Troubled Waters by Pauline
Kowalski and Riley were returning from two weeks’ shore leave. They chattered happily about the great time they’d had on shore as they walked down the corridors of Seaview leading to their quarters. Riley as usual, had spent most of his time on the beach with his surfing buddies, while Kowalski had gone on a long-planned visit home. As they neared their quarters, the conversation turned to speculating on how the newest member of Seaview’s crew, Mickey Emmerson, had spent his leave. Emmerson who was bunking in their quarters, was something of a loner and did not mix with the rest of the crew during his free time. Kowalski had strong doubts about his suitability for service on a submarine.
Their conversation stopped as the sound of a loud ruckus met them as they approached their quarters. Entering, they found Patterson and Murphy trying to subdue a noisy Emmerson, who was plainly the worse for drink.
“Oh, man, how did he get like this?” Kowalski asked as he waded in to help.
“Where’s the Capt’n? I wanna see Captain Crane!” Emmerson protested loudly as he struggled to break loose from his captors.
“If Captain Crane catches you in this condition he’ll have you thrown off the boat,” Kowalski told him.
“Yeah, quiet down before Sharkey or Mr Morton hears,” Riley advised. If the exec should hear and come down to investigate, all hell would break loose, and Emmerson would find himself hauled up in front of the Captain so fast his feet wouldn’t touch the deck.
“Let me go. I wanna speak to the Skippa’,” Emmerson continued to protest loudly as he tried to pull free.
“What’s wrong with you, anyway? Coming back in this condition,” Kowalski asked. “And how did you get past Mr Morton?” It was nearly impossible to sneak anything past the Exec, especially when he was officer of the watch.
“His girlfriend dumped him,” Patterson explained.
“Is that all? Kowalski replied unsympathetically. “We get to meet hundreds of girls – ain’t that right?” Kowalski appealed to his friends to back him up.
“Yeah,” Riley grinned happily.
“I don’t want any other girl,” Emmerson said mournfully.
“What are we going to do with him?” Patterson asked. “We’re due on watch in an hour.” They had managed to get the sorry crewman onto a bunk and Murphy was to practically sit on him to hold him down.
“I’ll go down to the galley and see if I can rustle up some coffee,” Riley volunteered, heading for the door.
“He needs more than coffee,” Patterson commented, but he spoke to Riley’s departing back as he left on his self appointed task.
Kowalski had been trying to think of a solution to the problem, but so far an answer had eluded him. “I still want to know how he got past Mr Morton,” he said, thinking aloud, but not really expecting a reply.
Captain Lee Crane parked his car in the space reserved for him and walked across the parking lot, heading for Seaview’s dock. He was looking forward to getting back to duty. Shore leave was always welcome, and he had made the most of every minute, but after two weeks ashore he was ready to get back to Seaview. He had always loved the sea and now felt completely at home aboard his boat. She had become a part of his life and he did not want to think about what he would do when the time came for him to give up his command. At thirty five he was the youngest sub commander in the history of the navy, and had plenty of years left, barring any debilitating injuries. Maybe he should think about curtailing his activity with ONI, but secretly, he enjoyed the excitement.
Stopping at the top of the steps, he stood watching the activity on the dockside. Several large crates sat ready to be loaded on board and some of the crew were standing by ready the aft hatch, watching while ropes were secured to one of the crates and obviously they were waiting to help with the loading. Crane could not see what was stencilled on the side of the crates, but he guessed it was probably parts, or some new toy Nelson was experimenting with.
A car drew to a halt, attracting his attention, and he smiled as he saw Nelson emerge. “Morning, Admiral.”
“Hello, Lee. Did you have a good shore leave?” Nelson enquired, returning the smile.
Crane’s smile widened. “Yes, very, thank you.”
“Good,” Nelson obviously chose not to pursue the line of conversation, walking down the steps and crossing over the gangplank.
“I wonder where Chip’s got to,” Lee commented, catching up with Nelson. He had expected Chip to meet them on deck as usual, but there was no sign of him.
“He’s probably below in the control room,” Nelson suggested, walking across on to the deck ahead of Crane.
Crane followed Nelson across the gangplank onto the deck. The sail hatch was open and he concluded that Nelson was probably right, and they would find Chip in the control room. Still something did not feel right. Dismissing it as imagination, he stepped through the hatch and followed Nelson below.
Riley returned with a pot of coffee just as Emmerson made another bid for freedom. Kowalski and Patterson both turned anxiously as the door opened; worried that it might be the Chief. The distraction gave the drunken crewman the chance he needed and he broke away. The next thing Patterson knew, he was on the deck.
“Hey, are you all right, Pat?” Kowalski asked, bending down to help his friend back to his feet.
Murphy had temporarily been left to subdue Emmerson on his own. Seeing that he was in trouble, Riley hurriedly put the pot of coffee on the table and went to help. Emmerson used his feet to push Riley away and the redhead crashed back against the table and rolled off onto the floor. Murphy and Emmerson stumbled over to collide with Kowalski and they all sprawled on the deck.
Considering his condition, Emmerson was quick to recover. He pushed up onto his hands and knees and scrambled away as just as Riley was regaining his senses. The youngster tried to grab his ankles, but Emmerson was out of reach. By the time Riley was back on his feet, Emmerson had reached the door and plunged through it.
Entering the control, Lee paused at the bottom of the ladder. Sparks was busy in the radio shack, and he was surprised to find O’Brien at the plot table. “Mr O’Brien, what are you doing here? Where is Mr Morton?” he asked, unable to locate his exec.
“Mr Morton is in sickbay, Sir,” O’Brien told him.
“Sickbay? What is he doing down there?” Crane demanded as alarm bells started going off in his head.
O’Brien looked nervous. “Mr Morton was found unconscious, sir,” O’Brien informed him. “I don’t know anything else.”
Lee had heard enough, his unease returning full force. “Very well, Mr O’Brien, get up to the bridge. Sparks, take over here.” He ordered as he almost ran from the control room, headed for sickbay.
Morton was perched on the examination table, trying to convince Jamieson that he well enough to return to duty. They both turned to the door as Crane entered.
“What happened?” Lee asked, walking towards them. “Are you okay?”
Morton opened his mouth to assure Lee that he was fine, but Jamieson beat him to it. “He’s had a bad knock, I’d like to keep him for observation,” the doctor told him.
“Will you two stop fussing? I’m okay,” Chip insisted with irritation.
“So what happened?” Lee repeated.
“The local police brought Emmerson back, drunk. When I tried to confine him to quarters, he went crazy, decked me, and the next thing I knew I came to in Sickbay.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
“I’ll live, but Emmerson is going to wish he were dead when I catch up with him,” Chip winced as he slid down from the examination table.
“Now, Chip. Don’t you think you should hear what he has to say before you pronounce judgement?” Lee said, unable to keep the smile from his face.
“It’s all right for you, you’re not the one he hit,” Chip complained.
By this time Nelson had arrived to investigate why one of his officers was in sickbay when they hadn’t even sailed yet. “I’m surprised at you, Chip. Letting a mere deckhand get the better of you,” he joked. “You’re not getting soft I hope.”
Despite the potential seriousness of the incident, Lee couldn’t resist joining in, since it made a change from being on the receiving end. “Yeah, when the crew get to hear...” he shook his head. “Could be problems.”
