Admiral Harriman Nelson reclined in his leather chair behind his desk, in his spacious office at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research. His window was slightly ajar, allowing a warm ocean breeze to waft lazily over his back and neck. The breeze was soothing, the hour was late and he was exhausted. He should have known better than to allow such a heavy schedule this soon after returning from an assignment. The day had been long, full of tedious meetings and teleconferences.
Nelson made a mental note to hire an administrative assistant. NIMR needed someone to cope with the red tape that accompanied an institution of this size. He rose from his chair and went to the washroom adjacent to his office and splashed cold water on his face. As he turned from the lavatory sink the familiar large silver vessel resting in the berth captured his gaze. Her resting-place had been specially built for a submarine of Seaview’s size and scope. She was definitely the largest and most advanced submarine of her time. She was quite a lady. He couldn't help but to smile to himself as he admired her graceful lines.
As his attention returned to his office surroundings, Nelson noticed that his office door was ajar. Drying his face on a small face towel he peered around the door where he found Lee Crane sitting in the chair behind his desk.
"Lee?" Nelson asked in surprise, as he pushed the door aside. He watched in amusement as Crane hastily evacuated the chair.
"Everything is secure," Crane said self consciously as he vacated the great chair, " the men have been released for shore leave, and security's been posted along with the skeleton watch." The young man moved with an easy kind of grace as he quickly grabbed the paperwork and handed Nelson a clipboard with his official signature.
Nelson noted that Lee no longer favored his left arm, wounded by Chip Morton during his transformation into the horrible beast mutation, thanks to Dr. Kermit Braddock’s determined experiments. Braddock's 'artificial atmosphere' had merely been the cover for his more fiendish plot to use Crane as a guinea pig, his own experiments of a new air mixture having gone terribly wrong.
"Have you had doc take a look at that arm since we docked?" Nelson asked, almost knowing what the response would be before he asked.
"It doesn’t hurt at all admiral, really, it’s almost as if it isn’t there. It feels fine," Crane smiled as he fibbed, in an attempt to make light of his injury.
Admiral Nelson glanced up at Lee Crane with suspicion in his eyes. Lee was infamous for making light of his injuries. Since his transformation to the beast after being exposed to Braddock’s atmosphere, Crane had been very closed mouthed about his health. Nelson was glad for the opportunity to get his captain to sickbay and have Jamison take a look at him.
"Well, I want Jamison to take a look at it tomorrow morning," the admiral insisted. He looked directly into Crane's hazel eyes and added, "and that’s an order, captain."
Crane had opened his mouth to object, but seeing the determined set of the admiral’s jaw he decided to surrender. Seeing the admiral was ready to leave, Lee turned and headed toward the door. His hand on the doorknob, he turned briefly and said, without enthusiasm, "Aye, admiral." He didn't look back. Nelson sighed deeply. He too was upset about what had happened on the mission, but Lee could have been a little bit more cooperative!
Lee had become rather distant since the dreadful mission. Nelson and Chip Morton had tried to draw him out on several occasions. But Lee pulled his "Naval facade". When Lee went to ground behind his "official mask", it was all but impossible to get him to confide in his friends. Nelson realized that Crane needed ' space’ just now. Time to breathe. Time to accept the ordeal he'd been through. Lee had seen the beast in himself, and that was something that no man should have to confront.
Kermit Braddock had confessed to killing a crewman in cold blood, to prevent his exposure as the 'other' manbeast aboard that only Chief Sharkey had insisted existed. Nelson had been forced to kill Braddock when confronted, in self-defense. Upon Seaview’s return to port his body was turned over to the authorities. Crane had been cleared of any blame in the deaths of the crewman or Braddock. However, Nelson knew that Lee still reproached himself for the crewman’s death. As Seaview's captain, Crane took such responsibilities quite seriously.
It would do no good to pressure Crane to talk about it. Harriman Nelson knew this from experience. Crane was a long time friend; former shipmate; and had proven himself an integral part of NIMR and Seaview. But his pride had been wounded. He had not been able to resist his transformation into the man-beast creature, and it was eating at him.
Nelson rubbed his forehead with his right hand. Well, at least Lee knew he was there if and when his young friend finally decided he needed to talk to someone.
Doctor Jamison looked up from his desk as Admiral Nelson entered the Institute medical clinic. Nelson rarely visited the clinic unless on business; this afternoon was no different. However, if Nelson hadn’t come to sickbay, Jamison would have most certainly have gone to see him.
