All Kinds of Rescues


K. Corris-Seale

It was their last night in this foreign port, tomorrow morning they would be heading home.  The Admiral was spending the night in his cabin, working on the report of his findings gathered on this mission.  The crew were eager to start their last night of shore leave.  Lee went about his usual duties, being sure everything was ready for the cruise home.  Then he grabbed the Tom Clancy book he was trying to finish and relaxed down in the nose. After a while, he felt like stretching his legs, and decided to take a walk around the dock, get some fresh air and exercise while he still could.  It will be a long trip home, and no doubt the Admiral will find some reason to stop here or there.

Ah, the fresh salt air smelled good!  So, he kept on walking, all over the little port town, it was quaint and the people were friendly.  The biggest thing that had happened to them in many years was the great submarine docking here.  An hour later he started heading back.  Then he passed a tavern with happy sounds coming from it, and suddenly decided a cold beer would be wonderful.  I’ll try one of their local drafts.  

The beer was delicious, and so were the next two.  He enjoyed watching the soccer match on the large TV, clapping along with all the other patrons.  One of the great things about sports, you don’t need to know the language to understand the game!  After he finished his third beer, he figured it was time to go back, it wouldn’t be right for him to get back after the crew, even though it would only be the OOD that would know!  He paid the bill and then headed for the head, it was a long walk back and like everyone else, beer went right through him. 

 As he came out, he spied a familiar face at a table in the shadows of the back corner, enjoying the company of a beautiful woman.  The kind of woman that hung around bars at night offering her services, for a price.  He took a step back into the hallway.  This was one of the crew who rarely went out alone, and when he did, he was back early and sober, and usually carrying gifts for his wife and children.  Lee knew he should mind his own business, but my God, this was Paterson, one of the few happily married men in the crew, with three daughters and a long-awaited new son, only a few months old.  His wife Maureen was well known and liked among the crew and the Institute.  She was the head of the support group for Seaview wives, helping each other out while their men were away on missions. Lee had always envied them, a good marriage, beautiful family, a dedicated, loving father and a patient wife who understood her sailor’s long absences.  She trusted him.  Trust, one of the basic building blocks for a good marriage.  And Pat was also a minister.  He led an ecumenical Sunday service for anyone interested while they were at sea.  He peeked over at them again.  Ok, as far as he was concerned, they were getting a little too friendly.  This could only be headed one way, it was time to intervene.  It may not be any of my business, but Pat has a wife and four kids at home!  And he may not be in any condition to realize what’s going on.  He was not what Lee considered ‘worldly’, especially for a sailor.  Lee always believed he was really just a quiet homebody devoted to his family.  If it wasn’t for his incredible expertise at underwater photography, he would probably be happier with shore duty that would get him home every night, no long absences away from his family.   

He strode over and tapped Pat on the shoulder.  Pat turned in his chair and was obviously quite shocked to see his Captain standing there.  Before he could say a word, Lee ordered him back to the boat, even grabbing his arm to help him up.  Pat pulled away, and for a moment, it almost looked like Pat was going to hit him, but then he got control of himself.  It was then that Lee realized how very drunk the man was.

“Back to the boat, now crewman.”    And said in the Captain’s most commanding, no-nonsense tone of voice.

Pat turned to say something to the woman, but Lee got in the way and blocked his view.  Pat turned and started walking out, with Lee right behind him. They pretty much stayed that way all the way back to the boat.  Not one word was spoken.  When they got back to Seaview, Paterson went down the ladder first, Lee hung around topside and spoke with the officer of the deck.

“No one is allowed to leave the boat, for any reason, without permission from me.  Uh, except the Admiral.”  He didn’t mention any names, just left it like that.  Then he headed down the ladder, grabbed his book and went down to his cabin.  Tomorrow is going to be interesting.

After an early breakfast in the wardroom, Lee headed down to Sickbay.  He caught Jamie just as he was leaving for his own breakfast.

Jamie raised an eyebrow. “Unusual for you to be down here so early, Lee.  In fact, it’s unusual for you to be down here at all. Everything all right?”

“Yeah Jamie, I’m fine.  I just need to go over something with you, I won’t keep you long.”   With that Lee nodded his head toward the doctor’s office, closing the door behind him before he sat down.

Lee told Jamie about the night before.  “I’m going to talk to him again today, but before that, I was wondering if you were more aware than I am of the marriage counseling services the Institute benefits package offers. Specifically, is there anything available that I could tell Pat about?  Anything else you could suggest?”

“Lee, I know you are concerned, and are trying to do the right thing here.   But how do you know for sure that this is the first time?  If every married sailor who had a fling with a prostitute while at sea was sent to counseling, counselors wouldn’t have any time left for real problems.  Why else do you think these women hang out in port bars?   But Pat never comes down here before going out to pick up any protection the way the rest of the crew does.  Yes, it definitely seems out of character, I’m surprised myself, but he is a grown man.  In answer to your question, the NIMR benefits package includes counseling services for all kinds of problems, including marriage counseling.  All you can do is advise him of it, and then leave it there.  Good grief Lee, he’s a grown man!   You can’t force him to go, and you have no idea what else could be going on in the marriage.  It’s always a rough time in every family when a new baby comes along, and it could be that there isn’t anything else really wrong.   Enough said, I’m going for my breakfast.  Good day, Captain.”

With that, Jamie gave him a flippant salute and walked out.

Lee sat there for a moment, then got up and went down to the Control Room.  Pat was sitting at his post, as usual.  Going over everything Jamie said, it kind of sounded like he was suggesting Lee mind his own business. Well, he certainly had other things to worry about, getting Seaview back into the open sea.  I’ll see how the day progresses.

It wasn’t until evening, as he was sitting at his desk going over reports, when there came a knock on his at his cabin door.  He was used to evening interruptions, the crew all knew this was a good time and place to find him, and that their Captain had an open-door policy for anyone who wanted to talk to him about anything.

“Come.”  He wasn’t surprised to see it was Patterson.

“Pat, come in and have a seat.”  Same thing he always said. 

“Sir, I’d like to talk to you about last night, Sir.”

“Go on.”

“Well, first of all, thank you for stopping me before I did something stupid I would have regretted the rest of my life.  I’ve never broken my marriage vows, and I certainly didn’t set out to do so last night. I had too much to drink at a time when all I really needed was someone to talk to.  And she was so easy to talk to, I found myself pouring my heart out to her.  I guess I felt safe because nothing I said would ever get back home.  Maureen has had a really difficult time getting over this birth, and she’s taking everything out on me, no matter how understanding I try to be.  I just can’t do anything right anymore, no matter how hard I try.  We were both so happy to finally have a son, but every day she seems to drift further away from me.  I talked to her doctor, and he said that physically she was fine, but many women experience postpartum depression, the baby blues, shortly after a birth.  She’s never had that problem before.  He told me to just be patient and in time things would work themselves out, but all I see is her getting worse every day, and us getting further apart every day.  As worried as I was about leaving her to go to sea, she practically told me to get out, and I really needed to get away.  I truly love her, but that doesn’t seem to matter to her anymore.  I’m. . . I’m sorry Sir, I really just wanted to thank you, I didn’t mean to go on.”  With that he stood up and started walking out. 

“Pat, sit down, and that’s an order.”

They talked for over an hour, Pat just poured his heart out to Lee, he was really suffering.  And knowing they were headed home was only making things worse.  He didn’t know what he would find there. 

“You know Pat, from what I understand, there is counseling available for you to go to alone, Maureen doesn’t have to be involved.  Just talking to a professional can help you through a tough time, give you the answers to the questions that are really confusing and worrying you.  Counseling is supportive.  It certainly couldn’t do any harm to try it, what do you have to lose?  Maybe eventually you can get Maureen to go, too.  It’s very obvious how much she loves you and your family, I’m sure she wants things to get better the same way you do, she just doesn’t realize how to do it yet.  A new baby is a strain and a lot of responsibility, especially with three other kids and being left alone for so long.  Is there anyone helping her out?”

“Her mother comes by almost every day, and they have a good relationship.  It gives her someone to talk to anyway. And Mom helps her with the house and the kids.  God only knows what she is telling her mother about me.”

“Well, we’ve been gone for three weeks, a lot can change in that time.  If things are still rocky after you’ve been home a while, take advantage of the counseling that’s offered to you, free of charge, it’s one of your benefits.  And Pat, if you need any leave time to stay home and work things out, please, just let me know.”  Before Lee could say another word there was a knock on his cabin door and Chip walked in.  Pat stood up and said good night to both officers and left.

“What was that about?”

“Oh, nothing really, just shooting the breeze.  Do you still have the reactor maintenance report for me to sign off on?  I didn’t see it here.”

“Sorry, it may still be on my desk.  Let me go check.”

Chip walked out and Lee sat back in his chair, looking at the door.  Well, I guess the best thing to do now is just leave Pat alone.  Jamie is probably right, he’s a grown man.  It just isn’t any of my business, I’ve done what I could.  I hope it helps.

The trip home was uneventful, even boring, and they sailed into Santa Barbara a day earlier than expected.  Lee wasn’t in the control room when Pat left, so all he could do was silently wish the man good luck.


Most of the crew had other jobs at NIMR to keep them going between missions.  Pat worked at the Photo Lab.  He had won several awards for his underwater photography, he’d even had photographs published in National Geographic.   He joked that if he ever left Seaview, he had a skill to fall back on, as soon as he could afford his own submarine.  Nelson was very proud of his work, his photos often accompanied published documents and reports the Admiral authored.

Unless Lee bumped into them at the cafeteria or parking lot, he didn’t usually see much of his crew between missions, until the group briefing on whatever the next mission was to be.  So, he was surprised when Angie came on the intercom, saying that Paterson would like to see him. 

“Send him in Angie.”  I hope everything is better.

As Pat sat down, Lee realized he didn’t look good.  Kind of tired and worn, and he’d lost a little weight.  Just plain haggard.  The new baby must be a handful.  He waited for Pat to start.  He didn’t, so Lee did.

“Pat, you look exhausted.  Is it from the new baby?”

