This story takes place early in Season Four, and is a sequel to one of my previous stories, The Professor's Notes.  It can be read as a stand alone story, although you might enjoy reading the back story first.



Reckless Payback


by Lynn



Washington DC was beautiful this time of year.  The autumn colors were splashing fantastic hues of orange, red and yellow, especially in the maple trees.  Captain Lee Crane and Admiral Harriman Nelson walked along one of the pathways that were flanked by the trees sporting their autumn colors.  They had just spent several hours being debriefed on their latest mission.  While their mission to deliver the neutron bomb to Cook Island had ended unsuccessfully with its unavoidable destruction*, the effects of the bomb's gas was still of interest to the military. 


It had been an interesting debriefing explaining the strange hallucinogenic affects of the gas.  Now that the debrief was complete Lee looked forward to a little decompression time.  He took the time to look up at the colorful trees around him and enjoy the season's colors.  He missed this part of living on the east coast.  Santa Barbara had its own autumn, but nothing like this!


“What are your plans for this evening, Lee?”  Harry asked as they walked.  “You're welcome to join Jiggs and myself for dinner.” 


Lee sent a sideways glance to Harry with a half smile, “No thanks, Sir.  If you don't mind I think I'd just like to take a quick dinner and hit the sack early tonight.”


Admiral Stark had also been at the debriefings, and although Jiggs had buried the hatchet with Lee several years ago, he still enjoyed rattling Lee's cage whenever he could.  He couldn't just let his reputation of eating junior officers for lunch be compromised. 


Harry chuckled, “Jiggs is a big teddy bear once you get to know him, Lee.”


Lee laughed back, “I'll take your word on that Admiral, but I think I'll take dinner in the hotel restaurant tonight, unless you need me there.”


Harry smiled as he accepted Lee's declination of his dinner offer, “No, no.  You enjoy your dinner.”


Lee returned the smile as they continued their walk to the hotel.   They reached the street and waited for the light to change.  The early afternoon traffic was backed up, mostly due to a stalled car halfway down the block.  Lee barely registered the sound of the car starting and moving slowly forward.  Suddenly, Lee was hit from behind and crumpled to the sidewalk as Harry was flanked on both sides and ushered into the now speeding car.


Lee recovered and started to stand only to hear the covering shots of one of the men as the car sped away.  A bullet caught Lee in the arm, as he fell again. 


“Sir!  Sir, are you okay?”


Lee looked up to see a young ensign whose car had been directly behind the attackers.


“Someone call the police...” she started to say when Lee interrupted her.


“Ensign, follow that car.  Don't lose them!”  Lee shouted as he pointed to the car making its getaway.  Her shock of seeing an officer abducted and another officer shot was replaced by her naval training as she instantly complied running back to the driver's seat.


Other people had gathered around Lee, some wanting to help, others just watching, but he ignored them as he grabbed the Admiral's briefcase and moved into the passenger seat.


“Go!  Go!  We can't lose them.”  He ordered as the young ensign began her pursuit.  “Don't drive erratically, they're just melting into traffic.  They may think they made a clean getaway.”


“Aye Sir.  But don't you think you should get that looked at?”  She said as she tilted her head in the direction of Lee's right arm.  Lee was holding the arm and began to unbutton his dark service jacket to get a better look at it, but he already knew that it was only a flesh wound.  It hadn't lodged and had passed cleanly through his muscle and out the back of his arm. 


“Its not bad besides, if we stop now we'll lose them.  Keep them in your sights.”  This he said as he applied his handkerchief to the wound. 


“Here Sir,” the ensign said handing Lee a scarf that was sitting beside her, next to her purse.  He leaned into the car door as he awkwardly wrapped and fastened the scarf over the handkerchief knotting it using his left hand.  It wasn't quite tight enough in his estimation, but it was the best he could do with one hand. 


He continued to watch the attacker's car ahead, as he reached up and loosened his tie.  They turned into a parking garage and Lee motioned for the ensign to pull over along the street.  He was just about to get out of the car when the assailant's car emerged again but with different license plates.  They had made the switch quickly, probably using a magnetic plate.  The whole affair revealing the planning the attackers had gone through.


“Should we stop and call the authorities Commander?”


“No.  They've obviously had this well planned, they may do a car switch at any time.  Just keep them in your sights and don't let them see you.”


It was only now that Lee realized that the young ensign had been abruptly pulled into this rescue and was following orders without any question from this unknown officer. 


“I'm sorry Ensign.  My name is Commander Lee Crane, and those men just abducted Admiral Harriman Nelson.  I'm very grateful that you came along when you did.”  He added a small smile as he held his right arm.  He thought maybe the bleeding had stopped, but it was throbbing and the pain was increasing as the adrenalin wore off. 