"Good Afternoon, Admiral, I expect you’re looking for this? "Jamison said while handing a manila colored file to Nelson. Admiral Nelson opened the file and scanned the report enclosed reciting the condition of 'Crane, Lee, B.’ The report was stellar!
Frowning slightly the admiral closed the folder and addressed the doctor with a raised eyebrow, "Will, there’s no mention here of Crane’s gunshot wound."
"That, Admiral Nelson, is because, there is no sign of that he was wounded at all! If I hadn’t been the one that patched him up I wouldn’t have believed it myself!" Jamison said.
"That’s ridiculous… are you sure you checked the correct arm?" Nelson asked in exasperation, immediately regretting his harsh tone.
"Admiral Nelson, I have been a physician for a great many years and I may just deluding myself -no-let me continue, I like to think I know how to perform an examination. Especially on a patient who is such a frequent a visitor to sickbay." Jamison said in an unaffected tone. The doctor knew from years of experience in working for Admiral Harriman Nelson that the admiral wasn’t really questioning his judgement. He was tired. They all were. And if Nelson didn’t have confidence in his ability, Jamison knew wouldn’t be working for him at all. Nelson only employed the best!
"All right, all right," Nelson said contritely, but damn, he hated a mystery. The scientist half of nature yearned to investigate.
"The lab results back up the exam admiral, "Jamison continued, " physically the captain is as fit as I’ve ever seen him. The gunshot wound is completely healed. The rate of healing is nothing short of amazing! I can only attribute it to the change his body metabolism underwent while subjected to Dr. Braddock’s atmosphere. … Admiral, this could be a side effect of the experiment; the changes his body underwent to produce the beast were to say the very least extreme. Each time the beast manifested itself, the transformation took the majority of Lee’s resources both nutritionally and chemically; his weight is down by 8 pounds. I’m not sure how long his body will, or even if it can sustain this increased rate of metabolism without physical repercussions. But for the time being he seems stable," Jamison explained.
Admiral Nelson absorbed what Jamison had told him. He had been afraid of side effects from Lee’s exposure to the artificial atmosphere. The research team in the lab had hypothesized this and potentially more serious side effects. Nelson nodded in understanding and walked toward the door, saying, "I want an update on his condition every 48 hours Will. I want to know if his condition changes. I haven't released him for shore leave. So, use your 'special' authority if you have to."
"Aye Sir, but you know getting the skipper into sickbay when he’s feeling fine isn’t going to be easy," Jamison said smiling.
"I know Will, if I have to I’ll make it an order, but for now lets keep it casual" Nelson said as he left the room.
His shore leave cancelled Lee felt as if he were in a kind of enforced limbo. Crane had seen enough of sickbay to last him a lifetime! To make matters worse he suspected that Doctor Jamison wasn’t very pleased with him just now. The beast had attacked Jamison and Lee was convinced that Doc's bruises still reminded him of his ordeal. Although the doctor might not actually blame his hapless Captain directly, he was continually amazed by Crane’s uncanny ability to attract 'trouble' no matter what the situation.
In an effort to appease Jamison, Crane tried to be as cooperative as possible. It actually seemed to be working until Jamison weighed him. Lee knew he had lost some weight after the episode with Braddock, but Jamison had put him on a special diet to regain some of the lost weight. Muttering under his breath in an agitated manner the doctor took off his stethoscope folded it and pushed it into his lab jacket pocket. He picked up Lee’s medical file and started writing. After a time, he turned back to the young officer, looked him directly in the eye and asked, "Captain, have you been following the diet I gave you last time you were here?"
"It’s a lot of food Jamie, but I’m following it as closely as I can." Crane admitted.
"That’s just not good enough Captain. You’ve lost another 2 pounds in just two days and your blood pressure is elevated. You have got to do better. I want you to follow the diet exactly. Understood? You’re taking the vitamins I gave you right?" At the captain affirmative nod, Jamison went back to writing on the paper in front of him.
Lee was alarmed at Jamison’s tone and attitude. It wasn’t like Jamie to worry over nothing. Lee had always been thin, even as a child. But, he’d never had a problem maintaining his weight. Especially, since during the last 48 hours he had kept to Jamison’s diet almost exactly!