“It’s from all four kids, Sir.  Her doctor sent Maureen away for a rest, she’s been going steadily downhill, and they still aren’t sure why, she’s just sunken into a deep depression.   Her mother has been helping me with the kids in the daytime so I could still work, but evenings, nights, and mornings are, well Sir, they’re hell.  Sir, I can’t keep going like this.”

“Pat, go home, and stay home until Maureen gets better.  Your family is your top priority.  I’ll make it a paid personal leave.  Just keep in touch with me from time to time.  We aren’t going out again for about a month, unless there’s an emergency or the Navy needs us.  Go, get out of here and go home to your kids, they need you.”  

“Sir, thank you, thank you very much.”  Pat slowly stood up and shook Lee’s hand, and Lee could swear he saw tears in the man’s eyes.  What stress the poor man must be under. After he left, Lee picked up the phone and had Personnel send the proper papers up. 

After Lee filled out his part, he saw that Paterson had to fill out his part and sign the forms as well.   Well, he would bring them over on his way home so he could hand them in tomorrow.  He wanted to be sure the man didn’t lose even a day’s pay.

He stood there on the porch ringing the doorbell, finally the oldest child, she was around seven if Lee remembered correctly, opened the door. 

“Hi Captain Crane.”

“Well, hello there Penny. Can you tell your Daddy I’m here, please?”

She ran back into the house, leaving the door open.  Lee let himself in, closing the door behind him.  As he looked around, he realized Maureen was sadly missed.  Guess the kids were all Maureen’s mother was able to handle alone.  Well, they should be the main priority. He could hear crying from upstairs, and a minute later Pat came down with his new little boy in his arms, screaming his head off.   

“Someone isn’t happy, Pat.  Almost sounds like he’s in pain.”

“You got it Skipper, he is.  I think it’s an ear infection, and he has a fever.  I just got off the phone with his pediatrician, he wants me to bring him right over before the office closes.  I called my mother-in-law to come over and baby sit, but all I got was her voice mail.  I’ll have to take the girls with me.  Did you need me for something, Sir?

“Yeah, there’s a section of these leave papers you have to complete and sign, I wanted to get them in tomorrow.  Listen Pat, I’m here now, and the girls know me.  Go take care of your son, I’ll stay here with them.  It will be fun.”  I hope.

“Sir, you have no idea how much that would mean to me.  I know he’s suffering, I just want to get him over there. Thank you, Sir, thank you.  I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Pat went back upstairs, and came down with the baby wrapped in a blanket and his own jacket on.

“Girls, please behave till I get back, and listen to Captain Crane, don’t give him a hard time.”   With that, Pat closed the door behind him, and Lee watched out the front window as he strapped the baby into his car seat.

He turned and looked at three pairs of eyes staring at him. 

From the oldest girl, Penny, “Captain Crane, we’re hungry.”

From the middle girl, Susie, “Yeah, Daddy said he’d make dinner when he got the baby quiet.”

From the youngest girl, Missy, “Can you make mac n jeez, pweeze?”

Oh boy, KP duty.  Okay.  He headed for the kitchen.

What a mess!  I wonder if there are any places that deliver macaroni and cheese?  I can’t take them out anywhere, I don’t have car seats.

He opened the refrigerator door. Well, there were hot dogs, but not much of anything else.  He could boil water and make those.  He looked in several cupboards, not much but there was one box of macaroni and cheese left.   He set to work washing pots and plates.

The oldest came in.  “Why aren’t you putting the dishes in the dishwasher?”

“Well, honey, it’s just faster this way, for me anyway, it’s what I’m used to.  What are your sisters doing?”

“They’re sitting on the floor under the table watching you.”  Yep, there they are, and I didn’t even hear them come in!

Having no kids of his own and no brothers or sisters, nieces or nephews, he wasn’t sure what to do.  Well, at least with them sitting there, I know where they are!

The box said you needed milk and butter.  He checked the fridge again.  Ok, there’s milk and I hope that’s enough butter.  He set two pots of water on to boil, and got out the hot dogs.

He heard a strange noise at the back door.   “What’s that?”

“Oh, Rusty needs to be fed.  Daddy forgot.”

“Well, where is his food?  Can you feed him?”

“No, the bag is too heavy for me to lift.  It’s on the floor in the pantry.”

Lee got the bag out, and looked around for the bowl. 

“It’s out on the back porch, if you’re looking for his bowl.”

Lee went out on the back porch and filled the dog’s bowl, then brought the water bowl in and gave him fresh water.

“Does he have to be walked?”

“No, if he has to go, he lets himself out into the back yard. It’s fenced in, he only comes in when he’s hungry.”

“Are there any more pets that need to be fed or taken care of?”

“Mitzi had a new litter of kittens in the basement. I thing Daddy forgot they were down there.”

Lee opened the basement door, and a ball of fur hurled itself at him, then stood there meowing at the top of her lungs.  Is this cat yelling at me?  

He looked in the pantry, but didn’t see any cat food.  “Do you know where her food is?”

“We ran out.  Daddy has to go to the store.”

“Hmmm. Ok, we’ll just make a hot dog for her, too. Does she have a water bowl down there?”


Lee started to go downstairs, but then thought better of it.  Kids could pull pots of boiling water down on themselves, right?

“Can you please go down and get Mitzi’s water bowl?”

“Not me, I’m afraid of basements.  She turned to her little sister.  ‘Go get Mitzi’s water bowl.’

The middle girl jumped up and skittered down to the basement and came up with the bowl. “I’m not afraid of basements!”

Lee was filling the water bowl up when he heard sizzling.  The pots of water were boiling over.  He turned down the heat a little on one and threw all the hot dogs in.  Then he reread the directions on the Kraft box. 

“When are you going to give Mitzi her water?”

“I’ll give it to her when I bring her hot dog down when everything is done.  She’ll just have to wait a little bit longer.”

He felt a tug on his pant leg, the three-year-old.  “Yes honey, what do you need?”

“Come.”  Lee looked, she didn’t seem to be in diapers, did she have to go to the head?”

“What does she want?”

“I don’t know, she wants you to go with her.”

“Can you take her to the head?  I mean, bathroom?

“That’s not what she wants, she can do that by herself.  She wants to show you something.”

I can’t leave the kids with pots cooking.  “Ok, come on, we’re all going to see what it is.”

They all followed her to the large aquarium in the corner of the living room. One fish was floating on top, and the rest didn’t look too steady either.  The littlest one pointed up to where the food was.  Lee was impressed.  As little as she was, when she saw the dog and cat being taken care of, she thought of the fish.  Admiral Nelson would be proud.  Lee fed them, and there was a feeding frenzy at the top of the water.  He found the net and took the dead one out.  What now?

“You have to flush him down the toilet, Daddy says that is the fastest way for a fish to get to heaven.” Lee went into the little downstairs head and opened the lid.  He soon realized all the girls were surrounding him.  Geez, am I supposed to say a prayer or something?

The oldest spoke up.  “God, please take care of our little friend. His name is Finny. He was a good fish.  Amen.”

Lee flushed the toilet, but they wouldn’t leave until the fish was actually gone. It seemed to swirl around and around forever in its own little blue whirlpool.  He rinsed out the net and put it back, the other fish were still feeding, but seemed to be a little bit steadier.

“Are there any other animals around here, any birds or hamsters?”

“No, but we’re hungry, too.”

The dinner!  He ran back into the kitchen.  The hot dogs were fine, but it was past time to put the macaroni in, that water had boiled down too much, so he put more water in.  Ok, he did that, and then stood there and watched the pot, he wasn’t going to move until it was done.   That was until he heard the doorbell ring.  He turned the flame down and made all the girls go with him to the front door.

“Paper boy, and you owe me for three weeks.”

Lee paid him and chuckled as he went back into the kitchen, turning the flame back up. What could happen next?  The cat stood in front of him and meowed.  “You’ll just have to wait for the hot dogs to cool, Mitzi.”  He finished up making dinner, filled glasses with the rest of the milk, and sat everyone down.

“Well girls, why aren’t you eating?”

“We have to say Grace before we can eat, and you didn’t put out the ketchup.”

“Can you say Grace, I’ll get the ketchup?”   

He was touched as they all held hands and bowed their heads, and the oldest said, ‘God is good, God is great, and we thank him for out food.  Amen.”

While they were eating, he cut up a hot dog for the cat, and brought it and the water bowl down into the basement.  He, watched Mitzi attack the hot dog, and heard little mews coming from a cardboard box.  He walked over and saw six beautiful little kittens, each a little bit different.  Mom jumped in, the hot dog gone in no time.  I’ll have to find something else for her, she has six mouths to feed!

He went back up to the kitchen and started getting caught up with the dishes.  He got a kick out of how the girls each slipped their empty plates into the sink, one by one.  Then they all ran into the living room and he heard the TV go on.  He cleared the kitchen table and finished the dishes.  Well, that looks a little bit better.  He went in to check on the girls.  They were all sitting on the couch watching some cartoon with a pig that was wearing boots!

He heard jingling music from outside, and the girls all jumped up. 

“Can we get ice cream, Captain Crane?  Please?”

“Sure, I could use some myself, let’s go.”  I’m hungry but I don’t want to take any of their food, there isn’t much left there.  Ice cream will hold me for a little while.   

He let them get whatever they wanted, paid the guy, and they all sat out on the front stairs eating it.  He looked at the three of them, and such a warm feeling came over him.  So, this is what it is like to have a family.  I’ve been missing out on a lot.  He thought about Susan, the lady he had just started seeing.  We haven’t gotten too far yet, but I wonder how she feels about children? Well, she must have a soft spot for them somewhere, she is a school teacher!  He watched as the man across the street brought out two garbage pails and placed them by the curb.  He looked up and down the street at all the other cans, tonight must be garbage night.

It started to get dark out, so Lee brought everyone in.  It took a while to get them all cleaned up from the ice cream, he wasn’t about to give them baths. He had no idea what their bedtimes were, but he figured if they fell asleep on the couch, Pat would take over when he came home.  While the girls were engrossed in the TV, he got the kitchen garbage bag out and went outside and found the trash cans, and brought them to the front curb. Rusty stood there and just stared at him.  I guess he’s ok with me because I fed him. He looked under the sink for another garbage bag to put in the kitchen pail but the box was empty.  Then he cut up the last hot dog for the cat and went down and gave it to her.  He put it in her bowl, and went over and saw her nursing her kittens.  “I just gave you another hot dog to eat.”  She meowed, a much softer meow than the one she had greeted him with earlier.  Almost sounds like she’s saying ‘thank you’.

