The Rift


K. Corris-Seale


Chapter One

At first, he thought he was imagining it.  But as the mission proceeded, he knew he wasn’t.  The Admiral was ignoring him, responding only when absolutely necessary.  Lee was sure he hadn’t done anything to deserve it or to provoke the Admiral in any way.

But Nelson seemed fine with everyone else. As he recalled it, the last meeting in the Admiral’s office at the Institute had gone well, everything was fine then, and that was only two days before they sailed.   Lee had mentioned it to Chip, but the Exec hadn’t seen any evidence of it.  “Let it go, Lee.  He’s probably just got his mind on the mission.  You know how he gets.  Don’t take it personally.”

He finally did decide to let it alone, see what transpired as the cruise progressed.   Maybe the Admiral was simply in a bad mood and would work himself out of it given enough time and space. Lee knew he himself was certainly given to moodiness, but saw very little of it in the Admiral.  The man was famous for losing his temper, but would always be fine afterwards.  And it was always something obvious that set him off.  Ok, I’ll leave it alone, for a while, as long as it doesn’t affect the running of the boat.

Then came the morning they were all seated in the wardroom having their breakfast.  Lee asked the Admiral the reason for the course change the Admiral had given Chip earlier, when the Exec was in the control room going over the log entries from the night watch as he always did before breakfast.  The Admiral responded icily, “Chip, explain the course change to Commander Crane.”  With that, he jolted up and stalked out of the Wardroom.  Lee just sat there, stunned.  And Nelson had belittled him by using his rank, not his title.

Jamie was the first to speak.  “What was that about?”

“I don’t know Jamie, he’s been giving me the silent treatment since we left port.  I have no idea what’s wrong.  I wish I did.”

“Do you want me to talk to him?”

“No Jamie, but thanks.  I’m just going to see how it plays out.  Who knows?  Maybe he’s getting ready to fire me.  My contract with the Institute is up soon, maybe he’s trying to get me to quit so he doesn’t have to fire me.”

“Lee, we all know that isn’t the Admiral.  He doesn’t play games like that. You’re sure you don’t remember anything happening?”

“Nothing, and believe me I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to think of anything I could to blame this on.  It has to be something I did or said, but I have no idea what.  I wish he would just blow up, lose his temper, and tell me off.  You know, clear the air.  Then I could apologize and it would be over and done with.”

“Why does it have to be something you’ve done?  Have you thought of just going to him and asking him?  Don’t let this ride Lee.  You don’t deserve to be put through this.  Go down and talk to the man.  For all you know, he may be just as relieved to get it out in the open.”

“I guess you’re right Jaime.  I have thought of doing that, but I was afraid it would make things worse.  I’ll go down after breakfast.”

Twenty minutes later, he was standing in front of the Admiral’s hatch, taking a deep breath before he knocked.  He felt the butterflies in his stomach when he heard the Admiral’s ‘come’ in response to the knock.  Well, it’s now or never.

He walked in and immediately saw the scowl on the Admiral’s face.  He felt like walking right back out, but stood his ground. “Sir, may I have a work with you, please?  I’d like to know if I have said or done anything to upset you.  It seems like you aren’t very happy with me lately and I’d like to know why.”

Until the day he died, Lee would never forget the look on the Admiral’s face.  This went way beyond ‘if looks could kill’.  The Admiral only growled two words to him, ‘GET OUT’.  After a few seconds, he did just that, then stood in the hallway, stunned.  What in heaven’s name have I done to him?

He soon found himself, unbelievably, at Jamie’s doorstep.  He stepped into Sickbay, relieved to see no patients there and that Jamie was alone in his office.  He told Jamie what had just happened.

“Jamie, now I’m getting worried that there is something wrong with him.  Maybe you should check him out.”

“On what pretense, Lee?  That he doesn’t want to talk to you?   Granted it’s not the usual type of behavior we enjoy on Seaview, but I’ve known plenty of COs that barely say a civil word to the men under them.   Either play it out, or take me up on my offer to go talk to him myself.  At least that way I could get an idea if there is something else coming into play here.  But I have to tell you, he’s been absolutely fine with me.  And I haven’t seen any evidence of a physical problem, nothing health or even just stress related.”

“Ok, Jamie, tell you what.  Let’s give it a couple of days and if things haven’t changed, or at least been explained, I’ll take you up on your offer.  It will be interesting to see how he treats me now, after throwing me out of his cabin.”

“You got it Captain.  All that I ask is that you keep me informed.”

“Will do, Jamie.”

As Lee walked back to his cabin, he heard Nelson’s voice, loud and angry, coming from his cabin.  He went closer, wondering who in heaven’s name the poor crewman was that the Admiral was taking the skin off of.  Crew discipline was the Executive Officer’s job, and Chip handled it very well.  Even as the Captain, he rarely got involved.   Except of course if the crewman involved was the Executive Officer himself, and Lee could count on one hand the number of times he had to so much as raise an eyebrow to the Exec.  He continued down to the end of the corridor, and waited at the end to see who came out of the Admiral’s cabin.   

He was shocked to see it was Chip.  Lee followed him down the corridor to his cabin, coming up behind him just as Chip opened the hatch.  When Chip quickly turned around, Lee could see how upset he was.  He nodded his head to Chip to go inside then followed him in.  “Chip, what the hell was that all about? I could hear him yelling three corridors away.”

“Honest to God Lee, I’m not sure myself what set him off.   When I got back to the control room after breakfast, I saw the classified report he was working on last night left on the table in the nose so I went to his cabin to return it to him.   As I was leaving his cabin, he asked me if you were down in the control room.  I said no, but I would find you if he wanted to talk to you.  He blew up at me, and continued bellowing at the top of his lungs about not caring if he ever talked to you again.  You weren’t the man he thought you were, he’d be glad when you were finally off his boat forever.  At that point, I made the mistake of asking him what you had done to upset him.  I thought I could find out what was going on for you. But I was told in no uncertain terms or civil way to mind my own GD business and to get the hell out and do what he paid me to do or Seaview would soon have an entire new command team.  So, I left.”

“Ok Chip look, I’ve had enough of this.  I’m not going to let him take it out on you when it’s me he’s after.  He actually threw me out of his cabin when I went to talk to him after breakfast. I’m going back and demand he tell me what’s going on.  This isn’t fair to either of us, and I intend to stop it before it affects the mission.  I’ll fill you in later.’  He put his hand on Chip’s shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze.  “Take a minute to pull yourself together, then you better get back down to the Control Room. And for what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”  With that, Lee turned and quickly walked back to the Admiral’s cabin.  This was going to stop right now!     

He was just about to knock on the Admiral’s hatch when he realized he could hear him talking to someone.  He couldn’t make out the words of the other party clearly, but the other voice he heard sounded like it was Admiral Johnson’s from ONI.  Nelson must be on his videophone with Washington.   Johnson was Lee’s CO when he was on active duty for the ONI.  Did this whole thing have something to do with ONI, or one of his missions?   He hadn’t been on one in over a month, and the last one he had completed was successful and he knew he hadn’t left any loose ends.  If there was a problem, why hadn’t Johnson contacted him directly?  He knew it wasn’t right, but he put his ear up against the hatch.  If he had to eavesdrop to find out what was going on, he would.  Lord knows he certainly did a lot of that for ONI anyway.  

“I’ll tell you again Robert, this whole thing is still shocking to me.  I thought I knew the man well.  I still can’t believe he could be capable of something like this.  No, I don’t know what I am going to do yet.  You get me the rest of the details and then I’ll decide.  What? Why?  What good would that do other than to make him more suspicious?  He already knows something is wrong, I’m too furious with him to hide it.  I’ve never felt so betrayed and deceived by anyone in my entire life.  No, I can’t relieve him of command, not without good reason.  Not yet anyway.  At least here at sea I can keep a close eye on him.  Hmmm?  Yes, I’ve already talked to Sparks about it.  What? Of course I know the penalty for treason is still the death penalty!  No! Absolutely not! Why should I pay for good legal counsel, let JAG defend him, that’s their job.  I’m not wasting mine or the Institute’s money on defending a traitor.  Just remember what I said.  As upset as I am about this, I will not do anything until you get me concrete evidence and indisputable documentation.  Yes, yes, talk to you then. Goodbye.”  

Lee stood there reeling.  Then he heard the squeak the Admiral’s chair always made when he got up off of it and he high tailed it to the end of the corridor and around the corner just as he heard the Admiral’s hatch open.  He quietly made it the rest of the way to his own cabin.

Lee sat on his bunk going over what he had just heard.  What could they possibly think I’ve done?  I’d never betray my country, or Nelson!  I’m the poster boy for loyalty and patriotism. How could the Admiral even suspect I would go against all I believe in?  Doesn’t he have any faith or trust in me at all?  Why didn’t he just come and talk to me? I can’t go back now and tell Chip about it, he might think there could be some truth to it.  I can’t lose both my friends.  And I can’t go to Jamie with it either.  Guess the only thing I can do is play along like I didn’t hear anything and am still wondering why the Admiral is mad at me.  He looked at his watch.  He had to get down to the Control Room.  He hoped he could pull this off.  Well, they already knew he was upset.  He was the only one who now knew why.  Him, and Nelson.

Lee and Chip busied themselves with their duties, and soon it was time for lunch.  Lee tried to think of ways to get out of eating in the Wardroom with the Admiral, but was afraid it just wouldn’t look right.  He couldn’t afford to do anything that the Admiral might interpret as guilt or even suspicion.  But after the way he threw me out of his cabin he can’t expect things to be the same between us.