"Alright Captain, lets get some blood drawn and then we’ll be finished here," the doctor said, trying and failing to keep the concern out of his voice.
With his exam finished, Lee left the institute medical facility and made his way back to his office. As he made his way to his car, he couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. During their hours in the decompression tank after the dive in the bell Nelson had assured him that the antidote he had administered would negate the effects of his exposure to the experimental atmosphere. Lee suspected that there was more to Jamie’s anxiety that the usual "mother hen" complex Jamison exhibited whenever one of the crew was injured.
Sighing tiredly, Crane decided to head back to Seaview. He had work to do. The nuclear reactor on board had seriously malfunctioned on two recent missions. The repair crew assigned to the reactor had shut down the nuclear pile while they had run some tests on all systems related to Seaview’s reactor. The results of those tests should be on his desk by now. He had scheduled a test of the reactor for tomorrow and the captain wanted to review the results of the preliminary tests before the restart of the pile tomorrow.
No time to worry about Jamison tonight. He resolved to speak to Nelson at the next opportunity.
Chip Morton parked his mustang in the parking lot of NIMR. Since his plans with Carol had to be abruptly cancelled when she had come down with a bad cold he thought he might catch up on some paper work before the upcoming cruise. He hummed softly to himself as he stopped to appreciate the truly beautiful sunset that the fair weather in Santa Barbara had to offer. After standing there a few minutes, he sighed regretfully and turned toward the large submarine docked across the street.
As he hurried across the street he heard a loud squeal of tires trying to brake.
Harriman Nelson entered his cabin aboard Seaview and shut the door behind him. He set his briefcase down on the small seat next to the door and dialed the combination to the safe. Once open, he removed his copy of the lab data generated by NIMR’s lab about the Braddock project and shut the safe. He began to peruse the pages as he slowly made his way to his desk. He read the highlighted paragraph at the top of the page:
"The cause of the transformation from man to beast was due to a virus that was mistakenly introduced into Braddock’s atmosphere. As the atmosphere was tested the virus mutated into the agent we now blame for the death of K. Braddock and the subsequent transformation of Lee Crane"
He had asked Jamison to meet him aboard Seaview. Nelson wanted to show the file of lab data from Braddock's tests to Jamison.
"Come in," Nelson called as he closed the file on his desk.
Will Jamison poked his head around the door, "Admiral Nelson, you wanted a update on Capt. Crane?"
"Yes, come in Will," Nelson waived impatiently as he removed his hand from the drawer in relief.
Jamison entered the room and sat down beside the admiral’s desk. The doctor looked pensive. As if he were deciding what to say.
"Well, how is he?" Nelson inquired finally, tired of waiting.
Jamison didn’t know how his commanding officer would react to the news he had to give him. He began slowly. "Captain Crane’s metabolism is eating him alive, literally admiral. It's incredible.. his metabolism is exhausting his body’s supplies of nutrients. He's loosing weight he can ill afford to lose…" Will’s words were interrupted by an urgent call for him from sickbay summoning him back to sick bay immediately. Jamison rose from his chair and rushed from the admiral’s cabin with Nelson close at his heels.
As Jamison entered sickbay his attention was riveted to the figure on the table in the center of the room.
"He was found near the parking lot just a few minutes ago," the corpsman said nervously," He’s in pretty bad shape sir. He’s lost alot of blood. Security brought him aboard right away since sickbay was closer than the institute medical facility."
Behind him, Jamison heard the admiral’s audible gasp as he recognized Chip Morton on the gurney. His clothes were torn and he was bleeding from a half a dozen abrasions. However the most serious seemed to be the gash that seemed to traversed the length of his forehead.
Chip Morton was alert to his surroundings and obviously in a great deal of pain. He rolled his head to the side as he heard the two men enter the sick bay. Jamison immediately busied himself with treating the young exec’s injuries as he instructed the corpsman to start an IV.
"Admiral,.. Admiral Nelson," Chip gasped.
"Yes Chip I’m here," Nelson said gently as he stepped forward and leaned down toward the injured man placing a hand on his shoulder.
"Is that you admiral?" Chip looked up unblinking directly into the bright exam light over his head.
"Yes, Chip its me, go ahead," Nelson said, as he met Jamison’s gaze in an unspoken question of concern. The light should be bothering the young officer’s eyes, and yet, he was gazing up into it as if it didn’t exist.
