Thanks to Lynn for the idea of a story telling why Lee continues to take on ONI missions and suggestions.

Thanks also to Christy for her time and suggestions.



The Reason Why

By JSRobertson


Admiral Nelson arrived at the office early having an important meeting with Edward Ballor, the financial manager, regarding next year’s the budget to run Seaview.  He had all his information ready but still needed the input from the budget sheets Lee and Chip had been working on to have a complete picture.  He wanted to look them over before his meeting so he made a detour and dropped by Lee’s and then Chip’s offices and found them out.  Wondering where his command crew could be, he headed to Janet’s office to see if she knew where they were.


“Good morning Janet, Where are Lee and Chip?” the admiral asked.


“Good morning sir. They went down to Seaview first thing to check on the sonar installation.  They should be here shortly.”


 “As soon as they come in, I’m going to need the budget sheets they’ve been working on.  I’ve got a meeting with Edward this morning and he wants to see how much were going to need to operate Seaview for the next year.”


“Sir, I have those sheets.  They finished them on Friday and I typed them up yesterday,” she answered as she went to Lee’s office where she put the file and took it off his desk and then handed it to the admiral.


“Thank you,” he replied and poured himself a cup of coffee while he looked over the budget sheets Lee and Chip had prepared.  He broke out in a smile, closed the folder and walked into his office.




Edward arrived at the admiral’s office at 0900 hours.  The admiral and Angie had been meeting with Edward for over two hours.  So far no shouting had come out of the office as in previous years.  Janet knew it cost a lot of money to operate the submarine and that most of it was paid for by the missions and various jobs that were contracted but some of the unscheduled emergency ones like going to rescue Lee from ONI missions or the admiral on his last adventure weren’t covered and had to come out of the institute’s operating budget.  Lee and Chip returned from the sub pen after checking out the installation which took longer than expected.  They both knew the admiral had the meeting and stopped in the waiting area listening for shouting and were surprised not to hear any.


“So far it’s been quiet,” Janet told them as they walked back to her office letting her know they were back for the day.


“That’s a little scary,” Chip remarked.


Lee looked at Janet, “Did you give them the budget sheets for Seaview?” he asked raising his eyebrows.


“Yes, Lee.  He even looked at them and smiled,” Janet quipped.


“Okay, that’s even scarier.  I was surprised at how much it cost us to run her last year and this year’s a little more than that figure,” Lee commented.


“Well, maybe he’s got some irons in the fire we don’t know about,” Chip said as he got a cup of coffee and went into his office. 


Lee also grabbed a cup of coffee and went into his office shutting the door so he could tackle the mound paperwork on his desk.


 It was late afternoon when the phone rang on the number assigned to Lee.  “Commander Crane’s office,” Janet answered pleasantly, “Janet Crane speaking, how can I help you.”


“Hello, Janet,” Admiral Johnson replied, “is Lee available?”


“Just a minute, sir,” Janet replied with a frown when she recognized his voice.


She pressed the button to Lee’s office, “Lee, Admiral Johnson is on the phone and would like to talk to you.  Are you available?” she asked.


Smiling knowing she would be hoping he would say no said, “Yes, I’m available so you can put him through and please don’t be upset that’s he’s calling.”


“Yes, Lee.”  Janet took the call off hold, “Just a minute Admiral, Lee will speak with you.”  She hung up after putting the call through to Lee.   Damn, she thought.  It’s been so nice not having him on any missions but that luxury maybe over.




“Hello Admiral,” Lee said when he answered the phone.


“Lee,” Johnson replied.  “I have a mission I need you to undertake.” 


“Yes sir,” Lee answered.  “What do you need me to do?”


“I need you to go to Venenzia,” Admiral Johnson told him waiting for his reply.


Exhaling deeply Lee replied, “Admiral isn’t there anybody else that can go there? You know I never want to go back to that country.   Get Jason Weldon or Troy Andres.”


“I don’t have anyone else.  Jason and Troy are so deeply undercover I can’t reach them.  You still work for ONI so you don’t have any choice,” Johnson reminded him. 


“Yes sir.  What is the mission?”


“The People’s Republic has somehow managed to get into the ONI’s computers and gained access to highly classified information.  We’re not the only country whose intelligence agency has been breached but we’ve been asked to head up the mission.”


“Admiral, they could’ve stayed in their own country and done their damage why set it up in Venenzia?”


“Lee, you know as well as I do that country has no army…a small police force…they’re close to the PR’s border so they just marched in there and set themselves up.  It took us awhile to track down where the breach was centered.  Venenzia probably doesn’t ever know they’re there.”


“How did we discover it really was them?”


“It took Joey Calder, ONI’s head computer tech, almost a week to track the string.  They have such a tight security system in place Joey can’t penetrate it remotely so the only way to get rid of it is to destroy the hard drives and the whole center.”


Lee smiled when Johnson mentioned Joey’s name, “Well if anyone could track it down, it would be Joey.  Lee knew Joey from his time at Annapolis and he was a computer whiz back then.  “When do I need to leave?” Lee asked.


“There’s a transport going to Germany tomorrow morning.  I’ll have them stop at the Santa Barbara airport and pick you up on the way.  A chopper will take you to Venenzia from there.  Sorry Lee but I don’t have any choice.”


“Yes sir,” Lee answered rubbing his hand on his forehead. He hung up the phone and turned around in his chair staring at the wall behind his desk when there was a knock on his door.  “Come in,” he said softly.


Janet entered the office and noticed his back to the door, “I have some letters for you to sign.  I would like to get them out today if possible,” she told him.


“Just leave them there and I’ll get to them in a few minutes,” he responded not turning around.


“Okay, thanks,” Janet answered, “Lee…”


“I’ll get to them,” he said curtly.  “Please leave me alone,” he added quietly.


“Yes sir,” Janet replied putting the letters on his desk shutting the door behind her as she walked out of the office.  Chip came out of his office and saw Janet standing by Lee’s door with a perplexed look on her face.


“Everything okay?” he asked cautiously.


“I’m not sure,” Janet replied and told him about the call from Admiral Johnson and what had just taken place in Lee’s office.


“Maybe something has happened on a mission that he needed to know about and the news wasn‘t good.  You know there are some missions so highly classified he can’t talk about them.  Even the admiral with his high security clearance doesn’t know everything that has taken place on some of his missions,” Chip reminded her.


“I know, Chip,” Janet sighed.  “I’ll see you later.” She walked back to her office and returned to work. 


Chip was going to talk to Lee about their next mission scheduled for next week to Bali but decided it could wait.  He filled his mug with coffee, took a look at Lee’s door and went back into his office.




Lee sat there for a few minutes.  He had to tell Janet, the admiral and Chip that he had to leave on a mission.  He turned his chair around and saw the letters on his desk.  Sighing deeply he knew he should apologize to his wife for being so rude to her.  He signed the letters, opened the door to his office and went to Janet’s.   She didn’t see him come in as her back was to the door. She got up to give Chip a letter she had printed out and nearly tripped over a box she forgot she put by her desk.  Lee saw her starting to fall and caught her before she hit the floor.


Startled that Lee was there, she managed to catch herself with his help.  “I forgot I put that there,” she said sheepishly.


Lee shook his head and managed to smile back.  “You’re such a klutz,” he teased.  Still holding on to her, “I’m sorry for the way I treated you before.”


“It’s okay Lee.”


“No, I was rude and it was uncalled for.  Please forgive me?” he pleaded.


“Of course but what else is on your mind?” she asked looking into his amber eyes and sensed he had something to tell her and it more than likely had to do with the phone call from Admiral Johnson. 


“I have to leave on a mission to Venenzia,” Lee explained. 


“I figured that when Admiral Johnson called. When do you have to leave?” Janet asked worriedly.  “Have you told the admiral and Chip?”


“Not yet, I wanted to tell you first but I better let them know,” Lee answered. “Care to come along with me?”  Janet nodded and followed her husband out the door and down the hall to Angie’s office.


 “Is the admiral’s meeting over with Edward?” Lee inquired.


“Yes,” Angie replied with a smile.  “They didn’t yell once...Edward looked at the figures and approved them too.”


Stunned that the budget was approved with no issues, Lee replied, “That’s good hear.  Angie, I need to talk to him could you please let him know?”


“Sure Lee,” Angie responded as she rang the admiral’s phone.  Chip walked into the admiral’s office to find out how the meeting went and saw Lee and Janet there.  After his conversation with Janet a little while ago he knew that Lee probably had to leave on an ONI mission.


“Chip, you may as well stay and hear what I have to tell the admiral,” Lee said to him.


“You can go in,” Angie told the three of them. 


Lee knocked on the door, “Come in.”  The admiral looked up from the papers he was reading and knew something was up when the three of them walked in.  Sitting back in his chair, he motioned them to sit down.  Chip and Janet took the chairs while Lee sat on the corner of his desk.


“I need to leave for an ONI mission to the country of Venenzia immediately,” Lee told them as he explained what the mission entailed.  “I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone,” he said softly.


Knowing he couldn’t stop Lee from going, the admiral stood up and patted Lee on the back, “Please be careful,” he stated.


“Yes sir,” Lee replied quietly as the three of them got up to leave.


“Chip, could I talk to you a moment?” the admiral asked.


“Yes, sir,” he replied as Lee and Janet walked out of the office.


The admiral sat back down at his desk and was watching Lee as he left his office.  Something didn’t seem right.   “Chip, does Lee seem...I’m not quite sure how to say it...more subdued...more worried than usual?”


“You noticed it too.  There’s something else about this mission that he isn’t telling us,” Chip remarked.


“Uh huh,” the admiral said.  “I hope he isn’t too distracted by what’s bothering him.” Chip nodded in agreement then headed out the door and back down the hall to his office wondering what else was on Lee’s mind.




As Chip was getting ready to leave for the day, he went into Lee’s office.  “Do you want to go out to dinner with Julie and me?”


“No thanks, Chip, not this time.  I need to pack and be ready to leave early in the morning,” Lee said distractedly as he went to the closet and pulled out his duffle bag.  He then moved to the chest behind his desk and took the gun out of the drawer along with some ammunition and put them in his briefcase.


Chip started to walk out of Lee’s office but turned around, “Lee, you okay with this mission?  I’ve never seen you so apprehensive about going.”


Looking at his best friend Lee reassured him, “Yeah Chip, everything is’s just been awhile and I need to get back into spy mode.  I’ll be out shortly.”


“Okay, Lee.”  Chip walked out of Lee’s office and almost ran Janet over.  She had heard the conversation between Lee and Chip.  She took his arm and dragged him to her office.  “You noticed he seems apprehensive too?” she asked with a concerned look on her face.


“Yes, but he said it’s because he hasn’t been on a mission in awhile.  You believe that?”


“No Chip,” Janet stressed, “There’s more to this mission than he’s letting on.  I think there’s something more personal.”


Lee put on his jacket, threw his duffle bag over his shoulder and grabbed his briefcase and cover.  As he left his office, he saw Chip and Janet in her office and went to her door.  “Anything I need to know about before I leave?” he asked seeing them huddled together. 


“No I was just telling Chip about the updated inventory sheets and a couple of reports I just finished,” Janet lied as she got her purse out of the drawer and put her jacket on.  She took Lee’s briefcase and cover from him.  The three of them walked to the elevator and went to their cars after saying goodnight to Howard, the security guard.  

“Bye Chip,” Lee said as he opened the door for Janet who got in the car.  Lee shut the door and looked at Chip.  Chip nodded his head acknowledging he knew Lee wanted him to look after Janet while he was gone.


Chip opened his car door, “Lee, be careful.”


“I will,” Lee replied as Chip got in his car and drove away.  Lee stood by the door of the car for a few minutes before getting in.


“Everything okay?” Janet asked after Lee got in the car.


“Just fine,” he replied as he started the car and drove home in total silence.




Once Lee and Janet got home, he took his duffle bag out of the car while Janet took his briefcase and cover.  He opened the door and waited for Janet to go in.  She set his briefcase down by the closet door.  She took off her jacket, hung it in the closet and put her purse on the shelf along with Lee’s cover. She took his jacket from him and hung it up.


“Hungry?” Janet asked watching Lee carefully.


“A little,” Lee replied as he picked up the briefcase and waited by the stairs.


“I’ll make something quick while you pack,” Janet said going to the kitchen while Lee went upstairs with his duffle bag and briefcase.




Lee set his duffle bag and briefcase on the bed.   He needed to repack his duffle as the items in there wouldn’t work for this mission.  He went to his closet and took out a few black turtlenecks, pants and jacket along with some t-shirts and shorts.  He systematically packed everything into the duffle bag and put it on the floor.  Once he was done with the duffle, he opened the briefcase removing the gun and ammunition.  He laid them on top of the duffle.  Janet stood at the door and watched him as he packed.  She had seen him pack before but there was something different about it this time...almost like he didn’t want to go.   Looking over at the door he saw Janet watching him, the worry already etched on her face. 


“Dinner’s ready,” she told him when he saw her standing at the door.  They walked downstairs; Lee sat down at the table while Janet served dinner.   “Lee...” Janet started to say but he stopped her.


“Please no questions right now,” Lee said somberly.


“Okay Lee,” Janet answered as she got up to get the coffee pot and poured him another cup of coffee.


They finished dinner in silence.  Lee went out on the patio with his coffee and stood there looking at the ocean.  Janet joined him a few minutes later putting her arms around his waist.  He smiled as he felt her lay her head on his back.   “Let’s go to bed,” Lee said as he turned around and gave her kiss on the forehead.


They made their way upstairs and got ready for bed.  He kissed her tenderly and deeply as he ran his hand down her body. Blocking out the rest of the world they joined in love.  Happily sated, Lee put his hand behind his head while Janet nestled next to him in the crook of his arm, her fingers playing with hair on his chest. 


“Lee,” she asked softly, “Where’s Venenzia and have you been there before?”


Sighing, “It’s a small country on the Baltic Sea known for it beautiful beach and sunsets.  The only drawback is that it’s on the western edge of the People’s Republic.   And yes, I’ve been there before and hoped I would never have to go back.”


“Why? And if you can’t tell me I’ll understand,” she added quickly.


Lee looked at her as she laid next to him and thought; how well she had gotten to know him in the short time they’ve been married.   He knew she realized that there were a lot of things he couldn’t talk about and she never asked.  Her trust in him was amazing.  He often wondered if he would have that much trust in someone who wouldn’t or couldn’t tell him everything.  He knew he owed her an explanation as to why he needed to continue taking on missions for ONI.  Now was as good a time as any.


Lee sat up and rested his back against the headboard.  Janet sat up too pulling the sheets over her as she settled in next to him.


“Sweetheart, I was there eight years ago. It was right before I got the captain’s job on Seaview.  I had only been with ONI for a couple of years and was working with Captain George Bradley.  He was my commanding officer, mentor, and well….”


She looked over at him and could see the pain in his eyes.  “Were you as close to him as you are with the Admiral?” Janet asked when he stopped before finishing his sentence.


“Yes, I was close to him…very close,” Lee told her as he explained to her how he was recruited into ONI and how he ended up in Venenzia.




I had just been promoted to a Lt. Commander and was assigned to a fast attack submarine commanded by Captain Bradley and CDR Jim Harris, the XO of the boat.  I hadn’t been aboard this submarine for very long but already established a good working relationship with the two men.  We had received word that there as a small island in the Baltic that was being used for shipping illegal guns to the People’s Republic and were being diverted there to provide backup for the Navy vessel tasked with checking out the cargo if they ran into trouble. We were plotting a course to the island when the radioman approached Captain Bradley with a message.  He quickly scanned the message and excused himself to his cabin.


“Does that happen a lot?” I asked Jim.  “I know it’s none of my business but that was the second message he had gotten since I’d been aboard.  He left for a few days with the first one so I assumed he would be leaving again.”


No, not too often, this is very unusual,” Jim told me knowing that I was right that the captain would more than likely be leaving again.


“Mr. Harris, Mr. Crane, I need to see you in my cabin immediately,” the captain told us as he stood in the door. 


“Yes sir,” we replied as the XO turned over command to another Lt. in the control room.


The three of us squeezed into the small cabin.  “I have to leave the boat again.  You’ll be in charge Mr. Harris while I’m gone.  Commander Crane, I understand that you can speak and read Greek.”


“Yes sir,” I replied.  “A woman that worked with my mother taught it to me when she stayed with us.”


“I need you to accompany me to Keer, a small island off the coast of Greece, for a mission for ONI.  You knowing Greek will be a great help.”


“ONI sir?” I asked.  I had heard of the intelligence agency but never thought I would do work for them.


“Get your fatigues and duffle bag.  Mr. Harris see to it that he’s issued a weapon.  Meet me on the deck in fifteen minutes.  Ever board a helicopter from the deck of a submarine?” the captain asked.


“No sir.  But I guess I’ll learn,” I replied as I left the captain’s cabin and returned to the cabin I shared with a couple other lieutenants to get my gear.


“Captain, do you think he can handle the job?” the XO asked. 


“I think so, Jim,” the captain responded.  “I’ll find out but from what I’ve seen and heard about him, he’ll do just fine.”


“Yes, sir,” the XO replied as he left the cabin and made his way to the armory to collect a 45 caliber gun and ammunition. 


When I returned to the control room, the XO handed me the weapon and ammunition.  “Good luck, Lee,” he said as he watched me go up the ladder onto the deck where the Captain was waiting for me and the helicopter.


The helicopter arrived hovering over the deck of the sub.  The Captain was hoisted up first and I followed after him.  We were dropped off on a small fishing boat not to far from Keer and were taken to the city of Xelo.




Lee shifted his position on the bed to get more comfortable. “Can you tell me what the mission was?” Janet inquired and sat up Indian style next to him.


“Yes, I can,” Lee replied as he continued.