“That's alright Sir.  I'm glad I was here to help.  I thought I recognized the Admiral,” she said as she carefully followed several cars behind their objective.  She had failed to say that she had definitely noticed the tall Commander as he stood on the corner waiting for the light to change.  “I'm Ensign Alicia Stone.”


“Nice to meet you Ensign, and thanks for stopping.  I'm not sure a civilian would have understood my commandeering their vehicle,” he replied with a small smile.


Lee kept his eyes on the assailant's car.  It was heading out of town, but the DC traffic should provide plenty of coverage for them he reasoned.  He allowed his head to fall back on the headrest as he watched the car move through traffic.  He wasn't sure why he was feeling so tired, the gunshot wound wasn't that bad.


He felt the Admiral's briefcase at his feet and reached for it hoping that Harry had packed a transmitter.  He fumbled with one hand but came up empty.  Well, almost empty.  He pulled out the new laser gun that Harry had been demonstrating.  More like showing off, he thought.  Lee allowed a small smile to cross his face and then realized that he needed a more traditional weapon.  The laser guns were effective, but only at close range.


“Ensign, do you have a sidearm?”  He asked looking her way.


“No Sir.  I'm here on a TDY acting as an aide to a visiting Admiral.” 


Lee nodded, understanding that her duties hadn't required a weapon.  “That's okay, this will have to do.”


Lee reached up to wipe away a bead of sweat that was rolling down his face, a motion that the young  ensign didn't miss.  Lee had plenty of experience with gunshot wounds, they came with the game when you occasionally worked for ONI.  He couldn't figure out why he was feeling so lousy, but he needed to ignore it.  It looked like they were going to be in for a ride as the car continued on toward the suburbs. 


As they slowed for a light, the ensign pulled off into a parking lot as Lee looked at her questioning her action.  She shrugged her shoulder as she replied,


“I thought maybe we should put a few more cars between us.”


“Good thinking, but don't lose them.”


“I saw this once in a movie,” she explained moving back onto the street as Lee smiled back at her, his head resting heavier on the head rest.  He felt a chill and realized that he was probably getting a fever.


“Commander?” Ensign Stone inquired catching a sideways glance at the obviously unwell officer sitting beside her.


“I'm alright.  The bullet wound isn't that bad, it has to be dirty ammo.”


“Sir?” she asked while looking ahead, the assailant's car was about four cars ahead and they were heading out to the country.


“Dirty ammo,” he repeated, “the bullet must have been dipped in some sort of “biological”, if the wound doesn't bring the target down the illness will,” he explained, “but its not as bad as if the bullet was lodged.”  The last was only a hope, Lee didn't know how sick he would become.  The only thing he knew was he had to rescue Harry.


* * * * *

Harry was lost in a deep unconscious state.  The assailants had grabbed him placing a handkerchief over his mouth and nose.  He had recognized the sweet smell and felt the chemical's affects as he struggled ineffectually against the men who grabbed him so unexpectedly.  By the time he had been thrown into the car he was out cold as he sat, slumped into the backseat.  One of the thugs turned around and fired shots at Crane as he began to rise from the sidewalk, firing his gun and looking satisfied as he saw Crane fall again.  The people on the street all fell to the ground to protect themselves from the gunshots, but there were no more as the car sped away.  The thug continued looking through the back window as a crowd surrounded the downed Commander.  The traffic behind them was stopped as a car behind them stopped to help.  They were in the clear, as traffic from the light they passed filtered back in behind them, a little while longer and they would have a new license plate.  They proceeded along driving calmly with their prize in the backseat.  Their employer wanted Nelson bad.  The unconscious Admiral Nelson was going to make them rich.


* * * * *


Ensign Stone followed the Admiral's car, being careful to keep other cars between her as they followed the dark sedan out into the surrounding country.  Commander Crane had fallen asleep as they drove, his illness obvious.  Alicia reached over and picked up the Commander's jacket with one hand and gently laid it across him.  He didn't stir.  His face was turned toward the window, but even then she could tell that he had a fever. 


Alicia knew all about Admiral Nelson.  What young naval officer didn't?  But she had also recognized Commander Crane.  She had seen his picture several years ago in a magazine article about the Seaview.  She knew he was young for his command rank, but she had been unprepared for his classic handsome features and his expressive hazel eyes.  She couldn't stare as she was driving, but she hadn't missed his eyes. 


He began to stir and she schooled her face, hoping she hadn't blushed as she pondered the Commander's good looks. 