He went back upstairs and the girls were gone. He started to panic, but then they came downstairs with their pajamas on and sat back down on the couch.   He sat down in the armchair and picked up the Reader’s Digest that was there and started reading.  The next time he looked up they were all fast asleep. Lee went over and covered them with the crocheted afghan folded on the back of the couch.  He looked at his watch, it wasn’t late, but Pat sure had been gone a while.  He hoped it wasn’t worse than just an ear infection. 

Pat came home a little later.  The baby was quiet, seemed to be asleep.

“What did the doctor say was wrong?”

“It’s an ear infection, but his throat is sore, too.  I’ve got to give him this antibiotic I just picked up, and it’s supposed the help him sleep, too.  Sir, thank you so much for staying so long.  I had to wait forever in the drug store.   Any problems?”

“Nothing I couldn’t handle.  I paid your paper boy, put the garbage cans out, fed the girls macaroni and cheese and hot dogs.  And fed the cat, dog, and fish, too.  Pat, you need groceries.”

“I know, Sir, I just haven’t had a chance.  I’ll try to get out tomorrow, if he’s feeling better. Skipper, again, thanks for everything.”

“No problem Pat, we’re all in this life together.”  Lee Left, and headed for the supermarket.  He couldn’t see Pat going out shopping with a sick baby and three other little kids.  He wasn’t sure what to buy, but he knew what he could replace.  He got 10 boxes of mac ’n cheese, four packs of hot dogs, another big bottle of ketchup, a big bag of cat food, two gallons of milk, garbage bags, and a few packages of ground beef.  You can do a lot with ground beef! Then, just for the heck of it, he got a large loaf of bread, butter, orange juice and a carton of 18 eggs.  He looked in the carts of women with children, and went back and got jars of peanut butter and grape jelly, some kid yogurts, three boxes of cereal, a big box of these little goldfish crackers, 12 of these snack packs of things that had crackers and meat and cheese in them, a box of spaghetti and a large jar of tomato sauce, a bag of oranges, one of apples, and a bunch of bananas.  Ok, that should hold them until Pat can get to the store.

He went back to Pat’s and quietly put the groceries on the front porch with the bag of cat food next to them.  He got to his car and pulled out to the end of the driveway, and then called Pat. 

“Hey Skipper? “

“Pat, you have to fill out that paper and sign it, I’ll pick it up tomorrow morning on my way in.  Just leave it in your mailbox, I’ll be by early.  Oh, and there’s a bag of cat food on your front porch.  Let me know if you need anything, take care.”  And then he hung up quickly, and backed the rest of the way out of the driveway and onto the street, putting the car into gear just as Pat came out and found the groceries.   He never answered his phone when he was driving, but wasn’t surprised when he got home to find a message there from Pat thanking him for the groceries.  He kept finding himself thinking how precious those little girls were, he would never mind taking care of them.  I want my own family!  


The following few weeks leading up to the next mission were quiet.  Lee didn’t hear from Pat again, and was surprised to see him sitting in the front row for the next mission briefing.   In the back of his mind, he thought Pat would still be on leave.  He hoped this was a good sign, that Maureen was back home and doing better.  But is it still too soon to leave her alone?

On the way out, he stopped Pat and asked him how things were.  “A little better, Sir.  Maureen is home, but we still have a long way to go.   Her mother is going to take her vacation so she can stay there while I’m at sea.  I just . . . I just couldn’t take being home anymore, Sir.”

“Well, I’m glad to hear she’s home.  Yeah, I can remember feeling the same way the times when I was on forced medical leave.  You start climbing the walls after a while.  I’m glad to have you back Pat.”  Why do I have the feeling he’s not telling me everything?

It was still a week until they were scheduled to leave port, and preparations were progressing smoothly.   He kept having a feeling that he would hear from Pat, but on the day they were to leave he showed up bright and early.  Guess I was worried about nothing.

While the main mission was to do scheduled maintenance and replacement on some of the Institute’s underwater sensors, the Admiral had read an internet article of two recreational divers who had found a coral reef that had never been documented or explored.  He wanted to see it for himself and get some pictures of it, before it became a new tourist attraction because of the article, or global warming took its toll on it.  He had a meeting with Pat, explaining to him the photographs he wanted to document the reef, so Pat would bring the proper equipment he would need.


They left port a week later, and headed first to the coral reef, it was on the way and Nelson just couldn’t wait to see it.  He had a special fondness for the world’s coral reefs, he was constantly trying to find new ways to protect them. And it was unusual for there to be a coral reef anywhere on the planet that the Admiral had never heard of.  As soon and they got there, he and Pat geared up and headed out.  A third diver was along as well to help with Pat’s equipment and lighting, and Lee insisted on a fourth diver for security.  He knew from experience how both Nelson and Pat could get so involved with their exploration and photographing that they were totally oblivious to any dangers around them. 

The Admiral came back in from the dive, more excited than Lee could remember seeing him in a long time.

“Lee!  You have to see this!  I can’t believe it myself!  It certainly isn’t the biggest coral reef I’ve seen, but it is one of the most beautiful, and more important than that, it’s probably the healthiest I’ve seen in a very long time!  It’s so incredibly wonderful, and relieving, to see coral as it’s supposed to be, healthy, colorful, vibrant.  I’m sure it’s because the temperature in these waters is just a bit cooler, I have to figure out why these waters aren’t warming the way the rest of the world’s waters are. But it’s also because it’s out of the way of any shipping lanes or fishing vessels, and being unknown, it has been left completely untouched, never disturbed. You have to see this for yourself, take Chip with you, neither of you will ever see coral like this again!”

Lee wasn’t quite as into coral reefs as Nelson was, and he had already observed the reef from Seaview’s observation nose.  But he was always ready for a dive, anytime, anywhere.  And because one of them always had to be in the control room, he rarely was able to enjoy a dive with the Exec, his best friend Chip Morton, who loved diving as much as Lee did, but usually was the one left behind.  But Seaview was still, they were in safe, peaceful waters, no dangers present, and the Admiral was there for any other kind of emergency.   They wouldn’t be out long anyway.  Just as they were suiting up, Pat came into the missile room and said he was joining them, along with another diver to help Pat.  Some of the photographs didn’t come out too well, he needed to reshoot them.

The reef was everything the Admiral had said, just plain beautiful.   They swam around the area, enjoying the waters and giving Pat the space he needed.   Chip came to something on the seabed and motioned Lee over.  The water was even cooler over here.  Why was this area so smooth, devoid of any sea life or vegetation?  Lee brushed some of the sand away, and underneath it, there was hard metal.   Chip joined him and soon they had uncovered a large area of metal, and it was cool to the touch.  Lee contacted the Admiral, who’s immediate response was ‘I’ll be right there.’   The man loved a mystery, and an underwater one was right up his alley. 

The Admiral brought a metal detector with him, and with it they were able to get a rough estimate of the size and shape of . . . whatever it was.  Nelson was reluctant to try anything else, he was afraid of doing anything that would affect the coral.  He swam to the farthest point of the metal, as far away from the coral as possible.  He scraped some metal flakes into a little plastic tube to examine later in his lab.  What bothered him the most was that this metal was not rusted, it appeared to be fairly new, or was coated with something for protection.   What was going on here?  Did this in some way have something to do with why the water was cooler here?

“I’m going back, I want to take FS1 out for a better look at the surrounding area.”  With that, the Admiral quickly swam away.  They swam back to Paterson, and soon they all started back to Seaview.  Chip was leading the way back, and Lee was bringing up the rear.  The diving door opened and Pat and the other divers entered with Pat’s equipment, Chip and Lee would go next.  Chip turned to let Lee go first, and .  .  . . , where the devil is Lee?  He was right behind me!  Something must have happened!

“Lee, do you read me?  Answer me, where are you?”  No response, nothing but loud static. He tried again, same results.

He knew Seaview was monitoring their communications, so he ordered the diving party to come back out, with fresh tanks of air, and to bring two tanks with them, his was almost empty, and that meant Lee’s was as well.  When they came out, Chip put one of the tanks on, and ordered them to start searching.  Grabbing the other full tank of air, he went back to the coral first, and then over to where they had found the metal object.  Still no Lee.  He tried the radio, but again he got deafening static.   He had to turn his radio off.  Where was that coming from, they hadn’t heard it before!  He swam a distance away and turned the radio on again, there, that was better, less static.   He motioned to Pat and then ordered him to go to the right, he and Riley went to the left.  Soon, the static stated up again, getting louder the further they went, and then they came to a large metal column.   And stuck to it was Lee!  He motioned with his hands for them to stay back, they could hear him trying to speak over the static but couldn’t make out what he was saying.  As Chip tried to figure out what to do, he saw Lee motion to him, and pointing to his air tank and his gauge.  He was running out of air.    

He swam back until the static lessened and contacted Seaview and explained the situation.  The Admiral hadn’t left in FS1 yet so he ordered him to get the full tank to Lee, and if he wound up being stuck too, they would just have to find a way to get them both free. “But for now, let’s just keep the Captain alive!”

Chip started swimming to Lee, and suddenly he was being pulled to the column, and then was stuck right next to Lee.  In trying to switch the air tanks, both tanks were quickly drawn to the column, and once the empty one was disconnected from him, Lee slipped down to the ocean floor. He managed to swim to Paterson who immediately thrust his air regulator into Lee’s mouth so he could get air.  It was the metal air tanks that were drawn to the column.  Chip tried to pull the extra full tank off the column, but couldn’t get it or himself loose.  He was not sure what to do next, there wasn’t enough air for everyone.  Lee seemed to realize this, took a deep breath from Paterson’s air tank, spit the air regulator out and quickly swam back to the column, and picked up the air regulator of the extra tank Chip had brought, still stuck to the column.   Lee motioned to the men to return to Seaview.  He knew the Admiral would figure something out.  But only three men returned, Pat stayed, worried about his COs. 

