Mersong of Mermatron
A Trilogy-c. 1998
(* A pseudonym to protect the guilty)
He wasn't sleeping well. For days now, he'd tossed and turned, unable to fall asleep aside from a few hours well into morning. He wasn't on a mission. He was on shore leave, for Pete's sake. He was supposed to be enjoying the time off. To rest, to have fun…something…he didn't know what, was drawing him, keeping him on edge…
Against his better judgement, Lee Crane hired a boat. Lugging his new scuba gear, half the weight of the old, and 4 times the capacity, he tossed them ungently into the motorboat's storage bin. He'd have preferred sail, but he knew in his present state, the last thing he needed was a working brain.
He really shouldn't be diving either. But he…had to. Only then would he find peace.
She grinned in anticipation. He'd be here soon. Oh, yes, he'd be here soon, and then all her desires would be satisfied. His too, if truth be told. She'd read his thoughts, raw, but reigned in- passion. He was ripe for the experience. But he had withheld himself from acting upon his hidden lustful thoughts. He had always withheld himself. A man of principle. The man who had turned capture into rescue. He was perfect.
Lee swam along the area favored by divers. Not a coral reef, it was still a bewitching place. Seaweed rolled with the currents, light from above percolated down into the clear waters, and multi-colored fish swam about ignoring him. It was restful here. Small polyps undulated on some rocks as the seaweed moved back and forth, in a hypnotic motion…yes…so restful here.
No it couldn’t be ! he thought as he recognized her. Oh, the thrill of it! While he'd captured her before, he'd also released the mermaid he'd captured then later released to show the submarine where a hidden bomb was on the sea floor. It had been a touch and go assignment, and Washington had doubted Seaview could find the thing to disarm it. She had not exchanged words with him, but he had gotten through to her, she understood. And now…well, there was no threat…he could simply enjoy her company.
Oh, it was delightful to swim with her. She smiled, teased, and flaunted her hair and tail at him. They played like children, developing a language of pantomime and signs. He wondered if she had vocal chords at all, and was rewarded with the most beautiful and haunting melody he'd ever heard. But she could not speak.
It would be soon, she knew. He wasn't paying attention to the ugly face thing humans needed to breathe in her domain. She wished he could breathe without it. He was very handsome without it. But, wait, yes, of course…afterwards, he'd be able to…but only afterwards.
She was the most beautiful, bewitching creature on earth! Oh, that he could take her in his arms…no…that wouldn't do…he was a creature of the earth, she of the sea…it wasn't right…yet….
She led him to a place she knew of. Her companions had told her of the place so very far away from the grotto. Perfect for such liaisons. She'd discovered it herself after a few tedious explorations, with the help of some fast moving sharks who'd allowed her to hang on as they migrated. Other mermaids had boasted of their victories over the animal passions of men, who, spent, after hours of indulgence, were tossed aside like rotted fish and left to drown….she'd never liked that…and this one, he was too special to treat like a playtoy…he would be her first, and second, and on and on until they died. NO! This was preposterous. She liked him. If truth be told, she felt far more than like for him.
He was getting sleepier, as she led him into the undersea cave. Drowsy? He quickly checked his regulator and realized his oxygen was gone. He jerked his hand away and began to surface. She grabbed him and motioned to the cave, and to her mouth…there would be air inside…and he'd never make it to the surface anyway, they were far too deep. He'd been an inattentive diver, and almost a dead one…he swam to the cave.
Ripping off his mask, he breathed in the dank air of the cave. He turned to thank her. She smiled, as she lounged half-in half out of the cave's sloping water's ledge. He adjusted the intake valve to scoop up what air he could into the tanks, or this cave could be his tomb. She nodded her head 'no'. She could read minds, he knew suddenly. He was safe.
She was so enticing. She placed a hand on his cheek, and he could resist her no longer. Caving in to animal passion, he kissed her, deeply, on the lips. But she did not turn from him. Rather, she seemed to encourage him. She placed his hand on her breast as she removed their leaflike coverings.
He watched, mesmerized, as she scooped her left breast in her hands, and offered it to his lips. Fighting the impulse was too difficult. He bent his head and as his fingers roamed around the softness, he began to kiss and caress the nipple. Warm fluid began to ooze from it. He looked up, surprised. She smiled and nodded for him to suckle it. A bit alarmed at his lusting, he took it in his mouth, just the same, and began to suck. Like a kind of fruity nectar, it warmed and relaxed him, soon he sucked the other breast dry as well, as his hands had begun to roam over her body. The jointing area of her flesh to her scales seemed to be ticklish as he touched her, and she had already begun to move her hands across his chest as she had lowered the wetsuit's zipper completely. She kissed his nipples, and sucked them, to his amazement he liked it. They were hard, and tingling. He had no idea a man's nipples could be so sexually excitable. But then, despite his reputation, he had no actual experience with anyone. Aside from a few experimental self indulgences as a boy, he really had no idea of an erogenous zone outside of the lower pelvis. She tugged at his leggings, as she tossed the upper wetsuit aside. He knew he shouldn't be allowing this, but he helped her remove them, followed by his swimsuit.
She gazed at his nakedness as he lay on the smoother of the rocky ledge. She reached out tentatively, seeking his reassurance that it was okay to do so. He nodded his acquiescence and she played with his curly black pubic hair before taking his phallus into her hand and exploring it. She'd never seen anything like it. The merbreeders had similar appendages but not so long or thick, and beautiful. It was changing too. Increasing in size, deepening in color, and becoming quite hard, raised up and away from the man's torso. The strange hanging sacs looked different too, and seemed to give him pleasure as she tickled them, and took each into her mouth to caress with her tongue. She took the hard member into her mouth as well, and stroked it with her tongue, seeming to drive the man into a kind of ecstasy. But it was not enough. She wanted to fulfil him ultimately. She knew it would hurt both of them, the first time. She'd been told. She knew this was wrong. Only merbreeders were allowed such intimacies, but she had to have the man. She had to. She also knew it was growing late, and the intimacy would take time. Once joined, there was no option of a quick disjoining, even should each desire it. They would be coupled until the union was completed. She was glad the cave offered shiny light of it's own, like the little creatures of great depths, these rocks glistened with water and their own iridescence. It was time.
He had no idea what to do. He was bursting with pain and pleasure, he wanted to be a part of her, but how? In answer, she laid back in the shallow water of the ledge. Slowly the opening showed itself. A mere slit, and overcome with hormones, he plunged atop her. His penis tried very hard to enter, but found it far too small and tight. She gasped, but nodded for him to try again, and motioned him to spread his legs around her. Again he tried. Again. To no avail. She groaned as she held him and he pushed again. At last.
He began to thrust as instinct took over. All he knew was that he must. The friction was an exquisite combination of pleasure and pain. The harder and faster he thrust, the tighter she became. It felt like tiny barbs encasing him, becoming sharper and painful. But also more pleasurable.
The water splashed about them as they copulated in the shallows. Sweat mixed with seawater made his hair even more curlicue than ever. She knew she'd been right to join with him. Yes it was painful, but oh, so nice too. So difficult to understand the mixture of such, she decided just to enjoy it. It was taking a long time. But then, she'd been told the act between merfolk and men could last days. Oh, that he would never stop, and they'd be joined like this forever!
He couldn't thrust as much as before, for with each plunge, he was encased even tighter inside her. Even if he'd wanted to withdraw he doubted if he could. There seemed to be growths inside her moulding to him so tightly as if to make him fight for each thrust. He was ready to burst. The barbs had become blades, and he had visions of knives shredding him, and yet. And yet, it felt fantastic…good thing he was in shape. This was a real workout! And she was so lovely as he saw the rivulets of water on her face and her bright nipples poking through the splashing water as he took her, filling her with his male member. Making her part of him. It was really overwhelming. His back hurt. His legs hurt for being wound so wide around her. But oh, that it could last forever!
With a final lunge, his body poured out his life essence inside her, in fiery spasms of unbelievable ecstasy. Panting with exertion, he kissed her yet again, on the lips, on her nipples, but when he tried to withdraw, he found they seemed glued together in vise like tightness. Spent, both simply lay there, as the splashing water settled, and they kissed again.
Lee could see in the iridescent light, his semen mingling with the seawater as it leeched out from in between their still joined bodies. It was so…erotic. To think that his whitish life essence had been inside her, that he'd put it there, and now it was escaping through them, well, it was enough to make him want to do it all over again…
As he began to thrust again, with great difficulty, as they were still trapped together in the tightness, she turned and they both fell into the water. He was about to gasp for air, but she motioned for him to breathe. Underwater. He did. It was unbelievable. He could breathe underwater.
Oh, it was wonderful. They joined again and again, in the freedom of the sea, naked, unashamed. Enjoying their union. Drifting in the undersea currents while copulating, sometimes parting, but mostly joining themselves together in utter abandon. Daytime, nighttime, Sometimes on some beach in the moonlight, sometimes floating on the surface, they joined and rejoined themselves to each other. Lee had never been happier. He was home.
"Lee! Lee!" the concerned voice demanded. "Lee, wake up!"
"Mmmmm?" Lee roused…"Huh? What happened, where am I?"
"You've been missing for days" Admiral Nelson replied, deep circles under his eyes,"…we found your air tanks floating on the surface, empty of oxygen, and your boat smashed to smitherines on the shore…we've had the coast guard out searching for days…they just found you and brought you to shore a couple of hours ago…you were face down in the swells. …We thought you were dead."
"I'm fine…where's…" He realized he didn’t even know her name. No, it would not be a good idea to tell anyone about the mermaid. His love. His life. Where was she? How could he live without her?
"Better let me have a look at him, Admiral….skipper, you do like to keep us all on our toes, don't you…now, let's take a look…." Seaview's doctor interrupted, and pulled the blanket apart.
Nelson conferred with the coast guard's rescue crew while giving doc and Lee a bit of privacy…
"I'm telling you sir, he was just bouncing up and down in the water like he was dead, no tanks, no suit, nothing. Naked, even, in these waters, lots of sharks too. I'm surprised he's alive at all."
"That storm came out of nowhere. The wreck could easily have torn his clothing to shreds…he seems to be concerned about someone…are there any other persons reported missing?"
"No sir, we checked everything…he's the only one…after a wreck sir, his mind' apt to be a bit …well…"
"Admiral," doc came over, as the rescue team bundled Lee up in more blankets, " he's fine, I think… no hypothermia, but I'd like to do a few tests just the same. No idea how long he may have been without air."
"Of course…" Nelson replied, concerned.
It couldn't have been a dream! It couldn't have been! Lee kept telling himself. And, he had a sore body to prove it, only…
"Well, you have a clean bill of health, Lee. You're being released today," Chip Morton entered Lee's hospital room.
"Oh, hi Chip…,"
"For somebody's who cheated death yet again, you don't seem to happy."
"It's not that…its just….Chip? You remember the mermaid?"
"The one only you and Nelson saw? Don't tell me you've seen her again!? Saved your life, did she? Had to have, you don't have too many left to spare…"
"I…I don't know…I think….never mind…"
"I'm okay Chip, honest….lets get out of here."
She knew he would not remember everything…only those things she wished him too. He'd think it was all a dream eventually, instead of a true delight. He belonged with the Earth creatures… oh that he could have remained with her, but…it was impossible…he'd have had to give up his life among them…she couldn't do that to him. She had read his other thoughts, hidden away from her. About his friends, his strange silver conveyance. They were concerned for him, she knew. She saw the men pacing the red and white boats in the storm, looking for him. Calling to him with their hearts. She had to let him go, even if he no longer cared about them or the life he'd left behind to be with her. She'd taken him to the rushing current, kissed him, and touching his forehead with a glowing rock, pushed him into it. With a gasp for air, it took him, up , to the surface and to his kind. Would she ever see him again? Her love, her life…her everything? It didn't matter. He was home.
Lee Crane woke, bathed in sweat. For a moment he was confused. Now he couldn't even remember the damn dream he'd been fighting! For the past week he'd been having difficulty sleeping and now when finally did get some shut eye, this happened! At least he'd gotten some real sack time in, apparently, if the clock was to be believed.
Knowing he'd never get back to sleep, he decided to make a tour of the boat, as was his prerogative as master of Seaview. Besides, the graveyard shift could use a bit of suspense. Having the captain make a surprise inspection of the various stations would help insure her 'always ready' efficiency.
"You feel as rotten as you look?" Chip asked him as he emerged on the conning tower, while the XO was 'shooting the stars' with a Jr. Officer.
Crane grinned at the friendly jab, and dismissed the ensign with a nod. He leaned on the coaming, "I'm fine, just…" he was interrupted as a series of shooting stars cascaded across the horizon. "No matter how many times I see it, there's something magic about all this, especially over the sea…sometimes I wish…" he mused, then turned to Morton, "…these star showers don't happen very often."
"You delirious or something? It's not like you to be so…melodramatic, Chip teased. "Here," he handed Crane the sextant to check the reading.
With the sightings verified, Morton prepared to descend back into the boat but Crane was still staring out to the horizon, as if he was mesmerized.
Grateful that Chip wasn't pestering him about getting below and underway, it was good to see the night sky and the twinkling stars and the moonlight on the waves.
"Lee?" Chip asked warily.
"Oh, sorry Chip, I guess I'm overdue for some shore leave…cabin fever I guess."
"Sure lee," Chip said, rolling his eyes heavenward, knowing full well that Crane had an aversion to shore leave as if such time spent away from his precious sub was a plague.
"I'll be down in a moment…I just want to soak this in a bit more…"
"Okay, you're the boss," Morton shook his head and left the captain to enjoy the scenery.
It was a full twenty minutes before Cane descended into the control room and gave the order to submerge and get underway. Morton noticed Crane was still moody, and almost seemed depressed as he went about checking this and that.
Lee absently scratched his neck, arms, and wrists , complained about the laundry not rinsing all the soap out of his clothes, and was soon gone to explore some other area of the boat.
Chip sighed, the sooner they got home the better. It had been a long two months upgrading topographic charts.
It had been four days. Four days! Lee scolded the laundry tech, showing the raw and reddened skin on the sides of his neck, to the flustered crewman.
"Skipper, I put your stuff in separate, even used quarter strength soap, and I rinsed it all twice…maybe, maybe you're allergic or somethin'…want me to try washin' your stuff without soap? I can, I can use real hot water…it won't be that bad, but…"
Crane sighed. "Very well, give it a try. If my clothes begin to smell pretty ripe, well, plug your nose…"he grinned, " we're not called a pig boat for nothing."
"Well, at first I thought it was a fungus, but when I checked under the microscope, and with chemical analysis, it doesn't verify as one. It could be an allergy to something in the laundry soap, even your own shampoo." Doc Jamison rummaged through the locked medicine cabinet. " You should have come to me sooner, " he scolded gently. "You say it's spreading and getting worse… even with the laundry avoiding soap completely for you, you've probably irritated the skin further by scratching, so anything, fabric , even showering, is not giving it a real chance to heal…here, try this…and…try to not scratch. I know its difficult…but this ointment should help…oh, and be sure to wear a cotton T-shirt under your shirt. Your nipples are the worst of it, Band-aide them if you have to…use this bath preparation, its hypoallergenic, but only on the underarms and the privates, you don't want to irritate yourself any worse than you already are…no deodorant either. That could also be the cause. Don't worry, nobody will notice…"
"They've already noticed. Chip has to stand three feet away from me, my clothes are so…what is it?"
"The rash seems to be almost symmetrical…" Doc mused. " Oh, forgive me skipper, just thinking out loud…if the ointment doesn't help, let me know."
By now it was all over the boat that the captain had excessive body odor, due to the fact that doc had practically ordered him not to bathe, and the laundry wasn't able to do a good job on his clothes, so most everyone gave him clear passage. It was easier to face him knowing that Crane himself had joked about it, still, he was pretty seasoned, so when he decided to take the boat topside more frequently than normal, he got no complaints. The fresh air helped to mask the fumes that exuded around him as we walked by the many stations.
Not allowed to shave or even shampoo, again, Doc's orders, the captain was soon taking on the appearance of a beach bum. Riley had loaned him some spare shore clothes, as ship's stores had none left to augment Crane's depleted wardrobe. Thanking the crewman from six feet away, Crane was resigned to his fate. The hot water washes had not been able to clear the pungent smell he exuded into his clothing and his own bath preparations hadn't removed any from him either. He turned command over to Morton, and exiled himself to his cabin.
Chip braced himself for what would be an arduous mission. But he had no choice. He had to insure that the captain remained sane in his self imposed exile. Lee had responded on the mike of course to communications between his XO and himself, but Chip felt a personal visit each day was not only reasonable but necessary for Crane's morale. He entered the cabin and was treated to the sight of Doc, safely encased in a breathing apparatus, examining Crane. Chip quickly grabbed the spare Doc handed him and put it on.