Captain Bradley and I were dropped off at the port city of Xelo in Keer. With our duffle bags on our shoulders we looked like the rest of the sailors leaving a boat that had just come into port. We needed to find the home of Anton Eliopoulos.  He had some intel that ONI needed.  It contained information on a new submarine the People’s Republic was building.  It would have state of the art tracking abilities and the Navy desperately wanted that information along with the schematics of the sub. We stopped at a small cafe for some dinner. When the waitress came to take our order, I flashed my best smile, asked her in Greek if she knew Anton telling her I was a friend of his. The waitress took one look at my long eyelashes, amber eyes, black curly hair and melted.


Janet shook her head at him and he grinned. “A tad full of yourself, don’t you think?”  Lee laughed and flashed her the same grin he gave the waitress.


She told us where he lived and how to get there.  Before she left we ordered some ouzo and moussaka for dinner.   


Smiling, “Well that wasn’t very subtle,” Captain Bradley said, “but it worked.”


“Thank you sir,” I replied smiling back.


We finished up our dinner, paid the bill leaving the waitress a generous tip and walked to Anton’s house.  Bradley kept turning around making sure we weren’t followed. I was able to translate the street signs as we followed the directions the waitress gave us.  After we walked about three miles we arrived at the house, knocked on the door and were greeted by a man, Bradley recognized as Anton.  ONI had sent a picture of him to Bradley with the message.


“Hello, Jorge,” Anton said loudly.  “It was nice of you and your friend to visit me on your stop over in Keer.” He quickly showed us in, looking around to see if we were followed before closing the door. 


“Mr. Eliopoulos,” Bradley addressed him, “I believe you have something for me?” he said as he took his ID out of his pocket.


Anton carefully scrutinized Bradley’s ID and removed a small container from the pocket of his shirt and handed it to him.  Bradley opened up the case and saw it contained a small micro chip. He had no way of telling if the chip was authentic so he closed the container and put it in his pocket. “Thank you,” Bradley said as he shook his hand.


Anton slowly opened the door and looked again to see if anyone was watching the house, he didn’t see anyone so Bradley and I started walking back to the dock.  Just as we got to the dock, we were jumped from behind by two men with knives. 


“Give us the micro chip or you’ll both die,” one of the men said to Bradley as the other one held a knife to my throat.


“Never,” Bradley replied looking at me.  I quickly elbowed the man in the stomach while Bradley kicked the knife out of his man’s hand.  I punched the man in the face sending him into the water but not before he caught me with his knife on the forearm leaving a nice gash. “Oh Lee,” Janet said worriedly but he just patted her hand.  Bradley was having a hard time taking out his man so I went to his aid punching the man in the kidneys, spinning him around and punching him in the stomach.  The man doubled over in pain but managed to run down the dock while the other one swam towards the shore.  After we caught our breath, Bradley took a look at my arm.  “Sorry son, but you’re going to need a few stitches,” he told me as he took his handkerchief out and wrapped it around my arm. 


“I’m fine, sir,” I answered as we ran down the dock to the boat waiting to take us back to a Navy carrier where we would be flown back to Washington.  “Is this when you started saying I’m fine for every scratch, cut, broken bone or gunshot wound?” Janet asked smirking.  Lee just smirked back.


Once on the Navy ship, Bradley dragged me to sick bay so the doctor could take a look at my arm.  After checking it over, I needed ten stitches and a shot of antibiotics.  Bradley and I hopped aboard the transport plane. “Sorry I got you into that mess and thanks for covering my hide back there,” Bradley told me.


“Any time sir,” I answered as the plane took off.  We both fell asleep on the way back to Washington.  When we landed in Washington, we were whisked away to Admiral Johnson’s office for a debriefing.




“I have a couple questions,” Janet said when Lee had finished telling her how he was ‘recruited’ to work for ONI.


“Just a couple,” he replied warily.


“Why did Captain Bradley pick you...was it just because you knew Greek...that seems a little far-fetched...or was it Admiral Johnson’s idea?” Janet asked calmly.


“I think that’s more than a couple questions,” Lee said giving her a wry grin, “Actually Greek was one of the few languages that Captain Bradley didn’t speak.  He only became aware that I spoke Greek after Admiral Johnson mentioned it to him when he replied to the message for the mission.  According to what Captain Bradley told me after I had been on a few missions, Admiral Johnson had been keeping an eye on me as a potential field agent so when the mission to Greece turned up it was a perfect time for him to try me out.   The captain was to report to Admiral Johnson on how I handled myself.


“Obviously, you handled yourself too well,” Janet remarked, “or you wouldn’t be a field agent.”


“At first I kind of liked going on missions.  It was an adrenalin rush to be able to help out our country and put the bad guys away.   But after a few beatings, being tortured, brain washed and shot a few times the adrenalin part wore off but I still felt obligated to continue to do my duty to our country.”


“But Lee, don’t you think you’ve paid your debt to our country by now?  How much more punishment can your mind and body take before it gives out forever?”


“Sweetheart, I know you don’t like it when I undertake a mission but I have to...I can’t quit just yet,” Lee said solemnly.


Janet sat up next to him and looked him in the eyes, “Can’t or won’t” she asked softly.


Sighing deeply Lee took her hands in his, “Can’t.”


“Does this have something to do with going back to Venenzia?”


“Yes it does. I learned so much from Captain Bradley and I owe him my life several times over, getting me home when I shouldn’t have made it.”


“And I’m sure you saved him and other agents too.”


“Yes, we all worked together to make sure everyone got back safely.  Except one time,” Lee replied and abruptly got out of bed.  He put on a pair of shorts and t-shirt and walked out of the bedroom and headed downstairs.  Janet quickly put on her robe and followed him down.  He was standing at the sink with a glass of water staring out at the ocean.  She went over and stood next to him.  

”Can you tell me about it?” she asked gently.


Lee turned to face her, “Yes, I think I better tell you so you’ll understand why I can’t quit,” Lee replied taking her hand and leading her over to the couch.  She sat down and he sat right next to her, took her hand in his as he told her about a mission that went terribly wrong.




I had just returned from another long ONI mission.  Not only was I exhausted but my body was black and blue from the beatings I had received from my captors.  The doctor on the boat who examined me wanted to ship me stateside to a Navy hospital but I wanted no part of it and promised the doctor I would check in with my own physician.  I returned to Groton after my debriefing with Admiral Johnson and decided I was fine and all I needed was some sleep and rest. Janet sighed deeply when she heard that.  I couldn’t wait to take a shower and hit the sack.  I was staying at the Bachelor Officer’s Quarters for a couple of days before leaving to visit mom in Providence.   Once I was in my room, I got undressed and climbed into the shower. I decided no Navy three minute shower for me as I stood there letting the hot water cascade down my battered body. I finished up my shower and decided to get something to eat before finally going to bed.  I found a BBQ place, ate dinner and returned to the BOQ.  I climbed into bed and fell sound asleep.  I woke up late the next morning feeling a little better.  I spent the next two days doing nothing but catching up on my sleep.  I was getting ready to leave for moms when my phone rang.


“Crane,” I answered running my hand through my hair.  I didn’t look at the number of who was calling.


“Commander, this is Admiral Johnson.  I’m in desperate need of your help.”


“Admiral, please I just returned from a mission…” I replied but Johnson stopped me before I could finish.


“Lee, I know but Captain Bradley and another agent, Troy Andre missed their extraction times twice.  They were sent to get the information on a new coding system the People’s Republic is using to send their messages.  We need to have that coding system so we can decode their messages and rewrite what they have sent.”


“Troy Andres is with Captain Bradley,” I said a little surprised that I wasn’t called to accompany the Captain as his usual partner on the mission.


“Yes, do you know him?”


“Went to the academy with him.  He was a couple of years ahead of me.  Big football star, didn’t expect him to be an agent of ONI.   Why didn’t Captain Bradley ask for me to accompany him?” I inquired.


“He did but you were already on a mission and it would have been impossible to replace you as you were already deployed.”


“Where do I need to go…how soon…how do I get there?” I asked quickly willing to do anything for Captain Bradley.


“You need to go to the small country of Venenzia on the Baltic Sea located right on the western border of the People’s Republic. They were to report to a secluded area on the beach for pick up but they never showed up. The intel we received shows there’s a building two miles right across the border from Venenzia where the messages are being sent from.   You‘ll leave via transport to Germany and then a helicopter to Venenzia.  You need to leave tomorrow morning at 0900 from Norfolk.  Sorry Lee, I know you‘re still recovering from your last mission but you‘re the best I’ve got and right now I need the best.”


“Thank you sir, I’ll be in Norfolk first thing in the morning.”


“Take care Lee, please be careful,” Johnson told me.


“Will do sir,” I replied softly. I hung up the phone and sighed.  Captain Bradley had to be okay, I thought as I called mom and told her I wouldn’t be able to visit her as I had to leave un-expectantly on a job for the Navy.  I packed my duffle with what I had with me, black pants, turtlenecks, shirts and my 45.




Lee paused and exhaled deeply.  Janet got up and got him another glass of water. 


“Thank you,” he said as he took the glass from her and drank it up in one gulp.  He put the glass down on the table and wrapped his arm around Janet’s shoulders.  She leaned against him as he continued talking.




I boarded the transport and headed for Germany.  The plane was crowded with supplies needed at Ramstein Air Base but they managed to make just enough room for me to sit.  Not sleeping well the previous night, I nodded off about an hour into the long flight.  By the time I arrived in Germany it would be night due to the time change.  A helicopter would be waiting to take me to Venenzia at first light in the morning.


“Thanks for the safe flight,” I told the pilot and co-pilot.


“Good luck with whatever you have to do,” the pilot replied as I gathered my duffle and walked off the plane.


I found a small hotel not to far from the air base where I would pick up the helicopter for the short ride to Venenzia.  I checked in and went to my room, put down my gear and stretched.   Even though I slept on the plane, I was tired and my body ached from sitting so long.  I went to my bag and pulled out a couple of acetaminophen tablets hoping they would relieve my pain. I pulled out the map the pilot handed me when I boarded the plane and laid it on the small desk in the room.  Johnson had faxed it over to the air base requesting they give it to me.  Once I arrived in Venenzia, I would walk across the border into the PR.  I located the building on the map and plotted my way into the building. I also noticed a small town not to far from the compound.  If needed, we could always hide there until we could make our way back to Venenzia.




I was waiting at the air base before it was light.  The chopper would take me to the small airport in Venenzia.  Once I made contact with Bradley and Andres, I would call the air base on my SAT phone and have them send the chopper back for us.  The pilot and co-pilot walked over to me as I stood waiting near the hanger. 


“Hal, what are you doing here?” I asked recognizing the co-pilot as one who had picked me up on previous missions.


“Hello, Commander,” Hal replied shaking, my hand.  “I go wherever they send me.  This is Darren; he’s your pilot for the ride to Venenzia.”


“Nice to meet you,” I answered shaking his hand. 


“Same here.  Are you ready to depart?” Darren asked as we climbed aboard the chopper strapped in and put on the headphones so we could communicate with each other.  


The chopper got clearance for take-off to the north and east.   It was only a thirty minute ride to Venenzia.  The pilot signaled me to turn on my headset.  “Have you ever been to Venenzia before?”


“No sir,” I replied. 


“Even though it’s a small country it has a beautiful beach and sunsets.”


“Thanks but I don’t think I’ll be able to enjoy the sights while I’m here,” I chuckled nervously.


We entered the air space over Venenzia and the pilot was cleared to land at a remote section of the airport. “Thanks for the ride.  I’m not sure how soon I‘ll be going back,” I told them using the headset.


“No problem Commander,” Hal replied, “just give us a call when you’re ready to leave.  Someone will be here to pick you up.  Good luck, sir.”


“Thanks,” I said as I removed the headset, unbuckled my seat belt and jumped out of the chopper grabbing my duffle.  I stooped down so I would clear the blades and trotted off the landing pad.  I gave them the thumbs up signal letting them know it was safe to take off. 


I walked through the small terminal building and out onto the street where I could smell the ocean.  I knew that Bradley and Andres extraction point was somewhere on the beach so I started walking towards the beach hoping I would find the hotel near that position. 




When I arrived at the beach, I noticed it was quite crowded.  The weather was quite warm and I was already sweating as I looked down the beach trying to find a hotel.  I saw there were two of them.  I looked them over and decided that Bradley would chose the one closest to the woods. I also noticed it was also the farthest from where I was now.  As I walked along I got many offers from the women sunning themselves wanting me to put suntan lotion on them.  Janet gave him a wry grin as he continued.  By the time I arrived at the hotel I was drenched in sweat.  Seeing no one in the lobby, I rang the bell and a young woman came out from a room directly behind the counter.


“Can I help you,” she asked looking me over from head to toe.  “I’m Lisa.”


“Yes, I would like a room please,” I said politely.  “Sorry for my appearance but it’s warmer than I thought it would be.”


“No problem sir,” she grinned.  “I have a room on the second floor overlooking the beach, it’s a little more expensive but the view is fantastic.”


“I’ll take it,” I replied smiling back.


She filled out all the paperwork and handed me the key to room 207.  “Here you are Mr. Kingston.  Enjoy your stay,” she remarked looking me in the eye.


“Thanks Lisa,” I said as I took the key from her, my hand lingering a little longer than necessary.  As I turned to walk away I asked, “Just one more thing.  I was supposed to meet my two friends here, Bradley and Andres.  They were scheduled to arrive a couple of days ago.  Can you tell me if they’re here?” I asked flashing my special smile.  “Still using your good looks and charm to get information,” Janet snickered as Lee continued.


“I’m not supposed to reveal that information but you look honest enough.  Yes, they arrived three days ago,” she told me looking at the reservation’s book. “I haven’t seen them today but then I just got back from vacation yesterday.  In fact, they’re in room 205.”


“Thanks,” I responded winking at her as I walked away.


I walked up the stairs to the second floor and located my room.  I entered the room which was a little warm as the air conditioning wasn’t turned on.  I quickly found the switch and turned it to as cool as fast as I could.  I put my duffle down and went out to the balcony.  Lisa was right the view was fantastic.  I went back into the room and then to the bathroom turned on the shower and jumped in for a nice cool shower. 




I wanted to check out the room next door so I opened the door to my room and made sure no one was in the hallway.  Seeing no one I grabbed my key, lock pick set from my duffle and went to the room where the captain and Troy were staying.  I knocked on the door hoping they would answer but no such luck.  I took my lock pick, easily opened the door, quickly went inside and locked the door.  I could tell they hadn’t been there for at least a day as the soap hadn’t been used and the towels were still hanging the way the maids hung them up when they made up the room.   Damn, I thought as I looked around for their luggage.  I searched their bags but didn’t find anything of importance. 


Knowing Captain Bradley as well as I did, I knew where he would have hid the intel if he had it.  I knew his suitcase had a false bottom so I removed the clothes and carefully looked for the edge of the bottom when I lifted it up, it was empty.  I knew then that I was going to have to go and find them along with the intel.  I only hoped I wasn’t too late.  I opened the door to their room, seeing no one in the hall; I left the room locking the door and returned to my room.  I changed into my fatigues not wanting to wait any longer to rescue Captain Bradley and Troy.  I loaded my gun and put extra ammunition in the pockets of my fatigues.  I also took the canteen out of my bag, filled it with water and left the hotel using the back door I noticed when I went upstairs.  I quickly made my way into the woods and hiked to the compound.




Lee paused for a few minutes. Janet got up and turned on the light on the table as it had gotten dark while Lee was talking.  “Do you want some more water, coffee, or a drink?” Janet asked sensing that Lee was going to have a hard time telling her what had transpired on the rest of the mission. 


He smiled at her, “No, I’ll be okay,” he told her running his hand through his hair, “but thanks anyway.”


She sat back down and turned to face him, waiting patiently for him to continue.  He picked up her hand and gave it squeezed as he resumed his story.




 Once in the woods, I double checked the map. I didn’t have to walk very far before I was in the People’s Republic.  I folded up the map and stashed it in my front pocket and continued walking through the woods stopping only to take a quick drink and listen for anyone following me. It was cooler in the woods as the trees offered protection from the hot sun.  After walking two miles, I came upon a brick building painted brown and green and almost passed it by as it blended in with the landscape.  I walked to the building getting as close as I could without being seen.  I saw only one guard in the front of the building then walked around to the rear and saw one guard there also.  I looked around surveying the area for another escape route instead of the hiking back through the woods.  There was a road that ran right into the front of the building and thought that might be an option of escape as it went into the town.  I wasn’t sure if there was a hidden electric fence surrounding the building so I went to the side of the building, looked around and found a fairly large rock and threw it at the building.  When it didn’t set off an alarm, I knew the area was clean.  I waited watching the guards hoping the current guards would change duty shifts soon and it wasn’t too long before another guard came out of the building to relieve the current guard.  The guard handed the new guard his rifle and keys before he went inside.  I ran along the side of the building stopping at the corner before I got to the back door.  As soon as the guards traded positions, I would make my move. 


I snuck up behind the guard at the rear of the building and hit him on the back of the neck.  He went down like a ton of bricks.  I searched him for the keys I saw the other guard give him before he left.  I found them and took them along with his rifle.  I unlocked the door to the building and went inside seeing only a long hallway with doorways on both sides.  Damn, it’ll take me forever to search all of these rooms, I thought.  But I got lucky as I started to open the door to one of the rooms; a guard came out of one about four doorways down.  I quickly went into the room leaving the door slightly ajar so I could hear what the guard was saying.


“I don’t give a damn if you don’t eat,” the guard said as he slammed and locked the door taking the food tray he had and walked in the opposite direction from me. 


Once I saw the hallway was clear, I quickly ran down to that doorway and looked at all the keys on the ring.  I pulled out my lock pick and tried to use it to open the door no matter what I did the lock wouldn’t budge so I would have to try every key hoping one of them opened up the door.  I was about half way through the ring when I heard someone coming down the hall.  I just made it to a staircase leading to a basement and hid there until the guard left the area.  The guard walked past the stairwell and entered the door across the hall.  I looked through the open door and saw the room was full of computer stations with men at every station and figured this is where the PR sent out all their coded messages.  The guard shut the door and I heard it lock as soon as it was closed.  I went back to the door in the hallway and tried another couple of keys finally finding the one which opened the door. 


