Thanks to Kate for being a wonderful beta as usual.
By Sea Spinner
Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton made sure nobody saw him as he slipped out of the NIMR functions room. Officers and sailors alike had been requested to attend by the President of Tahiti after saving his daughter from a stricken submersible. It was a request that had been more of a command. Chip had purposely not eaten as he had promised Lola that he would have a late dinner with her. Seaview was scheduled to depart at 0600 hours the next day and he wanted to spend time with her before he left. One last look assured him that both Admiral Nelson and his friend and commanding officer Lee Crane were deep in conversation with dignitaries and wouldn’t notice his departure.
He pulled his mobile phone from his dress jacket pocket and speed dialed Lola’s number. “I’m on my way.”
“I can’t wait,” came the happy reply. “Where are we going?”
He grinned. “Somewhere special, just meet me at the dock.”
“I’ll see you there.”
It would be fun to show what a full moon looked like from the deck of the Seaview. A bottle of champagne and the special picnic dinner he’d ordered from the mess earlier would set the scene nicely. After he picked up the hamper, he made his way slowly down towards the submarine.
He checked his watch. It was still early, 2100 hours to be exact, plenty of time to enjoy his new girlfriend’s company before he had to hit his rack. Chip saw her leave the administration building.
“Lola, over here.” He strode over to her, not wanting to waste a minute and gave her a hug and a tender kiss. “I’m glad you could make it, I know you had other plans tonight.”
Her eyes sparkled in the moonlight. “You know I can never resist a moonlight picnic, Chip.”
Chip clasped her hand tightly as they headed towards the gangway leading onto the majestic submarine.
“She’s beautiful in the moonlight,” she whispered almost reverently, enthralled by the sight of Seaview silhouetted against the shimmering ocean.
“Yes, she is,” he agreed proudly. “Let’s go to the front.” Chip stood to one side to allow Lola to walk across the gangplank in front of him.
She watched as he set down a blanket and then helped him to lay the food on it. “Oh, Chip, this really is wonderful. I’m glad I didn’t have anything to eat.”
Chip made a mental note to pass on his thanks to the head chef at the mess. The banquet was fit for a king rather than a simple evening meal. There were devilled oysters for starters, fish in white sauce with baby potatoes, asparagus sprouts and honeyed carrots for the main course and crème caramel for dessert.
Lola eyed the cheese and biscuits. “Somehow I don’t think I’ll need those.”
Chip laughed. “Me neither.”
Lola served them dinner while Chip opened the bottle of champagne and poured it into two champagne glasses.
“I think it’s my turn for a toast,” she murmured.
“Here’s to a smooth voyage for you and all the crew.” As they both sipped at the champagne, Lola nestled closer to him. “Be careful this cruise, Chip.”
He frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I just…it’s nothing.”
Chip held her chin up to his. “I’m always careful. Besides, I’ve got someone to come back to now.”
Their lips met beneath the silver shade of light, gentle and caring as the night drew closer.
“Morning Chip, I didn’t see you much last night,” said Lee as his XO made an appearance in the control room.
“I kept a low profile,” he hedged. “You know what I think of those receptions.”
“Hmm, about the same as me,” Lee smiled, then grimaced and put a hand to his forehead.
Lee looked up. “It’s nothing, just a bit of a headache.”
“I can handle things here if you want to go see Jamie.” One look at Lee’s face made him regret his words. “I’m just saying if you need some painkillers…um, forget I said anything.”
“I’m fine,” he insisted tersely. “Make preparations to get underway. The sooner this mission’s over the better.”
Lee’s irritation made Chip wonder just how bad his friend’s headache really was.
Seaview had taken on a scientific survey of the waters
surrounding a seismic anomaly off the coast of
Things started out smoothly as Seaview eased out of her berth and headed towards the open sea. A few miles out, Chip began to realize that things weren’t going to be as simple as predicted. He was talking to Curley when the Chief groaned and held his head.