Lee looked pretty disheveled but managed a smile that took years off him. He was standing in front of Jamison, stripped to nothing as the doc took even more skin scrapings from the many areas of affliction.
"I just don't understand it skipper," doc said, concerned, "it should be lessening, not getting like…like this!"
"Well, maybe the admiral will know what to do when he gets back from Geneva in a couple of weeks."
Lee scratched his temples. Flakes of dander fell like snow."Don't worry doc, my scalp doesn't itch. In fact most of my skin really doesn't itch much at all anymore…it's just…flaky and stinky."
Scooping up some of the dander, Doc absently rolled some between his fingers…and stopped.
"What is it Jaimie?" Chip asked excitedly, "got a clue as to what's going on?"
"Oh, it can't be…"
"What?" Lee asked.
"I'm not sure about this, but…these flakes don't look like normal dermatological debris, it's almost as if they're…fish scales. I've got to get to the lab…"
"Oh come on!" Lee said exasperated, " I think you're pulling at straws!"
"Captain, I'd stake my reputation on it," Doc curiously brushed his hand on the far sides of Lee's neck. Similar flakes lay in his hand.
"I doubt if my neck has dandruff, so..what is it?"
"I'd like more samples, " Doc requested.
Reluctantly, Lee began to rub the sides of his neck, his wrists, his chest, his legs, even his privates, in a kind of little dance as the dead skin flaked off around him."Satisfied?"
Jamie looked up, holding the flakes in his hands. " I think you'd better sit down, Lee."
Crane grabbed a handful of the stuff from Doc Jamison and looked at it, " I don't see anything wrong, except I'm shedding like a cat!"
"Because you don't know how to look at it…Chip, you'd better place Seaview under quarantine while I check this out…just to be on the safe side."
"And?" Admiral Nelson asked of Jamison in the privacy of the two-way videophone a week later.
"I still can't explain it. It's not human. He's shedding actual scales, not skin! And..he's getting worse…look at this," Jamison held up the latest medical photo for Nelson to see. "Perfect symmetry, were the scales are forming on Lee's body. It looks for all the world like some sort of exotic body paint…it even emphasizes the erogenous zones, like highlighting features, around his nipples, across and down the center of his chest, and around and under his pubic hair and also heavy between his thighs…his nipples are becoming enlarged, raw, and starting to bleed. Even his…"Doc took a breath and decided to be technical,"…genitalia is showing signs of enlargement. But damn it, I still can't find what's wrong with him! The scales are growing in size too, getting shiny, silvery..and…he's forming what I can only describe as…webbing between his toes and fingers….I don't know what to do!"
" I think," Nelson sighed, "we have a problem."
"Where is he?" Admiral Nelson descended into the sub, having decided to risk breaking the quarantine. This was Lee and he was damned if he was going to let him suffer alone. While Doc had reached him at the top secret talks in Geneva some time ago, he hadn't been able to get away and now…well, if the crew objected to being stuck on the boat even longer they'd just have to live with it. But no one did. Rumors were flying, but they all knew that something was wrong. And the skipper was still the skipper, even if rumor had it that he was starting to look like a fish.
He didn’t' smell quite so bad now, he thought with relief. He looked at himself in the full length mirror that doc had installed in his cabin. His hair was even curlier than normal, he noted sourly , a few inches longer than he'd like; he was bearded, with a touch of white at the temples where some scales had formed. What would Nelson think when he saw the small hard fin that had emerged on his back, and on the backs of his wrists, and at his ankles. And what about those damn things, he thought, as he rang his webbed fingers through what could be forming into gill slits on his neck ,with disgust. He was turning into…a Fishman or something!
"Lee?" Nelson knocked on the door, giving Crane some semblance of normality.
"Door's open, plug you nose."
"Lee, I…" he tried not to stare. But it was impossible not too. Jaimie hadn't exaggerated in his last communiqué. Lee was naked. Part human, part fish, if the scales and fins were to be believed, and… utterly sensual. Lee was the epitome of masculine glory, his hard muscled form vying with his genitals for attention. Nelson turned his face and quickly became businesslike.
"I've already run some tests with Doc's data, but will need to do a few more…are you up to it Lee?" Nelson took out some papers and placed them on the desk and sat down.
"I don't suppose you'd care to rephrase that?" Lee asked, in a stab at humor.
Flushed with embarrassment, Nelson suddenly admired Doc's ability to remain above such…such….innuendo. It was no good. He couldn't face the man. His friend, his shipmate. Lee was in the grips of some sort of horrible transformation, most of which only hinted at marine life. The scales had only formed in certain areas, just as Doc had explained. Lee was not ugly as Borgman's menfish, nor like that weird amphibian they'd fought off tracking the mermaid Lee had caught. The erogenous zones were almost beckoning, and while Lee didn't actually have a burgeoning erection…Crane's exaggerated genitals were rather…apparent.
"Uh, no, now Lee," he hadn't looked away from his papers, " we have to figure out if you've been exposed to some chemical similar to Borgman's experiments or…"
"You can look at me you know…you're here as a scientist to try to figure this out…just ignore the…secondary sexual characteristics, if you want to get technical."
"Lee, I…" Nelson forced himself to look up at Crane, who stood before him. Nelson ran a hand through his hair, " uh, Lee, this is rather difficult."
"Just tell me if I'm going to turn into a fish and how to stop it!"
"If you were going to turn into a fish, you would have already…fish do not as a rule have areas of sexual emphasis…"
"You noticed then, " Crane sat down opposite Nelson. " Why? Why am I transforming into a pinup for a mermaid?!"
It was hard for Nelson not to laugh, then suddenly, "Say that again."
" Lee, this transformation seems to be at the sub-cellular level…and I doubt if any of Borgman's colleagues injected you with anything…leaving us with…that is…if…Lee?" he asked, suddenly quiet, " were you…" he paused, this was going to be hard to ask,"… intimate with the mermaid you caught?" he asked gently.
"NO!" Lee exclaimed, rising and beginning to pace about.
Nelson noticed for the first time the specially installed drip-matting on the deck, as Lee poured a picture of water over his head as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do.
"Sorry, " Lee explained, " It helps…my skin starts to burn if I don't get wet after a while… and clothes, they actually hurt, they feel like needles, I don't itch anymore, the scales have seen to that, but…"
"Are you sure? About the mermaid?" Nelson prodded again.
"Of course I'm sure!" Lee sat on the edge of the special wet mattress that had been placed on his bunk, " at least…I think so…" he ran a hand through his thick ringlets, " I don't know…" he grabbed his arms across his chest, " I don't know anything anymore."
"There were other mermaids in the grotto you said…how about them?"
"I told you I don't remember!"
"Lee," Nelson got up and placed a comforting hand on Lee's shoulder, " I know this is difficult for you, but we'll figure something out."
"And if you can't?" Lee looked up.
"Then we'll just have to deal with it."
"Admiral?" Kowalski brought Nelson a tray of food to the lab.
"Oh, thank you Ski, " Nelson stretched, he was tired. Trying to find something, anything, to reverse Lee's transformation was exhausting.
"Sir? What's gonna happen to him? He's been stuck in his cabin or the lab for so long we're gettin' worried."
"Ski, you've been with me from the beginning…I honestly don't know…we don't even know why this transformation is taking place…"
"Uh, well, Doc said he doesn’t stink anymore, well, not much anyway, so…maybe you could let him out and…mingle a bit… we've all been exposed to him…so it's not like it's catching or something."
" We don't know that yet Ski, but…I'll think about it."
" He claims he doesn't remember," Nelson said, taking a sip of coffee in the wardroom. "And…he very probably doesn't…But I'm convinced something happened between Lee and the mermaid, or even between Lee and her amphibian friend, a virus, a bite, sex, something, and…It's very possible she arranged for him not to remember. "
"He did say he'd been having bad dreams lately, but that he couldn't remember them…did you say sex?" Chip asked, aghast and intrigued.
Nelson sighed, and looked at Morton with despair,"while it could be a sexually transmitted disease for all we know, look at the facts. His body is still 95 percent human . He's emitting excessive pheromones. I discovered that when I decided to test a hunch…and found he was exuding the sexual subliminal hormones on a massive scale…and…just look at him…a picture, as he himself said, of a pin-up for a mermaid…so just why would he look like the perfect sexual partner for a mermaid if it was just a disease…Chip," Nelson paused, "I think he's been 'transformed' on purpose…so if my theory is correct, that leaves us with only one course of action…we have to find a mermaid, in fact, the very one he captured."
"What good will that do?"
"Chip, I don't know. A tissue sample perhaps, something, to tell us why this is happening and how to reverse it…right now I don't have any answers," Nelson replied.
"And if we find her and it doesn't tell you anything, what then?"
"Then Lee…will have to get used to the idea of a…new kind of lifestyle."
"We're at the coordinates you wanted, sir," Chief Sharkey reported to Nelson, "Very well. Now, I want the entire area scanned for anything that profiles with a dolphin's tail."
"Uh, just what are we looking for sir?"
"Chief, it's unlike you to question my orders or my answers."
"Aye sir," Sharkey replied, troubled.
"Hey , Ski?" Riley asked as he joined Ski who had also been relieved from his specially rigged scanner station, " Just what are we suppose to be looking for anyway?"
"I don't know for sure, I just do as I'm told…but …the Chief said somethin' about Mermaids…"
"Mermaids?" Riley asked with a stupid grin.
"Don't get cocky…this is serious…c'mon, let's go see if Frank can tell us anything new about the skipper."
The two men entered the sickbay, fully expecting to have the corpsman to either shoo them away or tell them the latest on the captain's affliction. It was rumored that he was in rather worse condition than reported.
Only a few officer's had actually seen the skipper lately, and they weren't telling.
"Frank's not here," Riley said, ready to depart as he looked around the sterile chamber.
"Maybe he's in the lab…the admiral's been doing a lot of work in there lately."
"Well, maybe you're willing to upset the admiral, but I'm not. I'm outta here."
"Suit yourself," Ski shook his head.
It was quiet in the lab. The various marine specimens swam to and froe in their respective tanks. Beakers and chemicals bubbled away on one of the lab tables, wile microscopes and testing devices littered what room remained for them. Nelson was fast asleep on his stool.
The knock on the door went unanswered. It opened a little bit, then more, till Kowalski stood in the doorway and took in the site…he was about to turn when he noticed that one of the larger tanks on the floor had been filled with water. Curious, he decided to take a look at Nelson's latest specimen.
Suddenly something moved, and stretched.
The crewman gasped and jumped backwards.
"Ski," Lee immediately rose up out of the tank, " please, don't be afraid of me. It's me…really…I'm just a little…different."
"Skipper…"Kowalski fought to find his voice.
"Well, can I trust you not to run from me? I won't harm you…please Ski…" he pleaded.
"My gosh skipper, what have you gotten yourself into now?"
Lee sighed as he sipped the admiral's leftover coffee dregs. "I don't know. He doesn't know…nobody knows…Kowalski," Lee tried to maintain his composure, " I may be stuck like this…tell me, am I really that offensive? I know I smell, I know how…odd I look, but underneath it all, I’m the same person."
"I know skipper…it's just…kinda hard…you…you were breathing underwater…"
"Yeah, wasn't I…strange, didn't feel like I was…"
"So, how do we get you out of this mess?" Ski asked eagerly.
"He thinks I was bitten by the mermaid, or her friend, or something…he wants to find them…"
"We'll find them skipper, you can count on us!"
The chief was not amused. The kid had to be eggagerating,but…he decided to seek out Mr. Morton, and was horrified by the affirmation of what Kowalski had seen.
"We'd wanted to keep it quiet, make it seem less than it was…Chief, if word of this gets to the outside…do you have any idea what they'd do to him?"
"Oh, man oh man," Sharkey sat, unbidden, weary.
"Does everyone know by now?"
"Probably. The guys were hounding Ski for details…but he swore it was true…he didn't know any better sir, about not tellin' and all…so these mermaids we're after… They have something to do with the skipper's…problem?"
"The admiral thinks they're involved, especially one of them…"
"So the skipper really caught one after all…"Sharkey said with quiet respect, " okay sir, we'll find them, all of them…I'll get even more men on it…as many as we can spare."
She was restless. She hadn't meant to hurt him…but when she'd seen the falling stars she hadn't been able to help herself. She missed him so…and then she'd seen the silver conveyance. For a moment she'd thought he'd seen her too, but he made no indication of it…she had to have him back, she had to, and there had only been one way.
"So," Lee sat in the observation nose, finally released from his self-exile, at the prodding of Morton, and with Nelson's reluctant approval, "tell me, what do I do now?"
"Lee," Nelson said, getting used to Crane's appearance, "its not hopeless you know…you're still a sentient being…"
"Well, I can't very well command Seaview! I know the men are understanding, but even you have to admit that having a wet, naked fish-man on the bridge is a little bit distracting…I'm still pungent you know, though not as bad as I was."
" Frankly, I don't think the crew even noticed, even if there were some sidelong glances, and face masks passed about, but they're only concerned about you."
"I didn't mean that! But…I won't have Seaview compromised….you have to let me go Harry. I'll figure out some way to live…"
"Now you listen to me, you are still a vital member of this vessel, and I'm not giving you up!"
Lee watched the afternoon TV talkshow on a tie-in with disinterest, until an add came up which read "do you have a terrible secret?" and a number to call. Well, it could be an income. He could probably support himself on guest show appearances, not to mention posing in the many women's magazines mentioned in the show…it seemed much of the female audience actually enjoyed the male strippers, and yacked about centerfolds and the like….gross, he thought, but what else was he good for now…and…it could free Nelson of the responsibility of looking after him…
"So you tell me the captain has simply dissapeared??"Morton practically shouted.
"What's going on Chip?"Nelson asked, entering the control room as Seaview glided through the depths.
"I don't like the sound of that."
"Me neither, he's been kind of broody, circumstances excepted. He kept muttering about being a burden."
"Yes, I noticed that …" Nelson pouted." He could have left through the pressure hatch. No scuba gear, no trail to follow… and we're rather closer to shore than I'd like. He's a strong swimmer and now…"
"Admiral,…you don't supposed he jumped ship to free us of our…obligation?"
"I don’t know…but I think I need to notify the authorities after all. We can't have him ending up on a dissection table or on the cover of the National Snoop."
"Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen," one of the TV news reporters smiled. "Our breaking story comes from the submarine Seaview. Admiral Nelson today reported to the National Science League and the FBI that one of his colleagues had undergone a kind of marine mutation and is now missing.
He has requested that anyone finding the man return him to the Nelson Institute alive and unhurt. Nelson has claimed legal guardianship on the man to protect him from unscrupulous scientists or freak shows. There is a $20,000 reward. He can be recognized by the fish type protrusions on his wrists and ankles, and is only dangerous when confronted by doctors," she looked offstage with a raised eyebrow and questioning glance, then returned her face to the cameras, " this is not a hoax or a practical joke. The admiral did not identify the man by name, though it is rumored that the man in question is one of his officers from Seaview.
He is not to be dissected. Anyone found attempting to do so will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The mutated man is tall, with dark curly hair, has unusual scaly skin in areas, and must be immersed in water frequently. He was last seen aboard the submarine and is totally naked."
"Well, that'll make him easy to find…"a voice came across from behind the camera.
"There's more…the admiral does state that the mutation is not part of an experiment gone wrong and that the mutation does not appear to be not contagious…Well, good luck admiral nelson, and…now back to our feature story."
Where was he, she wondered. Surely he would have realized…surely…
Suddenly she felt a sharp twang in her tail, followed by strong arms pulling her…pulling her…into oblivion.
It was with some nervousness that Chief Sharkey met Mrs. Crane at the airport. While having being assured that her son was alive and well, Chip had said little else when he'd called her, except that her presence was requested, and now the chief revealed little else.
Soon she was ushered into Admiral Nelson's office by an equally confused Kate and Angie,the institute's top secretaries.
"Ahh…Mrs. Crane, I don't believe we've met…I'm Harriman Nelson. Please, sit down..may I pour you a drink?"
"Admiral, you practically ordered me here. Now, what's wrong with Lee? Chip wouldn't say, and neither would any of your other employees."
Nelson took a swig of whiskey and leaned against his vast inlaid desk. "Mrs. Crane, Lee's alive and well…it's just that…"
"Now what's he gone and gotten himself into?" she said wearily and exasperated. Lee had been falling into one predicament after another since childhood.
"Really admiral, it's not the time for practical jokes."
