"Good morning sir," XO Chip Morton greeted his boss as Harriman Nelson entered the control room.
"Morning Chip! Are all the repair teams in place yet?"
"Yes sir, the engineers and the electricians are already in the flying sub with their work teams.
"I want these engines repaired ASAP Chip!"
"They’re right on top of it sir. Now that we are docked it’ll be easier and faster to complete the repairs."
" Very well. Ah where is Lee this morning anyway?"Nelson asked, impatient.
" He hasn’t showed up yet but I am sure he will come in any minute now."
"Hah hah, well I’ll be in my cabin and when he shows up here, tell him these engine repairs are our top priority today and I want him to keep me informed on the team’s progress.
"Will do sir."
"Oh commander Morton?"Chief Sharkey called out, " Could you come and check this thing here?" he asked, pointing to the flying sub hatch.
Morton descended into the flying sub and gave a several orders until he was satisfied the work was going well. When he exited and returned to the control room, he noticed Lee still hadn’t showed up yet.
He picked up a handmike, "Captain, this is the exec…" He waited for a reply but there was no response. He tried again, with a bit more insistence, "Captain Crane, this is the exec……report please ?"
There was silence. Chip found this unusual. Now that he thought of it, he hadn’t seen Lee in the wardroom for his usual two cups of morning coffee.
"Chief Sharkey? Go check the Captain’s cabin and see what he’s up to. There is no response and I haven’t seen him yet this morning. Oh, and Chief? Tell him the Admiral wants progress reports about the flying sub."
"Aye sir!"Sharkey was quickly on his way up the stairs. When he reached the Captain’s cabin he knocked softly at first. No response. "Captain Crane?" he called out. Opening the unlocked door, what he found horrified him. The Captain was still in his bunk, covered in sweat. He was tossing and calling in his sleep.
Sharkey shook his shoulder trying to wake him. "Sir wake up!! Captain Crane ….sir!"but this only increased Lee’s agitation. The Chief didn’t hesitate and used the intercom on the Captain’s desk, "Sick Bay…this is Chief Sharkey - Doc? Emergency in the Captain’s cabin……come quick!"
Doc showed up in no time followed by Admiral Nelson who had overheard Sharkey’s call on the PA system.
" What’s going on here?" Nelson demanded.
"Let me through sir, I’ll have a look."
After a quick check Doc said, "the Captain is ill and I need to bring him to Sick Bay right away. Quickly men," he pressed the corpsmen, hovering by.
The Admiral seemed surprised and followed Doc to Sick Bay. It was soon revealed that Lee’s temperature was 104 and Doc didn’t like that at all! Necessary treatment was given to Crane to cool him down and his blood was analyzed.
Doc placed an IV in the captain’s arm to hydrate his patient. Then he threw everyone out who had gathered at the door to inquire on the Skipper’s condition. He also promised Nelson that he would keep him informed. Doc was now genuinely worried about the Captain and was working fast.
After a few minutes of intense work he called Nelson to Sick Bay.
"What have you found Doc?" Nelson asked.
" I am afraid I have bad news Admiral…."
"Well go on then…."
"He’s close to death!!The Captain shows all the signs of having been poisoned." "
"Poisoned ?!? But…..how??"
" I’m afraid I don’t know that yet Admiral, but he’s in bad shape. I am trying to determine just what kind of poison it is so I can find the proper treatment. I might not have a lot of time. Admiral, it would really help if you could find out more of his whereabouts for the last 20 - 30 hours or so. The way he’s reacting tells me that what brought on this condition might have taken place back then."
"Rright away. I’ll keep in touch."
"Oh, and Admiral?…….I would suggest you work fast."
Why is HE here again? Oh no not Krueger. Wait a minute - not too fast…..stop turning…..LANI!!!! ha…ha….what’s happening? The mummy…..no….go away….leave me alone…..oh my hands…..my face…..changing…..no……no…..not the werewolf…..no…….
The pictures were coming fast….too fast…..confusing Lee….in no order…..one after another. It was exhausting.
Stop…..stop all of you!!!
The fog came in around him. He was spinning now….out of control…..faster…..faster…..faster…..
Nelson had quickly informed Morton of Lee’s condition," I have to retrace Lee’s every foot steps in the last 2 days and with all the repairs going on it will be difficult. Chip what can you tell me about when you last saw Lee?"
"Well, about 6 hours ago he turned in and yes he did look very tired. At the time I just thought he had worked too hard all over the ship. I made nothing more of it sir."
"Did he say anything about feeling ill?"
"No sir, not a word."
"I just can’t understand HOW he could get " poisoned"? Did anyone else report in sick?"
" No sir, no one. Are you thinking about the food or the water?"
"Naturally that would be my first suspicion too,Chip."
"Frankly sir this is a puzzle to me. Far as I know no one’s reported ill effects from the food or the water. Someone did report they were tired of Cookie’s grub but nothing to make them ill…sir now that I think of it, Lee did go ashore yesterday for a few hours but I don’t know exactly where he went or what he did. He mentioned the Institute at some point but I’m not sure why he was going. We were very busy here Admiral."
