Thanks to Kate for being such a kind and patient beta J
By Sea Spinner
“Crane to Morton.”
Lieutenant Commander Chip Morton picked up the microphone. “Morton here.”
“Chip, we’ve almost finished stowing the scientists gear, we just need to do one more run back to the research station and we’ll have everything. As soon as we’re back on board, make preparations for departure. The Admiral’s staying back at the lab to finish up the final experiments with Professor Stefánsson. We’ll pick him up in a couple of days.”
Chip put the microphone back in its cradle and sighed. It had been a long five days for everyone, with about half the crew involved in ferrying gadgets and finished experiments back to Seaview. The scientists had all been evacuated an hour ago and transported to a surface ship, but Stefánsson had one last experiment to finish so he’d remained along with the Admiral. A skeleton crew had stayed onboard Seaview to keep an eye on the unpredictable volcanic nature of the surrounding seabed in the hopes that it didn’t cause too many problems for the submarine. It was a painful process since the lab was tucked away in a series of narrow underwater caverns. He was just glad it was coming to an end and he could relax a bit after only a very few hours sleep.
“Sir!” cried Kowalski. “I’m picking up a large underwater disturbance off our port side.”
Ski grimaced. “Too large, we won’t be able to make it out of the canyon, it’s almost here.”
Chip grabbed at the microphone. “All hands, brace for impact. Lee, we’ve got a large disturbance heading our way.”
The Skipper and one of the crew were the last to board and were particularly vulnerable as they were still heading up to the boat in their scuba equipment. No sooner had told Lee made it inside than the whole deck pitched and rocked as the shockwave hit the boat. Chip rode it out with no injuries, but he could soon see that some weren’t as lucky.
Still grasping the microphone, he clicked the button. “Damage control, report!” he snapped out.
“All available hands to the missile room for repairs,” ordered Chip. In the next instant he called sickbay. “Morton to sickbay. Lay down to the control room on the double, Doctor, we’ve got injured.”
Chip had been about to assist Patterson who’d been injured. “What is it, Ski?”
“We’ve got another one coming, and it’s almost as big.”
“Where are the Skipper and the rest of the divers?”
“They just managed to get aboard, Sir
“Blow all ballast. Surface, surface.” Chip couldn’t see any other choice. Another wave like the last one would finish them off. He just hoped the Admiral was alright and the lab hadn’t sustained any damage. “All crew, brace for another shockwave.”
Chip felt the boat rising sluggishly at first, then she gave a definite lurch and he could feel that they were on their way to the surface. He just prayed it would be enough.
“Kowalski, how long until it reaches us?”
“Any second, Sir.”
Chip waited for the violent impact but none came. All he felt was a small shudder make its way through the boat. He took a breath and rubbed a hand across his sweaty brow. That had been too close.
“Distance to surface?”
“Fifty feet, Sir,” answered Ski.
The XO looked up as Jamie and one of the corpsmen hurried into the control room. “What have you got for us, Chip?”
Chip knelt down next to Patterson who was unconscious. “He fell hard against the periscope well. I hope it’s nothing too serious.” He looked over to where O’Brien was nursing his arm. “Bob fell against the chart table, maybe a broken arm.”
“Looks like you got the worst of it here. I’ve only had reports of minor injuries from the rest of the crew.” Jamie sent the corpsman to see to O’Brien and started working on Patterson. “I’ll take it from here, Chip. You’ve got a lot on your hands.”
The XO nodded. Chip wanted to leave the control room to see the damage but knew his place was here. Lee and Sharkey had made it, so he assumed they would oversee things in the missile room. Still, he picked up the mic just to make sure.
“Morton to missile room.” He waited for a minute but there was no response. “Morton to damage control teams.”
Still no response and it made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
“Sir, we’re on the surface.”
“Jamie, take care of things here. Kowalski, with me.”
Chip took off at a run towards the missile room, closely followed by the senior rating. The sight he had when he turned the corner wasn’t what he expected.
“What the…” He looked at Ski. “Get a detail down here now. We’re going to need help.”
Turning back to watch the fighting men spilling out of the missile room, he had to rub his eyes as Lee threw a punch at Sharkey, knocking him off his feet
“Lee, what are you…” he ducked as Lee found another target – him! Grabbing the fist that narrowly missed his head, he twisted it up around the Captain’s back and pushed him into a bulkhead as gently as he could. “What’s going on?” he growled.