A few minutes later, one of the men came back out, carrying two fresh air tanks.  He stayed a good distance away, and motioned the Captain to swim to him.  Lee in turn motioned Chip to go first, and as soon as he unbuckled and slid out of his air tank, he did.  He made it to the crewman who immediately stuck the air regulator in Chip’s mouth, and then Pat helped him on with the tank.  Lee began to swim over, when suddenly the static stopped and both air tanks dropped to the oceans’ floor.  Lee quickly swam over and grabbed the tanks, and got a good distance away before grabbing one of the air regulators for air.    Soon they were all back on the boat, along with all their equipment.

Nelson listened to Lee’s report, and now was more curious than ever.  When the column became magnetic, it caused static in the surrounding area.  It wasn’t transmitting anything they could pick up, except static.  But it was disrupting their transmissions.  What could it be doing?  And why?

Nelson took the flying sub out, taking instrument readings all over the area.  He was afraid to get too near the column, FS1 would surely get stuck if it started again.

The trip with FS1 only provided more questions than answers.  There was no radiation coming from the metal, no magnetism like the column, and it tested to be hollow.  It was coated with a kind of rust resistant substance that Harry couldn’t identify.  Judging by the outline of it, it’ too huge to be dug up or brought aboard.  Any attempt at opening it could harm the coral or anything inside.  Or us!

 Once back aboard, Nelson contacted his good friend Admiral Jiggs Starke at the Pac-Sub-Com.  When it came right down to it, as good friends as they were, Jiggs outranked Harry by one star, but they usually put that aside.  Harry explained what they had found and what little he had been able to determine about it.  Jiggs contacted the Navy, but it took a few hours for them to check their files.  It turned out they knew nothing about it.   All Nelson could think of doing was going to the far end of it, as far as he could get from the coral, and start carefully digging.  Maybe we can put up some kind of temporary protective shield in front of the coral first.

Well, that didn’t help.  All they got from their digging was more metal, but at least now the Admiral believed it may be spherical, at least the top of it was.  The deeper they dug, the further straight down it went, like some kind of huge metal tube.

Well, they had a mission to attend to, they would have to come back, after the sensors had been taken care of.   They didn’t have enough supplies on board for a lengthy stay. Another mystery for another day.    On to the sensors.

Aside from the Admiral’s marine biology explorations, the main reasons he had built Seaview, checking sensors and resupplying several of the Institute’s undersea labs were the two most common of Seaview’s routine missions.  The crew liked these routine cruises, because they were safe, easy and fast. Lee liked them because there were no civilians or scientists aboard.  Most of these times he didn’t even bother to put his tie on, setting a more relaxed atmosphere on the boat.  Many times, the Admiral stayed at the Institute, trusting his crew to get the job done, and they always did.  He came out this time to check out the coral reefs, and wound up with a mystery on his hands.  While the crew was busy with the sensors, Nelson was busy making his reports on the coral reef, and doing research on the area, trying to find something that would explain what they had found.  It soon became obvious to him that the only way he was going to get any answers was with hands on investigation.  Even if I have to dig the damn thing up myself!

They pulled into port only an hour later than their ETA.  Crewman were all busy securing their stations, and the officers were signing off their reports.  It was a cool, miserable, rainy day in Santa Barbara, not much of a welcome home feeling.  Just as Pat was about to go up the ladder, Lee stopped him.

“Pat, I hope everything is ok when you get home.  Remember, I’m only a phone call away if you need anything.  Tell the girls and Maureen I said hello.”

“Will do Sir, and thank you again for everything.”   With that, he disappeared up the ladder.  I still have that uneasy feeling that something is not quite right.   

Many times, when they finally made port, the Admiral would take Lee, Chip, and Will out to dinner.  This wasn’t one of those times, and Lee was relieved.  He just wanted to go home and relax, and call Susan.  He never complained about it, but the strain of command sometimes wore him out, and there weren’t even any real problems on this cruise, everything went pretty smoothly.  I must be getting old.


Lee wasn’t surprised that the next few days at the Institute centered on the metal object they had found. He knew how the Admiral could be whenever he had a mystery on his hands, like a dog with a bone.   Yet with all his digging, phone calls and Internet searches, he could not find one bit of information.   The Admiral knew what he had to do, and Lee wasn’t the least bit surprised when he came into Lee’s office to discuss the next cruise.   

“Lee, I want to leave by the end of the week, as soon as I devise a way to protect the coral reef from the digging.  You and Chip handle getting the supplies and getting the crew ready, I don’t know how long we’ll be down there.”

“Sir, with all due respect, we just got home from back-to-back cruises.  The crew needs some down time, and as much as I am just as curious as you are, this just isn’t an emergency. Couldn’t we put it off for another week?”

Hrrumphh. Well, I suppose you’re right Lee.  But this is a cruise for the Institute itself, we won’t be getting outside pay for it, we have to foot the bill ourselves.  I can’t afford for it to get in the way of the next two contract missions that are already scheduled and paid for, I have to fit it in.  But I guess another week won’t matter much.” 

“Thanks, Sir, I’ll start making tentative arrangements.  Let me know what special equipment you will need.”

With that, the Admiral walked out, and Lee sat back in his chair and let out a deep sigh.  Here we go again!


They were about half way back to the reef when ‘Ski sung out.  ‘Got something on the screen, Sir.”   Lee went and looked over Ski’s shoulder for a moment, then went to the periscope island.

It only took him a second to find the small lifeboat bobbing in the water, with several people on it.  There was wreckage floating on top of the waters near them, looked like the remains of a small leisure craft. 

He picked up the mic.  “Mr. Morton, all stop, surface the boat.  Rescue detail to the Control Room.”

They surfaced not quite a quarter mile from the raft.  The men lowered the rubber raft into the water, two of them got in and started rowing. Soon they had the family safely aboard and were returning to Seaview. The parents, son and young daughter were all wet and cold, but other than that they appeared okay.  As soon as they got to the bottom of the ladder in the control room, they had warm blankets thrown around them.  Lee welcomed them, told them who he was and where they were, and then they were escorted to Sickbay to be checked out.  Lee had already notified Jamie what to expect. The little girl was crying hysterically.

“Poor thing, she must be terrified.”

“It’s more than that Skipper, they had her little white dog on the boat with them, but we couldn’t find him when we got them onto the raft.  The whole time we were rowing back she kept calling ‘Bailey, Bailey, where are you?”

Lee just shook his head sadly.  Then he went over and brought the periscope up again.  He looked carefully through the wreckage, nothing.  Poor dog must have gone down with the boat and drowned.

 “Chief, go down to Sickbay and get their information so I can radio it in, and see if you can find out what happened.”

“Aye, Sir.”

“Mister Morton, take her down, get us back on course.”

As Chip gave the appropriate orders, Lee walked over to the nose and looked out.  There was something white bobbing in the distance, not too far from the sub.  He watched for a moment, then decided it could be the little dog.  But other than bouncing with water, he didn’t seem to be moving.

“Belay those orders, Chip! Stay here, I’ll be right back.”

With that, he quickly opened the hatch to the flying sub and slid down the ladder.  He launched her and slowly glided over to where he thought he had seen the dog.  Then he looked out of the flying sub’s periscope and found her.  Another few yards and he would be right underneath her.

He brought the little sub forward just a bit and then started to slowly surface.  As he surfaced, he saw the little dog resting on the top of the sub.  He quickly climbed up the ladder and opened the hatch.  He watched for a few seconds, trying to detect movement.  He called his name, and the little dog lifted his head and looked at him, then let out a little whine and started shivering.   Lee couldn’t quite reach him, so he tried calling his name, but Bailey made no move to come any closer.  Lee slowly crawled across the top of the wet deck, mindful of the bobbing motion from the waves.  Just a couple of more inches, he could almost touch him, just a little bit more, and . . .  S P L A S H!!!

MY GOD THIS WATER IS COLD!!! He got himself under control, and looked over at the dog, still lying on the dry deck and looking at him like he was crazy.  Now he had to get himself back onto and into the flying sub, and with the dog.  And it certainly didn’t help matters any when he realized that everyone in the control room could see what was going on.  He carefully climbed back on, not too far from the dog.  Thank goodness Bailey still had his collar on.  Lee grabbed it, and dragged him over, then slowly repositioned himself to slowly back down the ladder into the little sub, Bailey clutched to his chest with one arm, the other arm pulling the hatch closed behind them.

“Prepare to receive flying sub,” he ordered, through chattering teeth.  Little Bailey was just lying on the deck watching him.  He sure wished there were some towels down here, for both of them.

Admiral Nelson had just come into the Control Room, and walked over to where Chip was standing, about to open the hatch to the flying sub. 

“Chip, why are we stopped, and on the surface?  We’re nowhere near out coordinates! And where is Lee?”

Chip opened the hatch, and a soaking wet Lee climbed out, little Bailey held safely against his chest, both dripping wet and shivering.

There were whistles and clapping from the crew.  He stood there for a second, simply nodded at the Admiral, then proceeded to Sickbay to make a little girl very happy.   Chip filled the Admiral in.

When he walked into Sickbay, everyone stared at him, then Bailey squirmed out of his arms and jumped down, running to his happily squealing little mistress.

The father walked over to Lee, shook his hand and thanked him, shaking his head.  ‘Captain, I don’t know much about submarines, but from the looks of things, did you actually jump ship and go for an underwater swim to rescue him? How do you jump ship from a submarine?”

“Trust me, ending up in the drink was not at all what I intended.  But as long as he’s ok, then there’s no harm done.”   

 Jamie walked over.  “Skipper, you need a dry, warm uniform, your lips are a light shade of blue.  And you’re dripping all over my clean deck.”

‘I’m leaving now, Jamie.”   Just as he was closing the Sickbay hatch, he heard the father say to Jamie, “Do you always talk to your CO like that?”  Lee didn’t hear Jamie’s reply, but knowing Jamie he was sure it was probably sarcastic.

Then, on to his cabin for a fast, hot shower and a warm, dry uniform, topped with his heavy green sweater, and a quick stop at the Wardroom for a cup of hot coffee.

“No, offense Skipper, but from your skin color and the sweater, it looks like you’re freezing, Sir.”

“Yeah, Cookie, I took an unexpected dip in the cold water outside.  This hot coffee should help.”

Then back to the Control Room. “Chip, is the Admiral mad?”