Their teasing did nothing to improve Chip’s mood and Lee decided it was time he did something about Emmerson. After all, hitting an officer was a serious offence. He walked over and took the mike from its bracket on the wall. “Master at Arms, this is the Captain. Find Mickey Emmerson and bring him to my cabin.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.” The MMA responded.
Lee turned to Jamieson. “Have you finished with him, Doc?”
“Yes, for now,” Jamieson conceded, having no real reason to keep Morton in sickbay. “Chip, you know the score. If you feel any dizziness or nausea, you report back here, all right?”
“All right, Doc,” Morton agreed grudgingly.
“You had better come with me, Chip. We’ll see what Emmerson has to say for himself,” Lee said, walking toward the door. “I’ll need your report, Doc, as soon as possible,” he threw back over his shoulder as he paused at the door to allow Chip to go first.
“You’ll have it, Captain.”
Morton got up from where he had been sitting on the edge of Lee’s desk at a knock on the cabin door.
“Come in,” Lee called in answer, looking toward the door.
The door opened and Chief Sharkey came in, closing the door behind him. “There’s no sign of Emmerson, Sir,” he reported as he approached the desk.
Lee looked at his watch. Nearly an hour had passed since they had started the search. There was a good chance that the seaman was no-longer aboard, and they would be getting underway shortly. “Very well, Chief, secure the search.”
“Have you notified Security at the institute?” Crane asked.
“Yes, Sir – but so far he hasn’t shown,” Sharkey told him.
Lee nodded thoughtfully, turning his attention to Chip. “If you’re sure you’re okay, Chip, you’d better get to the control room. I’ll join you there later.”
“I’ll be fine,” Chip assured him. “You’re not going to delay sailing?”
Lee shook his head. “No, security can handle it, and if you still want to press charges when we get back, we can arrange a trial.”
“Yes, Sir.” Morton hurried off the prepare Seaview for departure, the first watch would be reporting for duty about now.
Crane turned back to Sharkey. “Have they finished loading, Chief?”
“Aye, Sir – all secure.”
“All right then, carry on, Chief,” Lee dismissed Sharkey and opened the folder containing Jamieson’s medical report. Better to get this sorted out and finalised so that he could concentrate on the mission.
In the ballast pump room, Emmerson woke from his drunken sleep with a throbbing headache. It took him a little while to recognise where he was. Clambering unsteadily to his feet, he squinted at his watch and was dismayed to find that it was past time for the first watch. It would be impossible to get off the boat now. The crew would have all the hatches covered, and it was more than likely that they were already at sea. If only those damn cops’s hadn’t interfered, he’d be on his way home now.
Rubbing his blood shot eyes, he looked around. He would just have to go to Crane and hope that the Captain would be sympathetic. But he knew that was unlikely, from what he had heard, the Captain and Morton were close friends, and he wasn’t likely to get much sympathy there. More likely he would end up in the brig until they returned to Santa Barbara, then he’d be court marshalled.
What a mess! He hadn’t meant to hit Morton, he had just panicked, and then it had been too late. He would gladly give himself up once he had straightened things out with Marcia. Seaview didn’t need him; some-one else would take his place. There were plenty of men waiting for the chance to serve aboard Seaview.
Opening the hatch, he checked the corridor before climbing out and dogging it behind him. The corridor was empty and he wondered where the Captain was. He couldn’t confront him in the control room; there would be too many people. He needed a weapon, and then Crane would have to listen to him. But the problem was that most of the guns were kept under lock and key. But there were spear guns in the aft storage locker, if he could get there without being seen.
Crane placed the report back in the folder and put it in the desk drawer. He was in the middle of tidying his desk when he was interrupted by an unexpected knock at the cabin door. Expecting it to be the Nelson, he called out cheerfully. “Come in, Admiral.
Emmerson entered, somewhat nervously. There was a spear gun in his hand, but it wasn’t levelled at Crane.
“Emmerson!” Crane said in surprise. That was the last person he was expecting a visit from. He reached out slowly towards the intercom.
“Don’t!” Emmerson was across the short distance to his desk, swinging the gun and knocking the speaker off the desk before Crane had time to make the call. “I’m sorry, Captain, but I must talk to you,” he apologised.
“Put down the weapon and I’ll listen to what you have to say,” Lee held out a hand for the gun.
“No!” Emmerson brought the spear gun up to point at Crane. “You have to let me off the boat. I need to go home.” His voice was becoming more and more agitated.
“Now calm down. Shooting me won’t help,” Lee said calmly, keeping eye contact with the crewman. If he pushed him, he might just pull the trigger, and he did not want to think about what damage a spear could do at close range. What he needed was a distraction, something to give to give him time to get the weapon away from the rating. The two stood watching each other for a moment. “All right, suppose you tell me what this is all about,” Lee said finally.
“Marcia, my girl, says she’s got another guy,” Emmerson said miserably. “If I could just see her, talk to her, I could set her straight.”
How many times had he heard this story, Crane thought. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said carefully, “But I can’t just let you go. You’ve committed a serious offence and I have to place you under arrest until we sort things out.”
“I won’t let you do that,” Emmerson shouted. “If you won’t help me I’ll have to kill you,” he threatened.
“You don’t want to kill anyone. Think about what you are doing,” Crane tried to reason with him. He could see that the rating was getting close to breaking point. Perhaps the brig was the wrong place for him, considering his condition. Sickbay would be more suitable, only first he had to persuade Emmerson to go there. “Don’t throw away your future,” Crane urged.
“It’s already too late, you said so yourself, Captain. I’m in serious trouble, but you’re going to be my passport off this boat, he told Crane, gesturing towards the door.
Crane stood slowly and moved around the desk. “We’re already underway, you can’t get off.” Lee wondered how long it would take Chip to realise that something was wrong when he failed to show up in the control room.
“As long as we are on the surface, I can get off. Now quit stalling,” Emmerson moved behind Crane, pushing the weapon into his back. “Move!” he demanded.
Walking to the door, Lee turned the knob to open it. “You won’t get away with this.”
He warned. “Do you honestly believe that you can get past the entire crew?”
“They won’t interfere as long as I have you for a hostage,” the crewman replied confidently. “And don’t try anything, Captain,” he prodded Crane in the back with the gun by way of a reminder.
It seemed to Lee that it had been a long time since he had spoken to Chip on the P.A. Where was everyone? “Look, let me take you to sickbay. Doc will give you something – thing won’t seem so bad after a few hours sleep. You look exhausted.” Lee knew that he was probably wasting his time, but so long as there was a chance of stopping the crewman from making the worst mistake of his life...
“NO!” Emmerson shouted, shaking his head in anger. “I should have expected something like this from you,” he gave Lee a hard shove that sent him stumbling down the corridor.
Lee knew that from the nervousness in his voice that Emmerson was approaching hysteria. That meant that he was becoming more dangerous. No matter what happened in the next few minutes, a disastrous confrontation of some kind was almost inevitable.
Morton descended the ladder from the sail, pausing at the bottom to remove his jacket and hand it to a waiting crewman. Turning, he looked toward the plot table, expecting to see Crane already there, but there was no sign of him. Frowning slightly, he looked to Sharkey. “Has Captain Crane been here?”