"No madam, it's not…if you must know…" he took a calming breath, " he caught one, some time ago, no it's not a joke, I can show you security tapes, of both the mermaid and her…friend, and now…"
"He seems to have undergone a kind of …transformation…the evidence leads to him either having been bitten by or from having had…se…" he decided to change the wording, "intimacies with either of them…we won't know till we can recapture them…and…"
"What's happened to him??" she rose, firm.
"He's turned into a…fish-man."
"An amphibian if you will, complete with gills, a few scales and fins, and …a few other…enhancements."
"Admiral, if this is some kind of crazy practical joke set up by Lee and Chip…"
"Madam," he sat her back down," I assure you, it's no joke…and there's more…he's missing. It's been a full two days. We think he took off because he felt he was in the way, or useless to us anymore…"
"The Mutation Man?" she gasped, well aware of the National Scoop story.
"I'm afraid so."
She managed to stifle a small scream, "Oh Lee, Lee…"
"I want you to know we're doing everything we can, even the FBI is searching for him, and Seaview and co. are hunting for the real culprits now…I have every reason to believe that a tissue sample from the mermaid and her amphibian friend will tell me how to reverse Lee's transformation…now, I have the VIP suite all set up for you here, and…"
"Admiral!" Angie burst in. " Channel five!"
It was unlike Angie to enter unannounced so he allowed this indiscretion as she turned to the channel. The popular talk show hostess was delivering her opening dialog….
"And today we've pre-empted our scheduled show as we have the famous Mutation Man backstage. He has agreed to be on our show, with the stipulation that we recognize the fact that his mutation had nothing to do with either the Seaview nor Admiral Nelson and it just happened. And so without further ado, may I present the mystery Mutation Man."
It was to a studio audience-wide gasp of shock that Lee emerged, shook hands with Petunia, and sat down. For the sensibilities of TV viewers a little black box camouflaged certain…areas of Lee's anatomy, much to Angie's dismay.
"Now," Petunia said, " may we know who you are and what happened?"
"My name's Lee Crane…I was captain of the Seaview…"
He went on to show and explain the gradual transformation of his body and how clothing felt like and acted like knives tearing into skin, and the need for frequent immersion. He did not explain Admiral Nelson's theory as to why it had happened. He even showed his ability to breath underwater in a special clear tank.
It wasn't long before the audience had quit gaping and had started to listen to what he said.
"So, it was better if I left…I won't compromise Seaview's security by being a distraction, and know I have to learn how to live in a totally different manner know…I suppose the hardest thing about it is that I'm still me on the inside, I know that's how the admiral and my shipmates think about me, but even they'd have to agree that having me underfoot would only be getting in the way…" he looked straight at the camera," please try to understand admiral…I know you're only looking out for me, but I'll be okay. I opened up that old undersea homestead that was never finished, and it'll do fine as a place to live, and I've even hired on as an archeological diver for a treasure hunter company. Besides, who knows, maybe there'll be a place for me in the world book of freaks…no, I'm not upset. A little confused, well, okay, a lot confused…but it's happened and there's nothing I can do…I know you're trying to figure it out…but even you said you didn't know if it could be reversed. Mom, please don't worry about me. Think of it as finding a new lifestyle…who knows, maybe I'll even be famous…just don’t offer to take me to dinner at that lobster place," he grinned.
"Mr. Crane, thank you so much for appearing on our show…I'm sure our audience admires your courage and wishes you success and acceptance."
There was a standing ovation as Lee and Petunia shook hands and the show closed.
To say that Nelson was almost immediately plagued by jammed phone lines was an understatement, and he escaped into the main lab and let the secretaries handle it. He was greatly relieved when Seaview contacted him and informed him of their special catch, which they'd be bringing in pronto by way of the flying sub, which Nelson had sent back to Seaview after being dropped off at the institute. Now maybe they could do something for Lee. Meanwhile, Nelson had asked for a police escort to remove Crane from Petunia's studio, by force if necessary, and bring him to NIMR.
"Of all the stupid, idiotic, and completely asinine stunts!" Nelson roared, as he grabbed Lee's arms, in the relative quiet of the Institute lab, "how could you do such a thing!? Don't you know how damned worried we've been??"
"I had no choice!" Lee exclaimed as he slipped out of Nelson's grip and dipped into the large water tank, "If I have to live in the world like this, they'd better get used to the idea…so will you!"
"So you go on the air in all your glory and say 'howdy, I'm the fishman'! Lee, have you any idea how may scientists are waiting in line to cut you open just to see how you tick?? And the LA PD just may demand the reward money for bringing you back!"
"Well, that was stupid wasn't it, $20,000??"
"Apparently it was if you're going to behave like a spoiled child and do stupid things like this!"
"Stupid? Stupid?! You're the one who thinks that I had sex with the mermaid!"
"I'm convinced of it!"
"Stop it! Both of you!" Mrs. Crane entered the room. Lee sank to the bottom of the tank and sat, cross legged, dejected.
"Acting like a couple of fishwives!" she said, and suddenly gasped, embarrassed, wishing to take the words back.
There was a bubble from the tank. Bubbles rose as Lee started to laugh. Soon all three were. Lee leaned up over the tank's coaming and reached out to touch his mother's face. "Sorry. Still love me?"
"Well, that depends…really Lee, this is highly…embarrassing…can't you wear a piece of seaweed or something?"
"How about it Harry, is there any around, say in the shape of a fig leaf?"
"Any luck sir?" Chip Morton asked as he plopped some reports on Nelson's desk.
"Actually, yes and no…oh, well done to all hands for finding our uh, specimens."
"The men were glad to help…I was hard pressed to get them to take shore leave when we docked…and now?"
"The preliminary examinations only showed similar cellular patterns in her, I've released the ambibean. But I have to admit I'm a bit stumped…I've called in some help from some of the top scientists in the land. In the meantime, I've put her in the institute aquarium for safe-keeping. Lee's gone over to take a look in the hopes of remembering something."
She was mad. She belonged to the sea not to this this, enclosed contraption! Oh, the water was clean, too clean, it was worse than being in a dead coral reef. The sky ended with a strange dangling thing in the middle of the sky and looked hard like the walls of this place. Where were the anemones, the seaplants, the fish? And most of all, where was he? She needed him…she wanted him. Surely he wanted her too. She'd insured that he would. Suddenly the door opened and closed behind him. Yes. It had been successful. He stood and looked down into the water. She rose up to greet him.
He was somewhat startled as he saw her. Yes, there was no mistake. It was indeed her. So enchanting. So beautiful…he was glad he'd released her back into the sea…but there was something else…something he couldn't place….he jumped into the water and reached out a hand. She took it, and they swam to a shallow corner of the aquarium.
"Look, I don't know how to say this, but…the admiral thinks that we…uh…did something and that could be the key to how this all happened," he waved a hand over himself.
She smiled, touched his hardened nipples and swam away playfully. He followed.
"Please, tell me what happened!"he pleaded as he grabbed her arm as they sank into the depths.
She suddenly kissed him. Flashes of memory came back in a flood. Oh, yes. They had indeed been intimate. Downright debauchery was a better word for it. Utterly sensual and sensational. Nelson had been right. Crane fled before caving into his desire, rising to the surface and the safety of the platform.
"So," Doc asked as Nelson sat by and was forced to listen in embarrassment, " after you'd taken that sailboat out and found her again, you engaged in sexual intercourse repeatedly, is that correct?"
Crane paused, "Yes," he did not look up. Why had he acted like such a jerk…but it had been so…
"And with each coupling you were held in an increasing vise type grip, unable to withdraw your phallus until released by her."
"And you were totally mesmerized by it?"
"It…" Lee found it hard to talk, and barely managed to whisper, "it was the most wonderful, most natural thing in the world…nothing else mattered…."
"Lee," Nelson warned.
"Admiral, please," Doc continued, " to better understand, I need you to describe in detail the couplings, everything."
"Is that necessary?" Nelson asked.
"Admiral, we don't know why he changed. We have to have every snippet of info we can get…that includes their lovemaking. If you're too embarrassed to listen, I'll be sure to have it all transcribed for your reports."
"Very well, go ahead Lee."
Lee stood under the cold shower. It was so strange. Having remembered their glorious union, now he felt dirty for having shared the experience with others. Even if it was for his own good…Doc seemed excited when Lee had described suckling the fruity nectar of her breasts, and murmured something about a trigger of some sort…and now they'd taken her to the lab…to do some tests. He felt angry. She shouldn't have to go through this…indignity! And he was responsible!
Nelson paced. This was no damn good! Trigger? Bah. Nothing had come of the tests. Nothing.
Needing a bit of air, he stepped out for a walk.
"It sure is nice, isn't sir," Chip mentioned as he saw Nelson leave the building into the night, " These star showers certainly put on quite a show. I know Lee was impressed."
"Yes, yes," Nelson said absently.
"When I was a kid I used to wish on stars," Chip said.
Nelson laughed. "And just what did you wish for?"
"Oh, all sorts of things, I knew it was stupid, but if I'd had these," he motioned to the night sky, " I sure would have believed in it! I almost said "Twinkle Twinkle" as I handed Lee the sextant one of the starfall nights on the bridge…I bet he almost did too, he was so caught up in the show."
"Well, it doesn’t happen very often and….That’s it! Chip!Get Lee! Now!"
"Are you out of your mind?" Lee asked.
"Did you make a wish when you saw the star shower?"
"Think Lee ! Think!"
"Don't be ridiculous…all I thought was how wonderful it was, the stars and the sea..and how I wanted to be a part of it all forever."
"Were you thinking about her at the time?"
"You can't believe in a fairy tale!"
"Look, Lee, now listen to me…if you were even remotely thinking about her, it could have been construed as a wish to be with her. And, no don't interrupt me…if she wished the same, to be with you at the same time…well…"
"You've been watching too many movies on cable."
"Lee, there are ancient legends…mermaids had powers, magical powers, you have first hand experience with that, don't forget, you were totally besotted with her, twice! Now, if she wanted you to stay with her, well, what a better way than to make you capable of staying with her-in the sea! Hence the gills, the scales, the uh, changes…who are we to say she didn't enhance her powers while the star shower emitted special magnetic and radiological signatures…over both of you."
"So," Lee was not amused, and skeptic, " say you're right. What do we do about it?"
" You ask her to give you back to your own kind, you said she understood you aboard, tell her to do it during a star shower...there should be another in two days…the last for two more centuries."
"And if she doesn't want to give me back?"
"I think you have your own powers of persuasion, captain," Nelson glanced at Lee's seaweed. "Use them."
Lee sat on the edge of the aquarium, brooding. How on earth was he going to ask her. Would she? Could she? He could hardly believe in Nelson's wild theory.
The aquarium staff had been removed to allow Crane a little privacy in his discussion. For discussion it was. Lee explained to her, hoping for her to show some sort of response. But she seemed mad. He had pulled away from her before after all, and hell had no fury like a woman scorned, even if she was a fish.
"Look, I'll make a deal with you," he finally said, " I know you can understand me…what we had was wonderful and I'll never forget it, but I wasn't really myself, you know that, how do we know if it was really love and not lust? I would never really fit in your world…look at me. I'm still human. I still think like a human. You could be hurt on account of me…you made me like this…so, I'll join with you just like you want…as often as you like, until the night after tomorrow. Then, wish me back into a human…its my only chance, and if you really care for me, you'll do this for me.. and if you want to be with me again, I'll agree to it, any time you want, but as a man. Do you understand?"
She looked into his eyes and saw the truth of it. He was right of course. She really had known better. Yes she wanted him with a passion, especially as he was now, it would be so hard to give him up to humanity…but…his eyes pleaded with her. He wasn't happy. With a sigh, she took his hand, placed it on her forehead and nodded. She agreed.
"So you let them go?" Chip asked.
"I had to. He's taking her to the cove."
"But the star shower's not due for another night. Why?"
"I think they have some sort of agreement."
"You can't mean…"
"Why Chip, whatever makes you think that?" Nelson grinned, " and you're absolutely right…I sure wish I could watch."
"Chip, Chip, I'm not a voyeur, but I am scientifically curious, that's all."
It was a beautiful night. The water was warm and the air pleasant. Lee roamed his hands over her body as she did likewise to his, and he found to his amazement, that his new body had a heightened response like he'd never experienced before, he was the perfect companion for her special needs. He may not really love her, he thought but…as he thrust deeply inside her, and became one with her yet again, and was held within long after he'd filled her with his essence, he felt as if the world had gone away. How could he ever give her up. She was the woman of his dreams…that was the problem, his saner side tried to surface through the physical passion. Dreams. She was made of dreams.
His new body had sensations he'd be hard pressed to describe, like fireworks and icicles combined. His heavier penis was twice as sensitive to the friction, and he came again and again, almost as if he could never stop. Fluid flowed from his own nipples as she suckled him! They made love all night long and into the next day. But was it love? He didn't really care any more. Lust had completely overtaken him. He didn't even tire. On the beach, semen mingled with sand as they rolled about, laughing; under the waves, they twisted and turned as the waves rolled over the reef in a mock act of his thrusting. Small polyps in the reef emerged, red, swollen and retreated again, in a phallic symphony as they continued to enjoy each other's bodies,
It was almost midnight when he finally took her to the edge of the cove and they sat on the beach, totally sated, and content. Well, he surrended, if it wasn't love, it the closest he'd even been to it. She was the most glorious woman on earth, he knew as she nestled her head on his shoulder. He was totally smitten. Could he really go back to being a man after this?
"Jaimie?" Nelson asked, surprised the doctor was in the lab with some monitoring equipment.
"Oh, Admiral, I'm glad you're here. Look at this…" he put the video on replay and Nelson gasped as he saw the internal view of a swollen penis surrounded by weird protrusions grabbing and releasing it to a thrusting frenzy.
"I thought you might be interested…look there, the viscosity…"
Nelson stood, entranced, as he witnessed the sight of the ejaculation. Unlike anything he could imagine, Lee's thickened semen swirled about, changing in color to blue, as the barbed protrusions inside the mermaid opened up and sucked in the thick substance.
"What on earth?" he asked.
"Interesting, isn't it, at least we have some idea of what he was talking about."
"Good grief, Jaimie! …uh…you know we didn't exactly ask them if we could…"
"No, but don't worry. The optics I inserted into her will dissolve harmlessly in about four days…I must say, this is rather fascinating…he's been at it almost continually. They stopped just a little while ago, and if it follows the pattern they should be at it again in a moment…no sooner than the heavier protrusions release him, he's hard again… the other monitor will show us when he enters her again."
One last time. He had to have her, one last time, but he's said that to himself hours ago, many joinings ago, and now it was nearly dawn. Soon it would be too late, and he would retrain his transformed body forever. What did it matter, if he had her. To love, to be a part of.
It was time. It had been glorious. She reveled in the feel of him, the love of him, and it was for the love of him that she had to let him go. As the last of the star showers fell, she kissed him one last time on the lips, looked up to the stars, stretched out her hand, and brought it back and touched his forehead, then his lips. He took her hand and kissed it, and let her go.
They found him in the morning, on the beach, naked, asleep, and finless.There were a few scales left. But they were loose and fell away quickly,and only a few fingers were still webbed. She'd done it. Lee was quiet as he and Doc walked toward the buildings.
"I'd like to examine you further…" Jamie insisted.
"Alright, doc, alright…"
"You should be happy to be rid of it, the transformation, that is."
"I know…it's just…"
"Well, she was lovely wasn't she…"
"Well Lee, " Nelson said, a week later, as they walked to the main building, " Doc gives you a clean bill of health, and aside from the still somewhat enlarged uh, areas, you're completely normal again…now tell me, I know I asked you before, but…you didn't actually make any kind of bargain with her did you?"
"I.." Lee decided to be honest, " I promised to be…with her whenever she wanted…but as a man."
"Don’t worry, I don't really think she'll take me up on it…"
"So, how does it feel to be human again?"
" Human? That all depends on your point of view sir."
"So it does. Well, come on, your crew is anxious to have their captain back, sans fins."
"You know, they might have come in handy. Think of it. The extra propulsion on a dive mission…"
As the two entered the outer office, the small group of secretaries gasped in surprise and flustered, red faced, fled.
"What was that all about?" Nelson asked.
"Uh, nothing sir, nothing at all," Angie was suddenly busy at the PC.
Nelson wasn't buying it and approached her desk, noticing the vast amounts of paperwork covering something shiny.
Scooping up the papers he revealed the glossy magazine.
"Play Pals? What on earth?"
"It's a ladies magazine sir," she tried to take it. His grip remained firm.
"Let's see, Edith is always interested in girl talk," his eyes scanned the front page's list of articles and he suddenly stopped. He turned the pages quickly to the middle. There exposed in all his Transformed glory was Lee. Posed, reclining, his right leg crossed over his left, his head supported by his left arm, and with a smile to put a movie star to shame.
