Author's Note: Before I start this story I must say sorry to FBI Agent Paul Taylor who during the course of this story will be killed at least once, blown up by a laser, run over by a car at least twice, once by himself thanks to a time-warp. Nothing personal, I didn't mean it honest!
Paul Taylor knew that he should be dead. The whole of the Institute had just been reduced to a pile of ashes and he had been right in the middle of it. This never happened in the old days at the Institute, thought Taylor. Then it had been just a small marine research unit. That was what Admiral Nelson had envisaged.
Over the years with Seaview the Institute had grown into a worldwide organization, and Admiral Nelson had managed to make quite a few enemies. Taylor could only assume that he had somehow been abducted by one of these enemies; yet he had no memory of it.
He had been walking towards Admiral Nelsonís office; there had been an explosion and the next thing he knew, he had been here
As Captain Dalton strode purposefully towards the control room of the submarine Darwin, Dalton could not help but smile. Marine research was what the submarine Darwin had been designed for; the Angel Satellite System for defense. He would corrupt them both, just as he had done with the crew. He and his group of loyal mercenaries had over the months ground the crew down so that now they would do anything that Dalton ordered.
Funding for his little venture was also not a problem. Rich and gullible marine scientists seemed to be in abundance around the Pacific Rim. As Dalton reached the control room his smile faded. He had two problems; one of which was the specialist himself, the other was his sister.
Dalton was known for his careful planning and Tim Dalton was not going to let his little sister ruin his plan for ruling the Southern Hemisphere. She was again playing her little game of running to the Americans for help. What she did not know was that, even with them being related, he had not trusted her an inch.
Knowing Jamie so well, he was not surprised when she had tried to find out just where he had managed to obtain access to such a high tech weapon. That was not all he had managed to obtain. Soon with the Darwin, the most up to date stealth-sub, he would cover up his own tracks and get rid of a troublesome sister at the same time. Soon the whole of the Pacific would know the terror that he would cause. And now thanks to the Angel satellite system he would start by blowing up the main threat to his plans, without even being in the same country.
As H.M.S. Argyll sat at anchor in the port of Silken, she basked restfully in the waning evening sun, now almost hidden by Fanlight Montana, one of the highest points of the island. Argyll was an old ship dating back before the Suez crisis, and she had witnessed many a secret mission in her long service.
To Captain Ford age was nothing. He knew Argyllís major secret. His ship was only old in two respects, on paper work of her refits that were held at her home port and her outer appearance. Inside she hid her true nature, her true inner beauty. Often it was said that beauty came from within. Argyllís state of the art listening post, communication systems was well in excess of any beauty that Captain Ford could find in Silken.
Argyll was a division of the Watchman Task Force; part of the United Nations response to all of the illegal activity the small Pacifica islands seemed to attract. Silken, according to all intelligence reports seemed to be at the center of things and Tim Dalton was planning something very big and deadly just of the coast of the island of Tilírama. However as Ford shifted through the data they had been able to obtain he could not help but think that this information had come too late.
The charts stared up at Admiral Nelson. Dotted around the small, wild remote islands of the Pacific were some of his best research facilities, or had been. A single Submarine over the last two weeks had destroyed years of research. The attacks had formed themselves into a chain reaction.
For hours he tried to find logic in the attacks which had started without warning, wiping out the main complex of Cellos Isle in minutes. The Pacific, being such a vast ocean, had given the perpetrators time to leave next to no evidence as to whom, what or why.
What was even more frustrating, was why anyone would wish to destroy years of work that would benefit all of mankind. He was becoming more and more convinced that whomever was behind the attacks was becoming blazon about which NIMR facilities they attacked, or whom they killed in the process. It was just a matter of time until the enemy showed their true colors, their real master plan. As he worked in his office at the Institute of Marine Research it did not ease his frustration.
Nelson hated it when computers did this to him. The entire screen in front of him was a mass of color; his science paper lost somewhere in its bowels. NIMRís main complex had just had delivered some of the most up to date computer hardware. He had just started to call up some of his old documents to see how the system would respond to the demands of NIMR.
As he glanced at his watch he noticed the late hour. Anne, his wife, would again be complaining about the hours he was staying at his desk at the Institute. With these new computers, now installed into Seaview he was already into the planning stages of the sub's next technological jump, towards the twenty-first century.
Nelson had been in Washington for most of the computer trials; according to all the reports that he had received from Crane, they had all gone exceedingly well. Paul Taylor was on special assignment to oversee the installation of all of the new computer terminals that linked NIMR worldwide. Just twenty-five years of age, he was more computer literate than Nelson could ever be. Crane had also commented that some of Taylor's bug chasing had lost him.
While Nelson had been away from the Institute, in the US capital, he had been trying to persuade his son Harry to come down to Santa Barbara; to become more involved with the running of both Seaview and the Institute. As it was, he was sure that marine research was on way down Harryís list of career choices.
Nelson reached for his phone to call Taylor about the computer freezing up and was surprised to see a short message appear on his computer screen. Minutes later all hell seemed to break loose.
After Taylor had received the call from the main office, Captain Crane was surprised at the speed in which he left the sub pen. Whatever Nelson had wanted, it had to be very urgent. Even Crane noticed the look of concern in the normally cool and ultra-efficient computer programmer. All was quiet onboard Seaview so he had decided to follow Taylor.
Crane spotted Taylor heading rapidly towards the Admiralís office. Taylor was just about to enter the office, Crane close behind. Suddenly Crane was hit by a massive wave of dizziness that stopped him in his tracks. It had such force he had to lean against the side of the corridor for support.
The whole world seemed to be crashing round his ears. A blinding light seemed to block his way. As Crane covered his eyes from the radiance he caught sight of Taylor caught in a tongue of energy. The last thing that Crane remembered was wondering what the hell was happening.
Mists swirled and visions appeared, only to be snatched away before they could fully develop. Sensations thudded at his brain.
Lee Crane opened his eyes, then blinked at the brightness of the room. When he found that he could open his eyes, he pushed himself up, and found himself wishing he had not done so as quickly, as a spasm of pain shot through his head. It passed as quickly as it had come. Groggily he looked around the room.
From the various instruments, bunks and other tale-tale objects, he concluded that he was in sickbay. He just wished that he could remember how he had got here. His movement alerted the doctor and Chip Morton who had been talking quietly on the far side of the room.
"Take it easy, Lee. Donít try to get up," Morton reassured him as he and the doctor came over to his bunk.
"Thereís been an accident, an explosion in the main office complexÖ." was all that Morton could say, as his voice seemed to desert him.
"You Captain, were lucky that you were at its very edge. However Iím keeping you in here for observation."
Crane was already had the look of someone who would be trying to break out of sickbay any way possible as he knew that there was something major that they were not telling him.
"The Admiral?" was all that he could ask. Neither Morton nor the doctor had to say a word. All that Crane could do now was mourn for his friend.
It had been six years since Harry had last stood outside the gates of NIMR; the last had been a sad interval for all at the base. He knew that it had hit Captain Crane practically hard, as everyone had come to expect that Harriman Nelson was super-human.
Harry himself, in many ways had yet to come to terms with the death of his father. It had been against doctor's orders for him to go to the funeral, even he would admit that for the first few months after is father's death his mind had snapped. Even now he blamed himself for his fathers death. However no one had been able to stop him from saying good-bye to his father. It would have taken hell or high water. He had come down from Washington for the small service, held at the base. It all still seemed like yesterday to him. As he waited for his pass to be checked, his mind wandered back to just what had brought him back to a place he thought that he would never want to see again.
Doc had told him that it would be therapeutic, but as the day had gone on Harriman Nelson Junior was not so sure that he had been such a good idea. Even in right up in the attic of his father's old house he still felt his father's presence. The darkness of the room surprised him; he was not sure how or why.
Shadows menaced him for some unknown reason, as he made his way gingerly toward the long gray filing cabinet. Some where in his sub-conscious mind something was telling him that all was not as it should be down here or anywhere around him. He could not imagine why. He could even think of any logical excuse. Was his father trying to tell him something that it had made him come up here? As he pulled open the long rusty draw Harry knew in an instant why he was here
Captain Crane missed the old days. So many things had changed at the institute. The Nelson Instituteís future was again in the balance. Leeís mind went back over the years since he had been at NIMR. Gray, that was what the future looked like for their marine research.
Every day the instituteís workings became more intertwined with that of the Navy. Seaview used to be the flagship of a fleet of submarines that had been used by Nelson primary for marine research. His eldest son, Harry, while now owning the Santa Barbara site, seemed not at all interested in marine research.
Lee knew that Harry Nelson blamed himself for not being at the base when Tim Dalton and his terrorist band had struck, killing his father. Harry did not want anything to do with the running of the Nelson Institute.
Nelsonís widow had taken over the day to day running of the institute. Chip Morton had taken over her work at the Atlantis Marine site. Crane had just had a long chat with him and as he made his way slowly through the intricate corridors he leafed through the reports that he had just received about the Site.
Morton had had the AMS running smoothly now for years. Somehow working more with the defense networks made Craneís days at the institute - not so exciting anymore.
