Thanks for the Memories
Admiral Nelson seated himself across from Captain Dunston. The captain was cool and businesslike. Jiggs Stark sat down pensively next to Nelson, not liking the atmosphere in the meeting room instantly. He knew of Nelson’s dislike for bureaucrats, especially ONI bureaucrats.
"Well Capt. Dunston, is the ONI going to tell me why I’m here?" The note of exasperation in Nelson’s voice was clear. The commander of his submarine, Seaview, was missing and he had lost patience with this particular bureaucracy.
His men were waiting for sailing orders from him in their mission to protect the new undersea lab, Deepcore. There had been several attacks on the lab in recent weeks by an elusive enemy submarine.
"Admiral Nelson, "Dunston began, he cleared his throat loudly, "you are here because we would like to request your assistance in locating one of our operatives." Nelson listened carefully. It was not at all unusual for ONI to ask the Institute for help, but to have him brought here with an escort! There must be trouble!
"Admiral Nelson do you recognize either of the men in this photo?" Asked Dunston.
Nelson studied the photo it was a street scene there were two men conversing outside a bar, one of the men looked amazingly familiar. The dark hair and the way the long body held itself. It could only be one person. Yes, the man was Lee Crane! He looked from Stark to Dunston. How long they had known Cranes’ whereabouts he had no idea. But, he would be sure Stark knew how he felt about this kind of betrayal when they were alone! He had known where Crane was all the time and chose not to tell him.
He felt his anger starting to rise. Jiggs Stark saw the signs of the impending explosion and rushed to intercede.
"Harry, there is more," He brought out a photograph from his briefcase and handed it to Nelson.
"This man", he said pointing to the tall, slender brunette, "is obviously Lee Crane. You know that or I would not be here. All right, I’ve had enough! Are you going to tell me what this is all about or am I going to have to guess? My time is valuable gentlemen," he started to rise from his chair.
Stark placed a restraining hand on Nelson’s arm," Let him finish Harry", he urged. The admiral reluctantly settled back down into the seat beside him.
"Our intelligence in the People’s Republic reports that Captain Crane has completed his mission. However, we have not been in contact with him in over 48 hours," Dunston explained to Nelson. His tone insinuated unvoiced suspicions.
"Captain Dunston", Nelson began, controlling his anger with difficulty, "What the blazes was his mission and why wasn’t I consulted before my captain was approached for this assignment?" His voice rose as his irritation mounted. How could Crane have agreed to something like this without first consulting him?
"As you know the People’s Republic have developed a new Quantum class submarine, she has a full nuclear arsenal and is equipped with a revolutionary new defense system. This only rival for the size and power of this sub in the world is Seaview. An American scientist named James Webb has over seen the development of this sub. Two months ago Professor Webb contacted our people with an offer; the plans for the submarine and her defense system, in return for his return to this country, with full immunity, and 2 million Hong Kong dollars. Admiral, you must understand, we had no time to go through normal channels. It would be only a matter of days maybe hours before Chinese intelligence discovered his duplicity and arrested him. As to why your commander? Capt. Crane is familiar with Hong Kong and has established contacts within the underground from previous missions.
Nelson sat there and listened to the man. It made sense. Crane was extremely well qualified for the job. His espionage experience and fluent Chinese would make this mission much easier. However the timing of the whole matter was a problem. In order to arrive at Deepcore, the new undersea research lab, as scheduled, Seaview would have to sail without her skipper. Chip would command Seaview he was an extremely competent officer and had taken the con before.
He spoke quietly, knowing his words were damming the man that he called friend," Captain, you know we already have a mission. And even if we were available we have been unsuccessful in locating Capt.Crane."
"Crane and the professor have been injured in an auto accident just outside of Hong Kong. We can only assume that the agents of the Republic engineered the accident. One of the men was killed I’m afraid". Dunston said. At this news Nelson sat forward, anxiously awaiting the rest of the information, the unasked question on his lips. Dunston continued, "Since this accident we have received no word from our operatives in the area or Crane. Considering our options gentlemen, we must assume that Crane survived the accident and is in possession of the information we seek".
"Do you have word on Crane’s condition?" Nelson asked impatiently, " Is he able to continue on this mission should we locate him".
"Admiral Nelson, we believe that Capt. Crane’s injuries are relatively mild. What concerns us most now Lee Cranes’ failure to contact the embassy or any of our operatives and arrange for a way out of the country. I might add there’s the matter of the 2 million that disappeared at the same time that Webb was killed."
Nelson considered Dunston’s comments. It wasn’t like Crane to disappear this way. He was an experienced operative and was well aware of the obvious dangers of staying in the country once he was in possession of the blueprints of the submarine’s defenses. He didn’t like it. Crane looked healthy in the photo, but then, there was no way of knowing of when the photo was taken. Why would Lee go to ground?
Stark saw the worry flicker across Harriman Nelson’s face and knew that Nelson did not like the innuendo that Crane was possibly involved with the doctors death and the disappearance of the money. He and Crane were good friends, in reality more like brothers. He knew that this mission would be hard on Nelson, but if Crane was in trouble he also knew Nelson would want to be involved with helping him.
"All right Capt. Dunston, Seaview will leave immediately," Nelson said as he stood up and headed for the door.
Lee's first sensation was of pain. The darkness around him was persistent. When he moved his head to the left he was rewarded with a bright flash of pain. Quickly he decided that is was much wiser to remain still and wait for the discomfort to lessen. He was pleased to see the room come into focus around him. He was in a hospital, but where and why? His head reminded him of the why, as did the pain around his chest when he attempted a deep breath.