“What’s wrong, Chief?”
Curley tried to shake it off. “Nothing, Sir, just a headache.”
Chip looked around at the rest of the crew. Suddenly all of them began to hold their heads. Without hesitation he picked up the microphone.
“Sickbay, this is Morton.”
“Sickbay here,” answered Jamie.
“Doc, can you come up to the control room?”
A strange buzzing noise vibrated through Seaview before Jamison could answer. Chip watched in stunned fascination as every man including Lee, clutched at their heads and writhed in agony. Cries of pain came from all of them then they dropped in unison where they stood or sat. He quickly knelt beside Lee and pressed his fingers into his neck with shaking hands. He was relieved when he felt a steady but slow pulse.
“Lee, can you hear me?” Chip patted him on the cheek, but there was no response.
He grabbed at the microphone again and called sickbay. There was no answer.
“Morton to anyone who can hear me.”
Chip strained his ears for the slightest sound, but none came. At least they were still on the surface and hadn’t dived. He had to get a message out to the Institute. Before he could move to the radio shack he heard the hatch opening. Something inside Chip told him to take cover until he could figure out what had happened. With a heavy heart he removed Lee’s missile key, then with a last look at his friend, he quickly went into the nose. He decided to wait at the top of the spiral staircase. Not a moment too soon was he in position when a familiar figure stepped into the observation nose.
“Ah, the last time I was here holds no happy memories for me, Hans. To think I was so close to the Mona Lisa, then to lose her…”
Chip cringed as he saw Hans deliver a brutal kick to Lee’s ribs. There was no reaction from the unconscious man.
nodded and made for the stairs. Chip
moved quickly and quietly down the corridor to Nelson’s cabin. He had to get the Admiral’s missile key as
well. His next task was to hide both of
them where nobody would think to look.
Chip stepped through the partly opened door and found the Admiral
unconscious next to it. He took the key from
around his neck then tore off the grate to the ventilation shaft before hauling
himself into it. There was just time to
close it before Hans walked into Nelson’s cabin. He forced himself to slow his breathing
down. Through the grating he watched as
the man hoisted the Admiral easily over his shoulders and took him forward. Chip moved further into the ventilation
system then leaned back against the side and wiped some sweat from his
brow. The keys in his hand felt heavy
and hot, almost burning. What was he
going to do with them? How did
He closed his eyes to gather his thoughts. There were too many questions and not enough answers. If only Lee was awake, or someone else, anyone he could work with to stop what was happening.
But there isn’t! There’s only me. Seaview, everyone, I’m the only one who can save them!
With that thought, Chip’s eyes snapped open and suddenly the keys felt lighter and cooler against his skin.
He moved as fast as he could through the ducts, almost wishing he’d spent as much time in them as Lee. His hands and knees were already aching with the constant pounding through the metal tunnels. Finally he made it to the laboratory. One of the Admiral’s last deep sea specimens was particularly nasty, and had been close to biting Nelson on at least one occasion. Chip grabbed a pair of long tongs and eased the keys beneath the Angler Fish’s dark lair then replaced the cover. He doubted anyone would be game to stick their hand in there, even if they had some idea the keys were in it.
had been done, he got back into the vent and eased his way back to a place
where he could see what was going on in the observation nose.
“It’s time. Professor Cates, wake them up. Crane first.”
A short plump man walked into Chip’s field of vision carrying a dark brown satchel. Something about the man seemed familiar, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Chip watched as the professor took a bulky hand held device out of a bag and pointed it at Lee. The device emitted the same buzzing noise he’d heard before the crew had collapsed. Lee slowly came around. Chip could see that his friend was in pain.
Lee looked groggy and appeared to have trouble focusing on Logan, his head kept lolling around until Logan grabbed it between his hands.
“I’m sorry, Mister Logan, the nanites haven’t quite been perfected, but that will come with time,” commented the Professor.
