Not quite Sayonara?

By Kay H.



Lt.Cmdr. Jamison was on a mission. While all hands aboard Seaview had been granted an extended shore leave, he was certain that although Captain Crane had made plans, those same plans would fall by the wayside, again. Call it a gut feeling and so the good doctor found himself carrying the stack of post cruise reports to his CO; one, to turn the necessary paperwork in and second, to do a bit of sleuthing.


Lee and Chip were in the nose signing off the docking paperwork, when they heard footsteps steps coming down the circular staircase. 


“Doc, is that your department’s mission report?” asked Morton.


“Yes, Chip, I decided to deliver it to Lee personally this time.”


“About time,” Morton quirked an eyebrow. “Everyone else has already left the boat, except for the three of us and Nelson.”


“Better late than never,” Crane signed his name on the cover sheet with a flourish and placed the reports in his briefcase.


“Speaking of late, aren’t you a bit overdue for your flight?” Jamison asked Morton.


Chip shook his head and laughed, “Just what I need,  another worrywart. Chill Doc, I have plenty of time.  As soon as we finish here, I plan on running by my place and picking up my luggage then heading straight for the airport. I packed before we left on the cruise, so I just need to pick up my bag.   I should still arrive at the airport at least an hour before take off, so I have plenty of time. The crew doesn’t call me Mr. Dependable for nothing;  now Lee on the other hand….”


“Very funny,” Lee laughed. “At least I got the boat home a bit early. Of course, I had to talk the Admiral out of extending the cruise to pick up some more coral samples.”


“Now, now, Lee,” Nelson said from the spiral ladder, “don’t take all the credit…besides the specimen tanks were filled to overflowing.”


“So, when are you and Lee planning on leaving for Hawaii?” Doc asked.


“Well Doctor”, drawled the Admiral, “I have to drop off all the mission reports for Angie to start processing.  I need only to check my messages and stop by my penthouse to pack.  I’m not as efficient as our dependable Exec.   We should be ready to leave as soon as Lee moves his butt, goes home, packs and returns.  Does that satisfy you Jamie? Be assured we shall be well away before dark.  Are you still planning on spending your week fishing at your favorite lake?”


“I sure am, Admiral.  I even have several new books by my favorite author to read,” smiled Jamie cheerfully.


Lee finished signing the few remaining reports on the table while Jamie and Admiral discussed various baits and tackle.   Chip gathered up the docking paperwork and handed it to the Admiral, then picking up his cover, told everyone ‘good bye’ and left to catch his flight. 


It wasn’t much longer before the remaining men went topside, saluted the colors and left Seaview in the capable hands of the assigned security officer.


“Gentlemen,” quipped Jamie, “have a safe flight, and Lee, you be careful diving around those undersea pyramids.  The last thing I want to see when I get back is you sporting another injury.”


After laughing at Jamie’s warning, they soon entered the Administration building and took the elevator to the executive floor before splitting up and heading for their respective offices. 


Lee wanted stop by his office and peruse his messages and mail. It took him only an hour to clear the outstanding matters and pass on to his secretary notes and memos for her to work on. Quickly he crossed the corridor to his superior’s domain.


“Come in,” Nelson called out as Lee knocked.


“Admiral, I’m just about ready to go home and pack. What time do you want me to meet you back here?  I need to notify Pearl of our expected arrival time and arrange secure berthing for FS-1. They weren’t exactly pleased the last time we asked, not being on official business at the time. We still aren’t. It was easier to book a berth in Okinawa, Marine guards no less, as long as I suffer a short class instructing Navy Reservists when they set the date...”


“Now that’s an idea, why didn’t I think of it… leave Pearl to me. Why don’t we meet back here in about an hour, Lee?  I need to finish up some phone calls and make a quick visit to one of the labs.” 


“I can just hear Jamie…”


“I did tell him we’d probably be gone before he and Chip even got away on their trips, but the sooner you go and get back, the faster we’ll be on our way. Oh, and Lee, make sure you pack some evening wear along with whatever clothes you choose.”


Evening wear?”


“Er, yes…well, I do expect you to accompany me if the opportunity presents itself to meet some of my colleagues.”


Lee’s irritation was palpable.


“Go on son; see you soon.”


Lee headed for his condo and quickly packed jeans, t-shirts, and a set of casual sport clothes in case he and his friends went clubbing in Okinawa. He included a set of sweats with running shoes just in case he had a chance for it. He sighed as he added his little used tux and dress shoes, keeping his fingers crossed that he wouldn’t be drafted for any ‘special duty’ cocktails.