His rest the night before had been difficult; restless; disjointed dreams had haunted him most of the night. Faces passed in random order, there was a glimpse of a balding man in a dark suit lying in an alley surrounded by a pool of blood, a beautiful young blond woman smiling at him, the screech of car tires the sick thud of the car hitting the tree. He had begun to panic, nothing made sense, at that moment came, the man with auburn hair and bright blue eyes, suddenly he was the man in the car lying dead next to him. He awoke bathed in perspiration, breathing in ragged gasps; his stomach was in a knot. He was completely bewildered as to who these people were. He must know them, or at least know of them, but who they were or for that matter, who he was a complete mystery to him. Without knowing his identity he had no hope of figuring out who the others were. He lay in bed worrying that fact until exhaustion overtook him and sleep wove itself around him once again.
Nelson sat at his desk, leaning back in his chair, deep in thought. He lit a cigarette and idly fingered it over the ashtray. Why would Lee Crane fail to make contact with the embassy? He was certain that Crane wasn’t involved in the death of the professor and the disappearance of the 2 million. There could only be one reason Crane hadn’t made contact, he was in trouble. Lee Crane was one of those men who seemed to draw trouble to him like a magnet. He had met Lee Crane they served together on the Nautilus. He was an excellent commander and he was a talented and extremely innovative ONI agent. There had to be trouble. Perhaps he was hurt more seriously than was initially reported for the auto accident. When he and Sharkey went to meet with their contact perhaps it might be a good idea to take Jamison along. That’s IF, Crane was there to meet him.
There was a knock at his door, "Come", he called. Lt. Commander Chip Morton entered his cabin and stood by his desk his hands clasped behind his back.
"You wanted to see me Admiral?" he said.
"Yes Chip, what is our ETA to our rendezvous point?" Nelson asked.
"28 hours sir, any word on Lee?" Chip responded.
"None, none at all," Nelsons frustration and worry were clearly evident in his voice.
"Admiral, I’d like to request permission to come along when you go ashore, he began.
"I’m sorry Chip, but I need you here. I need to know that Seaview is safe. You’re the best person for that job." And that was the truth of the matter he thought. Chip Morton was a fine officer. His loyalty to Crane and himself was unquestioned. He had tried to encourage Morton to pursue a command of his own but he wouldn’t hear of it.
"But, sir. I know Lee, I know the way he works when he’s on the job," Morton said quietly, not wanting to sound as desperate as he felt. He and Lee Crane had known each other since Annapolis, their friendship was genuine and he felt he owed it to his friend to go along with Nelson. If Lee was in trouble he wanted to be there to help him. "Besides, we are still in international waters, there should be no threat to Seaview in these waters. Bobby O’Brian should be able to handle the situation here."
Nelson considered his words. Morton made a very convincing argument. He blond haired man knew Lee’s various ‘cover’ names and disguises. Only he and Nelson were familiar with these names on the false passports that Crane held for these assignments. These false identities had come in very handy at several times in the past.
"Alright Chip, you win. Brief Mr. O’Brian on the situation, I don’t want any slip-ups. We leave at 1500 tomorrow in the flying sub," Then as Chip turned to leave he said, "Oh, and Chip please tell Chief Sharkey to stand down from the mission tomorrow. It’ll be just you, me and Dr. Jamison"
"Yes sir," Chip said with a smile. As Chip left the Admiral's cabin he couldn’t help but smile at what he knew Sharkey’s reaction would be to the news. He was not going to be happy with this turn of developments!
The pain had lessened to a dull ache the next time he woke. Opening his eyes he could see the room around him. The I.V. in his arm was on an intravenous pump and it made a hum as it ran keeping the fluid entering his system. There was a large window in his room and he could see the ocean from his bed. He had always loved the ocean.
The door opened, and a woman wearing a white lab coat entered the room. "So you’re finally awake!"
‘How do you feel?" the doctor asked.
That was a fair question he thought as he took a mental inventory of his condition. Although his head has ceased its painful throbbing it was still quite painful to move his head. His chest felt tight and it was difficult to take a deep breath. Still, he did feel better than he did last time he had awakened.
"Much better thank you," he said in a small voice. It was difficult to get enough breath to speak very loudly.
"Well, lets take a look at you," she said taking out here stethoscope and placing it on his chest. As she continued her examination, she continued to speculate on his condition. "It is possible that you will regain your memory completely. This kind of memory loss is a very common complication of a brain concussion."
Suddenly, it occurred to him that there might be a clue to his identity or the identity to people in his dream in his clothes. "Doctor, can I see the clothes I was wearing when I was brought in?" he asked.
"Why, yes of course. I’ll have the nurse find them for you," she said.
His clothes were found and brought to his room. His clothes had smudges of dirt and blood on them but they were intact. The pockets of his dark slacks were empty. Disappointment crashed down on him. He needed to find out who the man was that had died in the car with him and who was man bleeding in the alleyway? He bundled up the clothing and tossed it onto the floor in frustration.
Later that morning the doctor finished her exam and retaped his ribs with ace bandaging. She had dark hair and eyes indigenous to that part of the world. She said, "You are a very lucky man. Your friend that was in the car with you was killed. I hope he wasn’t a very close friend," she said sympathetically. There was something about this young man she liked. Hopefully the police would be able to help him find his memory.
"I’m not sure if he was or not," he said searching his memory for the friend that was killed in the auto accident. Suddenly, the stocky man with auburn hair flashed through his mind and an inexplicable feeling of overwhelming loss came over him. This was the man who had appeared in his dreams. To find that he had been killed was devastating. He turned his head and gazed out the window at the sea with misty eyes and an aching in his throat.
"You will be released this afternoon, but before you discharged from the hospital it will be necessary for the police to interview you regarding your accident. Until then try to get some rest," she said firmly. She gently patted him on the shoulder as she left the room.
Seeing his distress the doctor left him alone with his thoughts.
Crane’s stomach tied into a knot at the mention of the police. He needed to leave there immediately. He could not be found by the police. His panic grew as his slowly climbed out of his bed and into the clothing that had been brought into the room just a few minutes before.