"Sir I can’t… see you," Chip said as he tried to raise his hands to his eyes and stopped as the movement accentuated his discomfort.
"Its alright, Chip, just rest and let Jamie take care of you," Nelson said, his hand on Morton’s shoulder. Jamison did a quick assessment of his patient and then injected a painkiller into the IV that had been quickly and efficiently inserted into Morton’s left arm.
"Sir.." Morton’s eyes fluttered, then closed, the lines etched in his face from the pain eased and he fell into a deep, painless sleep
Captain Lee Crane made his way to his cabin aboard Seaview after having finished off the last of last of the duty rosters for the coming cruise. Chip had done several double shifts for him this past cruise he wanted to return the favor by taking some of his workload off his hands as a surprise. It was late and he intended on sacking out in his cabin for the night after he finished reviewing the reports for the re-ignition of the nuclear pile tomorrow.
As Crane boarded the powerful vessel he was struck by the uneasiness in the security personnel. When he inquired as to the ship’s status he was quickly informed of the accident that had befallen Seaview’s executive officer. Reports forgotten, Crane rushed to sickbay where he saw doc working busily over his still patient. Instead of interrupting the care his friend desperately needed he backed out of the door and resigned himself to wait.
"So, captain, he'll survive…but the blindness may be permanent," Doc said in sotto voice, just outside sickbay, having finally emerged.
"It was a hit and run…, Lee, while two ribs were crushed, penetrating the abdominal cavity, It was a heavy blow to the skull that I’m more concerned about… He was conscious briefly…and there was no sign of visual response at all."
"You're giving up on him?"
"I didn't say that Lee…but what he needs is a miracle right now…"
Crane listened thoughtfully then asked after taking a deep breath, "Where's the admiral?"
"He said something about needing a drink." Jamison said tiredly as he rubbed his eyes.
Lee studied sickbay’s only patient, thinking. Thinking hard.
"How do you know it won't work!" Lee shouted, his frustration manifesting itself in anger.
"Lee, " Nelson said patiently, pushed his young friend down into a chair in the observation nose, " we don't know that it will…we only know you experienced some metabolic increase…it may not be the 'immortality and super immune' cure Braddock seemed to indicate! It could be the beast’s residual blood chemistry, but it may also only be your own immune system stimulated by your altered blood chemistry causing your quick recovery from your wound…if we allow your transformation into the beast again, it could kill you. Braddock's notes confirm that as the transformations increased in number they'd finally approached a point of no return…that’s just what he was afraid of, that's why he needed a guinea pig to test his revised atmospheric gasses…I'm sorry Lee…but the risk of subjecting another person to the virus we gleaned from the atmosphere in order to create a beast it ludicrous. Even if we could get enough blood from the beast to infuse Chip with the beast’s enhanced imunoglobulins; the risk to you both is too great.
"Well, I'm willing to risk it…I'm really surprised you're not!" Lee said hotly as he stalked over to gaze out the large windows.
"Captain Crane, are you questioning my judgement? Nelson demanded sternly, blue eyes met hazel, then Crane broke the contact and turned once again to gaze out the large windows. Realizing that Crane was hurting just as bad as he was, Nelson explained quietly to his friend, willing him to understand, "Lee, don't you see, Chip will survive…. "
"Yes, but as a cripple admiral! If we can help him we should try. Chip has saved all of our lives here on Seaview on more than one occasion; he deserves every chance we can give him. I’m sorry admiral, I can’t agree, I just can’t sit by and let this happen this way, not to Chip" with that Crane crossed determinedly to the spiral staircase and left Nelson to his thoughts.
"Well, I don’t approve of it either!" Doc said as he shut sickbay's door. " "Admiral, you know as well as I do, we could lose the both of them! I won’t be party to this kind of irresponsible behavior! Captain Crane is in no condition to go through with this procedure. There are too many unknown variables. I can’t even guarantee that if we were able to eradicate the beast again, that Crane wouldn’t die anyway from the side effects. His body still hasn’t recovered from the last exposure to that atmosphere!" Jamison exclaimed loudly in exasperation.
"Calm down Will, calm down. This is no time to lose our heads!" Nelson said irritably as he unconsciously rubbed the side of his neck in an effort to deal with the stress of the moment.