“Lee I’m glad you’re here” rushed Angie as soon as Lee returned, “Mr. Justice of Stanford Industries is on the phone and he needs to speak with you. It’s vital; the Admiral’s in the lab and didn’t want to be disturbed…”


“Give me two minutes then put it through to my office.”


As soon as he’d entered his office and perched on the edge of his desk, he clicked the blinking line, “Hi David, it’s Lee. What’s the problem?”


“Lee, I sure am glad I caught you.  We had a problem with our shipper.  The truck transporting the new turbine blade has developed mechanical problems en route to the Institute.  As you know because of Seaview’s security requirements, we can’t just contract any other transport and driver to replace the broken down truck. We have already dispatched a new truck and driver, but it will cause at least a 24-hour delay in the delivery of the blade but I wanted to personally explain the delay and reassure you that the problem appears to be a normal mechanical problem, not sabotage.”


“Thanks for letting me know, David.   Are you certain that the truck’s mechanical problem was just normal wear and tear; nothing irregular?”


“No, it was a simple mechanical breakdown, apparently a worn tie-rod slipped by the routine maintenance inspection.  I am sorry. This should have been caught under the routine servicing of the truck.  You can be sure we will rectify the inspection procedures in the future.  This will not happen again or heads will roll in the maintenance department, I assure you.”


“Okay.  I’ll notify security and maintenance of the delay.”


Both men ended the conversation cordiality and Lee hung up and walked out to Angie’s desk.  “Angie, as soon as the Admiral gets back from the lab, please let him know that the turbine blade from Stanford Industries has been delayed for 24 hours. I’ll be on Seaview reworking the refit schedule to accommodate the delay.”



“Angie? Where the devil’s Lee?” Nelson stormed into his outer office from the hall. “I expected him to be here waiting.  It took longer than I expected. If Jamie finds out he’ll never let me hear the end of it. We should have already left for Hawaii.”


“Lee’s aboard Seaview, Admiral.” 


“Not again!" Nelson ran a hand through his hair, “What the hell’s he doing? I knew I should have expected him to find some reason to delay us.”


“It’s not like that at all, sir. Stanford Industries called.   Lee said it was a delay about the turbine blade and transportation problems.  He went down to rework the schedule of Seaview’s repairs to accommodate the delay. “ 


“I see,” Nelson looked a bit sheepish, “I'm sorry my dear, I should have waited for your explanation.  Blame it on my Irish temper.  Please call the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and let them know we’ll be delayed, probably until tomorrow and to hold the reservation with full payment guarantee.   Also call Pearl and see if you can arrange a rental vehicle with driver service if possible. I wish we could use the base motor pool, but this is a private trip so that’s a no go. Hopefully Lee can arrange to meet his friends without having to rearrange their schedule. I should still arrive in time for the start of my conference. Well,  I’m heading down to the boat. We’ll probably end up spending the night at the Penthouse.”


“Yes sir. I’ll contact security right away.”




The Admiral and Lee managed to leave Santa Barbara before dawn the next morning; both were eager to get on with their plans.  After the flying sub reached cruising altitude, Lee engaged the auto-pilot.  “How about some coffee?  Angie must have requested  some goodies brought over. But look at them…bear claws, doughnuts, etc…looks as if they thought Morton would be with us…”




“Okay, okay…I’d rather just have a bran muffin though.”


“You complain too much…drink your coffee. I didn’t get enough this morning.”


“What do you expect from that instant stuff?”


“Humph. By the way, have you decided to join some of those group dives or go it alone with the friends you’re meeting?”


“Barring any unforeseen problems, we’ll be using Reef Diving Expeditions, small package tours…Vic was pretty adamant with us that we use them. Their Dive Master is Stephen Butler. He’s frequently dived Yonaguni and they designed a tour specifically for us.  The package arranges transportation from Naha to Yonaguni including the hotel, meals, island transportation and diving gear along with the boat. We’re planning on five nights and at least 14 scheduled dives. I’m not sure if we’ll use all of them though. We’ve agreed to take the commercial flight back to Naha afterwards.”


“Well that sounds splendid, Lee.  I’m sure you will all have marvelous time. You’ll have to tell me all about it – I want all the details, and pictures…Lots and lots of pictures!”  Nelson laughed.


Just as the dawn began breaking over Pearl Harbor, FS-1 arrived at the dock where waiting along with the car and driver were Lt. Cmdr. Joe Emmons and ‘Captain’ Mike Rodger.


