This is completely and utterly Kim Q's fault—inspired by an offhand comment one afternoon. This is dedicated to everybody who reads Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
There wasn’t much light. The cell—more of a cave with one wall of bars—was a study of shadows as the two figures sat on the cold, damp floor in almost identical poses, both dressed in black. Each sat with their back to a wall, arms crossed over their chests. Long legs stretched out in front of them, crossed at the ankles. One big difference was that one figure was leaner and narrow wasted, with a head of dark, curly hair. The other was broader in the chest and stray tendrils of wheat blond hair peaked out from under his black knitted cap. A pair of cold blue eyes glared at his dark-haired companion. Flat, emotionless, amber-hazel eyes stared back.
Finally the blond growled, “Another fine mess you’ve gotten me into.”
Lee Crane’s eyes widened and the glare intensified. “I’ve gotten you into? What’s that supposed to mean?” he shot back.
Chip Morton just shook his head. “It means,” the blond grumbled, “that as usual, I follow you blindly, knowing damn well the intel is probably bad. No extraction plan, no back-up, just fly-by-the-seat-of-your pants and we end up getting captured. Smooth going, Crane. Thanks a lot.”
“Oh,” Lee snarled, anger turning his voice cold and deadly, “I suppose if we’d had done it your way, none of this would have happened?”
Chip got to his feet. “I guess we’ll never know now, will we? Any minute they’ll be in here, asking who we and what are we doing here. And you know what? I’m getting tired of having the snot beat out of me on account of you!” Chip's voice rose till he was shouting at Lee, pointing angrily at the other man. His intense blue eyes flashed in fury.
Lee jumped to his feet and fired back, “Well, I don’t recall inviting you along! Next time, stay where you belong—on the boat! Play with your computers and let the experts handle this!”
Chip snorted in disgust. “Expert? That’s what you call yourself? An expert? Can’t be much of an expert, you needed me to get past the surveillance system. You’d still be trying to figure out how to by-pass the motion detectors if it wasn’t for me!”
“Maybe if I hadn’t let you tag along, I wouldn’t have had to slow down and then maybe we wouldn’t have got caught!”
“Oh you’d have gotten caught. You always get caught. It’s what you do. We always know exactly where you’ve been; just follow the trail of mayhem you create whenever the admiral lets you off the boat!” Each pronouncement was getting louder and more vicious as the argument grew hotter.
Lee paced the length of the small cell, hands balled into tight fists. “Mayhem? I create mayhem? Who got possessed by a pirate? Whose bright idea was it to volunteer for the S.E.A. as a co-pilot? I had to rescue you! Like always! I always have to rescue you!”
Chip stopped his own pacing, turning to face leaner man and letting loose a new barrage. “Me? You had to rescue me? Aliens, Lee. I don’t suppose you remember ANY of those? That brain-looking thing we dredged up off the ocean bottom? What about the mutant seaweed monster, the one that had you and half the crew, including Jamie, possessed? Hell, it was the only time you two have ever agreed on anything, because you were BOTH possessed! Like I said—mayhem. M.A.Y.H.E.M.,” Chip spelled out, taking steps toward Lee with each letter.
Lee stood his ground. “Well, if I’m Mayhem, what’s that make you? Chaos? All this time I thought that C. in C. P. Morton stood for Charles but no, it’s Chaos! Chaos Morton! And you think you can command Seaview?”
“I’m just as good as you. Somewhere along the line the admiral's put you on a pedestal so flaming high, the fall alone will be enough to kill you. One of these days he’s going to see I’m just as good commander as you, and unlike you, I know where my place is. My loyalties lie with Nelson and the sub. Can you say the same?”
“You’re nowhere the leader that I am and we both know it. Stick to what you know and leave command of the Seaview to me. You'll never be more than second-best and you know it,” Lee snarled back vehemently.
“That’s it! I’ve had it with you!” Chip launched himself at Lee, catching the other man around the waist and both men went down, rolling across the stone floor, screaming obscenities at each other as they traded blows. Chip came up on top, his hands wrapped around Lee’s throat as Crane levered his knee up and into Chip’s stomach, throwing the blond man across the cell. Chip landed with a thud against the wall and he promptly pulled himself up and launched after Lee once more.
At the entrance to the chamber, two armed men stood guard and as the two prisoners tackled each other in what looked like a no-holds-barred-battle, they launched themselves at the cell door. In the dimly lit cell, it was hard to even make out who was winning. One guard struggled for the keys to the lock while the second started yelling.
“Hurry up! They’re gonna kill each other! I thought they were friends! The boss swore they were pals!”
“I’m working on it! It’s not like this stuff is maintained on a regular basis!” the one with the keys shouted back. He finally won his battle with the rusty lock and threw the door open. Both guards jumped into the fray, grabbing the two rolling figures to break up the melee.
“Break it up, you two! I said can it!” one guard exclaimed. He got more than he bargained for.
As suddenly as the two men had turned on each other, they reversed form and attacked the guards. Chip went after one with an upper cut to the jaw while Lee took out the second with a double-fisted chop on the back of the neck. It was over in seconds. The two guards lay in an unconscious heap on the ground while Lee and Chip leaned against the wall, gasping for air.
“Well, that went well. Next time we stage a fight, be more careful.” Chip wheezed, running a hand over a split lower lip. Lee noticed and frowned.
“Did I do that?”
“It’s not like we had time to rehearse. Stop freaking out and let’s get out of here.”
Lee reached down and rolled the bodies over, retrieving their weapons. From the rusty lock, he pocketed the keys and cast a look back at Chip.
“You gonna stand there all day? I thought you wanted out of here.”
Chip pushed off from the wall and quickly caught up to his friend. “I can’t believe you called me Chaos. I’m not near the trouble magnet you are.”
“Really,” stated Morton matter-of-factly as the two walked down the corridor side by side.
Lee couldn’t stop himself. “I seem to recall the crew talking about your healthy golden tan. Mr. Morton…”
“That wasn’t my fault, I swear!” answered Chip’s mortified hiss as the two friends vanished around a corner, Chaos and Mayhem on the move.