1938. Indonesian Archipelago.
Tim swam furiously. This was bad. Reaching Coelacanth High Command he rapped on the door with a lobey fin, leaving it there for support while he gasped for breath.
“Enter!” came the gravelly response. Less a voice and more a rumble of tectonic plates.
Tim did so, seawater still barrelling through his aching gills. There in the tiny office was a desk littered with papers, all weighted down with seashells in the gentle but persistent current, and a yellow-edged world map that covered the back wall. Before it in a high-backed swivel chair sat an ancient, greying mound…
“Commander!” Tim wheezed, “One of the West Indians just got picked up in South Africa.”
The Commander surveyed him through lidless, staring eyes. Wide, but narrowed in spirit.
“Say that again,” he croaked.
“Commander, one of the-”
“I HEARD WHAT YOU SAID,” roared the Commander, throwing the papers in front of him into the brine. The ornate paperweights thudded to the ground, but the sheets themselves floated off serenely, numb to the gravity of the situation.
The Commander stood behind his desk, fins balled into fists, head bowed. Eventually, he spoke.
“Well that’s fucked it.”
“Call Intel, inform them we have a Code Red F.O.W. Then tell them to cease functioning forthwith.”
“Well we can’t just carry on like nothing’s happened. Do you know how many years this operation’s been going?”
Tim wasn’t given time to respond.
“MILLIONS,” said the Commander, “and then some uppity W.I. goes and gets himself caught, they’re always splashing about in the shallows like twats, and brings the whole house of cards crashing down for no good earthly fucking reason. I never thought I’d see a Fish Out of Water, not in my lifetime, but there you are. Live and learn.”
He produced a lighter from one of his scaly folds.
“Sir, what are you doing?” said Tim, floating backwards apprehensively.
“Well I can’t very well leave any traces, can I? I estimate we’ve got at most seventy years before they come for us too, and I don’t intend to test that now we know we’re compromised.”
He sparked the lighter. Nothing happened. Some oil curled up into the salty water.
“Bollocks,” said the Commander, “get on the coral network, will you, sergeant? See if there’s a whale shark that can do a swim-by demolition.”
“Yes Sir,” said Tim, glad of an excuse to leave.
“Oh and, sergeant?”
“When they come for you, give ’em hell.”
Almost imperceptibly, Tim nodded, then he turned and swam for the door, snapping it shut with his tail. The Commander floated over to the scattered papers bestrewing the floor, and picked them up in his rudimentary arms. One by one he lifted them to his mouth, and swallowed them.
“Smartest race on the planet…” he muttered as he literally dined on intelligence, “brought down by one silly cunt.”
Evidence duly disposed of, he stood there, stoic, as the walls began to crumble.