“Lee you don’t need to disembark, I’ll send your friends down, and then you can be on your way.  I’ll see you at the Royal Hawaiian in a week; hopefully I’ll be able to at least set up a meeting with a group that just might decide on helping to fund an expedition to explore those same pyramids.  You should reach Okinawa early this afternoon; if Cmdr. Davidson can meet you, maybe you’ll have time for a quick flight over the area with FS-1 prior to berthing her.  Didn’t you say Yonaguni is only about 90 minutes from Naha?”


“About.  That’s a good idea.  I’m sure we can see more from the FS-1 than the commercial flight.  I can take some pictures with the nose camera of the surrounding waters and maybe even get a quick peak underwater with the flying sub if the currents aren’t too bad.  At least this might gives us an idea of the conditions in case we take Seaview into the area.”




Time passed quickly after FS1 had docked and Nelson had departed. Crane took her up again and the friends discussed everything from what they’d been doing with their lives lately to their diving plans. Before they knew it Crane had received permission from the naval base to dock.  Lee docked expertly and opened the hatch. Commander Vic Davidson boarded the sub and set about admiring the sleek machine and before long they were enjoying the aerial view of the Yonaguni pyramid area before Lee flew the craft down and into the sea.


“Joe,” Lee asked after punching a few buttons and bringing the Nose camera online,” why don’t you get some pictures…once we’re airborne again, get some around the site.  The water’s pretty clear; we should see a lot of detail before submerging again.”



The group arrived back at the naval base just after dusk.  After everyone disembarked, Lee set the security locks on the FS-1 and turned the responsibility for the craft over to base security as arranged, who little realized the bargain the famous Captain Crane of the Seaview had had to make for the privilege. 


The friends adjourned to the hotel near the airport where Vic had arranged for accommodations.  Everyone got a quick bite to eat and retired for the evening. 



The next morning after arriving in Yonaguni and meeting with Stephen Butler the group checked into their hotel and then left to check out the boat and diving equipment.  Lee, Vic and Joe had each brought along their own diving gear, except for the tanks. 


Lee and Joe decided to buddy up on the first dive.  They planned to be switching among the group during the different dives, but even with Mr. Butler acting as a Dive Master and watching the area for trouble each of them were too professional to ignore their own ingrained safety protocols.


“Wow Joe, feel those currents,” Lee spoke as they entered the water, “I think we should use drift diving.  Maybe further down they’ll be milder and we can swim to the areas we want to look at.”


Needless to say, after everyone had completed the first dive, DM Stephen was very impressed with this group’s skills.  He suspected these men were military or had a military background due to their diving skills and the manner in which they handled their gear, even though Mr. Davidson had not said anything about it.  He always liked to conduct a short debrief after the first dive with a new group, so he could get to know them and their capabilities and prevent any future problems. Though some of his guests professed to be expert divers, they had either over stated their abilities or never experienced drift diving. 


“Gentlemen, now that you have all had a chance to settle in the boat and get something to drink, I would like to discuss the dive you just completed.  I normally have a quick chat with every new group. It allows for each of us to get to know one another, though this group is different from my normal groups, since you each already know one another.  I have over 20 years experience as a Dive Master and have over ten years experience in this area alone.  I would appreciate it if you would each tell me a little about yourselves, your diving experience and what you hope to get out of this tour,”


“Go ahead Lee,” Joe said; surprising Crane, as he’d expected one of the others to take the lead.


“I’m Lee Crane. I’m currently in the Naval Reserve and am certified as a Dive Master.


“What he isn’t saying,” Vic snorted, “is that he’s the Captain of the submarine Seaview, so don’t be put out if he starts barking orders.  I’m Vic, a Navy Commander, but I do like to spend my free time scuba diving. I’m also certified as a Diver Master same with Joe except he is only a Lt. Cmdr.   Mike on the other hand is strictly civilian, but owns his own schooner…a tall ship…charters it to paying customers…oh yeah, he’s a qualified diver too.”


“I suspected some of this group might have a military background. By the way, that’s some of the finest diving gear I have every seen.  I’ve seen for myself you’re all very experienced divers. I do hope, however, Captain Crane, that you’ll allow me leader status.”


At first no one could tell that he was joking.


“I can tell you,” Mike said, "even though I am a very competent diver; I am nowhere close to the level of these guys.  I just don’t have the opportunity to dive as much as Lee and Vic.  Heck, even Joe frequently gets to spend his weekends diving.”


Joe smiled and piped up, “I can’t help it if I live in Hawaii. It isn’t my fault there aren’t as many interesting diving sites in the North Atlantic.  Besides whenever you leave port you’re more interested in sailing your schooner than actually diving.”


