The Ghost Scorpion
Posted on 30/07/2020
A strange briefing
‘So she sank, you say?’ ‘Yes, Rolf, that is what the High Command at L’Orient told me.’ The captain of U-198 was having this conversation with his second mate, Rolf von Haentjens, who had been transferred to his boat, U-198, The Trident, for this special operation. U-136, The Scorpion, had gone missing off the coast of Spain without a distress signal or enemy activity. The U-boat fleet command had sent U-198 to the last known position of The Scorpion to ascertain what had happened to her. They were on the way there now, going at a steady 2/3 ahead of thrust and Rolf and the captain were standing on the conning tower looking out over the choppy seas. It was 1944 and the allies had nearly destroyed all of the ‘grey wolves’. Enemy attack could be imminent. Rolf had known the commander of U-136, Alexander von Richthofen, for a long time. They had grown up together in Kiel and joined the German Navy together. Alex, as he called him, was an ace in the German U-boat fleet and had sunk over 200 allied ships from 1939 to 1941. Then, he was imprisoned for high treason after discovering that his wife was helping the White Rose, a resistance organisation inside Germany, fighting the Nazi party covertly. Alex was, however, saved by his father who was the commander of the 6th submarine flotilla at L’Orient and was put back in charge of a boat. This boat was U-136. In two days, U-198 would reach the last known position of U-136.
A strange sight
When U-198 got to the last known position of U-136, they had been sailing through very rough seas. However, when they got there, they suddenly saw a patch of sea with very calm and clear water and no wind. This was weird due to the surrounding seas being extremely windy and very choppy. Rolf knew, any boat that had sunk would be leaking oil in copious amounts for at least 3-4 days. But no oil stains were visible even though Alex’s boat had gone missing only two days ago. U-198 slowed down and nosed through this strange patch. Suddenly, the lookout spotted something that looked like a captain’s cap and a box of munitions both with U-136 written on them, sporting the insignia of the German U-boat command. Rolf came up on the conning tower and joined his captain. ‘So, probably sunk due to a mechanical fault.’, said the captain. ‘But then why are there no oil stains?’, asked Rolf. ‘I don’t know.’, replied the captain. ‘What do we do, Herr Kapitän?’, Rolf asked the captain. ‘We wait here until sun-up and recharge our batteries with the diesel. We sail at dawn. Keep lookouts posted in case of enemy activity.’
The Scorpion raises its tail.
U-198 had been sitting at the same spot for roughly 6 hours when Rolf was roughly awoken by his captain. ‘What is it, my Kapitän?’, Rolf asked his captain. The captain said, a body had appeared, floating in the water. The lookout had spotted it. It was the body of the torpedo man from U-136. There was something weird about the body, though. The face was just the skull but the rest of the body was in full uniform. And the skull was smiling. ‘So how do you know it is the torpedo boy?’, Rolf inquired. The captain told him that the name tag was on the uniform. Rolf was creeped out and said he needed some fresh air. He went out onto the conning tower. The sea was very calm with raging currents around the still-quiet waters of U-136’s position. U-198 was right in the middle of the calm patch. Rolf was alone on the conning tower. Suddenly, he thought he saw a man in captain’s uniform standing on the deck of U-198 looking straight at him. This could not be, the rest of the crew was below and the captain was talking to the diving officer right below Rolf. Rolf looked again and sure enough, the spectral man was still there. No! It couldn’t be! It was Alex! But something was off. Alex was standing quite upright and his eyes had no pupils. His skin was very pale and very wrinkled, like it had been in water for a long time. It was then, that Rolf noticed that there was a hole in the apparition’s chest. He could almost see through it. The apparition stared at him blankly and Rolf felt a shiver down his spine. Could this be real? Was he dreaming? The apparition was moving closer to the conning tower. When it had reached the Flak gun, it stretched out its arm and pointed to something on the deck. Rolf looked, and he saw little scorpions on the deck of the Trident. These scorpions were not normal, though. He could see through them and they had their tails raised. They were scuttling from the sea onto the deck of U-198 and then back into the sea again on the other side. Rolf was too shocked, too horrified, how was this possible? Had the sea gotten to him? Was he going insane? He looked again and as he was about to turn towards the apparition, he heard the third mate saying something of a torpedo bearing zero eight zero from the north-east. God, the sub was submerging. He quickly got down and closed the hatch. Rolf was pale and terrified.
The Scorpion strikes!
Rolf was standing in the command center, shaken. U-198 was submerged. ‘Were you sleeping up there?!’, the captain asked Rolf. ‘No, sir!’, the second mate denied, scared. ‘Get to the torpedo room and help them load a torpedo into tube three. Have it ready to fire.’, the captain retorted.
The captain of U-198, Franz von Stahlhein, had his periscope up and was desperately searching for his attacker. ‘Werner, anything on the radio?’ ‘Negative, sir, just the torpedo.’ ‘No contact on zero eight zero?’ ‘Vanished, sir!’ ‘No, how can that be?’ ‘Listen yourself, sir! I swear.’ Franz tore the headset from Werner, his radioman, and listened. Sure enough, there was nothing there, just the whizz of the torpedo. He ran to the periscope and shouted, ‘All ahead and bear starboard, bring her around.’ However, it was too late. The torpedo was headed straight for them. Franz knew this. ‘Brace for impact.’, he shouted. They could hear the whizzing of the torpedo. Any second now. Suddenly, the torpedo was very close and they heard a dull thud. Bated breaths, silence. Werner, where is it? ‘Gone, sir.’ Any contacts? ‘None, sir.’ ‘Blow all ballast and get lookouts up on the conning tower. What the hell is going on here? Second mate on the bridge.’ Rolf came onto the bridge and the captain told him to come up with him. He asked him what had happened before the torpedo. Rolf told him. The captain, an old sea dog, who had seen and heard many things, started to make himself a pipe and looked around thoughtfully. ‘And you are sure, this was real?’ ‘Positive, sir!’, Rolf answered. It was then, that the lookout screamed that he could make out another submarine coming alongside them from the north-east. The captain, took his binoculars and shouted. ‘Stop all engines, it’s one of ours.’ Slowly, the strange submarine crawled towards them. It seemed to glide through the water. As it got closer, the crew of The Trident stared in horror. What they saw, defied all rational observation. The submarine cutting through the water towards them was U-136. It was badly damaged. It was covered in seaweed and had a huge hole in the bow. The tail was full of holes and the conning tower’s front gunnery turret was missing. The crew of U-198 could clearly make out the red scorpion on the conning tower. But what scared them the most, was the skeletons in uniform grinning at them, standing on the conning tower, looking directly at Franz and Rolf. As U-136 passed them, there was a terrific explosion. Rolf saw, heard, and felt nothing. Silence. U-198 had sunk. All hands lost.
A small scorpion with raised tail, clicked its pincers as it was sitting on the cap of U-198’s captain, bobbing in the sea. U-198 had joined U-136 in the deep.