Nelson never showed up for lunch.  And this time Lee knew it wasn’t because he was busy down in his lab.  They finished up eating, he and Chip and Jamie.  They had made their usual small talk, mostly about boat business and the current mission, Jamie’s patient in Sickbay, bad burns when the handle of a pot of boiled water broke off in the galley.  The situation between him and Nelson was never brought up, but the tension was there.  He knew Chip was expecting an update.  When Jamie left to go back to Sickbay, Chip looked at him expectantly.  He quietly explained that he hadn’t been able to talk to Nelson, he heard him on the videophone with Washington just as he was about to knock.  The absolute truth.  But he also told Chip he intended to try again later.  I’ll have to think up another excuse.   Well, no, now that he thought about it, maybe he should try to talk to the Admiral again. That’s what he would do if he hadn’t overheard the conversation.  At the very least he had to tell the Admiral it wasn’t fair to take it out on Chip when he was the one Nelson was furious with. 


Lee didn’t want to talk to the Admiral while he was working in his lab, so he went down to his own cabin after lunch and signed off on a couple of reports, and tried to do some paperwork, but couldn’t keep his mind on it.   He had a few things to check on, a few minor repairs and routine reactor maintenance he needed to check on before he signed off on the maintenance reports. He wound up getting involved with an electrical problem in the circuitry room, nothing major but certainly time consuming before they finally found out where the problem was.  He slowly walked back to Officer’s Country.  He had to talk to the Admiral, even if he couldn’t find out what was going on, he could at least get him to leave the crew alone.   He walked down and was just about to knock on the Admiral’s hatch when it flew open and Nelson barreled out right into him, almost knocking him over. 

“Get the hell out of my way!  Who do you think you are?”  Nelson face was getting redder by the second.

“I don’t think, I know I am the Captain of this boat, and I know I deserve an explanation for how you are treating me, and what gives you the right to treat Chip so badly when it’s me you apparently have a problem with?  Sir?”

“Oh, so he went crying to you did he?  The only problem I have with Chip Morton is that he is your friend.  But if he has any morals or values at all, he won’t be for much longer.  Not if I have anything to do with it!”

Admiral ,  .  . please .  .  . Sir, . . .I . . . tell me what I’ve done so I can explain or apologize,  believe me, Sir, I am completely in the dark here.   Everything was fine before we left port. I ---“

“This isn’t something you can ever explain or apologize for, your reasons are so obvious they are transparent.  And I refuse to believe you are completely in the dark.   You’ve made a fool out of me and all the good people on this boat, at the Institute, the Navy, and every red- blooded American citizen.   Stay clear of me or I swear I will have you thrown in the brig.  Get the hell out of my way!”

Sir,, . . I, . . .the brig. . . on what charges? What have I done?”

Nelson never answered him.  He shoved Lee out of the way and stomped down the corridor.

Lee stood there, shocked and trembling.  He slumped against the bulkhead, so lost in his own thoughts he didn’t realize Chip was next to him until he felt his hand on his shoulder.

“Lee?  Are you alright?  You’re white as a ghost!  Come on, let’s get you to your cabin.  You look like you are on the verge of collapse.”

Lee allowed himself to be maneuvered back to his cabin, and then did collapse, right into his desk chair.

“Do you want me to get Jamie?”


“Lee, what’s going on?  What happened?” 

Figuring he had nothing left to lose, Lee poured out everything to Chip, including the eavesdropping.  He needed to talk to someone, and get another perspective.

“Well, I don’t appreciate the Admiral speaking for me.  I’ll stand beside you no matter what is going on, I know you would do the same for me.  And I know you aren’t a traitor.  So don’t worry about that part.  Maybe the thing to do now is to wait until he approaches me and tells me what is going on.   He’ll have to if he intends to turn me against you.  I can’t believe this.  It’s got to be some kind of huge misunderstanding, Lee.  If he does somehow suspect you of treason, he’s got to have a whole lot of proof.  I’ll tell him he has to show it to me to convince me, then I can let you know what you are up against.   I just can’t believe he would make an assumption like that, about you of all people, without concrete, indisputable evidence.  There’s got to be something wrong here.  The last time you spoke with Admiral Johnson, how were things between you?  Have you heard anything from him at all lately?

“I haven’t spoken to him since my last mission over a month ago.  Maybe this whole thing is why he hasn’t been in contact with me.  But I can’t exactly go asking him any questions without admitting what I overheard, and I don’t want to give away my edge.   Chip, maybe I should leave the boat.  Take FS1 back home and do some investigating on my own.  Get out of Nelson’s hair.”

“Lee, I can’t think of anything else you could do to make yourself look guilty more than jumping ship.  He’ll have Institute Security ready to arrest you the minute you get there.   Despite the circumstances, you’re safer here until we straighten this out.  Just stay away from him, and I’m sure he’ll do the same.  I’ll let you know anything I find out.”

“Thanks, Chip, I really do feel better knowing you won’t turn on me, too.  What do you think it was he spoke to Sparks about?  Is he trying to turn my whole crew against me?”

“I doubt it Lee, he wouldn’t get very far.  Your crew is loyal to you without reservation.   But I’ll see if I can find out what he spoke to him about and let you know.  I was coming to get you for dinner.  Let’s go.”

“I can’t eat anything Chip, my stomach is in one big knot and I don’t want to run into him down there.  I’ll be fine, you go take care of yourself.”

“I will, and I’ll be back with a tray for my Captain, too.  We’ll both eat here.”

With that, Chip left for the Wardroom and Lee let out a long, deep sigh. Well, he still had one good friend he could count on.


They ate in silence, each man’s mind absorbed in the problem at hand.   There was no doubt in Chip’s mind that this whole thing was a big misunderstanding.  It had to be. What he couldn’t understand was the way the Admiral was handling it.  Lee was like a son to him, they were that close.  How could he possibly believe, or even suspect, that Lee was capable of anything like this?  Why didn’t he just talk to Lee about it?

Could he really have evidence so damning that he was convinced Lee was guilty, without even hearing his side of it?   That wasn’t like the Admiral.  He was tough, but he was always fair, and always willing to listen.  Something else was going on here, there had to be.  But what?

“Lee, exactly when do you think this started?  When did you first notice he was treating you differently?”  

“I know everything was fine at the end of that last meeting in his office, we talked about having dinner together that night but I had plans.   I didn’t see much of him the next couple of days before we sailed, we both were busy.   At least I thought he was busy.  Now that I think about it, I guess he could have just been avoiding me.  It had to be something that happened that night or early the next day.  Admiral Johnson must have contacted him around then.”  

“Do you think you would get anywhere calling him on some other pretense?  Admiral Johnson? He had to be the one who started this.”

“Absolutely not. If what I heard through the door is any indication, he hates me more now than Nelson does.  I can’t believe this whole thing Chip.  I’m being framed for something I didn’t do, and I can’t even find out what it is so I can defend myself.  I thought a man was innocent until proven guilty in this country. I haven’t even been confronted with the charges or the evidence against me.  I may as well be in the People’s Republic for the way this is being handled.  And on my own boat, too.  Well, I guess it won’t be mine for much longer.”

“Lee, you have to stop thinking like that. You and I both know you are innocent, we just have to clear this up so everyone else knows it, too.  And to do that we need facts.  Maybe instead of waiting for Nelson to approach me, I should confront him and demand answers.”

“No Chip, I have a better idea.  How about we both go to him together and demand answers?  There’s strength in numbers, and I believe the way he will probably react if he feels ganged up on is to lose his temper and blurt out what he probably really wants to say to me.  Either that or he’ll throw us both in the brig.”

“Very funny.  Okay, so we have three options here.  We wait it out, or I go to him alone, or we both go to him together.  Let’s just do something, and do it now before things can get any worse.  All right, we’ll hit this head on.  Let’s go see if he’s in his cabin.”   

They both stood outside the Admiral’s cabin, and looked at each other like they were first year plebes.  They both knew his temper, and no matter what else he was to either of them, he was their CO and a four star Admiral.

Lee finally knocked, and then opened the door in response to the Admiral’s immediate ‘come’. 

Nelson looked up from his desk scowling and coolly asked them “Is there a problem with my boat?”

“No Sir, I just can’t take the way things are between us anymore.  I deserve an explanation, because I know I haven’t done anything wrong.  You apparently believe me guilty of some offense and refuse to tell me what it is I have supposedly done so I can defend myself. It isn’t fair, Sir, and you have always been fair.”

“And Mr. Morton had to come with you to hold your hand?” 

“If by that you mean is Chip here giving moral support to his friend to help me find out the truth, the way I would have expected you to stand by me in time of trouble or controversy, then yes.”

The stern, angry expression on the Admiral’s face slowly slipped away, and he let out a deep breath and sighed, slumping back in his chair. He sat there quietly for a moment. “Both of you, sit down.”  He got up and went to his wall safe and took out a manila envelope, then dumped the contents on his desk. 

“Commander Crane, you have been photographed and recorded offering to sell classified information regarding American underwater missile sites and their launching codes to an undercover CIA agent.  The proof has been carefully scrutinized, the pictures have not been doctored or the tapes dubbed or spliced.  The time frame they were documented in coincides with one of your ONI missions where you were inexplicably unaccounted for for a whole day. You went 24 hours without making your scheduled check-ins.”

Lee’s reaction to the incredible accusation was certainly not what either of the other two men expected it to be.  His entire body relaxed, and he smiled, then let out a small chuckle.