There had been no megalomaniac dictator to apprehend, no alien invasion fleets descending on them. Those had been in the old days, when they had been together with the Seaview. Somehow during those days they seemed to attract trouble. Now the old Seaview staff had been scattered to the four winds just trying to keep Harriman Nelsonís dream alive.
Now to cap it all he had a top brass Navy visit to contend with. Today the institute was to test the first of a new breed of Flying Sub. It was something that the Admiral would have been proud of. Crane just wished that somehow young Harry had been interested in designing something like this craft and not so besotted with defense.
In Lee's mind this craft would look elegant in either the sea or the air; it was state of the art. Crane was in a hurry to make his appointment. The main-gate had called that the chief designer had arrived at the base ahead of schedule and had managed to get himself lost in the confines of the base. After numerous calls around the base, Crane had been able to track down their elusive visitor; somehow he had made his way down to the sub pen. It made Crane uneasy that anyone could get that far without Security's intervention. Most of Seaviewís components were still classified and Crane did not know many designers that had enough security clearance to get anywhere near the sub.
Harry had been observing the light waves lap on the nose. Harry himself, in many ways had yet to come to terms with the death of his father. He knew that Captain Crane thought that he had given up on his father's dream of marine research. However, with the computer age upon them he was still quite actively involved with the work that was going on here. Work that was about to be tested with itís first maiden flight.
It had taken longer than he had expected, but now here he was back where it had all began. If things had been different, Harry would not even consider that line of thought to cloud his plan. It had been so long in the planning he knew that it was far too late to change his mind. He had spent every spare moment that he could find, looking through all of the old Seaview logs. It was there he had found, almost two years ago to the day, the reports of a Mister Pem and a time-travel device in his fatherís attic. That had gotten his mind working on a theory. Seaview had twice come into contact with a man who could control time and use it as a means of conveyance.One instance Seaview had been saved by such a device.
Harry's mother, Anne had always been better at the administration side of the instituteís working. Crane however, had never got on well with her and would have much-preferred Harry to take over all of the reins. Even if he'd wanted to, the last thing that he was here for was to apologize to Crane. As he glanced up away from Seaview he could see Crane coming down to greet him.
Crane recognized the lone figure that was watching Seaview so intently. He tried to picture events that would could have brought Harry back to the Institute. It had been three years now since Harry had handed control to his mother. Crane did not quite know how to take him suddenly turning up, especially when he was down here to meet a designer who's finger was on the NIMR pulse. He half expected Harry was down here to poach this new talent for one of his Washington projects. The Nelsons were renowned for getting the best of the best for their projects. It was a pity that Harry had more interest in defense than marine research.
"Hello, Harry," Crane said somewhat warily. "What can I do for you?"
Harry could not help but smile at Craneís greeting. The poor chap had no idea just why he was down here, his official task that was."Captain, I believe that youíve been expecting me." Harry wished that he had a camera with him to catch Craneís expression. "Iíve come to see my rendition of ĎNelsonís folly- the next generation.í
"You designed the Sea-Sprite?!" was all that Crane could say.
"Yes, and I hope to test fly her as well."
Paul Taylor knew that he should be dead... the whole of the Institute had just been reduced to a pile of ashes and he had been right in the middle of it. This never happened in the old days at the Institute thought Taylor. At the beginning of the mission he had been a bit paranoid that something was going to happen every time he had been with the subís captain.
As the cruise had progressed he had learnt that most of the FBI files he had read could be classed just as science fiction. However just in case, he had made sure that for most of the mission he had worked with Morton the XO. He should have taken more notice of his friends' warning. The bizarre nature of the Institute had still managed to get him.
"Still think itís science fiction?" Asked a manís voice from the darkness just behind him. Taylor wished that he had his service revolver with him, but had given that up to NIMR security. If all this had just happened half an hour later then at least he would have been able to defend himself from what ever was going to happen next. His mind flashed through some of the files he had read to try to fit a profile to this unseen man. Whoever it was had to be some sort of mind reader. Who else could latch on to his very thoughts with one leading question.
"Depends on what youíre on about?"he cagily asked.
"Iím talking about welcoming you to the year ninety eighty one, Agent Taylor." He turned somewhat surprised at this new voice and turned just in time to see the man walk into the only illumination the storehouse had to offer. What he needed were answers, not more riddles.
Paul Taylor found himself talking with an older version of Admiral Harriman Nelsonís son. Somehow Harry had moved him forward in time some thirteen years. That was to be only one of the surprises as he soon found out just what had been going on at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research.
They say that no man lives forever, then again, Admiral Nelsonís spirit could still be felt in the very walls of the Institute. However Taylor could still make a difference. Computer systems were his specialty and he would help Harry in any way to achieve his goal.
The Institute was a shadow of its former self since the untimely death of Admiral Nelson. And so Harry and he hatched a plan. Well, he would have to agree that it was mostly Harryís plan.
With an identity change, he was again working at the Institute. With limited manpower of the instituteís computer department there was ample opportunity for him to reconfigure the system; to take him back in time. Harry had told him little but he knew the first time jaunt had to be right back to the time when Seaview was a dream given form, not a nightmare.
Having designed computer systems to Admiral Nelsonís specifications with back-up systems to protect them from the likes of megalomaniacs, he strapped himself into the sleek cockpit of a craft called Sea-Sprite he knew that he was almost there.
"My mother would never approve," was all that Harry said as he slid into one of the twin pilot seats of the Sprite. "And I wonít be asking my father. Are all the pre-flights done?" He asked turning his attention to his co-pilot.
"Weíre as ready as weíll ever be."
"Then letís get going."
Harry strapped himself into his seat and put on his radio mike. Not that he expected to use it, just old training cutting in. As the Spriteís engines throbbed into life he knew that the countdown had begun.
"Four, three, seconds to Pem Control." Harry would not admit to Taylor that he was nervous, but as he flew towards the Californian Tehachapi Mountains his knuckles were turning a deathly shade of white as they clutched the controls. He glanced over at Taylor as he continued the countdown, his face pale. It would seem that they were both scared to death about the next untested step in their plan.
The Nelson Institute of Marine Research had always been at the forefront of scientific breakthrough. Now Harry was taking another step forward by going back in time. "Two seconds... Begin computer pilot control."
Harry flicked a number of switches and held his breath. Now whatever happened to them the Sprite would continue on its set course back in time. "One and here we go!"
The whole of the interior of the craft was bathed in an eerie green light. At the same second a high pitched whine from the back of the Sprite quickly grew into a screech. Both of the occupants were relieved that they had strapped themselves into the craft rolled steeply at an angle and rapidly lost height. Smoke quickly started to seep into the cockpit and numerous lights that had been happily green were now ominously flashing red.
"Whatís happening!?" asked Terry whose features were rapidly turning from white to green, then back to white. The computer was throwing up data on data. At this rate the computer was going to be overloaded. None of his simulations had this scenario and with one deadly ominous throb the computer screen went completely dark. "Itís the Pem device. Itís a situation that I thought I had dealt with. Itís incompatible with the rest of the ship. Itís bouncing us in and out of the time-stream like a basketball.."
"I shouldnít have been so optimistic at just how much mass the device could handle in one go," Harry said through gritted teeth as he tried keeping the Sprite in the air. " As long we stay in the air weíre still going back in time. We canít go crashing so near to Santa Barbara. That would seriously change the fabric of time." However he still had all the calculations in his head. As long as he could keep the craft in the air they had a chance, and so did his father. Timing was everything in this maneuver and he had to make sure that the Sprite was low enough for Terry to survive the bail out through the Pem device's influence that surrounded the whole of the craft. As they bounced through time they were naked to every tracking station of the times. They were skimming, just like a rock on water. Harry did not know if either he or the Sprite would survive the journey back to their target year. However Taylor had a chance.
"Look," argued Harry. "Iíve made the calculations. If you go when I tell you, Iíll know when and where youíll land. If I survive the trip, then Iíll be there to pick you up."
"Canít we both bail out. At least youíre have a chance, Harry."
"I most hold some control of the craft. Timeís a very delicate lady. If I donít make it then itíll be up to you."
"Just what are your calculations to my landing time then?"
"Youíll be landing about five days before the Silken mission,"said Harry between gritted teeth as he tried to control the Sprite and stay on the flight path.
"Only three days before your fatherÖ."
"Yes, I do know what happened!"remarked Harry with a hint of anger in his voice, thatís why weíre here."
"And what about you?"
"Iíll land when and where I can with out damaging the time stream. I just hope that I can land this thing without doing any major damage you know, like killing my mother before she married my father. But the way things are going anythingís possible."
However as the Sprite bounced back in time one of its first casualties was Anne Lytol, Harry's mother- before she had met his father Harriman Nelson. Now the Sprite itself could not exist in this new time frame. For it was now all down to a time paradox that Harry never liked to go into detail about.
In retrospect if he had to, he was sure that he would do the same thing again. It had been an attempt to change history for the better. However now it was time to let the dream go. Was now the time to move on with his life? It had been such a long time since he had just thought of himself.
For twenty years he had tried to sort out a paradox that had caused his mother's death before he had even been born. However in doing so he had made sure that the Nelson Institute of Marine Research would survive on well into the twenty-first century. Admiral Nelsonís dream would not be cut sort by a terrorist bomb blast.