The only light in the room was from a small window about ten feet above the ground.  I could barely make out the figure handcuffed to the cot which was the only piece of furniture in the room but recognized the man as Troy Andres.


“I told you I don’t want any of your slop,” the man yelled.


“Troy, I’m here to get you out,” I told him.  “It’s Lee Crane.”


“It’s about time someone came to get me.  There’s a switch by the door turn it on.”


I found the switch turned on the light and saw Troy sitting on the cot.  It was clear he had been beaten by the swollen eyes that were barely open and split lips.  I didn’t even want to think what he looked like under his torn shirt.


Troy could barely see but knew who I was as he had heard about me from other agents and he also remembered me from the academy as I had gotten the best of him in a fight.


I grabbed the ring of keys looking for one that would release the handcuffs.  I found the key I was looking for and undid his hands.  “Where’s Captain Bradley,” I asked urgently.


“Sorry Lee, I don’t know.  When they caught us, we were separated,” he told me as he rubbed his wrists chaffed from the handcuffs.


“How did you get caught anyway,” I asked curiously.


“It was my fault,” Troy admitted.  “We were getting ready to leave when I walked into the trap they had set for intruders. They tortured me wanting to know why we were here.”

“Let’s get the hell out of here,” I told him as he helped him up.  “Do you have the intel or do I have to search this place for it too?”


“I’ve got it,” Troy responded as he picked up the mattress on the bed, undid the zipper that held the cover in place and removed the small disk.  He put it in his pocket and gingerly walked to the door with my help.  I cautiously opened the door and checked to see if it was clear.  I helped Troy out the back door and into the woods where I sat him down and gave him the canteen I had in my pack. 


“You stay here.  I’m going back to find Bradley.  The building isn’t that big and I’ve got the keys.  Hopefully they won’t know the guard is knocked out until the next shift change.  If I’m not back in thirty minutes, make your way back to the hotel in Venenzia,” I told him.


“I’m staying here until you find him.  It’s my fault we were caught so I’m not going anywhere,” Troy insisted.  I nodded my head in agreement knowing I would do the same thing.  


Janet sat up a little straighter and took Lee’s hand in hers; his were sweating.


I quickly headed back to the compound and went in the back door.  I went into all of the rooms looking for Bradley and he wasn’t in any of them. I went to the stairwell where I hid before and slowly crept down the stairs.  There were only couple of dim lights illuminating the stairs.  Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was able to look around. It was nothing but cement walls, dirt floor and smelled dank and musty. I saw there were two rooms at the opposite end of the stairs.  I walked towards the two rooms and jumped after almost stepping on a rat that skittered by. I caught my breath and made my way to the first room.  I tried the door, found it unlocked and felt around the wall for a light switch. I didn’t find one so I slowly entered the room but found nothing except remnants from an old mattress.  I closed the door and slowly made my way to the other room and when I tried the door I found it was locked.  Damn, I thought.  Fumbling with the keys I went through most them before I finally found the key that unlocked the door.  I cautiously entered the room again feeling around for a light switch, located one and flipped on the dim light that barely lit the room.  I didn’t need much light to see Captain Bradley chained to the ceiling, toes barely touching the floor.  I could also see he had been severely beaten. 


Lee took a deep breath, I hurriedly walked over to him, “Captain,” I said as I looked for the key that would open up the chains.  I found the one I wanted and unlocked the lock catching Bradley as he fell to the floor.


“Lee,” Bradley whispered moaning in pain as his hands, arms and shoulders were finally freed from the chains.  His wrists were raw and bloody from struggling to keep his toes on the ground.


“Come on, sir.  We need to get out of here.  Can you walk?” I asked as I helped him up and caught him before he fell down as he was having a hard time standing. 


“Just give me a minute,” Bradley said taking shallow breaths.  “Hard to breath,” he told me.  “I think a couple of my ribs are broken.”


“I know sir but we don’t have much time,” I said as I wrapped my arms gently around his waist. 


He was finally able to stand on his own and slowly walked to the staircase.  I left him at the bottom of the stairs and went up checking to make sure no one was in the hallway.  Seeing no one, I helped Bradley up the stairs.  Captain Bradley was following me but as we approached the door to leave, the guard I had knocked out opened the door surprising us.


“What the hell,” the guard yelled as he quickly ran at me.  I punched him in the jaw knocking him down but his cry alerted a guard who came out of the locked room.  The guard cocked his gun, aimed it at me and fired but hit Bradley when he stumbled in front of me and caught the bullet in his stomach instead. I quickly shot the guard.  Troy saw the guard enter the building but couldn’t get there quick enough to stop him.  He heard the shots from inside and pulled open the door just as I was picking up Bradley who was facing me.  The two of us carried Bradley into the woods as the guards continued to shoot at us.  One of the bullets struck me grazing my arm.  I had no time to stop and check it out as we quickly ran through the woods barely staying ahead of the shooting guards.  When I was walking to the compound I noticed a deep gully and knew our only chance to avoid capture was to hide in there. 


“Sweetie, please let go of my hand,” he asked flexing it when she let go. “You’re squeezing it so hard I’ve lost the feeling in it,” Lee told Janet unaware she was hurting him.


“Sorry, Lee,” she said softly and smiled slightly in embarrassment.


“This way,” I told Troy as we were practically dragging Bradley by now.  We were out of breath, my arm hurt like hell and I was having a hard time holding on to the Captain.  I found the gully and we laid Bradley down. I searched Bradley’s pockets and found a handkerchief to stuff in his mouth to keep him from moaning before covering him with leaves and branches. I stayed close to Bradley making sure he didn’t move.  We were able to cover ourselves up just as we heard the guards talking and looking for us.  They walked past the gully and continued into the woods a little further before they turned back.


“Where the hell did they go?” one of the guards asked.  “It’s like they just disappeared.  We’re going to be in deep shit once the commandant finds out they escaped.”


“Well whatever they were looking for they never got it.  We searched them, beat them and neither one of them cracked,” the other guard said as they stood above us hidden in the gully.  “Even the commandant couldn’t get them to talk.  Let’s go back and get some more men to search for them.  They couldn’t have gotten very far as I shot one of them.” 


The voices of the guards were getting harder to hear as they walked further away. I slowly stood up and shook the leaves off myself and Bradley.  I could tell he was severely wounded.  I pulled a shirt out of my pack and put it inside Bradley’s shirt trying to stop the bleeding as it was the only thing I had.  Troy got up and helped me pick up the Captain. 


“Come on, Troy,” I said quickly.  “We’ve got to get him some help.”  


“Lee, Troy,” Bradley said the pain etched on his face.  “Leave me here; get the intel back to the US.  I’m going to slow you down…they’ll find you.”


I looked at Troy and we looked at Bradley.  “Sorry sir, we’re going to bring you back and get you some help,” I stated vehemently.


We gingerly picked up Bradley wrapping our arms around his waist carrying him as Bradley’s legs would no longer support him.




It wasn’t quite dark by the time we made it to the edge of the woods and the hotel.  We wasted no time bringing Bradley into the lobby of the hotel and put him on one of the couches.  The lobby had only a few people in it.


“Is he okay?” one of the women in the lobby asked seeing the blood covering his shirt.


I spoke up urgently, “No I need a doctor right away.”


Lisa was working at the desk when I came in and heard me ask for a doctor. She quickly walked over to where I had laid Bradley.


“What can I do,” she asked seeing that Bradley was severely injured. 


“Is there hospital here?” I asked frantically.


“Yes but it’s on the other side of the city.  It would take thirty minutes to get there.  Let me call my father he’s a doctor and can be here in ten minutes,” Lisa said as she ran toward the back room. 


“Thank you,” I replied pulling my radio out of my pack. “Troy, take the radio and call the air base.  They said they would be ready to pick us up when I called.  Tell them we need them now and to land on the beach.”


“Okay Lee,” Troy answered and went outside to make the call.


“Lee,” Bradley barely whispered. 


I bent down on one knee next to him.  His breathing was shallow, he face was a pasty white and he was bleeding badly.  I was afraid he wouldn’t make it by the time the doctor got there.  “Yes, sir,” I replied putting my hand on his.


“Get that intel back to the US.  And that’s an order,” Bradley gasped squeezing my hand


“Yes sir.  We’ll all bring it back,” I replied. “I’m sorry sir,” I said guiltily.


Bradley gave me a wry grin, “Son, promise me you won’t let this incident stop you from continuing on as an agent.  You have keen instincts and are too good not to continue unless circumstances in your life dictate you stop.”


“Yes sir.  I’ll never let another agent get hurt because of me, and I promise I will continue on.” 


“Lee, no guilt and that’s an order, these things happen and it wasn’t your fault,” Bradley gasped again.


Troy came back in as I sat on the floor by Bradley’s side.  “The chopper should be here in thirty minutes.”


“Thanks, Troy,” I murmured noticing Bradley‘s breathing was getting more ragged.


Lee looked at Janet who was having a hard time controlling her tears.  His own eyes wet with tears.


I was still sitting on the floor next to the couch my hand resting on Bradley’s while Troy stood at the side when Captain Bradley took his last breath.  We both had tears in our eyes.


Lisa came back just as Bradley died. “I’m sorry but I had a hard time getting in touch with my father,” she explained sadly seeing us with tears in our eyes.


“It’s okay,” I told her knowing that even with a doctor, Bradley wouldn’t have made it.  “Do you have a blanket I could have?”

“Yes, I’ll be right back,” Lisa replied as she went down the hall to a closet and took one off the shelf.


Lisa returned with the blanket and handed it to me.  Troy and I carefully wrapped up the body of Captain Bradley just as the helicopter landed on the beach.  Two medics ran in and noticed they were too late.  I helped them load the body on the chopper. 


“Thank you for your help,” I told Lisa as I waited for Troy to bring down our bags and helped her straighten up the lobby.  


“I’m very sorry your friend died,” Lisa said to me as Troy walked over and handed me my bag but kept Bradley’s on his shoulder.  We boarded the helicopter for the flight back to Ramstein Air Base where Captain Bradley’s body would be shipped back home accompanied by both of us.




Lee rubbed his hands over his face, stood up and walked over to the patio door and looked out over the ocean, his face wet with tears.  Janet followed him, tears streaming down her face feeling the pain her husband had gone through on that horrible mission.


She wrapped her arm around Lee‘s waist, “Thank you for telling me why you need to continue taking on these missions,” Janet said softly,  “Now I understand why you can’t say no.” 


“I’m sorry but I just can’t stop taking on these missions right now.”


“Can I ask you a few more questions?”


“Sure, go ahead,” Lee answered as he continued to stare at the ocean.


“What about your arm…what happened with the intel…Captain Bradley‘s funeral?” she asked delicately.


Taking a deep breath he told her, Once I got aboard the chopper, the medic noticed the blood on my sleeve.  He cut away the sleeve and saw the graze wound.  He cleaned it out and bandaged it before we landed at the air base.  After we returned to the US, Troy and I were debriefed separately by Admiral Johnson.   ONI was able to crack the PR’s code and managed to stop quite a few destructive attacks.  There was a full military funeral for Captain Bradley at Arlington which Troy and I attended.  Damn, it was so hard to stand there facing the fact that he was dead.  It was even harder when I handed the folded flag to his sister, his only relative.  To see the sorrow on her face…”  Lee stopped unable to continue.


“Thank you for answering my questions,” Janet replied looking at her husband and knew there was something more that he wasn’t telling her but didn’t want to press him anymore.


Lee looked at the clock noticing it was 0100 hours.  “It’s late and you have to be up early to take me to the airport and go to work.  I can catch a nap on the plane,” Lee said as he took her hand and led her upstairs. They got into bed and Lee wrapped his arms around Janet who fell asleep as soon as she laid down.  Lee laid there for awhile thinking about Captain Bradley and going back to Venenzia.




Lee was up early the next morning after getting only a couple hours of sleep.  He turned on the shower, stood there looking out the window at Seaview while waiting for the water to get warm.  Janet woke up and heard the water running. She quickly got out of bed and joined Lee in the shower.  They stood there holding each other for a few minutes before Lee was done and left Janet in the shower to finish up.   Lee, dressed in his service blue uniform, went downstairs taking his duffle and put it by the door.  While Lee waited for Janet, he made some coffee but wasn’t hungry.  Janet came down a few minutes later and grabbed a cup of coffee while Lee put his bag in the car.  He drove to the Santa Barbara airport and pulled to the military side which wasn‘t as crowded as the general terminal area.   Janet got out of the car while Lee took his bag out of the back.  He walked her back to the driver’s side and gave her a hug and kiss. 


“Please be careful,” Janet told him returning his kiss and hug.


“You know I will,” he replied softly.  


Janet watched as Lee entered the terminal and noticed he looked back at her before she drove away.  He smiled and waved good bye.  Sighing deeply, Janet put the car in gear and drove to the institute. 




Chip and the admiral were in the waiting area getting some coffee when Janet arrived.


“Did Lee get off okay?” the admiral asked taking a sip of coffee.


“Yes sir,” Janet replied as she went to her office, put her purse away, booted up her computer and took her work out of her desk.


The admiral and Chip stood there looking at each other.  They knew something wasn’t right as Janet was too quiet and calm.  “I’ll find out what’s going,” Chip volunteered and walked into Janet’s office while the admiral headed to his.


Is everything okay,” Chip asked cautiously.


“Yes Chip, everything is fine.  Just a little tired.  I’ll have those reports to you in an hour.”


“No problem.  I don’t need them until tomorrow.” Chip left Janet’s office a little confused as she was usually a nervous wreck when Lee left on a mission.   What happened last night, Chip thought as he refilled his coffee and went to the admiral‘s office.  


He knocked on the door, “Come in,” the admiral replied as he stopped reading when he saw it was Chip.


“Well,” he asked sitting back in his chair.


“She says everything is fine,” Chip answered standing in front of the admiral‘s desk, “she didn’t look nervous or upset.  I wonder what took place at their house last night but whatever it was it has me worried.”


“Hmmm,” the admiral muttered.  “Me too. Just keep watch and let me know if anything happens.”


“Yes, sir,” Chip replied shutting the door as he left the admiral’s office and went into his still puzzled at Janet’s demeanor.




Lee walked into the military terminal at the airport.  “Hi, I’m Lee Crane, there’s supposed to be a transport plane here to pick me up,” Lee asked the woman at the counter.


After looking him over she replied, “Yes sir.  It’s just landing now.  Go down the hall and exit the door on your right.  They’ll put the ramp up as soon as the plane stops.”


“Thank you,” Lee replied leaving the counter and followed the directions.  By the time he got to the door the plane had landed and taxied over to the military side of the airport.  Lee walked to the plane where the ground crew had pulled up the portable stairway so he could board the plane.  It was a C295 Airbus loaded with cargo for Ramstein Air Base.  The crew who loaded the plane had managed to set up a seat for him near the window. 


“Welcome aboard, Commander Crane,” the co-pilot greeted him.  “I’m Thomas Miller and your pilot for this trip is Stuart Lange. The pilot waved to Lee as he walked over to his seat.  We’ll be taking off shortly so please buckle up.”


“Thank you Captain,” Lee replied as he removed his service jacket and put it on the back of the seat.  He had just gotten his seat belt buckled when the plane started to take off.  The airplane was cleared by the tower to take off heading east. 




Lee settled back in his seat for the long flight.  He knew the plane would have to make several stops for fuel and would be able to exit the plane to stretch his legs. He gazed out the window wondering how Janet was making out.  He left her with a lot to think about while he was gone.  After the fourteen hour flight and the nine hour time difference, Lee finally made it to Germany. 


The three men de-boarded the plane and walked to the terminal. “Thanks for the ride,” Lee told the pilot and co-pilot shaking their hands and hoisted his duffle bag on his shoulder.


“You’re welcome sir,” the pilot replied.  “Hope your stay in Germany works out.”  He figured Lee must have an important reason to be here if he had to take a transport to Germany rather than a commercial flight.




The three men went into the terminal building where Lee was met by Joey Calder from ONI.


“Hi Lee,” Joey greeted Lee eagerly.  “Surprised to see me?”


“Well…yes,” Lee answered truthfully.  “I wasn’t expecting you…Johnson didn’t say anything about sending you.”


“I sort of talked him into letting me come.  According to Johnson you’re pretty good with technology and computers but I wanted to make sure that everything was destroyed plus I want to get a copy of that security program they’re using.”


Lee was a little leery about having Joey there.  He knew Joey wasn’t an agent and was worried he wouldn’t be able to handle himself if they got into a difficult situation.  “Joey…” Lee started to say but he cut him off.


Joey could hear the hesitation in Lee‘s voice, “I know you’re worried about me not being an agent.  Please Lee I can handle myself.  Cyber crime is on the rise and a lot of agents aren’t as technology savvy as you are so I’ve been training to become a field agent.  I’ve already been on a couple of missions with Jason Weldon. Please trust me.”


“Okay Joey.  I’ll trust you but you need to do whatever I tell you,” Lee replied rubbing his forehead but grateful to know he was training with Jason Weldon, one of ONI’s best agents.


“Come on, Lee, I’m sure you’re tired and hungry.  I’ve got VOQ (Visiting Officer’s Quarters) at the inn.  We’ll be leaving at 1400 hours for Venenzia.  Johnson’s arranged for a private plane to take us to the airport there.  Seems someone owed him a favor and so we’re going in on a plane rather than a chopper.  He thought it was a little less obvious than a military chopper.  We have a room at a hotel near the area where the warehouse is located.  I received some new surveillance documents from Johnson before I left.  We’ll look at them after you get some food and sleep.”


