Tears of Stone
(Author's note: This is a sequel to The Big Day and first appeared in Anchors Away # 4,*out of print*)
"I donít care what you think, just do it! You sure had more guts on Seaview!" President Webster shouted angrily.
"It would be far better to send someone else, she wont even talk to me and ..."
"Sir, Crane has a point. Edith Crane...er, Nelson wont talk to anybody, let alone Lee. How can you expect her to...@ presidential aide Raymond Prescott intervened.
" It was his idea in the first place, wasnít it? I donít care if she sets a shark on him, its our only hope. Crane knows it is. Make her listen, captain, we confiscate weather she agrees or not, understood?"
"Yes sir". Lee Crane saluted and turned to leave.
"You Prescott, go along and see he doesnít botch it."
As the two departed the oval office, Webster couldnít help notice the snappy salute by the marine guard, for the man the Navy regarded as one of their greatest heroes, now temporarily sequestered to a desk.
The early morning gloom did nothing to cheer both men as they boarded the Coast Guard cutter. She curtsied sharply as another wave splashed against her hull.
"Welcome aboard Captain Crane , Mr. Prescott," the lieutenant saluted sharply. Not every day we get the big guy.
"Nice little lady," Lee commented as the craft bounced up and down.
"Little is right, whispered Prescott," Looks like a toy in a bathtub!
It was business as usual aboard the Seastar, the most advanced sub in existence. Despite her sparkling interior and newness, there were still a few yawns of boredom and sleepiness.
"Another day, another dime captain," the exec took the conn as the captain stepped down. from the conn.
"Not today today sailor", a smooth baritone intoned, as his bejeweled hand pressed his flashing ring. Watching in satisfaction, his monitors showed a flash of light which quickly faded to a blank screen, and the Seastar was no more.
"Almost there Raymond, Lee popped around the door opening into the officers >headí.
"Oh, go away and let me die in peace." Prescott groaned, draped over the metal commode. "I cant believe you actually like the sea!"
"Well, if it makes you feel any better, Lee grinned mischievously, " Iíve been seasick too...but only on >flat-topsí...so they figure it was probably it was just an allergy."
Fighting the urge to kill Crane or just fling himself overboard and be done with it, Raymond leaned wearily against the bulkhead as the little boat pitched yet again.
"Weíre at the coordinates!" the PA boomed.
"Last one topsideís a rotten egg!" Lee teased, but quickly took the limp arm of Prescott and with some difficulty helped him topside, where the waves were churning and a chartreuse buoy tossed violently. "Sorry about that Ray. I think Iíve been beached too long."
"Uh, how do we uh...@
Crane nodded to the lieutenant who pressed a button on a small hand held device. A panel on the buoy opened.
"Well, what do you want?" Edithís voice came over the remote device.
"Got some some visitors for you maíam and some official mail,"the officer of the deck spoke above the wind.
"Put the mail it in the can and tell the visitors to go away!"
"Tell her its the Internal Revenue Service," Lee said conspiratorially.
"Its the IRS."
"Oh, very well, clear for yellow."
"Mind taking these down with you?" the OOD asked Crane, of a bundle of magazines and assorted mail.
"Happy to oblige."
Very quickly, bubbles formed on the raging surface, increasing in size. A bright red submersible with a yellow racing stripe emerged, tossing in the waves. Two protruding view bays made it look like a sea bug. It even had a periscope.
"Oh no Lee, Iím not getting into that!"
"I didnít know you had gills." Lee put an end to the discussion.
With no choice in the matter, Prescott followed Crane out to and into the bouncing craft.
"Automaticís on the console, but I hardly think youíll need it!" the lieutenant called out.
Crane gave the cutter a happy wave and locked the hatch. The seats were actually small metal affairs that looked like scrap metal. After giving the craft a quick once over, Lee made sure Prescott was reasonably secure in his seat. "All set?" he asked.
"As Ill ever be."
"Prepare to dive!"Crane exclaimed playfully and the craft began its descent.
"Just shut up and drive! You can play with it later!... Lee! For Pete=s sake, use the autopilot!"
"Raymond, I may be steering a desk just now, but I think I can handle this. What a toy. Look! A great White!"
"I think Iím gonna be sick."
"Beautiful, just beautiful, Crane mused. This view beats the Great Barrier Reef anyday! Over there, look a..."