Lee woke slowly.  He hadn't intended to fall asleep, but he did feel better.  The illness hadn't gotten any worse, and he figured that the biologic that was used was not as toxic since the bullet didn't lodged.  He sat up straighter and pulled his jacket off his shoulders.  The Ensign had done a good job keeping the car in sight, but hanging back far enough so as not to be detected.


“How long was I out?” he questioned curiously.


“A couple of hours,” she answered as she slowed down.  “I think they're turning into that driveway up ahead,” she noted as she took a turnoff to the right and settled in behind the trees that bordered the small country road. 


“You've done a good job, Ensign,” Lee said as he pulled the laser gun out and watched the car pull up the long driveway that ended at a large mansion.  A black rod iron fence surrounded the large grassy area that was mowed and manicured to perfection.  The back of the house opened up to a forest of maple and oak trees that wrapped around the property.  It would make good coverage for him as he looked for an entrance.


“You're not going in alone, Sir?”  Alicia asked concerned for his safety. 


“I'll be alright,” he said ignoring her concern, “How far to the nearest town?”


“About an hour back the way we came.”


“Okay, you head back and call Admiral Johnson at ONI,” Lee instructed as he pulled a pen and paper from Harry's briefcase.  He wrote as he continued speaking, “This number will get you directly to his office, tell them what's happened and that Commander Crane needs backup.  This is my personal code, you'll need it to verify your story.”  He looked up and caught the concern in her eyes and smiled a soft reassuring smile.


“Thank you Ensign Stone.  I know you never counted on getting involved with something like this, but I'm glad you're here.”  His smile widened as he stepped out of the car and closed the door quietly.


“Don't worry Commander,” she said as she lowered the passenger window, “I'll send the cavalry.”  He nodded and she moved the car back onto the road, heading back towards the small town she had passed.


* * * * *


Harry started to stir as he was pulled from the backseat of the sedan.  His awareness came back almost instantly registering the precarious position that he found himself in.  He understood immediately that he had been kidnapped, but what he didn't know was what had happened to Lee.  He remembered him falling to the sidewalk, but then that was all.


He was brought inside the opulent mansion into a foyer that was as large as his entire living room.  Off to the right was the sitting room, to the left was a large library, in the middle of the foyer was a grand staircase that led to a large mezzanine overlooking the foyer below.  The mansion was obviously well taken care of, although Harry saw no servants. 


He was flanked by his guards, both men wearing black business suits.  The affects of the chloroform were wearing off and Harry decided that he needed some answers – fast.


“Where am I?  Why am I here?” 


“Ah, Admiral Nelson.  So good to see you again!”  Harry recognized the voice and lifted his head to the top of the stairs to see Devin McGuire make his grand entrance.


“McGuire!”  Harry exclaimed, shocked at seeing the independently wealthy man on American soil after his report to ONI a year ago.  McGuire's money must have bought him a new identity.


McGuire walked down the stairs and ended up only a few feet from Harry looking quite satisfied with his conquest.  Last year, Admiral Nelson had blown a very important deal of his.  He had lost some face  when he was not able to produce Professor Hood's suitcase nuclear bombs.  Hood had worked for him until his conscious had caused him to hide intentional errors in his ground breaking formula.  Only McGuire didn't know the formula was flawed until after he had disposed of the Professor.  So McGuire had forced Harry to work on the project using Lee as a “pawn.”  Lee suffered a severe beating in their attempt to force Harry to correct the formula.  Only a fantastic rescue by Chip, with the help of Professor Hood's daughter, Sara, had saved the day.  The formula was turned over to the U.S. and Harry had put the entire matter behind him...until now.


“I didn't expect to see you here,” Harry said, having composed himself from his surprise.


“Yes, well as you can see your attempts of ruining my life were unsuccessful.  I simply reappear under a new name and continue to operate quite nicely.”  McGuire's self-satisfaction left a sickening knot in Harry's stomach.  McGuire was bad news.


“What of Captain Crane?”  McGuire asked nonchalantly.  Harry's eyes sharpened as he listened to Bronson's reply.


“He was shot, should be shaking and shivering in some hospital by now,” Bronson answered with a twisted smile on his face.  Lee had suffered most of the beating at Bronson's hands, something that Harry remembered well.


“What do you mean by that?”  Harry asked, picking up on the odd reference to Lee's condition.


“Just a little bit of payback Admiral.  Bronson's bullets were dipped in the latest flu virus making its rounds across the world.  He will be quite incapacitated, although Bronson here was disappointed in my lack of interest in bringing Crane here.”  McGuire's tone sickened Harry.  He was concerned for Lee, but he also needed to keep his wits about him.


