Castles of the Sea

By

Carol Foss

 

The two admirals sat by themselves in the great observation lounge, while the captain busied himself correctingthe Admiral's mistakes, again, grateful he had abandoned the Control Room leaving it for those in the know.

 

"I don't think she likes me very well, Harry," the younger man was saying, dejected. And he hadn't meant the captain.

Nelson laughed gently and patted him on the shoulder, "Lee, Lee, Lee, don't take it to heart. Anyone could have gotten the code sequences wrong. We're only here as observers for this shakedown cruise anyway."

"I even got lost trying to find my way to my cabin," he shook his head, embarrassed, "She's too big, too computerized...hardly even needs a captain or a crew and..." he sighed and stopped.

"And?"

"I miss my old boat," Lee sighed.

Harriman Nelson's eyes softened all the more. He too, had felt the pain when the SSRN Seaview had been retired, too old and outdated for the times. But Crane had felt the heartache more, he knew. Seaview had been and always would be Lee's life's blood. Nelson's former captain had chosen to remain with the Nelson Institute afterwards, intending tohelp out withthe necessary economic and technological restructuring, but the long arm of the US Navy had snatched him back to active service. Since then he'd had two more submarine commands under his belt and a rapid rise to the rank of Admiral. But Nelson was even prouder of the fact that his old friend, in truth more of a son to him, now Commander of Submarines Pacific, had chosen to simply be here with Nelson for the sea trials of NuSeaview.

 

Crane didn't like all the new technologies of the age, yet had suffered their indignities like every other sub driver in the Navy. But NuSeaview was far ahead of even the most sophisticated submarine in existence.Lee was, if possible, even prouder of Harriman Nelson, who as his 'friend, enemy, partner, rival, big brother, and blood brother'*, had also merged some of his own scientific advances with those of a entirely new generation of computerized engineering to develop NuSeaview. Nelson knew Crane didn't exactly like her design or characteristics, but come hell or high water he wanted Nelson to know he'd stand by him.

 

"Why not take the Nuflub out for a spin, Lee? I know that'll cheer you up. And she's not all that different from FS1."

"You sure? I might forget how this new one works."

"Nonsense. Go on now, enjoy yourself."

"You know Harry, I think I just may. Oh, by the way, what's for lunch?"

"Whatever the auto-dietitian decides, depending on your height, weight, percentage of body fat, and..."

Crane groaned dramatically, then grinned, "Doc'd be so proud."

"Only if you eat it....but, between you and me, Lee...I have the override sequence...trust me, I'll make sure we have a lunch to remember."

***

The Nuflub did indeed handle as well as the old flying sub, actually a bit too well. Somewhat angered, maybe jealous of the young hotshots of NuSeaview, he couldn't help imagining himself back aboard the original flying sub, just launched from Seaview.

"Warning. Warning," the autcontrols took over.

Not a good idea to go daydreaming...that is, until he saw it. Seaview and the flying sub, with a radiant glow about them.

"Uh, NuSeaview? You're not going to believe me but...somebody's stolen the Seaview and the flying sub.

"NuSeaview? Do you read me? I haven't lost my marbles. They're right next to me. Captain, respond. Admiral? What the hell's wrong with everyone. I 'm not crazy."

"Communication with mother ship has been discontinued."

"Then I'll go see for myself, "Crane tried to turn Nuflub toward Seaview.

"Error. Error," auto control said.

"Oh shut up," he hit the manual override button. In minutes he was docked with Seaview, armed himself, and prepared to disturb the hooligans who had taken her from her berthin the first place. At least he hoped they were only hooligans. Certainly she had no firepower any more but still...

Climbing up the ladder to the hatch after he gingerly opened the hatch. 2 pairs of shoes greeted his eyes, one a pair of sneakers, the other a pair of oxfords.

"Ski? Chip? What are you doing here?"

"Skipper?" Morton turned, "Can you come here a moment?"

In seconds Cmdr. Crane approached and looked at the intruder in shock.

"You're me!" he exclaimed at the same time as Admiral Crane did.

"Oh this is impossible," both said. "Pemm? Mallory?" they each called out, looking around. But the little professor nor the mad scientist appeared.

"Admiral?" Crane looked at the single star on the interloper's collar, surprised and a bit disgusted.

"Well, there's a reason for that...for now, go on,turn on the magnifying cameras. You'll see NuSeaview and..."

"NuSeaview?"

"Seaview's successor."

"I know what to do Admiral whoever you are, and I donít appreciate this masquerade," Cmdr Crane said, "There's only one Seaview."