"Lee~" he said dangerously quiet, " I think we need to have a little talk."
"So, the skipper got chewed out?" Kowalski asked as he plopped his gear on his bunk for the upcoming mission.
"They could hear the admiral ranting and raving all the way down to the cafeteria," Patterson said.
"Well, you gotta look at his point of view, I mean, your captain plastered all over in the raw, even if he was mutated, well, that sort of thing looks bad," Connors added.
"Not to all the dames it doesn't! Especially the thing," Riley smirked to the ribald laughter.
She swam about, thinking about him. He must be with his kind now…he'd promised to come when she wanted. But she wouldn't hold him to it. She'd be far too busy to seek him out now…after all, a part of him was now inside her, waiting…to be born.
They knew… She wasn't paying attention. Another careless move like that and she could end up on a hook and they were afraid for her. They all were. She had come back, to sing and play with them, but something was different about her…
The lead dolphin nudged her, in an attempt to get her to join in one of their games, but she only smiled . The secret was hers alone.…
It was bitterly cold in the Antarctic waters and the bundled up lookouts in the conning tower were uneasy. Morton had sent the boat topside for a routine navigational check and Lt. O'Brian was taking his sweet time about it.
"I'm tellin' ya Ski," Riley mumbled, as he stomped his feet for warmth, " my Mom actually framed it! Said that her Fish-man centerfold of the skipper went great with the wallpaper …tell you the truth, she drooled over it. What is it that made the women so gah gah over him when he went through that transformation? I just don't see it….not really anyway, even if…."
"Me neither, I guess you have to be a dame…though, I gotta admit, he did look kinda…muscular."
Both men laughed as they remembered the Play Pals nude full frontal pose of Crane in all his transformed glory, complete with his rather enhanced areas of specialized interest to the female population.
"Well, " Ski said, "the Admiral did say he was emitting some kind of special hormones or something….maybe that came across in the pictures too. But I sure hope it's over with. Everytime I pass the galley and smell something sour, I still keep wondering if the skipper 'll sprout a couple of scales or fins or something sometime again."
"Yeah, me too. Ski,…you really think that mermaid wishing on those stars had something to do with it?"
"That's the scuttlebutt…even though the Admiral first thought she probably bit him or something…but…"Ski looked over toward where O'Brian and Collins were 'shooting the sun', and lowered his voice, furtively…"according to Grady, Doc thinks it was probably something something else…like their…goin' all the way."
"Oh c'mon! She's a mermaid! How on earth could they…"
"Did you say something, men?" O'Brian handed Collins the sextant and initialed the clipboard's report.
"Uh, no sir, just talking," Ski answered for the both of them.
O'Brian swept his eyes over the waves, "well, next time don't talk quite so loud," he ordered and descended back into the welcoming warmth of the sub, leaving the lookouts in the cold. He could only hope no-one had jabbered on and on about the subject of mermaids when they'd written, called, or been home after the captain's little problem. It was one thing for the public to know about the Fish-man, but quite another if they knew the whole truth about the captain's catch.
Lee Crane was bored. Enforced by admiral Nelson's demand that he take a bit of shore leave after the last charting mission, he'd been effectively conned into a few weeks of enforced blah-dom. Not that he didn't mind a little time with his mother, especially after the mutation crisis was over, but he'd much rather be on the bridge of Seaview.
"Where is she now?" his mother kissed him on the cheek as she emerged from the rented beach-front property on Cape Cod, and had found Lee sitting on one of the dunes, staring out over the massive crashing waves as the thunder boomed along dark clouds over the horizon.
"Probably the South Atlantic."
The she in question was not of flesh and blood, nor flesh and fish, of that much, Mrs. Crane was certain.
Lee continued, "…we were supposed to map the…sorry. I just can't help thinking about her…"Lee mused.
"My son the sailor," she tousled his wildly curling hair , his gypsy curse, as he'd called it, "you've always been smitten by the Seaview. Come on in, breakfast is almost ready, and that storm looks bad."
The shore leave was doing him some good, she looked at him with satisfaction. He was actually looking rather… radiant! " Oh, I got those pickled doohickey's of Admiral Nelson's from his sister. How you can stand them, is beyond me…"
Lee rose and took her arm affectionately, " I just can't eat enough of them. I have no idea why I'm suddenly craving the rotten little stinkers."
The term had been coined by Nelson himself. His pickled protein synthesized food stuffs were still an experiment. A complete food, the admiral had assured him, and it had been certified by the Food and Drug Administration as such. And completely safe. It was comprised of various species of plankton. The only problem was the taste, somewhere between a sweet pickle and a long dead fish. Everyone, including Lee had told Nelson that he should cut his losses and destroy the vats of the little round balls in the special pickling juice. But lately he'd been actually been longing for the little buggers and a after quick call to Edith Nelson, his mother had secured a small batch which was sent the next day by Rapid Rate Delivery Service as a surprise for him.
"Ah come on Frank," Riley urged the senior medical corpsman, who took pains to look busy at some paperwork in Seaview's main sickbay chamber, after quickly shutting off the alcove study's videoplayer, and closing it's accordion door , " did they or didn't they?" Riley persisted.
"Look, even if I knew, I'm not allowed to tell, so beat it before Doc or Grady get back from lunch."
Riley noticed that Frank looked positively furtive, and stood with his hands on his hips, exasperated. "Okay Okay, but, I mean, if they did, how the hey could they do it, I mean she didn't exactly have legs or anything…"
"That, is privileged info, buster, if it even happened so…scram."
"Okay okay, but Grady said…"Riley stopped as he was about to pick up the video containers left on a desk, "hey, these aren't even labeled…"
"Give me those!" Frank grabbed the containers.
"What gives!? "
" Sorry, just don't want' them damaged. Now, don't you have something to do, like scrubbing out the head or something?"
"Oh, that's hitting below the belt," he laughed, "see ya."
Morton was concerned. In this latest conversation with Mrs. Crane, via the radio-phone transmission, she'd revealed that Lee was eating a bit strangely. But there was no sign of the fish-man mutation reappearing, so he had to agree with Mrs.Crane that Lee had simply developed a formerly unheard of appetite lately along with a taste for the terrible 'doohickeys', but that Lee had to be normal because he was grumbling about his time away from the cares of either Seaview or NIMR.
"Well, let him know I called. Tell him the old girl is doing just fine and I haven't put a scratch on her yet."
"He'll certainly be glad to hear that!"
"Oh, I know he will, over and out," Chip grinned, fully realizing that had Lee been on the line and not out for a walk, he would have plagued his first officer with demands for a complete report on everything from mission status to the maintaining of the ballast tanks.
It had been a long cruise. In the nearly two months since Lee's release from his transformation, they'd been on one boring charting mission after another. Part of that boredom was due to Lee's absence after one of them and Nelson's departure to the Naval Academy for a reunion to be followed by some social obligations in Washington. Morton was on good terms with the junior officers, and with the crew, but frankly, he was bored, and if truth be told , a little lonely. As acting captain, the usual joking about in his presence had vanished. Yes, it was lonely at the top.
He decided to make a quick inspection of the boat and breezed down the corridor for his first stop at sickbay.
Dr. Sony tossed the letter aside and leaned back in his leather chair as the rain pelted against his window…his sister had to be kidding…but then, Grady had never lied to her….perhaps he should look into this a bit further….
Sick bay was dark. And vacant. Morton was about to turn but heard a slow hum and a light from under the accordion doors of the study. Grunts and whispers added to his curiosity. He approached cautiously.
"My gosh! Will you look at that!" Riley whispered, as Grady answered,"Yeah, now wait, this is one of best parts! Way to go skipper!"
The men were watching two videoplayer screens of the transformed Crane and the mermaid in the water, under the water, and on the beach, as they copulated again and again in various states of sexual frenzy.
Riley was rather unused to hard core sex videos and this was unlike anything he'd imagined. Especially as he saw the two different species twirling and bucking in the water with increasing speed and fury, Crane's exploding semen spurting from between the two and waving in the current. But when Riley saw the fiber optic view of the captain's enlarged, engorged, and thrusting penis being grabbed and suckled by the mermaid's internal polyp type growths and his odd blue ejaculation, he almost couldn't stand it anymore. It was just way too far out…way too… lewd.
"You okay Stu?"Grady asked, concerned at Riley's pallor and unsteady breathing .
"I uh, oh man,oh man, I need a cold shower. Maybe Morton can let me dive into an iceberg or something. Oh, man, he was actually stuck inside her there for a while!"
"Yeah, I guess it made him hard again and again, so he just kept coming and coming. Some kind of chemical interaction or something . I've never heard of so much semen, over and over! She must have kept the skipper's balls working overtime to keep up with her demands…"
"Man, oh man, I'd kinda like to be in on her…demands. Like wow."
"You gotta be kidding!"
"Why not? It's not like they're married or anything."
"You want to turn into a fish? Besides you're still wet behind the ears at that sort of thing aren't you? Still green…"
"You said they probably did this sort of thing before the transformation too, you know.. and just because I've never done it before doesn't mean I'm not interested!"
"Hell, kid, we're all interested!" he laughed, " But that's what Frank said, that they'd done it before he changed too, but I bet it wasn't half as good!"
"What the hell is going on!?" Morton finally exploded ,practically ripping the metal drapes off their hinges, angry, upset, and too irate to notice Doc entering sickbay not too far behind.
Morton yelled at the men, the still playing sex videos forgotten, threatening the voyeurs with disemboweling, keelhauling, and instantaneous dismissal.
"Calm down commander,"Doc intervened, turning on the lights, " now, what's going on?"
"These two perverts were watching that!"Morton indicated the videos in still playing in glorious full color.
"Those are privileged scientific videos!"Doc glowered at junior corpsman Grady, and quickly turned them off.
"Scientific videos?" Morton raised an eyebrow, he was almost turning a shade of green at the little glimpse of what he'd just seen. "You two," he indicated the crewmen, "My cabin, now." After a moment when the men had vacated the chamber he turned and raised and eyebrow,"Well, Doc?"
Jamison took a moment to consider his answer, and decided to be completely honest. One did not fib to nor cover up anything from the first officer. He'd always find out the truth. "The opportunity presented itself. I felt a record was warranted. We may never have the chance for this kind of medical research again."
"Did Lee know you were taping him?" Morton asked hoarsely.
Doc hesitated, "no, but…"
Morton interrupted him, " did you have the Admiral's approval?"
"No, but when I showed him, he saw the scientific value and…"
"Enough…" Morton took a deep breath. "You're confined to sickbay till we dock…you should have kept those scientific tapes under lock and key! And while you may have had the Admiral's approval after the fact, I for one think your scientific survey was ill advised and a downright invasion of privacy!! I would think a physician would have realized that!" Morton stormed out of sickbay.
Within two minutes he was glaring at the crewmen sweating it out in his cabin as he held the inquisision. " Riley, " Morton fumed, esasperated with the boy's guilty innocence, "did you or did you not realize that you were watching privileged doctor/ patient info?"
"No sir, honest, I mean, like I said, " Riley tried to explain, "I just wanted to see what it was…I just wanted a new movie, honest, and I remembered Grady talking about a hot movie he had stored in sickbay so I said I'd meet him, and then…well, I didn't know what it was…but when I saw it, I just…I mean…I just had to watch it…and when they were , well,…I mean, when I saw… and all those weird thingy's too …I," he couldn't continue, embarrassed by both watching the explicit sex tapes and getting caught enjoying them.
"Very well,"Mroton wanted to close the subject," let's keep it on ice, for now. The Admiral will have to deal with this. In the meantime, I suggest you reconsider your assignment to Seaview, for I very much doubt if the Admiral will wish to keep you aboard after this..I know I have doubts. I'm very disappointed in you. You didn't have to sit glued to it…You will be confined to quarters when you have any free time left after cleaning out the bilge pumps, the ballast tanks, and every other disgusting job aboard I can think of. Now, Dismissed. "
He waited as Riley departed and turned his attention to Grady."I'd like an explanation."
"No comment sir,"
"No comment….I see…," Morton's voice turned dangerously soft…"as a medical corpsman, you have access to privileged patient information, that's classified information in case you've forgotten, and you turned it into a …a porno party!"he yelled.
"Well the Doc and the Admiral watched it, over and over again, why not me? As for Riley, he's a normal healthy boy so he enjoyed it…so would you sir, if you could get your nose out of the periscope…"
"If I need to watch a sex video, I'll rent one!" Chip shouted then lowered his voice, menacing, " And for your information, while this is a civilian vessel, we are all naval reserve and your attitude constitutes gross insubordination…consider yourself on report…you realize you may loose your corpsman's certification?"
"Then you'd have to make Doc loose his medical license as well, Frank said Doc didn't exactly have the skipper's permission to tape all that…and it was scientific research, even the Admiral agreed it was."
"Scientific research does not as a rule show patient info outside of the confines of that research! You abused your position! Showing those tapes to Riley was way out of bounds, buster, in addition to watching them yourself without permission or the need to know..You're confined to quarters. Get out of my sight.."
Morton was furious. Not just at the new corpsman's insolence. He felt pain for Lee. A victim not only of that horrible transformation, but also it appeared a victim of the greed of others, scientific or not. And Nelson? What of him? That he had condoned what Doc had done? That he'd waved his hand and said, ok? It just wasn't possible. Not the admiral he knew. But then, perhaps he really didn't know the Admiral at all.
Nelson was still away when Crane returned to the Nelson Institute of Marine Research. He was looking well and refreshed. In fact he looked like he'd added a few very needed pounds. He was the picture of health. Morton had wanted to talk to Nelson about the video incident, but hadn't been able to yet. And There was no way he'd bring up the subject with Lee, at least not willingly.
The two men began setting plans for getting underway as soon as Seaview docked, per Nelson's instructions, but Lee couldn't help but to notice more than a few smirks by the men disembarking for shore leave in the hours that he prowled the boat, while she was being restocked and undergoing routine maintenance for the coming assignment.
"Chip, " Lee called quietly, " did anything happen while I was away? Something you want to talk about?" Lee punched a code into the main computer.
"What makes you say that Lee?" Chip looked up from his clipboard.
"I'm not sure…everyone's been acting strange…Riley jumped a mile when I told him to have a good shore leave, so…."Lee leaned against the bulkhead, arms folded, "why don't you tell me what's been going on."
"Lee, nothing…"Chip paused. Lee was his captain, Lee was his friend. It was impossible to hide this from the man, " we had a few…difficulties."
"Why the hell didn't you tell me!" Crane yelled at Nelson from the videolink in his cabin.
"Lee, I did not know till after doc had already taped you. I did not know he used invasive optics in her either until later. Lee, scientifically, this was…"
"Scientific! Damn it Harry!"
"Now, Lee, calm down. It won't even be distributed. I was going to tell you at a more opportune moment but Washington…."
"You expect me to condone it?! That you let Doc get away with this…and that you…"
"Lee,"Nelson interrupted, " we're only interested in the scientific aspect of it…it’s a great study of the…er…hormonal systems."
"Hormones!! Did you know that Grady talked Riley into previewing them, thinking they were hot new movies we were going to show? They ended up practically glued to them! The whole crew's been sniggering because Grady's jabbered on and on about what it looked like! Her performance! My performance! Performance!?"he took a breath, " What we had was special…"he remembered her special place in his heart, "a union of our souls, not just our bodies, but those stinking videos made us look like debauched maniacs! And," he said coldly, deeply hurt, " I never doubted your friendship, or ethics, until now. Seaview will be ready for her mission in eight days." He clicked off the videophone.
"Le.." Nelson had been cut off. Yes, he'd really blown it. He'd had reservations about Doc's enthusiasm, but allowed his natural and scientific curiosity remove any thought of the cost it would be to Lee. He was really in the dog house now. Lee might even quit after this…he'd better get this Washington business over with soon, or he could loose his friend and captain for good.
The call had been made…yes, things could become very interesting now, Dr. Sony walked about his holding pen to the sea…it was empty now. Just the thing should the stories be true…and if the Sea Urchin's report had been made while her crew was sober.
The snickers went on, even after the new mission began, by both crew and officers, but usually behind closed doors and out of earshot of Crane or Morton. As humans, it was impossible not to envy Crane's experience, and as men not to get a bit hot thinking about it.
The Captain was in a bad mood. Still, he said nothing about the incident, but his usual comaderie with his crew had changed, almost to the point of being missing.
Instead, he kept the men busy to the point of exhaustion, his own included, in spite of the fact that he'd not been feeling well lately. He was certain he must have picked up a bug at the beach house.
It was a surprise to all that Riley and Grady had not been discharged and cast adrift on the spot previously, but it was grumbled that Morton had not spoken to the two men unless duty required it.