Lee enjoyed the breathtaking view, aware it had been a long time since heíd even taken a recreational scuba dive. His musings were short lived as the undersea homestead came into view and he had to concentrate on docking the submersible. It wouldnít do to botch it.
As he maneuvered the little sub, he was uneasy. So many memories twisted and turned in his mind, along with unearned guilt.
He and Edith had only spent part of their honeymoon here, and a few months out of the year. The homestead was really one of Nelsonís experiments. The Ďold maní had tried to convince people of the feasibility of family life underwater. Heíd shown them proof after proof. And to top it off Lee and Edithís triplets had been born here. Are they still at that damn care center? They need their mother. They need me too. Damn courts. Unfit parents? Ha!
Lee noticed how the once great undersea complex had decayed, through lack of care, and funding. How could Edith even manage it? Though heíd made sure she had adequate alimony, with the Nelson assets still frozen, it had been inevitable.
Slime and corrosion littered the docking bay, and it had a definite odor of disuse. As he helped Raymond step onto the platform, he stopped and gasped. For over there, listing, with disuse and emptiness, was...the Seaview.
"Its not your fault Lee," Prescott said with compassion, " It had to be done."
"I know, but it hurts, just the same."
"You will follow me," the almost monotone voice of a box like mobile robot interrupted their musings. "I am programmed to offer you assistance if you require aid in mobility."
"Lead on noble sir," Lee said.
"I am Robot One, class 23, subclass four, sometimes referred to as Roxie. Sir is courtesy title, human, male.It is not correct to address me as sir...but you may do so if you desire, I am not programmed to be fussy."
Stifling their laughter, the men followed Roxie to a much repaired Plexiglas elevator. As they ascended, they saw even more glimpses of the now derelict homestead.
All his dreams and now this, Lee thought sourly. It wasnít fair, but Lee had had no choice in the matter. The elevator stopped and the men stepped into what they had thought would be a dump, but it was comfortable. Clean, and complete with a sleeping cat.
"Pokey, you are not allowed in that chair," Roxie intoned. Pokey paid absolutely no attention and yawned disinterestedly. Roxie beeped and the cat bounded off the chair and ran to an feeding alcove which deposited a live wiggling fish from a holding tank.
"Simple and effective," Roxie continued, " I am instructed to offer you refreshments."
"Uh, no thanks," Prescott replied, noting the tannish liquid in a jar full of kelp.
"The admiral was working on self sustaining aqualculture long before most people even knew what it was," Crane spoke softly and enjoyed the view from the geodesic view ports.
"Yeah, but who farms it, Charlie the Tuna? Look, Lee, I know all about this aqua living stuff but this place gives me the creeps. I feel like a midmorning snack. His!" he noticed the shark swim by.
"Sharks to pose a threat sometimes," Roxie said, " but the trained ones usually keep the marauders away."
"Nobody can train a shark!" Prescott exclaimed.
"My master did. Eight of them. Ruffles, Harvey, Greedy, Butcher, Raymond, Wilberforce , Tiger, and Clyde. ..butcher was his favorite."
"Youíll find nothing wrong with my records gentlemen," Edith approached, stopping short when she recognized Prescott. Then are you," she spoke to the back of Crane, "or are you not with the IRS?"
"No," Lee turned and spoke softly, "No, Iím not."
"Youíre not welcome here Lee, not now, not ever, now get out."
"The president sent us."
"What have I to do with that twit? Or either of you?"
"The Wyngate Device has been bypassed," Prescott quickly answered, "Everythingís gone haywire, all our ships, planes, computers, satellites, everything."
"What has that to do with me?"
"We need Seaview,@ Lee replied softly.
" Seaview? An antiquated rust bucket? Harryís contribution to ancient civilization?"
"I never said that!"
"No. You never said that. Your eyes spoke loud enough."
"It was congress that made the decision to decommission her and every physciatrist agreed that admi..." Prescott stopped himself and continued, "we are empowered to confiscate her, national security being..."
"Donít speak to me of national security! I seem to recall when Seaview was considered a threat to it! Along with the idle musings of an old man! But then, we Nelsonís are all fools, incapable of sound judgement or sophisticated reasoning!"
"Edith," Lee tried to desperately to maintain his composure, it was so hard not to reach out and embrace her, "Did Harry install an upgraded system ?"
"How sould I know. My big brother was a jealous inventor. Heíd been burned so many times, by people he trusted," she spoke, on the verge of tears, glaring at Lee, the love of her life, her lost love.