He had heard that phrase repeat in his mind. 'Get some rest'. His hands shook as he buttoned his shirt, the need to escape burning in his mind. Why he needed to escape wasn’t important now, he would figure that out later. His ribs ached and his vision blurred and then came back into fuzzy focus. Too soon, he told himself. Slow down. He leaned on the bed taking slow shallow breaths so as not to aggravate the injury to his ribs. The world came back into sharp focus. Walking quickly to the door he opened it, checked that the hallway was clear. He walked out quietly, into a city he didn’t remember. That there was something important he was supposed to do…
Having escaped the hospital and its potential hazards he felt a pang of regret. His doctor had been good to him and he wished he had thanked her instead of abruptly disappearing. He hoped the police would not think that she had helped him escape.
He took stock of his situation; very good he thought sarcastically, got yourself into a mess this time didn’t you Lee. A horrible thought hit him; did he kill the man in the alley? Was that the reason he had run from the police? Wait a moment, Lee he had used his name, Lee. Relief pulsed through him fueled by adrenaline. Pushing self-doubt from his mind he moved on. It would be night soon and he needed food and shelter. He moved quickly down the crowded street.
The flying sub landed a small bay off the coast. Morton landed the craft under a small outcropping, where it would be safe from sonar. Nelson, Jamison and Morton went ashore in a small inflatable leaving Kowalski to guard the flying sub. Once ashore the inflatable was safely hidden and they proceeded to the first prearranged rendezvous point Lee had set up with his ONI contact. There had been three of these points set up in case of trouble. It was common practice among operative of the ONI to set up secondary meeting places in case of trouble.
The rendezvous point was at a secluded pier just south of the city. It was located close to the city and escape would be difficult if they were caught. As they approached the pier they saw a lone figure standing on the pier. As the small group got closer to the pier they could see that it wasn’t Crane. The figure was too small, the build much too light to be Crane. There were police at the end of the pier and a few more in the street leading to it. It was a trap. Obviously, Crane’s cover had been compromised; the local law was onto them, but how?
Lee began walking and found himself wandering toward the sea. There were police everywhere, he found himself darting in and out of small shops in order to avoid attention by the local law.
The street was crowded with people and the noise that accompanied the large population was deafening. The pain in his head was returning with promise of a killer headache soon. He needed to find a place to rest. The sea seemed to hold the answers. Everything started and ended there. It was his future, he was sure of it. After walking for what seemed like hours he was finally there, the ocean.
Without realizing it he had walked the short distance to the port area of the city. The persistent waves seemed to instill a peace in him he couldn’t seem to find in the hospital. But still he was haunted by the faces, who was the man with the auburn hair and blue eyes that seemed to smile at him? Why was he in the car with him, where were they going? He couldn’t remember this man’s name but he knew he had lost a very good friend? He knew now that the accident had been an attempt on his life. The car had been forced from the road and into the tree. This realization didn’t seem to deaden his sense of loss. He walked until he found a deserted portion of beach, laid down carefully to protect his aching ribs and fell asleep on the warm sand.
It was still dark when he was awakened by a gentle shaking of his shoulder. He came fully awake instantly. He opened his eyes to find a small man with black hair and eyes much the same as his doctor had had looking at him with an intense expression of concern.
"Captain, you’ve given us quite a start, we’ve been looking for you for hours," he said. Seeing Crane struggling to sit up he went on, "Luckily for you, the family that found you is part of the resistance or you would be dead by now."
"You’ve been looking for me you say?" Lee said suddenly suspicious, "who are you and who did you say you worked for?"
"Captain, we don’t have time for this," he said as he looked around him as if expecting to find someone about to attack them. "My name is Lo Se Quaong, I was sent to find you by the underground here in the city. We had a meeting waiting for you after you had been discharged from the hospital. We did not realize you had left quite so abruptly on you own. Once we found out you were no longer in the hospital we sent out people to find you. Please Captain, it is not safe here we must go," he took Lee’s arm and attempted to lead him toward the city.
Lee pulled his arm for the smaller man’s grasp, "Why, why do you want to help me," he demanded, still unconvinced.
"You were sent here by your government to get your American scientist out of my country, but our secret police found out about your plan. You were injured, the scientist killed, when your car burned. I am one of those in the underground assigned to help you," he said desperately still pulling a Crane’s arm.Crane finally acquiesced and followed the man toward the city lights, and hopefully safety.
Under the cover of night they kept moving through the city at a steady pace, Crane’s ribs began to ache as the pace took its toll on his battered body. Finally, they entered a dark, crowded portion of the city by the warfs. There were hundreds of small sampans crowding the harbor with a result, hundreds of small lights shown in the distance. They boarded a small launch and were spirited away quietly from the dock.
The launch found its way around the floating city to a large wooden boat that was completely unlit except for one lantern at its bow. They quickly transferred to the larger boat and the small launch quickly disappeared into the night.
Chip, Nelson and Jamison had carefully extricated themselves from the pier area. Moving casually in an effort to avoid undue attention from the authorities they walked at a leisurely rate. Chip couldn’t was concerned for his captain’s safety. If Lee were able to, he would have been at the rendezvous point. Not only that, but the presence of the police at the rendezvous point indicated that the authorities knew that Webb had decided to defect with his secrets. They moved along quietly, their moods dark, it was not looking good for their captain.
The next rendezvous time was three hours away. They would meet a representative from the underground would lead them to the second rendezvous point. Nelson’s face was etched in concern destination. If they couldn’t locate Crane in the next 24 hours Crane would certainly be captured and be shot as a spy. Without warning a car pulled up beside them and three figures jumped out of a large sedan and they were forced inside.
Nelson was pushed into the car first, followed by Jamison and then Chip. The car sped away from the curb with a squeal. A woman turned around to face them from the front seat. She considered them for a moment and then said, "Gentlemen, I am sorry for the abrupt manner, in which you were invited to join us, however, we could not be sure you would trust us. I and my friends are with the underground, I have been instructed to take you to the secondary rendezvous point so that you may make contact with your Captain Crane."
