By Carol Foss
The grubby, unkempt man sat in a colleague's rusty car just watching the waves. He'd conned a friend to loan him the car….Convinced that the car had been satisfactorily 'treated', for it wouldn't do to just borrow the damn thing, the man had pulled over onto the small paved outcrop. Now he just sat enjoying the view. The Sea was always alluring. Not as alluring as his favorite female though. He couldn't count how many times he'd been up here. And it was a running gag that he'd always had far more on his mind than the view when he came up here. Like today.
He hadn't really relished the hasty farewell he'd made to his girl. In a few hours, duty would summon him yet again, and he grimly recalled his last bout as a Naval Reservist. But instead of a few stifling, boring, and mundane weeks as an attaché', or other such governmental post, he'd been assigned to a Marine unit this time, and was looking forward to it. He needed something different. It certainly helped to have friends in high places far away to 'suggest' the assignment to the powers that be.
His boss had fumed verbally, upset that this Reserve recall was going to be a 'damned nuisance' to himself and the company. Didn't the marines have their own men without having to take on this… this… 'weekend warrior'?
He still had a few hours to report to his unit's headquarters and decided he could use a leisurely walk on the beach below. A little seawater and sand certainly wouldn't hurt his old worn out jeans. He'd been told he'd be fitted out upon the specified arrival time into duty gear, and had prepared himself for the squad by rejecting his usual immaculate appearance and close shave for a few days. It wouldn't do to look his normally manicured self in a troop of hard hitters.His former identity could be a hindrance, and possibly a threat . In fact, one of his boss' s elite secretaries said he was beginning to look like a beach bum before he signed out of his company's office.
It wasn't crowded on the shoreline below and he could already see a few souls about, including a small group of teenagers and young people having a party. The music was certainly loud, and absolutely awful. At least to his more 'refined' ears.
Well, surfing music was appropriate after all, he thought, as it looked like the kids were practicing 'riding' the big ones, their surfboards glittering in the sunshine.
Taking off his shoes,( he hadn't worn socks), the man scrambled down the rotted steps to the beach and grinned as he smelled the delicious aroma of hot dogs and popcorn. Something he hadn't consumed in ages. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath of the mingling odors of sea, salt and hot dogs. It was heavenly.
"Hey Mister," a muscular youth called out, " care to join in?" amid snickers by his companions. They couldn't imagine what possessed their colleague to invite the bum to their party. Unless it was a joke. That, they could certainly understand.
"Well, that depends, " the man answered as he approached the group, " Do I have to ride one of those things?"
"Uh, no. Not at all. You just look hungry, " the youth's svelte girlfriend answered, offering him a hot dog, at arm's length, just in case the man smelled as bad as he looked.
" Thanks, I am actually, I could use a little nourishment before I report for duty."
" Duty?" the youth asked settling down with the others to eat.
" Navy Reserve," the man answered, a sly grin to himself he hoped they didn't notice.
"No kidding!" the youth exclaimed. "I was in the Navy, and after my hitch I joined up as a Reservist too! Whatcha in for this assignment?"
" Yeech! Sounds awful, oh, by the way, name's Riley, Stuart Riley, but my friends call me Stu. Weird man, I gotta assignment I’m going to today as well. That big research outfit. In Santa Barbara. NIMR. Ever heard of it?"
"I've heard of it, " the man bit into his food, and couldn't help noticing that the boy had such youthful vigor. Oh, to be that young again.
" Well," the girlfriend interrupted, " I've heard of it too, Stu, and I wish you could get out of it. It's supposed to be awful."
"How so?" the man asked, curious.
" Well, " she learned forward , " I hear that the men there are real pills! A bunch of stuffed shirts. And that fancy submarine of theirs, well, who can trust a submarine with glass windows. What if they break? And…" she pouted, "I hear the captain is a real bore."
" Amy, her windows are not glass," Riley wearily relayed, " I told you already, they're some wacky kind of metal or plastic or something, besides it's only for a couple of weeks. I can put up with it. Besides, Admiral Nelson is a bona fide genius. I should be grateful just to be on his boat let alone actually get to meet him. I still can't believe how I got picked for the job. And all captains are bores at times.That’s SOP, standard operating procedures," he explained, "It's required."
"Well," the curvaceous girl continued, " I've heard a lot of stories about this one ,that trouble just leaps out and grabs him, so you'd better not too close to him, and that admiral is a real wacko! Involved in all sorts of weird experiments and things."