All that Nelson had needed was a little push to update and modify Seaview to the harshness of the real world. Harry had learnt the hard way that the best way to attack was by having a good defense. Every time he subtly changed the time stream he became more and more detached from the Nelson Institute.
He found it strange that, the one place he would have, could have, called home was no longer a welcoming place. Now he knew how to change things. With the g help by one Commander Redmann, a slight twist to a Seaview assignment with Paul Taylor, Harry would make sure that NIMR and the Seaview would become a solid part of a world defense network.
However Harry now had a problem. He was now a time paradox. If you go back in time and kill your grandfather before he has met your grandmother, how could you have gone back in time in the first place? Harry always wondered what would happen. Now he was about to find out. For today Harry Nelson had died. He had said that time was a delicate lady and everyday he could feel her pulling at him. It was only because his original copy of the Pem was still operational he could still live in a reality where he was never born. However nothing lasted forever. Soon the device itself would Warp time and space around itself and it would blend him into completely into this new time stream. Soon he knew that he would exist no more but he would make sure that his legacy would live on and that would be.....
It's a well-known fact that the more you glean from the media, the more misleading events can be. Rosswell, to the general American public the most well known UFO incident in history. It only took one press release to catch the population's imagination, and to divert their attention from military material that even to this day, would cause wide spread panic.
In 1947 it was very easy to sway the general public when Invaders From Mars was the most talked about and popular film. Plus the good old American Air Force did their bit with their one press release.
Since the dawn of time, man, and his imagination had seen conspiracies in any large government institutions, and the media always seemed to play along. Hidden behind all of this was Future's Web.
Admiral Nelson glanced at his watch and took note of the late hour. As he reached for the telephone he tried to stifle a yawn. He dialed the number that would connect him to Paul Taylor, their computer systems specialist, who for the last few weeks had been looking after their fledgling computer system.
For the last couple of hours the whole computer system at the Nelson Institute had locked them all out. Already today one computer operator had wanted to throw his monitor out of the nearest window to cure one bug that had reared itís head. Nelson was now very close in joining him. The computer was constantly being kept busy, ricocheting from one minor program to another, locking out institute staff as a result.
Even the Admiral could not break though the web of data. Nelson paused for a second as his finger reached the last digit and considered the lateness of the hour. The weather outside was dire and he regretted having to call Taylor back to the institute, but the problem had grown steadily worse as the evening had worn on. If Nelson left the call any later there was no guarantee that they would be able to access any of the system by daybreak.
"Hello?" Nelson was surprised when a rich womanís voice answered at other end, for a second wondered if he had miss dialed, but then slowly he recognized the voice on the other end of the line.
"Doctor Lytol, is Paul there? Itís Harriman Nelson from the Institute. Sorry, I do know itís late, butÖ."
"Do you work all hours at your Institute?" she asked Nelson bluntly. He could tell from the tone of her voice that she did not like all the hours the Institute was keeping her fiancée away.
Doctor Lytol was just the sort of person that Nelson wanted to work for his marine research unit. He had even offered her a job the first time Taylor had introduced her to him. Her reputation of a scientist had preceded her. He often wondered what she saw in Taylor. Together she and Nelson could make Seaview and the institute a worldwide organization.
Nelson chastised himself his thoughts would not get the computer up and running. Dr. Lytol was the last person he should be thinking about tonight of all nights and the one thing that he did not want even on a subconscious level was for Taylor to pick up on his mood.
Paul Taylor sometimes wondered if there were days when Admiral Harriman Nelson USN( Rt.) wondered if he had made the right decision when he retired at the age of forty-five to set up the Nelson Institute of Marine Research. As he had launched the institute into the private sector, the press had had a field day. The press had called the venture ĎNelsonís follyí. However the newly launched submarine, Seaview, was the admiralís dream given form. For Taylor though, it was a nightmare.
After working a straight fourteen hours, complex was not the word that he would have called some of the systems that Nelson wanted working in his state of the art research craft. For state of the art, Taylor read untested.
It was one job getting the boat launched. Taylor hated days like this when his entire computer network had crashed yet again. Whenever he had sorted out one system bug, another would surface. He only managed to have a few hours rest and he had no doubt that he was in no frame of mind to continue. He could cause more harm than good to Seaviewís computer system.
His sub-conscious had been telling him for days that if he had to get some rest before the workload killed him. As he glanced up at the right hand mirror his blood shot eyes stared back at him as if to reinforce his theory. His fiancée had insisted that she
Anne, in no uncertain terms had told him that she was coming with him back to the Institute to give Nelson her views about the Institute in person. As he and Anne drove back towards the institute he wondered if the Admiral felt as rough as him. He wondered just how many hours had Nelson worked today.
As they just reached the outskirts of Santa Barbara, coming around a tight corner, Taylor suddenly saw a man standing right in the middle of the room. "What the ...!?" Was all that he could say as he tried to catch his breath. Suddenly a blinding white surrounded the car. The last thing that Taylor remembered thinking was that there was no time to brake, and then something completely weird happened. He was somewhere completely different, but for a few seconds everything, past present and future was crystal clear and something told him the Earth needed defending; defending from an enemy not of this Earth.
It took many months of inquiry by both the local police and the Nelson Institute to try to find out what actually happened that night that caused the fatal car smash. No witnesses could be found that would either deny or confirm Taylorís odd story of bizarre lights in the sky and a lone figure that had more or less materialized in front of the car. No evidence could even be found of this man.
Over-work and lack of sleep, that was what the doctorís had said. Taylor fiercely denied their claims that he had not even been driving to the institute, that Anne had insisted that she take him, which had cost her her life. However during those months a third party became involved and Taylor found his life transformed by an organization by the name of Futureís Web.
As H.M.S. Argyll sat at anchor in the port of Silken, Tim Dalton was planning something very big and deadly just of the coast of the island of Tilírama.
The Darwin was the state of the art stealth sub. Built for the long waited alien invasion, he had put it to a much better use. Now it was payback time. Soon there would be no record of either he or his new submarine. His network of informants had also informed him that his sister was at the Atlantis Marine Site just off the island of Til'rama. However as the Darwin approached he was given some unwelcome news from sonar.
"So weíve a visitor," Dalton murmured to himself. "Have they detected us?"he asked Sonar.
"Sir, I donít now how to report this contact. One minute itís there the next, nothing."
"How far are we away from the target?" Dalton frowned. Was he becoming paranoid or was fate again playing him into a no-win scenario. There had been a time that he had thought of just taking out all his frustrations on the American government. By bombing them back to the Stone Age. But he had been taught to see the bigger picture by a wild card that was right at the heart of an American defense network.
This was how he had achieved the impossible in the last few months. But a mere few hours ago he and the Darwin had been part of Futureís web. However now it would seem that the hunter had suddenly become the hunted. After a gap of almost four years the Darwin was to become a casualty of war. It had been the solitary task of Futureís Web to defend against the enemy. It was Daltonsís last thought that somehow he had been manipulated to be here, at the wrong place at the wrong time. He should have kept with his old plan. Now it would seem that his dream of world conquest was at an end. It was ironic that his dream was only ended by an alien attack, that he knew he had only provoked because he was in a Futureís Web sub.
The small twin engine plane headed out from the small Pacific island towards Santa Barbara. The eight-hour trip also gave its lone passenger plenty of time to contemplate all that had happened during the last few days, and how only one man could end the events that were spiraling out of control. The, so called electrical storm that had upset the delicate balance of experimental satellite dishes that had only been installed by the United States Navy. What had made matters worse was some of the more penny-pinching countries second rate systems for their back up had also failed.
It could never happen, that had been said to him by quite a few senators, Presidents, and even the odd admiral. They now had a network of defense that was dotted around the earth and beyond. But it had not saved the love of his life, Anne.
Fatigued eyes again looked over the extensive computer printout that put everything down in plain old black and white and he just wondered just what he would tell Admiral Nelson. Taylor had left something so secret in that sub that not even Admiral Nelson knew it was there.
Seaview, the submarine he had left all those years ago, was their ace against the enemy; the enemy that thought they had struck a mortal blow to planetary defenses. He knew that all of the secrets and lies were eating away at his soul, but he had to go on. For Anneís sake. As he stretched in his chair to try to get more comfortable he contemplated that soon the Admiral would be sharing his secret and the danger. Even maybe the heartache that went with them as well. Soon he would learn about Future's Web.
Ever since that first attack that had broken through their outer defenses, he had been haunted by an old dream. The nightmare that had driven him away from the institute and his old friends. It was a nightmare that had forged his very soul. A nightmare he had been forced to endure ever since that fateful drive back to the Institute back in '71. The events of that horrific day was still etched in his mind as if it had happened yesterday. Never being able to reveal the truth, never being able to gain the respect and help of old friends. Sometimes the truth could be a very dangerous thing.
Too many people had died because they knew what was out in the depths of space. Being here so far below the surface, he still knew that they were out there. He had learnt that the only way to survive was to fight them with all of his inner strength. Anne, his dear sweet Anne. How many more like her had to die before the enemy could be driven back?