As the Skipper’s head twisted back a little he saw deranged fury in his friend’s eyes. He struggled hard and Chip had to use all his strength to keep a grip on him. Just when he thought Lee would break loose, reinforcements arrived.
“Take everyone who’s fighting to the brig,” ordered Chip, shouting to make himself heard over the mêlée. “Ski, help me with the Skipper.”
Between the two of them they managed to get Lee to sickbay. Chip was reluctant to put him in the brig. Once in sickbay he realized that his decision had been a bad one. Lee kicked himself free and threw punches at both him and Ski, managing to knock Kowalski down and out for the count. Chip was left with trying to fend off the blows until he saw Lee’s eyes turn up in his head and he caught him as he fell.
Behind him, Jamie stood holding a hypodermic needle. “I heard what was going on and assumed that you’d need a hand.”
Chip managed to put Lee onto the examination table and bent over to catch his breath, resting his hands on his knees. “Thanks, Jamie. I didn’t want to hit him. Do you have any idea what’s going on?”
“Not yet, but I’m going to do some blood work on the crew that’s been affected. Maybe then I’ll have some answers. Chip, I don’t think this is irreversible. In fact, I suspect it has something to do with the experiments Professor Stefánsson has been working on.”
The XO looked over at the remaining bunks. Three of them were full and he suspected there would be more in the coming hours. He was surprised when the Doctor shoved a cup of hot coffee into his hands.
Chip groaned and dropped his head. "Exactly how many people can fit into the brig," he muttered into his coffee mug.
"Depends, if they're alive or dead," replied Jamie cheerfully.
The XO looked up and was horrified to find the same unhinged look in Jamie’s eyes that he’d seen in Lee’s. “Jamie, this isn’t the time for joking around,” he snapped.
The doctor lunged at him, a scalpel in his hand and knocked him against the exam table, his coffee sent flying. Chip gasped as Jamie buried the instrument in his hip. He pushed the doctor aside and braced himself for what he had to do. “Jamie, I’m really sorry about this,” he said before throwing a punch at the doctor.
It had the desired effect as Jamie slumped to the floor. Chip looked at the scalpel that was still embedded in his hip and set his teeth as he made to pull it out. At least it wasn’t a carving knife, he thought irritably. He put his hands under Jamie’s arms, dragged him painfully over to an empty bunk and made him as comfortable as he could. “Doc, I need you, so you have to snap out of this,” he said, not caring that it fell on deaf ears.
He stopped long enough to put some padding on his injury and tape it in place. As he finished, Chip heard a groan behind him and prepared himself for another fight before he remembered that Kowalski had been knocked out. Hoping that Ski wasn’t infected, he hastened to his side. “Kowalski, can you get up?”
Ski looked a little disorientated but nodded. “Oh, Mister Morton, what hit me?”
“The Skipper. Are you alright?”
“I will be, Sir,” he replied as Chip got him to his feet. “I hope he doesn’t make a habit of punching me out, I don’t think my jaw’ll take much more,” he groaned. “What’s happening to everyone, Sir?”
Chip shook his head and motioned to where Jamie lay unconscious on the bunk. “Jamie had an idea that it was something to do with the tests they were performing in the underwater lab. He was just about to take a sample of Lee’s blood when he…I don’t know, became infected and turned violent.”
Ski looked down at Chip’s trousers, pointing out the bloodied stain near his hip. “Mister Morton, you’re bleeding.”
“Doctor Jamieson stabbed me with a scalpel,” he almost laughed at the shock on Ski’s face. “It’s alright. I’ve taped some gauze over it. It’ll do for the time being.”
“Uh, do you want me to have a look at it, Mister Morton?
“No, honestly, Ski, it’s fine.”
“What do we do now?”
Chip pulled himself together. “Let’s get back to the control room.”
“Maybe they’ll have some answers for us.”
“I doubt it, but I really hope so,” replied Chip, hastening towards the con.
They were both surprised to find that it was still fully manned. Everything looked normal except for a few black eyes and cuts. “What happened here?”
“Chief Sharkey,” replied one of the crew. “He came up here and was alright but suddenly he went all weird and started fighting us.”
“Where is he now?”
“In the brig, Sir.”
Chip rubbed his temples. This was getting worse by the minute. “We can’t put everyone in the brig. Frank, when you’ve finished patching the men up, can you start taking blood from the affected crew? I need to contact Admiral Nelson. When or if we run out of room in the brig, you’ll have to start sedating them. I can have some of the crew set the officer’s mess up as a makeshift sick bay once you start to run out of space.”