"Yeah. He's supposed to be a bit eccentric, but I still think I'd like to risk it." Riley replied, picking up his board and sighed wistfully, " I only wish I could take my board along."
"What's the problem?" the man asked.
"Well, it's just that, well, it's kinda big. None of my other boats let me cart it aboard. Space is a premium on a sub, and it would just take up too much room."
"And he's afraid we won't take good care of it, poor baby," the girl stood. "Last one in's a rotten egg!" she giggled as she took her board to the shore and paddled out.
"Oh, I don't know," the man mused, "it doesn't look that big, perhaps it could fit in the broom closet."
"Sure, but who's gonna listen to me? I'm just a swab jockey. Just waltz up to the skipper and ask him where I can stow my board…like way out man, I'd end up scrubbing out the head again."
" Surely he can't be that unreasonable."
"Well, maybe not, but no other captain ever let me," Riley almost pouted.
"Riley, are you coming or not?" the girlfriend asked, already out in the surf.
"Go ahead," the man grinned,"and thank you for the food."
" Any time man," Riley smiled and quickly paddled out to the increasingly heavy surf.
Shaking the sand off his jeans, the man proceeded to climb the steps back up to his car. Unseen by the group below, he took out his mini-cell phone and spoke to his secretary about some last minute details. Then he heard the screams.
Racing back down the dunes to the shore, he saw that the group were frantically bobbing up and diving into the surf trying to find the boy who was no longer to be seen, his surfboard drifting and being tossed up and out of the waves.
Plunging into the swelling waves, the man dove into the heavy water. The seawater stung his eyes, but he kept on against his better judgement. If you weren't careful, the force of these waves could push a man down to the sand and never let him up. The boy was probably dead already. Damn! It just isn't fair! Suddenly he saw the glint of chain the surfer was wearing and the man grabbed out toward it, reaching Riley and pulling the dead weight along with him. Deep under the crushing waves, he allowed himself to become limp and the surge finally released the men from it's grip. Gasping for breath, he surfaced allowing the smaller shallow waves to push them ashore.
The girl was screaming hysterically and the friends were screaming conflicting advice. But the man ignored them, and checked the boy for any sign of life. There was a pulse, but he wasn't breathing. Quickly breathing into the boy's mouth a few times, the lad finally spluttered the water out of his lungs, and coughed vigorously. The man turned him over face down and whacked him on the back to help get rid of the remaining fluid. Finally, the boy began to breathe normally and with help from the man and the group, sat up uneasily.
" Like, what happened?" Riley asked, " One minute I'm riding a hot tube, the next thing I know I have sand up my nose!"
The group laughed in relief, and clustered around him, backslapping, all talking at once. The man grinned and quietly departed, leaving the youthful laugher behind him.
" Hey! Mister!" Riley yelled as he spotted the bum almost at the top of the steps. "Wait a minute! Mister!"
The man turned. The boy scrambled up the dunes.
" Mister, you saved my life!"
" You'd do the same for me," the man said earnestly, and approached the car. The boy noticed the condition of the vehicle and suddenly felt terribly guilty for being so financially superior to this old man, well, older man.
"Look, " Riley whipped off the fine silver chain from around his neck. From it dangled his coveted Surfer's Own medallion, won in a championship. It was all he had with him of any value, his money, meager in his own eyes, and everyone else's', was back at a friend's house.
"Here, " Riley continued, " take this…it'll bring you luck. Or you can pawn it, whatever you like…please, sir."
The man knew he had no choice, to decline would crush the boy's ego, so important for his upcoming assignment.With inward hesitation, he took the medallion and chain, fully intending to restore it to the boy somehow ,once Riley's assignment was over. With a grin he put it around his own neck and shook the boy's hand. After a few tries of starting up the car, it finally sputtered into life, and the man drove off, giving the boy a final grin and wave.
NIMR was bigger than Riley had ever imagined. He was quickly assigned a shore locker and issued some changes of apparel. At least his surfboard fit in a small alcove near the door. But what about his guitar? Sitting down on the wooden bench he sighed, he'd have to ask that nice dame at the information center where he could stow it for the duration.
"You Riley?" Kowalski asked, as he sat down, heaving a huge duffel bag on the floor.