“What do you want from me McGuire?  Surely you know that I've had no dealings with Professor Hood's formula since it was turned over to the government?”  Harry knew he wasn't divulging any information that McGuire didn't already know about. 


“Yes, yes.  I've moved on since that last fiasco.  Your last mission being a prime example.  It seems that the Neutron Bomb had its flaws, didn't it Admiral?”


Harry's eyes registered the implications of McGuire's statement.  He had to have some well placed spies to come away with that bit of information. 


“What do you know about that?”  Harry asked, hoping to draw out some information that might flush out the spies.


“I know more than you think Admiral Nelson.  I had the Neutron Bomb sabotaged before it was loaded onto Seaview.  I must say, that I was a bit surprised to monitor the explosion in the atmosphere, but then you are a very resourceful man.”


Understanding flooded Harry as he realized that the gas that was emitted from the Neutron Bomb would have been completely contained had McGuire not had his hand in it.


“So that's what this is all about?  Revenge?”  Harry said calmly.


Devin McGuire's face split into a smile, “It would have been delightful to see your submarine blown to smithereens Nelson but then, you would have been dead and never known why.  This will be so much more satisfying.”


Harry wasn't liking where this was headed.  It sounded like McGuire had another scheme going, and he would put money on it having to do something with Seaview.


“What do you mean by that?”  Harry inquired, needing all the information he could to stop McGuire.


“No.  No I don't think I'll share that with you.  Not yet anyway.  Bronson,” McGuire turned toward his chief henchman, “please escort Admiral Nelson to his suite.” 


Bronson moved up along side of Harry and felt his arm being held and guided as he was taken up the grand staircase.  As he climbed, he thought of Lee.  Shot, with the flu virus that had been making the rounds this year.  The virus had mostly been deadly to the most vulnerable, the very young and the very old, but with a gunshot wound Lee would also be vulnerable.  McGuire obviously thought he was out of the picture, but Harry had to wonder.


* * * * *


Lee moved stealthily across the street and into the grove of trees for coverage.  He was thankful that it was the beginning of autumn as the trees and bushes had plenty of foliage to cover him.  He was equally thankful that there were no dead leaves to crackle and crunch as he moved along.  He followed the perimeter of the rod iron fence to the back of the property.  He would climb over here, where the cover of the trees would hide his entrance. 


He looked for signs of any wires, in case the fence was electrified but found none.  He squatted down and did a recon watching for the next possible level of security, dogs.  He didn't see any signs of dogs or their kennels and hoped that he was right about his assumption that the mansion didn't have any.  He strained his eyes forward, looking for the security cameras.  He was sure they were hidden around here somewhere.  Sure enough, he spotted a camera.  They usually worked in tandem with other cameras, but if he was careful, he could pass under them as they made their sweeps. 


He reached up and wiped his brow as he watched the motion of the camera, studying its pattern.  Whatever was on that bullet was making him pretty miserable, but it wasn't anything he couldn't work through, so he ignored the fever that was growing.  What he couldn't ignore was the cough that escaped his mouth without warning.


That's not going to help a stealth entrance, he thought.  He moved to climb the rod iron fence at a point that was nice and close to a large oak tree which made it easier to climb in his weakened condition and with a bum wing.  He jumped down the eight foot fence rolling with the inertia and ending up on his heels in a squatting position.  He moved straight for a camera that pointed into a different direction and stopped under it as it made it's sweep of the yard.  He waited a cycle catching his breath as he fought back the tickle in his throat that was threatening to escape as a cough.  He moved to the next camera and found himself at the corner of the mansion wall. 


He moved again when the next camera made its sweep and found a window, he risked a look inside and saw several men in dark suits.  He moved again to find a better room to enter, rounding the corner on the other side and found the kitchen.  He moved further along realizing that the kitchen would probably be staffed, until he found another room that looked deserted.  The screen was easy to remove.  He tried the window, lifting at the base and smiled as the window moved upward, and soon he was inside a study of some kind.  He moved behind a sofa and checked his watch, it had taken him fifteen minutes to make it this far.  It would be another forty-five minutes before Ensign Stone could alert Johnson, a lot could happen in forty-five minutes.  He would have to move forward and find Harry, he pulled the laser gun from its place inside his belt and proceeded on.


He moved toward the door and listened before he opened it slightly and peered outside.  Then he took to the hallway and began exploring the rooms on the bottom floor.  It was a large house, and it was apparent that there were very few people around as he found the rooms empty so far.  He made his way to a door at the end of the hall that opened up to a large sitting room.  As he entered quietly he noticed the large staircase beside him and used it for cover.  He opened the door under the staircase, and smiled at what he saw, then quietly closed the door.  He realized that he had made it to the front of the house. 