Chip felt cold fear take hold. Nanites! No wonder everyone had fallen at exactly the same time, but when had Logan been able to put the nanites into their systems? Then he remembered why the short man looked so familiar. He had been at the reception with the rest of the dignitaries. Since Chip appeared to be the only one unaffected, it had to have been something in the food or drink.
Lee was sitting straighter now, and appeared to be more alert. “What do you hope to achieve by taking Seaview again?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Come now, Captain, surely you are aware of the new undersea vault. Treasures from all around the world have been stored there. They are ripe for the picking.”
“Plundering, you mean,” snapped Lee.
him an angry look. “What makes you think
you’re any different,
Chip cringed as Hans backhanded Lee across the mouth, then let out a slow breath when he eventually moved his head.
“Like my previous captain, Hans is very protective of me. I would suggest you keep your insults to yourself if you wish to stay relatively healthy.”
“Looks like I hit a nerve,” Lee continued to taunt. “Am I too close to the truth for comfort, Logan?”
“Do you have any idea what prison is to a man like me, Captain,” he spat. “I died a thousand deaths. Now I’m going to use you and whoever and whatever else I need, to find my life again.”
Lee glared at him. “Even prison was too good for you, Logan.”
“You will be very sorry you said that, Captain.” He nodded at Hans who clubbed him across the back of the head.
“Leave him where he is. We have to make headway to the vault. Once we’re there you can wake both of them up. I want to see their faces when we take the treasure and set them adrift while Seaview becomes another of my prizes.” He grabbed a handful of Lee’s hair and pulled his face up. “Perhaps Seaview’s Captain can become one of them as well. My very first living prize. Then perhaps he will understand what I went through when my freedom was taken from me.”
nodded and went back to the control room.
Meanwhile Chip watched as the professor returned the device to its
satchel and left it on the table in the observation nose. He had to get his hands on it so he could
wake up the rest of the crew. At least Curley
and Kowalski along with Patterson would be a big help. Then he had to find out how many men
create that distraction! It had worked
the last time
Lee’s head pounded so much he almost wished he was unconscious again. He gingerly turned to look at the Admiral, who was still oblivious to the whole situation. Once again he tested his bonds, not even the tiniest bit of give in the ropes. Damn! Just as he was about to give it one more try the submarine began pitching violently from one side to the other, throwing both his and the Admiral’s chairs off balance and onto the deck. Lee threw his leg out under Nelson’s head and broke his fall, but felt his own head slam into the deck sending spots before his eyes. Something must have happened to the gyro, at least that’s what it felt like to Lee. He saw some movement in front of him. Was it his imagination, or was the hatch from the FS1 opening? He stayed quiet as Chip’s blonde hair showed through the small crack, then the rest of his XO appeared through the hatch moving quickly towards him. He figured that he must have gone through the cargo hold. There was no other way Chip could have gotten there without Logan seeing him.
“I’m going to get you out of here, Lee. I just need to get the device first so I can wake the crew up.”
“Leave me! Get the rest of the crew then you can re-take the boat. That’s an order.”
He thought Chip was going to argue, but instead he nodded. Lee watched anxiously as he crawled his way towards the chart table. He reached up to grab a satchel, slipping the strap over his head as he neared Lee.
“Sorry, Lee, I’ll be back as soon as I can, buddy,” he whispered.
Lee forced a smile. “I know you will, Chip. Be careful.”
Then he was gone as if he’d never been there in the first place.
While he tapped his finger against his lips he wondered what he was missing. Someone had caused the submarine to behave like that. Who was it? Everyone was accounted for. He thought back to his last dealings with Nelson and Crane, then it hit him. His head snapped up – Morton! Where was the blonde XO? He hadn’t paid much attention to him the last time he’d taken Seaview. He’d thought of him as a spare wheel who would pose no threat. Of all the stupid things, first he’d underestimated Crane, now the XO. Logan slammed his hand against the chart table.
closer and reached inside Crane’s shirt looking for the missile key. Lee attempted to struggle away from him but
bound as he was his movements were limited. Nothing!
