather than communicating with other survivors. The men comprising the sonar team, heard the steady increase in naval traffic. All those ships hurriedly leaving port. No plan. More like, rats leaving the sinking ship. I’ve already read the desperate measures some folk used to escape the land, most times with dire consequences. Water zombies are the scariest. At least you can see the ones approaching over land. The grabbers & floaters can get you before you even see them. Many people seemed to think that regardless of the danger lurking beneath the waves, the sea was the safest bet.
But the different kinds of vessels being used, utter madness.
We even came across a nautical shantytown constructed atop hundreds of garbage bags filled with Styrofoam packing peanuts. It reminded us all of the “Ping-Pong Navy,” the refugees who, during the Cultural Revolution, had tried to float to Hong Kong on sacks filled with Ping-Pong balls.
Yes, we came from the sea, but that does not mean we belong there any more, or that we would find a safe haven there. I have often heard it said that “you can never go home”.
Resources were an issue, especially medical supplies. I agree with Captain Chen that scavenging for fresh supplies of any kind, would be treacherous. The idea of searching any of the flotilla surrounding them could well have been a death sentence, to say nothing of searching the coastlines. They had enough problems trying to evade the zombies floating in the sea, Admiral Xu describes how they once accidentally speared a zombie on their attack scope. An incident that reinforced the grim reality of the worldwide situation.
They manage to resolve their supply situation by joining the island communities.
“the Pacific Continent”, the refugee island culture that stretched from Palau to French Polynesia.
With the additional help & ideas from the on-board civilians, the members of the “Admiral Zheng He” not only began cultivating their own foodstuffs & recycling their waste but provided electricity to their new port.
It’s just a pity that it all ended so abruptly.
The Chinese government it seems, was in disarray with those in power holed up and moving their army around like pawns on a chess board. Apparently, those “pawns” were discarded with little thought or empathy.
A revolution had taken hold of the zombie infested Chinese mainland, and the “Admiral Zheng He” was fired upon from a Chinese Type 95 hunter-killer submarine (only two were in service it seems).
Choosing not to fight, Chen bottoms the sub. Only to have the zombies swarmed all over them, effectively blocking one of the intakes to the water-cooled nuclear reactor.
To see a plague of ghouls trying to claw into your tin-can of a home must have been a terrifying sight, but couple that with the cooling system possibly being compromised by those zombies. “They” say that in war, two of the most horrible ways to die is either sealed in a burning tank or in a submerged submarine.
It’s little wonder that Chen broke cover, shaking off the zombies as they went. Unfortunately it only brings the other “living” enemy on their tail. That of the other sub.
Captain Chen orders fire on the other vessel and their torpedo runs hot & true, destroying the Type 95.
It seems that no matter the worldwide crisis, there is always room for personal tragedy. One of the two Type 95 submarines had a crew member by the name of Chen Zhi Xiao, Captain Chen’s son.
The happiest day of his life was when Commander Chen Zhi Xiao received his first command, a brand-new Type 95 hunter-killer.
He had no way of knowing if he had just murdered his own son, along with his countrymen. A hard decision to make and an even harder one to live with.
It’s little wonder the light in his eyes died.
From then on, their submarine removed themselves completely from the entire world. A wise approach considering the events surrounding their departure at Manihi, “the Pacific Continent”. But Chen did not abandon his crew, neither did he commit suicide, instead he became a recluse aboard his own vessel.
Our monotony was only broken one day when sonar detected the approaching signature of another 95-class attack sub. We went to battle stations, and for the first time we saw Captain Chen leave his cabin.
Thankfully Commander Chen was the commanding officer aboard this Type 95 submarine. The Captain’s son was alive!
He also brought news, about the Three Gorges Dam (the source of all the “natural disaster” rumours they’d heard about in Manihi) and about the civil war raging in their homeland.
Not only had Xu’s captain become a rebel and saved his crew & their families, but Chen’s own son was also a rebel. Obviously the Chen’s were sensible and practical, maybe that’s why they were given command of those precious Chinese commodities.
The homecoming brought with it one last duty to perform. To remove the source of the civil war.
Still blindly thinking that the zombies can be so easily defeated by vast armies. Even after all that had happened within China’s borders, they refused to see any semblance of sense and absolutely refused to give up their power. Why the so-called “loyalists” continued to follow their orders is anybody’s guess. Such is patriotism I suppose.
Xu tells how Commander Chen informed his father that the “Admiral Zheng He” was the only nuclear asset left that the rebellion could make use of.
One last burden to shoulder. The captain must have noticed me shaking the moment before we launched. “My order,” he declared, “my responsibility.” The missile carried a single, massive, multi-megaton warhead.
It is perhaps ironic that a submarine of nuclear capabilities, designed to attack the “Western enemy” was instead turned on the leaders who envisioned it’s final purpose.
The rebels had won, but so many had perished as a result of the Politburo’s selfish desire for power, for control.
It seems that China was on the brink of total annihilation and still they could not see.
Unfortunately the entire affair proved to be too much for Captain Chen. Something that seems to have made a great emotional impact on the Admiral. I don’t think he will ever forget those final moments and, I think, will always think of his Captain with a fondness reserved for fathers.
He was still holding my hand when he closed his eyes forever.