“Is that all, Sir?  Just a little bit of treason? You can stop wasting time trying to validate the authenticity of your proof, it’s real.  I remember the incident.  I was on an ONI mission I’d been given lousy intel about, and I had to get creative. Good to know I gave such a persuasive performance that I actually convinced a CIA agent that I was trying to defect.   But why was I dealing with an undercover CIA agent anyway?   Why was I wasting my time and risking my life if we already had an agent over there who already knew everything? I assure you his performance was even better than mine.  I believed he was an enemy agent agreeing to usher me to the secret underground headquarters of the terrorist organization I was assigned to infiltrate.  And he did. Transmissions from them had been intercepted that threatened American military bases the world over.  Since we had never heard of them before, I was ordered to get in there and find out what they were realistically capable of, or were these just empty threats.  But the coordinates I was given for their headquarters turned out to be way off.  I had to make them come to me.  It’s this CIA agent they should be investigating.  He knew an awful lot about their operations, their location and members.  I think he’s pointing the finger at me to get the suspicion off of himself.  But to tell you the truth, even now, after hearing all this, I’m having trouble believing he was CIA, even an undercover one, unless he’s a double agent.  He was obviously well placed in the organization, not a lowly untrusted new recruit or a member on the fringes of their organization. And while he could have easily recorded our conversation without my knowledge, there had to be a third person involved to take these photographs.  There is something else going on here, and I need to go back there and find out what.  And how can I be accused of treason when no secrets or money were ever exchanged?   I got out of there before it got to that point.  I was setup, and I have to clear my name and my reputation.   I swear, if Johnson won’t let me go back on ONI’s time, I’ll do so on my own.  We reach port in twelve hours, and from that time on I am on an open ended leave of absence, and on my own.”

“I can’t let you do that Captain, and I will resort to locking you in the brig if I have to.  Don’t you see how that would look, Lee?  Like you were using the first opportunity to escape the minute you found out the allegations against you.  Tell me something, why wasn’t all of this in your AAR so Johnson was aware of what transpired during that mission before this so called ‘evidence’ surfaced?”

“Oh, now that you’ve finally listened to what I have to say they are only allegations, not accusations?  I did touch on it in my report, but the detailed emphasis in my report was on the organization itself and their competency.  Members, locations, armaments, communications, and my field assessment of their capabilities and intent.  Those were my mission parameters, and I’ve discovered from past missions that complaining about bad intel or how I handled it in my reports accomplishes nothing, it is completely overlooked and clouds the main issue.  Doesn’t matter to them how you get the job done, just get it done.  It’s definitely not the first time I’ve found myself on my own on a mission, and I think my resourcefulness is one of the reasons Johnson favors me.   I can’t believe it’s now being used to discredit me.  This shouldn’t even be an issue, I should have been asked not accused.  Nice to know how much you both trust me.  And for the record, the only missile codes I know are Seaview’s, which I’m sure you have already changed by now.”

With that, Lee jolted up and stormed out of the Admiral’s cabin, without a backward glance or word.  While finally knowing what was going on was a relief, knowing what was going on was infuriating him.  And not the suspected treason part, he knew he was innocent, but the reactions of his two commanding officers, one of them a close, trusted friend, almost family to him.  SON OF A BITCH! How dare they accuse me of treason! Don’t they know me better than that? After all I’ve done and the hell I’ve gone through for this country? And for them? I don’t believe this! This can’t be happening! Not to me! I don’t deserve this! Damn it!

The Admiral looked Chip right in the eye.  “Do you believe him?  That he is innocent, with all this proof?”

Chip quickly shot up, leaned over the Admiral’s desk getting nose to nose with him, looking him right back in the eye.  “Of course I believe him, and I can’t believe you don’t! You know him better than this!  What the devil is the matter with you?”  Chip stormed out, slamming the hatch shut behind him.  How dare they do this to Lee! What the hell was wrong with Nelson? And Johnson?

He went to Lee’s cabin first, he wasn’t there or in the wardroom.  Chip headed for the control room.  No luck.  Okay Lee, go be by yourself for a while and cool down.  Lord knows you have enough hiding places on this boat to not be found if you don’t want to be.   I’ll touch base with you later.  With that Chip turned himself back to running the boat.  But he knew Lee well enough by now to know that things were only going to get worse.

Lee was nowhere to be found the next morning.  On a hunch, Chip took a closer look in his cabin. His uniforms were all accounted for, but some of his civvies and gym bag were gone, as was his sidearm.

Well, there was no need to check the diving suits, they were too deep and moving too fast for an escape that way.  That left the flying sub.  Lord, Nelson was going to have a fit.  And I have to be the one to tell him.  Turn in his best friend, who he had promised to stand beside and support.  Lee will understand that I had no choice but to report it, he probably expects me to. Since Lee had obviously bailed sometime during the night, they were way past sonar or radar contact.  That only left radio communications, and he probably wouldn’t respond.  But I have to try.  See if I can get him back here before I have to inform the Admiral.   He had to admit, it did make Lee look guilty, and he had an uncomfortable feeling that Nelson was not completely convinced of Lee’s innocence.  He had no doubt the Admiral would contact Johnson with Lee’s explanation, but it would still take some investigating to clear Lee’s name, and a self-proclaimed innocent man would have stayed put while that was being done, but not Lee.  To him, stealing the flying sub was nothing compared to charges of treason. Knowing Lee, he would feel he had to clear this up completely and immediately and do it himself. He wasn’t going to sit back and wait, or take a chance that any doubt to his innocence would linger.  And he also knew Lee would never let himself be found until he had all his answers and indisputable proof of his innocence.


Chapter Two

A few hours earlier . . .

Lee sat in the Flying Sub, still buckled in and resting on the ocean floor.  He had to think about this.  He’d left without a plan, although he knew what he had to do.  First get back to the mission site and try to reestablish contact with the supposed CIA agent who betrayed him. He would be walking into the lion’s den, but he would be unexpected. He would have the element of surprise on his side. He had made the observations he needed and slipped away quietly, so as far as he knew no one in the enemy camp suspected the real reason he was there.  He hoped they would just think that he changed his mind about defecting. Except the agent, who could be making him out to be a traitor because he knew or suspected Lee may have been spying on them.  He considered going back and trying to join them.  Say he left to think about it for a while, but now he was sure he wanted to defect. Act like he was totally unaware of the accusations against him, like maybe they hadn’t gotten back to him yet.  Or maybe, let them think that was exactly why he was there, he really was a traitor.  But what bothered him was, who was the third man?   Had it been a trap?  Why had the so called CIA agent suspected him and set him up?  Well, because Lee said he had classified information for sale, that’s why. He’d opened the door himself. Maybe the agent was just trying to protect his country? Okay, so he had sent photos and audio recordings back home, had they in turn told him who Lee really was?  Wait, this wasn’t right.  The agent had to suspect who he really was to begin with or he would never have thought he could make him out to be a traitor. The only logical reason Lee could keep coming up with for the agent’s behavior was to take suspicion off himself if he thought he had been discovered, if he believed that was why Lee was there.  Was the third man an agent as well, or someone the agent was trying to make himself look good to?  Could the CIA agent be so deep undercover, maybe having worked so long to get that deep, that he couldn’t take a chance Lee would discover who he really was and blow his cover?  Could he have been trying to get Lee out of there before Lee blew his mission? No, all he had to do in that case was take Lee aside and confide in him, if he truly knew who Lee was.  Lee was so confused.  The whole time he was with the man, he was convinced he was one of the terrorists, and one pretty high up in the ranks. Lee never suspected he was CIA, and it wasn’t just because he played his role so well.  He had been with the terrorist organization for too long, knew too much, commanded too much respect and loyalty from those under him.  He seemed to have his own self-serving motives for being there.  He was a key player here, Lee was sure of it.  He just wasn’t sure what side the man was playing on.  I’m so confused, and I set out totally unprepared, acting on emotion alone. Don’t even have all my spy gear, just my sidearm and my wits.  This wasn’t like him at all, he was always well prepared.  Maybe I should go back to Seaview.  Lee started thinking about the way he was acting and feeling, and realized much of it was because his relationship with the Admiral was floundering.  The man was not only a mentor to Lee, but a father figure as well. But more than that, he was a rock that kept Lee well grounded.  And now he was losing that, losing that stability he had never realized was so important to him.  And it was Nelson who was to blame.  Guess I’m not as important to him as I thought.  What a fool I am.


Admiral Johnson sat at his desk reviewing the photos and transcripts. Crane had to have been set up and framed, and he had a sneaking suspicion that the CIA was in on it.   The conversation with Nelson last night was weighing heavily on his mind, despite the fact that he had ordered Nelson not to inform Lee of the charges pending against him.   It all made sense now, why didn’t he put two and two together before?  Why hadn’t he reread Crane’s AAR from that mission right after the evidence came to him, before accusing one of his most trusted agents, and an exemplary office, of treason?  Why hadn’t he talked to Crane first before involving Nelson?  He’d not only made a fool of  himself, but probably lost a good agent on top of it.  Crane would never come back to ONI after this.  And what had his careless action done to the man himself?  Crane had to be insulted, furious, and hurting.   Johnson could think of no one who deserved to be treated that way less than Lee Crane.  And he wasn’t thinking about Captain Lee Crane, top submarine captain, terrific ONI field agent, Medal of Honor recipient.  No, he was thinking of Lee Crane the man, the good humanitarian and noble human being, who had constantly demonstrated his courage, intelligence, and integrity no matter what the circumstances were or the situation he found himself in.  His good morals and ethics and constant self-sacrificing made him an excellent role model for all who served under him and all who had the honor of knowing him.  How could I have been so stupid? So careless and thoughtless? What came over me?