Unshipping the mike from its mount on the periscope rail, Morton called Crane. “Captain, this is Morton. We’re proceeding at one third speed and preparing to dive,” he reported. Getting no answer, Chip looked up at the speaker, willing Lee to reply to his call. “Lee, come in. Where are you?” Still no reply
“Chip, this is Nelson, is anything wrong down there?” The Admiral’s voice came over the speaker instead.
“I can’t raise the Captain, sir,” Morton told him. “He was supposed to report to the control room. The last time I spoke to him he was in his cabin.”
There was a moment of silence before Nelson answered. “All right, Chip – I’ll check on his cabin.”
“Aye, Sir.” Morton replaced the mike and moved forward to helm control while he waited for further orders.
At the sound of approaching footsteps, Emmerson grabbed Crane’s around, turning him around. “Back inside”, he ordered, shoving him back towards the cabin.
Realizing that this was the chance he was going to get, Crane made a grab for the weapon and they both struggled for possession of the spear-gun. Emmerson pushed Crane away and he stumbled back again the door which swung open and he fell back, landing heavily and banged his head on the metal deck. As he tried to get to his feet, the door rebounded and caught him on the side of the head. There was a brief paralysing flash of pain before everything went black and he tumbled into unconsciousness.
For a moment Emmerson stood looking down at the Captain, panic and indecision held him frozen in place. The footsteps were getting closer. Get out! His instincts screamed. Rolling the unconscious Crane out of the way, he turned and ran, pulling the door closed behind him.
He had to get out of Officers’ country and find some place to hide until he could figure out what to do next. As long as Crane was unconscious he could not tell anyone what had happened. But what if Crane was badly injured? Skidding around a corner, he stopped outside a guest cabin and tried the door. To his surprise, it opened and he ducked inside. Briefly resting back against the door to catch his breath, he wiped the sweat from his face and looked around the cabin. Then he noticed the ventilation grill, he could get to any part of the sub through the ventilation shafts. Pushing away from the door, he grabbed a chair and dragged it across to the grill. Using it to reach the grill, he levered it open, and then pulled himself up into the shaft and closed the grill behind him.
He had totally lost his bearings. Having only done one tour of duty on the sub, he didn’t know his way around yet. It was bad enough trying to navigate the corridors from the crew’s quarters. He had never been in this part of the sub before, and he had no idea which way was forward and which aft.
Nelson paused outside of Lee’s cabin door and knocked. After getting no answer, he tried again, calling to Lee. When this resulted in no answer, he began to feel uneasy. He was certain that he had heard voices as he came down the corridor. He tried the door and it opened immediately, revealing the unconscious captain lying on the floor. “Lee!” Nelson dropped to one knee beside the young man. “Lee, can you her me?” He put a finger to Lee’s throat to check for a pulse.
“Admiral,” Lee raised a hand to his head.
“Easy, Lad,” Nelson put a comforting hand on Lee’s shoulder, while he reached for the speaker lying on the floor beside them. “Sickbay, this is Nelson. Doc, I need you in the Captain’s cabin, on the double.”
“On my way.” Jamieson acknowledged.
Nelson returned his attention to Lee as he tried to sit up. “Take it slow,” he cautioned, easing Lee back against the desk. “Doc’s on his way.”
“I’ll be okay...just give me a minute,” Lee told him weakly. A hand still pressed to the side of his head.
Nelson doubted that as he scrutinized the captain. “What happened?” he asked, holding Lee upright against the support of the desk.
“Emmerson...” Lee turned his head, resting it against the cold metal of the desk.
“Stay with me, Lee,” Nelson encouraged. Lee seemed to be drifting, his eyes closed and he slumped sideways. Nelson automatically slipped an arm around his shoulder and pulled the young captain against him, his head resting on Nelson’s shoulder.
The clatter of feet on the metal deck signalled the arrival of Jamieson and a Corpsman, much to Nelson’s relief. Jamieson knelt beside them and gently tilted Lee’s head up. “Captain, can you hear me?”
“Jamie...” Lee squinted at the doctor through half closed eyes. “Banged my head.”
“Ummm,” Jamieson commented as he turned Lee’s head to examine the bruise spreading out from his hairline down the side of his head. “Hurt anywhere else?”
“Don’t think so...my legs feel funny.”
“Funny how exactly?” The doctor asked, searching in his bag.
“Sort of like pins and needles.”
Jamieson nodded. “You’ve a significant head injury. We need to get you to sickbay.” He said before turning to the corpsman. “Lay down to sickbay. I need a collar and a stretcher.”
“Yes, Doctor.” The corpsman hurried away.
“Will he be okay, Doc?” Nelson worried. He knew the score regarding head injuries. Brain surgery was a very skilled procedure, and in most cases, only as a last resort.
“You never know with a head injury,” the doctor answered, briefly looking up from his patient. “I’ll keep him for 24 hours observation. Provided there is no internal bleeding, he should be fine.”
Lying on the examination table in sickbay, Lee was beginning to regain his senses. Opening his eyes he found Jamieson hovering over him on one side, and the Admiral on the other.
“Welcome back,” the Admiral smiled.
Lee managed a weak grin. His head was still throbbing, and he knew that if he tried to move he would probably get dizzy. “Admiral, tell Chip to send out search parties...”
“Don’t you worry about that. Emmerson will be found and taken care of,” Nelson interrupted.
“Just relax,” Jamieson told him. Producing an ophthalmoscope, he leaned closed to examine Lee’s pupil response.
Lee flinched, groaning as the light hurt his eyes. He turned his head away and tried to push Jamieson’s hand away.
“Sorry, Captain,” Jamieson apologised, looking across at Nelson. “Definitely a concussion. I’d be a lot happier if I could do a C.T scan.”
“I could fly him to hospital in SF1.” Nelson offered.
“No, I’m all right,” Lee insisted, struggling to sit up. He’d had head injuries before and survived. He didn’t want to be flown to hospital. It was bad enough having to stay in sickbay for 24 hours.
Jamieson pushed him back. “Stay where you are and lie still.” He ordered sternly. “I’ll make the decision around here, Captain.”
“I don’t want to go to hospital. I’ll be fine as soon as my head stops throbbing.” Lee still argued. “Can’t you just give me some pain killers?”
“How bad is the pain?”
Lee looked at Jamieson, debating just how much to admit to the doctor. His head wasn’t the only thing troubling him. He was beginning to regain the feeling in his legs and it felt like someone was sticking pins in him. “Okay, so the headache is pretty bad, but I’ve had worse,” he lied.
“Okay, I’ll give you a shot, but if things get worse you’re going to hospital.” The doctor told him firmly as he crossed to the cabinet to prepare the injection.
“Do what the doc tells you,” Nelson said, gently squeezing his arm. “I’ll be in my cabin if you need me, doc.”
Jamieson nodded to Nelson as he returned with the injection. Baring Lee’s arm, he swabbed it and administered the drug. “Now let’s get you into a bunk, you’ll be more comfortable. “Frank, give me a hand.”
Jamieson helped Lee slide off the table, and he and the Corpsman supported him over to a bunk. Lee’s legs still would not support him properly, and he was grateful to collapse into the bunk. “Thanks, doc.”