“I think he was at first, but seeing you standing there shivering and dripping wet with that tiny wet squirming puppy in your arms kind of changed his mood, he actually chuckled a little bit after you left.  Do you know your lips were actually blue?  Still are a little.”

“I don’t know why this water is so cold, it wasn’t this cold when we were here last time.   I have to go square things with the Admiral.  Did the Chief come back with their information?  We have to get these people picked up.”

“I’ll take care of it when he comes back.  Oh, and Lee, great job out there.”

“Thanks, and can you please get a crewman to police FS1?  It’s kind of wet down there.”

“Will do, Skipper.”

A little while later, after explaining everything to the Admiral, Lee was at the charting table, going over their position, checking their course, when a mate from the Galley came up to him, carrying a tray with a hot bowl of Lee’s favorite soup, vegetable beef barley, and a couple of pieces of buttered bread.

“Skipper, Cookie said this will warm you up, Sir.”

“Wow, does that smell good, especially since I missed lunch!  Please tell Cookie I said thank you, and that I really, really appreciate this.”

“Yes Sir, I’ll be sure to tell him.”

Lee took his unexpected lunch and sat down in the nose.  It was gone in no time. Boy, did that soup hit the spot, I feel warmer already.  I have to remember to thank Cookie again, he knew just what I needed.  I’ve simply got the absolute best crew any captain could hope for!

“Nelson to Control Room. Ready the flying sub for immediate departure.”  

Lee picked up a mike and acknowledged the order, wondering what was going on.    

“Aye, Sir.”

“Chip, - “

“I know, I heard, I’ll have a crewman get her ready, Sir.”

Just then, Sparks came over with a radio message and handed it to Lee.  Lee read it, and let out a long, sad sigh before he pocketed it.  “Chip, you have the con.”  Lee slowly walked down to the Admiral’s quarters, mentally working out new plans.  Nothing ever went exactly right, no matter how well you planned it.  Life always had a way of intervening.    


“Come.”  The Admiral knew Lee’s knock, and half expected him to come down and question the order.  “I left something back at the Institute.  I don’t know how I could have forgotten to add it to the packing list Lee, but I left a box packed with the testing chemicals I need just sitting on my desk at the Institute.  I should be able to get them and be back in time.”

“Sir, I just got this radio message.”  Lee handed Nelson the radio message.

“Oh, my.  Have you told him yet?”

“No Sir, I wanted to run it by you first. How about I take him back in FS1, and I’ll pick up your box while I’m there?  I should be back before we make it to our coordinates.”

The Admiral knew how close the two men were.  With what he’ll be going through, he’ll be more comfortable in FS1 with Lee more than me.   

“That’s fine Lee.  I’ll radio Angie and have her make the necessary connecting flight for him.  It’s Jersey, isn’t it, Newark Liberty Airport?  And I’ll have her send a sympathy arrangement from the Institute.”

“Thank you, Sir, I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Back to his quarters.  “Seaman Kowalski, please report to the Captain’s quarters.”   ‘Ski was more than just another crewman to Lee, he was an important and dependable part of the Control room crew, he was his diving buddy, his right-hand man for everything, and a good friend.  As much as I hate being the one to tell him, I know I’m the best one to tell him.  But still, how do you tell a friend that his father has died?      


“You wanted to see me, Sir?”

“Ski, sit down, this . . . just came in.’ He slowly handed him the radio message, and quietly waited while ‘Ski read and reread it, absorbing the bad news.  “Ski, I’m so sorry.  Go pack your gear, I’m taking you back home in FS1, Angie will have a connecting flight back to Jersey ready for you.  Don’t worry about getting back here, take as long as you need. I’m sure your mother and Stan will need you now.”   Ski’s brother Stan was known to the crew, he had once been rescued by Seaview while on a mission. 

Ski just sat there, slumped in the chair, rereading the message.  Then he slowly stood up and looked at Lee, he looked like he was ready to crumble.  Lee stood up and wrapped his arms around, giving him a short, comforting hug.  Then Ski stepped back, nodded, turned and walked out, his head hung down. 

The flight back in FS1 was as depressing as it should be.  Then Lee got ‘Ski talking about his father, and even got him laughing a little bit when he told Lee about some of the childhood escapades he and his brother Stan had gotten into, and how his father had handled them.   Turned out the old man had quite a sense of humor.  As bad as Lee felt for ‘Ski, he couldn’t help wondering what it was like to lose your father, he had never even known what it was like to have a father.  Ah, well, such was life.  He’d learned to live with growing up in an orphanage many years ago, and that feeling sorry for yourself for any reason was simply not constructive.


They reached the coral reefs a short time after Lee got back.   He had a crewman bring the box down to the Admiral while he read the log entries about the family being picked up and other boat business, then he went down to see the Admiral.  Now that they were here, he wanted a time frame for what the Admiral’s plans were.  

“I have some tests I want to run on the metal out there before we start any digging, and some measurements I want to take.  Then we’ll put up the protective screen.  If all goes well, we should be able to start the excavating tomorrow morning.  You’re welcome to come out with me now, if you’re up to it. No offense Lee, but you look exhausted.”                                       

“I am, but I’m never too tired for a relaxing dive.  It’s probably exactly what I need.  Let me know when you’re ready to suit up, Sir.”

And he did enjoy the dive, just wandering around the beautiful coral reef, and taking another look at the metal column, from a safe distance.  Later, in the Wardroom while eating their dinner, Nelson told Lee that as excited as he was about the metal object, something about it made him wary, sending shivers up his spine.  “I sure hope I don’t wish I had left well enough alone. There’s just something odd going on here, something that doesn’t make sense.”

“Which is exactly why you will pursue it until it does make sense to you, Sir.  You won’t have a moment’s peace until you have it figured out.  In my opinion, the only way something like this could be down here without anyone on earth knowing anything about it is if it isn’t from earth.  And I’m sure that same thought has crossed your mind, Sir.  I think that static is because it’s collecting information and then sending it back to another world, that column is like a radio tower, a transmitter.”

“Well, Lee, since you have all of this figured out, we may as well scratch the mission.”

“It’s only my opinion Sir.  You are one who has to find out for sure.  Well, I think I’m going to call it a night.  I’ll see you in the morning, Sir.”

“Good night, Lee.”  We’ve served together so long, we’re thinking the same thing! I wonder what he would have said if I told him I couldn’t identify the metal shavings I took as anything known to this world?

Early the next morning, as they sat in the Wardroom finishing their breakfast, Nelson outlined his agenda for the day.  They hadn’t gotten the shield up last night to protect the coral, so that would be the first thing.  Once that was secured, they would use high powered blasts of water to get as much of the loose silt away as possible.  Then he would take readings again.  He hoped they would be able to uncover the top half of the sphere at least, that way he could get a close estimate as to its size, and see if there were any markings, windows, or hatches.  He realized only the top could be spherical, the rest could be tubular, just going straight down. 

They made good time, got a lot of the silt and sand cleared away, then the Admiral ordered them to return to the sub, they’d been out long enough.  Air would be running out soon, and it was time for lunch.  They would do a second session in the afternoon.  But with all they had done, they still had nothing but a big, black, metal ball, with no markings, not even any seams where it was put together.   Lee joked that it was like a great big ball bearing.  The Admiral chuckled and reminded Lee that this ball bearing tested to be hollow inside.  And he intended to find out what was in there.


They were half way through their afternoon session.  Lee had stayed behind and let Chip go out with the Admiral and Paterson.  Suddenly, Nelson’s instruments went crazy.  Readings at the highest levels, needles jumping back and forth.   Then the ball started glowing, and then the glow slid off the ball and surrounded Chip.

Lee, watching from the observation lounge, grabbed the mic.  ‘Connect me with the dive team now!’   Then, “Admiral, l you have to get back in here, return to the boat!  Hurry!’   The dive team couldn’t see what Lee saw behind them.  There was some kind of beam coming from the ball and going to the tower.   He couldn’t hear a response, the static was too loud.  But it looked like Chip was being drawn towards the tower. Both the Admiral and Pat grabbed Chip and pulled him toward the boat.  It was a tug of war, but they finally won and got an unconscious and still glowing Chip back to Seaview.  Once Lee saw them break free, he called Doc and had him report to the diving hatch on the double, then he hightailed it down there himself.

Nelson paused for a moment outside the diving hatch.  What am I bringing into the sub?  Can it harm the crew? Well, I’ll have to take a chance, I won’t lose Chip!

Once inside, they got Chip’s diving gear off, he was still unconscious, and still glowing.  Doc examined him.  “I can’t find anything wrong with him, it’s like he’s in a deep sleep.”

As they all stood there watching, the glow slipped off Chip and stood up, in the loose outline of a man.  Nelson was the first to realize this was a living being, had to be an alien.   Then, it spoke.  And in Chip’s voice!

“We wait, do not harm us.  We wait for home to find us and come.  We send signals to them, but home is far.  We only want to go home.  We have been sleeping here many eons, waiting for them to come. We no harm you.”

“How is it you know our language?”  Lee was more than a little suspicious of the being.

“Learn from contact.”  The being looked down at Chip.

The Admiral responded.  “I understand.  We will not harm you.  We only wanted to know what you were doing here.  We will cover your, uh, ball up so it cannot be found again, until your people find you.  Can you get back?”

“Only on you.”  The Admiral thought about this.  “You mean, attaching yourself to one of us while we swim back to the ball, and then you can get back in?”

 “Yes.  You like us. We never know of you, when we first come, there were only very, very big beings. Made ground shake.  We were scared, and we could not fix, so we hide and wait.”

“What is wrong with your craft, maybe we can we help you fix it, so you can return home?  Our technology has become much more advanced since the dinosaurs roamed the earth.”

“After we crashed into water, we could not rise back up to charge our solar sails.  As time passed, we sank further into your world. We used part of our craft to make, as you call it, a tower, to contact home.  We do not know if they hear us.”

“If your craft could be exposed to our sun’s rays, would that recharge your solar sails?”

“Yes, but we do not have the power to free ourselves.”

“How long is your craft, how much of it do we see now?”

“It is as long as your craft.  You only see round top.”

“Do you have a name?  I am Admiral Nelson.”

“I am Chip.”