“Captain, where is Commander Morton?”
“Really, Captain, must we play these games,” Logan said impatiently. “Hans, come here for a moment, Captain Crane needs some convincing.”
Hans moved towards Lee and stopped beside him, his right hand reaching towards Lee’s elbow. Lee grunted as he pressed his thumb into a sensitive pressure point on Lee’s forearm.
sorry, Captain, but that wasn’t the answer I was looking for,” said
He watched as Hans applied more pressure to his arm and with some satisfaction saw the pain in Crane’s face.
“He’s not onboard,” Lee answered through clenched teeth.
Logan tore his shirt open to the waist. “Then where are your missile keys? Neither you or the Admiral have them,” he shouted, his patience wearing thin.
“I’ve been unconscious for most of this trip. Do you really think I had the opportunity to figure out that we were being boarded and then hide my missile key?” Lee asked tiredly.
in to strike him again but
“I told you, he didn’t make it onboard before we sailed.”
“Hans, ask Professor Cates to wake Admiral Nelson up. Perhaps I can reason with him, gentleman to gentleman.”
“It’s gone,” cried the Professor almost hysterically.
Cates gestured agitatedly at the chart table. “The device, it’s gone. It was right here…on the table.”
“No, no, I didn’t. It was right here.” Cates shuffled the charts on the table as if expecting the satchel to be under one. “I know it was…right here.”
“Lost something?” taunted Lee.
Lee shook his head. “Nope, it’s none of my business if you can’t keep tabs on your property.”
“Hans, find out what he knows, I’ll be in Nelson’s cabin,” he ordered coldly. “And have the boat searched for Lieutenant Commander Morton immediately, from top to bottom.”
At that very moment, Chip was facing his own challenge. There were guards inside but none outside of the missile room. He hoped his plan would work. There were three of them, and although he could hold his own in a brawl, he didn’t want to take a chance that he might lose. The Seaview, Lee and all the crew needed him to be clever enough to get them out of this and he wouldn’t let them down.
He fumbled and almost dropped the gas canister he’d taken from the FS1. One sound, one wrong move and it would be all over. His throat felt dry as he edged closer to the missile room vent outlet. The gas mask slipped as he hooked his fingers through the grate. Chip let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding as the noise seemed to reverberate around him. For God’s sake, pull yourself together, he thought irritably.
None of the guards had moved or looked towards the vent. He slipped the mask on, pushed the grate open and jumped to the deck. At the same time he threw the gas canister and ducked for cover a little too late. One of the guards got off a shot, winging him in the left arm. He was thrown backwards but was satisfied to see all of them collapse onto the deck. Ignoring the burning pain in his arm he ran to the hatch and rammed a crowbar home, effectively cutting himself and the crew off from the other guards.
Without wasting any time he pulled out the nanite neutralizer, as he’d affectionately dubbed it. There were three switches on it. One appeared to turn on the power; the second altered the power setting and the third…if he had to make a guess, some sort of wavelength regulator. He hadn’t seen Cates touch the other two settings after he’d used it on Lee, and was pretty sure they were still in the same position. Chip held his breath as he turned it on and pointed it towards Chief Jones. His finger hovered over the button then he closed his eyes and pressed it. When he opened them again he was relieved to see Curley move.
He quickly found Kowalski and Patterson. By the time he’d used it on Patterson, Curley was sitting up asking him what had happened.
“Chief, I’ll tell you later, right now all you need to know is that Logan’s back and he’s taken over Seaview.”
looked confused. “Who?
“Never mind that now. Here,” he shoved the device into Curley’s hands. “Point and press. Don’t mess with the settings.”
Chip heard Kowalski and Patterson shuffle to their feet. “You two, you’re with me. We have to rescue Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane, they’re being held in the observation nose.”