He realized the rest of the crew was looking to him for answers. “How long before we can get to port?”
“Uh, we haven’t been able to get a team to report. Everyone who goes down there doesn’t come back,” replied one of the crewmen.
Footsteps on the stairs had him on the defensive, and he took a deep breath when Bobby O’Brien walked unsteadily into the control room, his left arm in a sling.
“Mister O’Brien, you should be in sickbay,” he noted.
“Yes, Sir, but I had to see if there was anything I could do to help,” he replied, his face pale.
“You can take the con.” Chip looked around at the men. “I need volunteers to go and assess the damage to the missile room. I’ll contact the Admiral first, then we’ll head down there.”
“You can count on me, Mister Morton,” said Ski.
“I’ll go, Sir,” said Patterson, his head still surrounded by a bandage that held a thick wad of gauze just behind his right temple.
Chip almost said no, but there was hardly anyone without some type of injury who was for the most part, able-bodied. “Alright, Pat, if you’re sure you’re up to it, but make sure you’re all wearing full hazmat suits and scrub down afterwards. I don’t want to take the risk of anyone getting infected. It looks like it’s coming from the men who were in the missile room. That makes it a possible contagion zone.”
Two other crewmen stepped
forward and Chip nodded. “Thank
“Uh, he’s in the brig too, Sir,” replied Patterson, touching his split lip.
Chip walked over to the radio. The frequency was still set to the underwater lab. He picked up the mic to raise Admiral Nelson. “Seaview calling Admiral Nelson.”
It only took a few seconds for Nelson to reply. “Nelson here, is that you, Chip?”
“Yes, Sir. Are you alright down there?”
“We’re fine. The shock wave went over the top of us, but I’ve been worried about you.”
“We’ve got some problems up here, Admiral. I wondered if you could shed some light on what the Professor’s been working on. There have been some, um, unusual reactions up here and we’re down to about twenty able-bodied men.”
“What type of unusual reactions?” asked Nelson.
“Outright aggression and violence.”
Chip heard Nelson confer with the Professor. “Chip, you need to send the FS1 down for us immediately. You’ll have to wait above the canyon. We’ll dive up to you when you’re in place. There simply isn’t enough room for the flying sub to get into the lab.”
“Yes, Sir, but I’ll have to pilot it myself, there’s nobody else.”
There was a pause. “What’s happened to Captain Crane?”
“He’s been sedated, Sir.”
“You’d better hurry. Who else can take charge?”
Chip glanced at O’Brien who nodded. “Lieutenant O’Brien has a broken arm, but he’s fine apart from that.”
“Right, get here as soon as you can.”
“Aye, Sir. Sorry, Pat, you’ll have to head up the damage control team. Take the laser pistols, set to stun. I don’t want anyone killed, but take every precaution. Ski, I need you to help Frank with the blood tests.”
It didn’t take Chip long to prep the FS1 and retrieve Nelson and Stefánsson.
“What do you think happened, Admiral?”
Nelson didn’t provide him with an answer straight away but the Professor took it as an opening. “Do you think that the containers Captain Crane was carrying might have ruptured when the shockwave hit?”
“I guess it’s possible. I’ve sent a detail down to the missile room in full hazmat gear. I’ll radio them as soon as we’re back onboard,” he said, preparing to dock with Seaview.
“What was in the containers?”
“Synthetic chemical compounds I was using.”
“If those particular chemicals were mixed, Jon, do you think it could cause this?”
Stefánsson nodded. “Yes, it is possible, especially in an area where the air regeneration rate is low.”
“Chip, was the missile room shut off somehow?”
“The watertight door was buckled, but the next
door was sealed, along with the ventilation shafts. We were worried about the hull breach being
too severe. Why weren’t Ski and I
affected? Both Jamie and
“I’m not sure, but we’ll work it out.”
As soon as the hatch was cracked, Nelson and Stefánsson made preparations to head down to the missile room. Chip went straight to the brig to see how things were panning out there. He wished he hadn’t.
Frank looked harried and Ski was sporting a cut
just below one eye. “I’m sorry, Sir,
things are getting worse. I had to
sedate the ones we could get to, but the Chief and
Chip looked at the two remaining men pacing angrily behind the bars. Every so often one of them would try to attack the other and then back off. “Alright, there are three of us now. Which one would you like to get first, Frank?”
“I think the Chief, Sir, he seems to be coming off second best.”