“No, he’s Chip.  What do your people call you?”


“Hmmm.  Uh, ok, we’ll . . .  call you Chip.”

“If we can dig your craft out, Seaview could help you surface, and hopefully keep you afloat long enough to charge your solar sails. Wait, on second thought, Lee check the charts of this area.  See if there are any small, uninhabited islands nearby.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Now he’s going to use Seaview as a tow boat! How does he expect to attach that ball to the boat?

Lee looked over the chart for the area.  There were a couple of small islands, but they weren’t really nearby and were probably inhabited.  He saw a small speck on the map.  If it was an island, it was a tiny one.  He had an idea.

“Admiral, if the map is correct, there may be a small speck of an island not too far. Do you want me to take the flying sub out and verify it, see if it is inhabited?”

“Good idea, Lee.  While you do that, I’ll try to figure out how we’re going to do this.”

The Admiral spoke to the alien. “Chip, why are the waters cooler in this area, is it anything to do with you or your craft?”

“We have been kept frozen for eons.  An automatic signal sends a transmission home on regular intervals.  It also triggers me to awake if there is any danger.”  

“Are you the one in charge of the craft and your people?”

“I am as you are to your people.”

He must mean the highest ranking, or the one responsible for everyone. 

“How many beings are on your craft?”

“I have not yet checked to see if all are still alive, we were many.  What you see now is only my essence, not my body.  It has been so long I worry about them and if our home is still there.”

“If you can give me any information as to the locations of your home planet, I can have our astronomers check to see if there is a planet still there.”

“We are not from your part of the universe, you would not have any, as you would say, point of reference.”

 It was very rare for Nelson to actually feel intellectually inferior to anyone, but he had to admit that other than the common knowledge of their own solar system most Navy men were aware of, he was at a loss.  His sphere of knowledge and expertise was the earth, and more precisely, her oceans.

“Well, we can try.  We have some very advanced technology at work in our space program.  We’ve mapped many distant star systems in great detail.”

‘Chip’ gave the Admiral several sets of numbers.  Then the Admiral had Sparks connect him with the Institute.  NIMR’s observatory was certainly not the biggest or most sophisticated on earth, but the astronomers who worked there networked with others all over the earth.  Someone somewhere might be able to make sense of these coordinates.  But then again, thinking about it, if the alien’s most recent data was from earth’s dinosaur age, it would be difficult to pinpoint where in the ever-expanding universe their home planet could be now.  Well, at least they could try.  How could he send them on their way home not knowing where home was?

Nelson looked over and saw the doctor examining Chip again.  “How is he?”

“He’s fine, it’s like he’s just getting a good night’s sleep.”

“Are all your people like you?”

The alien’s question surprised Nelson, he wasn’t sure how to respond, he wasn’t exactly sure what the being meant.  “I’m not sure what you mean.  We have many different races, many types of humans, but they all pretty much look like we do.”

“There are no others?”

“Others?  We have animals, fish, birds, there is plant life.  What are your people like?”

“We have others we join with to make more of us.”

“Oh!  Women, you mean women? The female of our species? Yes, we certainly have them, too.  And we, uh, also join with them to, uh, make more of us.”  Nelson’s face was turning red.

“Who here is women?”

“Uh, there are no women here, at this time.”

“You do not need them to join with?”

Nelson looked at Jamie, who was trying extremely hard not to break into loud guffaws, not only from the humor of the questions, but Nelson’s obvious discomfort.  He apparently wanted to be honest with the alien, but didn’t want to give the alien the wrong idea about earth people.

“We . . . only join with them at the proper times.” 

“This one has many proper times,” he nodded at Chip’s body.

“Uh, let’s try to figure out how to get your craft out.”   He couldn’t blame the alien for being curious, but this time it was the alien who didn’t have a point of reference when it came to human biology!


Lee climbed up into the Control Room.  The little speck of an island was pretty barren, Lee suspected that it often was submerged, probably during full moon high tides.  “Anything?” he asked O’Brien, as he always did when he came back on board.

“Nothing Sir.”

Lee nodded and went down to the Admiral to report what he had found.  When he walked in, the being immediately turned to him.

“Are you woman?”

Dumbfounded, Lee looked at the Admiral and Jamie.  Jamie finally lost it, all he could do was burst out laughing.

“Uh, Lee, our friend has taken quite an interest in human biology.”

“Well, if he’s crawling around Chip’s mind, it’s no wonder! And he wants to know what a woman looks like?”  Lee picked up the mic.

“Riley, is Kowalski’s pinup calendar still hanging in the crew’s quarters?  You know, the one I told you guys to keep out of sight? Bring it down here now.”

“Uh, yessir. But we have been keeping it hidden.”

“You aren’t in any trouble, Riley. Just bring it down here.”  Riley was down three minutes later, calendar in hand.

To get even with him for his earlier laughter, Lee thrust the calendar into the doctor’s hands.  “Here you go Jamie, you’re the one best qualified to explain this.”  Lee crossed his arms, leaned back, and smirked at Jamie.

Jamie flipped through the pictures, his face getting redder by the minute.  He may be a doctor, but he was a man, too.  A decent man.  He finally selected the most innocent one he could find, and that wasn’t saying much.  Nelson was tempted to go over and take a peek, but he showed the proper decorum and restrained himself.  But he would have a word with Lee later about this.  An old argument between him and Lee, he didn’t want smut aboard his submarine, Lee believed in letting his men be men, but only to a certain extent.  He was well aware of Nelson’s proper Boston uprbringing, certain moral facets of which would always be a part of him. 

“This is a woman.”  Jamie showed the alien the picture, suddenly remembering his earlier thoughts about Nelson trying not to give the alien the wrong idea about the human race. 

“What are these? What are the used for?”  Lee and Nelson knew immediately what the being must be pointing to, and waited expectantly to hear Jamie’s reply.

“Uh, those are mammary glands, mother’s use them to nurse their young.”  Standard textbook response.

“There are no young in these pictures.”

Nelson had had it. Enough was enough.  “Let’s try to figure out how to free your craft.”

“Admiral, have you been able to get any idea as to the length of it, how far into the bottom it has sunk?”  Lee wanted to change the topic of conversation as well.  But he sure was going to have fun teasing the hell out of Chip when this was all over.

‘From what he said before, I gather it’s about as long as Seaview, but it doesn’t appear to be quite as big around.”

“I found a tiny island not too far from here, uninhabited and barren.  I suspect high tides may cover it, but one isn’t due here for about three weeks. Is that enough time to get them out and for their craft to recharge their solar sails?

“We’ll have to try it.  I’ve got two different ideas as to how to get them out.  We have the magnetic berthing system used to recover the flying sub, and the hydraulic system used to raise the diving bell.”

“Admiral, I don’t think either system is strong enough to pull them out.  And you would have to attach some kind of eye to the craft for the diving bell rig to hook into.  You said this metal was impervious to any alterations or attachments.”

“No, we have to free them at least half way first, maybe more.  That means a lot of digging, but for them to have sunk so far down, the ocean bottom here must be mostly soft silt.”

“Chip, is there any way we can attach anything to your craft to help us pull it out?”

“We have material to fix damage that would do that.  I go back.  You won’t leave us?”

‘No Chip, we won’t leave you. We’ll be here when you get back.  Uh, you’ll leave our Chip here?”

“I can’t get back alone.”    With that, he slid over and covered Chip again.  A few seconds later, Chip opened his eyes and sat up.  Then he stood up and started walking to the diving hatch.  Lee ran over and stood in front of it.

“Whoa!  Wait a minute!  He can’t go out without diving equipment on, he needs air to breathe!”

With that, the alien slid off Chip onto the deck and just stayed there in a glowing ball.

“Uh, Lee, I think he’s waiting for Chip to get suited up.”  Nelson walked over and grabbed a diving suit and air tank.

“Sir, is Chip going to know what to do out there in this state?  Never mind, I’m going out with him.”

“That’s probably a good idea Lee.”

Lee suited up while the Admiral took care of Chip.  When he was finished, he addressed the alien.  “Ok, you can get back on now.”

The alien slid over and covered Chip again, and he followed Lee into the diving hatch.   They swam back over to the aliens’ craft.  He slid off Chip and into it.  Lee watched Chip carefully, making sure he was breathing properly through the air regulator.  He seemed to be doing everything right, even though he was still sleeping.    Must be instinct. 

Soon the alien came back out, attached to him was a glowing rectangle.  He slid back onto Chip, the rectangle now being held in Chip’s hand.   Lee wasn’t sure he was going to be able to swim with only one arm, but they made it back to Seaview.

Back inside, the alien slid off Chip and again took the rough outline of a man.  While they removed Chip’s diving gear, the alien opened the box and the glow around it disappeared.   Nelson looked inside at a silvery ball of something, neither hard nor soft, but it seemed malleable.   He wasn’t sure how to work with it.

“Show me what you need to make of it and I will make it.”

Nelson took ‘Chip’ over to the diving bell, and showed him the huge ‘eye’ at the top of it.  “We need something like this to attach to the top of your ship, and it must be strong enough to pull the weight of your craft.  Seaview will do the pulling, but this has to be attached securely enough that it won’t come apart.”

Nelson then walked over to the cable and showed him the hook end of it.    “Then we will pull this hook through that loop and pull your ship up out of the ocean bottom.  At least, I hope it works that way.” 

‘Chip’ looked at the hook, then went back and looked at the top of the diving bell, then back to the cable again.  Then he pulled the box back over to the diving bell and began to fashion an eye out of the silver material, an exact duplicate of the one attached to the bell.  He then fashioned a round plate and attached the loop to it.   It was an exact duplicate of the original.  He took a little tube out of the box, aimed it at the loop, and a light went from the tube to the eye and plate.  They glowed, then dimmed and then the glow was gone.   Nelson reached out and touched it.  It was all one piece, and hard as a rock.  “Nice work,‘ he smiled at ‘Chip.’

‘I will attach it to our ship with this and it will become all one piece with our craft.  It will be quite sturdy and strong.”

Nelson nodded his head, ‘Quite a useful bit of technology you have there.  I wish we had something like that.”