Frank was torn. He shouldn't have said a word to Grady about the Captain or the tapes, but still, the idea could bring in a fortune if he contacted the right people.
And Grady was fuming, singled out for what he felt was no big deal. He had the growing sympathy of some of the crew as he continued to complain about his official reprimand, and about how unfair it all was and the pot calling the kettle black.
Jokes began to surface about the Captain's libido and there was some speculation about how he just might not be able to relieve his…hormones… unless he went fishing. That was how he'd caught the mermaid to begin with, after all.
"Lee, you should have come to me sooner,"Doc scolded a few days later as he bent over Crane, busy with dry heaves over the commode in the officer's head. "These intestinal bugs can be quite virulent. How long have you been sick?"
"Not too long…in fac…" he was busy again. There was some vomit, but not much, and Cdr. Jamison noticed to his satisfaction that it looked normal in appearance, no blood or anything out of the ordinary.
"Well, " he helped Crane up when he thought the last of it was over, "you'd better come with me. I'd like to take a blood sample."
"Doc, we've been through this before, it's probably something I ate, or maybe I forgot to wash my hands after using the bathroom or something.. I'm fine," Lee spoke firmly, not at all liking being on display.
If he had to be sick, why couldn't it have waited till he was in the privacy of his cabin, not just across from the wardroom, and the interested stares of his fellow officers and some crewmembers who just happened to be in the way.
"Lee, if you've had bouts of this stomach or intestinal trouble off an on for weeks now, yes even a couple of times before this cruise began, you mother said, of course I'm concerned. Yes, I checked with her. And I'll keep checking your blood for any sign of a virus or physical condition as I see fit. And it won't do any good to argue. I can wake Morton up to order to you to sickbay as your XO,or I can pull rank as the chief medical officer, or I can contact the admiral, so which would you prefer?"
"Okay okay, you win…but you'll see, I'm fine."
That's what I'm afraid of, Jamison thought. As a physician, he'd been through far too much lately of unexplained mysteries to want another one. What if this was related to Crane's reversion to humanity? Or could it be a virus. Perhaps it was only stress. But because this was Lee, and more importantly because this was the captain, Jamison was concerned. Even if Morton finally got his way and Jamison was removed from Seaview, he was still a doctor, and felt responsible to safeguard even his worst patient.
"Admiral," Angie wearily entered Admiral Nelson's Institute's office with a stack of more letters, and plopped them down in the Fishman-refer to Adm. Nelson in-box, actually a huge crate larger than his massive marble and wood inlaid desk.
"This is getting ridiculous," Harriman Nelson dragged a hand through his hair, " It's been months! Blast it! It's old news. It's not even news at all anymore. Lee's been himself all this time with not a hint of turning back into the fish-man! Just a few lingering side effects…. What do you have there Angie?"
"Requests for interviews, for Lee to appear in various…nightclubs, you know the kind, the ones that have exotic dancers ..male strippers, "Angie hesitated, " and this is the fifth request that he appear in the upcoming Play Pals nude calendar of famous men, opposite the fishman pose for comparison views… " she took a breath and continued, "and these are proposals of marriage, propositions for a good time, some came with money, I've returned all funds with a polite note of refusal, I'm sure Lee won't mind, and requests for Lee to donate his body for scientific examination alive and dead. A museum has also asked him to be cast in wax for their gallery of men of the century and circus freaks. "
For a moment Nelson just sat there. He'd only just managed to get away from Washington, and was noticeably upset about something. Angie braced herself. Past experience had taught her that he would either 1. Explode into a verbal rage, 2. Bash his fist into his desk and curse about not having been able to get back to work on more important matters, or 3. Pour himself a whiskey, pick up the phone and tell these people just where to go.
Instead he wearily looked up at his beleaguered right hand assistant and simply said, " Get me the Seaview."
Crane had been right of course, there was no trace of a bug in his system. Doc had no reason to keep observing him, he kept telling himself. Crane continued his duties as if nothing was wrong, and that really bothered Jamison. Because something was wrong. The Captain was not himself, and while understandably upset about the sex videos, he had not cooled off about it..in fact, in the weeks since this cruise began he hadn't cooled off at all.
Crane could be broody at the best of times, but he wasn't in the habit of blowing a fuse over so many unrelated and minor mishaps , and it took Morton's skill to sooth his ruffled feathers.
The crew was increasingly careful not to get in the captain's path, and many shook their heads sadly, winking amongst themselves in understanding his heightened and un-met masculine… needs.
The skipper was down in engineering when Sparks reported that he had Admiral Nelson's secretary on the line. Lee dutifully emerged from checking some wiring under a console, smudged with a little grease and stood before the videolink as the picture began to focus.
Angie couldn't help thinking that Cane looked rather sensational when scruffy. Was he still emitting those pheromones? He was just so…manly. This was ridiculous, she caught herself, she had a job to do, not to sit and drool over Lee's looks. There was far more to Crane than appearance anyway.
"The Admiral will be with you in a moment, Lee."
"Thanks Angie, how are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine, fine, oh, here he is now…" she smiled and flipped a switch. Nelson appeared on the screen.
"How was Washington, Admiral?" Lee asked somewhat coolly.
"Yes yes, the seminar was fine, just fine…Lee…we need to talk."
"I'll pick you up in my cabin," he turned to Ski, " That was fine Kowalski. Well done. That was a trick drill and you handled it well."
"Yes sir, thank you sir!" the crewman replied, pleased to have passed the captain's surprise drill and inspection. But more importantly, was it a semblance of the captain's natural demeanor returning?
She was lonely. She wanted him here, now. With her. Especially now. He should be a part of this, not off some place in the silver conveyance with his friends. He'd promised her. He'd promised her she could call him, anytime she'd wanted and he'd come. But she had refrained from it. Perhaps he would be upset about it. His. She thrilled at the thought.
No mermaid in living memory had produced a scion from a human. It was his, it would be glorious. She wondered what it would look like, if it would have a tail like her or those funny things they called legs. Would it have his thick and curly hair and beautiful eyes or would it be like one of the merbreeders, ugly and good for nothing else, she thought with disgust.
She swam near one of the reefs where he'd first taken her, and had made her part of himself, fulfilling themselves in utter abandonment of joy as they'd merged their bodies together over and over again. She was so enraptured by the memory that she'd almost failed to notice the huge net which could have grabbed her and dragged to the surface. She wasn't even angry as it swiped her fins and she glided away, dreaming of her chosen, the one they called Lee.
"Lee," Nelson spoke from the videophone in the captain's cabin, " somehow we've got to put a stop to all of this," he waved his hand over the heaps of mail on his desk. "The Institute was not designed to be a clearing house for inquiries from the National Snoop, proposals of marriage, theme park appearances, or TV talk shows, not to mention Play Pals Famous Men of the Year Nude Calendar pressuring you appear again."
"I'm sorry, sir, I hoped it wouldn't come to this, but what can I do?"
"Lee… You're no longer a fish-man and unlikely to become one ever again…I've tested and retested those tissue samples….you've got to be firm with the tabloid press. They won't let it drop. They want to hear from you, not me."
"But I have told them ! Time and time again!"
"Then tell them again."
"But how can I explain it? Even you're still unsure about your starfall theory, and I'm sure not going to put her or her friends at risk by telling everyone that mermaids actually exist! That they can wish upon stars and do strange things?"
"They'd laugh me off the line!"
"You want me to play the fool now?A new performance?"Lee practically spat out.
"Now you stop it! Blast it lee,I thought we settled this! I tried to explain it to you! Can't you get it through your thick skull that I wanted to tell you, but what would it have accomplished? The deed had been done! And the data was exceptional. Surely you can't begrudge me that!
If you want me to say I'm sorry again, very well, I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Doc's cameras or invasives when I found out about them, but I’m not sorry that I studied them…the data is invaluable! You are not a guinea pig! You simply happened to be at the right place at the right time…
I’m sorry it had to be you…I don't want to loose your friendship over this Lee…please cut me a little slack in this. I can't help being a scientist…it's hard sometimes to…."
"To distinguish between what's of more value? A porno tape or a friend?" Lee spoke dangerously, quietly. He was really broody, and Nelson knew he'd better tread lightly.
"Lee…I've been a scientist nearly all of my life. Alone, sequestered away in advanced schools, out of place, no real role-models to think of.
My parents were social climbers, and had no idea of how to deal with me. Let me finish!" he said firmly, as Lee was about to speak, "My love was science, and they couldn't share it because they didn't understand it. Even Edith has difficulties at times.
I'm stubborn as a mule, and a bit of a loner. You of all people know that. I have few friends. Plenty of colleagues but that's not the same thing….you're the only true friends I have Lee, you and Chip,maybe Jiggs, and , wait, hear me out, I've come to… regard you like a brother, perhaps even as the son I've never had…I care a great deal about you and I can only say that I made a whopper of a mistake if this incident has pulled us apart…I didn't mean for that to happen, Lee…I can't change what's happened, but I can ask you to forgive me. I hope you can, because loosing you would be like… removing a part of my soul."
Lee pursed his lips. Four seconds, maybe ten passed. "Well, then, I guess I'd better….I wouldn't want you to loose part of your soul…tell me though, " Lee raised an eyebrow, "did you ever sell used cars?"
The tension of the past dissolved as they laughed quietly. Nelson was relieved. He could sense that the wounds to Lee's pride were still there, but they would heal.
"So, what do you want me to say to these interested parties?"
" If push comes to shove and they keep pestering you about the whys of your transformation, you can tell them the simple truth and no-one will believe it. I'm not ordering you to do this, Lee, but I would advise it, for all our sakes, so we can settle this fishman business."
"Very well, if you think so, I'll contact the National Snoop," Lee reluctantly agreed.
"Lee?" Nelson noticed the dark circles under Crane's eyes. Are you alright? No relapses? "
"I'm fine, been sick a little. A bit hard to fall asleep. A bug I think. I must have picked it up at home. I was sick a couple of times. Everyone was getting the flu. My hair's still white here," he indicated his temples, and grinned sheepishly, "Mom likes it, says it looks distinguished….but Doc had said something about lingering hormones, but… It's just…" he sighed, " I miss her admiral."
"Has she uh, summoned you?"
"No. And to tell you the truth, I'm worried about that. I promised her I'd come to her if she wanted, and she understood, but its been a long time and …nothing…I'm sure I'd know if she wanted to… meet me."
"To mesmerize you again into wild carnal abandonment no doubt."
"Among other things," Lee tried to grin, "…we…cared…care a great deal about each other."
"I know Lee. I'm sorry you haven't been able to see her again….I'll make the arrangements for the interview."
"Duplicates, triplicates, pentiplicates!" Lee threw the papers across the table in the observation nose, and effectively bashed his empty coffee mug against the bulkhead. "When will procurement get it through their thick sculls that all this is unessary! Haven't they heard of floppy disks and electronic transfers!?"
He'd only just finished talking to a representative of the tabloid paper and was silently seething. The questions hadn't been all that bad, and he hadn't had to expose the mermaid after all. But the topic kept getting back to the transformation's enhanced genitals; if he still had them, and if not, did he miss them, would he pose again in the nude, etc. He had accepted the transformation and it's results, but he felt dirty as he'd tried to convince the 'reporter' that the whole thing was over, to her apparent dismay. He felt like a prize bull who's only redeeming quality was just above his legs.
"Uh,sorry sir," Riley apologized, hurriedly retrieved some of the papers. The skipper had sure been antsy this trip. It was all his fault. If he hadn't been so damn engrossed in the sex videos, none of this would have happened. The captain must have been awfully embarrassed to know what he'd seen and that Grady had blabbed all over the boat about how the skipper had such a great time with the mermaid.
But, at least the skipper had been talking to his crew again, almost like normal. But these hair trigger explosions were happening all the time. The captain was not at all his usual self. Well, maybe he was thinking about her, just like Grady said.. Maybe he was super-horny for her after all.
" Procurement said they needed all the forms to be originals, no copies," Riley said.
"Well they can just do it themselves! This is a fighting ship, and a research vessel, not a..a. supply boat!"Lee spat out.
Lee was weary. Chip was far better at this than he, the XO had far more patience with and tolerance of the everyday workings of administration. But the order had been specific. These reports were not to be delegated.
"Uh, do you want me to tell 'em?"Riley asked, trying to be helpful but also fully expecting to be ordered to walk the plank.
Lee got up from his chair, and stretched., noticing yet again how tender his breasts felt, and how sore his still somewhat enlarged nipples and genitals were, lingering effects from the transformation. But this felt different somehow.
"Never mind Riley, I'll do it myself…I'm sorry I got a bit…irate. Nothing personal."
Lee ascended the spiral steps fully intending to do battle the institute office through the videophone himself, but as he suddenly felt some wetness dribbling down his chest under his shirt, his hands pulled the buttons apart and found the same amber fluid oozing from both nipples that had been part of his transformation…
"Well, there's no resurgence of any scales, or fins or gills," Doc concluded, bewildered, as he spoke into the sickbay videoplink,"yet."
"Any ideas or suggestions?" Nelson asked.
"Lee'll have both our hides if we confine him to quarters, and world will have ours if he transforms again…it was difficult enough for him to come to see me… he's upset enough as it is. Especially at her. He thought it was over. I think he feels betrayed."
"She could have betrayed him, but…perhaps she's calling him…"Nelson mused, " he did agree to it, to her, but as a man…somehow though, I wonder if she really has anything to do with this…change…"
"And I can't give you one scientific or medical explanation for it. There's no trace of a virus or a bug in his system. There's nothing on the cellular level to show any similarity to when he was transformed…he just can't keep his food down, despite a good appetite and food cravings, and it's been going off and on for weeks, he's had mood swings, and his nipples and breasts are sore and have secreted…oh,no, it can't be…"
"WHAT!!?" Lee exclaimed as he rose from the chair in sickbay,opposite doc's desk.
"Now calm down Lee, " Nelson said, just arrived aboard," And sit down. Chip, you too."
"I can't believe I heard what I think I heard Admiral," Motion echoed Lee's concerns.
Nelson touched Lee's shoulder, and continued, "Look at the facts, gentlemen. Lee was intimate with the mermaid. Sexually intimate. He's been sick to his stomach, with moody emotionalism and his breasts are sore. His his nipples are releasing that amber fluid again…it could be a kind of… milk…and by the process of elimination…"Nelson paused, "he could be… pregnant."
"You can't be serious…"Lee whispered.
"I'm afraid I am Lee, and there are other marine species in which the embryo is transferred and the male gives birth. The Seahorse for example and the…"he stopped himself, now was not a good time to plague his officer with a lesson in marine biology.
In the sickbay storeroom, Grady was taking inventory, unnoticed, forgotten, mouth open. Now,this would really be something to write home about!
"Uh,Mr. Morton?" Sharkey handed the XO the last of the clipboards.
"Is it true?" Sharkey gulped.
"Is what true?" Morton raised a command eyebrow.
"Is the skipper… pregnant?"
Morton paused, "I'm not even going to satisfy that with an answer."
"Sharkey," Morton took his arm, and said quietly, "I know there are rumors. But that's just all they are. .rumors. Crewmen talk. This is just utter nonsense, all this gossip. Just because the Captain has certain symptoms and the Admiral and Doc are researching legends about mermaid reproduction, this does not mean that the skipper's pregnant…so until Doc says otherwise, you won't subscribe to the scuttlebutt either. So, no more of this kind of talk. Understood?"
"But the National Snoop said…"
"Do you have a problem hearing, mister?"
"Aye sir, I mean no, sir."
The full body sonograms were all negative, but Jamison was still muttering under his breath.
Crane buttoned his shirt, "So it all boils down to the fact that you don't really know…I could be, but I might not be..you can't see or hear anything, but you can't tell because you don't know how pregnancy from a mermaid and a man works, right?"
"You yourself said she communicated with you. At least she could understand your thoughts. Perhaps this is a way of communicating with you as well…or perhaps it's simply the transformation again or withdrawal from it…Skipper, I'm going to have to recommend that you're removed from duty. We have no idea of what could happen, and you of all people don't want to put Seaview at risk…and I don't want to put you at risk either. Or the…child, if there is one. "
"And if I am pregnant?" Lee asked, hoarsely, unbelieving.
"Then you'd better start picking out names."
"But this is outrageous!" Morton slammed the National Snoop tabloid down on his cabin desk. It had arrived in the latest mailbag and had circulated the boat rather quickly.
"Sir," O'Brian tried to sooth the man, " there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. It's a free press sir,…if you can call this the press…."he picked up the worn popular tabloid. The headlines blared: 'Fishman preggers! Who or what got Lee Crane in the family way?' "We don't even know who's their confidential source, 5th amendment and all that…and…what with all the rumors spread around in Santa Barbara and elsewhere…."