At that Chip raised an eyebrow. He wouldn’t have thought the radio operator was prone to aggression under any normal circumstances, and could never have predicted that he would react so badly to the chemicals – if that’s what caused it.
“Alright, open up, Ski, let’s get on with it.”
Ski opened the brig door just as
“Mister Morton, are you alright?”
Chip blinked and rubbed his jaw before his eyelids began to droop. “Is the nightmare over, Mom?”
Ski grimaced as Chip’s body went limp and looked towards Frank.
Frank nodded and sighed. “You go and let the Admiral know things are under control, Ski. I’ll take care of the XO.”
Ski high-tailed it out of the brig and went straight to the control room. “Mister O’Brien, I’ve been instructed to let the Admiral know that everything’s under control in the brig, but Mister Morton got knocked down. Frank’s taking care of him now.”
O’Brien frowned. “How did that happen?”
“You don’t really want to know, Sir.”
“You’re probably right,” agreed O’Brien. “Thanks Ski, I’ll pass that onto the Admiral. Why don’t you get some rest now that things have calmed down.”
“Begging your pardon, Mister O’Brien, but I’d rather stay here until the Admiral’s worked out what’s wrong with the rest of the crew.”
O’Brien nodded. “Very well, go to your post.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
“Are you absolutely certain, Jon?”
“Yes, Harry. It should work its way out of their system in a matter of hours. I can’t understand how it happened.”
Nelson shook his head. “I’m afraid we’ll have to wait for the answers.”
He and the Professor had taken test samples from the missile room and Frank had given them blood samples from each crew member. The tests had confirmed their theory that two of the synthetic chemical mixtures had been somehow put together to create violent reactions from the crew. Subsequent testing had determined that the chemicals would only remain in the crew’s system for twelve hours, much to Nelson’s relief.
“How do you think our radio operator and doctor were infected?”
Jon shook his head and shrugged. “I can only guess that it was through bodily fluid, perhaps some saliva or blood? We won’t know for sure until I take blood from everyone else. It’s been three hours and no-one else has come down with the symptoms, so it’s not airborne.”
“At least we know it’s already broken down in the oxygen atmosphere.”
“Yes, I won’t be housing those compounds together again.”
“Hmm, we’ve learned a valuable lesson. I just hope it won’t take too long for the crew to recover. The chemical effect is one thing, their violent reactions are another.”
“If there’s one thing I’ve discovered throughout all this, it’s how resilient your crew is, Harry. You should be proud of all of them. They would make for interesting test subjects.”
“I am proud of them, believe me, but my crew are strictly off limits for scientific studies,” he added without any humor. “Now, why don’t you get some rest while I check on things? I’ll give you a call if anything happens.”
Jon rubbed his eyes. “I won’t say no, it’s been a long day.”
“For all of us,” said Nelson, managing a small smile. He watched as Jon left the lab then went back to the test results. Something continued to nag him and he wanted to find out what it was before he got some sleep.
Chip slowly woke up from where he’d been napping in the chair next to Lee’s bunk.
“Lee, how do you feel?” he asked sleepily.
“Like someone’s banging a baseball bat on my head.”
Chip grabbed at the packet of painkillers Jamie had thoughtfully left, since he’d had the same headache. “Take two, Jamie said they work well. He knows from personal experience.”
He handed Lee a glass of water to go with the tablets. His friend hesitated at first, but took the tablets and water. “Thanks.”
“What was the last thing you remember?” asked Chip, curious.
Lee fell back against the pillow, grimacing at the pain it caused in his head and pursed his lips. “I’m not exactly sure, but I seem to remember getting inside the escape chamber, then the shock wave hit. Things got a bit weird after that. What happened?”
“Before or after you tried to take my head off?” grinned Chip.
Lee groaned. “I don’t remember any of it.”
“I’d better let Jamie know you’re awake,” he said, rising stiffly from the chair.
“What happened to you?”
“After I got you to sickbay, Jamie stabbed me with a scalpel.”
“Yep, you heard right, a scalpel. Then
“How’s everyone else? Was the Admiral affected?”
“No, he was still in the lab with the Professor.” Chip frowned. “Do you remember what you were carrying back to the boat?”
“Yes, one of the containers. I remember knocking it on the side of the escape hatch on the way in.” A light turned on in Lee’s eyes. “It ruptured just as the shock wave hit.”
“One container, are you sure?”
“Stefánsson said you had two containers.”
Lee pushed himself to a sitting position, holding his head as he did. “No, I definitely only had one container.”