Patterson looked down at Chip’s arm. “But, Sir, you’re hurt. You’re losing a lot of blood.”
hadn’t realized how much his arm was bleeding.
“It’ll wait. Right now we have to
free them and stop
“The vaults, but that’s impossible, there are mines and…”
Kowalski looked around him at the rest of the crew, most of them still lying unconscious on the deck. “What do you want Pat and me to do, Sir?”
“We’re almost at the vault. Once we’re close to docking, I want you and Patterson to gear up and come with me. There’s an airlock around the other side, we’ll be able to access it from there. I’ve made a call to the authorities from the backup radio. They’ve given me the combination.” Chip looked at Curley. “That’ll give you and the remainder of the crew enough time to re-take the control room. Enter the FS1 from the cargo hatch and use the munitions from there to take out the guards stationed at the armory.”
“Aye, Sir. What about the Skipper and the Admiral?”
“I’m sorry, Chief, they’ll have to wait until we’re ready,” Chip said reluctantly. “I know how you feel, but if we show our hand too soon…”
“Yes Sir, Mister Morton. You can count on us,” Curley assured him.
Chip slapped him on the back. “I know I can, Curley. Now, I’m going to see how far we are from reaching the vault. I’ll be back as soon as I can. If I don’t make it, here’s the combination.”
He handed Kowalski a piece of paper with numbers on it. “It’s a keypad entry. Just put the numbers in using this sequence.”
Kowalski nodded. “Be careful, Mister Morton.”
“I will. Now get moving and gear up.”
Chip took one last look and saw that Curley was making good progress. He pulled himself up into the ventilation shaft and disappeared into the darkness.
To his dismay, the Seaview was closer than Chip had anticipated. Logan and Hans were getting ready to dock and disembark with Lee who was held between two men, barely conscious. A quiet curse left his lips. It looked like Lee was in much worse condition than before. Chip made his way aft to the missile room as quickly as he could and was relieved to find the preparations well underway under Curley’s guidance.
“We’ve got about five minutes and there’s been a change of plan,” Chip said breathlessly as he tore off his uniform, taking a wetsuit from Patterson. He caught his shoulder as stabs of pain rippled down his arm. “Soon as I’ve suited up, I’ll leave through the moon pool or they’ll see the light go on in the control room. Kowalski, Patterson, wait here with the Chief and give him a hand. They’re after the missile keys so they’ll need me to show them where I put them. I’ll enter the vault and draw them back onto Seaview. Just make sure you’re ready to take them when I walk through the door, and get a move on. It’s a wonder they haven’t been down here to check yet.”
“We’re all ready, Mister Morton,” said Curley, surrounded by the rest of the crew. “You be careful, Sir.”
“I will, Chief.” Chip picked up his tanks and gear. “Right, you all know what to do. The Admiral and the Skipper are counting on us.”
carefully made his way to the moon pool, ducking into a storage closet once
when some of
Chip pushed himself to swim as hard as he could to the other side of the complex. The emergency entry point was set into the seabed between the domes. He quickly located the keypad and entered the number sequence. For a short time nothing happened. His finger moved towards the keypad again when he heard a hiss and the doorway opened to reveal an airlock. Inside the airlock he easily located the button that closed it and expunged the water. He waited impatiently until the light turned green and the inner door swung open automatically.
His torch chose that moment to flicker out. With no light he was working blind. He flung off his diving gear, and still in his wetsuit stepped through the door into nothing. A cry escaped his lips as he slipped into the dark void. Flailing about with his arms he managed to hook the injured one through what seemed to be the rung of a ladder. The pain almost made him pass out, it was unbearable. He bit his lip and forced his other arm up, just managing to get a grip on the ladder. He hung there for a moment, breathing hard while his feet found the rungs. That one mistake could have been costly for everyone. The pain eventually subsided to the point where he was able to climb down the without his head spinning.
warning he touched solid concrete and gave a sigh of welcome relief. He felt around for the gun he dropped but
only found some wide metal grating. It
must have dropped down there, he thought belatedly. Still, it didn’t make any difference. After all, he was aiming to be caught by
shone into his eyes, almost blinding him.