Giving Joey a wry grin, “I see you have everything under control,” Lee said as he followed Joey out of the terminal onto the street.  They found a restaurant where Lee had something to eat before they returned to the inn.  By the time he had eaten, checked in, and not much sleep the night before Lee was beat.  Joey showed him to his room and left him alone to rest.  Lee climbed into bed and fell asleep.  He woke up bathed in a cold sweat.  He had been dreaming about his last mission in Venenzia and how wrong it had gone. He finally fell back to sleep after laying there for an hour.




It was 1100 hours when Lee finally got up and took a shower. He felt a lot better and was hungry.  He knew Joey would be waiting for him so he called his phone.   “Hi Joey.  Let’s get some lunch and then I want to see what surveillance information Johnson has given you.  I’ll be down in ten minutes.”


“Sure Lee,” Joey replied.  “I’ll be waiting.”


Lee finished getting ready, left his room and met up with Joey in the lobby.  They found a fast food restaurant had a burger and talked about what each of them had been doing the last few years.  Joey was shocked to learn that Lee had only been married for four years.  He figured a chick magnet like him would have settled down long ago but he wasn’t surprised to learn that Lee was captain of Seaview.  He had heard of Seaview through some friends of his.  He always knew Lee would make a great sub captain along with being one ONI‘s top field operatives.  Lee was surprised to hear that Joey wasn’t married.  He was a down to earth guy and had no trouble with dates when they were at the academy. Too geeky, Joey told him.  After finishing up and paying for lunch they returned to Lee’s room where Joey laid out the map and other intel Johnson had given him.


“It looks like they’ve set up their computers in an old house according to the new intel we’ve received.  This is where the house is located,” Joey said pointing to an area on the map.  It wasn’t in the center of the city but on the outskirts. “The place doesn’t look too big so I’m wondering if there isn’t another location we don’t know about.  If they have a set up like I think they have, they’re going to need a more space for all the main frames, servers, and all the equipment it takes to run those computers,” Joey surmised.   “I checked before I left and they had gotten a lot more classified information not only from us but several other countries across the world as well so they must have some set up.”


“I thought they had it set up in a warehouse,” Lee said unhappily.  


“We thought so too but a reliable source said that information was incorrect.”


“Okay let’s see how we’re going to get into that area and building without being seen,” Lee stated as he scrutinized the map of the area.  “The house is at a dead end street and surrounded by other houses.  They probably have it set up as a regular looking house on the outside so as not to draw suspicion of the neighbors.  If you look around the back there’s a forest behind the house.  We might be able to go through the forest and hit the back of the house.” 


“I’m assuming they need a lot of computer equipment for what they’re doing so I wonder how large that house is,” Joey asked.  “What about guards?”


“I guess we’ll find out all that once we get there.”  Lee looked at his watch, seeing they had an hour before they were going to leave for Venenzia.  “Joey, change into your casual clothes,” Lee told him noticing they looked like spies.  “If we’re going in by private plane, we want to dress more like tourists than spies.   You never know who could be watching who flies into the airport.  We don’t want to tip our hand.”


“Sure Lee,” Joey replied gathering up the maps and other info he had.   “I’ll meet you in the lobby in fifteen minutes.”


“No problem,” Lee answered as he patted Joey on the back.  




The two men returned to their quarters, changed into jeans and buttoned down collared shirts.  They met in the lobby and headed to the airport.  When they arrived, Joey checked in at the counter and was told their Piper Cherokee was waiting for them.  The plane was small and not to obvious, something other tourists would use to fly into Venenzia.  They stowed their gear in the back and buckled up for the thirty minute ride.


Lee sat very quietly looking out the window as the plane flew over Germany heading north and east for Venenzia.  Joey noticed how quiet Lee was but didn’t say anything.  Admiral Johnson had told him about Lee’s previous mission there but he wasn’t worried that Lee would have any problems being back in the country.


Before too long the pilot was preparing to land.  He skillfully landed the airplane and was cleared to park in the visitor’s pad near the terminal.  


“Thanks for the ride,” Lee told the pilot shaking his hand after he and Joey got out of the plane.  They grabbed their gear and headed for the terminal.  Lee hesitated briefly before going in.  He took a deep breath and followed Joey into the building.  I hope this mission doesn’t end up like the last one here, Lee thought as he entered the terminal. 


They walked through the terminal and out the doors onto the street where Joey hailed a cab. Joey told the driver to take them to the hotel where Johnson had made reservations for them.  Luckily for them they didn’t get a chatty taxi driver. Lee looked out the window and could see the country had made a lot of improvements since the last time he was there.  He noticed more shops, hotels, restaurants, parks and a lot more tourists walking around.  He checked on the internet before he left and found out the place was a hot spot for young people to visit due to the beach. Once they reached their hotel, Joey paid the driver as Lee got out of the car.  Most people who came to Venenzia would stay at the beach hotels so there weren’t too many hotels in the center of the city.  Johnson had chosen one closer to the outskirts and near the area where their target was located.  It would be a three mile walk to that part of the city but both men were in top physical condition so the walk would be no problem.


As Joey got out of the car, he noticed how warm it was.  “Is it always this warm?” he asked Lee.


“Yes,” Lee replied as they walked into the hotel and checked in.  Both men got the keys to their rooms.  “Let’s meet back here in fifteen minutes and walk around the city getting the feel of it.  We can check out the forest after dinner.”


“Whatever you say,” Joey responded as they walked to the elevator, went to their rooms and settled in.


They were on the fourth floor of a fairly new hotel. Lee put his bag down and looked out the window and could see the ocean.  I’m sorry Captain Bradley for letting you down, Lee thought guiltily. 




Lee and Joey met in the lobby and walked out of the hotel.  Even though it was still warm they walked around the city for a couple of hours. They noticed most of the houses were on the outskirts of the main city.  The ones that were in the city had been there for many years.  After their walk, they were hungry and found a steak house not to far from their hotel.  They walked in the restaurant and felt the cool air rush at them.  They were seated at a table near the window.  The waiter gave them menus then returned a few minutes later and took their order. 


As they waited for their meal Lee noticed Joey watching him closely, “Do you have any questions?”  Lee figured Johnson would have told Joey what had taken place here eight years ago.  If Lee was working with an agent who had a situation such as his, he would want to know about it.


“No Lee, I don’t,” Joey answered taking a drink of his iced tea.  “I know you would never put either one of us in danger because of a previous mission.  You’re too good of an agent to do that but I am sorry that happened to you.”


“Thanks Joey for your vote of confidence,” Lee answered quietly as the waiter brought them their meal. They finished up and left for the hotel where they would get ready to go to the house near the forest.


The staff at the institute was busy preparing for their next mission to Bali to help out the admiral’s friend with a problem he had encountered with his fish hatchery that the admiral had helped him set up.  Chip and Janet were meeting to go over the items the hatchery had requested.

“Damn,” Janet said looking through her papers for the list of what they needed.

“Problem,” Chip asked as he walked passed her office and heard her.

“I must have left the information on my desk on Seaview,” she told Chip.  “I’ll run down and get it. I know you wanted to do it today as you’ll be busy with the admiral tomorrow.  I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“I can get it if you want,” Chip volunteered.

“No I need some fresh air,” Janet replied as she got up from her desk.

“Mind if I join you?” Chip asked hoping to talk to her alone.

“No of course not,” Janet answered curiously.

Janet told Wanda that they would be on Seaview if anyone was looking for them.  As they walked down the path to her pen, Chip asked, “Have you heard from Lee?”

“No but then we don’t normally,” she replied softly. 

Chip stopped right before they got to the sub pen, “Janet, you’re exceptionally shall I put this,” Chip said, “You don’t seem as nervous as you usually are.  Did something happen between you and Lee before he left?”

“No Chip, I’m still a nervous wreck but I’m trying hard to accept that he needs to go on these missions and not make everyone else’s life miserable because of my concerns,” Janet admitted.

“Janet, you don’t make our lives miserable.  We know you worry about him when he’s gone.  We worry too.  We don’t like it any more than you do that he takes these missions,” Chip reassured her. 

“Thanks Chip.  I really do appreciate your support as well as the admiral’s.  Did you know Lee had been to Venenzia before?” she asked wanting to know if Chip knew anything about what had happened while Lee was there the first time.

“No I didn’t know that.  Maybe that’s why he was so apprehensive about going there.”

“Could be,” Janet answered.  She figured Chip knew nothing about Lee’s first trip.  Lee must not have told them so she wouldn’t say anything about it unless she had to.  If Lee had wanted them to know he wouldn’t have kept it a secret from both Chip and the admiral seeing how close the three of them were.

Chip and Janet arrived at the sub pen and went down the gangway to the sail hatch.  Janet went down followed by Chip.  When they got to the bottom, Chief Sharkey was just walking into the control room from the aft hatch and was surprised to see them.

“Is everything alright Mr. Morton?” he asked quickly.

“Just fine, Mrs. Crane forgot something in her office.  Everything okay down here?”

“Yes sir. We’re almost finished prepping her for the next mission. She’ll be ready next week.”

“Good job,” Chip told Sharkey.

Janet left the two men talking as she went to her office to get the inventory sheets.  She looked on her desk and didn’t see them.  Where did I put them? she thought.  She went into her and Lee’s cabin and found them sitting on his desk.  She picked them up and headed down back to the control room.  Chief Sharkey had left but Chip was still there looking over the new equipment.

“I found them.  Lee must have picked them up,” Janet told Chip as she walked over to the ladder ready to leave the boat.  The two of them returned to the office and worked on what needed to be procured for the trip to the hatchery.  It was 1700 hours by the time they were finished.

“Want to go out to dinner?” Chip asked.  “Julie is out of town so I have to eat alone.  We’ll go to the diner.”

“Sure,” Janet responded.  “I could use one of Carol’s burgers.”  She took her purse out of the drawer and joined Chip at the elevators.  Everyone else had already left for the day including the admiral.

They both ordered a burger and fries.  They talked about the mission and that it would be the first one of four with barely a break in between but this one was the furthest away.  They finished up dinner and Chip took her home making sure she got in safely.  After putting on one of Lee’s shirts, she went right to bed.


Lee and Joey went to their rooms and changed their clothes.  Both men dressed in black shirt, pants and shoes.  Lee put his gun in the waist band of his pants and pulled his shirt over it.  He left his room just as Joey was leaving his.  “Joey,” Lee asked, “Are you packing heat?”

“Yes Lee,” he responded patting the gun under his shirt.

The two men left the hotel and walked down the street both of them getting a few glances from the women as they passed them.  They made it to the outskirts of the city and after making a few wrong turns found the street they were looking for.  They headed down towards the end of the street and saw the forest they were looking for along with the house.  There were several houses on the dead end street.  It was too early for lights, so they couldn’t tell how many of them were occupied.  They walked to the dead end and saw there was a park not to far from the edge of the forest.  No one was in the park as it was still quite warm but Lee still looked around before the two men went into the forest, not seeing anyone they made their way to the back of the house.

As they approached the back of the house, Lee was surprised to see a storage shed on the very back of the property.  When they arrived at the house, they noticed two men go into the shed.  They waited a few minutes for them to exit before making any moves towards the house.  Lee thought it was strange when no one came out so he decided to check it out.

“Joey, stay here.  Let me know if someone comes out of the house.”

“Okay Lee,” Joey replied positioning himself so he could see the house and the shed.

Lee cautiously approached the shed checking to see if it had surveillance cameras.  He could only walk around three sides as there was something attached to the back of the shed.  There were no cameras on the sides he could see so he decided to enter the shed as there were no doors to close it off.  He stopped when he noticed a camera just above the door.  “Shit,” Lee muttered under his breath.  Even though the shed was dimly lit, he could see a brightly lit tunnel but couldn’t determine where it led.

Lee returned to where Joey was waiting.  “I couldn’t go into the shed, there’s a camera right as you walk in. But it sure looks like there’s a tunnel attached to the back.”

“A tunnel...why build a tunnel?” he asked.


“These houses are almost on the border of the PR.  In fact, that shed is so close to the property line, they could build a tunnel and house the computer equipment in their home country and no one would be the wiser.  The forest is pretty thick with trees back there so no one would suspect there was anything back there but a storage shed.”


“The house and shed are in Venenzia so it’s a perfect cover,” Joey exclaimed quietly.


“Exactly,” Lee said, “Now that we know what is back there, it just made our job harder.”


Lee knew they would have to check out the house to see who and what were inside.  He suspected they had surveillance cameras set around the house so they wouldn’t be able to surprise anyone who was in the house.  He was just starting his check for cameras when the back door opened and two men walked out onto the porch for a smoke.  Lee and Joey quickly returned to the edge of the forest but could still hear what they were saying.


“Man, I’m bushed,” the first man said.  “I’ve been here since 7:00 this morning and I can’t wait until my shift is over.  Twelve hours of staring at a computer is too long, my eyes are killing me.”


“I don’t know why we have to watch what they’re doing in the main computer room.  Don’t they trust those computer guys? How much information can they take without getting caught?” the second man replied.


“They’re worried the computer geeks will steal the information they’ve downloaded from the other countries and sell it themselves cutting out the PR.”


“We better get back to our screens before the geeks return from their break,” the first man said as they went back into the house.  “Don’t forget to engage the gate on the tunnel.”


“Don’t worry; I’ll make sure it shuts.  At least we don’t have to worry about anyone going down there during the night,” the second man answered. 


Lee and Joey watched as the men re-entered the house.  The men were no sooner inside when they heard a screeching sound coming from the shed.  Lee cautiously went to the entrance of the shed and saw a heavy metal gate come down sealing the entrance to the tunnel. Before they left, Lee took a quick look at the back of the house and saw the same type of camera that was on the entrance to the shed.  “Damn,” he mumbled realizing they probably had cameras all around the perimeter of the house.


“Let’s get back to the hotel and formulate a plan,” Lee told Joey not happy with what they had found out.


The two men walked back out of the forest, through the park and headed back to the hotel.  It was dark by the time they reached the hotel, Lee suggested, “Let’s get a couple of drinks to go.”


“Okay, I’m pretty thirsty,” Joey replied holding the door open for Lee and they made their way into the bar.  They each ordered a cola to go and went to Lee’s room to discuss their plan of action. 




Irritated, Lee pulled out the map and looked it over.  “Surveillance didn’t pick up anything looking like a shed or tunnel back there,” he said.  “We’re going to have to incapacitate the men in the house since they’re watching the computers techs.  The People’s Republic doesn’t even trust their own people,” Lee remarked shaking his head.  “Hopefully they’re the only ones who watch who goes in and out of the tunnel.  If it’s watched somewhere else, there’ll be no way to get in there without being seen and we’ll have to find another way to get to those computers.”


 “Once we get into the house, I’ll be able to tell if they watch the tunnel.  I can disable the camera at the entrance to the shed so we can get in there,” Joey told Lee.


Rubbing his hand on his forehead Lee continued, “Assuming they watch the tunnel, once they’re taken care of, I’ll head into the shed and down the tunnel to the end.  You’ll wait in the shed but outside the tunnel until I signal you to follow me.”


“Lee, let me go first.  I have nothing to lose,” Joey said to him thinking about Lee’s wife at home.


Lee looked at Joey and shot him a wry grin, “Thanks Joey, but I’m going first.  We are going to need something to tie up the guards.  I don’t really want shoot them unless it’s necessary.  We’ll need some rope or large zip ties and duct tape.  Maybe we can find a store that sells those items before we leave.”


“What time do you think we should do this?” Joey asked.  “We know they drop the gate about 1800.”


“I think around 1700.  The gate will be no problem if we take out the guards.”


“What happens when we reach the end of the tunnel?”


Shaking his head Lee replied, “We’ll have to play it by ear.  We don’t even know if there’s anything at the end of that tunnel.”


“I’m sure there has to be something at the end of the tunnel,” Joey said running his hand through his hair.  “This sure isn’t an ideal situation.”


“That’s the fun of being an ONI operative,” Lee replied with a short laugh, “you have to be able to think quickly on your feet it you’re going to be an agent.”


“I can see that,” Joey responded dryly.


“Let’s hit the sack, we’ll meet early for breakfast and look for a store to purchase the items we need.”


Lee rolled up the map as Joey left his room.  “Night Lee.”


“Good night Joey,” Lee answered back.  He finished up his drink, changed into a pair of shorts and thought about Janet at home.  He fell asleep shortly after he laid down.


Joey was still to nervous to sleep thinking about what was going to take place tomorrow but he finally fell asleep too.




Lee and Joey were up early and dressed in shorts and t-shirts.  They had a quick breakfast before looking for a hardware store to get their supplies.  They walked around the downtown area and found a small store that had the items they were looking for.  Since they had a few hours before they had to get ready to leave, they decided to take a taxi down to the beach.


Once there, Lee looked around and could see quite a few new hotels had been built. They walked from one end of the beach to the other ending at the hotel where Captain Bradley died.  Lee stood outside looking at it but did not want to go in.  Joey stood along side of him figuring this must have been where Bradley had died.  He didn’t say anything to Lee as he stared at the hotel and eventually walked back to where they were dropped off. 


Joey got them a taxi so they could go back to the hotel.  “You okay Lee,” Joey asked as Lee hardly said anything since they left the beach.


“Yes, Joey.  I just needed to see it again.”


“For closure?”


“No, I still feel guilty and that I owe him to continue on being an agent.  I can’t quit yet.”


“What does your wife think of that?” Joey remarked raising his eyebrows.


“She’s not thrilled but does finally understand,” Lee replied as he looked at the window letting Joey know he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.


The taxi dropped them off at their hotel.  “Let’s change and go over our plan one more time before we leave,” Lee suggested as he paid the driver and walked into the hotel. 


“Sounds good,” Joey replied realizing Lee still had feelings for Captain Bradley and a deep sense of duty.




The two men reviewed what they were going to do once the arrived at the house.  Lee met Joey in the hall after they had changed their clothes. Both were dressed in black pants, shirts, and shoes just like the men they saw at the house.  Joey had the backpack with the zip ties and duct tape inside as well as whatever he needed to crash the PR’s computer systems.  They again walked to the area where the house was located.  This time they noticed a few cars in front of some of the other houses but no one was outside or in the park.   They made their way into the forest directly behind the house. 