“Something’s off, Lee. There are some things that don’t add up.”
Lee frowned. “You’re right, Chip, there are too many loose ends. Where’s the Admiral now?”
“I think he’s still in the lab with the Professor.”
“We need to have a talk with both of them,” said Lee, struggling to his feet.
He didn’t bother with his uniform, but threw on his dressing gown and a pair of slippers. There was no time for anything else.
Chip followed him as Lee negotiated the route to the Admiral’s lab.
“What do you think he’s up to?” asked Chip, moving stiffly behind him.
“I’m not sure, Chip. The Admiral’s always spoken very highly of him.”
When they arrived at the lab, Lee opened the hatch to find that he’d walked into the middle of something. Stefánsson was holding Nelson at bay with a pistol.
“Professor! What are you doing?” asked Lee, motioning behind him for Chip to stay out of sight.
Stefánsson turned the gun towards Lee, giving Nelson the opportunity that he’d been waiting for. As he dove towards the Professor, his pistol went off, sending a wild shot above Lee’s head. Both Lee and Chip flew through the hatch and helped the Admiral to restrain him.
“Admiral, what happened?” asked Chip as Lee called for the Master at Arms.
“It seems our resident scientist tried to sabotage
Seaview,” replied Nelson, staring down at Stefánsson with distaste. “He made sure when all the officers were
invited down to the station for dinner that Jamie and
“I still don’t understand why, Admiral,” said Lee.
“It seems he was being paid by the People’s Republic. I realized what was going on once I studied the chemical compounds. They were very similar in nature to the experimental drug Lee ingested on the island a few months ago.* It seems that they’d managed to get their hands on a sample and were going to introduce it to all the officers onboard Seaview.”
Lee grimaced. “I’m afraid that’s one experience I’d rather forget, Admiral.”
Nelson put a hand on his shoulder as the Master at Arms arrived and took Stefánsson to the brig. “It’s all over now, lad. We can rest easy while we limp back to port.”
“I think the brig’s an appropriate place for him, Admiral,” smirked Chip.
“Oh?” queried Nelson, raising an eyebrow.
“It’s a long story.”
“Well, I think we all need to get some rest. The pair of you look like you’ve been through the wringer.”
Lee looked at Chip and nodded. “I think we concur, Admiral. That drug packed a punch, and after Jamie stabbed Chip…”
“He what?” sputtered Nelson.
“Uh, he was under the influence, Sir,” Chip explained. “He’s said sorry so many times I was glad to get out of sickbay even more than usual.” He gave Lee a sly look. “At least Jamie said sorry. Lee hasn’t yet, even though he tried to take my head off.”
Nelson snorted, then laughed. “Well, it’s all over now. Get some rack time, that’s an order.”
“Yes, Sir,” Lee and Chip answered in unison.
Lee took Chip’s arm and guided him out of the lab. “I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be ready for some shore leave after this. With the repairs needed, we’ll have plenty of that.”
Chip thought back to the crew and the many injuries, minor and major, and nodded. “Yes, everyone will need some time to recuperate. There’s barely anyone onboard without some type of bruise, cut or break.”
“You’re right. Well, you heard the Admiral. Time to hit our racks before Jamie comes after us.”
“Oh, no,” Chip raised his hands. “Don’t even mention Jamie coming after us. The thought brings back unhappy memories. I think I’ll have a few ‘get-out-of-sickbay-free’ cards after he used me as a pin cushion.”
“Dream on, Chip. Jamie doesn’t give in that easily,” laughed Lee.
“We’ll see,” said Chip, starting to have some doubts himself.
They arrived at Lee’s cabin. “Well, I guess I’ll see you bright and early at zero seven hundred hours.”
Chip nodded, mulling over the past thirty-six hours. “You’re a good friend, Lee. It was hard trying to fight you off but not hurt you.”
Lee turned serious. “I know. I’m sorry, Chip. I guess that’s how the Admiral felt on the island, when I turned violent.”
“Looks like you owe me as well as Jamie,” the XO snickered.
Lee rolled his eyes and laughed. “Do you remember the time that you…”
“Or the time that…”
Nelson stood around the corner listening to his two officers, and chuckled. Yes, he was blessed to have such a crew that could, for the most part, shrug off brushes with death and continue their good work. Certainly there would be some emotional adjustments, but they would be sorted out in the wash as so many things were, and they would live to fight another day.
*Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea episode - The Enemies