Today they were counting the cost. One of their submarines, the Darwin and the avenging Angle Satellite System had been destroyed with but one move by the invisible enemy that the Web protected the world against, ever since Roswell back in '47. They were now blind; their defenses completely down. What would the enemy strike at tomorrow?
H.M.S. Argyll sat at anchor in port. She basked peacefully in the waning evening sun now almost hidden by Fanlight Montana. Captain Rupert Edward Ford, RN was having a bad day. On his relative scale of one to ten this one could well be heading off the scale and it was still morning. In his late forties he often gave the impression that he had been hoping for promotion away from the Watchman fleet for some time now. That someone in the Admiralty had been putting a hold on his career. Leaving him but one small cog in a multi-national task force that no one had heard of. For all outward appearances he made out that his job was a far cry from what he thought he should be doing. Today he wished that were the case. From the reports he had just received from the smaller ships of the fleet, it would seem that the small team of scientists that formed Futureís Web was again lobbying the United Nations for more funding. Trouble- that was the only thing that that organization stood for. On past occasions all dealings with the Web had either endangered his ship or the task force as a whole. Ford had yet to be convinced that they worked for the United Nations.
He was sure that the Web thought it was the other way round. They liked the UN do give them everything they wanted yesterday. He had an innate distrust of most scientists. Their self-importance with made them treat the human race with disdain, was always very much in evidence when Argyll had had dealings with them. That sheer arrogance, the part that which convinced them because they were who and what they are was enough for the UN to just fund any project that they suggested.
Today the Watchman Task Force was not just active with the Web, but were aiding in the evacuation of American and British citizens of the small island chain of Utopia.
Over the last few months since the King's illness the whole country had threatened to erupt into civil war. It did not help matters that neither of the two governments could disprove numerous rumors of what had happened to the only heir to the kingdom who had not been seen or heard from in almost five years.
Each day had caused more stories to emerge of their Princeís fate at the hands of the infidels. Each day that went by, the king fell deeper into his illness and an internal power struggle became all the more likely. It would destabilize the whole region.
Hectic, that was what it had been for the last few days. Few on the ship could not have noticed the messages that had been bouncing around the whole fleet. If that was not enough, the Futureís Web facility had also been placed on a red alert by its commander. As he took a sip of his now lukewarm coffee he looked again at statistics that the so called team of scientific team of experts had sent up to the fleet about a probable new invasion attempt.
Nothing had ever come of the so-called UFO incidents that threatened them; the aliens from outer space. Captain Ford thought that they were more in jeopardy from the people who ran the defense netís security. Or he would say lack of. Protocol, tact and the law of the land. That was something that the commander who ran the Web never seemed to take heed. He always had a fixation with the Nelson Institute of Marine Research. He was not the only one concerned with the Web who noticed how an organization that was geared towards alien invasion, seemed to have more interests in marine biology.
Again he noticed Admiral Harriman Nelsonís name in one of the reports. Ford wondered if this Admiral knew what trouble lay ahead of him from a squad that was supposedly on their side. Sometimes he wondered just what side the Web was on. For the next few day Argyll would have to be watching two directions at once. Would the aliens make another grand entrance, or would the jeopardy this time to be man made and just how would the Nelson Institute fit into the picture this time.
To his men, Captain Rupert Edward Ford, RN, was one of the old breed of the British Navy. Always keeping the ship speck and span without a dust molecule out of place. In his late forties, some of his senior officers had known for some time that he had been hoping for promotion away from the Watchman fleet.
This was a far cry from what he wanted when he had joined up some twenty years ago. As he took a sip of his coffee as he examined all of the island communication that
, his officers deemed important enough for him to double-check, before they went onto the higher-class ships of the task force. Or, as Ford would put it, sent to the Americans. With the Americans again taking the glory, with him just stuck in what could be classed as floating message courier. However he had found out years ago that information was power.
"They say that the pen was often mightier than the sword Admiral, but nowadays itís the computer Harry," remarked Ford over the video link joining him with the Nelson Institute of Marine research. "Iím surprised that you havenít come across the Web before. I would have thought Seaview wouldíve been right up their street."
There was no love lost between the Watchman Task Force and Futureís Web. That was something that Nelson had learnt very early on from his friend. Now Captain Ford had sent him charts about the Futureís Web main lab that was causing such strange activity. None of the paper work helped to ease his concern at just what the Web was doing at the bottom of the Pacific. Was this lab something more than a new Bermuda triangle? Was Futureís Web actually a base of terrorist activity?
"Still thatís not like Web I know. You mustíve known something of their existence with your security clearance?"asked Ford as he talked with Admiral Nelson over a secure videophone. "Theyíre a pretty secretive lot, Harry but if you want some answers, thereís an undersea lab that you should check out. Itís called the AMS and Iíve reason to believe that itís somehow connected to you. Iíll send you the map co-ordinates through to you. Itís just of the coast of Tilírama."
"Iíve heard of that island. It was where the Atlantis Marine Site was going to be. But, I thought the whole thing got abandoned in the early seventies." Nelson's mind briefly touched the memory of Anne Lytol and what could have been. It also brought back the memory of the awful night when he had heard of the automobile accident and her death. She could well have beenÖno, no more what ifs. His mind came back to the present as he listened to what Ford had to say about the Atlantis Marine Site and itís connection to Futureís Web.
"Itís now owned and run by Globe-Net computers."
"Iíd no idea they was interested in running something like the Site."
"They've been dabbling in marine research for a few years now. But some strange things have been reported happening in the surrounding area."
"Strange?" echoed Nelson.
"I canít talk about all of it over the airwaves. However itís fast becoming a second Bermuda Triangle." As Nelson prised more details out of Ford, he knew that this island was somewhere Seaview should visit, but was sure that with asking so many questions about how to connect to Futureís Web he was bound to come to their attention, that was something he was counting on.
"Did you learn anything more about just what couldíve happened to Taylor or about Futureís Web?"asked Crane later in the Admiralís cabin.
"All that I just seemed to have got are more questions to be answered Lee. Yet Iíve managed to get a tad closer to the Web. I think that Globe-net is somehow connected to it all."
"But why are they interested in Seaview?" asked Crane.
"I couldnít have put that question better myself, Lee," mused Nelson.
"Youíre going to visit this firm when we get back to Santa Barbara?"asked Crane.
"No, Lee. Somehow with all the questions that Iíve been asking I expect that theyíll be coming to us."
Ever since Admiral Harriman Nelson had heard of the organization called Futureís Web, a top secret world-wide organization, partially funded by the United States, he had been trying to find out more about them. It had not helped matters that they already on occasions almost highjacked Seaview for the missions.
The institute had complained to Admiral Starke of Com-Pac-Sub, to no avail, when he found that the sub had been used as a reserve for the Web, without his knowledge or consent. However Starke knew less than he about the Webís activities. There was just no way to contact this ultra-secret organization. It was an a-typical situation of a, Ďdonít call us weíll call youí, situation. However he was determined to find out more about them, and if he could not go to the mountainÖ
"Two whole weeks, Ski!" Exclaimed Stu Riley as he gloomy fitted his surfboard into the back of his open-topped car. "We were going to have two whole weeks of having nothing to think about except sun, sea and surfers!" Riley could tell from the look that Kowalski was giving him that he also did not think much of the idea of having to cut short their shore-leave
"You just had to say those immortal words Stu. ĎCome on Ski, you do know that the chickís canít resist a surfer!í And what happened? We've just had enough time to unpack the boards," grumbled Kowalski as he began to help Stu with the rest of their gear.
"I wonder whatís the emergency this time?"
"Weíll find out soon enough." Riley looked closely at the tied on boards. "Make sure they'll firmly secured, Ski."
"Yep, theyíll last us the trip back for sure."
"Good, as from what Iíve heard they want us back at the Institute ASAP."
Kowalski jumped into the passenger seat and with a wry grin on his face turned and said,"well what are we waiting for then?"
As they drove into the outskirts of Santa-Barbara, Ski could not help but notice that one of the surf-boards at the back of the car was beginning to work loose. As he looked over his shoulder to see if they would indeed last the last hour of the trip back, his whole body was suddenly shot forward towards the front windshield. He was only saved form being thrown from the car as he had yet to remove his seat belt to get any further back into the car. However it did not save him from the feeling of having his stomach stopping about three yards after car had skidded to an abrupt stop.
"What the ...!?" Was all that he could say as he tried to catch his breath. As he looked out the front of the car he could see very well the reason Riley had had to make an emergency stop. As it was, they had only just missed a young man who had just stumbled out in front of them and had collapsed just yards from the vehicle. Riley was almost as white as the injured man as he gripped the steering wheel. "Iíll get the first aid kit, Riley. I wish you couldíve given a bit more warning!"
"Man, so do I!"was all that Riley could mutter to himself. However when Riley saw the reason why they had stopped so abruptly he quickly forgot about this own aches and pains. "Man, he's been beaten good. He looks in a bad way. Weíd better call the paramedics."
Kowalski treated the unconscious man as best they could as Riley went for help. However as they did so he kept on having the strangest notion that he had met this red headed young man before. It looked as if the man could have just stepped out of the flying sub, right down to the leather life jacket that the Admiral insisted that each man wore.