“Once we get to the back door of the house, they’re going to see us on their surveillance cameras but maybe they’ll think we’re their replacements.”


Lee went up the two stairs that led to the back door.  He tried the door and wasn’t surprised it was locked.  He took out his lock pick and opened the door.  The two men saw Lee and Joey on their cameras but assumed they were going to be relieved early today so didn’t think anything about it until Lee and Joey entered the front room of the house with their guns drawn.


“What the hell?!” one of the men yelled as he saw Lee come up behind them.   Lee and Joey swiftly hit each man on the back of the neck with their guns knocking them out.   While Lee zip tied the two men and duct taped their mouths, Joey checked out the computers. 


Joey went to each computer pressing buttons and checked out what was installed on them.  “These computers not only watch what the men are doing but also who enters and leaves the tunnel as well.  There are three men in a room with two computer stations, a couple of servers and some other equipment. They have their backs to the door.  I can see one of the men does have a gun.  There’s also another door in the room,” Joey reported to Lee.  “They have a pretty secure monitoring system on these computers.  These two men watch these guys hacking into everyone‘s computers but no one is watching them,” Joey chuckled as he took out a flash drive, put into the computer and pressed some more buttons.  It was a couple of minutes later when Joey released his drive and looked at Lee.  “I’ve reprogrammed these computers to erase all the information on them in two minutes.”


“Will all the data be erased on them so there’s no need to destroy the computers themselves?” Lee asked.


“No need, they will crash and burn,” Joey said smugly. “And they won’t able to download any more information since I’ve given them all a nasty virus.”


Lee smiled and checked outside to make sure no one was coming into the house.  Seeing it was clear they left the house and the two guards out cold and tied up.  As soon as they were out of the house, Lee and Joey made their way over to the shed.  “Stay here in the shed and wait for my signal to enter the tunnel,” Lee told Joey in no uncertain terms.


“Yes, Lee. I’ll wait,” he replied.


Lee made his way into the tunnel. It was rounded at the top and made of white stone that had blackened with age and was divided into four sections with a round light in each section.  The walkway was paved in black asphalt. Easier to move equipment between the house and tunnel, Lee surmised. There were white and blue iridescent stones and rocks along each side.  Lee headed down the tunnel with his gun drawn and stopped when he reached the fourth section to check out what was at the end.  He could see a door on the left hand side and in front of him a stone wall.  There was no other way out of the tunnel except the way he came in.  Before going around the corner to the door, Lee motioned for Joey to come into the tunnel. Lee saw he was already halfway down the tunnel when he motioned him to enter. 


“Damn, Joey,” Lee said sharply.  “I told you to wait for my signal.”


“Sorry Lee,” Joey replied sheepishly.  “I didn’t want to leave you alone in the tunnel with no backup.”


“Sorry Joey, I would have done the same thing," Lee told him.  Lee motioned to Joey to stand behind him as he reached for the door knob.  He quietly turned the knob and found it was unlocked.  He nodded to Joey as he burst into the room with Joey right on his heels.  The man with gun took a shot at Lee missing him as Lee returned the fire catching the man in arm causing him to drop his gun.  Lee went over to the man and kicked the gun out of his reach.


“Don’t even think about it,” Joey told the two men at the computers.  “I’ll have no problems shooting either one of you.” 


Lee took the zip ties and duct tape from Joey as he pulled it from the backpack.  He quickly zip tied the three men and duct taped their mouths while Joey sat down at the computers checking out what was installed on them.  He desperately wanted the program they used to prevent anyone from hacking into their systems so he took out another flash drive and began downloading the program.  As he waited for it to download, he put in the other flash drive and began destroying its hard drive and the information on the servers.  Each computer had its own server. Joey knew it would take a few minutes to download the program and noticed Lee was starting to get antsy wanting to get out of there before they were discovered.  The program finally finished downloading and Joey repeated on that computer what he had done on the first one. 


“Man, they have been real busy,” Joey remarked as he looked at how many computers they had hacked into.  “Many more countries besides the US, they had even hacked into the personnel records of government personnel in the US along with England, Spain and France,” Joey told Lee as he destroyed the hard drive.


“Damn,” Joey said loudly when he finished up the last computer noticing before the computer crashed and burned that the surveillance system was still working.  “There’s someone coming down the hall.  They must have realized something was wrong in here when the data stopped coming in.  We’ve got to get the hell out of here.”


Joey removed the flash drive and put it in his pocket along with the other one.  “Get out now, I’ll hold them off while you get out of here,” Lee shouted to Joey.


Joey left the room and was half way down the tunnel when the guard started shooting at Lee after he followed Joey out of the room.  Lee returned the fire but something metal in his hand caught his attention.  He was too far away to make out what it was but saw the guard push a button and ran back towards the door at the end of the tunnel.   Shit, Lee thought, they must have a bomb planted in the tunnel.  He was relieved when he saw Joey was almost at the end of the tunnel about to enter the shed.  He had no idea how long he had before the tunnel blew up.  He only had one more section to go when the tunnel exploded sending him crashing into the side and everything went black as the stones came tumbling down on top of him.




Joey made it out of the tunnel and into the shed.  He looked back to see how much farther Lee had to go before he would be out.  He saw he had only one more section when the whole thing started to collapse.   He ran back to the entrance but before he could enter the tunnel the metal gate came crashing down sealing off the entrance as the stones continued to fall. 


“Lee,” he yelled looking into the tunnel and could see him about fifty feet from the gate covered in stone and debris.  “Shit,” he muttered.  “I’ve got to get him out of there...he’s not going to die on me.”  Joey remembered that the button for the gate was in the house.  “Hang on Lee.   I’m coming,” Joe shouted not knowing if Lee was able to hear him. 


He ran out of the shed and into the house and pressed the button and waited for the gate to retract but nothing happened.  Joey looked over the control pad and knew it was one very similar to the ones they used to open garage doors.  He ripped it off the wall and put two wires together hoping it would release the gate.  Joey ran back through the shed to the entrance of the tunnel as the gate retracted.  He frantically started removing the stones and debris off Lee.  He could see he was severely injured.  He also realized that someone would be coming to check on the guards in the house and hoped he would be out of there by the time they arrived.   He finished removing the rest of the stones and picked Lee up throwing him over his shoulders. He ran into the forest and put Lee down trying to catch his breath.  He didn’t want to wait too long before going for help but needed to make sure he wasn’t seen.   He gently picked up Lee putting him around his shoulders again and walked through the park.  He made it out to the street where people had gathered after hearing the explosion. 


An older woman saw him and ran over to him, “Can I help you,” she asked as Joey laid Lee down on the ground.


“Yes, my friend is badly injured, please call an ambulance,” Joey pleaded.


She ran to her house, made the phone call and came back with some wet towels and was wiping the dirt and grime from Lee’s face.   Joey could see his arm was broken; he had many bruises and cuts, a deep gash on his head but Lee most important he was unconscious.  He never made a sound all the while Joey was carrying him.  The ambulance arrived and they loaded Lee into it.  Joey climbed in the back with him after thanking the lady for her help.  He wanted to get out of there before the police started asking him questions. 




Once in the ambulance the paramedics started working on him.  They started an IV, wrapped his head with bandages and immobilized his arm.  Even as they worked on him, he never regained consciousness.   What seemed an eternity to Joey was only twenty minutes before they were unloading Lee from the ambulance and into the emergency room.  Joey ran with him but was stopped before he could go into the cubicle where they had taken Lee.


“Please let me stay with him,’ Joey begged the nurse.


“Let us get him in a gown and then you can come in,” she told Joey closing the curtain as another nurse removed Lee’s clothes and dressed him in a gown.  She came out a couple of minutes later and let him in.  He was hooked up to a monitor and IV.  A nurse was cleaning up his wounds.  The gash on his head had already bled through the bandages the paramedics put on him and it was still bleeding.  The nurse removed those bandages and replaced it with a new one.  She looked at Joey who had a concerned look on his face, “Head wounds bleed a lot,” she told him “but he’ll need a few stitches to close it up.”


Joey nodded his head, “What about his arm and other cuts.”


“Don’t worry, we’ll take care of all of them,” she reassured Joey who breathed a little easier.


It wasn’t long before a doctor came in.  The nurse told her his vitals as she walked over to the gurney.  “What’s his name,” she asked before looking at him.


“Lee C…” Joey started to say but the doctor finished his sentence.  “Kingston,” she replied.


“Dr. Weber, you know him?” the nurse inquired.


“Yes, he was in Venenzia a few years ago.  I met him when he stayed at the hotel I used to work at,” she answered quickly continuing to examine him.


Joey was confused but finally realized she must have met Lee when he was here when Captain Bradley died. 


Looking over at Joey, she said, “Hi I’m Dr. Lisa Weber and you are?”


“Joey Calder.”


“Joey, I understand he was in an explosion.”


“Yes ma’am.” Joey stammered out.  “He was unconscious when I dug him out and hasn’t regained consciousness at all,” he volunteered causing Lisa to take a deep breath and frown.


“We’ll send him for an MRI but he may need more intensive tests than we can give him here.”


“I’ll take care of getting him transferred to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center,” Joey told the doctor knowing it was a military hospital.  “What about his arm?” he asked.


“We’ll take x-rays of his arm and torso.  I think he also has a couple of cracked ribs.  When he does regain consciousness he’s going to be pretty sore.”


When the orderlies took Lee away for the MRI and x-rays, Joey called Admiral Johnson.  “Admiral, it’s Joey Calder,” he said quietly as he stood in the empty cubicle.


“Joey, what’s going on…why are you calling…where’s Lee,” Johnson asked quickly.


“He’s been badly injured.  We’re at the hospital in Venenzia but he needs to be transferred to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.”


“Joey, what happened?” Johnson asked.


“Sir, with all due respect, please just get him transferred,” Joey replied tersely. “I’ll report to you later what happened on the mission. 


“Don’t worry about it Joey, I’ll make arrangements for him to be transferred right away and make sure the hospital has all the medical information they need.  Keep me informed on Lee’s condition.”


“Thank you, sir,” Joey replied as he paced up and down the small cubicle waiting for Lee to return.  About an hour later, they brought Lee back into the room.  As soon as they got him settled, Dr. Weber came in with a medical file in hand.


“I’ve been informed that Mr. Crane will be transferred to Landstuhl in an hour.”


“Just to let you know, Mr. Crane does have a couple of cracked ribs.  It looks like most of his ribs have been cracked or broken before.  His arm is broken so we’ll set it and apply a temporary cast until the swelling goes down.  I had to shave part of his head so I could put in five stitches to close the gash. He has a bump on his forehead but I don’t think that is why he’s unconscious.  He also has many cuts and bruises which have been taken care of.”


Dr. Weber continued, “Once we’ve take care of his arm we’ll prep him for the move so if you need to take care of anything, you can do it now since you won’t be able to stay with him.” 


“Thank you Dr. Weber,” Joey said as he grabbed his backpack.  Come one Lee, you need to wake up, Joey thought as he took another look at him before he left.




Joey walked out of the hospital and got a cab so he could return to the hotel and get their gear.  He had taken Lee’s hotel key out of his pocket before they removed his clothes.  He also had his gun in the backpack.  Traffic was terrible and it took him almost thirty minutes to get to the hotel.  Joey went to the front desk, checked out for both of them and ran up the stairs to their rooms.  He wasn’t surprised when he went into Lee’s room and noticed nothing had been unpacked.  He doubled checked the room, found nothing so he picked up Lee‘s duffle and headed to his room.  He only had few items to pack so he stuffed them his bag and ran back down the stairs.  He hailed a cab and hopped in telling the driver to take him to the hospital.  Joey looked at his watch and noticed he only had fifteen minutes to get to the hospital.  When the taxi dropped him off, he noticed the helicopter was already there.  He ran into Lee’s cubicle just as the medics were getting ready to load Lee on the stretcher.  They carefully picked him up and strapped him down. He noticed he was still unconscious. 


Dr. Weber came up to him as they were wheeling Lee to the chopper.  “Good luck.  I hope your friend will be alright,” she said to Joey.


“Thank you for everything you’ve done,” Joey replied shaking her hand.  “I’ll let you know how he makes out.”


“I’d appreciate that and hopefully we can meet under better conditions than the last two times,” she answered as Joey hopped into the helicopter and watched as it took off.  She would have liked to ask Joey more questions about Lee and his previous injuries but something told her she wouldn’t get an answer.  This man was obviously not here as a tourist and after what had taken place the last time he was here she wondered what Lee Crane did for a living.




It was a twenty minute trip to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest American military medical facility in Europe.  The medics quickly and efficiently unloaded Lee and wheeled him into the emergency room where the staff was waiting for him.  Joey was directed to a waiting room until they got Lee unloaded, his IV set up and a check of his vitals.  A nurse finally motioned to him that he could come in.  Joey left all their gear in the waiting room except his backpack.  He looked at Lee, he was very pale, his face was covered in scratches and bruises that were starting to turn colors.  At least his head wound had stopped bleeding and his arm was immobilized for now.


“Hi I’m Dr. Mark Titan,” the doctor in charge of Lee’s case said as he walked in the room.


“Joey Calder,” Joey replied, “I’m a friend of his.”


“He’s pretty beaten up.  I was told he was in an explosion and buried in the rubble.”


“Yes Doctor.  He didn’t quite make it out.  Will he be okay?”


Sighing “I don’t like the look of his MRI it shows excessive fluid on the brain but I’m going to wait before I take another one.  Do you know if he’s had any head injuries before?”


“No sir, this is my first time working with him.  He works for the Nelson Institute of Marine Research in Santa Barbara CA.”


The doctor looked at Joey in astonishment.  “I know the doctor who runs the medical facility there so maybe he can help me out but you better let his family know in case any medical decisions need to be made.”


“Yes Doctor. I’ll see to it they’re informed immediately.”  Joey walked out of Lee’s room, took a deep breath and called Admiral Johnson.




Admiral Johnson picked up the phone immediately, “Johnson,” he answered tensely.


“Admiral, its Joey.  We made it to Landstuhl and Lee’s still unconscious. The doctor said his family should be here in case medical decisions need to be made.  Do you have Mrs. Crane’s number so I can call her?” he asked not knowing what the procedure was when an agent was injured.


 “Don’t worry about it Joey, I’ll see that she is notified right away and I’ll let you know when she will arrive.”


“Yes, sir,” Joey replied worriedly.


“Joey tell me what happened...did you complete the mission…I haven‘t heard anything from the tech dept.”


“Yes, sir we did complete the mission,” Joey replied and proceeded to tell Johnson what took place before they left the tunnel and how Lee was seriously injured when the tunnel collapsed around him.


“What tunnel?” Johnson exclaimed surprised what he just learned.


“There was a tunnel in the back of the house.  The house was a front for a tunnel that went into the People’s Republic.”


“Sorry Joey.  We had no idea. Somehow our intelligence failed us.”


“A little to late to be sorry,” Joey said disgustedly.


Ignoring the tone in his voice, Johnson replied. “Please keep me informed on Lee’s condition.”


“Yes sir,” Joey replied and signed off.


“Damn,” Johnson mumbled as he dialed NIMR’s number.  He dreaded making this call as he knew Nelson was going to be pissed.




Dr. Will Jamieson, Jamie as he was known at NIMR, reported to work at 0800.  He put his briefcase away and before he even had a cup of coffee, there was a call from one of the labs that two lab technicians had been burned in an accident and were being brought right over.   Corpsman John Carter and Nurse Betty Williams were on duty today and would help him with the men.  He met them at the door to Med Bay along with John and Betty.  He took the more serious burn while John handled the other one.  Betty shuffled between the two rooms assisting as she was needed.  Since the burns weren’t too bad, the technicians were able to go home but would return tomorrow and have Jamie recheck them.  After he cleaned up and finally got a cup of coffee, he returned to his office to catch up on some paperwork when Betty came in.


“Dr. Jamieson they’re bringing a man in from Seaview, he fell off a ladder.  Chief Sharkey isn’t sure but he might have a broken leg.”


Sighing deeply, “Okay Betty set up Room 2 and have x-ray stand by.”


“Yes sir,” Betty replied, “I hope this isn’t an omen of how the rest day is going to go.”


“Me too,” Jamie replied taking a sip of his coffee and made his way to Room 2 to wait for the injured man.


Chief Sharkey and Patterson brought Phil to Med Bay, who did have a broken leg.  Jamie put it in a temporary cast and would have Phil stay overnight so he could put his leg in a permanent cast tomorrow when the swelling had gone down. He was going to call the main office and let Chip know what had happened on the sub but before he could pick up the phone, it rang. 


‘Dr, Jamieson, I have a Dr. Mark Titan on the line for you.  He says it’s an emergency,” Betty told him.


“Put him through,” Jamie told Betty wondering why Mark would want to talk to him and as an emergency.  He hadn’t talked to him for a couple of years and thought he was working for the Air Force.


“Hi Mark,” Jamie said warily, “what can I do for you?”


“Will, do you know a Lee Crane?”


“Yes, he’s the captain of the submarine I work on.  Why?”


“He’s here at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.  I’m the ER surgeon and he was brought in with a head injury among other injuries.  Do you have any medical records you can send me?”


“Yes, I’m his personal physician and have his medical records.  I’ll send you whatever you want,” Jamie answered as he rubbed his forehead. “What else is wrong with him?”


“He was caught in an explosion and buried in the rubble.  He has a broken arm, cracked ribs, a gash on the top of his head that needed fives stitches, plus many other cuts and bruises.  Right now my main concern is his head injury.”


“Give me your email address and I’ll have the records sent immediately.”  He took down the information Mark requested and then handed the request to Betty to forward the data to Titan.  Betty looked at Jamie curiously; he related the captain’s condition and the need to transmit the information at once.