“Now rest, Captain. We will see how you are in a couple of hours. Frank will check on you every half an hour, so don’t get any ideas about sneaking off.”
Eight hours later Crane woke feeling much better. His head was clear and he felt much more alert. Propping himself up on one elbow, he looked around the empty sickbay, wondering where Jamieson was. Sitting up, he swung his legs over the side of the bunk, but the appearance of Jamieson stopped any further progress.
“Well, Captain, thought you could sneak off while my back was turned,” he admonished.
“I don’t know why you are making so much fuss. I’m perfectly all right,” Lee insisted.
“Sure you are,” Jamieson answered sarcastically. “Come on, back into bad.”
“I’m okay, I wasn’t to get up,” Lee grabbed the rail and hauled himself out of the bunk, ignoring the disapproving look he was getting from the doctor. “See, I’m fine,” he said with a degree of satisfaction, he hadn’t been totally sure that his legs would work properly.
“Next you’ll be wanting to return to duty,” Jamieson shook his head at him.
Lee started to say something, but Jamieson cut him off.
“You’ll go to your cabin and rest. We’ll discuss your returning to duty in the morning.” The doctor finished. Folding his arms determinedly.
After a moment, Lee accepted the compromise. At least you would be out of sickbay. “Okay, doc, I’ll go to my cabin, but do you mind if I stop by the wardroom first, I’m starving?”
Jamieson raised an eyebrow. “I guess you are feeling better. By all means, Captain. In fact, as I don’t have any patients at present, I’ll join you for coffee.”
Jamieson left Crane tucking into a steak, and made his way forward to report to Morton. He could have used the intercom, but as he didn’t get a chance to get out of sickbay very often, he took the opportunity. He might even find out where they were, he very rarely knew that either.
Morton’s attention switched from the routine of the control room as soon as Jamieson stepped through the hatch and he hurried toward him. “What’s wrong, Doc?”
“Don’t worry,” Jamieson smiled. “I just came to report that Captain Crane is much better. He is the wardroom eating steak, and from there he will be going to his cabin to rest. I will consider his returning to duty in the morning.”
There was a faint hint of a smile as the blond took in the news. “Thanks, Doc. I’ll stop by his cabin later and check on him.”
“And what about you? How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine, Doc,” Morton replied, caught off guard by the question.
“In that case, I’m off duty. I’ll be in my cabin if I’m needed.” With a glance towards the observation nose, which told him nothing, he retraced his steps back to the hatch.
Chip knocked at Lee’s cabin door. When he got no reply, he opened the door and stepped inside, glancing around the cabin. Lee was asleep, slumped over his desk with his head resting on one arm. Shaking his head, Chip closed the door and walked over to stand beside the desk. “Lee?” he reached out and gave him a gently shake.
Gradually Lee surfaced from his slumber and lifted his head to look up at his exec. “Chip?” Lee’s expression briefly showed his confusion before his surroundings registered.
“How long have you been sitting there?” Chip asked as Lee slumped back in the chair with a wince, and rubbed his arm.
“I must have dozed off.”
Glancing down at the desk, Chip picked up the report that lay open in front of Lee, giving his captain a disapproving look.
“Don’t say it, Chip,” Lee said in answer to his unspoken remark. “You know I can’t stand sitting around doing nothing.”
“Yeah, I know,” Chip sympathised. “But don’t let Doc catch you,” he warned, dropping the report back to the desk. The ongoing dispute between Lee and Jamieson erupted every time Lee was ensconced in sickbay for more than a few hours. It caused Jamieson, Nelson and Morton considerable worry on those occasions when it was clear that Lee was not all right, however much he might insist that he was.
“Stop looking at me like that,” Lee warned sternly.
“Like what?” Chip asked ingenuously.
“Don’t come the innocent with me. I bet a certain doctor had something to do with this visit – checking up on me? I don’t know what all the fuss is about. He didn’t make a big thing of it when you were in sickbay earlier.” Lee complained.
There was no use denying it. Lee was not stupid, and they had known each other a long time. “I wasn’t unconscious as long as you were,” Chip told him. “Just make sure you follow Doctor’s orders and get some rest.” Chip warned. “These can wait.” He gathered the papers on Lee’s desk and dropped them into the draw, closing it firmly.
“Yes, Sir, Mr Morton,” Lee laughed and stood, pushing the chair back, then abruptly sat down again.
“Lee! What is it? Are you okay?” Chip asked anxiously.
“Yes, Chip – I’m fine. I guess I am tired,” Lee admitted.
“All right, come on, bed,” Chip urged, taking his arm to steady him as he got to his feet. “Can you manage?”
“Yes, mother, you can stop fussing now”. Lee joked. “ I can manage. Good night, Chip.” He said firmly.
“Good night, Lee.” Chip reluctantly turned to leave.
In his hiding place amid the miles of ventilation ducts that ran throughout the boat, Emmerson waited for an opportunity to get to the Captain. He would never have been able to get to near him while he was in sickbay. Now that he had returned to his cabin, however, it should be easy, provided he wait until everyone was asleep. He had heard Morton leave, and hopefully there wouldn’t be any other interruptions.
Once he was sure that his immediate surroundings where deserted, Emmerson quietly opened the grille and slipped down into the corridor adjacent to Crane’s cabin. His actions to date meant that he no-longer had any other option. With the sub being searched, he knew that if they found him, he would be going straight to the brigg. He intended to force Crane to take him off Seaview in the flying sub, and this time he would be ready for any kind of treachery from his erstwhile commanding officer. This time there would be no mistakes.
Crane was sleeping soundly and didn’t stir when Emmerson opened the door and stealthily slipped inside, carefully closing the door behind him. Crossing the room to the bunk, he stood looking down at Crane for a long moment, trying to figure out how he had managed to get into this much trouble, when all he had wanted was to set things straight with Marcia. It was all Crane’s fault, he though with sudden resentment. If he’d bothered to care he would have realised how necessary it was that he be allowed to go and see her. From what he had heard, the captain had a reputation amongst the female staff – probably had a woman in every port.
Crane stirred into sudden wakefulness as he sensed someone standing over him. Sitting up, he recognised the intruder immediately. “Emmerson, what is the meaning of this?” he growled
“You’re going to fly me back to Santa Barbara in the Flying Sub,” Emmerson told him coldly.
“You’re crazy. You don’t know what you’re doing,” Crane told him, his hand searching under the pillow for the gun he had placed there earlier.
“Don’t try anything, Captain, or I’ll shoot,” the crewman threatened, aiming the spear gun at him. “Get up,” he ordered, taking a cautious step back to stay out of range.
Crane obeyed reluctantly. He was in no doubt that Emmerson would carry out that threat. “Shooting me won’t get you anywhere”, he told him as he threw back the covers and lowered his feet to the cold metal of the deck. “Can I get dressed?” he asked with annoyance. He was not pleased at being woken up by some crazy crewman making insane demands at – Lee looked at his watch and was surprised to find that he had only been asleep for a short time.