"I'm want you to keep an eye on Lee. We have got to keep him from killing himself…I suspect that he intends to attempt this suicide experiment, with or without my permission". Seeing the look of disbelief on Jamison’s face he went on, "Yes, that’s right Will, Lee would give up everything if he thought it would save Chip or anyone close to him. So I need you to keep a sharp eye on Morton " he glanced over at the sleeping form of Chip Morton, guilt over his decision overcame him. "God knows I would allow it if…but not if it exchanges one man's life for another's…. Will, there is no choice…clinically it makes sense, using Crane's antibodies once the manbeast virus is reintroduced, but…. it’s a virtual death sentence for Lee if he goes through with it, but I've gone through Braddock's notes over and over and over again, and there's absolutely no doubt in my mind"
Lee Crane had finally found a selfish use for the covert skills taught him by the ONI. He quietly moved through the ventilation ducts until he was inside sickbay. "Frank!" Lee whispered urgently through the ventilation duct. "Over here!"
"Skipper! What are you doing there???"
"Give me a hand, will you?" Lee clambered out of the tight squeeze.
"You're not supposed to be here!" Frank exclaimed in a hoarse whisper. He had overheard the Admiral and Jamison speaking earlier. Frank understood what his captain was up to and despite his better senses he sympathized with Crane.
"I need your help. I know I have no right to order you to do this, but, I’m asking you as Morton’s friend, to help me!" Crane said as he sat down tiredly .
"Captain, what are you talking about?" Frank stammered.
"They didn't tell you? Never mind…Frank. I want you to inject me with the viral solution the admiral extrapalated from Braddock's gas experiments. No, wait…then, once I've…transformed, I want you to take some blood from me…convert it to Chip's type in the Universal Blood Type Conversion Unit, then inject him with it…. I believe that it'll save his sight, You’ll have to trust me on this one Frank! This could be Chip’s only chance! "
"Are you out of your mind??? If you go through one more transformation…"
"Nonsense…I'll be fine…but,
Crane hesitated, not knowing how to say it, "you’ll need to restrain me once the transformation starts."
"You're really serious about this aren't you skipper…you sure you'll be okay?" Frank asked in concern. He was fond of his youthful skipper. Crane had been a frequent visitor to sickbay in the past four years and he and Frank had gotten to know each other fairly well.
"Frank, I honestly don't know, but I do know I could never live with myself if I didn't try to save Chip's sight…will you help me…I'll do it myself if I have to, I'd rather have a little medical help." Lee said determinedly.
"Okay, skipper. Over here. Remind me to ask you to testify at my court martial." Frank joked lightly in a nervous tone.
"We're not on active reserve status right now, Frank…besides, I forced you into it, will you help?"
"Sure skipper, like I really got blackmailed into it…honest, you really think this'll work?" Frank said.
"Yes," Lee said, sounding more confident than he felt. He had tried not to think about this part of it. Every fiber of his being told him to run for the door, to get out of there before the he could be re infected. He could lose Lee Crane, the man he was, to the beast he would become, he also knew that that loss could become permanent. But the memory his friend lying on that gurney pushed him on.
"I’m going to give you a mild sedative. Hopefully, this will slow down the transformation. Our only hope of getting the samples we need is if you're securely restrained. Do you understand?" Frank asked in a tense voice.
As the sedative began to take effect, he felt the jab of the needle in his arm. Then the world lost its order. He saw.. or rather heard Jamison and Nelson enter the room. Nelson’s angry baritone and then, Jamison’s alarmed. What they were saying he could no longer discern.
The reaction was slower than the previous times Lee realized as the transformation began. Crane doubled over from the pain; Frank hurried forward to draw the blood that could save Chips sight. "No, Get back!" Lee/beast growled in warning; the voice unfamiliar to his ears. It was more a guttural, feral growl, than human speech.
Lee wasn’t sure how long he could control the pure animal rage that was crashing over him in waves. He felt the jab of the heavy needle used to gather lab samples. Crane was vaguely aware of Nelson taking Frank by the arm and pulling him back. He forced himself to back up until he was beside the bunk with the restraint devices. He was afraid they wouldn’t hold him long, if not at least, it would give his friends enough time to clear out if needed. He pressed his body down onto the bunk as he did so, his body spasmed in pain as the transformation of his body became more pronounced. As he felt the metal restraints close over his wrists. A moment of blind animal panic overcame him he began to feel his tenuous control over the beast slowly start to degrade. Almost too late, he pressed both wrists down into the manacles; they locked in place nanoseconds before the beast took over completely.