"What…rumors?" Motion said menacing.
O'Brian knew for certain now. He could tell by Morton's demeanor and furrowed brows. The XO just wasn't capable of covering it up. The rumors were indeed…a possibility.
"I keep tellin' ya, I don't know nothin' about it!"Kowalski downed his beer at his favorite bar. Seaview had just docked a few hours ago, and he had joined some of his bachelor shipmates for a bit of bar hopping. But it was no good. The patrons of the Happy Dog knew.
"Oh, come on sailor! How'd he do it? I mean how'd he get into the family way? Who'd your fishman captain do it with huh? A dolphin, or a whale maybe, how about those mermaids even?"he waxed sarcastic. "Or maybe even a little closer to home, like maybe one of your boss Admiral's secretaries?"
Guffaws and snorts of masculine libido filled the smoky room.
"Look, my skipper ain't pregnant!"
"That's not what the paper says! So what's he doin now? Knittin' flippers? "
"Look, bub, we told you, he ain't pregnant,'" Riley added, indignant." There's no sign of any kid! And that's straight out of sickbay!"
"Okay sailor boy, but just 'cause your med staff don't say, doesn't mean he aint,probably got injected with some little experiment of Nelsons… so ,what's it like having a captain with Morning sickness?"
Kowalski had had enough and splashed his beer into his tormentor's face.
"Tonight," the TV reporter droned, trying to stifle his laugher, " we bring you more about the continuing National Snoop's so called series about the former Fishman, or fishmale as some have come to some call him, Lee Crane. Even without any apparent evidence, many people and some scientists are giving credence to the flying rumors that Lee Crane may indeed be…pregnant….a possible side effect from his recent transformation into the fishman and back…but this has not been confirmed by NIMR, medically or otherwise.
Just recently Crane assured the National Snoop that all traces of the fishman transformation were gone, and that he had no signs of any side-effects recurring, but people are beginning to wonder if this was just a ploy to take the heat off of a secret that apparently got away.
Admiral Nelson said the reports are ludicrous, and if the Snoop recants he won't press charges. But we have been informed by reliable sources that Nelson is not stating the whole truth, in order to protect his employee from the latest notoriety.
So It remains to be seen if the rumor is true. But if Crane is pregnant how did it happen? By whom, or by what… There are rumors of a possible Nelson Institute genetic engineering experiment gone bad, or a cross species union. After all Crane did go through that horrible mutation, and was in the sea with all kinds of fish and sea mammals…"the reporter tried to hide a smirk, " and his hormones were quite…noticeably activated….
Some purists organizations want any offspring of the former fishman terminated as a possible menace to mankind. In addition, they're asking for Crane's immediate castration to prevent any such further issue from any remaining mutated sperm.
When asked to reveal their sources of the stories, the National Snoop refused to do so…. "
"Well?" Crane asked as he read the police report in his small windowless institute office.
"I…I'm sorry sir," Kowalski replied through his swollen lip and blackened eye.
"Did you throw the first punch?"
"No sir! Only…my beer."
"Ski…" Lee was tired. He'd been tired ever since they'd returned to port…no sooner than he'd tied up the last minute details of putting his boat to bed, and gotten started on some waiting paperwork, he'd been informed that 13 of his crew had been charged with disorderly conduct and instigating a fight, with major damages to the patrons and premises.
Authorizing bail from the petty cash fund set up for such emergencies, Morton had sent for the culprits, sorted through the various points of view , made sure anyone who needed medical attention got it, and had given the police report to the captain.
He was a bit concerned, and knew the men were in for it. The crew ocassionally got into fights, but now, with the captain's moodiness, well, it had been nice knowing them…but Crane had surprised all of them with his understanding and patience…
"Skipper, we had to, " Riley spoke up, "…they…they were insultin' you."
"I think we're big enough men to take a few pokes at our egos."
"Yes sir,"Ski spoke for all of them, now breathing again, duly chastened.
"Very well, can I trust you all that this won't happen again?"
'Yes sir's' and 'Aye sirs' followed in unison.
"Okay, I'm going to let this drop. But if it happens again, you'll be officially reprimanded. Understood?"
'Yes sirs' and 'thank you sir's' sounded.
"…U…skipper?" Ski asked. "You okay? I mean, you look a little pale and…."
"I'm fine, just need some sunshine… like all of us…now, go on, you only have a few days of shore leave before we depart again…the cost of the repairs to the Happy Dog and medical expenses to the patrons will be taken out of your pay over time. I'll try to make it in easy payments. Dismissed. "
"Man I'm surprised we got off so light!" Riley said, closing the door behind him, adjusting a band aide to his purple cheek.
"Yeah?" Riley answered.
"I'm worried about him…he looked ready to drop…"
"Just tired…he's not used to paperwork…"Collins added.
"Yeah, but…"Ski continued, "my Aunt Becky fainted when she was pregnant and lost the kid…"
"Ski, you know that doc hasn't found anything yet. Not really. There's no sign of any kid!"Collins was insistant.
"I know, but, I mean…we don't really know do we…fishman and mermaid and all that…and what if…"
The men turned as they heard a thump from Crane's office, and quickly entered without knocking, deeply concerned.
"Call the doc!" Ski exclaimed as he saw Crane, out cold.
The dolphins had been chasing the school of tuna, and had tried to warn her..but too late, she was lanced by the sharp harpoon in her tail and was lifted up out of the water and slammed onto a hard surface of the surface craft, knocking her out .
"So, " Mrs. Crane sipped her coffee in Nelson's office," she got him pregnant."
He'd returned to NIMR to handle all the press."Possibly." Nelson poured himself a rye whiskey, "or she is, but we can't find her. We still can't find any actual evidence that he is.
She hasn't called to him, but he may just be showing gestational sympathy symptoms….that's what Doc calls it …or he may be transforming again…or it's a sexually transmitted disease, but…."Nelson took a breath, " he fainted today…….we just have no scientific idea what's going on…we've checked everything…no answers at all…"
"So you really have no idea…he could be a mother to be,"she sighed ,"or not, "as Nelson nodded, "How does he feel about all this?"
"Pretty miserable, I think. He's lost 8 pounds in two weeks. Still a bit short tempered…and worried about her too."
"And about the… child, if there is one?"
"I don't think that part of it has really hit him yet."
It had been a short cruise and now in Nelson's outer office, some days later, Crane and Sharkey were going over some maintenance reports. Sharkey had volunteered for a bit of shore duty, but it was a lame excuse. He knew first hand that mom's to be needed looking after, even if this one was a man.
There had been no evidence, Grady had assured him, but had winked that if the Doc thought so, and the Admiral…
Crane suddenly gasped as he fell to the floor and bent over. "Sharkey~" he uttered.
Sharkey was at his side in a moment. "What is it Skipper?"
"I…I'm not sure…I…"he gasped again…"get Morton….water…I have to….have water…."
The chief reached for the sideboard's pitcher of water and a glass,but before he could pour out any, Crane grabbed it and poured it over his head. His breathing slowed and began to be normal again.
"Shit," Crane whispered. The one word uttered said more than all the explanations that could be offered. He had no need to say more, and Sharkey knew it.
The chief raced to the phone and called for help. The skipper looked as if he held the weight of the world on his shoulders, and ran a hand through his wet curlicue hair in despair. Sharkey could see Cranes' nipples through the wet shirt with their amber ooze starting to stain the khacki.Just like last time.
Only this time…where was he carrying the kid anyway…
Crane was, silent, deep in thought…"chief,…get some noseplugs and gas masks issued and….wait….no…something's wrong..no, not with me…she's….in trouble…get the Admiral, hurry !"
"He's on his way."
"I…,I…can't explain it…no, she's " he whispered, "….she's…scared. Terrified. Believe me ."
The lights hurt her eyes. Where was she? It was difficult to remember, but she could remember the sudden sharp pain in her tail as she'd been hauled up into the air. The hard shiny thing they laid her on was like the one in the silver conveyance, but these humans had no compassion in their eyes. She could see glee, and lust in two of the burly humans, and the big one had a cold aloofness that scared her. Her arms were bound. They gagged her as she screamed when they ripped off her breast covering. Only he had seen her without it. Only he was her chosen one. These had no right to her. The unborn one kicked. No! Not now! It was too early! Not here! What would these humans do? Oh where was he? She needed him! She needed him now! The big one gave them some small green pieces of paper and they departed…he left her alone in the room. But she was bound too tightly to escape…
"Well,"Doc put away his stethoscope," I still can't see anything but stress…"
"You don't understand!" Lee gasped again, suddenly, in pain. "She's in danger! I can't explain it!"
"Lee…"Nelson tried to push Crane back down on the examining table in the Insitute clinic.
"I know, I know she's calling, and its not because she's summoning me….she's crying for help! You've got to let me go Doc! You've got to!"
"To do what? How? Where?"
"I…I don't know…I…wait…a table. A shiny metal table…like one in sickbay" he paused, " miles…miles away…water… near it …or under it…Seaview, we need Seaview…"
"Lee! You can't be serious!" Nelson tried to calm Crane, which was difficult to do as he himself was rather uncalm. Upset actually. When Sharkey had called him, for a moment he'd actually thought Crane had gone into labor.
Lee was frantic."Admrial, its has to be her! They're going to hurt her! Please!"
"Very well, Lee. We'll find your mermaid."
The big one had a large knife at his side. That much she knew. She'd hurt herself on one lying on a beach once, long ago. She had awoken from a deep sleep and this place was different. Open to the sea, but prevented from escaping by a strange net made of something like the silver conveyance of Lee's. Several days had passed by the new moon showing.
The big one was watching her, a cold calculating look. He took a look at the faded tabloid and studied it with growing interest.
Focus, she had to focus. Lee! Lee! Her heart called. She saw the specimens in jars and large glass watery containers like they had on the silver conveyance. But they had been alive . These were all…dead.
"Well, princess, you're worth a lot of money, the man glowed, as he tightened the restraints." I was going to open you up to see what makes you tick, but I even I see that you 're worth more alive, at least for now…I paid a lot of money for you….people are so gullible, they could have made a fortune themselves, the fools.
People will want to see, and study…" he began to paw and caress her naked breasts, and toyed with her nipples. She spat at him.
"Temper temper, my little one, oh, I can't call you that , can I, " he patted her very swollen abdomen, and was about to take his hand away when he felt the kick.
"What was…tsk tsk tsk. Oh my indeed…" he took some special equipment from a storage cabinet… and pressed a hard flat disk on her. He seemed intent on looking at a strange box with images…moving images. She had no idea what it was.
He rubbed his hands, " well, well, well… now, my little mother to be, I wonder who the proud papa could be…a fish? No, not likely, a merman, possibly possibly,..or perhaps a man? Far more likely…you mermaids were symbols of prostitution long ago….little tarts actually,luring sailors to their deaths. So, who did you lure into this? And how?"
She closed her eyes in an effort to remain calm…she was hurting, and not just from the lance wound. The man knew she was hurt, but had made no effort to comfort her…in fact he stood to the side.
He almost knew the tabloid's words by heart, as he mumbled, 'it remains to be seen if the fishman's offspring is human or perhaps even a mermaid, there are so many mysteries of the sea, and Nelson isn't talking'…
"It says here," he dragged his hand through her hair, " that Lee Crane is pregnant…a man? Pregnant? Bah, only in cheap fiction. …but if he were, who would he have gotten it on with as a fishman…sea mammal? Doubtful, but…if he'd seen you… Yes, yes, I should have known…Lee Crane the fishman…so…he's the proud papa of your little whatever… perhaps, "he leered,"but….perhaps isn't good enough…and if Crane isn't the father after all,Nelson perhaps? Hmmm. Maybe even his crewmen…after all he has a shipload of seamen, get it, dearie? Semen? No, I doubt you can understand" he laughed, " And they think crane's pregnant! He's probably just having sympathy pains! "
He noticed to his satisfaction that she had recognized crane's name.Oh this would be too simple!
"I told you, I don't know anything!" Mrs. Crane shouted. " Now, please go away!" she tried to shove the reporters away from the guest bungalow.
The caphonoy continued.
"But the National Snoop says Crane's been fooling around with a mermaid! And Dr. Sony has just confirmed the existence of the creatures. He even says has a live one he's going to display!"
"Did you know that there really were such creatures?
"Did a mermaid get your son pregnant? What is the sex act like? Do you approve of interspecies dating and mating?"
"How do you feel about being a grandmother of a freak ?"
"Will the child be a mermaid or a fishman?"
She finally managed to slam the door, and lock it. TV trucks were setting up and masses of reporters and people had found the secluded home and wanted to be first to be in on the breaking news.
"Calm down, Mom," Crane urged from his small office phone.
"Oh, Lee! this is terrible! They wont' leave me alone! And they're saying all sorts of horrible things, like terminating any child…"she paused, " and Dr. Sony say's the mermaid he caught is pregnant and he wants to cut out the mongrel for examination…"
"Pegnant? Are you sure? It's her? She's safe?" he asked, relieved, "Where is she? "
"I don't know…it may not even be yours…but he called me and…and…called you a pervert."
"We have to face this mom, most of all I do…"
"Today," the TV newscaster stated," Dr. Sony has verified that the recently snagged mermaid in his custody is pregnant by former fish-man Lee Crane! A purist organization is picketing the Nelson Institute for Lee Crane's immediate castration to avoid any future propagation of freaks or other menaces to mankind.
Dr Sony says matching DNA samples of the unborn..er..thing, match those taken from the US government database of US military and reserve personnel.
He claims that the unconfirmed phantom pregnancy of Crane which was rumored in the National Snoop and in and around Santa Barbara is nothing more than telekinetic sympathy pains, as other unidentified sources have indicated…."
She was cowering in the corner of the large sea-pen, trying to hide . Some of the hard walls were clear and people pointed at her through them. Anyone with eyes could see she was afraid, and quite pregnant. She held her hands over her breasts in an attempt to hide them and tried to turn from the transparent walls that almost surrounded the water pit. Her prison. While her hair flowed beautifully in the fluid she was the picture of dejection.
A dolphin or two passed by the pen and could tell, this mermaid was in big trouble.
"This," Dr. Sony tapped on the glass, on the live TV report, " is the mermaid Crane got pregnant. A downright act of perversion with an animal…he ought to be charged with cruelty and assault."
"How far along is she?" one of the invited guests asked.
"From the look of her, quite soon, though even with a degree in Marine Biology I cant' really say…it could even kill her, this pregnancy…such an unnatural conception. To protect the mermaid I have approval from the animal rights agency to do a C-section and remove the mutant offspring. The sooner the better. "
"What of Crane's rights' as a parent?"another reporter asked.
"Parent?? As in dog-breeding and other animals, the offspring belongs to the mother, not to the father..he has no rights…such depravity notwithstanding. The mutant mongrel may well be a threat to humanity."
"But she's half human. ..what if she wanted it? The sex I mean, with Crane. That could hardly be called assault. And the child? Has she no rights to it?"
"Nonsense. The Mermaid is a marine specimen, that's all. No heart, or soul. No true brain as we know it, no feelings…, she's just a fish, really."
It was in all the news, all the time. There in full color on TV and in publications and newspapers was the mermaid. Living proof of a heretofore uncertain species.
Crane was labeled as a depraved sex offender by some, a paramour by others. Everyone wanted to get in on the story.
Nelson's writ against Sony , who claimed the mermaid was a finder's keepers piece of property was laughed off as a measure by Nelson who let a big one get away.
Scientists had arrive en mass in an effort to be in on the exploratory examinatination and C-section to remove the offspring as Sony had planned.
"But" the white haired man paced in his office, " there's no legal precedent, Harriman. I'm telling you, it’s a no win situation!" Nelson's old friend, Admiral Lincoln, a retired JAG lawyer, stressed. "Sony has a good case, he caught her didn't he, or at least he paid the fishing boat that caught her…the mermaid is property, nothing more…"
"He's going to cut her open!"
"You've cut up marine specimens before too, Harriman, more than you can count."
"But not a mermaid for Petes' sake!, Especially not a pregnant one…"he was sweating, "or one that happens to be Lee's… sweetheart."
"That's a matter of interpretation, Harry…according to the law, Crane could be in very great trouble…it's like having sex with a dog or something like that."
"The law hasn't even determined there are such things as mermaids, so how can it label…"
"Harriman, sit, here, have a brandy, I know how you must feel, but…look, I'll do what I can…perhaps I can get a stay issued about the C-section…temporarily…but… but we'll have to go through some red tape and its going to be messy….now…you have to tell me more…everything you can…."