Lee decided not to go back.  If he did, he may never get another chance to prove his innocence.  This was a short mission Seaview was on, and it didn’t call for the use of the flying sub at all, except if there was an emergency.  He felt bad about leaving them vulnerable, but for once he was going to put himself first.  He had to.  Judging by the way both of his COs were handling this, he couldn’t trust either of them to do what had to be done to clear him.  It was a bitter truth to swallow, but when it came right down to it, it turned out that neither one of them really gave a damn about him.  And they certainly didn’t trust him.  He had to clear his name and save his reputation himself.  And after he did, he was done with ONI and NIMR. And if Starke won’t let me back into the regular Navy, then the hell with that, too.  And if Nelson wants to press charges for me stealing the Flying Sub, that’s fine, too.  But I’m NOT a traitor!

He’d taken stock of what was on board he could use, glad to see his diving equipment was still there.  It would make it a lot easier to get to the location from the water than the 20 mile hike he had made last time, in the hot sun.  But the intel back then had led ONI to believe his parachute jump from the helicopter would land him within five miles of where they had thought the headquarters were.   And boy he sure remembered that parachute jump. He had not landed well, tumbling and rolling around, and then he got caught up in the parachute strings, having to cut his way out.  It wasn’t until much later and many hiked miles further on that he realized his watch was missing. It was a Christmas present from Admiral Nelson two years ago.  He had forgotten to take it off and leave it behind with his ring as he usually did when he went on an ONI mission.  And  he hadn’t told the Admiral about it yet.  Later, after making the long trek with the ‘leader’, CIA agent, or whatever he was once he had made contact with him, Lee realized they were only about a mile in from the coast.  Their underground headquarters’ proximity to the ocean made it even more imperative that their threats be assessed and evaluated, it was much easier and efficient to covertly launch an attack, missiles, or even just boats from here.  He certainly knew what Seaview’s underground pen was capable of.  But as he had documented in his AAR, in his educated and experienced opinion, they were just beginning to get organized, and should be monitored and reevaluated again in the future.  From what he saw, things could go either way for them, but for now they had no way to back up their threats. They had very few weapons stockpiled, no signs of any extensive communication systems, not much in the way of any kind of technology, at least not from what he had seen.  But when he was quickly trying to map the headquarters mentally, he realized that there could easily be more caverns connected to this one.  They could just be letting him see only as much as they wanted him to see, but he doubted it.   All in all, they just didn’t seem sophisticated or experienced enough, at least not yet.

Suddenly, he had an idea!  Use the flying sub to look for any underwater access to the cavern the headquarters were located in.   Yes, that’s what I’ll do!   Search for an underwater entrance, and if he found one he would suit up and explore it, leaving the flying sub on the bottom a short distance away.        

It took him a couple of hours to get there.  He hadn’t had any sleep yet, not since the night before in Seaview, and he was getting hungry.  He settled the little sub on the bottom, a couple of miles from the general area where he thought an opening might be.  He grabbed an emergency rations meal, and a bottle of water.  He ate, and then slept for almost an hour on the little bunk, and felt much better when he woke up.  Okay, time to explore. 

Lee cruised back and forth, going miles each way.  He couldn’t find anything obvious or that looked like it might be hiding something, but an opening could be extremely well hidden.  He didn’t see any area being patrolled, or any suspicious movements of any type.   His instruments didn’t pick up anything unusual.  He really wanted to take FS1 up and do some aerial surveillance, but he couldn’t risk giving himself away.  He took her up to just a few feet below the surface and raised the small periscope.  It was night time, with a full moon.  Enough natural light for a little ground reconnaissance, and he saw a deep crevice in a flat rock on the beach, the perfect spot to store his diving gear in.  He put the flying sub on the bottom and suited up, putting the few items he would need in a waterproof bag.  If this were a regular mission, he would make radio contact, check in with where he was and what his plan entailed.  But this wasn’t a regular mission, not for NIMR, ONI, or the Navy, it was a mission for himself.  To hell with procedure.  To hell with them. He still couldn’t believe this was happening to him.   After this, he was done, with all of them.

Soon he was stashing his gear in the crevice and making his way inland.   He would have no trouble finding his way if he was again coming from the inland direction he had come from the first time, or if it was daylight.  He just had to hope he was heading in the right direction, and that his estimate of a mile in from the coast wasn’t too far off.  And he had to keep his eyes out for anyone on guard.  Aside from warning him to be careful and quiet, it would surely tell him he was in the right area.


His great task was almost finished here.  Now that the events had been set into motion, they would unfold by themselves until the final resolution was realized.  It had all gone as planned, except for the unexpected intrusion, which had been handled in a way that would, as the expression went, kill two birds with one stone.  A sudden thought came to him, to take a walk to the brook, his attention was needed there.    


Well, Lee couldn’t find it.  Not in the dark at least, even though it wasn’t that dark with the full moon shining.  He decided to keep walking inland another mile, then criss cross back and forth a mile each way and see if he came across anything familiar.  He went over how he first encountered the CIA agent.    No matter who that man really was, that ruse wouldn’t work a second time.  He had to come up with something else.  He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  This wasn’t like him, he’d put himself in danger by acting on emotion alone.  He had no plan, no back up, no equipment.  But you know what?  I don’t care.  Even if he died trying, he would find out why this was done to him.  He’d lost everything anyway, he at least deserved to know why.  So what if he got killed out here?  He had nothing to go back to, nothing that he cared about anymore.  Once even an innocent man lost his reputation, you couldn’t undo the damage.  The memories and suspicions would forever linger in everyone’s mind.   The only person in this world who gave a damn about him was Chip.  And he was sure that by now Nelson was trying his best to eat away at Chip’s friendship and loyalty to him.

I gotta stop this, stop feeling sorry for myself, pull out of this dark place and concentrate on what I came here for.  Proving my innocence will mean nothing if I can’t wave it in Nelson’s face. And Johnson’s.

He started back on the trail.  A bit further on he heard the babbling of a little brook, and he remembered crossing one the first time.   He followed the sound and soon came to what he was sure was the same brook.  Okay, he must be in the general area, he didn’t have much further to go.  But first, he took a short break.  Sitting on a log by the brook, he ate an energy bar, then washed it down with a few swigs of water.  He sat there, drawing his knee up and trying to relax for a few minutes, lost in thought. T\hen he got up, picked up his bag, and crossed over the brook stepping on large rocks, and soon picked up the trail he had been on the first time.  He crept along silently, there had to be guards around here soon.  And then what?  What am I going to do then?  He stood stock still for almost five minutes analyzing the problem.  He was here to get proof of his innocence, and the only one who could provide that was the CIA agent, or whoever he was.  But he not only had to find him, he had to get the truth out of him and get out of here without getting himself killed.  It would be best if he could somehow get hold of him alone, away from the others that were so loyal to him they were sure to protect him.  But how?   Maybe he should go back a bit, wait for daylight so he could get a better idea of what was going on in the area, see if he could spot the man from a distance, then try to make contact with him.   If he was truly CIA, he wouldn’t want another American intelligence operative killed.  Would he?  If he wasn’t, well, . . .  Lee had gotten this far playing it by ear, maybe his luck would hold out.   It was the only plan he could think of, so he decided to go with it. 

That was until he felt the gun in his back.

He turned slowly, coming face to face with the man he sought.  Well Lee, what now? He decided to hit it head on, if he was killed right here, at least it would be after finding out the truth.

“Who are you, and why did you try to brand me as a traitor?  You’re going to kill me anyway, at least tell me why!”

“You fool!  Do you have any idea what I went through last time to get you out of here safely?  I was not prepared for your interference! And now you come back?  Are you crazy?  No one else knows you are back, you are lucky I found you first!  Get out of here while you still can!”

“No, not until I get the information I want, or die trying.  I ask you again, who are you?  Really?  Why did you care about getting me out of here safely only to try to prove I’m a traitor to my country?  It doesn’t make sense.”

“Because I didn’t want you to come back, and I didn’t want your superiors to believe anything you had to say, so, I gave them more important things to worry about. You have no idea what is really going on here!”

“Then why don’t you tell me?”  Lee sat down slowly on a nearby rock, dropping his bag to the ground, and let out a long sigh, acting like he had all the time in the world to wait for an explanation.

“Crane, I’m telling you, get up and get out of here now, before the others find you.  I can’t help you a second time.  Go home.”

“Go home?  To what”  You’ve destroyed my reputation, I’m about to lose my boat and my command, both my COs have turned against me, I’m wanted for treason, an executable crime in America, so why in heaven’s name would I want to go home?  If I die here, that’s fine with me. But I at least deserve to know the truth first.”  You don’t scare me because I have absolutely nothing left to lose.

The man stood there staring at Lee, a strange expression on his face.  Finally, he calmed down, relaxed a bit and began to regain control of himself, and appeared to have come to a decision about a course of action.   He also seemed to become a different man, more sophisticated and intelligent, well spoken.  Suddenly, Lee realized he had no idea who or what he was dealing with, but somehow he knew or sensed one thing for sure.  This man was no more a terrorist than he was a CIA agent.