"Gee, do you now who he is?"asked Riley, as when the young seaman had returned, he could not help but notice how Kowalski was looking at the young man who looked in a bad way. "Has he any identification Ski?"
"Heís got that all right, Stu. But I donít think anyoneís going to believe me if I tell you."
Both Kowalski and Riley were puzzled at just whom their surprise patient was. Yet they were even more surprised when the paramedics did arrive some ten minutes later they arrived in the shape of the U S military. As they piled almost never ending out of their trucks Ski swore to himself, wondering just what they had landed into the middle of. He could tell that the troops were for some reason cordoning off the whole area. He just wondered where that left them, a young blond officer came quickly over to speak with them. As he spoke he tried to ease their understandable nervousness.
"I shouldíve known that it wouldíve been you two sailors!" Redmann knew that he should have said something else at that precise moment, but that was all that he could think of. As soon as he spoke he knew that he would have to at least tell some of the story, as he knew he had to tidy this matter up without involving the Nelson Institute of Marine Research in any way. He had keep Harriman Nelson so occupied at Santa Barbara that this little incident would not be connected with the events of past and future days.
"Oh, Ďcuse me. Itís a long story I know you better than I know myself." He went to shake Skiís right hand. "Iím Commander Redmann of Futureís Web. The webís been waiting for your call for a long time, a long time."
"Heíll be fine. Our Commander has been waiting a long time to see him again."
"And I expect that itís taken a lot of resources to be able to track him to this place?"asked Riley. This last query from his crewmate lost Kowalski for a moment. Then he realized why Riley was on about tracking.
It was too much of a coincidence the Navy had been ready and waiting and had intercepted their 911 Call. He just wondered if they would get a straight answer or would it just be more double-talk. That boggled you with so much technical babble that you could not even remember what your question was in the first place.
There was something in this whole set-up that unnerved him, he could feel the hairs on the back of his neck begin to stand on end as he watched the screen in front of him unfold. He did not know why, but he had the strangest notion that this was just some strange dream and he would wake up anytime now back at the sun-drenched beach that they had left some hours ago.
"Come with me gentlemen and Iíll explain everything,"said Redmann. "Do you like coffee? Iíve a thermos in my jeep and Iím sure that we can rustle up a couple more cups." He still did not know why but even if Kowalski were dying of thirst he would not have excepted a drink from this man. The Commander frowned at their reluctance and so changed his track "You must be shaken. Do you need any assistance back to the Institute? I can spare a couple of menÖ.."
"No thank you,"said Kowalski wearily cutting the commander off. By this time all that he wanted to do was to get enough distance between him and this Commander. He glanced at Riley and could tell by the way the young man was shifting his weight from one foot to the other that this there was something not at all kosher about this whole situation.
Redmann glanced at his watch and frowned. He was going nowhere fast with these two. He had been warned about these two. Kowalski in particular.
"Well,"said Redmann in a loud commanding voice that got everyoneís attention and made Riley jump. "It would seem that weíve got to do this the hard way."
Neither of the two Seaview sailors saw who actually fired the shots that felled them. However all of Kowalski's fears were proved right in an instant. He just wondered if he would live long enough to say to Riley ĎI told you so.í
Admiral Harriman Nelson needed an escape route, and he needed it now. The Nelson Institute of Marine Research at Santa Barbara had never felt so quiet for the Admiral. Nelson wondered just how long this quiet spell would last before someone would come and rescue him from what was fast becoming boredom with all the bureaucratic paper work that the government kept on throwing at the institute. A knock at Nelsonís office door made him look up and hoped for a fleeting moment that it would not be another delivery of legal papers from Washington, concerning their last assignment for him to read over.
"Come,"he called. His door opened and he was not at all surprised to see who it was. Nelson wished he had half of Craneís energy. It was at that very moment that all of the lights in his office dimmed quite suddenly leaving his room in near darkness. However they came back up as quickly as they had gone down. Nevertheless, it made Nelson very uneasy and he wondered if he was just getting jumpy in his old age. "Trouble, Lee?"
Crane wondered if the Admiral had suddenly become telepathic as he had many questions for the Admiral after he had made an impromptu visit down to the sub pen.
"Admiral did you put in a re-call, crew canceling shore-leave?"
"No, Lee why do you ask?" asked Nelson. He had decided that it was far too late for them both to be at work so began to tidy his desk. "Weíve got nothing planned 'til Seaview's repaired and given the all clear. We canít risk any launch for at least a week."
"It would seem that someone out side of the institute has other ideas about our schedule. Yet they failed to inform any of the officers. I think you should come down to the sub pen, Admiral, immediately."
Nelson could not help but notice the urgency in Craneís voice and abruptly forgot about his untidy papers. "Iíll be right with you, Lee."
As they walked quickly through the institute grounds that led to the underground dock the Admiral could not help but notice that as they got both got closer to the Seaview the whole night air was somehow getting electricity charged, making the hairs on the back of his neck stand up on end. Whatever was happening it was making him feel very uneasy. As they got closer to their destination Crane filled the admiral in the best that he could.
"Ö..So it would seem that someone high-up in the Navyís trying to put the cart before the horse," mused Nelson as they arrived down to the sub pen that housed Seaview. They met Morton the subís Exec as they got to the control room of Seaview.
"I got your message Lee. I got down here as quick as I could."
"Nothing elseís happened while Iíve been getting the admiral?" asked Crane.
"No nothing after that power surge that ran through the entire system. Weíve run a complete check and the only thing that that was sent from the base was the recall. But I donít understand how it happened without either the Admiralís or your personal code. Why would anyone go to all the trouble to cancel the crews shore leave and bring them back to Santa Barbara?"
"Is the entire crew back at the Institute?" asked Nelson, suddenly concerned that they were missing something to this puzzle.
"As far as I can tell, sir. Weíre still trying to repair the slight damage that the power surge caused to the main computer."
"No, whoever did this knew Seaviewís system back to front. For all intensive purposes I would say that this could well be an inside job."
"You think itís another bug left over from our last mission?"asked Crane somewhat skeptically.
"You thought it was another underhand attempt by Futureís Web to get at Seaview. There must have been something that happened down here that brought you to that conclusion, Lee,"remarked Nelson.
"Well itís the sort of the thing that weíd do."
They all turned at the new voice that had suddenly joined them in the control room. Both Riley and Kowalski stood there looking uneasy. However it was the third man that took their attention.
"And you are?" Nelson had the distinct impression that this man was the cause of their mystery and he wondered if their captainís six sense would again be proved right by confirming that he was indeed from Futureís Web.
Morton looked deep into the manís cold blue eyes and was sure that he had trouble written all over him. All that the Crane could think of was just how did this man managed to get through the institute security without it being informed. Yet the way things had just been happening to them without rhyme or reason, he put that thought to the back of his mind. Anyway he was sure that would be on the forefront of the Admiralís questions. The chap looked very unsteady on his feet and it was only with the aid of the two sailors that he managed to stay on his feet.
"Iím sorry for the underhand methods Admiral, but I would have been here sooner if I hadnít been delayed."
After showing his pass to the Admiral the Navy officer told them who he was and why he was there. "My nameís Commander Paul Redmann, Sir,"remarked the man, his voice slightly off key. "ONI sent me with these sealed orders for you, Admiral Nelson. He reached into his pocket and retrieved a small brown envelope. "I was told that you and the Seaview would be expecting them, Sir," he added somewhat hopefully.
"We would?" This was the first time that Nelson had heard about this top-secret mission that someone was trying to get Seaview and the institute involved in. Whoever it was would have helped matters a lot if Nelson himself knew what was going on. Whatever was in the envelope, he would assume he should class it as Ďeyes only.í
By the look of the Commander, the man had not gotten to the institute without some trouble, perhaps even from what could be enemy agents.
"I think this conversation should be carried on in my cabin, after youíve been checked over by the Doc, commander." Nelson had decided that more could be found out after he had read his new orders and had found out just how and why Riley and Kowalski had come into contact with the courier.
"Aye, sir." Redmann could not argue with Nelson. He felt so drained after the events that had brought him into contact with the two crewmen. It had been an intricate plan that had been put into operation some months ago to predetermine one event. Now both Riley and Kowalski thanks to the singular nature of the event had no memory of just who they had rescued on that avenue. It had been Redmannís given job to make sure that he and his team had been there at the right place at the right time. He knew that it had angered the Admiral with his tinkering with the institute and the sub, but he was sure he would just class it another misuse of power from the ultra secret Futureís Web. He had to make sure that Nelson should have now clue about the Webís true motives.
"Riley and I'll take you there," said Morton knowing that both Nelson in Crane wanted to uncover the as yet unknown series of events that had led to their visitor arriving on their boat.
Kowalski looked uneasy, as he knew that a lot of questions would be coming his way. But even as he answered their questions at the back of his mind he was sure there was a niggling feeling that he was missing something important. Kowalski knew that there was some mighty strange scuttlebutt regarding Futureís Web. He had also heard of Area 52.
Also there was a place in the Tehachapi Mountains that was a haven for UFO buffs. Everyone seemed to have a different opinions of what happened during an event some twenty years ago that had caused the most wildly reported UFO in American history. After causing a power surge that blacked out most of southern California. Nothing more was heard for years.
