Author’s Note:  Well, I found another 4th Season episode, Manbeast, with a truncated ending that demanded a WHN.  I mentioned this was annoying me to a friend and she said I should write it. So for my January sub pen dues here’s my take on writing a tag for this episode. Diane 


Contingency Plan


By Diane Kachmar


            Harriman Nelson looked down at his sleeping Captain and smiled. Lee probably wouldn’t like what was on the clipboard Nelson held in his hand, but Crane would sign it. If Lee wanted his release from Sick Bay. As far as Harry was concerned, his captain’s signature was as necessary as the 24 hour observation Jamieson had ordered once their diving bell returned to the sub.

            It was much too close this time. This latest incident only strengthened Nelson’s resolve to finally start a program with his trained lab personnel to clear them for classified research. Braddock’s failed experiment would be the last that used Lee Crane and his highest level security status as a test subject.

            The test subject in question twitched and shifted in the rack. Lee may have been saved by the Institute antidote and recovered from what the atmosphere had done to his metabolism, but Crane wasn’t leaving here until he woke up on his own. His mandated observation period had ended several hours ago, but Harry had requested Will do what he wanted. It had not taken that much persuading. Nelson smiled again. He had a good crew.

            Lee had been through a lot in the last three days, not the least the matter of three dives that should have been avoided; if Harry had only been here. That was another test protocol that would change. Nelson had not wasted any time getting the wheels turning.

            The Admiral slid quietly into the chair Jamieson had left, for him and Chip to share, beside the rack. Harry closed his eyes, still feeling drained from the frantic race to recover Crane after his third metamorphosis and escape, sedate him and administer the antidote at depth before it was too late. Their ride back up in the diving bell was still fresh in his mind.


            “Whoa, son,” Harriman Nelson grabbed Lee Crane by the shoulders to prevent him from sitting up any further. “You’ve got way too many chemicals in your bloodstream to be doing any moving around. You lie there, until we make sure the nitrogen is completely neutralized.”

            Lee relaxed back against the wall of the diving bell. “What’s our depth now?” he asked, with more coherence than Nelson had a right to expect, considering what his Captain had been through the last 24 hours. The bends was the last thing either one of them needed right now.

            “We have to stay at this stop a while longer. Why don’t you stop fighting the tranqs and sleep through our decompression?”

            Lee looked over at him, his eyes once again reflecting the gratitude Harry had seen after the antidote purged Braddock’s atmosphere from his body. “I think they’ve worn off,” Lee admitted.

            Harry grunted. “I’ve been relaying your vitals to Will. He doesn’t understand how it worked, either. He keeps muttering about your metabolism and tranqs. Then he said several other choice words that I won’t repeat!”

            Lee smiled at that. “When the atmosphere was affecting me, the pain of the metabolism change was excruciating. I don’t feel any of that now.”

            “Braddock killed himself, rather than let me cure him. Maybe his autopsy will provide some insight as to what in the atmosphere caused the mutation, so we can salvage some of his research.”

            Crane shook his head. “No. I don’t want anyone else going through that.” Lee shuddered in remembrance. “It isn’t worth anything we’d gain.”

            Nelson tightened his hand around Crane’s shoulder in support. “He lied to both of us. Whatever happened, none of it was your fault. You didn’t kill anyone, he did. And he paid for it.”

            “I felt so out of control. I hate that,” Lee confessed quietly.

            “You weren’t yourself. The crew will understand. Chip feels terrible that he shot you.”

            “He only creased me.” Crane shrugged and then winced as the bandage over his bullet wound pulled with that motion.

            “I think Morton will be more upset with you over that shoot to kill order.”

            “I wasn’t going to let my mutated self kill anyone else.” Lee’s eyes flashed.

            “That was my fault,” Harry admitted. “I shouldn’t have let you take the bell down until our tests were complete at the Institute.”

            “I shouldn’t have made the second dive without consulting you. It wasn’t the cure I needed.”