Morton had handed over to O’Brien, with instructions for him to call if there were any problems. After having a meal in the wardroom, he made his way to his cabin. Opening the door, he paused as he noticed that there was a light showing beneath Lee’s door. Ready to read his friend the riot act for not following doctor’s orders, he closed his own door and continued down the corridor to Lee’s cabin. Not wanting to give Lee the chance to hide anything, he opened the door, “Lee, I thought...”
Emmerson swung around to face him, turning his weapon on Chip. This gave Lee the chance he had been waiting for. Grabbing the crewman, he swung him around, aiming a punch at his jaw that sent the crewman reeling back against the desk, the spear gun flying from his grip. Crane advanced on the crewman, intending to finish the matter this time. “I have had it with you,” he growled as he grabbed the man by the collar. Emmerson’s hand found the lamp and he picked it up, swinging it at Crane’s head. Pain exploded in Lee’s head as the lamp struck and he staggered back.
Morton was already moving. “Hold it!” he yelled as Emmerson closed on Lee. Tackling the crewman from behind, he slammed him into the open door, then pulled him around and landed a hard punch to the crewman’s stomach. Emmerson groaned, folding from the punch and Chip caught him with an uppercut to the jaw. The man crumpled into a heap as Chip ignored him, turning his attention to Lee. “Are you all right, Lee?” he asked, stepping over Emmerson to move to Lee’s side, who had fallen to his knees from the blow.
The Captain retrieved the spear gun from the deck and using the desk for support, got unsteadily to his feet. “Yes, I’m fine, thanks, Chip.” Raising a hand to his head, Lee slumped into the chair.
“Are you sure you don’t want doc to take a look at you?” Chip asked taking a step forward.
“No, it’s just a bump. I’ll be fine,” Lee assured him. “Get him out of here,” Lee nodded towards the crewman who was beginning to stir.
“With pleasure,” Morton hauled the man to his feet and shoved him ahead of him into the corridor.
As Chip closed the cabin door, Lee headed for the bathroom. He soaked a towel in cold water, rung it out and applied it to the side of his head. His head hurt more than he had been willing to admit to Chip. He didn’t want to end up back in Sickbay. Returning to the cabin, he stretched out on the bunk, cautiously lowering his head to the pillow. Closing his eyes, he tried to relax. It had been a tough day, and now that he was awake, he really wasn’t tired, but the throbbing in his head persuaded him to stay where he was.
Lee skipped breakfast, he wasn’t hungry, and he didn’t want to deal with the inevitable well meaning questions from his friends regarding his health, added to which he was trying to stay out of Jamieson’s way. He knew that the doctor would not pass him fit for duty if he got so much as a hint that he was feeling as bad as he did. Of course he could not avoid Chip; he was due on watch any minute. The relief watch were arriving, and he turned his attention to the entry that O’Brien had made in the log before going off duty. In truth he had no idea where they were, or where they were going. He didn’t even remember leaving port.
“Lee, what are you doing here? Did Doc clear you for duty?” Chip asked as he joined Lee at the chart table.
“I haven’t seen Doc, but I’m fine,” he answered abruptly, hoping that Chip would take the hint and not pursue the matter. Closing the log, he returned it to the shelf under the plot table, and moved forward to helm control on the pretence of checking their heading. The soft ping of the sonar sounded unusually loud, as did every sound in the control room. Amplified, the resulting cacophony seemed to echo and roar through his head. He’d woken with the same headache that had accompanied him into sleep. It was probably the result of being struck by Emmerson in the same place as the door had caught him. Feeling dizzy and a little nauseous, he walked towards the observation nose and leant both hands on the access hatch rail, closing his eyes against the light that hurt his eyes.
He wasn’t really surprised when a hand touched his arm. “Lee, is something wrong?” Chip asked with concern.
Lee forced himself to release the grip on the rail and straightened to face Chip. He swayed as his vision blurred as he shook his head in answer, and he almost lost his balance. He would have fallen if Chip had not grabbed his arm to steady him.
“What is it? Are you sick?”
“No, I’m fine, it’s just a headache,” pulling free of Chip’s hold, he turned back to the control room. He wanted to retreat to the security of his cabin, away from the noise and lights, and all the well-meant fussing from everyone. Chip didn’t believe him, that much was obvious, but he evidently has chosen to wait until later, when they were alone and could talk in private. Lee sighed as he returned to the plot table. How long would it be before Jamieson turned up looking for him? Lee glanced surreptitiously across to where Chip stood, debating whether or not to talk to him. The two of them had been friends since the Academy and Chip always knew when something was wrong, much to Lee’s annoyance, he couldn’t hide anything from the blond.
Chip knew that something was wrong with Lee. He had been watching him closely since he came on duty. Lee appeared tense and irritable, and seemed to be deliberately avoiding him. The crew had obviously noticed too. The control room was unusually quiet, and on more than one occasion he had noticed the men eyeing the Captain speculatively as he passed them. Kowalski, who had served aboard since the sub’s launch, knew Crane well, and he’d clearly noticed something. He was turned to Murphy, seated next to him. Chip was about to intervene, when Lee glared in their direction, and strode across to the sonar station.
“Kowalski! What are you doing? You’re attention should be focused on that screen at all times, is that clear?” he yelled at the rating.
“Yes, Sir,” Kowalski replied, clearly taken aback by the unexpected reprimand from his captain.
Chip took a deep breath and composed his features, careful to hide his concern as he interrupted. “What’s the problem?”
Lee gave him a quick glance, and then turned back to Kowalski. “All right, get back to work,” he ordered.
Chip watched his friend as he lowered his gaze to the deck and walked away, again avoiding Chip, not giving him the chance to ask questions. Determined to find out what was going on with Lee, Chip followed him to the plot table. “Lee, are you okay?”
Lee looked up, meeting his gaze. “Of course I am, why?”
Chip shrugged casually. “You’re quiet and seem a little edgy,” Chip said, choosing his words carefully.
“Don’t be ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with me,” Lee replied, switching his attention back to the charts.
“Lee?” Chip persisted.
Lee looked up, glaring at him. “I said I’m a right, now leave me alone!” he growled, then quickly turned away.
They both turned as Nelson entered the control room.
Nelson sensed the charged atmosphere of the control room as he entered. He couldn’t see Lee’s face at this angle, but from the way Chip was looking at his captain, something was obviously amiss.
Bracing himself, Nelson approached the two officers. “Chip, is everything all right?” he enquired as he drew level with the exec.
“Yes, Admiral. All quiet.”
“Uh-huh,” Nelson looked across at Lee, how appeared to be absorbed in the charts. “Lee?”
“Admiral,” Lee answered, looking up.
“Lee, is something wrong?” Nelson asked, noticing the way Lee ducked his head as if trying to escape the light.
“No, nothing – just a headache.”
“Have you seen Doc this morning?” Nelson asked with growing suspicion that Lee was still on the sick list
“No.” Lee muttered as he lowered his gaze.
“Well you had better go and see him now,” Nelson said firmly.
“I will, Admiral. As soon as I go off watch.”
You’re probably not supposed to be on watch. Nelson though silently. “No, Lee – now,” he gestured towards the aft hatch. “Or do I have to make it an order, Captain?” he threatened, knowing how stubborn Lee could be.
“Go ahead, Lee.” Morton injected. “I’ll look after things here.”
Lee looked from one to the other and sighed. “All right, I’m going.”