Kowalski did not quite know why the government wanted the event to be forgotten. However being silent while all the rumors circulated and grew to monstrous proportions had not been the right move in his opinion. A friend of his had even joined a cult that awaited the aliens return up in the Tehachapi Mountains.
As Kowalski made his report to the Captain and the Admiral, he just wondered what they would make of Futureís Web involvement and just why he thought that somehow he was missing something important about the accident. Yet all that he could remember was nearly hitting Commander Redmann with the car, the paramedics and the Commanderís treatment at the hospital.
"And after he regained consciousness Commander Redmann insisted that he was coming with us to the Institute to speak to you personally, Admiral.
"The subís in no fit state Admiral, we need at least another twenty-four hours for a complete safety check," said Crane, determination written on his face. They were in no state to take any mission, not even a trip around the harbor.
Redmann had not actually denied that he had sent the crew recall. But with the information that he carried Nelson was in no doubt that it would have been in his best interest to have Seaview up and ready. However things were not all right. Neither Seaview or Redmann seemed to be in the best of health.
Captain Crane was still suffering the repercussions of the last mission, Redmann from almost being run over by two of his crewmen. However, what Nelson did know was there was some incident that had happened with Riley and Kowalski. The Web had again covered their tracks. Knowing how Nelson could never let a mystery stay a mystery when it had involved his crew, they had created this mini mission to try to distract him from the real events. Then again he could well be reading this all the wrong way. But thanks to his talk with Captain Ford he knew full well about Future's Web, but he had not considered just who the package would be and how it would effect him and the crew.
"Is it me or have you got the feeling that weíre being led up the garden path?"asked Crane some hours later in Nelsonís cabin.
"I know what you mean Lee. But our orders have been confirmed by Washington. Weíre back in the Navy and weíve been specifically requested for this mission. No, Lee, I think that the Web thinks that weíve a vested interest in getting us out to Sea. Thereís no proof that Redmannís involved. Yet, someoneís messed up our computer systems so much we donít know if weíre coming or going! If they knew us that well Iím sure they would done something a lot more serious than recalling our crew."
"Just so we could take Redmann to Tilírama in the least possible time? If the Commander is involved I donít want Seaview endangeredÖ."
"I take your point Lee," cut in Nelson. "As soon as I find out who the hellís trying to get Seaview mission ready without even informing itís owner, I'll tell Redmann that weíll take the mission somewhat reluctantly, but heís staying ashore. If he complains I assure you that weíll both go and have a long chat with him about just who owns and commands the boat!"remarked the Admiral.
Crane could tell that the meeting with Redmann had not gone well.By the mood that his friend was in, it was not going to be a pleasant mission. The Navy was using them to transfer one Paul Taylor to a location to the island of Til'rama in the Pacific somewhere near the Unforgettable Islands. Why Seaview had been chosen for a mundane mission that any Navy sub could handle, was beyond him. He expected that was the main reason the Admiral was in such a foul mood.
Paul Taylor. The name was all too familiar to Admiral Nelson. At first Nelson had thought he had been given the wrong orders from Washington. Much to his annoyance trying to find out more details about the mission was like hitting his head against a brick wall.
Washington was stonewalling him at every opportunity. In no uncertain terms he had been ordered to take this mission. When at last they had at last complied in sending him down the necessary documentation it all became clear as to why Seaview had been specifically asked for. That did not mean that Nelson liked the top-secret report that lay open in front of him. As he leaned back in his chair contemplating every word, he drew on his cigarette trying to understand the reasoning behind why Washington had deemed the job applicable to the institute.
The top brass seemed to be dancing around the true facts. The darn thing told little, but, he had to admit, it intrigued and annoyed him in equal measure. Paul Taylor, why him? It made him wonder if there had been some truth in the fax Ed Ford had sent him. This was one mission he would have to play by ear. If everything in the fax were true then he would have to reconsider actions taken by an ex-employee some four years ago. Now no one, and nothing was at it would seem. He was sure that Ford knew more than he did. Now the only way to gain more information was to work with Taylor.
He could tell that Crane had picked up on his mood and was curious as to Taylorís past concerning Seaview. Paul had been the sub's first and best systems specialist. Nelson blamed himself partially for the dreadful night four years ago when he had been awakened by a late night phone call from the Highway Patrol. It had taken months to work out the full details of what had happened.
What angered Nelson was Taylorís denial of blame for what had happened. Overwork and stress the specialists had said. He had missed all the signs that could have prevented a fatal crash. If he had not made that late night call. If he had not called Taylor and Anne back to the institute that night. So many 'what ifs'. Now he was being forced to work with the man. He did not care how many people picked up on the fact that he did not like the job the Navy had given him.
"Admiral Nelson says heíll see you now," the guard said as he returned him his papers. If Taylor had any doubts about coming back he pushed them to the back of his mind. With a curt thank you to the guard he set off towards the main office complex. Even he would admit that there were days when he missed the old days. So many things had changed at the institute. As he made his way towards the Admiralís office he had to smile. Sitting at her desk was one thing that had not changed and it made him glad for the first time since taking on this mission. It made him very uneasy that he had to bring Nelson and the Seaview in without telling them the full nature of who the enemy was.
"Angie,"he greeted her with a grin. "Itís nice to know thereís a constant in this mad universe."
"Itís been a long time Paul. The Admiralís missed you."
"I bet he has!" Paul could not believe the last comment, even from someone as beautiful as Angie. Their last conversation had been far from amicable. Even after four years, that mere thought of the last conversation with Nelson still smarted, not that he could blame him. As her amber eyes glowed up at him he decided not to dwell too long on past events. Even now, for him the pain was still there. "Is the old man alone?" He waved his arm towards the door.
"He, and Captain Crane are waiting for you." She took a deep breath and laughed the low laugh that Paul had never forgotten, even after all of these years. "And donít call him old man, you know how much he hates it!"
"As long as I donít get called lad, weíll be well away." So much had happened at the institute and to the world in general since the Ďaccidentí. Coming back here now he could remember it all, just like it was yesterday. Paul had built on that day, to where he was today. Paul had made sure that the institute was well protected in terms of computer security, whether the Admiral wanted it or not. When he came to think of the mission more deeply it was that work that had made Seaview so ideal for the re-boot of the communication networks.
At the moment he was in command of a world wide communications network that could not even talk to their home base in Wessex let alone the moon. He had made sure that one sub was outside of their network, for just such an occurrence. Even itís crew, or its owner did not know of its importance. That was until now.
Paul did not quite know how to take the meeting that he had with Nelson and Crane before Seaview sailed. After his past dealings, he had been expecting Nelson to flatly refuse him access to his sub. To send him scurrying back to Washington. Telling the upper-echelons what they could do with their threats about withholding research grants.
Taylor knew the facts as well as the next man. It did not bode well for him that Washington needed Seaview more than they needed Washington grants. Taylor had left Santa Barbara because his presence would have caused extreme danger. Did the Admiral know more about his past that could be deemed good for him and his crew? They were playing a very dangerous game.
If their enemy got wind of just how vital Seaview was to the Web they were in deep trouble. Then again Taylor knew that Nelson could be trusted in a crisis. Even so before she even left California, Paul would set the wheels in motion that would lead Seaview automatically to the end of its task without any human guidance. While he was back with the institute he would access how feasible it would be to refit Seaview, so she would be better equipped to fight the alien menace that threatened the Earth.
Paul had gone to great lengths over the years to make sure that marine research still took up most of her time. And he would fight Washington for anything different. He could only protect Nelson so far from the reality of the situation. He was sure that even now the Admiral knew more than he should. It was now just a matter for him to play his role of the prodigal sonís return. If not for Nelsonís benefit, but for the rest of the crewís.
For Commander Redmann it had been a perfect mission. Only a few hours before he had watched the submarine move away from the land. Nelson had played right into his hand. It would have been far too counterproductive for Nelson to start investigating the latest UFO incident. Yes, it was far better for him to be thousands of miles away. Oh, Redmann would have loved to stay with the Seaview, but that had never been part of his brief. Just to subtlety get Nelson out of the way. Being denied the mission by the Admiral was just as his Commander had said he would be, as it should be. Redmann often wondered when it came to dealing with Institute his Commander seemed to know its workings like the back of his hand. Yet, it had been a perfect mission. A complete cover story.
"Are we ready to go?" Taylor asked the three men who surrounded the chart table as he came into the control room of Seaview. "Are we mission ready?"
"It would help if weíre fully informed about the mission. Just what do you want us to do?" Asked Nelson.
"Just do what ever I say Admiral. Thatís the be all and end all of the mission," replied Taylor with ice dripping from his voice. " As youíve no doubt noticed, Iíve marked the chart as to where I want Seaview to go. All that youíve got to do is take us there."
Crane could not quite believe what he heard next, but he could tell that Taylor meant every word. He just looked on speechless with Chip.
When he had finished his tirade, Taylor stalked out of the control room still echoing his last words, "If you value your next research grant Admiral, youíll not ask that question again!"