            “You didn’t know that.”

            “I couldn’t control the mutation. When you and Jamie tried to give me the antidote; I attacked both of you. Still you came after me.”

            “Of course, I did. It was my fault you were exposed. If you had died …”

            Crane’s hand came to rest on Nelson’s bent knee. “You climbed in here with me and gave me the antidote. Even when you weren’t sure it would work and I might wake up and attack you,” Lee countered. “But it did work. So now you are stuck in here with me until we both decompress.”

            Harry squeezed the shoulder he held. “I wouldn’t have it any other way, son.”


            Nelson opened his eyes as Crane shifted again. Lee’s restlessness indicated he would be waking up soon. Nelson remembered the last time he had dropped in to check on Lee and found him arguing, quite loudly for a convalescent, with Morton about that shoot to kill order.

            Chip had been livid and Lee, being Lee, had remained stubbornly defiant. They had broken off in mid-rant when they realized he had been standing there, listening to them for some time.


            “Don’t stop on my account, Gentlemen,” Harry waved his hand, indicating they continue. “It’s getting interesting.”

            Morton took a deep breath. “So help me, Lee, if you ever do that again…” He took a step closer to the bed.

            Lee may have still been lying in his rack, but with his set expression, Crane was definitely in command mode. “The boat was in danger. From me. And if she ever is again, I will give that order.”

            “Over my dead body,” Morton vowed.

            A peculiar, almost dismayed look replaced the setness of Crane’s expression. “That’s what I’m trying to prevent! Can’t you understand that?”

            “With your dead body?” Morton countered. “That’s unacceptable!”

            Their eyes locked. It was Crane that looked away first. “Better me than …” he said, softly, his head bowed.

            “This boat needs you!” Morton cut him off. “Whole and in command. When will you understand that?”

            “He’s right, son. The Boat will always be stronger with you than without you.” Harry added.

            Crane looked from one to the other. He shook his head. “Not when I’m a liability,” he declared.

            “Inconveniently indisposed, perhaps,” Morton granted. “Never a liability.”

            Lee glanced sidelong at his XO. “You have a funny way of assessing risk.”

            Chip grinned. “Practice. Now let me go check with my various departments while you mend, so I have a decent report to give you at 8 o’clock, since you still will be sequestered here.”

            “Go, then.” Crane gestured impatiently. “I won’t get any healing sleep with you yelling at me.”

            Morton grinned wider, if that was possible. “You may want to tell Will to break out the restraints, Admiral. I don’t think you’ll be able to keep Lee here much longer.”

            “Let me handle that,” Nelson answered, adding a little growl to his voice.

            Lee slumped down on the pillow. “No need. I know now when it’s futile. Jamie will do what you say, not what I want.”

            Nelson stepped closer to the bed as Chip turned away and left the area. “What we want is to give you time to recover.”

            “I know.” Lee answered. “I’m grateful for the cure, but I have –”

            “– better things to do than lie in a sick bay rack,” Harry finished. “Trust me on this one, son. Go to sleep.”

            “Maybe this once,” Lee answered softly and then closed his eyes.


            Nelson smiled again. He knew Morton was back to his usual efficient self when he picked up a second helping of key lime pie after supper in the wardroom and disappeared down the hall with the piece balanced on top of his clipboard. Nelson did not have to wait for him to come back with the empty plate to know where Morton had taken it. Lee was going to make it. If his shipmates had anything to do with it.


            “Admiral?” Lee’s low, questioning voice brought Harry out of his memories of the last three days. “Why are you here again?”

            “We need to talk, son.”

            “Jamie was supposed to wake me up.” Crane sat up in the rack. “Why didn’t he?”

            “I asked him not to. I wanted some papers to come in. They’re here now. First we talk about them. After that, I’ll see about getting you released back to duty.

            “What kind of papers?” Crane turned toward him warily.

            Nelson handed him the clipboard. “Ones that are way overdue. Now read.”


The End?