“It only works on material from our home world, you have nothing like it for it to work on.”  Then the alien looked at Nelson, and gave him one of Chip’s brilliant smiles.  It was weird seeing a glow of a smile on a dark empty glowing face, but Nelson also felt something that could only be described as akin to friendship.  He felt these were good, decent, peaceful beings, that wanted only to finally get home.  And I will do everything I can to help them get there.

Lee walked over to them.  “Sir, I don’t know what you have planned next, but it’s been a long day.  Can we call it a night, start fresh tomorrow?”

Nelson nodded at Lee, and turned to “Chip’.

“Chip”, I don’t know about your kind, but we need rest periods, we call them sleep.  We’ll resume this in the morning about 10 hours from now.”

“Can I go back to my craft and wait?  I can count my people, see how many have survived.”

“You don’t need sleep?”

“Not after eons of it.  But I do sense that this body needs regenerating.  Or as you call it, sleep. I will connect this hook to the top of my craft on the way back.”

“Ok, I’ll get our Chip back into diving gear, Lee you suit up as well, make sure Chip gets back safely.”

“Yes, Sir, gladly.”

They stopped outside the alien craft, and “Chip” went over and in a few minutes, the hook was attached to the craft.


The next morning was, to say the least, unusual.  During an early breakfast, Chip was informed of everything that had happened.  Despite all his hours of unconsciousness, he still had a good night’s sleep, and was refreshed and ready to go.  He remembered nothing about the day before, but after hearing the circumstances, he was willing to do anything to help.

After going over the preliminary plans for pulling the craft up and out with Admiral Nelson, Lee and Chip suited up and headed back out.  It was discussed that maybe this time Lee would hook up with the alien, but the Admiral felt that he was already comfortable with Chip. And I need Lee’s help.

They didn’t wait long before the glow appeared and soon attached itself to Chip.  Then ‘Chip” headed back and pointed out to Lee the top of the craft.  Lee swam over and grabbed the hook, and saw that it was now one piece with the top of the craft.  He wanted to give the alien a thumbs up but wasn’t sure he would understand.   Then they all headed back to the boat.

They were getting out of their diving gear with Riley’s help when the Admiral walked in.  “Good Morning, Sir.”

“Good morning, Riley.”  As an afterthought, The Admiral walked over and said ‘Good Morning, ‘Chip’.”

“Good Morning, Sir”.  The Admiral wasn’t sure if the alien was mimicking Riley or if this was his Chip talking.

“Admiral, have you given any thought as to what we will do next after we get their craft free?  If we get it free?  I mean, they will be beneath us all the way up to the surface.  How do we get them above us to reenergize their solar sails? How can we get them onto the island?”

“Actually Lee, I’ve given it a great deal of thought.  Every idea I come up with, when I think it through, just wouldn’t work, for one reason or another.  Do you have any ideas?”

“A couple, but I’m sure they are ideas you have already dismissed.  When we get near the surface, we could put some kind of motorized flotation devices at the bottom of their craft, then move Seaview out of the way so they can make it to the surface.  But that doesn’t get them onto the island.”

“Maybe it doesn’t have to!  Chip, how long do you need to reenergize your solar sails?

“It depends on the strength of your sun.  And it takes more energy to lift off than it does to cruise through space, constantly regenerating from the sun as we go.”

“Lee, I think you have a good idea there, don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself!  I wonder how heavy their craft is?  Maybe the flying sub could support them from underneath!”

“Chip, do you know how heavy your craft is?”

“Yes, but not in your . . . measurements, I cannot . . .translate?”

“Ok, where on your craft are your solar sails located?  Maybe we don’t have to push it all the way up. As we near the surface, the sun’s rays will penetrate the water.”

“They fan out all along the length of it.  I curled them in just as we began to sink so they would not be damaged.  They will not open unless the entire craft is free of any obstructions, even water.” 

“Hmmm. Well, the flying sub may be able to support it from underneath, but we must find a way to keep it from toppling over while the sails unfurl and recharge.”

“I’ve got a better idea, Sir.   Instead of supporting it from underneath, how about the flying sub holds it up from above, using the hook we put on top?  The water would help support the craft while the flying sub kept it steady.”

“She’ll still sink, Lee, and I don’t think the flying sub is strong enough to pull and keep her out of the water long enough for the sails to regenerate.”

 “Ok, how about we hook their craft up to the flying sub while she’s still berthed, then we release her and I pull Seaview out and around, dive, and come under it and support it back to the surface while the flying sub keeps her steady from above?  We wouldn’t need the island at all.”

“Hmmm.  Might work.  But, Chip, can your craft take off from the water, or does it need to be on a solid surface or ground?”

“It has never been done from water.  I do not think it is possible. Full strength in the solar sails will give it enough energy for a push to lift off, but it must push against something more solid than water.”

“Sir, would Seaview have enough stability for it to lift off from us?”

“You’re getting into some technical physics here Lee, and the problem is we don’t have enough exact information about their craft, its mass, fuel, weight, or engines.   I know they use solar energy to move, but they have to have some kind of fuel to burn for lift-off, I think.  We also have to remember, they are obviously way ahead of us with their technology, even after all the years they have been trapped here, we still haven’t caught up to them.”

Chip, if Seaview was under you in the water, but you were above us out of the water and your solar sails were unfurled and had time to recharge, would you be able to lift off using Seaview as your solid surface?  Without causing Seaview any danger?”

“It has never been done that way, and I do not want to put you in danger.”

“Could we support it from underneath as far in as we can get and then the flying sub could drag in onto the island and hold her upright until her sails recharge?”

“Lee, let’s revisit how we are going to do it once we actually have their craft free.   We’ll have a better idea exactly what we are dealing with then.  But I want to make something clear right now.  This is to be done as quickly and quietly as possible, nothing entered in the log, and all crewmen sworn to secrecy.  As much as the launch would be better done at night, they will need the sun to charge their solar sails.  They will be visible to anyone on this side of the earth, even though we are in rather remote waters. We must come up with some kind of cover story.”

“Why, Sir? No one knows we are here, and no one knows they are here.  Even if they are seen leaving Earth, it will just become an unexplained mystery.  There will be nothing left here to investigate, especially once the high tide covers the island, and I assume the ocean floor will quickly fill in the hole that is left as we pull them out.   I guess there may be some ‘unexplained data picked up by satellites in the area, but that’s about all.  It will simply remain unexplained.” 

“You may be right Lee, I guess we will just have to play it by ear.  Right now, let’s just get them out.”

“Yes, Sir.  You know, maybe we could attach them to Seaview now and start extricating them, I mean, you said they were mostly sunk into soft silt.”

“I played with that same idea myself Lee, but then what?  What if we were able to pull them right up and out quickly and easily?  We’d be left stuck with them hanging from us, and even though it would give us a better idea of what we are working with, Seaview’s engines would be overloaded after a while.  No, we must plan this out first, at least tentatively.”

“By the way ‘Chip’, how are your people, did you check on them last night?”

“We are all still alive, even after all this time.  I have let them sleep.   I will join them after we are on our way home, when it is safe.” 

“Well, that’s wonderful news ‘Chip,’ now let’s just get you on your way home.”

“Admiral, with what you intend to do, I think it would be better if I am inside my ship when you do it.  Be sure ship is ok with the strain.  I can go back on one of the members of the diving team, does not have to be Chip.

Lee spoke right up.  ‘Well ‘ChIp’, that’s a good idea.  I’d rather have Mr. Morton in the Control Room with me when we do this.”


While the diving team suited up, Lee bought the sub into position directly above their craft.  Then they left the boat carrying a huge hose.  Once outside, Riley brought the alien back to his craft, and waited as he slid off and into his craft. Then he returned to Seaview. The diving team hooked one end of the hose up to Seaview and directed the other end over the side of the exposed metal area.   They were able to get a bit of sand away from the sides of the craft, but after they reached a certain depth, the sand just started filling back into the hole. They headed back to Seaview, feeling it was useless to go any further, and reported that to the Admiral. 

The Admiral slowly walked up to Lee at the charting table, wringing his hands. 

“What’s wrong, Sir?”

‘The diving team just briefed me.  Lee, I don’t know if we are going to be able to do this after all, I don’t know if we can get their craft out, and even if we can, that’s the easy part.”

Lee wasn’t sure what to say.  It was so rare to hear the Admiral sound so defeated.

“Sir, there’s got to be a way, something else we can try.”

“Their craft is just a smooth cylinder, no way to get underneath it.  Sure we can pull it up from the top with the hook and eye, hopefully be able to pull it all the way out, but then what?’  How do we get them out of the water long enough for their solar sails to charge up, and then they still need a solid surface to lift off from.  It might be better to leave them here, they’ve been here and safe all this time.”

“Sir, we have to do it.  If we can’t get them out, then their own people wouldn’t be able to get them out either, if they do ever show up.  They’ll be stranded here on earth frozen for the rest of their lives.  We’re so close to getting them back home, we can’t give up now.”

“I know Lee, I know.  But every idea I come up with just falls apart when I try to work the details all the way through.  Believe me, I’m not saying this easily.”

 “Sir, we have to keep trying.  Maybe instead of a plan, we’ll just have to play it by ear.  First get them out, then we will have a better idea of what we are dealing with, see how big and heavy their craft is, how the solar sails are aligned. You said that earlier.  I really believe that if we hook up their craft to the diving bell mechanism, we should be able to pull them up at least far enough to get an idea.  Then we’ll just, well. . . we’ll just go from there.  We just can’t give up now Sir.”

The Admiral let out a long sigh.  ‘All right Lee, I guess your right, we have to keep trying. For now, I’m tired, I have a headache, and I’m headed for my cabin to lay down for a while.”   Nelson turned and walked out. 

Lee didn’t know what to make of the conversation.  He’d never known Nelson to give up so easily.   Maybe the Admiral was aware of other problems Lee hadn’t thought of. But what? 

Ok, they were already positioned directly over the craft.  Lee picked up the mic, ‘Mr. Morton, please report to the missile room.”  Then he headed down there himself, grabbing ‘Paterson along the way.

‘Chip, here’s what I want you to do.  ‘Pat and I are going out to the craft.  When I radio you, have the diving bell hook lowered until I tell you to stop. We’ll hook it up to the eye on the craft.  When I give the order, start pulling up slowly.  Let’s see what happens, see if we can pull it up even a little. Depending on how far we can get it out, you may have to blow ballast and raise Seaview.  Then we’ll go from there.  Just wait for my orders.”