"Mistress," Roxie approached, " Captain Crane was hardly responsible for the pirating of..."
"Oh shut up you stupid robot!" She took a deep breath to calm herself. Requesting Seaview was bad enough, but actually seeing Lee was heart wrenching. His thick curly hair was still tousled despite his life long efforts to tame it, his eyes still pleaded with unspoken passion. He still loved her. Heíd only agreed to the divorce out of her own determination. I canít love you Lee, I canít . It was all your fault. You could have figured something out. You could have kept them from stealing Harryís pride. "I donít suppose you have a clue as to just whoís bypassed the device? No? Amazing. So, what do you need her for?"
"As a command post, to trace the frequency," Prescott offered.
"Youíd be welcome aboard Edie," Lee spoke quietly.
"As what, a good luck charm?"
"Youíre the official owner," Prescott said, "itís only reasonable. And she means a lot to you."
"Oh, yes. She means a lot to me. She did to Lee too, once. Before politics."
The pain of the truth hurt Lee far more than heíd care to admit. Oh, heíd believed in Seaview, Nelson, and Edith, and heíd let them down. For duty , national security, and perhaps even, a little for his pride?
"Does Washington have any inkling?" the man with the ring asked his trusted aide.
"Negative. Oh, they have lots of theories, including little green men from outer space!"
"Then President Webster and the West are running scarred."
"Like chickens. But Webster tires to put on a brave face, and he sent Prescott and Crane to a ribbon cutting ceremony," the aide laughed.
"Crane? Not Lee Crane? So, the rumors are true. I always said anyone can be bought. I wonder how he likes Washington society?"
"From what Iíve heard, he actually hates the Pentagon, and a ribbon cutting ceremony in California to ease minds is hardly his idea of duty. Of course, heíll be able to get a little sunshine in California."
It wasnít easy being here, Chip Morton thought sourly, as he turned the light on in Admiral Nelsonís old office at the decrepit Institute. Too many memories. Too much disuse.And it had only been a short time really. He noticed one of his favorite photos on the wall, tilted and grinned. It had been taken of the three of them, Nelson, Crane, and himself. When they were shipmates, when they were all still friends. Suddenly Chip began to laugh. The old man certainly had a sense of humor, in spite of everything, for Craneís head had been cut out and replaced with a picture of a grotesques motion picture monster.
"Commander Morton," the marine interupted, "The Seaviewís been successfully confiscate...donated by Mrs. Crane...er Ms. Nelson, but we donít know if it can be launched on her own or will need a little help...maybe even a tow."
Chip groaned. A tow? A tow? Oh, the indignity of it all. He even remembered when Lee had rigged a sail made of bedsheets to avoid the embarrassment when sheíd had so damage that even the batteries had failed. And so Seaview had come home under her own power as her captain wanted. Demanded. Where the hell were you Lee when he needed you? And now you have the nerve to even look at Seaview? You decertified her! You called her a derelict! You called Nelson a senile old man. You bast..."
"Sir? The Navy reports that theyíre flying out some of the men you requested, and already a few men the Navy picked have already arrived."
"Have they been informed of our mission?"
"Heck no!...I mean, well, uh, we donít want Ďem to go AWOL sir, do we?"
Idiot! Fool! Harriman Nelson chided himself. Old goat! How the blazes did you manage to get yourself into this mess? Lee? Edith? Anyone? Help me! Help me! he screamed as loud as he could. But nobody could hear him. No-one at all. His tears of anguish might as well be tears of stone.
Prescott didnít know which was worse, the echoing noise of the working robotics or the utter silence between Edith and Lee. Itís not his fault lady. Lee had only asked for a screwdriver as he worked under a panel in the subís control room, she didnít have to whack his hand so hard with it.
Crane emerged after a while, grimy and blotched with dirt, oil, flakes of something or other, and a grin of satisfaction.
"Well?" Prescott asked.
"Sheíll be okay...but sheís not what she used to be,"
"Well, what did you expect?"Edith asked bitingly, trying hard not to remember that Lee had been her whole life, and was the father of her children. Oh, how she still longed to take him in her arms and..."
"Look, Edith," Lee interupted her musings, " Letís just get on with it okay?" He was weary. Of trying to get Seaview ready to sail to port, of just being here, stung with her remarks and glares of sheer hatred.
"By all means, Lee," she replied bitterly, " I wouldnít dream of interfering with Washington."