Nelson listened to her explanation of their sudden departure with relief. For a moment he thought they had been picked up by the secret police.
"Do you have any information on the whereabouts of Capt. Crane?" he asked as he lit a cigarette.
"Your captain was last seen in the city hospital where he was taken after his accident. I must tell you, gentlemen, that the accident in which your friend was in ,was in fact , an attempt on his life. The secret police know of Dr. Webb’s intention and were intent on stopping him from relaying his secrets to the west. Dr. Webb was killed in the car accident and the underground agent we had assigned to him was shot and killed near the accident. We have people out trying to locate him now Admiral."
The car had turned and was heading toward the bay once more. They stopped at the wharf and were guided into a small launch. The launch pulled up next to a large sampan in the center of the harbor.
Turning from the ocean at a sound behind him Lee came face to face with the very same man that was supposed to be dead. It had to be the same man. The shape of the face, the eyes. Yes, the eyes, the blue eyes that seemed to look right into his soul. The shock was too much; he stumbled back in surprise, suddenly the pressure behind his eyes exploded into a dull pain. His legs were suddenly unable to hold him upright and he started to fall. Arms caught him and lowered him gently to the ground.
"Jamie…" he heard a familiar voice, urgent, "Easy Lee, take it easy" the older man soothed. Lee struggled to get his bearings. He opened his eyes and immediately shut them as the pain threatened to pull him into darkness.
"Come on Lee, don’t black out on us now. Stay here with us," this time the voice belonged to another. He opened his eyes despite the pain and was rewarded with a bright, relieved grin from a young blond man in his early 30’s. The blond man disappeared from his field of vision and was replaced with the face of another man who older and had thinning hair.
After a brief exam, he produced a syringe. He felt the sting in his arm too late. He started to panic, had he been wrong to instinctively trust these men? He began to struggle to escape.
"No" he said loudly. He struggled to get his legs back underneath him. With strength born of fear and panic he struck out pushing the older man to the ground. He hit hard.
"What was that you gave me?" Lee exclaimed, his voice rising in alarm.
The man with auburn hair came toward him moving slowly, his hands in front of him in a gesture of supplication. His voice quiet he said, "Lee, what is it lad? Lee, damnit talk to me, what’s wrong! The doc gave you something to ease the pain."
What was wrong indeed? His whole world was out of control! Suddenly he began to feel fuzzy, his ribs ached horribly, legs wouldn’t work and he felt himself falling again; and again, unseen hands caught him and lowered him gently to the ground. The last thing he heard were the words contacts the flying sub for immediate rendezvous with this location.
The trip back to Seaview was more difficult than Chip had thought possible. Lee was in worse shape that they had anticipated. He didn’t seem to recognize either he or the admiral at all. This made convincing him to go with them very difficult. Initially, he was hesitant to let them near. His body language expressing fear and distrust. Finally he had been convinced by Jamie's syringe. Chip had seen his friend under many circumstances during their long friendship. He and Crane had been classmates at Annapolis, during their service on the Seaview they had been through a lot together. Chip had never seen him look so utterly lost and exhausted.
Crane was confused. Who these men were was a mystery at this moment to him. Although the initial meeting had been abrupt, even violent, now they seemed solicitous and concerned about his comfort. His gaze kept straying back to the older man, this is the man from the dream, the one he'd thought was dead. He was so sure that the man with the older man with his bright blue eyes had been dead, the loss of a friend he didn’t even remember was still fresh in his memory. He was mildly embarrassed at his reaction to the men on the pier, he wasn’t sure what he had done but he was fairly sure he’d reacted badly to the shock of seeing the older man's face.
The trip to the flying sub in the launch was comforting. The breeze blew through his short black hair; it felt good on his face. It smelled for the ocean. He felt at home. Somehow he belonged here, with these men. These men were his friends he was confident of that. However, he was confident about very little else at the moment.
Once inside the flying sub ,Nelson insisted on Lee reclining in the bunk. He didn’t like the way Crane had responded to their arrival.
Despite the fact that Lee had recovered from the mild sedative Jamison had given him more than an hour ago, he hadn’t uttered a word. He lay quietly in the flying sub, his arms wrapped around his torso considering his circumstances. He watched the preparations for departure that the admiral and Chip were making. His face was gray with exhaustion and he didn’t move away when Jamie took his pulse. Lee hated to be fussed over and yet he sat there quietly as Jamison adjusted the blanket around his shoulders one more time. Too distracted by the turn in events to pay attention to Jamisons' activities.
As the flying sub approached the prearranged coordinates the graceful submarine loomed in the dark distance as if she were waiting to welcome her family back home. Even from that great distance, she was still incredibly large for a submarine. She was twice the size of the standard size nuclear sub of her time. Her transparent nose emitted light into the murky darkness illuminating the sub as it docked.
Once on board, Nelson took command and got Seaview underway, as Jamison supervised Cranes' move to sickbay. However, by this time Crane had had time to recoup and was rebelling at the constant ministrations of the doctor. It was a good sign; this was more in keeping with Crane’s reputation as an awful patient.
"I’m fine Jamie, really, I can walk," he exclaimed quietly in response to Jamisons’ request for a stretcher. At Crane’s comment, Jamison’s eyes met the Admiral's. No one had told the captain the doctors’ name. It was encouraging. He seemed to be becoming more lucid and oriented.
Nelson walked forward, sizing up Crane as he did. After a moment he put his hands in his pockets and said," Alright Lee, no stretcher but you’re still going to sickbay, I want the doc to check you over."
Once on board Crane’s body language seemed to be changing. His posture straightened and he no longer hugged his torso, the doctor turned to the intercom and cancelled the stretcher. He put he hand on Cranes’ arm and guided him toward the rear entrance of the control room and to sickbay lying beyond.