Chip wished he had better answers to give the Admiral. But there had been a lot of repair teams all over the boat, and he had been, like Lee, checking on their progress.
" Who was working topside yesterday?" Nelson asked.
Chip checked the work detail clipboard. "Two paint teams, Mercer/Wilson and McDonald/Nolan. They should still be at it, they hadn’t finished yesterday."
" Thanks Chip - Keep the Flying Sub teams on a tight schedule. I have an investigation to conduct."
"Aye Aye Sir."
Nelson knew he had to work fast to help his friend. He was determined to do the best detective work he was capable of. He could not afford to miss any details now. Anything however insignificant could become important. Although he was not yet panicked, he was however anxious to talk to anyone who might have seen Crane in the last day or so. Quite a task indeed.
In his delirium Lee was now going from one situation to another; here fighting a giant plant, there taking Nelson out of a flooded storage room…….the images kept coming and coming……..and coming……..
Topside, Nelson asked the men where Lee had been. Not much info there. The Captain had checked their work and gone towards the dock gate, that’s all they knew. Nelson wished his men paid more attention to details. He made a point of it.
Once he reached the gate, Nelson questioned the ever present guard there. ‘Yes’ he remembered seeing the Skipper and had exchanged ‘hello’s but not much more as Crane was in a hurry. He seemed to have been heading on foot towards the Institute…
Nelson hurried and reached the Institute’s main desk. A quick check of the visitor’s log found an entry with the Captain’s signature, showing he was going to the Tech Library. That was all. Nelson could not make sense of it all. At what point did Lee get in touch with anything so dangerous that he was now in Sick Bay fighting for his life????
Nelson was increasingly irritable in his questioning of his personnel to outside passers by….nothing. One man had seen Crane through his office window, he’d met a man he seemed to recognize - shook hands with him, talked a bit and then quickly left. That was all.
"Shook hands ?!? Are you sure? Did he react to that handshake at all?"
" React? How?"
"Well if someone would want to poison Lee Crane he could easily inject it hrough a simple handshake, maybe a ring? Surely he would have reacted to that!"
"Oh I didn’t pay that much attention, sorry Admiral!"
Damn, thought Nelson.
The Admiral concluded that he was going nowhere with this. He wanted to be at Lee’s bedside and try to question him about his activities.
He returned to Seaview and went directly to Sick Bay. He found that Lee was still delirious and couldn’t answer any kind of questions. Doc reassured the Admiral as best he could, that Lee was holding his own. "Thank God the Skipper is young and in good physical condition. That’s what has probably kept him alive so far."
Nelson was only reassured for the moment. He knew what it would mean to lose his friend. He felt powerless . Doc didn’t know what was making Lee so ill, only that it was bad. No one had seen enough of what the Captain had done,or where he’d gone to draw any kind of worthwhile conclusions.
Lee’s hands had been checked and showed no signs of punctures in the skin, thus eliminating an attempt to inject a poison in this fashion. Doc promised Nelson that at the slightest change in the Captain’s condition he would be the first to be notified. There was nothing he could do right now for the Skipper.
"Any luck so far in finding any clues?"Doc asked.
The Admiral admitted that so far he had…….nothing.
Then in an unusual gesture for him, Nelson took Lee’s hand and squeezed it hard and said in a low voice, " I will find out what’s happened to you Lee, I promise….You just hang in there a while longer okay? I….I….need you!"
Nelson left Sick Bay quickly and Doc thought he saw the Admiral blink several times.
Nelson went to the control room and REQUESTED from Chip ALL the Log sheets and work details done in the last week. Chip complied and noticed the pile! The Admiral put Morton on the Log and Sharkey on the work details instructing them to check and recheck each and every line Lee had initialed as having been completed to see who or what had been in contact with him. Every item that could have affected him must be verified. Oil leaks, fuel spills, his exposure to radiation from the reactor, gas emissions from electrical fires. If the Captain was indeed poisoned, it could have come from any of these sources. The Admiral was naming all possibilities as if he was in a race. Morton had a questioning look towards Sharkey but both immediately went to work.
After a while Morton wondered who if anyone would want the Skipper dead? But no new personnel had come on board, no scientists, no engineers. He was certain no one from the crew would do that to their Skipper. No not on Seaview. The men liked him too much for that.
The sheets showed that Lee had been a busy Captain indeed. He seemed to have been everywhere, had done so much work. It was a wonder this man kept his sanity. Neither Morton nor Sharkey could come up with anything that could cause the Captain to be as ill as he was. The log showed their last mission had been a rough one. There had been a lot of diving and………DIVING?!?
"Admiral?"Chip called out, " Lee did a lot of Scuba diving during our last mission. What about the air in his tanks?"
Nelson hurried to the nearest hand mike and requested Kowalski and Patterson to quickly check the air purity of all diving tanks. "Put a team on it and report ASAP!"
Ski and Patterson were so concerned about the Skipper that they were both ready to do anything to help. After a few minutes which seemed like hours to Nelson, Ski reported that all tanks checked out okay and so did the compressor.