"You think I didnít care?!"Lee finally exploded, grabbing her, "that I actually enjoyed it? that I liked scrapping Seaview? That I wanted to hurt the man who meant more to us than our own lives? That I wanted him to be certified as senile and demented?!"
"Oh, I doubt you had a few pangs of guilt, Lee! But it was sure good for your reputation now wasnít it? Ď Lee Crane, he knows where his duty lies!í Duty, duty, duty! Iím sick of your blasted duty! Harry sacrificed everything for duty, and for what?! Nobody gives a damn about him, not even you! "
"We were in a crisis! War had to be averted! What was I supposed to do? Just sit there and lie to the committee? Is that what the admiral would have wanted me to do? Face it, compared to the new Wyngate class subs Seaview was antiquated and Harry was incompetent! He didnít even recognize you!"
"Seaview was a civilian ship!"
"Mistress, the vessel was often under government contract and as such was under Reserve status and..."
"Edith," Lee tried to calm her down.
"Do you know what itís like to see someone die Lee? To shrivel up? To be emptied of all their hopes and dreams, and visions? To hear them ask why they even tried? Have you?!" Edith was livid. "The only thing antiquated about the Seaview was was your refusal to keep Harry in charge! Blind! All of you! A young manís dreams are inspired, but and old manís are mocked, ridiculed and stolen by others who then praised as brilliant!" Edith was crying now.
"Mistress, Captain Crane was the first on record to condemn the contractorís plot and..."
"Oh shut up you stupid robot! Did I accuse him of conspiracy?"
"That I am unable to compute, but your voice decibels would indicate that..."
"Roxie?"Lee spoke quietly.
"Estimate of mobility."
"She will have a speed of about two knots. Reserve battery power will suffice until arrival at NIMR and installation of nuclear core. Deep submergence is not recommended at this time. Ballast tanks and pumps operational. She will be able to reach port....mistress? The master, your brother never programmed me with the reason for the female connotation given the submarine and..."
"Shut up stupid robot, yes mistress. I will try not to be stupid but the concept is difficult to ascertain, perhaps you will fit me with new programming so that I will be able to..."
"Arrange for Pokeyís boarding in Santa Barbara and arrange for my visit to Dr. Dales."
"May...may I go with you?"Lee asked gently.
"I wonít stop you."
Barely had Lee managed to dock the sub at the disused Nelson Institute, when Edith had a cab waiting. Turning the sub over to Commander Morton wasnít easy. The two men exchanged a polite greeting and naval courtesy, but Lee could tell Morton held him in just about as much contempt as Edith.
"Weíll have her ready for sail shortly." Morton said, noting the busy emergency inspection and overhaul. "Weíll find that signal and blow it to kingdom come."
"I know you will Chip. Good luck."
Lee took a last look at Seaview, and turned quickly to hide his emotions. It wouldnít do to look overly concerned.
It wasnít a long trip by car, and Lee couldnít help but to remember his own visits with Nelson at the mental sanatorium. In between pent up rage, Nelson had seemed to degenerate into incomprehension and now reports indicated his speech had turned into gibberish. Not to mention bouts of violence.
Lee had tried to visit on a regular basis, but it was just too disturbing for the old man. He was advised to stop coming. Dr. Dales was the top physchiatrist in the world. And heíd jumped at the chance to have Nelson as a patient. While the Nelson assets were frozen, he took the patient as a fair exchange for scientific study. At least the admiral was alive, Lee thought, at least he was alive.
The sanatorium was large, secure, and smelled of antiseptic. In spite of flowers and sunny paintings on the walls, the place was haunted by the cries of the inmates.
Inmates?, Lee thought to himself, yet it did seem like a prison.
"There," the orderly motioned to the pair. Strapped to a wheelchair, head bent forward, they saw the back of the admiral.
This is going to be awful, thought Lee as he let Edith approach the old man first. Nelson didnít even seem to notice her. Lee took a breath, approached, and knelt down in front of his old friend, a grotesques characterture of insanity.
"Admiral? Harry? Do you know me? Itís Lee."
"Youíre wasting your time Captain," Dr. Dales approached, " he hasnít recognized anyone for months. Please, donít be concerned. Heís totally unaware of anything and is in no pain."
"Edith," Lee croaked, " I...I had no idea it had come to this."