"Sir" began Chip Morton "Permission to…"
"Yes, but keep me updated on his condition and return to the sickbay as soon as possible Chip?" Nelson interrupted. The admiral was busy giving orders to get underway and chart their course to Deepcore.
"Aye, Aye sir" Morton said smiling. He left the control room quickly following after his captain and the doctor.
When Morton arrived in Sickbay, Lee was sitting on the examination table in the center of the room and Jamison was untaping the bandage around his ribs. He was already dressed in blue pajamas that Jamison had supplied from stores. Jamison wouldn’t be happy until he evaluated Crane’s condition for himself. Chip was surprised that Lee had been discharged from the hospital considering the amount of damage he surveyed, as the bandage around his ribs was removed. As the bandage disappeared Jamison started to palpate the right side of his torso where there were several large purple black bruises. Crane grunted in pain and started to move away, only to be held in place by Jamisons’ restraining hand on his shoulder.
Deciding to get Lee’s mind off the examination ,Chip said ,"Lee, how are you feeling?
There was no response, then slowly, the captain turned to the blond man sitting next to him and asked, "We know each other." It wasn’t so much as question as it was a statement of fact.
"Yes, Lee we’re good friends" he said hoping the additional information would help jog his friends memory.
"I’m sorry," Crane said feeling awkward, "your name is…?"
Morton smiled reassuringly, realizing how disconcerting this must be for Lee, he said," Chip, my name is Chip Morton. I’m your exec."
Crane furrowed his brow in concentration there was something he should tell this man. Instead he asked," The admiral? I know him too, don’t I?" he spoke, his voice tinged with concern. Lee shook his head, the effects of the sedative and the shock beginning to surface.
"You know us both Lee, the admirals’ name is Nelson, Harriman Nelson. You and he have known each other just about as long as you and I have. You are the captain of this submarine we are on now, her name is Seaview" he said watching Cranes face for any flicker of familiarity.
His friend and captain seemed to soak in the information. However, his face showed no sign of recognition. Chip suddenly realized that the Cranes’ sudden improvement was an instinctual response to being back on the sub. It had been an unconscious display for the crew. Still, he had known Jamie’s name…
"Mr. Morton that’s enough," doc said as he guided Crane to a bunk and helped him sit down on it. He had re wrapped Crane’s ribs and was intent on getting him into bed, "I think we should let the skipper rest, you can continue this conversation in the morning"
"Doc how is he?" Chip asked
"Lets talk in my office" Jamison said as he saw Crane settle down into the bunk. He put his hand on Chips should as they walked into his office.
"Well Jamie? What’s wrong with him?" Chip said anxiously.
"He’s going to be alright Chip. He has a severe concussion, I believe the memory loss and confusion he experiencing is a result of the swelling from the concussion; as the swelling goes down I believe his memory will return. I can treat him with a medication that will help alleviate the swelling. As for his other injuries, he has two cracked ribs and an assortment of bruises to be expected from an auto accident." Jamie said.
When he looked back in on Crane to say good bye Crane was already fast asleep in the bunk. "Thanks a lot doc," he said smiling at Jamison relief evident in his voice. With that he left sickbay, on his way to update Admiral Nelson on Lee’s condition.
Nelson lay on his side in his bed trying to relax. After Morton had returned with information on Lee’s condition, they had plotted a course to Deepcore and were heading there at flank speed. They would be there in approximately 10 hours. He had sent Morton to his cabin with strict instructions to get some sleep and they had left Mr. O’Brian with the con.
He needed sleep, he was tired. However, he was worrying about Lee Crane and the mission. Without the information that Crane carried there was a strong possibility that their mission would fail and every man on Seaview could be killed. The sub they were tracking was a powerful, cunning enemy; they desperately needed the plans for enemy subs defenses in order to defeat her. Surrendering, he sighed deeply and got out of bed, dressed and headed to the galley for a cup of coffee.
Instead of the galley the admiral found himself in sickbay. The room was darkened to shadows with as he walked in he went to Lee’s bunk and looked down. Expecting to find his captain sound asleep he was surprised to find that he was awake.
The sub was quiet; the sound of the gentle thrumming of the engines was heard throughout the ship at this time of night. He eyes studying the ceiling of the sickbay as he tried to put together the last 36 hours in his head. This place was familiar, with its smell of antiseptic and white walls it could only be sickbay; he was a guest here again ,he thought with disgust. The IV in his arm made getting comfortable difficult, there were two lines piggybacked into one large one infusing into his left elbow. Some of his memories were clearer now, he was confident that that he served on this boat with Chip as his exec and that Admiral Nelson was his superior. However, he still hadn’t been able to place who the man in the car was or the dead man in the alley! What he needed were some answers. If he knew what he was doing in the Republic in the first place… He turned his head at the motion beside him and found that he was looking up into a pair of bright blue eyes that had surprised him just hours before. They belonged to Admiral Harriman Nelson. As he turned his head at a movement to his left and was rewarded with pain. His headache returned so suddenly it took his breath away and caused his eyes to close momentarily.
Concerned, Nelson said, "Lee what is it?"
There was that name again, it felt right this time, yes, that’s my name, he thought with satisfaction, it was progress!
Crane responded to the concern in the older mans voice. "Its alright, just a headache," he said quietly, as he rubbed his forehead with his hand.
Nelson sat down. Jamison was off duty and the corpsman was restocking the supply room. He needed to speak with Crane and this seemed as good a time as any.
"Welcome back Lee," the admiral said warmly.
"Thanks admiral," Crane responded, sliding unconsciously into the easy companionship they shared. He struggled to sit up; this was his chance to get some answers the questions that had been plaguing him! "Admiral Nelson, was there any word on the man that was found in the car with me?"
Not yet Lee, we have a more important problem to deal with first."