"Yeah, I'm Stu," he extended his hand.
"Kowalski, Ski for short," to gave the kid a quick hand. " So how'd you end up here…Seaview doesn't normally carry weekend warriors."
"I don't know. It just sort of happened."
"Sounds normal. Things always just sort of happen to Seaview!" Ski grinned."You okay, kid?"
"Well, I just kinda hate leaving my board here, and there's no place for my strings."
"Your what? Oh, I get it, your guitar! Cheeze, it would have been nice to have some live music aboard for a change… Tell you what, I'll ask Miss Angie, that's one of the Admiral's top secretaries, if she can stow it for you. She's a real music lover."
"Gee that's great Kowal…sorry, Ski. "
"Okay you bozos," a gruff voice sounded, " get the lead out. You, kid, you the weekend warrior? The Exec wants to see you."
"What I do?"
"If I knew that, I'd be tellin ya, not him! Move it! You can finish stowin' your gear later. You, uh,…what's your name again?"
"Ko-wal-ski," Ski relayed slowly, who did this upstart think he was? So what if he was Jones' replacement, he didn't have to act so..so menacing. This wasn't the Navy, for Pete's sake.
"Yeah, that’s right. Kowalski, you help the kid get aboard to see the Exec. Got it?"
"Yeah, chief, I got it."
With a satisfied grunt the chief departed, checking things off his clipboard. The two men breathed out in relief.Riley gave Ski a questioning look.
" Chief Jones died suddenly, while he was on leave. Man, he was a good guy. Great chief too. I'm not so sure about his replacement! C'mon I'll pipe you aboard".
It was difficult not to be awed by the sights and sounds that greeted Riley as he boarded the boat, and was quickly herded toward the XO's cabin. Kowalski knocked and a voice said 'in'.
"Well, good luck kid, see ya when we sail,"Kowalski grinned as he opened the door, and pushed Riley in.
Riley stood at attention as he waited for the XO to say something. But there was silence. The XO was busy, head bent down, pencil in hand, finger on his PC's keyboard. Something was on the screen, moving, could it be a girl? but it faced away from Riley so he couldn't eavesdrop. Papers were piled on his desk, kept in place by a plate of sandwiches and a beer.Beer?Riley was confused. And to top it off, the exec was wearing a faded Hawaiian shirt, denim shorts, and could that possibly be a lover's hickey on his neck? On An officer?
It seemed like hours, the few minutes Riley stood at attention. He was beginning to sweat in anticipation. The XO had forgotten all about him, if he even knew he was there. Riley took a breath and cleared his throat. The XO hurridly turned the PC off.
"Oh, yes, about time, sailor. At ease. This is a civilian ship, er, boat, well, some of the time anyway. Depends . Sometimes we're a ship if the boss prefers. We're Navy Reserve, as well, especially when it suits the brass.Discipline, yes, but no Captain Bligh's aboard here, at least if we had a captain here. Skipper's still on vacation, so I'm the big cheese at present, except for the Admiral. Now then," Morton eyed Riley with a measured and practiced appraisal. He looks fit. A bit young, but then,weren't we all, once.
"I have your file here someplace," he searched through the pile of folders, and almost cackling with glee in finding it, pulled it from the pile." Riley, Stuart. US Navy, SSN Vern, sonar, radar, and qualified as an electrician,and mechanic. Discharged honorably. Applied and accepted as a reservist." Morton put the file down. "It says here that your extracurricular activities include music and surfing…do you have an instrument with you?"
"Huh? Oh, yes sir, it's at the locker room ashore."
"Hmm. I'll have someone retrieve it and bring it aboard. You'll find your surfboard already in storage compartment B. Just don't let it get in anyone's way or use it aboard." Morton teased, "We sail in two hours. Dismissed."
It had to be Ski , Riley mused as he explored the vessel, or the Chief or maybe even that Miss Angie Ski talked about..he'd have to thank whoever it was who'd gotten through the red tape. He might not be able to surf on the sub but at least his board was here with him, and his guitar. Seaview was certainly no Navy sub.
"Well, there, you must be Riley," the almost elderly gentleman clad in tennis attire said, as Riley almost bumped into him. "I've heard a great deal about you, young man, twice surfing champion at the Internationals. That's quite a talent you've got….are you getting your bearings?"