"He...he drew more and more into himself, after you ripped the rug out from under him, after you betrayed him, and now, thereís nothing left," Edith wiped a tear from her eye, " so go away, go back to Washington and whatever it is they want you to do. Leave us alone. And never come back."
Lee stood, desperately wanting to say something, anything to comfort Edith, to get through to Nelson. But Leeís world had collapsed. Having been torn between duty and friendship, the irreversible loss of Edith, his love, his life, and now this, it was just too much to bear. And Lee departed, a broken man.
"Well, dear, now that Commander Morton has the sub underway, Prescott is back. He said Captain Crane visited Admiral Nelson at the Dales Sanatorium and was pretty shaken by it.
"Hardly surprising." Webster rose and poured himself another cup of coffee, " I saw Nelson there once. Just sat there muttering ĎTwinkle Twinkle little star, over and over. Bound to upset anyone. Nelson and Crane were pretty close before...well , thatís all behind us now. They were even in-laws for a while you know. Sad, sad state of affairs."
Itís sure not the flying sub! Lee thought sourly in the plane, as he remembered the crash that had turned FS 1 into an artificial reef.
It was hard to be a passenger. Not doing anything was grating on his nerves. Of course, the little irritating chatterbox of a boy in the seat beside him was far worse. The kept plaguing the passengers with his toy ray gun, which flashed on and off , singing rude lyrics to the movieís songs and making noises that for all the world sounded like a mix between a marineís bazooka and flatulent elephant. Continually being told to settle down, the child rudely ignored the stewardess drafted into checking on him, and finally had to go the bathroom.
Finally! Some peace! Lee thought and closed his eyes in an effort to close his mind. But it was hard to ignore the past few days and the child brought even more memories to his mind. The kid reminds me of me!
"Well now admiral," Dr. Dales oozed compassion, " Letís see how well youíre doing," examining Nelsonís eyes with a penlight. "Very good, very good."
"Is the programming complete?" an aide asked, hovering.
"Yes, at last. Another 24 hours and itís goodbye Harriman."
"Will Edith Crane be a problem?"
"Good grief no. She thinks Iím a pillar of the community. The dear doctor to her poor dear brother...now admiral, you know itís futile to resist. And impossible to communicate with anyone on the outside. Our implants have made sure of that. Only I can hear your thoughts through my own descrambler. Now, now, no obscenities, please. Youíre supposed to be above such rudeness."
"Will Crane be a problem?"
"Crane? Bah! He thinks Harry here is a crazy old coot! Isnít that so Harry? My my, and you tried so hard to contact him, but all he saw was an old fool!" Dales laughed as he and his aide exited the small cell and ordered the restraints tightened.
You bastards! Stop it! Stop it! he screeched in silent rage. All anyone could hear was a mumbled voice repeating over and over ĎTwinkle twinkle little starí. Fine sense of humor, Dales, Nelson thought ironically, an acquiescence of Dales to Nelsonís plea to speak. Dear God, help me?!
Four more hours to Washington, Lee thought. Four more hours and then heíd be to busy to think. About her, about him, about the triplets, safely placed in an approved foster home. Would they turn out like this rude little spitfire? Unfit parents? Ha! She was emotionally unstable and he was too unpredictable?? The nerve of the Child Welfare Services! It had all been the press, making mountains out of molehills. The next hearing was in a month. He was certainly stable now, stuck in a desk job! But he had no choice. Anything to see his children again. And her. His mind turned back to Nelson. Oh, Harry, Iím sorry, Iím so so sorry. I didnít mean to let you down, but I had no choice. Did you have to go crazy? Did you have to end up like this?
"Coffee?" the stewardess asked quietly, hoping not to wake the now napping boy.
"Thanks...how old is he?"
"About five. Going to meet some prospective parents. The Jackobies."
"Thatís right, they saw him in a orphanage photo and picked him."
"Makes him sound like a piece of property!" Lee whispered.
"Iím afraid so, but at least heíll have a home."
Lee looked a little more closely at the boy, heíd met the Jackobies, rich, famous, but also the most pompous, vain , and shallow people heíd ever met. Poor kid, I wouldnít wish them on my worst enemy.
"So you see admiral," Dr. Dales continued, " the very device you helped invent to prevent such little accidents from happening has been altered to cause them! World wide chaos wonít even come close to the demonstration I plan. And after I blow up all the weaponry of my choosing, I will be the undisputed master of the world. Oh, by the way, Washington has decommissioned your precious Seaview in their mistaken hope of discovering just whatís going on. Oh, theyíll find out. When my little device blows them up along with the rest of the free world."