Lee didn't want to explore the rooms on the opposite side of the house yet, since that's where he had spotted the men earlier and decided to head upstairs first.  He rounded the stairs with his laser gun drawn in his left hand and turned to survey the room before ascending the staircase.  He made a slow sweep pointing the laser gun as he turned.  He heard a noise from the direction of the men in dark business suits and hurried up the opulent staircase.  The rich marble in its dark rich tones and magnificent friezes were lost on Lee as he hurried up the stairs to get out of view before they arrived. 


He barely made it around the corner when he heard two voices that were definitely familiar.  He risked a peek around the corner to see Devin McGuire and Bronson.  He would have liked to have stunned both of them right where they stood with the laser gun, but he needed to find Harry first, so he slipped back from the corner and began investigating the upstairs.  He looked around the corner and saw that it was clear.  He went down the hall checking to see if the door was locked and continued forward when the handle turned freely. 


He came to another corner and quietly looked around it and allowed a half smile to cross his face when he saw a guard standing outside a door.  He aimed his laser gun and squeezed the trigger as a red light instantly traveled the length of the hall and hit the guard.  The guard reacted to the momentary pain and then crumpled to the floor.  Lee closed the distance and stepped over the guard opening the door cautiously.


* * * * *


Harry had been deposited in a large guest room that had obviously been prepared to keep the guest in.  The windows had been sealed shut and had been coated with an anti-shatter film.  The phone jacks had been removed and the door locked from the outside.  He had heard the guards talking and knew that there was a guard stationed outside his door.  All he could do was pace the floor and think. 


McGuire had intimated that bringing him here would be better for his revenge purposes.  He had a strong suspicion that it had something to do with Seaview.  He admitted that if Harry had gone down with Seaview he would have missed knowing how McGuire had taken his revenge.  Harry's pacing picked up in speed as he realized that McGuire's target was Seaview and he wanted Harry here to gloat over his conquest.


He heard the door handle begin to move and turned toward the door expecting to see McGuire again.  As the door slowly opened he was caught by surprise as Lee entered the room. 


“Admiral!” Lee's smile gave away his relief, but he quickly got down to business.  “Help me pull the guard in.”


Harry noticed the scarf tied around Lee's arm and then the cough that Lee was having a hard time suppressing.  His cheeks were flush and it was apparent that Lee was indeed ill.  Harry pulled the guard in and then turned towards Lee. 


“McGuire said that the bullet was coated with a flu virus Lee.”


“Yeah, I figured that,” he said breathing shallowly. 


“Alright Lee.”  It was obvious that Lee was working through his illness, and so Harry brought Lee up to date with what he feared.  “We need to keep an eye on McGuire, I think he's planning something against Seaview.”


Lee's head shot up and his eyes narrowed as Harry continued.


“McGuire all but admitted to being responsible for the neutron bomb's failure.  He was trying to take Seaview down.”


Lee looked down at his watch, “Ensign Stone will get word to Johnson, it will probably take her another fifteen minutes to reach a town.  Maybe we'll give him something to keep him busy here.”


Harry's eyebrow rose, “What are you thinking about Lee?”  He wasn't sure he was liking where Lee's plan was heading.


“McGuire has no love loss for me.  I think I can push him over the edge, maybe keep him busy till Johnson gets here.  In the meanwhile, you get out and hunker down in the grove of trees behind the estate.”


“No, let's do whatever you've got planned together Lee.”  Lee started to protest but Harry continued on, “You're already handicapped two times over with your arm and the illness your trying to hide from me.”


Lee cracked a smile and gave up.  “Alright Admiral.  First things first, let's get out of here.”


Harry followed Lee out into the hall, he was amazed at how agile Lee was with his bicep shot through and working with an obvious fever.  Lee went down the hall past several doors and opened one slowly on the opposite side of the hall.  As he suspected, it was empty and they entered in.  He followed Lee to the window.


“I saw this coming in, but it was hard enough climbing the fence so I came in on the bottom floor.  See if you can get down to the driveway and put the cars out of commission,” Lee said as he explained the plan.  “There are security cameras, but I'll have them neutralized before they're a problem.”


Harry cracked a smile, Lee Crane the ONI operative was running the show right now.


“Fine Lee.  Just keep yourself at a distance.  Bronson still has it in for you.”


“Yeah well, he might find it a bit different this time around.”  Lee said, his voice holding a dark and promising tone.