She lay on the cold metal table. Awake. The men were donning strange white and green aprons of some sort. Great lights heart her eyes. She couldn't move. Bound, yes, but also something else had made her motionless. The big one came closer and began to touch her hair, and stroke her face. She tried to scream but her throat had been sprayed and she couldn’t make a sound.
"Well, I shouldn't I blame Crane too much, after all she is quite pretty even if she is rather plump just now!"Dr. Sony intoned. "Now you can see that above the navel and for a few inches below it, she appears quite human, however…look at her eyes…a third eyelid when the light hits it in the right way, and here, " he squeezed a breast and pinched a nipple, " while the mammaries look human, they produce a thick golden fluid…one of my sources says that Crane produced it too just prior and during his transformation and secretes it even now.
We're still doing chemical analysis on it," he took the ooze on his gloved hand and licked his fingers…"unlike anything known to man, quite delicious, and intoxicating actually. No wonder the sailor went mad with crazed passion….sailors always think with their balls instead of their brains.
Now here, you'll notice the formation of the scales…our initial CAT scans showed anatomical variations unlike any human or marine life known to date…and here,"he patted her abdomen, " here, hidden away from mankind for aeons, is the reproductive system…and just about here, yes," he used an instrument to pry open the tight invisible opening, "is where Crane inserted his manly weapon and ravished the specimen.
My sources say there are actual videos of the union in which his penis, when fully immersed, was caressed and suckled and actually stuck as he debauched the creature, but I'm sure that was simply a physiological reaction to any phallus…lets see there," he opened her up further without gentleness or preparation, her eyes winced in shame,and pain, "these little growths, similar to polyps, drove him mad… look, tentacles even…they seem to be able to change in size…well, enough for now…let's remove Crane's mongrel pup and continue afterwards."
He was about to make an incision when the door opened loudly and a loud voice said, "I'm sorry Dr. Sony, but I have a writ here, preventing the C-section or any other exploratory surgery until after a hearing about custody," the police officer interrupted the gathering.
"By who's order?"Dr. Sony asked, outraged.
"The Supreme Court..the local court said this was too big a matter to rest with them, so it was transferred.…the knife sir…" he extended his hand.
"The knife sir, " the officer persisted…
"You do that sir, now release her, "he nodded to the small group of police with him to start snapping open the restraints.
"It's my property, you have no right to do this! Can't you wait till after we finish??"
"Finish!" Crane barged in the room, furious.
"Who's he?" a guest asked.
"I'm the pervert Fishman, and I'm telling you to all to let go of my wife!'
She recognized him with evident relief and started to breathe faster. He moved to her side and joined the police in removing the restraints. He quickly took off his shirt and covered her with it. But she seemed paralyzed.
"What have you done to her!?" He lifted her against his chest.
"Skipper, "Doc had checked the drug that had been used on her, "they only used a paralytic! It would have been agony!"
"Is that true Dr. Soney?" one of the visitors removed his garb, astounded.
"Of course…you certainly understood that we wanted to observe her inner functions intact without any slowing of …wait…you do it all the time…in labs and for study…they even dissect frogs in schools….it was necessary…" he called out after some of the visitors who were leaving in disgust, some in fear of being recognised.
Lee was far more nervous than he cared to admit. He'd dreamed of seeing her again, but now…hurt, in shock, would she be angry with him for being a member of the human race, and more, for getting her pregnant?
As he carried her she began to cry with sheer relief. Doc had given her a fast acting counter drug and she'd regained the use of her body quickly. He held her close and gently showered her with kisses and caresses of her hair as he carried her to the waiting van, courtesy of the police.
Nelson had been about to intrude but decided this would not be the time to tell Lee of the legal tangle that could still very well remove his mermaid from him. And his child.
He let the two simply hold each other, as the van carried them to the flying sub to take them back to NIMR. Yes, there was love there, he knew. It wasn't lust, at least not anymore.
Only the fact that Crane had been identified as the father of the unborn thing had allowed the 'finder's keeper's claim by Sony to be legally ignored, for the time being. But, it was still going to be a messy custody fight.
"So,"Nelson said as he appeared on the live interlink TV from the Institute office. "I put it to you, the public, that common law marriages are quite legal…most are recognized after 7 years, but if recognized then, why not from the beginning? When two human souls combine, aren't they united in a bond far tighter than what our mere pieces of paper make them?
Crane's been called a pervert. Very well. Dr. Sony would tell you that he forced himself on an animal. But what makes an animal? Aren't we all? We live, we breath, and we reproduce…but the difference between us and the lower creatures is what we call heart. And I tell you now, that Lee Crane's mermaid, has more heart than many people I've met.
They deeply love each other, and came together physically in that love. The proof of that love is the child that she's apparently carrying now…but even without it, they are committed to each other, for all time. And if that's not love, what is?"
Nelson paused to drink a glass of water, though he'd prefer vodka at this time. His nerves were on edge.…
"There are some would tell you that this child is going to be a freak…well,as a scientist I can tell you that we're all freaks. What is normal? We exist. So if you have trouble with that consider your own abnormalities. Overbites? Receding chins? No one on earth is normal. Who is Sony to decide what is normal or not? What kind of scientist uses a paralytic instead of an anesthetic upon any creature for either examination or treatment. Frankly I'm shocked…
It's been rumored that I pulled rank and position and forced a genetic experiment on both Lee Crane and the mermaid; those rumors are utterly false…as for Crane's own pregnancy, well, it seems quite obvious now, especially without ever having obtained medical proof, that he's actually been suffering sympathy pains, a known medical phenomenon that I admit had us all a bit worried…."
Grady was nervous. He'd only written home about it, the skipper's pregnancy and the mermaid…how was he to know anyone would take him that seriously. He hadn't wanted the skipper to get into trouble, not even the mermaid..not really, how was he to know the National Snoop was paying his mom big bucks for all his letters about the skipper and his mermaid, and that she'd sent some of them to her brother Dr. Sony and to the National Snoop?
Frank was nervous. He'd only asked the PlayPals video club what their rules about submitting videos for distribution were. He'd only written a brief description of the skipper's sex tape. He thought about making a movie based on it would be a good idea, he hadn't meant for the company to think he was actually talking about real tapes…he had no idea they'd take him seriously and that the company had been paid by Dr. Sony to reveal their existance to the National Snoop.
Riley was nervous. Tell the truth. That was all the skipper had asked.
Ski was angry. . The skipper was only being human, having sex with the mermaid, even when he was a fishman…it was nobody's business, and he chided himself for having been so damn interested in it.
Sharkey was upset. While the Doc and Admrial were pretty sure that the skipper wasn't pregnant , he still suffered symptoms, and well, nobody really knew for sure did they, maybe he still was…after all, they'd done it more than once, or twice, or hell, they'd done it so many times who could tell anything….
"And I say, that if Crane claims the mermaid is his, then since he lost it, and I found it, It's mine! To do with as I please, " Dr. Sony blared from the courtroom.
"Now, Dr. Sony," Lincoln asked, " you state that the offspring has been verified as Crane's. "
" DNA from the fetus proves it without possibility of error."
"So Crane actually had sexual intercourse with the mermaid?"
"Well of course he did,"Dr. Sony said as if to a child, "As I said, I know of no other way to make a baby between mammals."
"You call it a baby? I was under the assumption you said the offspring was a mutant, a thing unworthy of life and a threat to mankind and the mermaid itself?' Your words or was I mistaken?"
"I said it was a mutant conceived when Crane took advantage of the situation as a fishman and engaged in a despicable act of perversion."
"How do you know it was perverse?"
"Be serious! A man and a mermaid? She's a fish!"
"By your definition, Crane was also a fish, at the time.
"So, Commander Crane," Linclon asked, when Crane had taken the stand, " that was not the first time you were intimate? When you made the baby?"
"No,"Lee practially whispered. He remembered the event, and the amnesia she'd forced on him about, the truth only revealed after the event in all it's glory.
"Tell us about it."
Crane hesitated. It was one thing to be a mutant on display, quite another to air intimate details to a gossipy crowd of onlookers. There was no way out…
"I was on shore leave, sailing. It was her. She'd helped us out on a mission… one thing led to another and the rest is history…afterwards I underwent the transformation…and when we met yet again, we…well…it was the last time you see, she was going to let me change back, and I knew I might not ever see her again…"
"Why did you think that?"
"We both thought that…we both knew our worlds weren't exactly compatible, in that we'd only be happy together, but apart, our worlds would come between us."
"She had the power over your thoughts?"
"No, but she communicated through them…"
"Who initiated the sex act?"
"Which time?" Lee asked innocently, immediately chagrined as many in the courtroom snickered.
"The very first time,"Linclon asked gently.
"We both did," Lee replied, embarassed to be on the stand and so exposed.
"Now, commander, I know this is a private matter, but it is important…did you in any way pressure the mermaid into compliance with your sexual desires?… Did you rape her?"
"NO! She wanted me to…be part of her…I wanted to be a part of her…we decided together!"
"So as a man, a normal healthy human male, you had sex with her."
"Did you enjoy it?"
"How do you know she did?"
"She told me, with her mind."
"She was a sentient being in your mind?"
"Of course she's sentient! She's not a fish! She's just a human with a tail and can breathe underwater, that's all."
"Ah yes…now I understand that you could breathe underwater too, while having sex with her, and for a while afterwards as well…."
"Only after…after the first…" Lee was pale, " after the first… emission." It was the only word he could come up with that didn't sound so…sleazy in this courtroom.
"But after that you could breathe underwater…how many times did you..let's use the common vernacular… come?"
"I don't know…we….we made love a lot…"
"It wasn't just sex to relieve your male needs then, It was making love to each other."
"Yes! How many times do we have to go through this! I'm tired of everyone trying to make it out as if we were a couple of barnyard animals! We love each other! Sex is really only optional in love when you think seriously about it, but it can be a very fulfilling part of it…"
"Thank you commander. I ask the court for a ten minute recess…."
It wasn't going well,Sony mused, that damn lawyer of Nelsons was a hair's breath away from making Crane out to be a Casanova, not a sex crazed pervert…he had to do something and soon…he'd loose a lot of money if she got away from him…
"So, Kowalski, isn't it," Sony's lawyer droned, " you say that when the mermaid was aboard the Seaview the very first time, no-one actually saw it but the Captain and the Admiral."
"So how do you know the mermaid Sony has is the very same one Crane fell in love with the first time? Don't they all look alike? Tell me, did you actually see the ambibean creature counsel says came aboard while the mermaid was first captured by Crane?"
"Yeah, he was real upset, almost killed the skipper…"
"I don't know. We think it might have been her boyfriend, maybe her father or kind of like a dog or something…trying to find her.."
"To protect her? From Crane? Why? Perhaps Crane's attentions weren't actually welcome , after all, even human dogs can sense things, to try to protect their owners…now, Kowalski, later on, when you and your shipmates knew all about the mermaid, Nelson gave you specific orders not to reveal it, is that true?
" Not exactly…"
"Answer the question."
"He said nobody'd believe it, and advised us to keep mum about it if we didn't want to be laughed at…but it wasn't like a real order..."
"And when Nelson thought Crane was pregnant by her? He actaully wanted to hide the greatest discoveries of the century?"
"Yes, but only to protect the skipper…."
"Now, Doctor," he continued with his latest witness, " without Crane's knowledge or consent, you placed fiber optic cameras inside what you thought were the reproductive areas of the mermaid."
"Yes, it was the opportunity of a lifetime…they were non-toxic and biodegradable."
"What happened when Nelson found out you'd filmed the transformedCrane and the mermaid having sex in and around Institute property?"
"As a scientist he understood the scientific value of the research."
"Had Nelson encouraged Crane, as the fishman, to indulge himself for that research?"
"No, neither knew anything of it at the time."
"But Nelson viewed the tapes. Both interior biological views and external institute tapes, is that correct?"
"What did he think of them?"
"He was as intrigued as I was…the scientific aspect was phenomenal and…"
"Did either of you inform Crane about your research?"
"We had every intention of telling him after the mermaid released him from the fishman conversion."
"But you never got around to it."
"No, I'm ashamed to say we didn't peruse the matter quickly enough."
"Did you seek the mermaid's permission to place such invasive optics into her body, or let her know that her every move on Institute property would be filmed?"
"No…she wouldn't have understood."
"So you regarded her as a non-human."
"No…I just couldn't understand her, or vise versa.."
"Animals don't understand either…, these tapes, these sex tapes, there are about ten of them is that correct?"
"15 actually from the Institute properties and from the optics…"
"And they cover several hours of almost continual sexual intercourse between the transformed crane and the mermaid."
"Rumor has it that it was like a sexual marathon…in fact, just after Crane would climax, he'd be hard again, climax after climax…quite exhausting I'm sure…tell me…were you… turned on by viewing the tapes, just like your corpsman and one of your crew who'd spent their off duty time to watch them?"
"No! I'm a physician! I was just curious as to the sexual techniquies of both of them and the physiological differences and reactions…"
"Then why did you allow such explicit research tapes to be seen by non-authorised persons aboard your sub? I realize submariners are sailors, and sailors have a lusty reputation, to encourage pornography…."
"I was unaware that one of my corpsmen had seen the tapes, and was showing them. Both men have been disciplined. I've been disciplined, as well for not insuring the tape's security."
"I see…yes…you've had your medical licence suspended haven't you…now, tell me, how did Crane feel about this invasion of privacy?"
"He was understandably upset."
"About being filmed or getting caught on tape in acts of perversion? Next witness."
"Admrial," the man continued, " when you discovered that Crane had been intimate with the mermaid, you encouraged him to yet again be intimate in order to de-transform, is that correct?
"I knew of legends that mermaids had special added powers during starfalls, and believed that's what had caused the mutation in the first place, her wishing for Le…for Captain Crane to be able to stay with her in the sea without the need to return to our world…"
"That's all well and fine, but did you or did you not encourage Crane to have sex with the mermaid in order to convince her to wish him back to normal?"
This was it, the big moment he dreaded, which would mark him for life, "Yes."
Gasps were heard thouroughout the courtroom amid shocked faces of dissapointment.
"So you encouraged Crane to coerce her? Your honor, correct me if I'm mistaken, but isn't' corecrion a type of statutory rape?"
"Stop it!" Lee rose, furious, " we only had a last time, that's all! She would have released me from the transformation anyway!"
"Did she tell you that?"the judge intervened.
"Your honor," Sony's man continued, " if Crane was so much in love with the mermaid, and want's this court to honor his request for custody and legal wardship of her, or even a marriage certificate, a truly disgusting idea, then why would he have wanted his Transformation to end?
Wouldn’t he be willing to spend his life with her, in the depths? Surley Nelson could have established an undersea lab of some sort to allow him to continue his valued input for the Institute while enjoying his life with the mermaid…
I put it to you that Crane is a shallow and callous man, so enamored with the perverted thrill of the sexual pleasure he obtained from the creature that he's allowed himself to regard it as human, to remove the hidden guilt he has because their union goes against everything that's normal or decent! "
Ahh, victory, Sony leaned back in his hotel room chair. Yes, his lawyer had really zinged Crane.
It would only be a matter of time before he and his colleauges could get a little action, from the wanton little whore. He'd acquired duplicates of the sex tapes from a friend at court who'd managed to pilfer them from safekeeping. No wonder Crane wanted her all to himself.
Even he'd have cast aside his ideas on perversion to get in on the act. If these tapes were made public, the distributor would make a fortune! Of course, they'd have to be altered, so they'd seem like a movie…
"What more can I say?" Crane asked, " your honor, for the sake of argument, I agree she's not all human, but she's half- human, the part that counts. Her mind, her soul…isn't that what humanity is all about? If I did something inherently wrong, then why did it feel so right?
Why do I love her more than my life? She's not a pet, or a marital aide for a frustrated sailor as Dr. Sony would have you believe…I'd give my life for her, and if I must go through the transformation again to satisfy this court to be considered a legal spouse then I ask Admiral Nelson right now if tissue regeneration is possible to transform me again, and if so, then I'm willing to undergo it. Even if I have to stay a fishman for the rest of my life…"
Dr. Sony was about to say something, amid the applause, when Lee Crane suddenly gasped and fell to the floor.
"She's …she's gone!" Lee voiced, hoarse.
"And so it's all for nothing," the reporter droned, " the mermaid who caused all the fuss, has escaped, possibly aided by some intrigued dolphins, who NIMR security men think they saw nudging and bending the sea gate wide enough for the mermaid to swim through. Meanwhile, the legal wardship of the mermaid is still in consideration, little good it will do Crane now. Perhaps their union was a terrible mistake, after all.