It had been a long flight and it was with relief that Lee prepared for the descent. The blinking toy ray gun was making his eyes hurt. Even an old gent seemed to blink repeatedly.
Immediately, Lee was back at the sanatorium, watching Nelson, incoherent, blinking. Blinking. Why canít I get him out of my mind? But it was hypnotic, the blinking. This is ridiculous! Either he was utterly exhausted or going out of his mind himself, for the blinking seemed to have a pattern. Pattern? Lee forced his memory to concentrate. Like the old Morse Code. Oh, címon Lee! Despite his logic, his emotions forced him to watch his memory. H--H-E-L- Damn! Heís been talking to us! H-e-l-p m-e. D-e-v-i-c-e w-i-l-l d-e-s-t-r-o-y w-o-r-l-d s-t-o-p d-a-l-e-s n-o-o-n W-e-d L-e-e h-e-l-p m-e h-e-l-p m-e.
"Thanks kid!" Lee exclaimed as he jumped from his seat and raced to the cockpit.
"Hey!" the stewardess exclaimed, " you canít do that! Get back to your seat sir! Weíre about to land!"
"So sue me! Iíve got to use the radio!"
"Look, itís a matter of vital-national importance! Tell the captain. Iím Captain Lee Crane and the president sent me on special assignment. Iíve just remembered something! Itís urgent!"
"Sure , sure, and Iím the queen of England!"
"Okay, Iíll check with the pilot. But stay here."
The four seconds it took to relay the crazy passengerís demand was agonizing for Lee, but either the captain was extremely understanding or as crazy as he was for he was summoned right away.
"I donít understand it, but in you go." The Stewardess stood aside as the cockpit door opened.
"Hey skipper! Whatís the scoop?"
"The one and only! But uh, Iím just the copilot, this is Captain Davis."
"Thank you captain, I need to use your radio."
"Itís all yours Captain."
Very quickly Lee was tied into Edithís homestead frequency. "Edith! Edith! Pick up damnit!"
"You have reached the digital answering service of..."
"Edith, blast it, turn off the answering machine and listen to me! The admiralís been trying to communicate with us! Edith!" fiddling with some switches, Lee continued, "Raymond? Get the president! I donít care if heís in the bathtub, get him! And Admiral Lake, and the FBI! Hurry!"
"Skipper, what is it?"
"The admiral. Heís not crazy! Dr. Dales is going to destroy the world! Heís got Nelson drugged or something, weíve got to rescue him and stop Dales! You got a jet I can borrow?" Lee asked of the pilot.
"Uh, thereís a concord...but...wait a minute, how about a stealth? We had a air show and may still be here" the pilot answered.
"Get it!" It was already Wednesday and time was running out.
"Now, admiral, in a little while, your implant will have a small shall we say, meltdown, and you really will be vegetable, of course, youíll be a dead vegetable, and join all your free men in whats left of the free world." Dr. Dales set some dials and switches on a control panel and laughed, leaving the paralyzed Nelson to witness the countdown to destruction.
The FBI thought Crane was a little crazy himself but they couldnít argue with his record, so an undercover maneuver was planned. They tried to talk Crane out of it, but he was adamant!
Riley was equally as determined and had quickly contacted Kowalski, Patterson, and wished he could have gotten Sharkey, but he was on Seaview.
Crane contacted Morton and explained the situation. If they couldnít stop the countdown of the big boom, Seaview was ordered to fire missiles at the sanatorium, even if it meant the admiralís death.
"Dr. Dales! Our contact says Crane knows!"
"Should we stop the countdown?"
"No. Let the gallant lad just try to stop us! Besides I have another idea."
It was too easy. Lee was apprehensive. It had all been too easy. Riley and Patterson had been discussed as orderlies and were supposed to pull the fire alarm while Lee and an agent were to find Nelson. Lee knew his room number so it shouldnít be too difficult. What was taking so long? "Somethingís wrong." Lee whispered to the agent.
"Of course it is!" the agent said grinning, "Hello boss," he said to Dales, and the large goup of armed guards.
"Lee? Lee?" Edith asked, of the beaten Crane.
"Ooh, I feel like a punching bag. Riley? Pat?"
"Over here skipper." Patterson called out from his vantage point of checking the cell for a way of escape.
"Any luck?"Lee asked.