‘Uh, Lee, does the Admiral know you’re doing this?”

“Mr. Morton, I gave you a direct order!”

“Yes, Sir, aye, aye Sir.”  What’s bugging him, why isn’t the Admiral in on this?

Lee turned and started to walk away, but then stopped, turned, and looked Chip directly in the eye.  ‘And the answer to your question is no.”

As Lee walked away, Chip just slowly shook his head.  Ok, chain of command.  Don’t get involved in whatever is going on between your two COs.   Just follow the orders of your immediate CO.   He headed for the missile room.

Lee and Pat swam out and secured the diving bell’s hook into the craft’s eye, then swam back aways.  Lee radioed Chip to slowly start to pull the craft up, slowly.  They watched carefully to be sure there was no damage being done to the craft.  Soon, Lee ordered Chip to raise Seaview, the craft still wasn’t free.   They followed it up.  Seaview was just about to break the surface when the end of the craft was finally exposed.  They swam around it, the craft looked completely undamaged, and it wasn’t quite as long as they thought.  They returned to Seaview. 

Back in the Control Room, Lee was suddenly worried. Now what?  Then he had an idea.  He plotted a course to the little island, hoping that Seaview’s engines were strong enough to drag the craft that distance.

Lee got Seaview as close to the island as he could, leaving enough depth in the water for the craft dangling beneath them.  He had to come up with a way to drag the craft onto the island, keeping it upright.  The only thing he could think of was to somehow have the flying sub hook up to the craft, then disconnect it from Seaview and get Seaview out of the way.  Then try to get the flying sub to drag the craft onto the island, and keep her upright until the solar sails recharged.  The island itself should be firm enough for the lift off.   He believed the flying sub’s engines were strong enough for a short time, the craft would rest on the island itself while the sails recharged, the flying sub would only have to keep her steady. 

But how to do it?  He finally decided he would take the flying sub out and see if actually looking at the craft and the island gave him any ideas.  If he couldn’t figure something out after he’d gone this far, he would never hear the end of it from the Admiral.  And what would they do with the craft? The ocean floor had quickly filled in the hole they had been sunk in. they couldn’t return it there.  He was beginning to wonder if maybe the Admiral hadn’t been right after all, but it was too late to worry about that now.  But beside that, he had to come up with something fast, Seaview’s engines could only stand the strain for so long.

He also wished he had set up something first with the alien, some way they could communicate, be sure their craft was undamaged on the inside as well, and that all their people were still frozen.  The alien may have some ideas Lee hadn’t thought of.  He flew over and around the little isle, then dove beneath the surface.  The ocean floor here was pretty smooth, no rocks to worry about, with a long and gentle incline to the shore from where the craft was dangling.  The flying sub wouldn’t have any problem dragging it onto the isle, if it couldn’t pull it up all the way.  But still, how to do it?

Lee surfaced near Seaview, and got into the diving gear that was always aboard. He dove down and examined the hook and eye, and kind of eyeballed how close Seaview could get to the isle.  Could she possibly get close enough that the craft would srill rest on the bottom?  Then they could release the hook, bring it up, and Seaview could quickly scoot out of the way.  Then the flying sub could get in there and take over, drag the craft onto the island.  But what if their craft started to topple over before the flying sub could be hooked up?  And how would they hook her up?  He had to talk to the alien.  He swam back to the flying sub and returned to Seaview.  On the way, he radioed Mr. Morton and ordered him to get into diving gear and swim down to the craft.

Chip swam over and simply waited, hoping somehow the alien would know he was there.  He hoped the mental connection they had shared before was still there somehow.  It only took a minute before Chip saw the top of the craft start glowing and he swam over to it.   The alien slid onto Chip and he swam over to the flying sub.  Once aboard, he slipped off, and listened while Lee filled him in with what was done so far, and what he wanted to do, but wasn’t sure how to do it.  ‘Chip’ thought it was a brilliant idea, that they could unfurl and charge up their solar sails while standing upright on the isle, and could then lift off from there.  He believed there was little worry about his craft falling over if the bottom was fairly level. 

Lee thought about the magnetism used to berth the flying sub into Seaview.  But the mechanism was on top of the little sub, and their craft was underneath.   He didn’t think it was strong enough anyway.  When they berthed the little sub, Seaview was also magnetically pulling it up. 

Wait a minute.  What if they birthed the little sub first leaving the bay doors open, then connected it to the craft after disconnecting it from Seaview.  Seaview could blow ballast and rise up and the flying sub could drop down from Seaview as the big boat quickly moved out of the way.  The flying sub would be able to keep their craft upright, and try to drag it onto the island. It might work.  The water would help support the weight of their craft. He explained this to ‘Chip’.

‘Chip’ thought it might work, but he added another idea to Lee’s plan.  He hadn’t remembered it until now, but his craft had little legs that kept it balanced while they were taking off.  ‘Chip’ could trigger them to protrude from the bottom sides of his craft.  They wouldn’t need to be kept steady by the flying sub once they got onto the island.  The only thing now was to figure out how to connect with the flying sub.

First came the few seconds of static, then Nelson’s voice, and he didn’t sound happy.

“Nelson to flying sub, come in Lee.”

“Flying sub here, go ahead Sir.”

“What the hell are you doing Lee?  Do you know what this is doing to Seaview’s engines?  Do you have a plan?’

“Uh, yes Sir, I do.”  He explained everything to the Admiral, who immediately came back with “And how do you expect to connect the flying sub, and what if she isn’t strong enough to pull them up onto the island?”

“Then we’ll bring them back to the water and let them sit on the bottom until we figure something else out. Their craft’s little legs will keep them steady on the bottom for a while. Sir.”

“It’s the something else that bothers me, Lee, because there isn’t something else to try, and I don’t think this will work.  I wish you had run it past me before you did this.”  

“Sorry Sir, but you were sleeping and, well Sir, we all agreed it was at least worth a try.”

“All right Lee, well, you’ve gone this far, I guess you’ll just have to keep going.  Now the only problem is connecting the craft to the flying sub, correct?”

“Yes, Sir, any ideas?”

“Well, don’t disconnect the hook from their craft. Once they are standing on their own on the bottom, we can disconnect the cable from the diving bell system at our end in the missile room, then we’ll connect the spare hook to it, let it float outside and have divers connect it to the flying sub in her berth instead.”

“But, Sir, that’s the problem.  There’s nothing to connect it to.”

“We don’t physically connect it.   Divers will wrap it around the flying sub and hook the cable onto itself underneath the flying sub.  The weight and pressure should keep it from sliding off.  Once their craft is safely on the island, the flying sub can hover low enough to undo it, then hover over their craft and unhook the other end.”

“Uh, well Sir, that’s, . . .that’s genius!” 

“Let’s just hope it works.  I’ll maneuver Seaview from here, you give me radio confirmation when their craft is standing on the bottom securely. ‘Chip’ will have to return to his craft to extend their landing gear.  Explain everything to him. Also, ask him to please not take off yet, he does have to wait until their sails are charged, but I’d like a word with him about what the astronomers found.”    

“Yes, Sir, thank you Sir!”

Lee breathed a huge sigh of relief.  This is going to work.  I can feel it!


They all stood on the little island, the Admiral, Captain, and ‘Chip’.  The flying sub had landed there also, waiting to take them back to Seaview.  Everything had worked out perfectly, and their solar sails were just about completely charged.   The Admiral was going over maps with ‘Chip.’  The exact location of their home planet couldn’t be pinpointed, but there was a good idea how far and in what direction the universe had spread since their earth landing.  Hopefully, they could get in the general vicinity and go from there, maybe get near enough to get help from their home.  

“’Chip’, what about the tower you built from parts of your craft?  Are you going to need any of them, and what should we do with the tower?  We can’t leave it there.   We can’t afford to have any alien technology or materials found, there’s enough well-founded suspicion already. Can you disassemble it and take the parts with you?” 

“We do not need them, and it is too late now to do anything about it.  You may destroy it. But Admiral, there is much other life out there among the stars, even as long ago as when we came here.  Your is still a young planet with a long way to go before you will be contacted, but you will be observed until then.  We came only to observe what point you had developed to, and during out stay here, you have gotten much further along.  Any other visitors mean you no harm.  Thank you for all the help you have given us to get home.  Now, it is time for us to leave.”

With that ‘Chip’ walked over to their craft, turned, and waved.  Then ‘Chip’ the alien slid off ‘Chip’ the earth man, and slowly dissipated into the craft.  Chip slowly sank to the ground, winding up siting on his butt.


They were all sitting in the observation nose, having dinner, and talking about their latest adventure. 

“It’s a shame we will never know what happens to them, if they ever make it back home.  Sir, how are you coming with the tower?”

“There’s nothing left to try, Lee.  Whatever that alien material is, it is impervious to everything we’ve used on it.  We can’t leave it here, so the only other option I can think of is dissembling it and taking it back to the Institute.  Maybe I can come up with something there.  Anyway, Chip, how are you feeling?  Any after effects from the experience?”

“No, Sir, if fact I feel great! I don’t really remember anything though.”

“Chip, I have to ask you something that is really on my mind, I need you to put it to ease.”  The Captain was trying to sound as serious as he could.

“Do you know what a woman looks like?”

With that, the Admiral, the Captain, and the Doctor all burst out in loud guffaws, while Chip just sat there dumbfounded.



In a galaxy far, far, far away . . . . . . .


“Leader, our distant scans are picking up an approaching vessel.” 

‘Configuration?  Is it one of our returning ships?”

”Leader, it reads as a very ancient one of our first sleeper ships.  They are still traveling under old style solar sails. And the life forms aboard read as our people.”

“Could they have been trapped in a black hole, or gone through a time warp?  Try to make contact, use one of the old-style transmitter waves.”

“Leader, we are receiving transmission from them, it is Onylxzrqgldm!  Our great hero lost to the stars many eons ago!  He has returned with all who were with him to explore and observe other worlds!  He lives!”

“Quickly! Guide them in!  We must make them welcome!  Our exploring ancestors have returned home to us at last!  What stories they must have to tell!  


The End

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