“Captain Crane, what I am about to tell you is beyond classified information.  You must not speak of it ever to another living soul. I know of you and about you, I know you can be trusted, but I am not going into any detail.  There is a very secret, ancient, elite network above and behind all your governments, intelligence agencies, law enforcement organizations, and global military forces, though we sometimes work through them, as we did this time with your CIA.  You’d be shocked to know what historic figures have played important roles in this network, as well as the names of some of its current members helping to protect mankind, to guide you into a more respectful and symbiotic relationship with each other, and away from the self-centered destructive course you would fall into without guidance.   Our mission is not to control the world.  We are peacekeepers, of the highest order, and have been for over a thousand years. What we do is done so slowly and delicately, so secretly, that the ripples of the immediate after effects barely show up, life just goes on a little bit more quietly, and in a slightly different direction.  We are known only to our members, and a small support group of other people, which now includes you.   Telling you of us is favorable, as many of your missions have helped us.  You are needed, in this world and by us, in ways you cannot begin to imagine.  You will eventually be cleared of any charges against you, so that you may continue in your own role as a peacekeeper.  It is not outside the realm of possibility that you may one day be invited to join us, after your time has come, but for now you still have work to do on this level.   As far as what you are investigating here, there is nothing.  Your original assessment was correct, although I was unaware of what you would put in your report or I would have handled this differently. But I needed time to complete my task.  I have intentionally caused enough mutual suspicion and distrust among the organization here that it is slowly disbanding.  And the seed has been planted in each member to go home and give up their violent intentions, to become involved in helping to protect and nurture each other.  This is the peasceful end result needed for this group, not the violent military one your report might have triggered.  Two of these so called terrorists are now destined to become future leaders, dedicated to improving the lives of their people in a gentle way.  That future outcome was so vital to the rest of our long term plan that your unexpected interference was dealt with in a regrettable but necessary way.  We will use the repercussions to you that our actions caused in a constructive way, but you will be absolved of all charges.   But you must be patient, and never speak of this again. And be of clear conscience. All will know of your innocence.” 

This was a lot for Lee to take in all at once, but there was one key question on his mind.  “Are you from this world?”

The man would only smile at Lee.  “Captain, it’s time for you to go home.   Admiral Nelson worries. And you are in danger here.”

“I can’t go home without some kind of proof, evidence of my innocence or who you are.  I stole the flying sub to get that, and I’m sure that is all Nelson is worried about.  And as much as I want to believe what you have told me, God knows this world needs help, isn’t there some physical proof you can give me, other than your word?  And I still don’t understand, if you believe you need me to continue in this role, why did you try to discredit me as a traitor in the first place?”

“Because Captain, we know how this all will turn out, in time. You simply must trust me.”

Lee heard a noise behind him, like a small twig snapping after being stepped on.  He quickly turned but no one was there.  When he turned back the man was gone, and gone completely out of sight, despite Lee being able to see clearly a long way down the trail. 

Lee stood up, not really sure what to do next, but then pure survival instinct kicked in.  If he was in danger here, he better leave. It was the first clear call to action he had had since this started, to get to safety.  As he made his way back to the shore, dawn was just breaking.  If he was quick about it, he could get back into his scuba gear and to the flying sub before the sun came up over the horizon.  

Finally making it back safely to the flying sub, Lee changed out of his scuba gear, suddenly realizing how completely exhausted he was.  He laid down on the bunk and fell into a sound sleep.


Chip headed down to Nelson’s cabin, thinking not only what he had to report to him, but remembering the disrespectful way he had spoken to the Admiral last night, not that he didn’t deserve it, four stars or not.  Well, Chip was in no mood to apologize.  If the Admiral didn’t bring it up, he wouldn’t.  Chip knocked on the Admiral’s hatch, hoping he hadn’t already headed down for breakfast.  He wanted to report this in private, let the Admiral vent at the top of his lungs about the traitorous Captain who was now also a thief, escaping in the dead of night to hide his guilt and avoid capture.  The way he felt about him now, Nelson would probably believe Lee had foreign friends waiting somewhere to abscond with him to a secret hideaway, never to be seen or heard from again, and – ‘

“Come.”  Chip took a deep breath and opened the hatch.

“Sir, the Flying Sub is gone, and so is the Captain.  I’ve tried radio contact, but he doesn’t answer.  It had to be sometime during the night, so I’m sure he’s a long way from here.  Admiral, I know this makes him look bad, but I know Lee, and I’m sure he is determined to clear himself no matter what it takes, even borrowing the flying sub to do it.  Please, Sir, could you just give him a little bit of time to do that? Doesn’t he deserve that much?”

“Sit down, Chip.  And relax.  I knew last night he took it, and I realized why.  He never saw me at the top of the spiral staircase watching him. I can’t tell you how long I sat here last night after you left, feeling very ashamed of myself and with the way I have handled this whole thing.   I let Admiral Johnson get to me, he was so armed with photos and tape recordings, accusations.   I want you to know now, please, that I believe every word Lee said in here last night, it just felt right.  I know he is innocent.  I called Johnson and had a long talk with him, told him everything Lee said, and, I have to tell you, it sure didn’t take much to convince him of Lee’s innocence as well.  He was as shocked and upset about the whole thing as I was, we both wanted to believe it wasn’t true.  According to Johnson, what Lee explained fit in perfectly with his After Action Report, after Johnson reread it.  But, we have to be military men before we can be friends, and an accusation like this had to be dealt with accordingly.  It couldn’t be swept under the rug, even given who the supposed traitor was. And the classified report came down from the CIA, so procedure had to be followed.  Do you think I really wanted to believe it?  I felt caught between a rock and a hard place.  My relationship with Lee and my sworn military duty.  I know it seems like I betrayed him.  But I swear to you, no matter how I acted or what I said, they weren’t going to get him away from me without a whole lot more proof than Johnson had.  My mistake was in waiting for Johnson to get further evidence, instead of just talking to Lee about it, trusting that he would never do such a thing.  But Johnson ordered me not to discuss it with him, and, unfortunately, he does outrank me by one star.  The price I paid for retiring early from my military career so I could get on with my scientific career.  But I’m not passing this part on to Johnson. As far as he will know, Lee is still on board Seaview.  Unless of course the time comes when we may have to get more information from him as to where Lee might be, if we don’t hear from him in a reasonable length of time or believe he’s in trouble.  But that’s a last resort, a very last resort.  I don’t want Johnson sending a Seal team in to wherever Lee is to capture him if he has second thoughts about his innocence.  And Chip, if there is any radio contact with him, tell him he can take as long as he needs, within reason, to get himself cleared, with my blessing.  If there is anything else we can do to help, he just has to ask.  Just tell him to keep in touch.  And please, ask him to forgive me.” 

Chip left and headed down to the wardroom for breakfast, feeling a whole lot better.  Now that was the Admiral we all know and respect.

Finishing a hearty breakfast, Chip headed down to the control room and directly to the radio shack.  He had Sparks try again to raise the FS-1, but to no avail.  He gave him orders to try once every hour, and if he did make contact, to call the Exec immediately.  He started to walk away, and then turned back.  “Sparks, what was the order the Admiral gave you regarding the Captain at the start of the cruise?”  Noticing the man’s discomfort, Chip quickly added, “You can consider that an order.”

“He ordered me to notify him if the Skipper received any radio messages, coded or otherwise, and to let him know where they came from and when they were received, and whether or not the Skipper sent back a response.  And not to let the Captain know he was being monitored.”

Chip almost asked him if there had been any radio messages, but quickly decided against it.  Even though Sparks was sworn to secrecy regarding any radio messages, unless he was ordered to report something, Chip didn’t want to give the man the slightest inkling that he might be suspicious of their Captain, too.  It was bad enough the Admiral had done that, although Chip understood his reasons.  Chip took a deep breath and let it out, then walked over to the charting table.   He had to remember they were on a mission, and that had to be put first for the moment.  And here I am, once again, Acting Captain.


After Chip left, Nelson was beside himself.  How could he have ever even considered Lee doing such a thing?  And how badly, how very badly, he had treated him when Lee so desperately tried to find out what was wrong. It wasn’t just that this was Lee he had done this to, it was the unbelievable way he himself had handled the whole thing.  Unable to sleep, he’d stayed up late trying to figure out his own strange behavior, finally deciding to go sit on his ‘front porch’, as the crew called the windows in the observation nose when the Admiral was sitting staring out of them.  But just as he got to the top of the spiral stairs he spied Lee climbing down into the flying sub.  Standing on the metal stairs he felt the vibration when the little submersible was released.  He could have prevented it instead of just standing there watching, but he wanted do whatever he could to make it up to Lee, and more than anything he wanted Lee to prove his innocence.  He was the only one who could do it.  It was out of Nelson’s hands, he didn’t know enough about the original ONI mission itself, and didn’t want to tip off Johnson that Lee was no longer aboard Seaview.  What had come over  him?  This was Lee!  He could never be a traitor any more than I could! My God son, what have I done?


Chip and Jamie were having lunch, Chip having just brought Jamie up to date with what was going on. 

“You mean he just bailed in the middle of the night?  Didn’t he have to explain to O’Brien why he was taking the flying sub out at that hour?  Didn’t Bobby have to put something in the log?”

“Apparently, he walked past the charting table with folders in his hand and told Bobby he was going to do a little paperwork in the nose, and then closed the crash doors, supposedly for a little privacy, or so Bobby thought.  He must have come down the spiral staircase earlier and stashed his bag there a few steps down, then retrieved it after the crash doors were closed.  We’ve all gone to the nose at night to work, sometimes you just have to get out of your cabin.  It’s not something the OOD would ever enter into the log.   When Bobby opened them hours later and found Lee gone, he simply assumed Lee had taken the spiral stairs up to Officer’s Country when he was finished and forgot to open the crash doors.”

“I may not be the most technically minded person around here, but isn’t there some kind of noise, or vibration, or flashing lights, something to give away the fact that the flying sub was being taken?  Don’t the berthing doors opening or the clamps being released make a noise?”