Harry nodded in agreement and started down the trellis.  “Here Sir,” Lee held out the laser gun, “might make it easier to flatten tires.”  Harry took the laser gun knowing that Lee had relieved the guard of his sidearm earlier.


“Take care Lee.”


“You too, Admiral.”


* * * * *


As soon as Harry was out the window, Lee left the room.  He still had to disarm the security cameras.  He made his way back through the hallway and peered around the corner.  He needed to be downstairs under the stairwell.  That's where he saw the breaker box.  He listened for any sign of movement and made his way down the grand staircase.  He could hear McGuire talking in the study to the right, but continued down rounding the bannister and moving toward the breaker box hidden behind a door under the stairway.


He pulled the circuit breakers quickly and then moved into the corner of the large closet and waited.  He was counting on it only taking one bad guy to check the breaker box and wasn't disappointed.  It only took a few minutes for the door to open and a round light to enter ahead of the bad guy carrying a flashlight.  Lee waited until his attention was completely on the fuse box and stepped up behind him.


“Want me to hold your light?” 


The bad guy just about jumped out of his skin as Lee delivered a devastating blow to his chin and then to the back of his neck sending him to the floor in a thud.  Lee drug him over to the deep corner of the huge staircase’s underside and waited for the next bad guy to show up.


Sure enough he didn't have long to wait.  “Ralph, McGuire wants to know what's keeping you so long?” he announced before he even stepped inside.  As Lee expected, this bad guy made a sweep with his flashlight looking for Ralph.  Both Lee and Ralph were hidden behind a convenient pile of boxes as the second bad guy shrugged his shoulders and turned to fiddle with the fuse box.  Lee moved out of his hiding place and landed a karate chop to the shoulder blade that had the second bad guy sliding down the wall like a rag doll.


Lee moved him over by Ralph and decided not to push it waiting for a third bad guy.  Besides, he still needed to rattle McGuire's cage a little.  He moved out of the closet under the staircase with an arsenal of three guns and two flashlights.  The flashlights he hid in a large plant holder in the hall, he emptied  clips from two of the guns and put them in his pocket, depositing the empty guns next to the flashlights.  He was sure by now that Harry had the cars disabled, which meant that Devin McGuire wasn't going anywhere.  He took a chair and jammed it under the handle of the closet, satisfied that these two bad guys weren't going anywhere either.


Lee moved towards the front of the house, where he knew McGuire was.  He knew this was risky, and he wasn't at his best with his throbbing arm dangling nearly useless to his side.  Add to that a nice little flu that was leaving him feeling pretty drained, but he'd operated on less before and came out on top. 


As he rounded the corner of the staircase he could see that the study was lit with candles.  The candles were casting two nice shadows on the wall.


“Bronson, go see what's taking those idiots so long.” 


Lee recognized McGuire's voice and couldn't help the smile forming on his face.  It was time he and Bronson had a little talk.  This wasn't exactly Lee's original plan, but he had to admit that he was pleased to hear Bronson move forward.  Lee moved back into the foyer and stood hidden along side of the staircase.  A few minutes later he heard Bronson walking, his candelabra lighting the walls as he walked by.    As Bronson rounded the corner he nearly lost his handle on the candelabra as he came face to face with Lee Crane.


Lee had his gun pulled, “Hello Bronson, remember me?”  He said darkly as he motioned for Bronson to put the candelabra on the table against the wall. 


“I realize you're handicapped by the fact that you don't have anyone to hold me down,” Lee said as he tucked the gun into his belt, “but hey, I'm a good sport.  I've got a bum right arm and a nice little flu to go with it.  That should even the odds for you,” Lee challenged as he motioned Bronson to step forward and take him on.


“Any time Crane,”  Bronson said advancing menacingly.


Lee wasn't normally a south paw boxer, but he had switched a time or two to throw his opponents off.  Bronson took a swing and Lee danced to the side feeling the air whoosh ineffectually by his face.  Bronson squared off and raised his fists again as Lee raised his left hand to strike and his right hand to defend.  Bronson moved closer and Lee delivered two quick punches to his chin and then danced back out of Bronson's reach as he tried to connect.


They moved back together as Bronson connected with Lee's chin and then missed on the follow up swing.  Lee caught him in the back with a double fisted blow.  It cost Lee to use his right arm, but he knew he'd have to dish out some good punches to bring Bronson down.  Bronson stumbled forward a few steps and recovered.