"Lee, it is vital that we have access to the defense plans that Webb was to have given you." Nelson said. "The plans were essential if they were to protect the undersea lab. The new submarine's defense system the enemy has developed could deflect any torpedo fired at it. Without the key to their defenses we could lose Seaview."
"I’m sorry admiral. I get flashes of recollection and then it’s snatched away," Lee said frustration clearly audible in his voice. He had started to twist the signet ring on his hand. A sure sign that he was disturbed by this turn of events. He stared at Nelson, brown eyes met blue, he knew this man, and they had known each other a long time he was sure of it. The older man in front of him frowned in concern.
Lee tried to think, to force his tired mind remember but exhaustion was making it hard for him. All he wanted to do at this moment was lay his head down until the headache receded. He rubbed his temple with his right hand, hoping that massaging the area would bring the renewed aching under control.
"I really don’t remember. It’s all very mixed up, I remember waking up in a hospital, and then there’s something about a car accident." He looked Nelson, not meeting his eyes, he went on, more quietly this time, "someone was in the car with me, the staff at the hospital said the other man didn’t make it. After that there’s flashes of things that make not sense," his voice sounded frustrated. His ran his hand over his face.
The admiral, seeing that Crane was exhausted stood up to leave. "Lee, get some rest, we’ll work on it in the morning."
As the admiral neared the exit he heard Cranes' voice from where he had just laid down in his bunk. " The car wreck wasn’t an accident admiral. We were forced off the road."
Nelson turned, he couldn’t see Cranes' face in the shadows, Lee’s voice was unreadable as he went on, "and I thought the dead man in the car with me was you."
Suddenly Crane’s reaction to seeing him made more sense. Nelson turned and walked slowly to the bunk in which Crane lay. However, when he got close enough to see his face the captain of his submarine was already fast asleep on his side, his head resting on his arm.
Nelson said, "goodnight captain," with a slight smile and left sickbay heading back to his cabin, coffee forgotten.
Crane stared at him taking in the familiar shape of his face his eyes the pale blond hair. CHIP! I know his name! he thought. His eyes closed involuntarily, the headache was definitely still there, but it was getting better.
"Good morning Mr. Morton," Crane said with a small smug smile on his face. He was sitting on the edge of a bunk dressed in a clean uniform. The intravenous line was gone and Crane’s color had returned.
Chip had taken several more steps into the room before he realized the importance of Cranes greeting. A broad smile lit up his youthful face. "Good morning Lee, I see your memory is returning!"
Chip turned to Jamison as the doctor entered sickbay; "How’s your favorite patient Doc?" he said cheerfully.
Crane sat quietly listening to the exchange between Jamison and Chip, talking about him as if he wasn’t there. When he woke up this morning he found if he didn’t work very hard at remembering things, memories back to him voluntarily, like Admiral Nelson’s name and his submarine, Seaview. Jamie had counseled him not to push it, if he were to put too much emphasis on remembering it would just make things harder. Still, it was damn aggravating not to mention embarrassing to have people speak to you as if they know you and not to be able to respond.
"Well" Chip said, obviously pleased with Jamison's decision to release his friend from sickbay, but he was ordered to bed rest with only light activity, as his smile widened into a broad grin. Chip said, "this calls for a celebration, how about some breakfast?"
Crane and Morton were just heading out of sickbay when Morton was called to the control room.
Nelson and Morton entered the control room virtually at the same moment. Morton stepped aside to allow his superior to enter the room to avoid collision. As they entered the control room O’Brian briefed them. "There’s been a shadow trailing us for about 20 minutes now Admiral, at first we thought it was just a biologic, but it has followed us despite all of our evasive maneuvers. We can’t seem to shake them off our tail. We can’t get a clear fix on it, what ever it is, they’re smart enough to stay in our baffles to avoid detection"
Morton jumped to the intercom, clicking it twice to clear it. "Helm, take her down to 200 feet. What’s our depth here Patterson?"
"500 feet sir." Patterson said, ready with the depth, anticipating his superiors query.
"Correction, down bubble 15 degrees down bubble. Take here down to 400 feet." Morton ordered as he glanced at the admiral for confirmation of his order and saw agreement in his superior’s eyes. They were in trouble they needed to shake that boat off their tail!
Admiral Nelson studied sonar intently, moving to the charting table he studied Seaview's position. Chip Morton saw the Admirals movement and followed him to the charting table. Turning to Chip, Nelson said, "Mr. Morton there’s a large mountain range about two miles from here lets run for it, and perhaps we can loose our friends back there in the underwater canyons in that area!"
"Aye aye sir" Chip said, turning to navigation he ordered, "come to heading 110 relative all ahead flank!"
As the submarine sped downward in a steep graceful dive toward the safety of the underwater canyons below, Crane had entered the control room and quietly stood just behind the periscope island watching the activity the heart of his submarine. When he had left sickbay with Chip he had felt fine, now however his headache was returning despite the pain killers doc had given him just hours before. He moved slowly toward Kowalski working at the sonar array and watched the steady beep on the screen that signified surface contact. From the size of the sonar blip their enemy was extremely large for a submarine, almost a large a Seaview.
Suddenly Kowalski called out, " Admiral, Mr. Morton!Torpedoes in the water starboard side sir! They’re headed right for us!"
Nelson turned to navigation, "Ten degrees to port now!" he ordered.
They were deep enough now, tall, imposing canyon walls surrounded them. The torpedoes made impact with the canyon wall to the left of their intended target. The boat rocked with the impact of the nearby detonation and the impact of flying rock against her hull. Inside the great submarine the men in the control room were thrown to the floor by the violent explosion. As the submarine gradually regained her trim and equilibrium the men of the control room picked themselves up from the floor and regained their stations.
As the admiral picked himself up from a particularly hard place on the floor where he had landed, he heard a familiar voice on the intercom.
"Damage control, report!" the familiar voice ordered.
"Sir, we have water in compartments 34 and 35 but we think we can get it under control. Starboard ballast tanks are jammed."