Nelson could not help smiling as he watched the indignant young Captain turn and walk away.
Crane sat perched on the examination table watching Jamieson take a bottle of pills from the drugs cabinet. Shaking two into his palm, Jamieson returned the bottle to the cabinet and turned back to face Crane. “Here, take these,” he ordered.
“What are they?” Lee asked suspiciously, taking the tablets and offered cup of water.
Jamieson regarded him disapprovingly. “Don’t worry, they are only analgesics, they won’t put you to sleep.”
Lee swallowed the tablets without further argument, then put down the cup and forced himself to his feet. The bunks looked so inviting. It would be so easy to lie down and shut out the world for a few hours forgetting his responsibilities as captain while he slept.
“Is there something I can do for you, Captain?” Jamieson asked.
“No, doc.” Realising that the doctor had been watching him with more than a little professional interest, Lee made for the door.
“Just a minute, Lee,” Jamieson called. “Where do you think you are going?”
Lee halted at the door and turned back to Jamieson. “I have to get back to the control room.” He was anxious to get away before the good doctor had a chance to ask more questions.
“I didn’t clear you for duty. You will go to your cabin and rest, or I will confine you to sickbay.” The doctor told him firmly.
“But, doc...” Lee tried to argue.
“Captain!” Jamieson said sharply, bring a halt to Lee’s protests. “Since you chose to ignore my orders to report to me this morning, and that probably means that there is something you are hiding, you will follow my orders or I will relieve you of command.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Lee challenged, angry at having his command threatened. It felt as if everyone was ganging up on him.
“All right, Lee, calm down,” Jamieson soothed frowning with concern.
Lee sighed heavily and rubbed the side of his head. “Sorry, doc – it’s this damn headache.”
Jamieson’s expression lightened into a smile. “Like I said, Captain, you need to rest.”
Lee considered his options. If he did not follow Jamieson’s orders, he would soon find himself in trouble with Nelson. “Okay, doc, I’ll go to my cabin,” he conceded reluctantly. He was sure that after a few hours sleep he would be okay.
Returning to the control room that afternoon, Lee could tell that Chip was not happy about it.
“Lee, what are you doing back here? Aren’t you supposed to be resting”? Chip asked.
“It was nothing, just a headache, like I told you. I’m fine now,” he lied. In fact he still had the headache, but it was not so bad now. “What’s our status, Chip?” he asked in an attempt to divert Chip from the subject of his health.
Chip handed him a report. “Proceeding on course at standard speed.”
They both looked forward as Nelson came down the stairs. He smiled as he saw Lee. “Feel better, Lee?”
“Yes, thanks you, Admiral,” Lee smiled and quickly returned his attention to the report.
He didn’t see Nelson look questioningly at Chip, and Chip shake his head in silent answer.
Lee signed the report and placed it on the plot table before moving off to check the control room. He paused behind Kowalski at the sonar station. “Anything, Ski?” he asked, looking at the screen over the man’s shoulder.
“Nothing, Sir – the screen is clear,” Kowalski reported.
He could hear the tension in the crewman’s voice. He should not have yelled at him earlier. Kowalski was a loyal and valued member of the crew, whom Lee had come to rely on to accompany him on many missions ashore. He put a hand on the man’s shoulder. “Carry on.” Once again he was distracted by the pain hammering in his skull and he moved on, carefully massaging his temple.
Crossing to the AMRAK computer, he pressed the button and studied the readout for a few minutes. He could feel Nelson watching him, and he took the time to compose himself before returning to the plot table. Why couldn’t Nelson just leave him to do his job? He thought with growing annoyance.
“Are you sure you’re okay, Lee?” Nelson asked as he rejoined the two men at the plot table.
“Yes, Admiral, why do you ask?” Lee replied calmly, fighting back the urge to snap at Nelson.
“I don’t think you are all right, Lee. I know that headache is still troubling you,” Nelson persisted. “Did doc clear you for duty?”
“No, he didn’t, but I’m fine,” he snapped, aware that some of the crew had turned in their direction.
“Lee, I’m ordering you back to sickbay,” Nelson said gently.
“I said I’m fine! Will you all stop fussing and LEAVE ME ALONE!” Knowing that he was losing control, Lee turned to walk away.
Nelson put a restraining hand on his arm. “Lee, I said that’s an order,” he insisted quietly.
Something snapped into Lee’s head, he spun round, a hand raised to strike Nelson, but he stopped short, overcoming the rage driven impulse to lash out at the older man.
Nelson stared, speechless as he backed off a step. “All right, Lee. Let’s talk in my cabin,” he suggested.
Lee also stood frozen in shock at his behaviour towards Nelson. What was wrong with him? Was he losing his mind? “I’m sorry, Admiral...I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” he apologised shakily. He took a deep breath, trying to regain his self-control.
“That’s all right, Lee. You’re obviously not well. Let me take you to see doc,” Nelson coaxed gently, taking hold of Lee’s arm.
Lee hesitated briefly, before nodding agreement. He was too embarrassed to look at Chip. “Mr Morton, you have the con.”
In the brig, Emmerson lay on the bunk, planning his escape. It was no longer enough to jump ship, he wanted revenge on Crane. This was all his fault; if the Captain had let him go when he had first gone to him, none of this would have happened. The sound of approaching footsteps in the corridor alerted him and he sat up, anticipating that this could be the chance he was waiting for.
“Stay back from the door,” crewman Taylor ordered as he put the key in the lock and opened the door. Taylor bent to pick up the empty tray that Emmerson had deliberately placed on the floor. He struck before Taylor knew what was happening. With his hands clasped together, he drove down with all the force he could muster and the crewman sprawled; face down on the deck, unconscious.
Emmerson dragged the unconscious man into the brig and locked him in before setting off down the corridor in search of a gun. He’d need a gun if he was going to force his way off the boat, and if Crane was shot in the process... well, he’d caused him enough problems. Crane deserved to suffer after all the grief he’d caused.
A crashing sound from sickbay brought Jamieson from his office to investigate. Crane staggered from his bunk, wild with delirium. He lashed out at the doctor as he approached and he was almost knocked to the deck, saved only by his impact against the examination table.”Lee, calm down, it’s all right,” he soothed, trying to calm his patient.
“Noo! Stay away from me,” Crane moaned, he was beyond reason. He didn’t even appear to recognise Jamieson. Seizing a gurney, he rammed it towards the doctor. Jamieson caught and deflected it, stopping it from doing any real damage, and it rolled away to come to rest against the bulkhead.
“Lee, it’s Jamie, you’re safe now,” Jamieson said softly, reaching out to Crane. “Let me help you.” Crane groaned, holding his head and Jamieson moved quickly, grabbing him. “Lee.”
Crane raised his head, his honey gold eyes looked around in confusion, but they were unfocused and edged with fear. “Chip...?” Lee whispered.
“No, Lee – it’s Jamie. You’re in sickbay. Come on, let’s get you back to bed,” he coaxed, gently leading Crane back to the bunk.
But Lee was too far gone, wrestling with whatever nightmare he was re-living. “Nooo, get away from me!” he groaned, pulling away from Jamieson with amazing strength and continued to back away until he was against the metal wall.