Jamie was pissed since Lee hadn’t been on a mission for awhile and hoped he maybe had given up being a field operative.  He decided to let the Admiral know that Lee was injured again and what he thought about his captain working for ONI.  He stormed out of Med Bay after making sure Betty had sent all the files and drove over to the institute’s main office.




Chip was in the admiral’s office when his phone rang and Angie informed him it was Admiral Johnson.  The admiral looked at Chip who was seated in front of his desk.  He knew when Johnson called it meant Lee was in trouble or injured.


“Hello, Gerald,” the admiral said anxiously as Chip sat up a little straighter in his chair.


“Harry,” Johnson answered back carefully.  “Lee’s been injured on his mission.  You’re going to need to get Janet to Landstuhl Medical Center right away.”


“Damn it Gerald,” Harry bellowed, “what the hell happened this time?”


Johnson relayed to Nelson what took place and how badly Lee was injured.


“We’ll leave as soon as we can,” Nelson replied slamming down the phone.   “Shit,” the admiral said angrily.  “He really must be badly injured if Johnson wants Janet in Landstuhl.


As the admiral hung up the phone, Jamie came storming in.  “Admiral I need to talk to you about Lee and these blasted ONI missions.  I received a call from a doctor friend of mine at Landstuhl.  Lee is there and has been seriously injured.”


“Yes, Will I know all about it, I just finished talking with Admiral Johnson.”


“How bad is he?” Chip asked furiously as he too was fed up with Lee and his ONI missions.  “Admiral Johnson said we need to bring Janet to Landstuhl,” he told Jamie.


Jamie continued to rant loudly, “He has a serious brain injury among other injuries,” Jamie said not going into detail.  He wanted me to send his medical files.  We have to put a stop to this.  His mind and body aren’t going to take much more punishment before we won’t be able to bring him back or he is unable to come back on his own.”


Janet had walked into the admiral’s office as they had scheduled a meeting with Chip regarding the up coming mission and heard what Jamie said about Lee.  She quickly went into the admiral’s office without knocking.


“What happened to Lee…where is he…how bad is he,” she asked urgently.  “I heard what Jamie said.  Please tell me,” she demanded tears forming in her eyes.


Jamie sat her down on the couch and told her what the doctor at the medical center told him.  “We have to convince him to stop taking this missions…they’re going to kill him.”


Janet sat there staring out the window, “He can’t quit…he feels guilty…he made a promise,” she told the three men.


The admiral got up from his chair and sat down next to her as Chip sat himself next to Jamie on the couch across from them.  “What do you mean he feels guilty…made a promise,” the admiral asked with a perplexed look on his face as did Chip and Jamie.


“I better tell you what I found out before he left,” Janet said wiping her eyes.


“Yes, maybe you better once we’re on our way to Germany,” the admiral replied solemnly.




The admiral looked at Chip, “You better get FS-1 ready to head for Germany.  Jamie, I assume you’ll be going with us?”


“Yes sir.  I’ve already sent Lee’s medical history to Mark, but want to be there to short circuit any of his attempts to escape.”


“How long before we can take off?” the admiral asked Chip as he picked up the phone and called Chief Sharkey.


“I’d say about an hour,” Chip replied as he waited for Sharkey to answer.


“See if we can cut that time in half,” the admiral asked.  “We’ll meet at the dock in thirty minutes.”


“Yes sir,” Jamie and Janet replied as Sharkey finally answered his phone and Chip told him to get FS-1 ready in thirty minutes.


“Mr. Morton, I’ll try but it’s going to be close.  Is everything okay with the Skipper?”  Sharkey inquired knowing he was on an ONI mission and knew something was wrong when they needed the flying sub readied for a quick launch.


“No Chief.  He’s been seriously injured.”


“I’ll make sure she’s ready to go in thirty,” Sharkey replied and Chip heard him yell over to Kowalski to help him get the flying sub ready.


The three of them left the admiral’s office with somber looks on the faces.  Angie knew something was wrong and entered the admiral’s office and found him packing his briefcase.  “Is everything alright with Lee,” Angie asked hesitantly.


He stopped packing and looked at Angie, “No, he’s been seriously injured and Janet needs to be there.  We’re flying to Germany so could you please find us a hotel close to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and book four rooms.  Hopefully we’ll be back before we have to leave for Bali.  Please call Lt. O’Brien and have him take over getting Seaview ready to sail.”


“Yes sir,” Angie replied softly.  “Please let us know how he is.”


“Don’t worry, I will,” he told her as he finished packing his briefcase and headed for the door.




Jamie hurried back to Med Bay.  He explained to Betty and John what had happened to Lee and that he was going Germany.  Betty had already sent Lee’s medical files ahead but handed Jamie a backup copy on a thumb drive just to be safe.


Thanks,” he said giving her a small smile.  “John you’re in charge until I return.  Put Phil’s leg in a cast and send him home. “When Elison and Drager come in tomorrow morning, check their burns and if they’re up to it let them return to work.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be gone so if anything serious comes up that you don’t feel you can handle, send them to Santa Barbara General.  Please call Frank and have him report for duty.  If you need to, you can also call Hazel and have her come in too.”


“Don’t worry, we‘ll take care of everything,” John told Jamie. “Just make sure the skipper comes back.”


Jamie grabbed his medical bag and jacket and left Med Bay for home to pack his suitcase. 


Chip and Janet were already home packing their bags.  Janet just threw some clothes in a suitcase, grabbed her jacket and was waiting for Chip to come and get her.  They arrived at the sub pen just as Jamie was parking his car.  The three of them started walking down to Seaview when the admiral pulled in his parking place.  Chip helped him with his bag and the four of them walked down the gangplank and into the service hatch.  Chief Sharkey and Kowalski were waiting at the bottom of the ladder for them.  Kowalski helped Janet down before she got to the bottom.  He looked her in the eye and she could see his concern for Lee since he was Lee’s designated protector.  Chief Sharkey took the admiral’s and Jamie’s bags while Kowalski took Janet’s and Chip’s and loaded them into the lockers on FS-1.


“Everything ready to go?” Chip asked Sharkey.


“Yes sir,” Sharkey replied tensely.


“Thanks for getting her ready so quickly,” the admiral told the men.


“No problem sir.  Just bring the skipper back,” Sharkey said somberly.


The four of them climbed down the ladder and strapped into their seats.  It would be a nine hour flight running at Mach 2 so the Admiral would pilot for the first five hours and Chip would take over the last four.  This way neither one of them would be too tired when they arrived in Germany.  Chip had filed the flight plan with NIMR communications so they were ready to go. 


The admiral put on the throat mike and called Sharkey, “Ready to launch Chief.”


“Yes sir.  Good luck,” Sharkey replied as he and Kowalski launched FS-1 feeling Seaview shudder as the docking doors opened and she was released from the locks.


“I sure hope the Skipper’s okay,” Kowalski said as they stood in the observation nose watching FS-1 clear the front of the sub.


“Me too,” Sharkey replied as he patted Kowalski on the back as they felt the docking doors close.  The two men returned to their duties and to wait for word on the Skipper.




Once FS-1 was airborne and on course, the admiral glanced back at Janet.  “Please tell us what Lee told you about Venenzia before he left.”


Taking a deep breath, she looked at Chip, “Chip, remember you said Lee seemed apprehensive about going on this mission.  Well, he has been to Venenzia before on a mission that didn’t turn out well and he didn’t want to go back.”  She then asked the admiral, “Did you know a Captain George Bradley?”


“Yes, he was a captain of a fast attack submarine.  I believe Lee served under him before he was killed,” the admiral said sadly.  “He was also a part time ONI field agent, one of the best at the time.”


“He was and Lee served with him on the submarine. He was also Lee’s mentor when he was training to be an ONI agent.  He was killed on a mission in Venenzia.  He had become quite close to Captain Bradley just like you and Lee are now, Admiral.”


“But what does this have to do with Lee” Jamie asked confused.


“Lee was there and feels it was his fault Captain Bradley was killed.” Janet told them as she recounted to them what Lee told her about his previous mission to Venenzia before he left.


“So that’s why he continues to take these damn missions.  Guilt and a promise,” Janet said softly.   “I tried to tell him Captain Bradley didn’t think it was his fault but he just ignored what I said.”


The three men sat there taking in what Janet had just told them.  “He’s been carrying this burden for almost eight years,” Janet remarked as tears ran down her cheeks. 




It was a quiet ride; the only sound was the steady thrum of FS-1's engines. Once Harry turned the controls over to Chip  he put through a call to Admiral Johnson. 


“Gerald, its Harry.  Any more news on Lee,” he asked looking back at Janet and Jamie making sure they could hear the conversation.


“Nothing new.  I take it you’re already en route, when will you arrive?  I need to let the agent working with Lee know when you’ll be arriving.  He’s at the hospital keeping me informed of any changes.”


“I didn’t know there was an agent with him,” Harry remarked as Johnson had hadn’t mentioned it earlier.  “Who is the agent with Lee?”


“Joey Calder.  He’s actually not an agent but our computer expert who helped Lee destroy the PR’s computers.”


“Okay, at least Lee’s not alone.” the admiral sighed.  “We should be arriving at Ramstein about 0400 hours,” he told Johnson.


“I’ll let Joey know when to expect you.  If anything changes I’ll get in touch.”


“Thanks Gerald,” Nelson replied disconnecting the call.  “Chip, do you know who Joey Calder is?”


“I knew a Joey Calder from the academy and he’s a genius when it comes to computers.   I believe he’s in charge of the technology department at ONI.”


Janet piped up, “Lee didn’t say anything about someone going with him but I’m glad he’s there.”


FS-1 made good time as they had a pretty strong tail wind all the way to Germany.   They were cleared to land at Ramstein Air Base at 0300 hours.  Chip was directed to park FS-1 near the terminal so they could easily walk inside.  Once the admiral and Chip completed the shut down procedures, Chip opened the rear hatch.  They quickly collected their bags, secured FS-1 and headed for the terminal. As they walked away, Chip looked back and had to admit she looked pretty strange parked along side some of the fighter planes.


Admiral Johnson had alerted the terminal that FS-1 would be landing so they had transportation waiting for them for the fifteen minute ride to the medical center.




Even though it was almost 0400 hours and they were tired from the long flight and time of day, Janet wanted to see Lee before going to the hotel.  The only door they found open was the emergency room entrance.  


Jamie walked over to the woman sitting behind the desk, “Hello, I’m Dr. Will Jamieson.  You’ve got a patient here by the name of Lee Crane.  I know it’s very early but we just flew in from California. Could we please see him?”


The woman looked at her notes, “Yes, Dr. Jamieson.  Dr. Titan left instructions that you would be able to see him as soon as you arrived.  He’s in Room 204,” the woman replied and directed them to Lee’s room.


“Thank you,” Jamie said as he returned to the group and motioned them to follow.


They found the elevator and went to the second floor.  They exited the elevator and found Lee’s room without much trouble.  They slowly opened the door not knowing what to expect but found a man sleeping in the chair next to his bed.


“That’s Joey Calder,” Chip whispered.


Joey heard the door open and woke up to find four people staring at him.   “Hi, I’m Joey Calder,” he said softly walking over to Janet.  “You must be Lee’s wife, Janet.  I’m very sorry he got hurt.”


Janet nodded her head as she walked over to Lee’s bed.  He had an IV, his arm was in a sling, his hair was shaved off where he had stitches, even through a two day old beard, she could see the cuts and bruises on his face. She kissed his forehead and rubbed the stubble on his cheek.  She then picked up the sheet covering him and saw his torso wrapped with bandages. She could also the bruises on the rest of his body and legs.  Without looking away from him Janet asked Joey, “Has he woken up?”


“No I’ve been here since they moved him to the room. I didn’t want to leave him alone in case he woke up.”


“Thanks,” Janet said.  She pushed the chair closer to the bed so she could hold Lee’s hand.


Jamie left the room for the nurse’s station so he could look at Lee’s chart.  The admiral and Chip looked at Lee and motioned to Joey to join them in the hallway.


“Joey, I’m Admiral Nelson, this is Lt. Commander Chip Morton.  The other gentleman is Dr. Will Jamieson.  Thanks for staying with him but you look like hell.  Have you left since they brought Lee in?”


“No sir only to get something to eat or drink.  I’ve been sleeping in the chair.  But now that you’re here, I’ll leave you to sit with him.”


Joey looked at Chip and realized he knew him.  “You went to the academy too.  I remember you were pretty good with computers.”


“Yes, Lee and I were roommates and as I recall you helped everyone with their computer problems.”


“Just have a knack for them.  I’m really sorry Lee was injured.  He made sure I got out before he would leave.”


“Joey, how about you tell me what happened while we get a cup of coffee,” the admiral said noticing a coffee machine down the hall.  Chip went to the machine and got three cups of coffee.  They sat down and Joey told them what happened in the tunnel. 




Jamie looked over Lee’s chart and wasn’t very happy with the information.  He gave it back to the nurse and returned to Lee’s room.  He went over to the bed and looked at his favorite patient.  He knew Lee needed to wake up soon or he might never wake up.  “He has to wake up soon,” Jamie told Janet bluntly. “Maybe familiar voices will wake him up.”


Jamie leaned over Lee, “Hi Lee, come on you need to wake up.  We didn’t fly all the way from California to have you sleep on us.”


Janet gave Jamie a small grin.  “Come on Lee, its 0400 hours.  We’re tired but we needed to see you before we can get any sleep ourselves.  Please wake up,” Janet pleaded squeezing his hand while tears ran down her face.  “Please.”


The admiral and Chip came in and stood next to Jamie.  “Hey buddy, you’ve had enough sleep.  Get up, I want to see you shave one handed,” Chip quipped.


“Come on, son.  You can do it,” Harry told Lee patting him on the shoulder and then sat down next to Janet.


Chip found two more chairs for him and Jamie so they could sit on the other side of the bed.  They sat there for another two hours before the door opened and Dr. Titan came in.  Jamie recognized him right away. 


“Hi Mark,” Jamie said as he stood up and shook his hand.


“Hi Will,” Mark greeted Jamie returning the hand shake.  “Sorry we have to meet again under these conditions.” Nelson, Chip and Janet stood up to meet the doctor as Jamie introduced them to Mark.  


“How is he?” Janet asked before Jamie could.


“His other injuries are minor and he’ll recover from them. I saw on the x-rays that he’s had cracked and broken ribs before and a broken leg among other injuries I noticed on his body,” he told them.  He knew Lee did more than work as a submarine captain for a living but didn‘t mention it.  “I’m most concerned that he is still unconscious.  I did another MRI and it now shows no serious brain injury only a severe concussion but people aren’t normally unconscious this long.  He does respond to stimuli so I don’t know what to tell you. I looked over the information you sent Will and it looks like he had a few concussions before.  It’s almost like he doesn‘t want to wake up.  Maybe that’s his body’s way of coping with the injury.  We’ll keep a watch on him and do more tests if he stays unconscious too much longer.”


“Thanks, Mark,” Jamie replied not happy with the updated information.  


Mark looked at the four people in the room and could see they were very tired.  “You need to leave and get some rest.  You probably haven’t slept or eaten since you left California and we do have rules here.  I only let you stay because I know you wanted to check on Lee.  But visiting hours don’t start here until 1100 hours. So I don’t want to see any of you back before then.”


Janet started to protest but Mark cut her off.  “That includes you Mrs. Crane.  You aren’t going to do him any good if you’re exhausted.” 


“Alright,” she replied, “and please call me Janet.”


Smiling, “No problem as long as you call me Mark.  Now out with all of you.” 


Joey was waiting in the hallway for them to leave so he could stay with Lee.  “Joey, you will leave too and get some rest.  You haven’t had a good night’s sleep since Lee was brought here.”


“Yes sir,” he replied.  “Now that Lee’s family is here I do have to get back to DC and check in with Admiral Johnson.  I’ll come back later this morning and say good bye.  I‘ve got a flight to Washington early this afternoon.  Hopefully Lee will be awake by then.”


Mark escorted them down to the front of the hospital.  He asked the attendant at the front desk to call them a taxi.  Joey was staying at different hotel that was in walking distance so he bid them good bye.  Though none of them would admit it, they were all tired and hungry.  After they checked in, the admiral looked at his watch, “It’s 0630 hours, why don’t we meet at 1030 hours, we’ll get some breakfast and then go back to the hospital.”


They all agreed and went to their rooms.  Janet unpacked just what she would need for now. She was too tired to do anything more.  She changed into one of Lee’s shirts she brought with and climbed into the bed falling asleep immediately.  The other three were just as tired and fell sound asleep.




Mark checked on Lee again before making his rounds and noticed there was no change in his condition.  He was worried about Lee never regaining consciousness.  As soon as he left the room, Lee started to stir.  He opened his eyes and blinked a few times as things were a little fuzzy.  He knew it was day time as he could see the light coming from the sides of the shade in the darkened room.  He tried to move but it hurt too much so he fell back to sleep.




Janet woke up at 1000 hours.  She was still tired but her stomach wouldn’t quit growling so she got up, showered and got ready.  By the time she was finished it was almost 1030 hours.  She was just leaving her room when Chip’s door opened.  They were joined shortly by the admiral and Jamie and made their way down to the first floor.  Janet could hear Chip’s stomach grumbling louder than hers and chuckled softly.  Chip just gave her a dirty look.  They found the hotel had a small café that served breakfast. When they were finished, Chip hailed a cab for the short ride to the hospital.  They would get there a little after 1100 hours.




Lee woke up a few hours later his mind a little clearer and figured out he was in a hospital when he saw the IV.  He noticed his arm was in a sling, he felt his head and found the stitches.  He tried to move and groaned in pain as he ribs wanted no part of his movement.  He looked around the room and saw no one was there.  Where is Joey, Lee thought panicking. He couldn’t remember if Joey had gotten out of the tunnel before it collapsed.  He slowly started to sit up.  The room started spinning as soon as he sat up so took he a deep breath and stayed seated for a few minutes waiting for the spinning to stop.  He was just getting ready to stand up when a nurse entered his room.  Shocked to find him awake and trying to stand, she ran over to him.