“If Lee, the Admiral, or I had been on duty, yes, one of us would have picked up on it.  But the crash doors were closed and that helped muffle any noise, and Bobby, certainly not expecting that to happen, would have just written it off as mild turbulence if he did hear or feel something.  And Lee must have just let her drop straight down to the bottom and sit there until Seaview was out of range, that’s the only way he could have avoided showing up on instrumentation.  I can’t begin to tell you how upset Bobby was this morning when I questioned him about it.”

“Damn.  This really makes Lee look guilty.”

“It would Jamie, but I haven’t told you the best part.  I had no choice but to report it to the Admiral this morning.  And you know what?  He already knew about it, he had watched Lee take it from the top of the spiral stairs, and let him go because he knew what he was trying to do and hoped he could do it.  I had a long talk with him and was relieved to find the Admiral was himself again, and he knew Lee was telling the truth, that he was innocent.  He feels really bad about the way he treated Lee, but apparently once the CIA was involved his hands were tied, he had higher ups to answer to.   I guess sometimes we forget that even Admiral Nelson has to answer to someone occasionally.”

“So, have you heard from Lee yet?  Do we know where he was headed?  Back to the Institute maybe?’

“No, he’d be a fool to go there.  As far as he knows, Nelson hates him and would have him arrested if he showed up there, if for nothing more than taking the flying sub.   No, it’s my bet he went back to where this mission took place to try to find some kind of evidence to clear himself.  Problem is, we don’t know where that is and the Admiral doesn’t want to ask Johnson because he wants him to believe Lee is still on board.  He thinks if Johnson finds out where Lee is, he might send in a Seal team to bring him back, even if it is just to be on the safe side and have him in custody.  You know, procedure. But the Admiral wants to give Lee to a chance to fix this himself.”

“Well, I certainly hope he does.  He doesn’t deserve to be put through this, not after all he has done for this country.  This whole thing is outrageous.  How many times have I put that man back together, how much suffering have we seen him go through, how many times have we come so very close to losing him?  All in the course of doing his duty and following orders to protect our country. And Nelson was right there worried to death about him every time.  How could he believe for even one minute that Lee would ever even contemplate treason, for any reason?  As far as his having to answer to higher ups, his answer should have been to tell them off immediately and in no uncertain terms how very wrong they were and doing it at the top of his lungs.  I still can’t believe he didn’t even try to defend Lee.  Where in heaven’s name was his loyalty to a man who has been willing to sacrifice his own life to protect the Admiral how many times? And I’ve seen and heard Nelson telling off higher ups, and that includes, if you remember, even the President.” 

And Chip did remember that time.  What he also remembered about it was that it was Lee who interceded and calmed things down between them.  Even to his Commander-in-Chief, Nelson could lose that hair trigger Irish temper when he knew he was right or was being ordered to do something he didn’t agree with.  It was a calm, charismatic Lee that got the President to reconsider his order.*

“Well, from what he said to me, Johnson got on his back about it, and he had so much proof Nelson had to at least give some credence to the accusation, whether he wanted to believe it or not.”

“Chip, I have a nasty feeling that even if Lee does manage to clear himself and all is explained and forgiven, things will never be the same around here, not after this.  He’s got to feel betrayed by both Nelson and Johnson.   How quick they were to believe the worst about him, without even asking him about it first.  That’s not something easily forgotten.  It will always be between them, even if they can both manage to still serve together.  I’m sure you standing by him through this is the only thing that kept him going, your support and steadfast belief in his innocence.  Not that I ever believed a word of it for one instant, but you two are much closer.”

“Granted there will be repercussions from this, but as close as they are, or used to be, I’m hoping they can work through it.  They had such a great personal relationship, but even if that is gone I believe they both are professional enough to be able to maintain their working relationship.   If they can at least do that, then maybe over time they will be able to rebuild their mutual trust in each other.”

“I hope you’re right.  But I still hate to see Lee put through all of this.  It just plain isn’t fair, isn’t right.  The whole thing is crazy.  What was Nelson thinking?  Hmmm, look at the time.  I have to get back to Sickbay Chip.  See you at dinner tonight?

“Yeah, if this whole thing doesn’t take a turn for the worse, I’ll be here.  See you then Jamie.”


Chapter Three

Lee woke up almost five hours later.  He laid there a few minutes going over everything that had happened, and everything the man had told him.  He still couldn’t quite comprehend it all.  What he did know was that he was hungry, thirsty, and the air in the little craft needed to be recirculated.  He started the engines, turned on the air revitalizing system and took her out a good thirty miles and then surfaced and turned off the engine.  He cracked the top hatch and let some much needed fresh air in.  He sat there a few minutes, bobbing in the water, drinking a bottle of water and trying to decide his next course of action.  He wasn’t ready to go back to Seaview yet, he needed time to sort all of this out, try to plan his defense. And having to do it without the evidence he had hoped to obtain.  A few minutes later he closed the hatch then submerged and headed toward Santa Barbara.  Within a couple of hours he was surfacing in the cove behind his little seaside cottage.  Rock jetties on both sides gave him protection and privacy for his boat docked there, and made it safe to dock the flying sub there, he had done it before.

Once inside, he threw a frozen dinner in the microwave and then headed for the shower.  A half hour later he was showered and fed, yet still didn’t feel any better about the whole thing.  The man said to have a clear conscience, everything would turn out fine eventually, he would be cleared of all wrong doing.  But what was he supposed to do in the meantime?  How long was he talking about?  He’d be arrested the moment he set foot back on Seaview or the Institute grounds.  He knew he had to go back soon, the longer he was gone the worse things were going to be for him.  But then what?  And who the devil was that man?  An angel?  A mortal man following divine guidance?  An ancient alien that watched over earth?  A time traveler?  The only sense Lee had about him was that he was good, not evil.  He couldn’t say why or how, but Lee instinctively knew to trust him, and that his word was good.   But no one would believe him about the man even if he could talk about him.  He was just going to have to ride this one out alone, stand tall and take what was coming to him even though he knew he didn’t deserve it, and wait for vindication to come.  He had no choice but to be patient.  But he still thought that this was going to be the end of his naval career.  He could never believe he would be truly trusted again. Even after his innocence was proven, the stain of the suspicions and allegations would always be there.  And he would never be able to look either Nelson or Johnson in the eye again after knowing what they had suspected and believed him capable of.  I’ve lost respect for both of them. I don’t want to work for either of them again.  That is if I’m ever free to work for anyone again.     

He decided to wait a bit to go back, things would be a little quieter on Seaview if he didn’t get there until evening. If he was taken directly to the brig, he’d be able to pass the next few hours by sleeping.  Maybe after a night there, the Admiral would relent a little and let him be confined to his own quarters.  Maybe.  Then what?  Probably, whatever happened next would be up to Admiral Johnson or NCIS.   He’d be arrested, indicted, and after a trial by JAG he would be sent to Leavenworth, until whatever evidence surfaced to clear him.  The whole thing could take years.  Years out of his life branded as a traitor to his country when he had done nothing wrong.  And treason was punishable by death.  What if the evidence wasn’t discovered until too late?  Post humus exoneration.  What a joke.  What was it the man had said?  Something about joining them after his time had come?  Is that was this was all about?  The universe’s attempt to make things right after all was said and done? 

He had to stop worrying about this.  Just go back to Seaview and take his medicine.  Don’t think about it, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going until all is done.


“Mr. Morton?  Radio contact with the flying sub, Sir.  Skipper is requesting a homing signal.”

“Okay, Sparks, send it out,” Chip ordered as he took the microphone.  “Skipper, homing signal being sent, what is your status?”  Thank God, he’s back! 

“Homing signal received, will dock in, well, it looks like about 45 minutes Chip.  See you then.  Crane out.”

Well, that was informative.  Guess I’ll have to wait for him to get back here to see if he is all right.  Now, to report to the Admiral.  “O’Brien, you have the con.” 

Chip was going to head directly to the Admiral’s lab, but decided to check his cabin first.  After the Admiral’s ‘Come’, he entered and told him Lee was on his way back, would be here within the hour.  “How do you want to handle this, Sir?” 

“Did he tell you anything that happened?  Did he sound himself, or injured in any way?” 

“He sounded fine, didn’t say a word about anything.   Just a standard check-in for position and notification.  I’ll stay on duty until he gets here, then should I bring him to you?”

“Yes, unless you think he needs medical attention first.  I’ll let Jamie know he’s on his way back and to stand by in case he’s needed. That’s all for now Chip.  Dismissed.”


Lee stood at the bottom of the ladder, just about to climb up into Seaview.  He took a deep breath, these were his last few seconds of freedom.  He saw the hatch above him opening and started up the ladder.    He looked up and was relieved to see Chip’s face, not the MAA’s, although he could certainly be standing nearby.  He closed his eyes as he took the last rung up and set foot on the deck.  Hearing Chip close the hatch, he opened them and looked around.  No one.  No Master-at-Arms waiting to arrest him, no Admiral scowling or yelling threats at him, no NCIS personnel waiting to question him.  He turned to Chip, who looked at him questioningly.

“You all right?”


They just stood there looking at each other, neither one saying a word.  So Chip broke the silence.  “Okay, come on, the Admiral wants to see you.”

I’ll just bet he does!    

The walk to the Admiral’s cabin went on forever.  Finally, Chip knocked on the Admiral’s hatch, opened it, and ushered Lee in, then pulled the hatch shut, leaving the two men alone.

Nelson stood up, and looked at Lee up and down.  “Do you need medical attention?”


“Then sit down, Captain.”