"Wipe out." Riley came over. "What are we going to do now skipper?"
Before he could even think, the door opened and Crane was dragged off as were the others to Dr. Dales private offices.
"Well now my dear guests, are you ready to watch your dear admiral die? In just a little while, the implant in his brain will melt and then you will all continue as my subjects in my various little experiments."
Lee said nothing, trying to think of a way to distract the guards just long enough to... "Edith, Iím sorry, I know how much you hate cockroaches, but itís a big one and is crawling on your shoe."
Edith screamed and it gave the men a chance to rush Daleís and his guards. It was a short vicious fight and Edith locked the door against the other guards.
"Cut the power!" Lee ordered.
"No good skipper! Must be powered by something else."
Something else, something else... Crane noticed Daleís ring. It was flashing red in sync. with the computer console. Ripping it off Daleís finger he smashed it with a computer printer he hurled onto it. The machinery in the room crackled and sparked but the blinking countdown had stopped.
"It worked!" Riley exclaimed.
"Quiet down! The implant! Oh God how do we stop it ! Think Lee think! Admiral, how? Tell me?" Lee knelt before him.
D-o-n-t k-n-o-w Nelson blinked.
"Lee?" Edith pleaded.
"He doesnít know. Thereís got to be a way to stop it. There has to be! Implants, implants, wait...didnít he experiment with vision implants with that optician? They used light to signal....light...light....the penlight! They used short flashes to give command and long ones to turn the implant on and off! "Lee exclaimed grabbing it off the desk.
This could kill him as well as save him, but Lee had no choice. Dear God let it work.
Holding his breath, Lee turned the penlight on and kept in on, trying to hold his trembling hand steady with the other. It was the longest wait in Leeís life.
"L.Lee..."Nelson barely whispered, " It...itís about time," he said ghostly, weakly.
"Donít...donít be silly."
"As old as you as young as me," he replied weakly but with growing irritation and volume, " Now will you get me out of this blasted chair? And all these ropes?"
Lee flung the penlight away began to untie him. "Are you all right?" he asked gently.
"I...I will be," he grinned. "But I think we need to get out of here."
"Ohmigosh! the guards!" Edith exclaimed.
As if in answer, the door burst open but the real FBI agents entered, and quickly confirmed their validity.
"And so ladies and gentlemen," the newscaster reported, " While the Seaview didnít, her former captain did, saving the world from destruction yet again. As for Admiral Nelson, when asked how he felt about having been certified as crazy, he said heíd keep the official document as proof of his reputation!"
"And there were no complications from the removal of Dalesí implant. When asked if he needed anything, he said 'a good swift kick in the pants' for having doubted Craneís loyalty and friendship, and that Crane had acted just as he would have should their positions have been reversed. Duty, he said, is what all naval officerís are trained for, in spite of any personal feelings.
On the lighter side, the Craneís have remarried, and are busily making preparations in the undersea homestead for the arrival of their children, being released by Child Welfare with an apology for having made a hasty decision. The Craneís have also adopted a five year old boy Captain Crane met on an airline flight. The Seaview will retain her recommissioning and after a major overhaul directed by Admiral Nelson it will once again be the pride and joy of the now re-established Nelson Institute. Itís a forgone conclusion that the Wygate device in all military hardware has been altered and in some cases removed.
Just about every former crewmember has applied for reinstatement in Nelsonís employ, and Washington said goodbye to Lee Crane as he retakes command of the Seaview, with the regular navyís blessing.
As for the patients of Dr. Dales, Admiral Nelson has invited noted psychiatrists from around the world to re-examine all of them, as they may also have been victims of Daleís experiments.
Elsewhere in other news..."
"Roxie?" Nelson asked into the desk mike in his office, " Are Edith or Lee available?"
"I do not think they wish to communicate at this time master."
"Ah, yes, busy in the kelp beds, no doubt."
"No master, their own."
It was hard not to smirk.
"Master, I think you should summon a physician. they seem to spend and inordinate amount of time in bed and when I offer to examine them, they yell at me and tell me to go away. I am very confused."
"Roxie, I think we need to have a little talk."
Nelson turned off the mike and grinned. To the newlyweds, again. he raised his drink.
"Excuse me sir, hereís the picture you had me make from that old negative," his new secretary smiled.
"Thank you." Studying the photo Nelson had to laugh, for Leeís monster head was gone and Leeís was back, the group was smiling broadly, just like they all could, now.