“All right, Lee – take it easy,” Keeping one eye on his patient, Jamieson reached for the mike and took it from the bracket on the wall. “Admiral, this is sickbay,” he called urgently; hoping that Nelson would be able to get through to the captain.
“Yes, Doc – go ahead,” Nelson answered promptly.
“Harry, you had better get down here, fast.” Jamieson knew that using his first name would be enough to know that it was serious.
“On my way.” Nelson acknowledged.
Replacing the mike, the doctor returned his full attention to his captain. “Lee, come on, calm down,” he edged closer, speaking gently to try and coax Lee out, “It’s okay, everything is going to be all right.”
“No, leave me alone!” He recoiled from Jamieson like a wounded animal, his face creasing with pain.
Jamieson reached out to him. “I can help you,” he repeated gently. He wasn’t a specialist in this field, but he knew that Lee needed help.
Clearly afraid and in pain, Lee hit out at him with the first thing that came to hand, and he went down under the wild attack.
Jamieson was just getting to his feet when Nelson arrived.
“What’s the...?” Nelson’s question trailed off as he took in the scene of disarray. “What happened? Where’s Lee?” he demanded.
“He just went crazy,” Jamieson replied, gesturing around the room at the wreckage.
“Well, we’d better find him.” Nelson said grimly, reaching for the mike on the wall and calling the control room.
In the nightmare that was controlling his mind, Lee wasn’t going to let these, however, or whatever they were, take control of Seaview. He stopped at his cabin to get his gun, before proceeding to the circuitry room. He needed a distraction while he got to the control room. He’d just managed to avoid one of them as he made his escape from sickbay. He would have to be careful; they would be looking for him. He’d heard the call over the intercom, but he knew Seaview better than anyone. Where were his crew? He wondered. He couldn’t remember what had happened. The pain in his head made it difficult to concentrate; what had they done to him? He didn’t dare use the P.A to try and raise anyone.
There were two of the imposters on duty in the control room when he arrived, but he soon took care of them, having the element of surprise. After dragging them out of sight behind a consol, the pain in his head forced him to stop and wait until he could function again before he returned to study the circuits. He didn’t want to do any real damage, just enough for a distraction. He looked around for something to short out the circuits; there was a tool locker in the corner. He rummaged for a minute until he found what he was looking for, a pair of rubber handled wire strippers.
In the control room, Chip looked up as the lights faded, flickered several times before returning to a steady glow. What was that? He took the mike from its clip and called the circuitry room, but there was no answer. Frowning, he turned “Chief, get down to the circuitry room and see what’s going on down there,” he ordered.
As the Chief hastened towards the aft hatch, the lights dimmed again, threatening failure and Chip glanced up at the overhead. Any problems with the circuitry could lead to major problems for a submarine, and he debated whether to give the order to surface. He was also worried about Lee since Nelson’s call to say that he was missing after attacking the doctor. He had search parties looking for the Captain, but Lee was more than capable of eluding them.
“Mr Morton, what’s going on?” Nelson’s voice came over the speaker.
Again Chip took the mike from its clip. “Admiral, there seems to be a problem in the circuitry room. I can’t raise the duty watch. I’ve sent Chief Sharkey to investigate.”
“Very well, I’ll check it out.” Nelson answered.
“Ten degree up bubble, blow ballast,” Morton ordered. “Make depth ninety feet.”
“Ten degree up bubble, aye.”
Crouched at the top of the stairs, Lee watched the activity in the control room, waiting. He had rigged a time delay to blow the circuits and knock out the lights. That should give me a few seconds before the emergency lights came on to get down to the control room unseen. He heard the acknowledgement that they were at ninety feet, and Morton turned to the periscope, then the lights went out.
There was just enough light from the observation windows to allow Lee to scramble down the stairs and approach the chart table just as the emergency lights came on.
Kowalski, catching sight of the gun, called a warning to Morton, who turned from the periscope. “Lee, what are you doing? What’s the gun for?” His blue eyes narrowing as he scrutinised his C.O.
“Stay where you are,” Lee ordered. “And keep your hands where I can see them.” He took a few steps closer so that he could see the charts, but he could not remember where they were supposed to be. Why couldn’t he remember?
“Lee, put down the gun,” Chip said calmly.
“Shut up!” Lee yelled at him. He was having enough trouble trying to concentrate, without them trying to distract him. “Who are you? How did you get aboard?” he demanded.
“Lee, don’t you know me, it’s Chip.”
Lee shook his head. “You’re not Chip.” His gaze swept the control room for any sign of movement, he wasn’t about to let them catch him unawares. “The rest of you stay where you are,” he warned. But what could he do on his own? His fogged mind desperately searched for a solution. He had to find a way of taking back control of the Seaview, and quickly; he felt sick and his head felt like some-one was using it as a drum, he wasn’t sure how much longer he could keep going.
“Lee, please – put down the gun,” Morton said calmly. “No-one wants to hurt you.”
“No, I won’t let you take Seaview.” At the sound of footsteps on the stairs, Lee swung around, almost losing his balance. “You, you’re behind all this,” he growled at Emmerson, levelling the gun on the stunned crewman, who immediately raised his hands in surrender. Before Lee could do anything, he was tackled from behind, he struggled to free himself, but he was too weak and he was wrestled to the deck, the gun falling from his grip.
“Lee, calm down. It’s okay.” The voice of his exec soothed as strong hands held him firmly. “Lee, take it easy.”
He tried to twist free, but the effort took the last of his strength and he felt himself slipping into darkness.
In the circuitry room Sharkey came up onto his knees, rubbing the back of his head as a hand on his arm urged him to his feet.
“Chief, what happened? Nelson asked.
“I don’t know, Admiral, some one hit me,” the Chief grimaced as he regained his feet.
“Did you see who it was?”
“No, Sir – but I sure have a score to settle when I catch up with whoever was responsible.” Sharkey replied angrily.
Nelson couldn’t help smiling. “You’d better let Doc take a look at you. I’ll see what I can do about getting the lights back on,” he continued as he steered the Chief towards the door.
Nelson watched Sharkey disappear out of the door and was about to turn his attention to the repairs, when he heard the call over the intercom for the doctor to report to the control room. “Control room, this is Nelson, what’s wrong up there?” he called from the nearest mike. Getting no answer, he clicked the mike to clear it before making another call. “Duty electrician report to the circuitry room, on the double,” he ordered, and then returning the mike to its clip, he headed for the control room to find out why he had gotten no answer to his call.
With everyone’s attention focused on Crane, Emmerson quickly snatched up the gun from where it had fallen. Not quite believing his luck at this turn of events. He took a step back, watching the Exec holding the limp body of Crane. Several of the crew had gathered around in concern for their Captain, although Emmerson could not understand why.
They moved aside as Jamieson arrived, and Morton caught site of Emmerson. He stared at the crewman.
“Stand down, Emmerson.”
Emmerson shook his head, “You’re going to fly me to Santa Barbara.”
Morton’s blue eyes bore into him. “The only place you’re going is back to the brig.”
“If you don’t do as I say, I’ll kill him,” he waved the gun at Crane.
“If you shoot Captain Crane, I will have you shot for mutiny,” Morton’s voice was cold with anger and contempt that he didn’t bother to hide.
