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Royal Scandinavian Navy Base, Riga, 5 August 1971

The reinforced concrete walls of the huge submersible haven were raw and 
unfinished. More attention had been paid to function than form and the 
aesthetic values of the building were generally consistent with this; 
despite the attempts to render the scene festive with the Scandinavian 
flag and the national flags of *all* the component states and statelets, the 
brutal mass of thousands of tonnes of concrete overhead and the stark 
pools of profound shadow where the painfully bright electrics failed to 
illuminate combined to create an atmosphere of sterile menace.

In the centre of the long dock loomed a dark grey leviathan - S.M.U. 
Narhvalen - the fourth in class of large naval submersibles being deployed 
into the North Atlantic. The deck was lined with sailors, petty officers, 
officiants and officers of the Royal Scandinavian Navy, immaculate in 
their blue uniforms, trimmed at the shoulder seam with flashes in the 
colours of their national contingents and brightened by medal ribbons and 
gold-, silver- and red-braided rank badges.

The sailors had just relaxed from the position of attention and were 
dispersing under the control of the petty officers. Narhvalen had 
completed the commissioning ceremony and was about to proceed to its 
operational base location - Elduvik in the Faroe Islands. *All* three of its 
classmates in the Delfinen class had, it was thought, successfully 
transited to Elduvik without detection, exploiting the ability shared by 
the whole class of fuelless sailing and long-term submersion.

Before Narhvalen lay a long submerged transit of the Baltic, safely away 
from prying German eyes, before a night-time dash across the North Sea, a 
safe entry into the huge camouflaged naval fortress at Elduvik and a 
year's tour, patrolling the sea lanes from Brittany to the Caribbean.

Kaptajn Baron Einar Larsson von Linnkoeping, commander of the Baltic Fleet 
 Logistics Squadron and de facto Chief Engineer of the RSN Baltic Command, 
was leaning on the roughly-finished wall at the back of the haven, 
watching the scene of furious activity. A tall, Latin-looking civilian 
wearing a RSN windbreaker was similarly occupied next to him. Both men 
looked tired, but  content.
 Larsson wore the uniform of the RSN and the wide ribbon of a Knight of 
the Dannebrogsorden, gained, unusually, in the ground fighting on St 
Thomas during the brief (and utterly unpublicised) incursion by "pirates" 
fraudulently wearing the uniform of the USM Marine Corps at the end of the 
Global War. Larsson's rallying of the survivors of the Falsterske 
Fodregiment's 5th Battalion and the Norrlands Dragonregiment's land 'clads 
had repulsed the invaders, at the cost of massive casualties on both 
sides, significant destruction to property and Larsson's left leg and 
manhood. Larsson was consequently not an enthusiast for the USM or its 
citizens and he took a particular grim pleasure in his work - the training 
and commissioning of an entirely new type of vessel, dedicated to scouring 
the seas clean of the merchant marine and navy of any Power willing to 
take on Scandinavia.

Massive restitution payments by the USM (while in no way admitting any 
liability for what was privately described as an excess of enthusiasm by a 
 USM Marine Colonel) had done little to repair relations between the 
states past a chilly and distant froideur and nothing to stop Larsson 
blaming the entire USM for the loss of his dignity and, as he saw it, 
value as a man.