He half closed them to give his pupils time to adjust to the
brightness. The vault was spacious
horizontally, but the ceilings were only a foot above him. None of
Mister Morton, how good of you to finally join us,” said
“What have you done with Captain Crane?”
“Why, he’s right over there.” Logan pointed to a dark corner.
Chip’s heart missed a couple of beats when he saw Lee. He was leaning against the wall, his chin resting against his chest. Blood was dripping from a fresh facial wound onto what was left of his shirt, spreading into an increasing large red stain. Professor Cates was standing nearby as was Hans, with a pistol trained on Chip.
“What did you do to him?” he snarled.
Hans stepped forward from behind Chip, his pistol trained on the XO’s chest. “Where are the missile keys?”
Chip shook his head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Hans stepped back and pushed Lee’s head up. Chip felt his anger rising when he saw the damage to his friend’s face.
“Would you like your Captain to be able to eat solid food again?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
He let Lee’s head fall down and reached into his pocket with his spare hand. Chip stared disgustedly at the instrument he pulled out. “You used those on him?”
Hans slid the knuckle dusters onto his fingers, flexing them to make sure they were in place. “He wasn’t talking. It would have been easier for him just to tell Logan what he wanted.”
his head as Hans drew his fist back, ready to hit Lee. “Wait, I’ll show you where the keys are,
“What about my machine?” whined Cates.
“I…” he looked at Lee again, just for long enough to convince them that he was reluctant to help them. “That too.”
“I’m glad you’re finally co-operating Mister Morton. Hans, escort our final guest back to the submarine,” ordered Logan. “I’ll finish supervising here.”
“Will you be alright?” Hans asked.
wanted to pound
“How long have you worked for Logan?” asked Chip as they made their way up the escalator.
Chip knew he wasn’t going to get very far with the hired help, so he began to take more notice of the vault. It was huge, bigger than he’d expected. On one occasion he’d been on board when Seaview had dropped supplies into the vault, but he’d never been inside. From what the Admiral had told him, all of the walls were re-enforced steel plating with five inches of tungsten carbide on either side. Obviously the external safeguards didn’t take into account someone getting inside help.
about what was going to happen next. By
now Curley and the others would have taken back Seaview. Hans would get a
one way trip to the brig, then he would go back with reinforcements to rescue
Lee and stop
“How much is he paying you? I’m sure the Admiral would be willing to pay you more to let us go,” said Chip, trying to distract him from seeing how uptight he was.
“Stop!” ordered Hans.
He pushed Chip against the side of the airlock before taking a quick look inside the submarine. For one horrible moment Chip thought his plan had failed and Seaview was still under outside control. Hans grabbed his shirt and pushed him into the boat. As he did, the men who were manning the controls turned around. Chip almost laughed with relief as he noticed that they were all his own crew. They had merely been disguised in the dark garb of Logan’s men.
“Get down, Mister Morton,” yelled Curley.
Chip threw himself onto the deck while Hans brought his pistol up ready to shoot. It was the last action he would take. Kowalski had him in his sights and delivered a kill shot.
Ski ran up to Chip. “Are you alright, Sir? I’m sorry. The Admiral told us how they treated the Skipper, I…”
Chip took his hand as the rating helped him up from the deck. “Ski, it’s okay. You did the right thing. He was a dangerous man. I’m sure he would have killed someone if you hadn’t taken him out.”
Kowalski nodded. “Thank you, Sir. What about the Skipper?”
“Yes, Mister Morton. It got a bit cozy in the brig, but I’m sure they would have treated us with the same respect,” he replied sarcastically.
got the plans to the vault,” said Nelson, hurrying down the spiral staircase
with the plans in his hand. “Show me
Nelson laid the plans out on the chart table where Chip pointed out their location.