Another dead end.
"You know Admiral,"Sharkey said, " the Skipper has been so overworked lately that he blew his top about two days ago. My diving team had difficulties fixing the motor of the diving plane. We had had three divers trying to do the work you know. All of a sudden the Skipper rushed into the missile room and ordered his diving gear be made ready that HE would do the work himself if no one could. Hey, nobody argued and out he went. He did get the motor fixed and after that he even went forward to inspect the welding job that we had just done to the section-37 plates. As Seaview was on the bottom for that repair, he had a hard time checking underneath the plates. Heck sir, I even saw him kick the sand with his fins so he could see more of the welding. I tell you Admiral, I thought at the time, ‘ boy when we dock tomorrow the Skipper’ll need a vacation……!’"
Nelson was taking it all in and was pacing back and forth in the observation nose. Think Harry……Think, this is important. " Chief? Did the captain touch any part of the vegetation on the bottom while diving?"
"Well sir, he was on his knees at one point while he checked the plates. Maybe then……Admiral? Are you thinking………?"
"Sick Bay this is the Admiral."
"Yes sir go ahead."
"Quickly, check Lee’s legs for ANY abrasions. Specially his knees and report to me right away."
Doc did as ordered and noticed a small cut almost exactly where the knee bends, on the side of his left knee. "Admiral? Yes I did find a small inflamed cut on his left knee, but how did you know?"
"Never mind this right now. Stand-by."
Nelson double-clicked on the hand mike and ordered Ski in the missile room to check the Captain’s diving suit CAREFULLY around the leg areas and report any cuts in the neoprene, or any objects found inbedded it.
Ski did as ordered and replied to Nelson right away, "Admiral ? the Captain’s suit is cut in the leg area and we found a small piece of an unusual looking thing. It’s like ….well sir…I don’t know exactly. Maybe a ….."
"Kowalski, bring it to the Lab on the double, and be very careful handling it. I’ll meet you there!"
The Admiral raced for the Lab. Once there he analyzed the piece. He found that it was an extremely rare sort of sea urchin in the echinoderm family and very poisonous. Lee had been cut by it and the poison had entered his body that way. That’s it!!!!
"Sparks, get me the microbiology lab at the Institute. Emergency. I’ll speak to anyone there!"
Dr. Martin was the specialist on duty and checked the rare urchin on his computer. Between his efforts and Nelson’s they were able to formulate an antidote for the poison. DR Martin was, however, very skeptical. It would be an experimental drug. This urchin was so rare and their studies of it so limited……
No matter now, thought Nelson.
The Admiral worked hard at fabricating an amount of the antidote sufficient to help Lee recover. He brought it to Doc and explained the situation."This is all we have. If we don’t do anything Lee will die. If the drug has the slightest chance of working…Doc we have to try something!"
Doc agreed and a small quantity was injected in Lee’s arm.
Before long Lee’s fever had dropped, and he was now resting more comfortably. Doc knew now that the Captain was saved. The Admiral was so relieved at the news that he actually had to sit down and relax a bit. He took the hand mike at Doc’s desk and announced to the crew that the Captain was now out of danger, the drug had worked and Doc had comfirmed that he would recover fully.
The crew throughout Seaview exploded with cries of joy and patted each other on the back. Morton and Sharkey did the same in the control room.
Doc advised Nelson to get some rest now that the Skipper would sleep for a while. And that he did.
Lee had been moved to a lower bunk in a quiet part of Sick Bay. He slept for fourteen hours straight. When he woke up he was a bit confused,but got his bearings quick enough to realize he was in Sick Bay.
He didn’t remember much and was surprised to be so tired. After Doc reexamined him, he found that the Captain was recovering well. A few days off with proper rest, follwed by a few days light duty and he would be as good as new.
After the Admiral visited and told Lee about the scare he’d caused, the Skipper suddenly realized how much the Admiral cared for him and a warm feeling came over him.
He liked the man like a father and he was touched deeply by the Admiral’s efforts to save his life. Both men had agreed that the simple precaution of diver’s examining each other after each dive, and reporting any incident would save a lot of complications later. Lee also promised that from now on he would tell Chip of his whereabouts in more details.
This incident shook Lee up though, and he realized he was an important man, that NIMR had its enemies and maybe one day a faction could try this poison thing.
The thought was a bit scary, but proper security could take care of a lot of suspicions. Security had been important to him from the first day he came on board. This incident reminded him that he had been right in checking the procedures now and then.
A week later, all the repairs had been completed to the satisfaction of the Seaview’s Skipper. The crew had a few days shore leave and all personnel were ready and eager to start a new mission. Lee had completely recovered from his fever and the formula for the antidote that had saved his life was now in the computer at the Institute as well as the Institute’s vessels………just in case.
Back in the control room Lee thought how proud he was of his crew, of Seaview and specially happy to be alive to be her Captain. He looked at Nelson, conveyed his thanks with a nod and a smile. They understood each other so well he thought. Both men resumed their work in preparation of a new mission.
The end J