"Well, I hope I can soon, she's an awfully big boat, uh, er,"
"Nelson, Harriman," he extended his hand in greeting, " Just all me Admiral. They all do. Well, to my face that is. I can be a real bear at times,I understand, so I can just imagine what they call me behind my back." His eyes laughed, but he continued with an air of unquestioned authority, " but I don't take any guff. I just give it. Just so you know what you're getting into," Nelson smiled and meandered down the corridor to a compartment labeled LAB A -No Admittance, and entered.
No, Seaview was certainly no Navy boat, Riley confirmed to himself.
And so, after being briefed by the chief in the Crew's lounge as to duty stations and scheduling assignments, Riley took out his guitar and played a few songs in a definitely un-military beat, much to the chagrin of the older shipmates and the delight of the younger.
Meanwhile, far away, the man had been readily accepted by the Marine Commando unit and had already proven his nettle.He could slink and march along with the best of them in the unwelcoming terrain.The Sergeant hardly taunted him anymore about his occupation, which had come out by a slip of the tongue, and had promised to keep it a secret from his colleauges.The unit had done well. They'd already ducked into that Asian country to rescue a former Premier, and had him in tow. He'd been granted asylum in the US in return for vital information. So the mission was just about accomplished, and the group prepared to sneak back out of the hostile territory.
The Marine rations were pretty good for canned products, the man thought. He'd have to have the company check into the manufacturing label and purchase some for the catering department. But the water was vile. Metallic from the canteens, and already bad enough from polluted river water. The disinfecting tablets didn't do a thing for flavor. The sooner this assignment was over, the better. He couldn't believe he'd actually looked forward to it for a little change of pace. As his medallion tried to glint in a beam of sunlight, he quickly covered it, to hide its flash, and he wondered how it's giver was doing on his own assignment. Perhaps he could ask the company to hire the youth. There was always a need for new and vital energy, and the boy certainly had a dignity the man respected.
Aboard the Seaview, the routine was starting to get boring. Except for Riley, who was engrossed in learning everything he could aboard the great and unusual submarine. Things weren't quite so relaxed now that everyone was in uniform or jumpsuits.
Sharkey was pleased the boy already knew how to dive, and while not an officially rated diver, Riley was allowed to assist the more experienced divers in the rather common, for Seaview, job of pulling samples of coral, seaweed, and sea-life, for the 'Old Man's pleasurable scientific pursuits. ( In the Navy only the captain was called the 'old man', but not being present, it really didn't make any difference, Ski pointed out). And Morton preferred to keep the designation of 'skipper' reserved for their captain, lounging away on some beach, he'd said. Nelson was happily seconded in his precious lab, emersed in one experiment after another.
To relieve some of the boredom, Morton had had a few drills now and then, just to keep the men active and 'on their toes', something that was very Navy.
Riley had fitted in well, aside from a few complaints about his silly surfer music, but Morton had told them to stow it , in not so polite terms, and Riley had been granted a kind of 'carte blanche' when it came to playing his guitar, at least in the crew's lounge.
He hardly jumped at all anymore when Chief Sharkey bellowed for his 'knotheads' to fix the small leak in the ballast pump, or his 'bozos' to mop the deck, or whatever else the chief felt obligated to get done to keep Seaview shipshape, for Nelson, for Morton, and for the Captain who'd be waiting dockside after this cruise. Sure want's to make an impression, but we still do all the work! Riley thought, ironically.Maybe Seaview's more like a Navy boat, after all.
Suddenly Klaxtons began to ring out, and the O'Brian's voice rang out over the PA, "Battle Stations, Battle Stations."
"Attention all hands." Morton cleared his throat."We've been advised that a state of war may be declared by the People's Republic against the United States at any time. We are proceeding to our designated missile launch coordinates as advised by the office of the President… This is NOT a drill."
The next few days were tense. No missiles or bombs had been deployed anywhere yet by the 'enemy', and the UN was hurriedly getting nowhere in the negotiations between claims and counterclaims of US interference with their politics and policies.
Riley, not being assigned to a battle station, knocked on the Admiral's door, and entered upon hearing a gruff voice of approval.
"Yes, Riley?" the Admiral asked, haggard.
"Well, uh, sir, I…I'd just like to let you know, that even if my time is up, I'll stay till this thing is resolved, one way or another."