“Mr. Crane, lay back down.  You’re in no condition to move around,” she told him as she tried to ease him back down.


“Leave me alone, I need to find Joey,” Lee told her angrily pushing her away.  She pressed the button to the nurse’s station for help.  Mark was standing at the desk reviewing a chart when he saw it was the button to Lee’s room.  He ran down the hall along with one of the male nurses. 


Harry, Chip, Jamie and Janet were just getting off the elevator when they saw them running down the hall.


“That’s Lee’s room they went into,” Janet said worriedly and ran down the hall after them with the rest of the group close behind.


When they arrived at his door, they could see Mark and the male nurse trying to get Lee settled back into bed.   “Lee,” Janet said happily when she walked into his room.  They were surprised to see him awake.  Once he saw Janet and the rest of them he relaxed and got back into bed.  Janet went over to his bed, gave him a kiss running her hands down his cheek.  He took her hand and kissed it.  “I’m so happy you’re awake,” she said tearing up.  “We were afraid…”


“Sorry to worry you but I must have been in pretty bad shape if you‘re all here,” Lee said trying to move and groaned in pain as his ribs protested.  


“Let’s just say you had us pretty worried when you were unconscious for so long,” Harry answered.


“How long have I been out?” Lee asked slightly confused.


“Lee, I’m Dr. Mark Titan, your doctor here at Landstuhl Medical Center and you’ve been unconscious since you were brought here from Venenzia two days ago.”


“Two days…Landstuhl?” Lee said rubbing his forehead.  “I don’t remember anything after I saw the guard with the detonator. Where’s Joey…is he okay?” he asked urgently.


Joey entered the room and heard Lee, “I’m right here and in a lot better shape than you are,” he grinned.  Lee returned his grin thrilled to know his partner was fine.


“All right, why don’t you all step outside for a few minutes while Will and I take a look at Mr. Crane here?  This shouldn’t take too long,” Titan ordered.  Everyone nodded in agreement and filed out into the hallway to give them the privacy they needed.  As promised the examination only took a few minutes as the physicians checked Lee’s vitals and ordered some painkillers to dull the pain from their patient’s injuries.


Dr. Titan exited the room finding several anxious sets of eyes upon him.  “He’s going to be fine, in time.  You can all go on in, but don’t tire him out too much.  I’m sure Will will see to that.”


The group quickly reentered the room and smiled at their injury prone friend.  Janet moved over next to the bed and picked up Lee’s hand squeezing it gently in relief and bestowed a quick kiss on his brow.  Chip and Harry patted Lee’s legs then claimed the empty chairs around the room, while Joey leaned up against the wall across for Lee.


“Can you please tell me what happened, Joey?” Lee asked, knowing that everyone in the room would have been cleared by Johnson once he’d notified them of Lee’s condition. Joey quickly recounted what had occurred after the explosive had detonated.


Lee laid there for a few minutes taking in what Joey told him.  “We did complete the mission correct?”


“Yes Lee, we did,” Joey confirmed.


Lee let loose a relieved sigh and smiled.  “Thanks, that’s a huge weight off my mind.”


As they chatted quietly, Dr. Titan returned to the room to check on his patient’s progress.  He did another quick vitals check and was quite happy with the result.


“Okay when can I get out of here?” Lee demanded, “I’ve had broken ribs and concussions before.  Never a broken arm but that‘s no problem, I‘m right handed anyway.  I want to go home.  Seaview has a mission next week.”


Mark looked at Lee. “I’ve been briefed on how you like to play down your injuries so you can get out of ‘jail’ as Will told me you call Med Bay but it’s my hospital, my rules and I’ll let you know when I think you’re ready to leave and not a moment sooner,” Mark said frankly.


“Yes sir,” Lee replied sheepishly noticing the smirk on Jamie’s face as the other three could barely contain their grins.


“I’ll leave you alone for awhile with your wife and friends before I check you out more thoroughly but you seem to be okay except for a little memory lost which is to be expected,” Mark told him.  He chuckled as he walked past Jamie who was still smirking.


“Thanks Jamie for telling him my secrets. He’ll never let me out of here,” Lee moaned looking at the grins on the faces of Janet, the admiral and Chip.


“Sorry Lee. I had to tell him everything about his patient,” Jamie replied still smirking.


Joey had no idea what was going on but needed to let Lee know some more information, “Lee, I have to leave in a little while for Washington.  Admiral Johnson is anxious to be debriefed on what took place and if we’ve accomplished what we were supposed to do.  I’ve got the flash drives and information so I’ll tell him what I know.  He said you can follow up with him later when you’re better.”


“Joey, thanks for getting me out of there and your help.  You did a great job.  You’ll make a good agent and I’ll be glad to work with you again,” Lee told him as Joey gently shook his hand and said good bye to the rest of them.




After Joey left, Janet sat down on the bed next to Lee and didn’t let go of his hand.  The admiral, Chip and Jamie were looking at him and he could tell they had something on their minds. 


Looking at Janet he said, “You told them about my previous trip to Venenzia and what happened.”


She nodded her head and replied, “Jamie was in the admiral’s office ranting that you were hurt again on a mission. He had just gotten the call from Mark for your medical records.  He also wanted to know why the admiral lets you continue taking on these missions.  Chip noticed how apprehensive you were about going and didn’t buy that you were nervous about taking on a mission after being off.  I could see how worried they were again so I figured they needed to know why you continue to undertake these missions.  I’m sorry if I disappointed you by telling them,” Janet said softly.


Lee pulled her down and kissed her on the lips.  “Don’t worry about it.  It was about time they knew why I had to keep taking on these missions.” 


“While we may not like it, at least we know why you need to accept them,” the admiral said with a wry grin.


They continued to talk about the mission and how ONI didn’t know about the tunnel.   Mark came in and shooed them all out except for Jamie.  He let him stay as he examined Lee. He had trouble remembering some things and actually admitted he had a pretty bad headache.


Jamie and Mark went to the back of the room to discuss what course of action they should take. They both agreed he should stay a couple more days in the hospital and not fly home right away because of the concussion.  Mark decided to let Jamie tell Lee.


Jamie went back to Lee’s bedside, “Lee, both Mark and I think it’s a good idea for you to stay here a couple more days.  After you’re released, we feel you should stay in Germany for at least a week.  Neither one of us thinks it’s a good idea for you to fly home.” Jamie said seriously.  “Even if you did, I wouldn’t let back on duty for a week anyway so you can stay here and rest.”


Lee looked thoughtfully at both of his doctors.  “Okay, I agree.  I’m really not feeling that great.” 


Jamie was shocked that Lee admitted he wasn’t feeling well but was happy he didn’t put up a fight. He went into the hall and beckoned the admiral, Chip and Janet back into the room.


“Lee’s going to be staying a couple more days.  We also think he shouldn’t fly home right away so we’re recommending he stays here for another week because of the concussion. We both think its best and even Lee agreed,” Jamie related.


Surprised at that last comment, Chip said, “Jamie did you get that on tape.  You know Lee never agrees he’s really hurt.”


Lee gave him a dirty look.  “How about you make yourself useful and help me shave.  I can’t stand this beard any longer.” 


“Sure, I’ll get a razor and help you,” Chip said with a grin as he left the room to go find a place to buy a razor.  While Chip helped Lee make himself more presentable, the admiral, Jamie and Janet went to the cafeteria to get some coffee.

They spent the rest of the afternoon and evening talk about Seaview’s mission to Bali.  Lee was hungry and wanted a hamburger so Chip and Jamie found a fast food place and brought back burgers and fries for everyone.  After finishing dinner, Lee yawned a few times and fell asleep.  They decided to leave and would return tomorrow morning.  Janet gave Lee a kiss good night and a gentle hug.  Lee mumbled good bye and fell back to sleep.




Bidding Lee a good evening, the admiral, Chip, Jamie and Janet returned to the hotel. It had been a long day and they needed a drink so they found a bar near the hotel. Having claimed a table near the window, they gave the waiter their drink orders and sat back and relaxed as the stress of the day fell away.


“Since Lee is going to be here for some time, Chip and I will fly back to the institute and take Seaview on the mission to Bali.  Jamie, you and Janet stay here with Lee.  He’s going to need looking after while he’s here,” the admiral stated taking a sip of his Glenlivet. 


Jamie shook his head in agreement and looked at Janet, “We know you can take care of Lee but sometimes he can be a little difficult and…”


Janet cut Jamie off before he could continue, “I know I’m just a pushover when it comes to him,” she said laughing.


“John and Frank should be able to handle any crisis that should come up on Seaview,” Jamie assured the admiral and Chip.


Finishing up his drink, Chip suggested, “How about we leave tomorrow afternoon. That way we’ll have time to get over the jet lag before we leave.”


“Sound good,” the admiral replied signaling the waiter to bring another round of drinks. 


They finished up that round and headed to their rooms after agreeing to meet at 1000 hours for breakfast.  Once in her room, Janet got ready for bed and climbed in but laid there for awhile.  She had never been to Germany and was looking forward to doing a little sightseeing if Lee felt up to it later in the week.  She also knew Lee needed to go back to Venenzia.  Hopefully he would agree with her and they would be able to go there before they left Germany.  Wrapped in Lee’s shirt, she finally fell asleep




The group met for breakfast before going to see Lee.  He was awake when they arrived.  His arm had been put in a permanent cast as the swelling had gone down but he still had a headache.


“Lee, Chip and I are leaving for home today.  We’ll take care of this mission.  You’ll be ready to command the next one to the undersea laboratory.  It will be a nice easy mission.”


“I understand sir,” Lee replied.  “I wouldn’t be much help with my arm in a cast.”


“Lee, you’re arm is going to be cast from awhile,” Jamie reminded him as Lee gave him a dirty look.


“When you fly back to the States, why don’t you stop in DC and debrief with Johnson so you don’t have to make another trip,” the admiral suggested.


“That’s a good idea,” Lee agreed.  


They talked about what sights Lee, Janet and Jamie should see while in Germany if Lee was able.  Janet didn’t say anything about Venenzia.  She would talk to him when they were alone.  Soon it was time for the admiral and Chip to leave.  They gave Janet a hug and patted Lee on the shoulder.


“Take care and don’t worry about your ‘grey lady’,” Chip said to Lee, “I’ll take good care of her.”


“I’m not worried,” Lee said disappointedly as he really wanted to be on board for this mission.


Lee’s room faced the west and knew that Ramstein Air Base wasn’t too far away.  With Janet’s help, he slowly got out of bed hoping he would get a glimpse of FS-1 as she flew by but he didn’t see her.  He was tired of laying bed so they went for a slow walk down the hall. By the time they returned to his room, he was more tired than he expected and fell asleep.  Jamie and Janet left for the cafeteria for some coffee.  They needed to get a flight out of Germany so Jamie checked out the flights from Germany to DC and then to Santa Barbara.


As they drank their coffee Jamie told Janet about their travel plans.  “I’ve booked us a flight out of Frankfurt to Washington DC but could only get first class as that was all that was available on such short notice, same with the flight from DC to Santa Barbara.  It was quite expensive,” Jamie told Janet.  “But this way Lee will have room to stretch out.”


“No problem,” Janet told Jamie, “Lee always flies first class anyway for that reason.”


 “We’ll have to take the shuttle from Ramstein to Frankfurt which is an hour and half trip,” Jamie continued.  “It’s not easy getting out of here.”


Smiling Janet replied, “Whatever we need to do is fine with us.  Thanks Jamie for taking care of the plans.”


When they finished their coffee, they returned to Lee’s room and he was just waking up so Jamie told him how they were going to get home. Lee was fine with all the arrangements as he just wanted to go home.




Lee was released from the hospital two days later.  His ribs were still sore, he had a slight headache, his stitches were itching and the cast according to him was a nuisance.  Jamie would take out the stitches once they were settled in their hotel room near the air base.


“Here are your walking papers,” Mark joked handing Janet the release papers.  “Please take it easy but I’m sure Jamie and Janet will make sure you don’t overdo it.  It was a pleasure to meet you and maybe we can meet again under better circumstances.”


“Mark, thank you for everything,” Lee said shaking his hand.  Janet shook his hand and thanked him also.


“Mark, if you ever get a way from here, please come to Santa Barbara.  I‘d like to show you around the institute and Seaview,” Jamie told him as he shook his hand.  “Thanks Mark.”


A nurse entered with a wheelchair for Lee who rolled his eyes but got in it anyway.  She pushed him down the front doors of the hospital where there was a taxi waiting to take them to the hotel.  Lee slowly got out of the chair and slid into the back seat.  He was a little stiff but happy to be out of the hospital.  


When they reached the hotel, Janet helped Lee out of the taxi.  Jamie grabbed their luggage and Lee’s duffle bag.  He didn’t have many clothes in there but they could buy something if he needed it.  Janet and Jamie checked in while Lee sat on the couch in the lobby.  He walked slowly to the elevator and to their room.  Jamie had arranged to have connecting rooms in case Lee needed him right away.   By the time he got to the room, he was exhausted so Janet helped him get settled into bed and climbed in too.


“I’m sure no fun,” Lee told Janet as she nestled next him.  “Why don’t you and Jamie do some sightseeing while I rest.”


“No it’s alright,” Janet said as she gave him a kiss. “I’m not going anywhere.   Honey, I was so worried about you, I just want to stay with you.”


Grimacing slightly as he kissed her gently on the lips.  “Sweetheart, lying next to me is all we’re going to be able to do for awhile I’m afraid.”


“We’ll see about that,” Janet grinned deviously.


They laid there for a few minutes before Lee fell asleep.  Janet dislodged herself from him and stood there looking at him.  She needed to talk to him about going back to Venenzia but would wait a few days.  There was a light knock on the connecting door, Janet opened it and found Jamie with some apple strudel and coffee.  He had found a bakery not to far away.  He saw Lee sleeping so motioned her to join him in his room.


“I thought we could use a snack,” Jamie said as he put a piece of strudel in his mouth.  “This is heavenly.”


Janet took a bite, “You’re right,” she agreed and took another bite. 


“Jamie, you don’t have to stay here with us.  You’ve never been here, please go out and do some sightseeing.  I don’t mind staying here with Lee.  I’m sure he’ll be able to join us in a few days.”


“Maybe tomorrow I’ll check out the area after I take out his stitches.  They must be driving him crazy.”


They sat there talking about what was happening at NIMR and the upcoming mission to Bali.


Neither of them was hungry at dinner time after eating the whole strudel and with Lee still asleep so they called it a night.  Jamie bid Janet a good night and shut the door between the rooms.  Janet got ready for bed and slipped in next to Lee who moaned as he changed positions but fell right back to sleep.




The next three days went by quickly as Lee slowly improved and was able to go out for a short time sightseeing with Jamie and Janet.  They only had one day left before they were leaving for Frankfurt.  Janet knew Lee needed to go back to Venenzia.  After dinner, they said goodnight to Jamie.  Janet helped Lee get ready for bed since his arm was still in a cast.  He was already fed up with it but knew it would be a few more weeks before he could have it removed. 


Once Lee was settled in bed, Janet climbed in next to him.  He could tell she wanted to talk to him about something as she was pretty quiet all day.  “What’s wrong?” Lee asked gently rubbing her arm.


Taking a deep breath, “Lee, you need to go back to Venenzia,” she said carefully.  “You need to accept the fact that it wasn’t your fault Captain Bradley died.  You know as well as I do he wouldn’t want you feeling guilty for the rest of your life.  You need to put this all to rest, once and for all.”


Lee looked at Janet, “I do have to go back there,” Lee told her quietly.  “I’ll make arrangements to fly there tomorrow. We’ll take the plane from Venenzia to Frankfurt so Jamie will have to come with us.”


“Sounds good, Lee,” Janet answered.  That went better than I thought, she thought.  Lee’s ribs didn’t hurt too much and he was feeling a little frisky so he kissed her passionately.  Lee attempted to take off Janet’s shirt but with only one hand she had to help him which left his good hand free to do other things. She removed his shorts and shirt letting her hands do a bit of wandering too.  She slowly helped him lay down and took charge of the lovemaking that night.  Both were sated and tired when they were done and fell fast asleep. 




Lee was up early the next morning and on the phone trying to get a flight to Venenzia.  He knew there were pilots available that would take personnel to other parts of the country.  He managed to find a pilot who would fly them to Venenzia and then back to Frankfurt.   They took a taxi to the airport and met up with the pilot.  Lee smiled when he saw who the pilot was.  It was Hal, a pilot who had picked up him for many missions including a few from the deck of Seaview.


“Hi Hal,” Lee said shaking his hand.  “How’d you manage to get my flight?”


“I overheard them talking about a Commander who needed a ride to Venenzia.  I asked who and when they told me it was you, I offered to take you.”


“Thanks for doing this,” Lee replied as he introduced Jamie and Janet.  They wasted no time climbing into the plane after stowing their luggage.  Lee was able to sit in the front even though his arm was in a cast as he wouldn’t be doing any flying and it was easier for him to get in as his ribs were still a little tender.


Hal got clearance to take off and they were airborne in no time.   Since it was only a thirty minute ride, Janet wasn’t too nervous about the ride.  Jamie enjoyed looking out the window at the scenery below.


When they landed at the airport in Venenzia, Hal parked the plane on the visitor’s pad.  He helped Janet and Jamie out of the plane.  Lee was a little slow getting out but managed to get out on his own.  Hal noticed Lee’s arm in the cast and that he moved a lot more slowly than normal but knew better not to ask figuring Lee was hurt on a mission.


“We shouldn’t be too long,” Lee told Hal patting him on the shoulder. 


“No problem Commander, I’ll be around here.  Just call me on my cell and I’ll make sure I’m here when you’re ready to leave,” Hal said to Lee as he gave him his number.