After the emergence of the beast, Lee remembered little. His world was fogged with a red haze of fear and anger he was helpless to control
Captain Lee Crane awoke slowly. He opened his eyes slowly blinked them to clear his vision. As his vision cleared, Lee realized he was in his cabin. He lifted his hand to his head and sat up slowly. Faster movement was impossible, he was weak and he felt as if he hadn’t slept in a month. His body ached; he took several deep breaths to dispel the dizziness that threatened to pull him back down onto the bunk and to unconsciousness. His memory as the beast was sketchy; quickly he looked down at his arm. There was a small white gauze bandage there in the antecubital space of his arm lower arm. "Thank Goodness!" He thought. It appeared that Frank had been able to get the blood samples that Chip needed.
Lee prayed fervently that the blood would be enough. He couldn’t lose Chip now; not after all they had been through together. Crane longed to know how his friend was faring in sickbay.
Lee sighed and lowered his head to his hand. Each time he became the beast, he reflected, it was harder on him physically than the last. He longed to sleep, however, when he did his rest was haunted by violent dreams of his vicious alter ego. He wasn’t sure how much more he could take. No he thought stubbornly, taking the limited antidote was not an option, besides there was no guarantee it would work the second time around. He'd told Frank as much…It was possible that they would need more of the beast’s antibodies for Chip.
Resting there with his head in his hands, he realized that he had disobeyed a direct order from the admiral. There was no defense for this, under navy regs this was serious offense. Once the admiral got a hold of him the thought glumly, he would probably yearn for a general court martial.
Crane’s cabin was locked from the outside. Lee had instructed Frank to lock the door as a precaution against his alter ego. On his ankle was a padded manacle. Obviously placed as a precaution. Nelson would have ordered that, Crane realized, in a moment of betrayal. Crane was suddenly enraged, Morton had shot him and now Nelson had chained him like an animal!! He yanked violently at the chain in frustration as animal instincts took over. Shocked at the depth of his anger the young captain realized that Braddock’s theory was right. As the transformations multiplied, with each successive episode the beast took over little by little. As captain of Seaview he couldn’t allow the beast to threaten his boat He realized that until he had found a way to control the animal that threatened to emerge at the slightest provocation, he was a danger to his friends and to his graceful lady, Seaview.
Crane struggled to stand, but lost his balance as the chain placed to restrain the beast tripped him and he fell heavily to the floor. Pain coursed through his already depleted body. Lee felt the now familiar unreasoning rage invade his mind and reason faded as his transformation began once again. Lee moaned piteously, he doubled over in pain as his body protested the change.
Just outside his cabin door the guard posted by Admiral Nelson heard the noise from within and opened the door to check on is occupant. Suprise slowed his reaction. The captain of the Seaview was gone and in his place was an large snarling beastl wearing Crane’s uniform. As the shock wore off the guard slowly backed out of the room. The beast studied him for a moment, then snapped the chain that secured him to the wall as if it were plastic instead of steel and lunged for the hapless guard.
Minutes after the attack the young guard woke slowly shook his head and stood unsteadily, then staggered to the closest intercom to report to the admiral the beast had escaped.
As Crane/beast made his way down the corridor Seaview rocked with the force of an explosion. The explosion threw him against the wall of the corridor. There was something terribly wrong here. Crane fought for control of the beast. THE REACTOR! The tests, they were to re-ingite the nuclear pile today. It was malfunctioning just as it had previously!!
The reactor was causing the ship to lurch violently now. Although the hull of the great ship was solid titanium, not even Seaview could withstand the blast if the reactor were to go to critical mass. The Crane/beast raced down the corridor, drawn toward the reactor room, he paused a moment outside the reactor room making sure that there were no others in the vicinity. He entered quickly and pulled the heavy door shut behind him. As he pulled the hatch shut he picked up a wrench left lying on the floor by the explosion and jammed it into the wheel. There he paused, trying to remember why it was so important to be in the room with the reactor, he leaned against the hatch and looked at the claws and fur on his hands in loathing. This wasn’t fair he wanted to scream, but all that came out was a loud growl. The beast threatened to take over as he was assaulted by another wave of fury and fear. He struggled to suppress the fury and control the overwhelming fear. A small whimper escaped him involuntarily as he surveyed the room and its unfamiliar equipment.