Nelson's haggard face was replaced with lines of amusement. " Thank you Riley, we can certainly use every man aboard….a moment…." Nelson turned up his wall monitor to a televised news broadcast, and motioned the boy to stary with him to view it.
"….and as the commando unit was ambushed, ex-premier Chou was taken captive. No one knows what became of the US Marines, supposedly on sanctioned assignment to bring him out of the country, but experts are fearing the worse, as some personal belongings, boots, and even a few articles of clothing have been on display in the center of this village…." While the scene showed the pile being set ablaze, a youth grabbed a silver chain with a medallion and held it up in a victor's pose.
"NO!" Riley gasped. "No, oh dear God, No!"
"What is it Riley?" Nelson asked as he turned off the viewer, and sat the boy down.
"My, my friend, well, not really, but he, he saved my life…just a beach bum, but he was putting in a stint as a reservist…he was a weekend warrior too…I thought it was a desk job ….the medallion…I gave it to him. I thought he could pawn it for money or food or something."
"You're sure it's the same medallion?"
"I'm sure. There are only two in the world, and the other's mine," Riley fumbled around his neck, and showed the admiral.
Nelson sat a hand on Riley's shoulder. "I could tell you that these things happen, son, but it doesn't take the pain away, does it."
"No sir, and it makes me mad. Damn mad."
"Me too, Riley, me too…well , lad, advise Sharkey to assign you a battle station."
The hut's floor was gritty, and the man groaned in pain as he lay on the floor. His arms were secured behind his back and his feet were snugly fastened together with equal expertise. He tried to nudge one of his companions but they were still out of it, the blows and paralyzing darts had certainly been effective when they'd been ambushed. As he saw himself and his companions he felt growing shame at having been so stupid not to have been prepared for such an attack.
He wasn't that much of a rookie, for Pete's sake. He should have insisted on a back-up plan or at least some special equipment, but it was their call, not his. He was simply along for the ride. As he continued to kick the group with his feet, he couldn't help feeling like a prize animal ready for slaughter. Bruised and shirtless, he was bound like the others, he couldn't help thinking that they looked a little bit like the pigs at the meat factory he'd seen on TV back home, awaiting their demise. And it certainly looked like it could come to that, unless they could get out. He took a quick count, one, two,three, four, five, six, sev..no, where was seven? Someone was missing.
"Gentlemen," Nelson faced his officers and non-coms in the wardroom, "I have here a report that our men may have been ambushed somewhere along here," Nelson traced his fingers along a map on the table," near this small estuary. I've been told in no uncertain terms that the US Military is not to interfere.To do so, could cause someone to panic and push some buttons we'd rather they didn't. Stalemate…however, since Seaview is after all only a simple research vessel on a charting mission it hardly concerns us, does it, " he grinned in recognition of the fact, that again, Seaview was officially 'unofficially' 'allowed' to investigate.
"Well, now," a pair of eyes glinted in the dimly lit building which housed the captives, "I understand one of you is a reservist. Yes, you, " the guard nudged the man, "Now, you're not a military man, come now, admit US involvement on TV and we'll set you free."
Oh, it sounded so easy. The man saw the defiance in his colleagues eyes, and knew he was expected not to cooperate. But it was for their own good, wasn't it?
"Okay, you win."
He was grabbed upright, and led out, amid the defiant groaning and spitting by his colleagues on the floor below. Was it his imagination, or did the Sergeant glare at him the hardest.
The room was lit by a single light bulb. A major sat behind the desk, and looked up when the man was brought before him, arms still bound behind him.
"Well, now, you've made a good choice.Just speak into the recorder camera.On the wall, there."
"Like this? The world will hardly believe you if I'm tied up."
Soon the man was unbound."What do you want me to say?" the man grabbed and munched into some week old bread on the major's desk, pocketing most of it.
"What you were up to."
"Up to? Look, bud, I just follow orders. I don't know all the details. Hell, I don't even know what happened to old, uh, what's his name? That Premier guy. What happened to him?
"He is awaiting execution, of course, " the major folded his hands benignly, " but that will be changed when he will tell the world that he was brainwashed and tricked into defecting by the US… and then he will resume his position…won't you Chou?"
Premier Chou entered the room through a small door hidden behind a bookcase. Flashing lights came from within it. Behind him was the missing marine.With a victorious smirk.
"You know," the man mused, "that isn't exactly gonna help your little TV broadcast. You ought to postpone both at least. Give things time to calm down…what was in it for you marine, or should I say mercenary?"