He looked up at the XO, a small smile on his face. “Well, Chip, this is your show. What do you want us to do next?”
Chip suddenly felt uncomfortable as every eye in the room fell on him. “Uh, I suggest a pincer movement. There are two tunnels here and here. They both meet where Lee is being held. I’ll take four men with me, if you take another four with you we can meet in the middle. We can take them from both sides.”
Nelson gazed intensely at the plans and nodded. “Yes, that’s a good plan. Choose your men.”
“I’ll take Kowalski, Patterson, O’Brien and Baker. Oh, and Jamie can bring up the rear, Lee will need him,” he said as an afterthought.
Nelson nodded to Chip’s arm where a small trickle of blood slowly dripped out from beneath his wetsuit. “Looks like you’ll need him yourself, Mister Morton.”
“I’ll be fine until then, Sir.”
The Admiral quickly chose Curley, Riley and two other crewmen, each of whom were already armed.
“Right, let’s get going.”
Captain, it’s time for us to leave. I
think you will enjoy your new home,”
He tried to draw himself up straighter. “It would take a better man than you to hold me, Logan.”
“You think so, do you, Captain? Even during my brief incarceration, I was able to keep my precious collection safe from those who would seek to take it from me. I have it hidden in secret locations throughout the world. What makes you think you would be any different?” he bragged.
“Because you won’t escape again,” snapped Chip. “Step away from Captain Crane and put your hands in the air, all of you. Kowalski, get their weapons.”
look out,” cried Lee as one of
Logan’s foot lashed out at Lee, knocking him down as two shots rang out. One struck Chip high on the right leg. The other was fired by Nelson and found its mark. The shooter fell to the ground clutching his arm as his weapon flew out of his hand.
Chip limped towards Lee as Kowalski, Patterson and Curley began the process of rounding up the remaining hijackers.
“Lee, it’s Chip. Hey, buddy, I’m just going to untie your hands. It’s gonna hurt, I’m sorry.”
“L…Looks like it’ll hurt you as much as it’ll hurt m…me,” replied Lee hoarsely.
Chip managed a small grin as he went to work on the knots. “Least mine won’t show when I’m trying to get another date with Lola,” he quipped, wincing as the wounds in his leg and arm gave him a simultaneous shot of pain. “Your ugly mug, on the other hand…”
He finally managed to release Lee’s hands and helped him to sit up. Only then did he let himself slide down on the floor beside him to wait for Jamie. Chip knew there was no escape from sickbay this time for either of them.
Lee reached out to him and tugged at his sleeve, his movements stiff and painful. “Thanks, you saved my life.”
“Yeah, strike one against the many times you’ve done it,” he grumbled.
Lee slowly raised his head to look Chip in the eyes. “When it counted, you were there for me, for all of us. For Seaview,” he added quietly.
Chip felt his face turn a deep shade of red. “Uh, it was nothing, Lee.” He looked at Lee and realized that he’d lost consciousness.
“That’s not what I heard,” said Jamie, setting his bag down beside the two friends. “I heard you saved the day, Chip.”
“That he did, Doctor,” came Nelson’s voice. “How are you feeling, Chip?”
“I’m fi…” Chip saw the expression on Jamie’s face and abruptly revised his response. “I guess I might need some patching up.”
“Jamie, what about Lee?”
Jamie finished bandaging Chip’s leg and nodded at Lee. “I think he’ll be alright, he might need some stitches in his head. I’ll be able to tell you more once I’ve given him the usual set of x-rays.”
Two stretchers arrived to carry the injured men back to Seaview.
“But Jamie, I can walk,” Chip protested.
“Not this time, Commander. I just stopped your bleeding. I would be very unhappy if it started up again.”
Chip stifled another argument as Nelson raised his eyebrows and gave the required response. “Yes, Jamie.”
“What about the nanites?” queried Nelson.