They walked out of the terminal building and into the street where Lee hailed a taxi to take them to the beach.   When they arrived, Janet noticed the beach had beautiful white sand, clear water and at night a fantastic view of the sunset.  It was already crowded at 1000 hours.  Jamie and Janet followed Lee as he walked to the last hotel on the beach.  When he and Joey stopped there earlier he hadn’t noticed that the hotel had been renovated and updated to look similar to the new ones.  He stood outside the entrance for a few minutes, hesitant about going in.




Lee took a deep breath, then Janet’s hand and the three of them walked into the lobby of the hotel.  Lee looked around noticing it had been redone too.  The couches were gone replaced by comfortable chairs and tables.  There now was a bar with a patio right outside the wall facing the woods.  It looked nothing like before. Jamie and Janet stood off to the side while Lee went up to the counter.  Smiling he saw it was still the old oak counter but with a new marble top.  No one was at the counter but a young man came out of the room behind the counter just liked Lisa had before. 


“Can I help you sir?” the man asked Lee.


“Is Lisa here?” Lee inquired. 


“Not right now but she should be here in a few minutes.  Are you a friend of hers?”


“She helped me that last time I stayed here and I was curious to see if she still worked here.”


“She works at the hospital in the ER and its Dr. Lisa now.  I’m her brother Max.  Do you need a room?”


“No, we’re just visiting.  Thanks for your help,” Lee told Max as he turned away from the counter.


He stood there staring where the couch would have been recalling every detail of Captain Bradley’s death.  “It’s my fault he died,” Lee said softly. 


Janet and Jamie walked over to him when he started to talk.  Janet took his hand in hers.  “How is it your fault?” she asked quietly.


Lee looked at the two of them with tears in his eyes.  “I shot him...I killed was an accident.  When we went to leave the building, he was behind me and when the guard came out of the room, he stumbled forward as I shot at the guard.  My bullet caught him in the bullet,” Lee told them guiltily.  “No one knew it was me that killed him until now but after coming back here I can’t keep it a secret any longer,” he said painfully.


“Lee, did Captain Bradley know it was an accident?” Jamie asked sympathetically.


Running his hand through his hair, “Yes, he ordered me not to report it and tell them the guard had shot him.  He told me not to feel guilty, it was just bad timing on his part and I shouldn’t be deterred from continuing to be an agent because I was that good,” Lee answered looking back at where the couch used to be. “Those were his last words,” he replied sadly.  


“Lee, maybe you need to follow his orders and let it go,” Janet said carefully.


“Sweetheart, I think you’re right. After coming back here, I know he wouldn’t want me to continue carrying this guilt around for the rest of my life.”  Sighing deeply he suddenly felt an enormous weight had been lifted off his shoulders.   “We can go now and thank you for making me come back,” he told Janet giving her a kiss and hug.


They headed for the door when a nice looking young woman almost ran into them.  “Mr. King...I mean Crane.  You’re looking a lot better than the last time I saw you. I’m a doctor now and I was the one who took care of you in the ER when they brought you in a couple of weeks ago.”


Lee recognized her and smiled, “Yes, I’m doing a lot better.  Thank you for taking care of me as it looks like you came to my rescue again Dr. Lisa,” Lee replied as he introduced her to Janet and Jamie.


“I’m glad I was able to help you both times,” she answered softly.  “It was nice to see you again Lee. Nice to meet the both of you,” she continued nodding to Jamie and Janet, “but I’ve only have a few minutes before I have to return to the ER.”


“No problem, we have to run too.  Thank you again.” Lee told Lisa.  She smiled at him as she went into the back room.


Janet and Jamie walked out the door as Lee took one last look around before he joined them outside. He took Janet’s hand and they walked back to the street so they could get a taxi for the airport.  As they rode in the taxi, Lee called Hal and he would be at the airport when they arrived.  They made their way though the terminal to the plane and Hal was standing by it waiting for them.


“Everything okay Commander?” he asked noticing he seemed a little more relaxed than when they landed.


“Just fine, Hal.  Let’s go.”


Hal helped Janet climb into the plane followed by Jamie.  Lee slowly eased himself in while Hal went to the other side.  They strapped in, Hal started the engine, radioed the control tower for clearance to take off then took for the Frankfurt airport. Twenty minutes later Hal had them on the tarmac in Frankfurt and taxied to the small aircraft terminal. Lee exited the plane and helped Janet and Jamie out while Hal retrieved their luggage and put it on the tarmac.


“Thank you Hal for taking us to Venenzia.  I really appreciate it,” Lee told him as he shook his hand.


“No problem, Commander.  I didn’t mind the trip at all.  You’re one of my favorite people to pick up,” Hal said with a smile.  “Have a safe trip back to the States.  I hope to be stationed back there soon.”


“I’ll be looking for you,” Lee replied as he picked up Jamie’s black bag.  Janet and Jamie wouldn’t let Lee take anything heavier.  Janet took her bag and Jamie’s while Jamie put Lee’s duffle over his shoulder.




The trio walked into the terminal, checked in and walked to the gate for their flight to DC.  Waiting to board their flight, Lee sat there very quietly and thought, he would have to tell Admiral Johnson what happened eight years ago and would resign from ONI having kept secret vital information from his superior regarding a mission.  He didn’t want to resign wanting to keep his promise to Captain Bradley but felt he had to.


They boarded the plane and found their seats.  Jamie was sitting right across the aisle from them.  As the flight took off, Janet grabbed Lee’s hand and held on tight until they were in the air.  He looked at her and smiled when she let go of his hand and flexed it to get the feeling back.  If they had no delays they would get into DC about 1600 hours.  Lee would call Admiral Johnson and let him know when they landed so he could debrief with him before heading for home. 


Janet put the arm rest up between her seat and Lee’s and sat close to him laying her head on his shoulder.  He put his hand on her knee and gave it a squeeze.  She looked up at him and kissed his cheek.  Before long they all fell asleep.  Lee woke up when he heard the flight attendant announcing they were landing in thirty minutes.  He gently nudged Janet awake and she was surprised that they were getting ready to land.  She reached over and tapped Jamie’s arm.  He woke up and couldn’t believe he had sleep through the whole flight. 


As soon as they landed, they went to the baggage pickup and found their luggage.  They would only be on the ground for three hours before their flight to Santa Barbara, so they were able to check their luggage for that flight and wouldn’t have to worry about taking it with them.  By the time they walked out of the terminal, it was pouring rain.  Even with the rain, they had no trouble getting a cab to take them to the ONI building.  Jamie had never been there and was looking forward to seeing what the building looked like.  The cab dropped them off in front of a plain old building that looked like the rest of office buildings in the neighborhood.  Jamie was disappointed as it wasn’t what he pictured at all. 




Lee pressed the button on the elevator.  “You will have to wait in the outer office while I talk to Admiral Johnson,” Lee told Jamie and Janet.   “I shouldn’t be too long since he already has the information on the mission and I don’t want to miss our flight to SB.”


“Okay Lee,” Jamie said as they left the elevator and went into Johnson’s outer office.


“Hello Commander, Janet,” Sandy said when the walked into the office. 


“Hi Sandy,” Lee and Janet replied.  “This is Dr. Jamieson,” Lee said introducing Jamie to Johnson’s secretary.


“Lee, the Admiral’s expecting you so you can go right in.  Janet, Dr. Jamieson can I get you anything while you wait,” she asked politely.


“No thanks, Sandy,” Janet answered as she sat down to wait for Lee.  Jamie walked around the office looking at the pictures Johnson had on the walls of different types of ships and boats before he sat down next to Janet.


Lee knocked on the door to Johnson’s office before going in.  “Come in,” Johnson called and met him at the door.  “Hello, Lee,” he said looking him over noticing his arm in a cast, the bruises on his face turning nice shades of green and yellow and the bald spot on his head where his hair was starting to grow back.  “Have a seat Commander.  I need to apologize, I don’t know how our intelligence missed that tunnel,” he said motioning Lee to sit down.  “I’m sorry you were injured.”


“Nothing you can do about it now,” Lee replied tensely.  “What do you need to know that Joey hasn’t already told you?”


“Just give me your version of what happened.  I’m sure there will be no issues.”


Lee told Johnson what took place on the mission, giving him the details of what they did to the computers, the room with the computers, and the tunnel. Johnson took notes and compared them to what Joey had told him.  There were no differences in what the two men reported.


“Did we stop the PR from hacking into our computers as well as the rest of the world?” 


“Yes, whatever Joey did worked.  The other countries whose computers were compromised report they are no longer being hacked into.  Joey checked out the security program they used, made some changes and he has downloaded onto our systems.”


“Admiral, why did they blow up the tunnel...why use the house as a front...the whole world knew it was them?” Lee questioned.


“Lee, the People’s Republic is in trouble with most of the countries in the free world because of this security breach.  They thought by using the house as a front, they could install computers that when traced showed Venenzia was hacking into everyone’s computers. When you discovered the tunnel, they realized they had no choice but to blow it up destroying the fact that the tunnel lead to directly them.  Some of the countries who were breached are actually issuing sanctions against them but the only people it will hurt are the innocent citizens that have no idea what their government is up to.”


“Will they ever learn that they’re going to get caught every time they try something?”


“Probably not,” Johnson remarked.  “Just one more thing, how did Joey do as an agent?” Johnson asked sitting back in his chair.


“Joey did a great job.  He was prepared…did what I asked him to do without hesitation…even thought ahead before I had to tell him.  I would have no problem working with him again.  Do you need any more information?”


“No nothing more. As far as I’m concerned the mission closed.”


“Lee,” Johnson said quietly.  “I’m really sorry I had to send you back to Venenzia.”


“Sir, there’s something I need to tell you about my first mission to Venenzia,” Lee began.  “Sir I made a promise to Captain Bradley that I would never reveal what really happened but it has been weighing on my mind and my conscience since that mission. I shot...and killed...Captain Bradley, not the enemy.  Believe me it was an accident, he tripped and fell in front of me as I fired at the enemy guard, and Bradley caught the bullet meant for him.  Once Troy and I got him to safety, and as he lay dying, the captain made me promise that I wouldn’t let anyone know it was me who shot him, and to remain in the service of ONI because he felt I had a gift for the work and could make a difference in this world.  Sir, I regret not disclosing what happened all those years ago, and you will have my resignation in the morning. I am so sorry sir, both to you and to Captain Bradley,” Lee said remorsefully, “I still can’t believe it was my bullet and I was responsible for his death.”


“Lee, I knew it was an accident,” Johnson told him. “When I debriefed Troy, he told me that Johnson had a stomach wound and that when he entered the building, Bradley was facing you and that the guard couldn’t have shot him.  He figured that when you went to shoot the guard, Bradley must have gotten in your way.  You reported he had been beaten and could hardly walk.”


“You never said anything to me,” Lee said perplexed.


“I knew you would feel guilty and that eventually that guilt would make you tell me what happened.  I hoped when you went back to Venenzia you would face your demons,” Johnson admitted.  “Unfortunately, friendly fire happens and sometimes all we can do is live with it.  The only reason Bradley was shot was because of the enemy so ultimately he was killed by enemy actions,” he continued.  “And Lee, I will not accept your resignation as you are very good at what you do and I can’t afford to lose you.”


Sighing deeply, “Thank you sir,” Lee replied and thought, Sorry Captain but I just couldn’t obey your orders any longer.  I had to let it go. I know you’ll understand.  He looked at his watch. “Is there anything else, sir?  I would like to make our flight to Santa Barbara so I really need to get going,” Lee asked as he stood up.


“No Lee, we’re finished,” Johnson answered as he stood up too.


Before Lee opened the door, he saluted Johnson who returned his salute and walked out.  Johnson followed Lee to the door and saw Janet and Jamie sitting there.  They stood up when Lee walked out of the office. 


“Janet, Dr. Jamieson, it’s nice to see you again,” Johnson told them shaking their hands.


“You too sir,” they answered as Lee took Janet’s hand and they left his office.  Once outside Lee saw it had stopped raining. He looked up at the sky, took a deep breath of fresh air and let it out.  He noticed in the distance the sun starting to peek through the dark black clouds.  Lee gave Janet’s hand a gentle squeeze and a small smile knowing they would make it together.   He hailed them a cab and they headed to the airport for the last leg of their journey. 




They made it to the airport with some time to spare so Lee called the institute to check on Seaview and hoped he could arrange a ride home from the airport.


“Nelson Institute,” Angie answered.  “How may I help you?”


“Hi Angie,” Lee said pleasantly.


“Lee, is everything okay…how are you…when are you coming home?” she asked eagerly.


“Everything is just fine.  We will be home tonight.  Could you please have the motor pool send someone to pick us up about 2300 hours at the Santa Barbara airport?”


“Yes Lee, I’ll make sure someone is there.”


“When is Seaview scheduled to return?” Lee asked as he missed his ‘grey lady’ and was looking forward to assuming command on their next mission.


“It didn’t take the admiral long to find out what the problem was at the hatchery and fix it so she’s on her way back a couple days early.  She scheduled to return in two days,” Angie told him.  “We missed all of you and can’t wait to see you.”


“Thanks Angie,” Lee said warmly.  “We missed you too.  Hopefully I’ll see you tomorrow but that depends on Jamie,” he laughed.  Jamie had gone to one of the shops to look for something to read so he didn’t hear Lee.


“Well convince him to let you at least stop in for visit.”


“Okay, see you tomorrow,” Lee replied and hung up as they were calling their flight for boarding.


“We’ll have a ride home from the airport,” Lee told Jamie and Janet as they walked to the boarding gate where the flight attendant checked their passes as well as checking out Lee.  They went down the ramp, boarded the plane and sat down in their seats.


Their flight took off on time even though it had started raining again.  The flight attendant reported that once they cleared the DC area, it would be smooth flight to Santa Barbara where the temperature was eighty degrees.


Jamie settled back in his seat and took out the book he purchased at the airport.  Janet and Lee sat their holding hands watching the in-flight movie.  Since they never went to the movies it was a treat for them to watch one.  The flight attendants brought them coffee and a snack.  After the movie was over, Lee and Janet agreed they didn’t like it.  


“Lee, what happened in Johnson’s office, he was very cordial?” Janet asked suspiciously. 


“I think he actually felt bad for me.  He looked me over from head to toe and apologized that the intelligence was wrong and that he had to send me back there.  Maybe he’s getting soft as he gets older,” Lee joked.


“Maybe he’ll lose your number seeing he’s getting older,” Janet replied sarcastically.  Lee gave her hand a squeeze and grinned.


They sat back and enjoyed the rest of the flight. Before long they were making their final approach into Santa Barbara.  Even though they had slept on the earlier flight, the three of them had a hard time stifling their yawns. They were going to have a bad case of jet lag for the next few days.  They de-boarded the plane and made their way down to the baggage pickup where Billy from the motor pool was waiting for them. 


“Hello, Commander, Dr. Jamieson and Mrs. Crane, I hope you had a nice flight,” he said politely.


“Hi Billy,” Lee replied, “It was good and long.”


“The car isn’t parked to far away.  Just tell which bags are yours and I’ll get them into the car.”


Lee’s duffle came out first then Jamie’s but Janet’s bag wasn’t there.   They waited a few more minutes before Lee was going to go check out what happened to it when it finally appeared on the carousel.


Billy took Lee’s duffle and Janet’s bag while Janet carried Jamie’s black bag and he took his suitcase.  They walked to the car enjoying the warm night and gentle breeze.  They made the short trip to the institute and stopped at the security gate where Paul greeted them.  “Great to have you back, Commander, Dr. Jamieson and Mrs. Crane.  Have a good night.”


“Thanks Paul,” Lee replied, “it’s great to be back.”


Since Jamie’s car was at Med Bay, Billy dropped him off first.   Jamie got out of the car and opened the trunk so Billy could put his bags in there.   He walked back to the Lee and Janet who were waiting by the car.


“Lee, stop in first thing in the morning.  I’ll check you out and if everything is normal, I’ll let you go to work in the office only for now.  One good thing, I don’t have to worry about arguing with you about going on Seaview since she isn’t here,” Jamie chuckled.


“Thank you Jamie,” Lee said thoughtfully.  “I know I had you worried again.”


“You’re welcome Lee,” Jamie answered softly knowing why Lee needed to take on these missions but still wished he would give them up.


Janet went over to him and gave him a kiss and hug and whispered in his ear, “Thank you for everything.”


He returned he hug and gave her a peck on the cheek.  He got in his car and drove off.  Lee and Janet returned to the car where Billy was waiting for them.  He drove them to the main office where Janet had parked their car.  She took the keys out of her purse and handed them to Billy who loaded their gear in the car and gave her back the keys.


“Thanks Billy,” Lee said patting him on the shoulder.  “It’s a late night for you.”


“No problem Commander.  I didn’t mind at all.  Have a safe trip home,” he told them as the got in the car and headed back to the motor pool lot.


Janet started to get in the car when Lee stopped her.  “Let’s walk down to the sub pen.  I know she’s not there but I just want to look at it.”


“Sure,” Janet replied as she took his good hand and they walked down the path.  The evening was perfect, a full moon, no clouds and a soft breeze.  They sat on the bench and could hear the water lapping at the dock.


“Janet, I know you don’t like when I take on ONI missions, but I hope you’ll accept that I still need to keep my promise to him.”  Lee told her giving her a kiss.


“Lee, I understand you still want to keep that promise.  I’m not going to lie, it won’t be easy watching you leave on a mission but I’ll accept that you still need to do your duty to our country.  That’s just one of the many reasons why I love you,” Janet said kissing him back.


Lee wrapped his arm around his wife, “Sweetheart, I will keep my promise to you when the time comes,” he told her lovingly.


She gently put her arm around him, “I know you will,” she replied softly.   “Lee did you tell Admiral Johnson about what really happened in Venenzia the first time you were there?”


“Yes, I did and everything is fine.”


They sat on the dock wrapped in each other’s arms for another hour enjoying the beautiful night before they left for home.



The End.