“I know I took the flying sub without permission, and I was AWOL for almost twenty-four hours.   But that’s all I’m guilty of.”   Sir.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass about the flying sub or you being AWOL.  Were you able to find anything?  Any proof?”

Lee stared at him for a whole minute trying to figure out just what to say.   The man told him he couldn’t repeat anything, even in his own defense.

“No.”  Sir.   Lee looked the Admiral right in the eye, almost daring him to accuse him again. 

Nelson let out a long breath and sat back in his chair.  “I’ve spoken with Admiral Johnson several times, and we both agree you were set up and framed.  He doesn’t know you left the boat.  He’s trying to trace back where the information came from, but the CIA is being pretty closed mouth. But supposedly they are looking into it.   I was hoping you would be able to find something, anything, to end this.”

“You aren’t angry I took the flying sub?”

“Lee, I was standing at the top of the spiral staircase watching when you left. I could have stopped you then but I knew what you were doing and wanted to give you a chance to prove your innocence.  It never even crossed my mind that you might be trying to escape.  I know you better than that, and I’m sorry I let Johnson’s ravings get to me.”  Nelson stood up and walked over to Lee and offered his right hand.

“Lee, please forgive me for the way I acted and the way I treated you. I swear to you, I have no idea what came over me, and I can’t begin to tell you how ashamed I am of myself for the way I have handled this whole thing.  I know what a strain my behavior has put on our friendship, I wouldn’t blame you if you never spoke to me again, I know I deserve it.   But I’m asking you, no, begging you, to please try to find it in your heart to forgive me.”

Lee finally stood up and took Nelson’s hand.  He was surprised at the way this was turning out, but it didn’t mean he was off the hook yet.  But try as he could, with all he had been through emotionally, he just couldn’t respond in any way to the Admiral’s heartfelt words.  They meant absolutely nothing to him.  He dropped the Admiral’s hand, turned and walked out. 

He went to his own cabin, glad to see Chip had stowed his gym bag there.  He sat at his desk for a while pondering the conversation and apology from Nelson, then decided to get some sleep.  As he was trying to get comfortable, he slipped his hand under his pillow as he always did.   What?  What is that?  His hand had touched something cold and hard.  He sat up and turned on the little light over his bunk and reached under the pillow.  He couldn’t believe what he pulled out.  His watch, the one from the Admiral that he lost when he parachuted in.  There was only one way it could have gotten here, the man.  Lee had asked him for some kind of proof, and now he had it.  Now, he knew there was a supernatural aspect involved.  Or alien. Now, he truly believed he could trust the man, and also realized that what was going on was way beyond his own control.


Admiral Harriman Nelson was not a happy man.  He had been so relieved that Lee was back safely, only to have Lee be as cold as ice to him. Wouldn’t even address him as ‘Sir’.  He knew he deserved it, his Captain and friend had lost all respect for him.   And still, for the life of him, he could not understand why he had turned on Lee.  He should have confronted him with the evidence and accusations immediately, making it obvious to Lee he didn’t believe any of it, listened to what he had to say, and then defended him to Johnson. And the CIA.

“Sparks, get me Admiral Johnson again, patch it through to my cabin.”   He’d be surprised if there was any new news from the CIA, but he was going to check anyway.  He had to stay on Johnson’s back, it was the least he could do for Lee after what he had done to him.  He had an awful feeling in the pit of his stomach that he had lost the friendship and respect of the most important man in his life.   He couldn’t blame Johnson for it, Harry was in control of his own actions.  And he certainly couldn’t blame Lee for how he was handling it.  Nelson knew how he himself would feel and react if he had been unjustly accused of treason, especially by someone he thought trusted and cared about him.  But for it to happen to Lee, who had given so much of  his own blood to protect his country, only to have someone as close to him as Nelson accuse him of betraying it was unforgivable.  He had every right to be outraged.  Even if  he could find some way to make it up to Lee, he  knew Lee wouldn’t accept or allow it. Lee wasn’t a stubborn man, but righteous indignation was difficult to overcome.  And this turn of events went way beyond a simple insult.   And there was absolutely no plausible or acceptable explanation for how it had been handled. None.

“Sir, Admiral Johnson on the line for you.”   Nelson heard the page from Sparks, yet just sat there looking at his phone instead of picking it up and responding.  It took a second page from Sparks to shake him out of his reverie.  “Go ahead, Sparks, put him through.”

“Harry, my last conversation with the CIA was a bit confusing.  Apparently, they have no idea how they got this information or who this man could be.  But they do know now that he is definitely not one of their agents as they originally suspected.  Yet whoever forwarded the proof to them knew the procedure and where to send it, who to address it to.  They aren’t even sure how it was delivered.   It just seemed to appear on the desk of a senior agent.  They didn’t have an agent over there, and didn’t know we had one.  They were aware of the threats that had been made, but felt there was no validity to them, as Lee’s report verified.   The only positive observation they could offer is that they know the man in the picture is Lee. They think the pictures could have been taken from a hidden surveillance camera.  I don’t know if it is embarrassment on their part or what to think, but they seem inclined to dismiss the whole thing.  But they still want to interview Lee before they close the incident out. Actually, they seem so anxious to end this, it makes me wonder if they are hiding some mishandling on their part.  Anyway, talk to him and let’s see what we can set up.  Or better yet, maybe you should let me talk to him.  I started this whole thing, I should finish it.  And I need to apologize to him.  Is he there?”

“No.  But I’ll contact you in the morning from my cabin with him here, we’ll do a conference call, you set it up with the CIA agent you’ve been dealing with..  I believe we both need to be supportive of Lee through this interview, after the way he’s been treated.  I think we should make it clear to them and to him that we intend to stand by him because we know he is innocent.”  

“All right Harry, how does 0900 hours sound, if I can arrange it with them?”

“Sounds fine, I’ll speak with you then.  Nelson out.”  I’ll wait until the morning to tell Lee, give him time to calm down a bit, get a good night’s sleep.


But Lee couldn’t sleep, too many questions were keeping him awake.  He finely decided to see if Chip was still awake.  He knocked softly on Chip’s hatch.  He knew how soundly his friend slept, if he was out cold, he would never hear it, never be disturbed.   He immediately heard a ‘come’ and entered.  “You still up?”

“Yeah, working on all these reports that wound up on my desk when my Captain went AWOL.”   He grinned and pointed Lee to the seat by his desk.

“I need to know what happened while I was gone.  What turned the Admiral around?  I was expecting the MAA to be standing there when I came up from the flying sub.  Instead he’s being not only his old self, but apologetic and remorseful, even contrite.  And I wasn’t prepared for it.  I came back ready to do battle.”

“First things first.  I was just going down to the wardroom to grab a sandwich and drink.  We can talk down there.”

“Funny, until you said that, I didn’t realize how hungry I am too.  Let’s go.”

They made their sandwiches, poured glasses of reconstituted milk, and grabbed quite a few cookies for Chip, an apple for Lee.  They sat down in a corner for privacy, even though there was no one else around.

“Well Lee, did you find anything to help you?”

“No.  Never even made it back to the headquarters.”

“Well, I have to tell you, I went through hell when I realized you had taken the flying sub and I had to be the one to report it to Nelson.  With his temper, that old saying of ‘kill the messenger’ definitely flew through my mind.  I was shocked, and plenty relieved, with the way he handled it.  He knew you took it, said he saw you from the top of the stairs.”

“He told me, we had a long talk a little while ago.  Said he could have stopped me then but wanted to give me a chance to clear myself.  But why?  That certainly wasn’t the frame of mind he was in when I left.”

“Lee, all I can tell you is I blew up at him after you stormed out of his cabin and then I left.  He told me when I went to report to him about you going AWOL and taking FS1 with you, that he sat up all night thinking about what you said and what I said.   He told me he believed you, that what you said just felt right, that he knew you were innocent, and couldn’t believe how he had handled everything.  Said he had no idea what came over him.”

“That’s pretty much everything he said to me.  But it still doesn’t explain what triggered the change of heart.”

“He also told me that he had a long conversation with Johnson after you left, told him what you said.  He said it didn’t take much for Johnson to agree with him that you must have been framed, and Johnson said that everything you explained fit your AAR perfectly.”

“Now that part about checking my AAR report I didn’t know.  This could have all been avoided if Admiral Johnson had just talked to me first. We still would have to clear things up with the CIA, but at least I would have had some support.  It doesn’t matter Chip, how things turn out in the end.  The damage is done.  I don’t feel like I can forgive either one of them.  Neither one even cared enough, trusted me enough, to give me a chance, hear what I had to say.  When this is done, so am I.  Done with ONI, the Institute, and probably the Navy, too.  I’ve had it.”

“Lee, don’t say that.  Please, just give it time.  It’ll work out, the worst is over now. Both Admirals are upset and ashamed of themselves.  Give them a chance to make it up to you.  One thing you aren’t considering is that this came down from the CIA and so a procedure had to be followed. Don’t throw away everything you’ve worked so hard for, everything that means so much to you.   This is your life you’re thinking of giving up, for what?  Pride?  Revenge?  You’re a better man than that.  You’ll only be hurting yourself in the long run.  If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for me.  I hate being Captain, and I don’t want to lose my brother.”

Lee took a deep breath and smiled at Chip.  “Ok, brother, for you this is what I will do.  I’ll give it a month and see what’s transpires, and how I feel about staying at that point.  But that’s all.  I’m not staying anywhere that I am not trusted and respected, or don’t feel comfortable at any more.  Whether I’m here or not, our friendship stays intact, you should know that.  I wasn’t always the Captain of Seaview, you know. Yet here we are.”