“Okay gentlemen,” Stephen chuckled, “I see I may have started something. “Now if everyone is rested and ready to make another dive let’s get ready.  Generally I try to schedule two dives each morning depending on sea conditions and experience levels, and then head back to shore for lunch.   Because the current is usually stronger in the afternoon we will normally make just one dive then.  Believe me no matter how fit or how much you dive this area is very challenging and really tires you out.   We’ll make another dive this afternoon, and then I’ll return you to your hotel so you can have free to spend some time sight seeing, resting or what ever you wish to do.  All I ask is everyone please get plenty of rest each night, because I want each of you to remember the endurance required of you each day will be trying.  I will be available each evening if any of you have any questions or problems.  Okay, if that’s all clear; let’s hit the water.”


On the second dive of the morning with Lee teamed with Vic as his diving buddy. Vic motioned Lee to look at the area to his right.  There he saw an astonishing rock-formation with an underwater cliff-face cut into a series of immense geometric terraces, with broad, flat horizontal surfaces, and sheer vertical stone risers. 

After surfacing Vic was describing the site for Joe and Mike who had been in a section further to left. “You know this reminds me of some of the places in Greece on land which might have served as a grandstand for the retinue of whomever the Japanese equivalent of Poseidon may be.  It feels like a place where the ancient gods would convene to watch titanic underwater spectaculars.”

 “This place is so huge,” Joe added, awestruck,” that you miss so much even if you are only a few feet from each other.  Mike and I saw some very interesting underwater formations, but nothing like you describe.  What I found was unusual were the coral reefs teeming with extravagant fish that could have been designed like the celestial Faberge eggs almost touching the rock formation.  I think I saw something that looked a shallow cave at the edge of the rocks.  I want to check it out this afternoon.”

“I think I saw the area you were talking about, “Mike said,” and it did look kind of special but what Vic described sounds really exciting!”

“I not sure Mike, “Joe said, “but it looked like their might be something on the floor of the cave, but I was to far away for a really good look.  Why don’t you and Vic dive together this afternoon and I’ll partner with Lee.”

“That sounds fine with me Mike!” Lee nodded, enthusiastic, “You know me; I am always fascinated with caves.”

Everyone laughed as they made their plans. It wasn’t long before the boat returned to the dock and everyone headed to the hotel for a well-deserved lunch.   Lee invited Stephen to join them but he declined.

“Thanks for the invitation, Lee, but can I have a rain check?  I need to make sure everything is ready for this afternoon.  Maybe we can get together some evening. I’ll be waiting for you back here at the boat in about two hours.”

Over a light lunch everyone discussed their dives again, and even spoke of some of their other dive experiences. They were more than ready for the adventure the afternoon promised. 


Stephen had left a diving buoy marker after the morning dives, so they could be certain of returning to the exact area where they had been that morning.  Since the currents were stronger and they would be doing a lot of drift diving they decided to pick a different section of the area to dive in each day, unless they found something they wanted to spend a longer period of time to investigate.

Joe and Lee entered the water first and headed for the caves.  While descending Lee reached over and tapped Joe on the shoulder, showing him the schools of hammerhead sharks in the distance.  Joe acknowledged their neighbors and motioned toward the cave.  As they approached the cave Lee saw some large objects that appeared to look like some ancient hand tools, which could be used for chipping or hammering on stone.  There were also several items, which could have been types of tools, but did not look like anything he had ever seen before.  The items all appeared to be very old and settled into the ocean floor like they had been there for centuries.  Using hand signals Lee motioned to Joe to stand near some of the tools, so he could point to the object and actually give an indication of the object size the while Lee took some shots with his underwater camera.  Lee made sure to snap several photos of the cave area as well as the objects located on the floor of the cave.  One thing he really missed in this diving scenario were the throat mikes used between divers and with Seaview.


When their oxygen supply began to near the low edge of the safely margin, the group started to surface.  A quick shift in the current knocked Lee into one of the stone archway resulting in him scraping his hand.  He quickly glanced around to see if anyone had noticed his slight accident.  Luckily it wasn’t bleeding, just a slight scratch…no reason to mention it to anyone.  He caught up with the rest of the group as they surfaced ready to return to shore.  Everyone was ready for an early night.


 This was their life for the next few days.  When they had first arrived Lee had checked on the return flights and was delighted to find that they could catch the flight for Okinawa after their final afternoon dive, so they decided to book their return flight so that they could have an evening of relaxation and fun in Okinawa prior to the friends flying back to Pearl.