The room was dimly lit by the red emergency lights and smoke wafted about in small clouds. He could hear the whine of the reactor as it sped its way to critical mass. He raced to the control panel intending to shut the reactor down, but the controls had been fused by the massive amount of white-hot radiation in the room. In despair Crane/beast turned from the control panel and a growl of fury escaped him. No, he wouldn’t lose Seaview! His large furred paw struck the control panel and a flurry of sparks flew across the room illuminating the nuclear rod panel. Yes, Crane realized, as he fought for coherent thought the nuclear rod panel! He lurched forward to the panel and started yanking the rods out violently.
As the final rod was pulled out Crane/beast could sense his success as the nuclear reactor ceased its whine and the ship ceased its bucking. However, Lee found he didn’t have the energy enjoy his victory or even to remain upright. His legs wouldn’t support him anymore. He could hear his crew yelling his name; they must have found him. Let them come, he thought it didn’t matter anymore the reactor was shut down. Chalk one up for the lab rat, he thought ruefully.
Captain Lee Crane found himself looking at his hands as he slipped to the floor, they were losing their animal appearance and were becoming his own again, and the beast was leaving. A moment of fear for Seaview’s safety gripped him as he lay there; it took him a moment to realize that the radiation in the room would dispel rapidly now that the reactor was shut down. He could hear people calling his name, and then orders for a detail to cut open the hatch. He thought he heard the admiral’s voice, from someplace. He smiled and sighed in relief. The admiral would help him.
Lee could hear the buzz of the acetylene torch as it was applied to the hatch. Good, it would take them a while to get through, by the time they get the door open the radiation will have dissipated, by then it should be safe he thought as he slipped into unconsciousness. Oblivious to the fear and concern of his friends and crew on the other side of the hatch.
Slowly, slowly Lee Crane surfaced from the soft velvet darkness that enbraced him. He was lying on something soft and he was wonderfully warm, almost too warm. Feeling... yes, he was feeling. He was alive! Dazedly he wondered why; he should be dead from radiation poisoning! Heaving a small sigh he decided it didn't matter. Someone was calling his name; he attempted to open his eyes to survey his surrounding and realized that he had a mutiny on his hands. His body didn’t seem to want to obey orders.
Lee finally succeeded in persuading his eyes to open only to find himself gazing into the pale face of Chip Morton. Lee blinked twice to clear his vision and struggled to push himself up off the small sickbay bunk, just opposite of the examination gurney. Chip was prone, grinning at him.
"Hey, wait a minute! Just stay there a minute until they check you out," Chip insisted as Jamison placed a restraining hand on Crane’s shoulder and pushed him back down.
Crane surrendered and lowered himself back down onto the bunk; every muscle in his body seemed to ache. "Seaview, the reactor…Chip..."
"Both repaired and in better shape than you I might add…I can see, Lee. I can see." Morton said with a grin, obviously delighted to see his friend coherent. His blue eyes twinkled from the gurney, as he watched his captain search for a retort to Chip’s insubordination. Chip’s right arm and leg were encased in plaster casts. Jamison had been in the middle of an examination when Lee had roused.
Before Lee could respond to Chip’s barb with comment of his own, Admiral Nelson and Seaview’s doctor entered the room, surprised to see that Lee was awake. An affectionate smile lit up the admiral’s care worn features. "Lee, welcome back, has he given you much trouble, Chip?" Nelson said warmly as he came to stand between the men. Crane had taken a terrible chance with his life in order to save Chip and then once again to save Seaview. However, Nelson thought, he would still have a few choice words with him about disobeying orders when he was back on his feet.
Before Crane could respond, Jamison had taken a hold of his wrist to check his pulse and asked, "Well, captain how are you feeling?"
"Alright doc, but why am I alive? I thought I was.." Lee said vaguely.
"Dead?" Nelson finished for him. "Yes so did we, I still can’t explain completely Lee." Nelson said, his blue eyes twinkling with scientific curiosity, " I can only theorize that your alter ego’s super immunity repaired the damage done by the radiation. However, the radiation has completely eradicated the virus from your system. I’m happy to say we won’t be seeing the beast any time soon."
Chip snorted, "That’s what you think, you obviously haven’t had to try and wake him up when he has the duty at 6 a.m.!" He exclaimed with a smirk.