“Okay, a month.  I guess that’s fair.  I do realize how this has got to change how you feel about both Admirals.  If, when the time comes that you feel you really can’t work with them anymore,  then it would only be right for you to leave.  Well, my tummy’s full, and my bunk is calling to me.  Guess those reports will have to wait until tomorrow.  Let’s call it a night.”

“I’m still wide awake, give them to me.  If nothing else, they’ll put me to sleep.”          


Lee woke up the next morning feeling a little bit better.  The paperwork did the job with putting him to sleep.  But the problem was still there.  He assumed it was all right for him to resume his duties as Captain.  He showered, dressed in his uniform, and headed down to the Wardroom for breakfast.  Two mouthfuls into it the Admiral sat down across from him.

“Good Morning, Lee.  Sleep well?”

“Yeah.  Caught up on some paperwork and reports first.”

“Admiral Johnson is trying to arrange a conference call with him, us, and the CIA agent handling this at about 0900.  They just have a few questions for you before they close this out.  Then this whole thing will be over with.”

“Not by a long shot.”  Sir.   With that, Lee picked up his tray, dumped his breakfast out, returned it and then left the Wardroom heading for the Control Room.

Nelson just sat there, stunned.  He knew he deserved it, and he had no idea what to do to fix it.  He and Lee had always been able to work out their problems before.  Usually by a good heart to heart followed by a handshake and a good dinner.  That wasn’t going to work this time, this was a whole different ball game.   And he was beginning to worry that this time there may not be anything he could do to fix it.  He may have lost Lee as a friend and as a Captain.  He was only now starting to realize just how severely he had hurt Lee.  He was sure Lee would have bounced back if it had only been Johnson alone that had made the accusation, but Lee’s pain was a testimonial to just how close he and Nelson had become.  My God, how could I have done that to him? He would have stood by me through hell’s fire.

Chip sat down in Lee’s place, his plate overflowing.  “Good Morning, Sir.  Has Lee been down yet?”

“Yes, Chip, he’s come and gone.  Got up and left a minute after I sat down. I told him there was to be a conference call at 0900 with the CIA, Johnson, him and me, but he totally dismissed it.  Chip, I think I’ve lost him, for good.  Has he said anything to you?”

“Yes, we had a nice long conversation last night right in the corner over there.  Sir, he said he was done with ONI, the Institute, even the Navy.  I tried to talk him out of it, but all I could do was get him to give it a month, and then if he still felt the same way, he would leave.  Said he doesn’t want to work anywhere that he isn’t trusted and respected. I don’t think you can do anything in a month to get him to change his mind, he has to change it himself. I hate to say it, but I think that may be the only way he will stay.  Anything you do will be obvious and resented.  I really think the best advice I can give you, Sir, knowing Lee as well as I do, is to just leave him alone, give him a wide berth and let him decide things for himself. If you push him in any way, you’ll be pushing him away.” 

“Hmmm. You’re probably right, Chip. There isn’t much I can do at this point anyway.  I’ll just leave him alone and hope and pray he comes around on his own.”

“I think there’s a good chance of that happening, he’s just really hurting and resentful right now.  He’s usually a very forgiving man.  Just give him time, and a chance to get back into his regular routine.”

“I will Chip, and thanks.  Well, just enough time for me to check on things in my lab before the conference call.  This whole incident is almost making me forget we are on a mission.  See you at lunch.”

“Yes, and good luck, Sir.”


Lee knocked on the Admiral’s hatch at 08.59, one minute before the conference call was scheduled to commence.  He entered and took a seat next to the Admiral’s desk, in plain view of the video screen.

Nelson was already talking to Admiral Johnson, and the split screen also showed the CIA logo, they hadn’t logged in yet. Johnson saw Lee behind Nelson.

“Good Morning, Lee.  While we’re waiting for them to connect, I want to tell you I take full responsibility and blame for what has happened and how it has been handled. I will go to my grave saying the same thing, I have no idea what came over me, and Nelson feels the same way.  I should have reread your AAR report as soon as the CIA contacted me, and spoke to you directly about the accusations before involving your immediate CO.  Both of us know, trust, and respect you, and both of us now realize you were framed, but as yet we have no idea why or by whom.  I know how much this has upset you Commander, can’t say I blame you, but pull yourself together, I need you back at ONI, asap. And don’t blame Nelson, he was only following my lead and my orders.  Ah, here they are.” 

Hmmm. Johnson didn’t give Lee a minute or an inch to get over or think about anything, he’s just going on like it’s business as usual after this, deal with it.  Have I been handling this the wrong way?   No, no, it’s different between Lee and I.  With us, it’s the personal relationship that has been so badly damaged, the professional one is secondary.

The CIA agent’s questions were general and expected, pretty much routine.  It almost seemed like he was in a hurry to finish, as if this was a nuisance.  Or maybe an embarrassment?  Throughout the entire interview though the man seemed to be, to Nelson anyway, uncomfortable and, well, something else, something Nelson couldn’t quite put a finger on.  Hiding something?  Suspicious of something?  He finally put it down to them not knowing for sure who it was that framed Lee, or why, and how they all had fallen for it so easily.  With Lee cleared of all charges, and them not having a single suspect as to who set him up, the case would have to remain open.   Well, that was their problem. 

The call ended without so much as an apology from them to Lee, but he didn’t need one.  Being cleared of all charges was all he wanted, and all he was going to get.  Lee asked the agent if CIA documentation of him being cleared could be entered into his Naval files, he didn’t want any surprises in the future.   Johnson said he would see to it, goodbye, then the video screen went blank.  And it sure didn’t escape Lee’s attention that Johnson had not bothered to apologize. Before Nelson could make any comments, Lee got up and walked out. 


The rest of the month was pretty much uneventful, except for the coldness between the Captain and the Admiral.  By now, the crew had started to pick up on it.  It was becoming obvious things would never be the same, even Chip was realizing it.  He wasn’t surprised when the Admiral called him down to his cabin and asked if he would be willing to take over as Captain if Lee left.  He had little choice but to say yes, and he was beginning to get annoyed with Lee for not dealing better with the situation, for letting it go and get to this point.  For everyone else, it was over and done with.

Lee was sitting on his back deck overlooking the Pacific, contemplating.  He knew he had a decision to make, the month was nearly up.  Years ago, back when he was still a kid, he had decided that if he didn’t make it into Annapolis, his second choice would be Harvard, then Harvard Law School.  Many times over the years he had wondered how his life would have turned out had he taken that path instead.  Not sadness or regret, just curiosity.  So he had just inquired about the possibility of getting into the next class at Harvard Law, how long the wait was and other details.  But even though he already had his four year degree from Annapolis, it would still be three years out of his life. But then he could join JAG, still be in the Navy. Maybe specialize in submarine command law. But he also knew of the shortage of submarine captains in the Navy, and had already been contacted by Admiral Starke about it.  He was pretty surprised at first, until he thought about it.   Nelson and Starke were good friends, Nelson had probably mentioned the situation to him, and Starke was taking immediate advantage of it.  It certainly wasn’t the first time he had tried to get Lee back onto the active Navy.  He could do that and be good at it, he already had an excellent reputation in the Navy, but it sure would be a step down from Seaview, and the Institute.  And somehow, in a way that he couldn’t explain, he would feel like he was cheating on his ‘Grey Lady’, as he was fond of calling Seaview.  And of course, there was always ONI.  But that was what had started this whole state of affairs, and he was still as upset with Johnson as he was with Nelson. Well, almost as upset.  With either ONI or Starke, all he had to do was pick his phone up, make a call, and change his life.  He knew he had to do something, he had not been able to resolve his problem with Nelson.  And he had tried, more than Chip realized.  But it was like something in him had just died.  He felt nothing for Nelson anymore, nothing but resentment and hurt. The anger was pretty well gone though. And he had heard nothing more from the man, whoever or whatever he was, who was the true cause of all of this.  But he had been right.  Lee had been cleared of all charges.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. 


He knew the Admiral’s voice without turning his head.  What he was doing here?  He hadn’t come over to Lee’s since before everything happened. Nelson made his way up the wooden stairs and handed Lee an envelope.

“I’ve taken the liberty of having Human Resources draw up a separation agreement, stating you are not renewing your contract with the Institute.  All the details are in there, read it, it also covers your pension and other items, and if that’s what you decide you want to do, just sign and return it.  I will provide excellent references for you when and if you need them.   Please don’t think I am trying to get rid of you, believe me it still is the last thing I want.  I am only trying to make things easier for you, I know you aren’t happy and I know it’s my fault.  But please believe me that if you ever change your mind in the future, my door will always be open for you.”  With that, he turned and went back down the stairs and was gone, without Lee having said a word to him.

Lee sat there for a moment, stunned.  The Admiral was making it easy for him to leave, he hadn’t expected anything like this.  And he knew Nelson was doing it only for him, not himself.  That was the kind of man he was, that was the kind of relationship they had enjoyed.  Yet even after this, and being able to acknowledge how much good there was in the man, Lee could feel nothing for him.  What was wrong with him? 

He brought the envelope into the house and read the contents carefully.  He laid the documents down, sat back, and stared into space for all of 30 seconds.

Then he picked up his pen.


The End – Part One

Coming Soon:  For the Greater Good – Part Two 


*Future story in the works that I started about a year ago.  I will finish and post it soon.  I hope.     

This story was originally written for another challenge, ‘False Step”,  due March 4th, the same day my oldest son was getting married, and with all the wedding details and running around I had to make a choice.  For some strange reason, I chose the wedding over completing the story!