“You can't keep this up Crane.  I can out last you,” Bronson bragged, as he connected another blow to Lee's jaw, but as he did he opened up his body and Lee delivered two swift punches to his mid-section.  That cost Bronson as he backed off catching his breath.  Still, Lee knew that he couldn't keep taking blows, he needed to take Bronson down.  He could just pull out the gun from his belt, but he wanted Bronson.  Bad.


Lee stepped forward and switched from south paw to right dominant fighting and began delivering quick heavy blows to Bronson's face.  They exchanged punches but Lee kept advancing on Bronson delivering blows and counter blows.  Finally Bronson stumbled and Lee delivered a devastating double fisted blow to Bronson's shoulders.  He fell forward against the wall and slid down in a heap as Lee bent over holding his right arm willing the pain back into place.  The only sound in the room was his heavy breathing until he heard three distinctive short claps.


Clap. Clap. Clap.  “Very good Captain Crane.  You managed to breach my security, take out my entire security team and best Bronson.  Its clear that I completely underestimated you.”


Lee looked up through the sweat that was rolling down his forehead into his eyes to see Devin McGuire standing and pulling a gun out of his pocket.


“Your gun Captain,” McGuire said, motioning with his gun towards Lee.


Lee smiled, throwing McGuire off base.  “What may I ask is so funny Crane?”


“Just this,” the voice from behind McGuire said, punctuated by the barrel pressed firmly in his back. 


“You can shoot me Nelson, but not before I shoot Crane.”


Lee walked forward not intimidated in the least.  “Not with this you can't,” he said as he pulled the gun out of McGuire's hand.  “You forgot to take off the safety.”  Lee smiled, McGuire's obvious unfamiliarity with the weapon adding to his victory over McGuire and his bunch.


Outside, helicopters were heard landing as Harry moved McGuire towards the door and Lee followed.  They opened the door and were met by a commando team about ready to storm the doors and windows. 


Harry motioned with his head, “There's more inside,” as McGuire was taken off his hands, “how many more Lee?”


“Four Sir.  One upstairs, two in the stairway closet and one in the foyer.”  A small satisfied smile crossed his face as Admiral Johnson walked up.


“Well Commander, I'm not sure why we even bothered to show up, except that I did bring a medic,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. 




Harry turned to see Jiggs Stark debarking from another helicopter with a young ensign following. 


“Jiggs, how did you get involved in all this?”  Harry said with a smile and an extended hand.


“It seems your Captain commandeered my aide here when you were abducted,” Jiggs said, obviously relieved to see Harry looking well.  


Ensign Stone nodded to Harry, “Admiral Nelson, its good to see you well Sir.”


“Thank you Ensign, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy hearing the entire story.  I'm afraid I spent most of it unconscious in the back of a car.”


The Admirals walked over toward the helicopter where the medic had taken Lee as Ensign Stone followed behind.  Harry studied Lee, his head resting against the side of the helicopter's open door, as he sat with one leg bent at the knee on the deck and the other dangling off the edge.  He looked done in, but carried a satisfied look on his face.  The medic had wrapped a blanket around Lee's shoulders as he worked on his arm.


“How are you feeling Lee?”  Harry asked concerned.


“Pretty good Admiral.  I think I needed that more than I realized,” Lee said referring to taking Bronson on.


As if on cue Admiral Johnson and his commandos began bringing out McGuire's bad guys with their hands safely secured behind their backs.  Bronson was last and tried to send an intimidating look towards Lee but was pushed along by his commando. 


The satisfied smile on Lee's face widened.  He looked past Harry and Jiggs and spotted the young ensign.


“Ensign Stone,” Alicia moved forward as Lee continued, “Sirs, I think you should know that I wouldn't have been able to track Admiral Nelson without Ensign Stone's fine work.”


“I'll look forward to your AAR** Commander,” Admiral Johnson said, all business on the outside but beaming like a proud daddy on the inside.


“Aye Sir,” whatever else Lee would have said was lost in a cough as the medic indicated that Commander Crane had an appointment with the base hospital.


They loaded up on the helicopters and were soon on their way, leaving Johnson's clean up crew to go through the evidence at the estate.


* * * * *

Lee leaned heavily against the side of the helicopter as his breathing indicated a respiratory illness.  He could no longer keep his coughing under control and Harry figured that the flu had finally moved into high gear.  He wasn't sure how Lee had managed to do what he did only an hour ago. 


The helicopter touched down on the heli-pad and Lee's eyes opened.  He held the blanket that the medic had given him tightly about his shoulders feeling chilled.  He caught Harry watching him and let loose a small smile that gave way to more coughing.