"Alright, get a repair team on it right away," Crane ordered. He turned around to meet Nelson's amazed glare.
"Captain Crane, did Dr...." he stopped himself in midsentence realizing its futility. The captain of his ship glared back at him with grim determination in his eyes.
Crane placed his hands on the charting table and leaned forward toward Nelson. " Admiral, I think I can help," he said urgently.
"All right, all right" the admiral said in frustration " but Chip still has the con ,is that clear captain? At Cranes' vigorous nod he said, "Now, lets back to work solving the more pressing problem gentlemen. We have an enemy sub on our tail who would like to see us destroyed!"
Deeply relieved that the admiral would not oppose his presence Lee said "Admiral, Seaview is safe for the moment, that enemy sub can’t follow us down here. Their captain won’t take a chance on these canyon walls caving in on him, the explosion has made the whole region unstable!" Crane said.
At that moment the repair party contacted the control room to report that the flooding had been controlled. However, the ballast tank would take at least 3 hours to repair.
"You may well be right there", the admiral said speculatively, he put his hand in his pocket and walked to the nose of his sub, "however, we cannot remain here for the same reason. Chip ahead one third, keep her at this depth, sonar do we have contact with the enemy sub?"
"Yes Sir" said Kowalski, "she moving again though sir, she’s directly overhead and moving at flank speed. It looks as though she intends to head us off at the end of his canyon sir!"
Crane listened to Kowalski’s announcement with dread. Yes, her intention was to meet them at the end of the canyon. Once the two great vessels met, Seaview’s weapons would be useless against her! The headache was worsening, his brow beaded with perspiration. He leaned heavily on the charting table and took a swipe at his brow with the back of his hand.
"Chip.." Lee gasped, from the pain and from dizziness; disjointed pictures flashed through his mind in rapid succession! It was too much. He sunk down onto the steps of the periscope island, his eyes closed against the onslaught, his head in his hands. Chip turned in time to see his friend slide down backwards away from the charting table. He rushed to his side, leaned over and grabbed the microphone to call for help. Crane caught his wrist and said, " No Chip, I’m alright," he said. Although he most certainly feel all right he was not going to leave the control room until his submarine was safe!
He started to rise with Chip’s help, "Admiral ,"he said to his commanding officer. "You can’t hope to win against that sub. She’s surrounded by an electromagnetic field that protects her from enemy attack!"
"I wondered when you would start to remember the information Webb had passed on. He was a brilliant scientist this kind of breakthrough doesn’t surprise me one bit. The institute has been toying with electromagnetic technology for some time now" the admiral said as he leaned forward to help steady his captain.
He took Lee by the arm and led him to the nose of the submarine and guided him gently into a chair. "Lee, can you tell us anything else?" Nelson said with a calm he didn’t feel. He didn’t want to pressure Crane for fear of his memories of the plans of the enemy sub would become clouded with anxiety. Stress of this kind could endanger the progress his friend had made so far.
"Admiral, the field surrounding the sub is generated by a computer driven generator in the rear of the sub, "Crane said, feeling more confident now.
"Is there a way to disable the field Lee?"
"There is a security code that must be entered to disable the field sir," Lee said quietly, he was rubbing his temple with his left hand in an effort to alleviate the discomfort was intensifying exponentially.
"A code eh...hmm" said Nelson thoughtfully, as he walked quickly to the large computer that dominated the control room, its lights blinked furiously. He punched a few buttons and a piece of paper was spit out into his waiting hand.
"Just as I thought," he said as a small smile lit up his handsome features. Nelson walked over to the microphone and said, "Missile room, ready torpedoes 1 and 4."
After receiving an affirmative reply from Sharkey in the missile room, he walked quickly back to the nose of the sub, pulled a chair up beside his friend and said," Lee do you know what the code is? This is very important! " He needed that code; he could deliver the code to the enemy computer via AMRAC the large compute that helped run Seaview. The new infrared computer modem had just been installed to enable the vessel to receive transmissions while submerged.
"Yes, here, on the inside of my ring" he said as he took the ring off and handed it to the admiral, "I found it last night, I didn’t realize what it was until a moment ago."
Nelson took the ring in his hand and read the 6-digit code etched into the class ring of his friend. It made sense to put it there; this was the only item that never left the captain’s possession.
The submarine Seaview was approaching the end of the canyon she had entered just a few short minutes before, she was moving slowly and as expected the enemy submarine was there waiting for her. Crane held his breath as he saw the submarine; it was equally as large as Seaview and it had a glass nose just as Seaview had!
"Sparks, contact our friend out there and tell them I would like to speak to their captain." Admiral Nelson said as he quickly made his way to the radio shack.
"Sir, they are not answering our hail," Sparks said after a moment, twisting dials to try different frequencies but to no avail.
"Very well," the admiral said as he hurried back to the computer.
"Sir," Chip called from where he stood over the hydrophone array, "sounds of torpedo doors opening she’s getting ready to fire!"
After what seemed like an eternity the admiral finished, turned quickly to the microphone and called" Fire 1 Chief!"
The crew of the control room watched as the torpedo sped toward the waiting submarine, only to have the torpedo explode against an invisible barrier before it hit its target.
Oh my god, it didn’t work! thought Chip as he listened intently to the hydrophone. Suddenly there was a loud whoosh. "Admiral, torpedoes in the water," He called out urgently.
Suddenly Crane was at the charting table, microphone in his hand, "Helm all back full, all hands brace for explosion!" If they were fast enough perhaps they could use the bend in the canyon wall to as cover from the torpedo. The seconds ticked by slowly the control room was ominously silent. Then impossibly, an explosion shook the boat! The tactical ploy had worked! For the second time that day the undersea mountain range had saved their lives.
"Captain, the enemy sub is advancing on us," called Kowalski from sonar.
"Helm all stop," Crane ordered, the danger of backing into the canyon wall behind them was very real, there was no way out of the canyon except for straight ahead.