The doctor, who had paused beside the plot table, moved around and knelt in front of Crane and Morton; ignoring the threat from the crewman, to tend to his patient.
“Emmerson? What the devil! Put down that gun,” Nelson bristled as he entered the control room, glancing briefly to where Jamieson knelt tending his patient, before once more focusing his attention on Emmerson.
The atmosphere in the control room was thick with tension as Nelson advanced on Emmerson. “If you’re going to use that, you’d better do it now,” he snarled, his eyes blazing, his famous temper on a very short leash.
Emmerson hesitated, taking another step back. The Admiral was a formidable adversary, and he knew that if he shot Nelson, he would probably be thrown overboard. Reluctantly he lowered the gun. “I don’t want to shoot anyone, Admiral. I just want off this boat.”
“Oh, don’t worry, you’ll be off this boat alright,” Nelson took the gun. “Get him out of here, and this time, make sure he stays put.” Handing the gun to Kowalski, he switched his attention to Lee. “How is he, doc?”
Jamieson looked up. “I want him in hospital, Admiral. He needs a C.T scan. I should have insisted on it before.” He said in self recrimination.
“Don’t blame yourself, Will. We all know that Lee is not the easiest of patients,” Nelson sympathised. “Chip, prepare the flying sub. I’ll fly him back to Santa Barbara.”
“Aye, Sir,” Carefully handing Lee over to the Admiral, Chip stood and hurried forward to the flying sub access hatch.
“Will he be all right?” Nelson asked anxiously.
Jamieson eyed him consideringly. “I don’t like to make promises that I can’t keep. But you know Lee – he’s a fighter.”
Nelson nodded. He knew that Jamieson would not let himself be pinned down to specifics. “Damn young fool. Why does he do it?” Nelson said, thinking aloud.
“I wish I knew the answer, Admiral.” Jamieson replied, glancing up from monitoring the Captain’s vitals.
Lee hadn’t stirred since Nelson had arrived; even when Chip had transferred his limp body to Nelson’s care. “Should we get him to sickbay?”
Jamieson shook his head. “Best not to move him too much. I can treat him here while we wait for the flying sub. I’ll have Frank load what I need for the flight.”
There was any doubt in Nelson’s mind about Jamieson accompanying him on the flight. Lee might be stable now, but if he had a bleed in the brain, he could slip into coma any minute. Nelson pulled Lee closer. “Hang on, Lad.”
Morton straightened from dogging the hatch behind Nelson, and switched his attention to the observation ports in the nose as the Flying Sub dropped free and headed for the surface. He watched for a moment, until she disappeared from view, before walking back to the plot table. Focusing on finishing their mission would give him something besides Lee to think about. Sparks had called the Medical Centre to alert them of Lee’s condition, and the trauma team would be on standby. Kowalski and Jamieson would return in FS1 as soon as Lee had been settled into the hospital. Although hopefully the doctor’s skills would not be needed any more this trip.
Turning from the plot table, he started a round of the control room. Patterson had replaced Kowalski at the sonar station, and Riley was at the Fathometer. While they had been dealing with the emergency, the problem with the lights had been repaired and Chief Sharkey had returned to his station at the vertical plot table. “You all right, Chief?” Chip asked.
“Fine, Sir,” the Chief smiled.
“Carry on,” Chip continued with his circuit of the control room, he paused at the computer to check their position with the satellite, before moving on to helm control and finally back to the plot table to check the readout again the course plotted on the charts. Satisfied that they were on course, he pulled the mike free from its clip. “Engine room, all ahead full,” he ordered. He wanted to get the supplies delivered and get back to Santa Barbara as soon as possible.
“All ahead full, aye,” the voice of Murphy came over the speaker.
He felt the thrum of the engines increase as Seaview picked up speed, cutting through the water with ease. While things were quiet, he decided to go below to check on Emmerson and make sure that he was secure. He didn’t want any further trouble from the rating. In other circumstances, Chip would have been more than happy to have the crewman removed from the boat in SF.1. “Mr O’Brien, you have the con. I’m going to check on Emmerson.”
Nelson sat beside Lee’s bed in the Med Bay. Their arrival had triggered a flurry of activity. Lee had been rushed into X-ray for a scan; thankfully he had not needed surgery. Although there had been a small bleed, it had stopped and the doctor had said that Lee should regain consciousness soon, and they were not expecting any complications.
It was little more than a whisper, but it was music to Nelson’s ears. “Lee, you’re awake,” he smiled, getting to his feet.
“Yeah, so I am,” Lee smiled weakly; his honey gold eyes regarded Nelson. “Where am I?” he asked, trying to sit up.
Nelson put a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Take it easy. You’re in Santa Barbara. I flew you back in SF.1.”
“Seaview will be back in a few days. You need to rest, you have a serious concussion,” Nelson said firmly. He knew that Lee would not be happy that Seaview was continuing without him. In Lee’s eyes, nothing was more important than his boat.
Lee’s face went blank for a second before he frowned.
“What it is, Lee?”
“I’m not sure...it’s all mixed up,” Lee admitted. “It’s like a dream...I can’t remember.”
Nelson squeezed his arm. “Give it time, it’ll sort itself out,” he assured him. Lee was going to be embarrassed as hell when he found out what he’d done.
Lee nodded and closed his eyes.
It had been a long day, but Nelson was not ready to leave just yet. Lee was more than captain of Seaview, he was a friend who Nelson thought of as the son he’d never had. He had never told Lee how he felt; somehow rank always got in the way. What really frightened him was that one day it would be too late.
It occurred to him that he should tell the doctor that Lee was awake; they would want to check him over, but Lee seemed coherent and he hated having people fuss over him, especially doctors he didn’t know. Jamieson had returned to Seaview with Kowalski as soon as they were sure that Lee would be all right. But if he didn’t want to suffer any long term effects it was important that he rest. He would be in Med Bay for forty-eight hours, then Nelson had promised to have him stay at his penthouse apartment and make sure he was looked after for as long as necessary. Of course Lee would not be happy about it, he was fiercely independent, but it was for his own good. Returning to the chair, he sat down to resume his vigil at the young captain’s beside until he was thrown out.
Two weeks later, with Seaview floating serenely in her dock at the institute, Nelson accompanied Lee on a visit to Seaview. Lee had been climbing the walls with boredom, so Nelson had relented and let him come to see that his boat was safely home.
“Captain coming aboard,” O’Brien announced as Lee descended the conning ladder, closely followed by Nelson.
“Lee, welcome aboard,” Chip Morton greeted him, clearly relieved to see him back on his feet.
“Thanks, Chip,” Lee smiled, “It’s good to be back.”
Nelson observed that Chip was staying close, ready to lend support. But it wasn’t needed, Lee was relaxed and happy now that he was back aboard his precious boat. Nelson smiled; His boat. Lee was as protective of Seaview as Nelson was. “She’s all yours, Lee – I’m going ashore,” Nelson said, giving him a pat on the back. He watched for a moment as Lee disappeared, swamped by the Control Room crew as they gathered round to greet their Captain. Crane was back in his rightful place and all was as it should be.
Nelson turned to the stairs, still smiling as Chip headed into the fray, clearly deciding that it was time he rescued his Captain.
Comments welcome firstname.lastname@example.org