She had been hurting more and more as the weeks had gone by. They had all been very kind to her…at the place Lee called home, but it would be soon, she knew. The time of fear and wonder. She'd known it would be strange. And painful. She knew she could not have remained in that limited space. They had treated the lance wound. It had almost healed, and Lee had not been upset when she'd placed his hand on the swelling he was responsible for. They'd both felt the kicks. Then she placed her hand on his thick male appendage and nodded. He'd understood. He was not angry. He'd come to see her frequently. But It was getting painful. She wanted to be alone. Or with him. She didn't know anymore.. Just to hold him would be enough. They had not been intimate in all this time. There had been no need to be. But now she ached for him.
"Lee…I don't even know if this will work…I think it may, but this is all rather theoretical still and all of the tests done by my colleauges have been negative.
Remember, it's only worked on a cellular level, to duplicate the transformed tissue and to reconvert it, but…"
Harry, I…its been weeks. All I know is that I love her, and this may be the only way to find her…we were able to communicate better when I was transformed. I know you've searched, more than most people would even attempt, even the Navy's helped out…but if I'm a fishman, perhaps …somehow, maybe I can find her easier…It’s a long shot…but it's all I have…."
"She called to you when you were human too, Lee. I don't think the power of her telecommunication would be any stronger if…"Lee was looking broody, he gave up and said gently, ".She may not want you near, you know…pregnant women get a bit…mad at the fathers…This," he motioned to the vials on the lab table," is a big step, one that might not be reversible. I need more time to test it."
"Doc said it he thought it was time a few weeks ago…I need to be with her…now, especially now…and for the rest of my life." Lee walked over to the lab table and reached for one of the test vials.
"Very well, Lee, " Nelson approached Lee, touched his shoulder and quickly gave him a chaste kiss on the forehead, "Good luck, son," and departed the lab.
Lee stripped naked. While he'd be taking the flying sub out yet again, he might be in the water a good deal of the time as the Fishman.
The extract was concentrated. Nelson had thought any transformation would be far quicker than the original…speed was important…Nelson had worked round the clock to try to perfect the experimental formula, but it really was just hypothetical….
He looked at the vial. The Orange and Green swirls looked like a kid's ice-cream pop all melted. Nelson had wanted to add some flavoring to cover up the potent smell, but Crane had refused. He wanted no contaminates to dilute it…he held his breath and drank it down.
Nelson sat in the observation nose, whiskey bottle in his hand…it had better work, this wild plan. He didn’t' want to loose Lee to the world of humanity, but there had really been no choice.
They'd chosen to go to the grotto where Lee had first seen her… in the hopes that she would have chosen it as the place for the birth. All the cameras were in place just in case, but this time with Crane's permission.
Nelson had asked for volunteers to go along in the flying sub. They all knew the difficulties being with Crane as a wet smelling fishman, but to a man all had volunteered. So it was decided to let the Captain decide.
To everyone's surprise, Crane chose Riley, and to Morton's disgust - Grady. Sharkey, who had demanded to go along, after hounding every officer there was that there was no way he was going to let the skipper go out there all alone with all those man and fish eating sharks out there, was also chosen. He'd been pretty vocal about the uncertaintly about the possibility of the skipper being pregnant himself.
There was no conversation aboard as all waited to see if the transformation would work. Only the clicking of the electronics and the bounce of sonar…No-one wanted this to work. No-one wanted it to fail…
And then came Crane's voice over the PA., " it's worked. I'm going out."
He'd expected the corridors to the observation nose and flying sub to be well isolated, or at least his crew protected with face and gas masks from his aroma, but all aboard wished him well ,while trying not to breathe, in an attempt to make him feel better, as he strode to the observation nose.
The spiked fin in his back hurt, the torn skin bled in the sudden surge of change, and the scales around his nipples and genitals were sore and itched firecely. Yes, the transformation was complete, from the foul stench he exuded to the small wrist and ankle fins. Even the webbing between his fingers and toes was complete. Only scales at his temples were missing..perhaps the fact that his hair was still white there made a difference…with a thumbs up from Sharkey, from the flying sub's hatch, he smiled and descended after him.
"Sir,"Kowalski handed the Admiral a piece of paper," Sparks said this was for the skipper, but…"
"Thank you Ski,'
"I'm sorry about this whole mess sir, if I hadn't…well…I yacked about it too…we all did…"
"Ski, it's all right, besides," he surmised, " it all would have come out sooner or later…some things are just not meant to be kept hidden…I know that now, "he said, blaming himself for this whole mess.
"What is it ?" Collins asked as Ski returned to his station, dejected.
"The Supreme Court…they've said the skipper can keep her…that as a half human she's entitled to all rights of a human..lot of good it'll do him now…"
"It's been" the reporter looked at the paper, " four days since Crane transformed back into the fishman and left Seaview in the flying sub to search for his wife…though not exactly legal, the term has been bandied about as if it is…several oceanographic vessels have given up…there is worry that the half-breed offspring may have killed her.
The flying sub has more mobility than Seaview and Crane is using it as a portable base, to which he returns occasionally after swimming in inaccessable areas in an attempt to see or to hear from her.
The men with him also take turns diving while keeping a sharp eye out on their special equipment for anything that profiles like a mermaid…"
"He found her!" Sharkey 's voice came though loud and clear from the flying sub, " she's…oh my go...uh, doc? Doc? "he sounded panicked, as he turned on the cameras for Seaviwe to witness the mermaid and Crane in the depths.. They were surrounded by stining jellyfish of all sizes, seemingly following them, attacking them .
"Skipper!"Sharkey exclaimed pulling on a scuba tank, and jumping into the hatch. Riley was only a breath away and Grady moved the flying sub closer to them.
"She's hurt!" Riley voiced, the skipper is too…he's going limp too!"
Grady edged the flying sub close and was about to suit up when he noticed some dolphins appeared and were scattering the jellyfish away. Sharkey finally took hold of Crane as Riley took the mermaid and swam the few feet to the flying sub.
"We've got them!" Grady shouted, and extended a helping hand and helped pull the mermaid and Crane aboard.
"Careful!" Sharkey ordered, "those things are poisionous!Get the anitvenom from the first aide kit! Skipper1 Skipper! Can you hear me…Riley get those damn things off of him, Grady pull em off her too!"
These were venomous jellyfish. One sting alone might not be lethal, but a whole school of the things…
Crane was having difficulty breathing…his gill slits were bleeding…but at least the gills helped to bring him more oxygen than his lungs could…Sharkey dropped the anivenum shot and swore at himself..
"Grady, here, you do it…my big mits are just too clutzy!"
Grady took the needle and asked Doc on the open mike, " Subcutaneous or intervasular?"
"Intervascular!" Jamison came over the airwaves.
"Uh, " Riley asked, holding the needle over the mermaid.
"Here, I'l do it," Grady took over when Crane had been injected and treated the woman the skipper loved. Odd , that he'd considered her a woman…well, why not…
She was breathing hard, labored.
"Skipper are you allright?"Sharkey asked, as Crane's eyes began to flutter open, confused.
"Where am I? Oh, yes…F-fine…" he saw her lying there, limp. "Doc, I need to talk to Doc…"
"It's Okay, skip," Riley answered, "she's breathing easier, she's coming around.."
"Doc," Lee ingnored him, " there was blood, a lot of blood…"
"Damn, " Doc said sotto voice not meant for Crane to hear but he had, "She's broken water, Lee, it may be too dangerous for her to give birth naturally, especially now, you may have to do a C-section if you can't get back to us in time. Is she dilated?"
"I'll check," Grady intervened and suddenly realized he had no idea where to check." Uh, skipper," he bent and spoke into the Captain's ear.
Crane flushed, embarassed and knealt beside her, "Oh, uh, no…I don't see anything, " he checked her pathway to glory while Sharkey and Riely turned their faces to give him a bit of privacy.
"Good…that gives us a little time…"Grady said, then noticed the questioning look in Crane's face, " I looked at a lot of the dirty pictures in Doc's medical books," he kidded…"actually I did pretty well in training…she's looking better."
Her eyes opened, she grabbed Crane's arms and brought him to her lips in a deep kiss, and then suddenly gasped and pushed him away.
"Uh, doc…"Riley said to the open line.
"It's okay Riley, " Lee said, " I think she wants to go outside….stop the flying sub. I'm going out with her…"
"I'm goin' with ya…."Sharkey quickly donned his scuba tank, and followed the two.
"Go ahead Grady, you could use the practice," Riley urged, taking the controls of the flying sub, to keep it steady as Grady donned scuba, having no idea how he could possibly help with the birth.
"Yes, " the reporter droned, " it appears as though Crane has found his wife, and she is in labor…we have been granted permission to witness this amazing event…and take you live to Seaview and the camera views from it's flying submarine….
Crane swam with her as she began to twirl and spin upward and in a spurt through the surface, only to smash back down into the sea.
"What's' happening?" Riley asked through the open mike to Seaview.
"Don't be alarmed," Nelson said, " Like spinner dolphins…its probably just part of the birth process.."
Indeed it appeared to be…for five minutes Lee stayed close by as Sharkey and Grady did as well, keeping an eye out for danger as well as any thing they might be needed for.
The dolphins appeared, and seemed to help, bottlenose and spinners, who seemed to join in the spinning and splashing, encouraging the mermaid.
With a sudden squeel , as she crashed back back down into the sea, the child began to emerge. But something was wrong…
"A breech!" Grady said, and tried to get close to her, but she would have none of it and spun again…as Crane and Grady tried to approach her.
"Skipper…we got to get it turned around!"
Just as Crane was about to grab her to hold her still, a round tush ermerged followed by legs and then torso and head.
"It's a kid!" Riley exclaimed. Cheers and backslapping was heard from the Seaview.
Before Crane could do anything, she'd grabbed it . Almost flying upwards, she raised it to the surface to take a breath, before bringing it back down under the depths.
She practically wilted in Lee's arms, as she placed the child to suckle at her breast, perfectly content, a human child it seemed…and breathing underwater.
"Well, it's perfectly normal, as far as I can see, " Doc said, from sickbay,". No gills, no fins…but the lungs can breath water and air…I'm totally stumped…" Doc put away his stethoscope hurriedly as the baby's small penis sprayed him liberally, just like any normal baby boy.
"How is she?" Nelson asked.
"Well, to be honest I don't know…those jellyfish stung pretty badly but," he smiled as he saw Crane, sitting at her side,stroking her hair.…but I think she'll be fine..there's no tearing, and the effects of the jellyfish have completely abated…"
"I'd like you to check Lee out as well, he got stung too."
"May take some doing…"
"Lee," chip appeared, quickly putting on his gas mask. Lee was still in his transformed glory and smelled pretty bad," We've got some legal mumbo jumbo to go through."
"What now?" he asked, pouring some water over his head as he rose from the new mother's side.
"Well, as acting captain of this boat, I need to have a name to put on this birth certificate!"
"And so, ladies and gentlemen," the reporter smiled, "today in what can only be called a new step in mankind's long journey, Crane's mermaid gave birth to a healthy baby boy. And it appears to be human, though with the added ability to breathe water…
Crane is still in his fishman state and it is unknown if he will be able to revert back to human form, an attempt will be made later today. But Mrs. Crane, the mother of Lee Crane, that is, said it hardly matters. She's a grandmother at long last, her son is happy, and she'll be willing to take scuba lessons in order to join the happy family.
In addition, the Supreme Court has awarded the couple legal standing as man and mermaid.
This is one fishtale in which the big one got away but came back…home."
Nelson sat at his desk in his cabin and sighed. It had been a long long day. Reporters had plagued Sparks with inquiries, and Angie had had to turn off the main switchboard at the institute.
Though tired, he felt a peace he hadn't felt in a long time.
It had worked, the special formula. Lee would be able to transform at will and back with a little help. Too bad they didn't have it the first time… now synthesized and safe, and effective…
Crane had showered, shaved, and was in human form again
. The bar had been opened for the celebration but Nelson had noticed the ordeal had been more wearing on Lee than he'd let on…
"Admiral?" Lee knocked on the door.
"Lee! Come in, I'd have thought you'd be resting! You've had quite an ordeal."
"Tell me about it…" Crane ran a hand against his neck," oh, don't worry, it doesn't hurt…just a little itch…I uh…wanted to ask you something…."
As the weeks passed the grotto was designated a protected area and Nelson had begun to dechiper mer-talk, much to the amusement of Crane who preferred sign language to squeals and grunts, and especially telepathy.
An unused sea lab was being refurbished and the Cranes would be able to enjoy it soon , as well as Lee's new house going up with a built in canal to the sea, including a grandmother apartment that Nelson himself had designed for the happy couple.
Nelson was glad for the freedom the Crane's had now…the freedom granted to all mankind…to simply be themselves.
The baby was a better swimmer than either Kowalski or Sharkey, indeed better than anyone of the crew, frequent babysitters to the captain's kid…his name was Eelah, the sound of the name his mother used to call him.
The skipper was a man on the Seaview, usualy, and a fishman at home, sometimes…it all depended. Sometimes his special talents as a fishman were needed on Seaview. Hadn't it come in handy when a diver had gotten trapped in a crevase, and when that weird fish the admiral wanted added to his collection got away, only to be found and returned by a grinning soulmate…they had a good supply of gas masks on Seaview and were getting used to the minor inconveniences of the captain's conversions.
It was a matter of specualation how often the skipper would utilize his talents at home, as man and as fishman.
With a little pressure from Crane, the AMA decided the suspension to Doc's license was enough of a slap on the wrist, and he was restored to his chosen profession…even Morton had decided to let bygones be bygones and had forgiven Grady and Riley, and thanked them for assisting the captain in a time of great need.
Dr. Sony still voiced his opinions that the Crane child was a mongrel , but no-one cared . The baby had even appeared on a talk show, and audiences around the world had fallen in love with him.
As time went on, and missions added in number, old news had finally become old news. The insitutute decided not to persue the clandestine porno tapes rumored to be circulating in which exerpts of Crane and his wife may have appeared. It was just possible to think it was of them, but no one was sure…perhaps it was just a movie after all. It would be impossible to trace them and would take time away from more important things.
It had been a long cruise this time and Lee had fallen asleep in his cabin.
"Lee, Lee, wake up.."Nelson ordered.
"Huh? Oh, admiral, I'm sorry,"
"We've docked. Go home and go to bed."
Lee smirked, " naughty naughty, sir."
"Lee! Really! Oh, uh, why not let Eelah stay with me and my sister Edith for a spell…and we'd be glad to have your mother as well. Edith has a full staff and breakfast in bed is a wonderful thing.
Take some shore leave…let's see, we shouldn't have to get underway for about a month,"he paused, adding to himself, " good thing,' cause you two keep it up for so long,"…unless there's an emergency and…"
"You know, boss, I just may take you up on that…," he smiled, " after all little Eelah Harriman should get to know his godfather better."
It was a moonlit beach. It was a romantic setting, one he'd liked, and he knew she enjoyed, but he'd fallen asleep. They'd been rather …busy for the rather extended weekend. She sighed, and ran her hands through his hair…he was so like the baby…she grinned…and softly placed her breast against his lips…he almost suckled her by reflex…she ran her hands across his nipples. She'd never understood the human need for clothing, and was glad he was getting used to the idea of stripping naked whenever he was home. He was so much more attractive without any clothing anyway, she grinned.
He began to rouse…he kissed her, she kissed him back…he drank from her breasts… She ran her hands through his thick thatch of pubic hair and played her fingers on his thickening penis.
A star fell. It was time. He penetrated her body and began to thrust as she tightened her insides around him ,as they became one with each other yet again. It was good to be his.
It was good to be hers. Mind,heart, body,and soul, he was forever hers. And so his joy was complete,especially now, in that special union that made them man and wife.
Crane had decided to shoot the stars. It really wasn't necessary, the inertial guidence system was working fine. But the order was given and Seaview emerged from the depths to glisten in the moonlight on the surface.
Nelson was used to the Captain getting his own way, especially in the smooth running of the boat, and decided to join him in the conning tower to confirm the sighting…
Lookouts were posted as the two officers used the time honored sextant. Nothing like a little human involvement in the age of microchips.
"Man oh man, have you ever seen so many beautiful stars?" Riley asked in wonderment as he looked up in wonder at the night sky.
"Uh, Riley," Nelson urged, " wouldn't you care to rephrase that? Or just ignore them?"
Crane was having a difficult time trying to stifle a chuckle.
"I don't understand, sir," Riley asked, " I was just thinking how wonderful they all looked and…hey!"
Kowalski had nudged him to shut up as Nelson was beginning to join Crane in the merriment as they tried to stifle their laughter.
"What's with them?" Riley whispered to Ski.
"Gee I don't know Stu," Kowalski winked, " maybe they saw a mermaid and you were wishing on a star!"