Lee was truly sorry when the last dive ended, but was even more determined now to bring Seaview here.  Chip was going to be so envious when he saw the pictures and heard the stories about what he’d missed.

“Stephen, thanks for a truly great experience,” Lee spoke for the group when they said their goodbyes, “You did a fantastic job.  I don’t think any of us have been on a better arranged tour.”

“It was my pleasure.  I’m glad you had such a great time and hope you will come back soon.  It’s always satisfying to see friends return and go diving again. So maybe this is not quite Sayonara for us gentlemen?”


After an exciting week exploring the Japanese Pyramids the four tired men returned to Okinawa Naval Base.  Following a fun night on the town Lee, Joe and Mike said their goodbyes to Vic before their return flight to Hawaii. 


“Lee, be sure and convey my thanks to Admiral Nelson for letting us use the Flying Sub” Vic said,  “Think of all we would have missed if we had only flown in by a commercial airline.  We never would have been able to get close enough to the water to see the fascinating, sunken stone structures off Okinawa.  Even as crystal clear as the water is in this area we still would not have been able to see the structures 60 to 100 feet beneath the ocean surface from the air.  You know I have always had an interest in ancient Japanese history.  Makes me wonder if Japan’s homeland was once part of the lost continent of Mu.”                


“I know you have Vic.  I’ll be happy to pass on your thanks to the Admiral. You know even after spending almost a week at this site diving, I can understand why there is such a controversy over whether this is a natural geological formation or man-made.”


Mike excitedly piped in. “The stone terraces, right angled blocks and walls, along with stone circles encompassing hexagonal columns certainly look intriguing even though this does not conclusively make it man made.” 


“Remember,” Joe added, “it also looked like a road encircling on one of the structures.  Do you think that the things that looked like post holes could have supported some wooden structures which are long-gone now or do you think they were a natural occurrence?”


All three men shrugged.  There were many archeological questions that they had yet to find answers for.


“Lee, I’m also glad you brought along that  underwater camera, “Vic added, “You know at the Okinawa site there was one section which looked like cut steps cut into a castle wall.  When we flew over Okinawa on our arrival we saw some castles with similar architecture located nearby the underwater structures.  Did you get some pictures of the land castles?”


Lee thought for a minute before answering, “No Vic, but if I alter our flight path back slightly we should cross over one of them.  We can take a picture with the FS-1 nose camera, and when I get back to the Institute I can download the photo along with the pictures from the underwater camera.  I’ll send everyone copies of the pictures, so we can each study them and compare notes. This way the Admiral also can take a look at them; I know he’s hoping to schedule Seaview for a mission to look over the area.  I am sure Chip will want to take a look and offer his opinion too.  He was unhappy that he missed the trip; but as you know he had a family reunion which he couldn’t miss.”

“You would think if the Yonaguni site had been carved by nature, you would find more debris from the erosion collected around the site, but I don’t  remember finding any rock fragments,” chimed in Joe.  “You would think whoever built this monument required a high degree of technology, and some sort of machinery.”

They all laughed and continued to discuss the many detailed observations until it was time for them to part.

As promised, after departing Okinawa, Crane took the flying sub over some of the castles while taking many photos. It was almost a shame to resume her flight path to Pearl Harbor to berth the FS-1 in the reserved secure area.  Joe and Mike disembarked, while Lee turned the FS-1 over to base security for storage until he and the Admiral left the following day.  As he was leaving the area Lt. Stein informed him the Admiral had arranged for a cab. It had already been called and was waiting.


Lee was glad to already have transportation available and offered a ride to his friends.


“Thanks,” Joe said, “saves me some time getting home. What about you Mike?”


“Just drop me off at the Iona. Where are you headed Lee?” Mike said as the men entered the cab.


“I’m bunking with the Admiral at the Royal Hawaiian.”


Joe looked at Lee. “You lucky dog.  Have you been to the Royal Hawaiian before?”


“No,” Lee shook his head, “I’ve only seen it from the outside.  If I remember correctly it is located on the legendary site of Waikiki Beach once known as Helumoa to Native Hawaiians?”


“You guessed right,” the driver said, “not too many non natives know that…”


“Yes that’s it,” Joe said, “ The hotel opened in 1927 and is know for its magnificent Moorish architecture, exquisitely appointed rooms, meandering garden areas as well as a serene seaside oasis on Waikiki Beach.  It has been called the ‘Carnegie Hall of the Pacific’.  I knew working for Nelson could force you to rub shoulders with world leaders and other important people; international jetsetters, celebrities and Hawaiian elite…I’ll really feel for you while you’re sipping refreshing cocktails and contemplating the breathtaking panorama of Waikiki Beach.”