"But I am you, Lee. I can't explain it, and she does have a successor even if we both don't exactly like the idea."

"Sparks can't raise her on the radio, " O'Brien fiddled with the monitor knobs.

"Admiral Nelson designed her so she can keep up withtechnology. Radio frequencies are configured differently now..."

"What an ugly boat!" O'Brien said as NuSeaview came into view.

"Yeech," Commander Crane voiced his own opinion.

"FS1 to Seaview," Patterson's voice came over, "I think I've been seeing things out here."

"Never mind that now. Hold your position."

"Aye sir."

Just then Admiral Crane's stomach growled.

"You been eating okay on that monstrosity?" Chip asked.

"Not really. Just about everything's automated. The food's prepared by robotics and dietary decisions are made for you. I told Harry it wasn't a good idea but the surgeon general ordered it."

"Oh gawd," Commander Crane groaned, "I bet that'd make Doc happy though."

"The Surgeon General is Doc, Chip."

"No kidding. Well, c'mon, let's have lunch. Harry is it? When did that happen, and how is he?"

"Sharp as a tack but...he misses the old girl too," Admiral Nelson stroked a hand lovingly along the view port, "NuSeaview just doesn't compare. You can't believe how luckyyou are to be here in the past. I hope you appreciate it."

"Always have, always will. That's a promise."

"I know."

"Skipper?" O'Brien called out, "She's glowing again, like when we first got the visual..."

"Perhaps that's a sign I'd better go back," the Admiral said," especially as I don't know how I got here. Sure wish I could stay..."

"I'd like that. But you're right. We can't be in two places at once. I'd also like to know aboutthat star. I don't fancy myself with one, you know."

"I know, suffice to say the Navyalways gets what it wants in the end..."

"So what happened to Seaview?"

"She just...grew too old. Don't worry. She wasn't scrapped. Harry and I would never allow that...she's a nautical museum, in fact. We keep her shipshape in Bristol fashion. Gawd I wish we could take her out sometime...I wish we could turn back the clock. Well, take care of my best girl, Chip. See you in the future," Admiral Crane descended into the Nuflub and in moments launched and was alongside FS1 when it and Seaview simply vanished.

***

"No, no, not a museum!" Cmdr. Crane was yelling in his sleep as Chip and Doc tried to rouse him.

"C'mon Lee, wake up. You're having a nightmare."

"Huh? Wha...Chip? Doc? Wha..."he finally took in the fact he was aboard Seaview. Racing to the head, he looked at himself in the mirror and sagged in relief, "it was a dream. It was all a dream," then turned to Chip grabbing his arms, gleefully, "I'm not an Admiral, I'm not an Admiral!"

"Uh, I'm not so sure that's something to happy about Lee," Nelson said from the doorway.

"He had a dream," Doc was saying.

"I think I have enough intelligence to have figured that out even if I am an Admiral."

"The Navy made me go back to active service," Lee said, almost without taking breath, " and before I knew it I was Commander of Submarine's Pacific and we had to retire Seaview and you built another one, but she was the ugliest computerized mega boat in creation. Had artificial intelligence and robotic food preparation systems, even the flying sub talked and took action of her own...gawd it was awful!Please, please, please, I know technology's going to keep on advancing, but please, Harry, can't we just keep Seaview the way she is?"

"Harry?"Doc mouthed to Morton, as surprised as he was while Crane continued.

"I know we have to keep up with technology, but NuSeaview was just...too too much."

"Apparently, if it's gotten you all hot and bothered. Now, you just go back to sleep and we'll talk about it in the morning. Doc? Maybe a sedative?"

"I donít need a sedative Harry," Lee complained, "and...er...I mean Admiral and.."

"Harry's fine Lee," Nelson helped push him back onto the bunk, "About time too, son. As for technology, well, I can't promise you not to redesign things if the times will warrant them. Sometimes we can't do what we want to Lee, you know that."

"Of course I do, but it was so awful...we had to turn Seaview into a museum! A museum!" he almost choked on the word.

"Doc," Nelson nodded as the sawbones injected Crane with something to make him sleep."Be that as it may Lee, the future can't be all that bad. Commander of Submarines Pacific eh? I wonder what Jiggs Starke would make of that?"

"It was just a dream sir..er..Harry. Probably none of it will even happen."

"Well I can't promise you that it won't, but one thing's for certain."

"What's that?"

"As long as Lee Crane exists, Seaview will too, I can promise you that."

*See 'City Beneath the Sea' year 1, episode 2 of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.