Paul was glad that at three in the morning he found the observation nose empty of senior officers. He knew that he should be getting some rest, but he knew that he could not. Ever since that first attack had broken through their outer defenses he had been haunted by an old dream. The nightmare that had driven him away from the institute and his old friends. It was a nightmare that had forged his very soul. A nightmare he had been forced to endure ever since that fateful drive back to the Institute. The events of that horrific day was still etched in his mind as if it had happened yesterday. Never being able to reveal the truth, never being able to gain the respect and help of old friends. He had learnt that the only way to survive was to fight them with all of his inner strength. Anne, his dear sweet Anne. How many more like her had to die before the enemy could be driven back.
"Are you ready to tell me the whole story?"
Taylor turned at the Admiralís soft voice behind him. He had not even heard him enter and wondered how long he had been watching. "Iíve known that automobile accident was a cover for some months now. Though Anne still did die, didnít she?" Paul could see from the Admiralís expression that he no longer believed the story that had been circulated by the powers that be when he left the institute.
The anger had gone. All that he could now see was a longing for the real truth, not one wrapped up in shadows. Still what could he say? Nelson would just be in grave danger even if he were just told the name of whom he worked for. That would make him a target by both sides. Taylor had been able to protect the Institute only so far. To put Seaview into his world would ultimately shatter all of Harriman Nelsonís dreams for the institute in one go. For the whole truth, it was four years too late. Paul took a deep breath.
As Crane sipped his early morning cup of coffee with Chip, he looked out at the vast sea of fish that hugged the ships transparent nose almost as if they wanted to come in and join them for the meeting. A meeting that had surprised him. Taylor was going to clarify why Seaview and no other sub could take him to his destination. The safety of Seaview and her crew were his responsibility. Nelson was still having no luck with Washington. Sometimes Crane thought that it would be far simpler getting through to the moon than using the Pentagon route. Crane thought back to the conversation in the control room with Taylor and the Admiral yesterday. He doubted that the safety of Seaview was Taylorís main objective.
"Morning Lee," said Nelson as he came into the observation nose. Both Crane and Chip noticed the change in the Admiralís mood. "Chip could you go and check the rewiring in the circuit room. Paulís a bit worried that the re-boot of their system could over load some of the older systems." Nelson knew that he would never get the full truth. It was almost as if they were at war with an unseen and unknown enemy. Even his old friend Captain Ford of the Watchman Fleet was not too sure who they were in fact defending against, just that their was an enemy. As he watched Chip depart he checked his watch. "Paulíll be here as soon as heís freshened up. Weíve both had a long night, going over past times." Crane looked into his friend's eyes. Lee could not see any of the anger that had been there about the mission. "We were just going over past times." Nelson repeated with a slight smile. "Putting a four year old ghost to rest."
Crane was unsure the Admiralís sudden good mood over Taylor was also good for the sub. Nelson picked up on his Captainís hesitation, and could not blame him. As Nelson told Crane all that he had found out, the hesitation turned to pure amazement. According to Nelson they had talked about the past, the future, but most of all the present of the institute. All that Crane could see were just a pack of half-truths, and that his friend wanted to truly believe. Crane wanted to tell his friend that storyís such as Taylorís only happened in a bad science fiction novel. He had made it his job to read up on their passengers past. Taylor had no one to blame but himself.
"Admiral you canít mean that you believe that a UFO was to blame for running him off the road?"
"I know Lee. Taking it just like that it does sound a tad bit weird. Yet that one bit of information answered far more questions for me than Taylor thought." Nelson smiled at Craneís perplexed expression. "Remember Lee, I was there at the time. There was too much of a military involvement for a typical automobile accident. Too many weeks for the police to discover Taylorís involvement in causing the fatal accident."
"Then you knew all along that it was a set-up to take him away from the institute without too many questions over the incident." Crane made a point of the word incident, not quite knowing what to call it. Nelson could not blame Crane for his disbelief. Disregarding all of the so called hype UFOís had had over the past few years, Nelson had some very firm proof that they did exist. Proof that would, he was sure even sway Crane from his logical skeptical ways. Given time.
"I knew, just I did not know why. There are quite a few powerful people that do not want me to know why."
"And little green men are the why?"
During the conversation, Nelson had the strangest notion that Crane did not believe a word that he was saying. Come to think of it neither would he. Nelson had to think of something that would put the whole thing down in plain black and white. The only words that he could find to say to Crane at the moment was, "I wouldnít have put it quite like that."
Kowalski had been somewhat surprised when he had been ordered with Patterson down to the circuit room. He had wanted to point out that it was only a few weeks since the whole place had had to be rewired after the attack of a rogue submarine. Checking for old, worn wiring, Chief Jones had said. They would be lucky if they found any, for nothing had time to get old and out-dated in this room. It always seemed that the moment that they could get everything up and running smoothly again someone or something would come along and re-trash the place. It was just one of the many things that made up the life on board Seaview, and Ski loved it all.
"Why would someone with Taylorís credentials be thrown out of the Institute?"asked Patterson during their work. He had also been present in the control room, and had also caught the thick stifling atmosphere that had nothing to do with any thermostats. "Whatís with him and the admiral?"
"Well Iíve heard that it was something to do with an incident that killed Anne Lytol."
"Who did you hear that from, Ski?" asked Patterson as he tried to remember just who Anne was, in relation to the Admiral and the institute.
"From someone who should have known better!" Chip had just entered and had heard all of the last question. He wondered how many more of the crew were being distracted by their passengerís return to the fold. He was glad, if somewhat puzzled that Nelson had come to a compromise with Taylor. He did not find it amusing that after checking here that he would have to ask Lee Crane the same question the rest of the crew were asking about Paul Taylor.
As Taylor made his way towards his quarters he thought back over last few years and wondered if he would have done anything. Would his old friend be able to cope with the whole truth that he had been protecting him for the past four years, or was he just protecting himself? Even if the old man knew the whole truth would he still blame him for his Anneís death?
It had been a cold and deadly night they had found themselves in the middle of a war zone. A very secret war never reported, never seen on any of the major news networks. Nevertheless a war with the very human race on the brink. Mass panic, that was the only cause this war would find if it became general knowledge. So they acted in the shadow of the normal armed forces. Often, as Paul had done, giving up all old friends for the cause of the alien defense organization. They were all that stood between the Earth and an invasion fleet that had no qualms about killing anyone who got in their way.
Crane looked at his watch, and then at Nelson. "So if this mission is so important to the whole of the Earth, whatís keeping Taylor?" Crane was slightly concerned that their passenger was still leading Admiral Nelson away from his true mission for the sub. Getting him here was just his subtle way of keeping the two people who had the authority to stop him out of the way. Crane of course had the utmost confidence in his crew and he had left orders that if Taylor did attempt anything he would be the first to know.
"It does seem strange, Paul said that he would be straight down," Nelson thought for a moment and then added,"however he did seem a tad tense when I left him."
"As if he expected something to happen to the Seaview?"asked an anxious Crane.
"Thatís normal working practice for Taylor, since he joined the sub."
Crane would have been the first to say that Taylor had seemed a might paranoid at times. Yet if anything of what the Admiral told him was true then he had a reason, but was that the case now. "Yet you just told me that was just an act for the benefit of keeping his cover with his secret all powerful organization."
"The one that wants to draw us in as a recruit,"remarked Nelson.
Crane jumped from his seat determination in his eyes. "Iím going to check up on the control room, itís all far too quiet."
Nelson knew that there was nothing that he could say that would forestall his captain. "Iím coming with you Lee."
Reaching the control room, they met the Exec. who had just come back from checking the work in the circuit room.
"Have you seen Taylor?"asked Crane.
"I thought that he was with you and the Admiral, Lee."
"You didnít see him going towards the circuit room by any chance?"asked Nelson while he made his way out of the control room. He was quite surprised when he got a negative answer. For some reason he thought that would have been the first place that he would have headed.
"The reactor?"asked Morton.
"He could be still in his quarters," Crane said as he tried to catch up with the Admiral who had already left the control room.
"I'll get Ski and Patterson to check out the reactor just in case"
"Good idea,"Crane called back.
Their enemies were out there now watching and waiting to attack Seaview; Taylor just knew it. The Watchman fleet were on high alert and so was he. It was just a matter of time until they made their move. It had been some hours now since the circuit room had been given the all clear. He knew that the whole of Seaview was running smoothly.
Still he could not relax. He knew that the aliens would not let such a good opportunity just pass them by. For the last forty-eight hours the Earth had been almost blind to all solar system movement. Taylor glanced at this watch. The Defending Angel would be transmitting again at twenty-one hundred hours. Then it was just a matter of the test signal that would be routed through Seaviewís computers. The re-boot sequence would then be sent straight back to the source of the first transmission. It sounded a might bit confusing when he tried to explain it to anyone from outside the defense network. Especially Admiral Nelson who still wanted to know why his submarine was being used without his knowledge and consent. In five minutes though it would be out of his submarine. Not that Taylorís job would be over. There was no doubt in his mind that he would be put to work on another back-up plan. The aliens had knocked out the web and would no doubt have another go tomorrow. It would be his job to work out a worst case scenario. He still had with him the phase two computer discs with him. They were for Admiral Nelson to do with as he wished. Paul had hoped that he could have protected them from his world for longer. Now they would be forever looking over the shoulder for the probable alien invasion that could occur anytime.