Lee frowned at Joe’s sarcasm. Lee’s distaste of the glamorous life was legendary. “How bad can it be?  I’m only staying the night; we are planning on leaving tomorrow morning for Santa Barbara.”


“Better you than me buddy. I’ll take my nice quite little apartment anytime over that circus.”


Lee arrived at the Royal Hawaiian around 1 PM that afternoon.  He entered the opulent lobby and studied the gorgeous wood furniture, open archways over looking luscious green lawns stretching toward the beach as he approached the registration desk.  It was truly magnificent.



“May I help you?” the desk clerk asked in what Lee took as a condescending tone.


Suddenly he remembered that all this time while on vacation he hadn’t bothered to shave. Surely he looked a bit scruffy around the edges, but at least his well worn jeans and polo shirt were clean if not pressed.  His appearance was presentable even if not up to his own immaculate standards.  Surely everyone was welcome even though the hotel certainly catered to a more sophisticated clientele.



“A moment,” the clerk said, adding a ‘sir’ as he saw the manager observing both he and Crane.  “You’re in the Kamehameha Suite, rooms A and B with Admiral Nelson.  He left a message for you and here is your room key, 901, sir.  I will call a bellhop for your bag immediately.”


Lee took the sealed envelope and key.  “Thanks, but that’s not necessary,” he picked up his gear and headed to the elevator.




It didn’t take long for Lee to unpack the few items he’d need.  He reviewed the message from Nelson again, groaning when he saw that evening wear was indeed on the schedule for tonight. But having several free hours he decided to take a quick jog around the hotel grounds.


So Nelson had managed to conn some of his scientist colleagues into discussing an expedition after all with dinner and cocktails thrown in as a necessary evil. But Lee would  rather just go to bed, thank you very much.


Quickly changing into his sweats, he wrote a quick note for the Admiral leaving it on the table just inside the door to the suite letting him know he had arrived and had gone for a run.


The garden jogging path was intricately designed blending the trees and greenery with a multitude of different tropical flowering plants. While running Lee saw many different varieties of Orchids, which were intertwined with varieties of Gingers, Calatheia, Protea, and Costus in a whole range of colors.  These rich colorful flowers were interspersed with different varieties of Bamboo, and Palm trees.  Occasionally a bird of Paradise, Anthurium or even a coconut plant caught his eye.  The kaleidoscope of colors along with the delicate fragrances made this one of the most relaxing and pleasant running experiences that Lee had enjoyed in a very long time.




While Lee had planned on taking a quick functional shower after his run, he was actually startled as he entered the most amazing palatial bathroom he’d ever seen.  Rich travertine stone floors complemented the mosaic glass accent wall of the shower cubicle but there was also a large soaking tub overlooking the serenity of the hotel’s lush tropical gardens.  Lee investigated the luxurious steam shower and discovered its numerous tiny rain shower heads positioned at different levels allowing for a pulsating massaging effect. This made him stop and reconsider the quick shower.  Now his only dilemma was going to be deciding between a soak in the tub and the fantastic shower.


Emerging from the bathroom half an hour later, relaxed and refreshed, Lee reluctantly put on a black tuxedo, with a dark hunter green bow tie and cummerbund. But if he was going to have to dress up like a popinjay, he was at least going to have the last word, and decided to keep the beard. After all, Angie had told him once he ought to grow one. At least on shore leave he could actually get away with it.



While the suite’s bar had a wide assortment of refreshments to imbibe, he chose juice thinking of the inevitable drinks to come his way tonight. While sipping the juice, he decided to review the pictures taken during the dive; he could peruse them through the camera viewer until he had a chance to download them to the computer.  He really wanted to take a look at them, and get his thoughts in order about what they had seen on the dive.  He took his glass and camera out on the balcony and sat down in one of the ample chairs to enjoy the pictures and the spectacular view of the gardens….  He definitely wasn’t looking forward to explaining the small bandage  around his hand to Nelson.



“Lee?” Nelson whispered to the sleeping man, “Lee?” he tried again with a gentle nudge on Crane’s shoulder.


“Um? Oh, Admiral.”


“What is wrong with your hand? When did you get in?  I didn’t expect you until later this afternoon.”


“Didn't you see the note I left? Got in shortly after lunch. We had an early start and with the tailwind, made good time.  I didn’t expect you until a little closer to dinner time.”


“Lee, quit dodging the question.  What happened to your hand?”