Jamie looked grim. “I think that’s more your field than mine, Admiral. I’ll do the usual blood screening and analysis, but ultimately I think you’ll have to figure out if they really have broken down.”
“Hmm, alright, send what you have to the lab and I’ll get to work on it as soon as we’ve cleaned this mess up and handed them over the authorities.”
Nelson watched as Lee and Chip were stretchered off. “Kowalski, we’ll have to keep those items as exhibits for the police.”
“Yes, Sir. I’ll have Patterson give me a hand to catalogue them.”
“Very good. I’ll be on board.” Nelson left the vault and made it to Seaview before he received the bad news.
called O’Brien. “
“What!” cried Nelson. “How?”
“We’re not sure, Sir. Chief Jones found the Master At Arms just outside the brig. He was dead, shot in the back.”
“In the back?” he growled.
“Damn,” muttered Nelson. “Get in touch with the Coast Guard cutter and inform them. Organize a search party to go through Seaview before we undock.”
Nelson stormed down towards the sickbay. How could he have escaped? Probably the same way he had gained inside knowledge about Seaview’s movements and the undersea vault. When he walked in Frank was just wheeling Chip into surgery while Jamie worked on Lee.
“The Skipper’s got a concussion, he’ll need stitches in two cuts on his head and face, and he’s got two cracked ribs. Add to that deep bruising and he’ll be pretty sore for a while.”
Jamie looked at the Admiral more closely. “What’s the matter, Harry?”
“We have a
“What?” gasped Chip, as the color drained from his face. “How is that possible? I saw him handcuffed and taken to the brig by the Master At Arms.”
Nelson’s expression became grim. “I regret to say that the Master At Arms was found dead, not far from the brig.”
They all looked up as Curley ran around the corner. “Admiral, there’s two sets of diving gear missing from the missile room.”
“Two? Are you sure?”
“Yes, Sir. I double checked myself.”
“Thank you, Chief. That’ll be all.”
“Aren’t we going to search for him?” asked Chip.
Nelson shook his head. “It looks like he’s left the submarine. If so, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.” He grabbed the microphone. “Nelson to O’Brien.”
“O’Brien here, Sir.”
“Do you have anything on sonar, any contacts at all, no matter how brief?”
“There was one. Kowalski reported a contact so intermittent that he thought the equipment must have been malfunctioning.”
“I’d say he had a submersible standing by as a backup plan,” Nelson said, looking about as happy as Chip felt.
“I’ve got a feeling we haven’t seen the last of him, Admiral.”
Nelson nodded to his XO. “So have I, Chip. Well, now that’s over, just where did you put the missile keys?”
“Admiral, you need to stay still so I can have a look at the damage,” Jamie said impatiently.
“What happened,” asked Chip, still sluggish from the anesthetic.
Nelson pursed his lips and threw Chip a stormy look. “The Angler Fish happened!”
“Oh,” Chip looked sheepishly at the Admiral’s hastily bandaged fingers. “I could have sworn I left the long tongs next to the tank.”
Nelson glared at him and held his hand closer to his chest. “Yes, well, I was in a hurry and didn’t stop to think. Next time perhaps you could find another place to hide them.”
“Yes, Sir. Sorry, Sir,” he mumbled before his eyes closed.
“Don’t be too hard on him, Harry. He did a good job.”
Nelson let out a long sigh. “Yes, Will, he did. I shudder to think what would have become of us if he’d ingested Cates’ nanites at the reception.”
been any news of
“No,” Nelson ran a hand through his hair. “Not a thing. It’s as if he never even existed.”
“If I ever see him again it’ll be too soon.”
“That it will be,” replied Nelson, deep in thought.
He glanced at Lee and Chip as Jamie gave him yet another shot. Oh well, he thought, if nothing else it would give him an excuse to stay in sick bay until the two of them woke up. He closed his eyes and let Jamie go to work on his hand, wondering when they would have to face Logan again.
The End – or is it?