He was about half way to Seaviewís nose when he first noticed how hot it was getting. A puzzled expression formed on his face for a second before he found himself knocked to the floor by an unseen force. The discs he had been so carefully carrying flew out of his hand and clattered up the corridor. Then he realized who was attacking him. Ever since the attack on the web he had been tagged by the aliens. Using him so they could see their next potential threat. There were shouts off in the distance as if someone was coming came to his aid. He wanted to warn them to stay back. It was too hazardous to try a rescue bid. The last voice he heard was that of Admiral Nelsonís as the energy surrounding him choose that moment to pulse outward. Taylorís last thought was for Nelson. If he had now been tagged by the aliens, it was only a matter of time.
Captain Crane speeded up his pace when he heard Nelson call out just down the corridor. Taylor was there but was the Admiral in trouble? Crane could never quite explain what happened next, as he caught up with the Admiral. A blinding light seemed to block their way. As they both covered their eyes from the radiance a tongue of energy shot out and caught Nelson in its grip, while at the same time pushing him well out of the way of being any aid to his friend. Was it seconds or hours before he found himself sitting against the corridor wall with an unconscious Nelson sprawled on the deck? As he tried to clear his dazed mind he cursed Taylor for coming back and bringing his enemies knocking at Seaviewís door.
Admiral Nelson opened his eyes, then blinked at the brightness of the room. When he found that he could open his eyes, he pushed himself up, and found himself wishing he had not done so as quickly, as a spasm of pain shot through his head. It passed as quickly as it had come; groggily he looked around the room.
From the various instruments, bunks and other telltale objects, he concluded that he was in sickbay. He just wished that he could remember how he had got here. His movement alerted the doctor and Crane who had been talking quietly on the far side of the room.
"Take it easy, Admiral. Donít try to get up." Crane did what he could to reassure him as he and the doctor came quickly over to his bunk.
"Whatever it was that hit us, you were quite lucky that you were at its edge. The effects seem quite limited." With Docís comment Nelson went to pull himself up from the bunk. However he was forestalled by a light restraining hand. "Iím keeping you in here for observation. We just donít know the consequences of what you were caught in."
"What happened Admiral?"
"We were given a warning Lee. A warning that could well be the end of our world." Nelson closed his eyes and lay back in his bunk suddenly very tired. He thought back to all that Taylor had told him. Of what had happened to Anne, of how Seaview would have to be refitted to withstand all of the coming aliens that would now be coming their way. They had been brought into a very deadly game. Nelson had not quite believed him and had called the meeting so that Crane could use his more logical outlook on the situation.
As the Admiral settled back down to do, for once, just what the doctor ordered Nelson thought back over the past few days. Soon Seaview would be more than a match for any hostile force, whereever they came from. Thanks to some now dear departed friends. For Anne they would be more than ready he vowed, before he slipped into a deep dreamless sleep.
Admiral Nelson had tried to analyze the medical report that Doc had sent down. Paul Taylor had been trapped in some sort of energy wave that had knocked both he and Crane out as they had tried to come to his assistance. Taylor had not been so lucky.
An alien invasion force, that was what Taylor had said they were up against. Was that what killed him? Or was it just some strange sort of paradox that Taylor had found himself in ever since a fatal car accident, which killed his fiancée some four years before? Illogical thinking was the only way that some of the conflicting facts from Taylorís post-mortem could answer. An appendix that had been removed in 1973, glass fragments in such a manner as if he had been thrown though a car windshield. Could this report be the answer to his Taylorís burning question as to just why he had survived the car crash without a scratch? The crash had had killed Anne instantly. And then there was that other report of the man who they had tried to avoid in the middle of the road. Even if he thought that part of the puzzle had been found this report on itís own still confounded them. For both Paul and Anne, he would find out just what did happen on that stretch of road up in the Tehachapi Mountains. Now though he was positive, the true answer could be found with Futureís Web and that was on the island of Til'rama.
Rosswell, California. Area 51, the so-called American secret base that housed the first ET craft to have crash landed on the Earth in 1947. However to Lieutenant Commander Paul Redmann Area 51 was nothing like myth surrounding it. Not that good old 51 did not have its secrets. 51 was just sort of there to be the public face of a very secret American insulation. A sort of, Ďwe know that they know, so if we know that they knowÖí situation. However sometimes he wondered if they knew what they thought they should know, or did they know something that they should not. His job had initialed for the last few months had been with channeling media, and other interest away from the island base of Tilírama since the pick up of Paul Taylor following his bail out of the Sea-Sprite or Flying-Sub as it was now known. However over the last month the reports had been so many and complex. Redmann had got the distinct impression that it was almost as if they wanted to be discovered by a certain party in Santa Barbara.
Commander Redmann was not in a good mood; he did not like surprises. As the twin-engine aircraft took off from Area 51 he glanced at his notes at just who was heading for their top-secret base. However the way things were going their island base at TilíRama was not going to be classed as top-secret for much longer. As the flight progressed his mood did not improve. When he reached his destination Security Advisor George Pembroke was going to have a very bad day.
Captain Crane could tell that it was with reluctance that Seaview was welcomed to Futureís Web. The Captain would also admit that the Admiral was not at all happy at visiting the team of scientists which had no qualms at trespass or criminal damage to Seaview, using the sub as a secret relay station without either of them knowing. The Commander of the Web had a lot to answer for and hiding behind level six security would not offset a very angry Nelson. However he did now that the answer to all that Futureís Web stood for could be found on the island of Tilírama. He would make sure that Globe-net computers would co-operate in any inquiry that Seaviewís visit would cause. Answers, that was what the world needed about the Webís dealings over the past years.
As Seaview reached the island , all that Nelson could wonder was, could Futureís Web exist in modern day America.
Admiral Nelson had been surprised when been granted unrestricted access to the Tilírama base. Their only demand, if the Admiral would call it that ,was that he come alone due to the sensitive nature of the base. He only found out just how sensitive when he was two hours into the tour of the base.
As soon as Nelson saw the craft he did not know if he should be either angry or dismayed by how low the Web and the American government had stooped. The small weather beaten craft was slightly smaller than FS1, however the design was basically the same. He wondered just how many more of his classified creations had been copied by the Web. Was this another of its Machiavellian plots of bizarre alien invasions? Just why had they copied his design of a flying sub so badly? It just made no sense to him. However it made him wonder just how many more Seaviewís were out there. Had the Web copied his designs more than once?
However the Webís activities were now at an end. Captain Crane had informed him that they were not the only ones on the island and the lid had been well and truly blown on just what Futureís Web was up to. It did not answer the one burning question that Nelson still had as to just why in the middle of an ultra modern base, they stored what looked like an antiquated flying sub?
Nelson looked closer at the craft and was suddenly hit by a massive wave of dizziness that stopped him in his tracks and took his breath away. The whole world seemed to be wanting to come crashing round his ears. As Nelson reached towards the craft a blinding light seemed to block his way and he suddenly seemed to be in two places at onceÖ..
While in the US capital testing diplomatic channels that would let Seaview have access to the Tamara Trench just off the coast of Japan, Nelson had also been trying to persuade his son to come down to Santa Barbara and to become more involved with the running of both Seaview and the Institute. As it was he was sure that marine research was on of the things that was way down his son Harryís list of career choices. As he reached for his phone he was surprised to see a message appear on his computer screen, and then all hell seemed to break loose.
Mists swirled and visions appeared, only to be snatched away before they could fully develop. Sensations thudded at his brainÖ
Nelson opened his eyes, then blinked at the brightness of the room. When he found that he could open his eyes, he pushed himself up, and found himself wishing he had not done so as quickly, as a spasm of pain shot through his head. It passed as quickly as it had come; groggily he looked around the room.
From the various instruments, bunks and other tale-tale objects, he concluded that he was in sickbay. He just wished that he could remember how he had got here. His movement alerted the doctor and Admiral Nelson who had been talking quietly on the far side of the room.
"WhÖwhat?" murmured Nelson.
"Take it easy, Admiral. Donít try to get up."
Nelson reassured him as he and the doctor came over to his bunk.
"You were caught in some sort of harmless knock out gas. The effects are quite limited, but Iím keeping you in here for observation Admiral, as you seemed to have been the most effected by it."
As the doctor told this to Nelson , the Admiral already had the look of someone who would be trying to break out of sickbay any way possible.
"Just what happened Lee?"
"Some darn fool set off what the Web call a Ďfoothold alertí. The whole of the lower level of the base was flooded with the knockout gas. Theyíre still trying to scrub it out of their systems. We should be able to get back over there by the time their new Commander in Chief reaches the island."
"Captain as much as you would like to talk, Iím afraid the Admiral needs to get some rest. Thereís still a lot of gas in his blood stream. Iím sure that youíll be able to inform him of the changing face of Futureís Web, tomorrow. Now Admiral...."
As the Admiral settled back down to do, for once, just what the doctor ordered Nelson thought back over the past few hours and wondered about the Sea-Sprite and his strange gas induced dream and as he slept. He would have some more strange dreams that would haunt him for months to comeÖ....