“I had a minor argument with a sharp rock.  The cut didn’t even require stitches, so we don’t even need to mention this to Jamie.  By the time he reports to Seaview there won’t even be a scar.  The last thing I want to hear is ‘I told you so’…”


“All right, all right. Now, as you know,  I’ve  arranged dinner with several marine archeologists interested in funding an expedition to the Japanese pyramids, and was hoping you could join us with your first hand observations… You are going to shave that off aren’t you?”


“Actually, no sir. Not ‘till I’m back on duty at NIMR or aboard Seaview. Why? What’s wrong with it? I find I rather like it…..”


“You look like a beach bum!”


“Do you want my impressions of the dive or not for this evening’s festivities? I could just go join in the S’more’s party the hotel’s hosting tonight, you know.”


“Oh very well, you win. Heavens look at the time. I need to take a quick shower.”


“No way you’ll manage a quick shower in that bathroom.”


Harry smiled indulgently, “Enjoyed yourself did you?  I bet you broke your three minute rule.” 


“Absolutely. That bathroom is positively dangerous.”




Less than ten minutes later, scrubbed and changed, the Admiral walked back out onto the balcony.  Lee was scrolling through the pictures “Sir, take a look at this shot.  If you didn’t know this was underwater, you would think that these were stairs in a castle wall. You know the two sites are very different, though both are at a comparable depth, somewhere between 60 to 100 feet.  The waters in the area are some of the clearest that I have ever seen, so hopefully the airborne pictures will come out as well.   Vic thought the Yonaguni site might be ceremonial platforms.   The Okinawa site looked similar to a castle a wall.  The island nearby had castles with a similar architectural style.


“If we undertake a mission with Seaview,” he added, “we’ll need to carry a larger number of experienced divers than we usually have on board. It was treacherous terrain even for the four of us and we’re all experienced divers. The site at Yonaguni is fairly near the shore, so the currents are very swift and there was heavy surge motion of waves.  We also saw quite a few sharks so we will need to have additional spotters with spear guns for protection.  One plus to this is the area has some of the clearest water in the world, with visibility to 200 feet. The corals were gorgeous."       


Nelson listened intently and heard the excitement in Lee’s voice. “I’m sure your enthusiasm will help toward arranging a full and funded expedition. Dr. Kimura is a marine geologist affiliated with the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa.  He arranged for the other guests.”  He glanced at his watch, “We better get going and, I expect you to do justice to a superb meal this evening.  You are in for an unforgettable epicurean experience at the Azure.”


“I’m almost afraid to ask…”


“The fish are caught locally at daybreak.  You can choose between classic preparations of high heat aromatic herb roasting or any way you’d like. My preference is Hawaiian regional cuisine with bright tropical flavors."


“You make it sound like an experience not to be missed, sir, but…”


“No buts. You will eat something and you will enjoy it. That my dear Captain is an order. I’ve no doubt you probably skipped several meals this past week.  I will not be responsible for Jamie getting on your case about losing weight during your leave.”


“Now, sir, I will have you know I have gained weight this past week. Can’t you tell?” he patted his stomach, “this Tux is damned uncomfortable, way to snug.”





Lee was surprised by the restaurant’s décor.  It looked like this epicurean experience would be illuminated by a wall of mother-of-pearl mosaic opening onto a bejeweled oceanfront space adorned with intimate candlelight.  The plush banquettes and pillows remind him of a place in the Arabian Dessert he’d visited once before. 


Just inside the archway in a small seating area were several individuals.  One gentleman stood and stepped forward.


“Admiral Nelson, it is a pleasure to meet you again.”


The two men shook hands and Nelson was guided forward by the Professor. “Please allow me to introduce the remainder of the group.  Dr. Arbuthnot has investigated the sites several times and produced several documentaries on this topic.  Dr. Terki Ishii, is a professor of geology at Tokyo University and this is my assistant Dr. Rhikua   We would like to thank you for the dinner invitation and the opportunity to discuss a possibly collaborative with your great institution on the Japanese pyramids.  I am sure that you will find that we each hold many differing opinions about the origins of the sites -- natural or man-made.  If I may ask on behalf of my colleagues, why the sudden interest in these sites now, they were discovered about fifteen years ago?”



Admiral Nelson smiled at the group as he made his own introduction. “Please allow me to introduce Commander Lee Crane, the Captain of the Seaview. He’s actually made some dives to the area and was instrumental in piquing my interest in the first place.… ”  


 “Admiral Nelson,” the maître d’ interrupted, “your table is ready.  Secluded with ocean view as requested,” he led the group through an opening in a wall of luscious tropical vegetation to a corner table overlooking the beach.