The base hospital staff converged on their patient and before Harry knew it, Lee had been whisked away.  Two hours later, Harry was finally allowed to visit.  He was settled in a private room and resting about as well as could be expected.  McGuire hadn't exactly got what he thought he had paid for, in that the illness was not viral but bacterial.  Lee was on a strong antibiotic and the doctors indicated that he was responding well.  The gunshot wound had been cleaned and bandaged and his arm placed in a sling to immobilize it.  Right now Lee was out like a light without sedation, and Harry figured he was exhausted.


He thought about the show down between Lee and Bronson.  He didn't blame Lee for taking him on, but it was certainly an unwise move to make in his condition.  On the one hand he was proud of Lee, like when your kid takes down the neighborhood bully, but on the other hand, it could have ended very badly for him.  He decided now wasn't the time to talk to Lee about his decision besides, Lee seemed to have found some closure to the whole McGuire mess.  Maybe he'd just let it rest, after what Bronson had done to him, he couldn't blame him one bit.


A smile crossed Harry's face as he watched Lee resting.  The proud daddy came out, and he could almost wish Lee was awake for a high five just about now.


* * * * *


Lee was sitting up in his hospital bed working on his AAR when Harry and Jiggs walked in.  His right bicep was bandaged and healing well.  After three days in bed the worst of the illness was over and Lee was looking much better.


“Hello Admiral Nelson, Admiral Stark,” he said nodding to each appropriately.


“How are you feeling, Lee,” Harry said in a comfortable tone.


“Ready to get out of here Sir.  Every time I begin making headway on this report, some nurse comes in and gives me a shot.”  He smiled as he delivered that, but he really was serious, he was ready to leave.


“Well the good news is you're being discharged this afternoon.  The bad news is we aren't cleared to leave Washington yet.  Johnson found a hornet's nest of evidence at McGuire's, and he wants you around for the debriefings.


It was par for the course, and Lee nodded his understanding. 


“What about his plans for Seaview Sir?  Anything I should know about?”  Lee's concerned look was evident in his eyes.


“He was working on a plan to sabotage Seaview's nuclear reactor the next time we were berthed at Pearl.”  Understanding began to flood Lee's face as he realized that Pearl would have been where the neutron bomb was sabotaged.  Harry continued on seeing Lee's reaction.


“We found out who the saboteur is and he's in custody now...”


“Awaiting a court martial,” Jiggs finished.


Lee nodded his approval and then smiled.  “Admiral, if the invitation is still open, I could use a good dinner tonight...someplace that doesn't serve jello or apple sauce.”


Harry and Jiggs laughed, “And if you don't mind,” he continued, “could we invite Ensign Stone?  I think she deserves to hear the entire story, well at least the parts that aren't classified.”


“What about it Jiggs?  Can your reputation handle dinner with two junior officers?”


“I think I can make an exception this time Harriman.  Besides, I think I would like to hear the whole story myself.” 


“We'll be back in a few hours Lee, I'm told you'll be sprung by then.”


“Aye Sir,” Lee replied pushing the tray with his report away from him.


As they left he closed his eyes still feeling tired, when he heard the door open again.  He looked up as Ensign Stone peeked around the door.


“Are you up for a visitor Commander?”


Lee smiled warmly, “Of course, Ensign.  Please come in.”


“I understand I have you to thank for having dinner tonight with two admirals.”


“I hope you don't mind, I wanted to thank you proper for trusting me.  I think it went beyond the call of duty.”


She smiled and lowered her eyes.


“How is your TDY going with Admiral Stark?”  Lee wondered how she had gotten along with the brusque Admiral and his rough ways.


“Fine, Sir.  You know I've heard the rumors about Admiral Stark, and I was really worried about it, but he's really just a big teddy bear.”  Ensign Stone raised her hand to her mouth, realizing how that must have sounded to the Commander, but he just chuckled.


“You're the second person to tell me that, Ensign.  I guess it must be true.” Lee's smile was contagious and the young ensign returned it.


“We'll, I guess I better get going.  I still have to work up some reports for the Admiral before dinner.”


“Good bye, Ensign Stone.  See you tonight.”


She left and Lee was left alone, thinking yet again about the events that had led to his incarceration at the hospital.  He knew it had been reckless of him to take Bronson on, especially handicapped the way he was, but it had felt good.  He knew Harry understood, even though he was expecting a talk with the Admiral about his decision.  Every once in awhile, he was entitled to a reckless decision, he was just glad that it had worked out this time.


Lee laid his head back and sighed, as a satisfied smile formed on his face, yeah... payback feels good.




The End


Reckless Payback



* Season Four Episode, Sealed Orders

**After Action Report









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Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and her main characters belong to Irwin Allen