"Admiral, we have no where to maneuver, they have us dead to rights," His expression was unreadable.
Instead of responding to Cranes' call, Nelson raised the microphone once again clicked it twice to clear it and said, "Missile room fire four!"
The missile hit the enemy ship dead on; once again the undersea mountain range shook with the force of missile explosion. The explosion shook the walls of the canyon and rock and debris rained down on the Seaview. The ship shook with the concussion of the blast and Nelson realized ruefully that he had found the other hard spot in the control room floor.
Cursing silently under his breath, Admiral Nelson picked himself up from the floor as his captain called for a damage report and the exec dispatched rescue parties to look for survivors from the enemy submarine. Fortunately, for them there had been no serious damage done to the already badly abused submarine, or her captain.
One look at Lee told Nelson that he needed rest; he was about to order Chip Morton to escort the captain to his cabin when Jamison burst through the rear entrance of the control room under full steam. He must have heard Cranes' voice requesting damage report via the intercom.
Crane observed the entrance of the doctor with a mixture of irritation and relief. Although he was happy to be back in control of his ship, his ribs ached terribly as a result of his connection with the control room floor after the last missile explosion concussion. He was holding himself upright by what he hoped appeared to onlookers as casually leaning on the charting table. Lee could see the doctor was not fooled by his attempted deception.
"Captain Crane, you were released from sickbay, however you were not cleared for active duty along side to take command of this ship," said Jamison in a tone that would brook no argument. He saw right through Cranes subterfuge, suddenly realizing that he was hurting, but not wanting to show it to his men in the control room Jamison, continued on in calmer tone of voice, "Captain, you have earned yourself another visit to sickbay please report as soon as possible." With that he exchanged concerned glances with the admiral and walked from the control room.
Nelson could see his junior officer was looking for a graceful way to extricate himself from this awkward situation. Nelson knew Crane did not want to show exactly how badly he was feeling to the crew. He didn’t want to alarm them. The captain of Seaview was pale and perspiration beaded his brow, he didn’t look like he would make it from the room by himself, besides making it all the way to the sickbay. The men in the control room looked at him expectantly.
"Alright, pull your selves together," Capt. Lee Crane said in exasperation. The men dutifully went back to their assigned tasks.
Much to Crane’s relief, Admiral Nelson walked over to the charting table, firming clasping an arm around his captains shoulders, he guided him slowly to the exit of the control room, following the route of the preceding doctor’s exit, as he said, "Congratulations Lee, fine job, I’d like to discuss this mission with you in my cabin," Nelson's strength was surprising, although shorter than Crane he had the physical strength to support Crane upright until they were out of the control room and to sickbay.
Once in sickbay, Crane dislodged Nelson’s support and sagged slightly against the examining table. Nelson turned to call Jamison, however the doctor was already heading their way under full steam.
He glanced at Nelson and muttered something about 'officers' and their 'deluded sense of immortality'. Nelson smothered a smile, if Jamison was complaining about Crane that meant he didn’t consider Crane’s condition serious. He observed as the doctor did a thorough exam of his friend. Once finished with his exam, he put his stethoscope in his lab coat pocket and looked very seriously at his captain.
"I can give you a choice Lee; you can go to your cabin and take it easy for the next couple of days or you can stay here in sickbay where I can keep an eye on you," said Jamison with a suspicious gleam in his eye. Crane tensed, whenever Jamison used is given name it usually meant he was playing hardball, he would brook no argument.
Noticing with pleasure that his young friend knew the way to his cabin without prompting, Nelson walked with him to his cabin. Crane was pretty good at not letting others see when he was hurting. The admiral knew the telltale signs that his friend was not in as good a shape as he had presented to the ships doctor. He would be sure Crane was safely ensconced in his cabin before he left him.
Walking in to his cabin, Crane went immediately to the mic and clicked it twice. Now that his memory was in working order he wanted to check on the status of Seaview’s repairs. Lee was surprised when the microphone was gently but firmly removed from his hand by his commanding officer before he could utter a sound. He turned a questioning gaze to his superior.
"Lee, when Jamie said take it easy he meant it, and I agree with him. Do I have to make it an order captain?" Admiral Nelson said in his best command voice.
Their eyes made contact. For a brief moment he considered disobedience, and then gave in and let himself be led over to his bunk and gently pushed down on it. For the first time in two days he felt comfortable and at home on the large submarine.
Crane smiled, and said, "Aye, aye sir," His body was complaining at the way he was sitting. In an effort to make his battered ribs more comfortable he laid down on his side facing his superior. The pain was still there but, it was easier bear now. Lee suddenly realized that amidst the confusion and the enemy sub attack he hadn’t explained to his commanding officer what had transpired while on his mission.
"Admiral Nelson," Lee started, "you know of course that the professor is dead, he was killed in the car crash. He was the man in the car with me."
Nelson seeing with some satisfaction that his captain had finally been sensible and had decided to follow doctors order had seated himself at Crane’s desk and had lit a cigarette.
"Yes, I was told by the underground when we went ashore to pick you up" Nelson stated."What I for one would like to know is, what happened to the plans for the submarine and her defense grid, Lee?" Nelson asked.
Crane smiled to himself, no matter what happened, Nelson would always be the scientist! "I’m afraid they were destroyed along with the 2 million, when the car blew up after the crash, admiral," Crane said regretfully. He had wanted a chance to study those plans himself! He continued, " Our contact in the underground was a blonde, 5ft 3in, 110 lb, about 30; I believe she is the one who sold us out to the enemy." She had been very nice, he thought fuzzily. He blinked to clear his vision, his bed was awfully comfortable! It was nice to be back.
Admiral Nelson watched in quiet amusement as Crane blinked furiously to stay awake. He got up to leave, they could take this up in the morning after the captain of his boat had gotten some proper rest. As he left the room he shut off the light behind him.