“Thanks Andre, this is perfect.  Would you please send over the wine steward? Gentlemen, why don’t we place our orders then we can talk.”


The men all enjoyed a sumptuous meal together before they began to really talk business again.


“Dr. Kimura,” Nelson began, “I would like to thank you for arranging this meeting for me.  Now in answer to you question on why now, it is very simple. I only recently learned about the Japanese pyramids.  As I was saying, it was Captain Crane here who brought them to my attention, when he mentioned his plans to take a diving vacation there with friends.”


“Commander Crane, how did a submarine Captain hear about the pyramids? And what did you think of them?” inquired Dr. Arbuthnot.


“TV actually, sir. In fact it was one of your own investigative reports several of my friends saw as well, and thought we’d like to see them up close and personal. We did a bit more research, and the rest is history.  We just completed 14 dives in the area. It was all pretty awesome, but none of us could decide if the pyramids are natural or artificial...I understand you spent several years studying them…”



“I believe these are monuments left by an unknown civilization, perhaps from the Asian mainland, home of our oldest civilizations.  I still remember Dr. Arbuthnot’s reaction when he came up after his first dive, at Yonaguni. He found little to suggest that it was man made. It was only after diving the Okinawa site, and interviewing me for two days, that he began to entertain the notion for the sites being artificial, or modified by man.  He still requires supporting evidence, but maybe with the help of Seaview we can find the necessary corroborating proof.”


“Dr. Ishii,” Nelson asked, “what do you think about the sites from the standpoint of a marine geologist?  Do you have any thoughts on the possible age?”

“Well I believe the site could be a combination of man-made and natural formations around 8,000 B.C.   This would make it a contemporary time to the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley. Other individuals have suggested a date of 12, 00 years BC.  That Admiral is one of the problems on how to date these sites and I am looking forward to learning how you might resolve things for us.”

“Dr Ishi,” Lee asked, “you indicated that other individuals have suggested differing ages for these sites. If I may ask, what were the scenarios suggested?

“There are suggestions that that the sites submerged when sea levels rose at the end of the last Ice Age. You see, as the continental ice sheets melted and tectonic activity increased, it may have caused subsidence of the land since Japan sits on the Ring of Fire.  Other theories suggest a combination of subsidence and inundation from rising sea levels, or possibility a catastrophic event which might have dropped it, intact and upright, onto the ocean floor.”

Animated discussions followed for some time as darkness began to fall outside and a fabulous sunset glowed over the water.  The Admiral reluctantly brought the evening to an end.

“Gentlemen, thanks to each you for your time and stimulating conversation.  I would really like to develop a collaborative mission to investigate the pyramids with you. If you’re agreeable, please contact my office next week with your schedules.  We can begin planning the expedition as soon as we accumulate all the relevant information.  Seaview has a break in her schedule about six to nine months from now, so hopefully we will be able to arrange a time that’s convenient for everyone.”

The group dispersed with commitments to talk again the following week as Nelson waited for and signed the bill.

“Well, that was better than I expected, Lee! I can hardly wait for it to happen. By the way, did you enjoy dinner? What you ate of it that is? I got the distinct impression you’d rather have had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

“You’d be right. I’m just not a gourmet…Chip on the other hand…”

“Well, I’m ready to go upstairs. I’d like to take a look at the photos again. I’d only got a glimpse before dinner. And we have to leave early…by the way, uniform is optional as your shore leave is not actually up for awhile….I don’t suppose you’d like to join me at my beach house to help plan for the expedition?  The cottage is well stocked with beer and frozen dinners or we can just toss something on the grill. Plus, whenever you’d like, you could take a break soaking up sun and surf. There’s even a sea scooter…”

“I can keep the beard then?”


“I’ll take that as a yes; at least for now. Actually, I can’t wait until we get back to Santa Barbara to download the pictures from the FS-1.”

“Indeed. Very well,   Lee.  Let’s get upstairs.”

Nelson had a good feeling about this mission.  It was what he had primarily created Seaview for -- marine investigation and it was good to be involved in a project that spurred his scientific curiosity.  Without realizing it he started to whistle a jaunty sea shanty as he and Lee headed for the lobby.


Author Note:

 Thanks to Lill for her usual fantastic job beta-ing. Any mistakes are mine. Kate, thanks very much for your input; it was invaluable for me. Thanks to Carol for posting to her site and her insightful ideas for improving the story and her editing.