"Same as you. Only I get some big bucks for my trouble. Change of heart, huh?"
"Hell, no, I want to live as much as the next guy, but if I were you…."
"We can do without your suggestions." The major interjected, " Now, face the cam…what's wrong."
"I …I feel fain…." The man passed out.
The major poked and prodded but to no avail. Nodding to a guard, the man was pulled to the corner of the room.
"Keep watch. We are going to the control room.". The major stomped off, followed by his marine mercenary.
The man could hear their departure and sighed in relief. The needed break was here. Groaning in what he hoped sounded like agony, he lured the guard to bend over him. Using his body as a weapon, and throwing the breadcrumbs as a blinding rain , the man lunged toward the guard and after a few hearty punches and kicks, knocked him out. Those karate lessons the company offered certainly came in handy! Taking the guard's weapons, and keys, he quickly tied and gagged him, and scrambled out of the building.
"Well as I live and breathe, you were faking!" the Sergent chuckled, as the man entered, tossing the group a few pilfered weapons from the now mounting number of unconscious guards.
"Couldn't think of a better way to figure out what the hell was going on. Come on, we've got to get out of here. It was all a trap to set us up! To get the US into disgrace,or a war even. They've got a control room of some kind. If I'm right, they may have a missile launch control, just waiting for an excuse to fire. We've got to destroy it. And the premier's been in on it all along! And Smith!"
'Rambo' would be proud of the small unit of marines as they surprised their captors, successfully using the same knock out darts and muscle power that had surprised them, though it wasn't as easy to crash the control room's computers.
The man swore under his breath when he thought how much easier it would have been had one of his company's computer programmers been able to just insert a virus into the damn thing. There could be vital security info in those computers the US could have used. As it was, he simply ripped out the plugs, aimed a few well aimed rifle shots into the circuitry and shattered any possibly of the smoldering wiring and microchips from every penetrating cyberspace again. With a triumphant last look, he joined his unit, but suddenly he heard , rather than felt a loud shot ring out. It was with a little confusion that he saw his medal had deflected a bullet, which just managed to crease his skin in its flight, before it was stilled by his companions. Bad aim, he thought..The medal was bent, melted a little, and his skin burned from it, but it had saved his life. Like weirdo, the man thought, echoing with amusement the surfer lingo.
Smith had been knocked out, and was grudgingly carted through the underbrush in a fireman's carry before the men finally reached the small estuary. Thank goodness the man had buried his cell phone and placed some stones above it mark the spot.
"What the hell's that?" the sergeant asked in the moonlight.
"I don't leave home without it," the man grinned.
"Mr. O'Brian, I'm picking up a weird signal from the bay, really weird."
O'Brian, acting Exec, listened to the signal, confused. It was an electronic tune playing 'be it ever so humble there's no place like home.'
"Probably somebody's radio."
"No, sir, this is no radio station, look here, it's our own wave band"
"That's impossible. We…wait a minute…Commander Morton, I think you'd better listen to this."
"What is it O'Brian?" Morton asked.
Sparks turned the signal on speaker. Morton looked confused, then grinned, then fumed.
Barking out some orders to triangulate the signal's position, he ordered two small power rafts which fortunately could quickly sailed for a nearby bay.
Morton paced the control room, muttering under his breath for what seemed an eternity, though it wasn't really too long.
"You sent out the rafts." Nelson entered the control room, "Visitors, Chip?"
" Yes, sir. And have Doc standing by, he'll be needed when after I get my hands on him! Of all the stupid, idiotic , underhanded tricks!"
" Calm down, Chip, you'll burst a blood vessel, " the admiral said,entering the control room " Uh, Chip, just who are our visitors?Not the marines? Anyone I know?"
As if in answer, a pair legs in camouflage fatigues appeared and the man jumped down from the upper hatch, as others soon followed. The man grinned as he saluted.
"Permission to come aboard sir?"
"Lee!" Nelson exclaimed.
"Sick bay, NOW,!" Morton almost shouted.
"Whatever for?" Lee asked. "Oh, just a couple of bruises, put Smith here ( dumped on the deck) in the brig, he's a spy. Led us right into a trap. I'll explain every thing later.Get on the horn and tell the President that it was all a plot to trick us into a conflict.They won't try anything now, I'm sure. What I need now is a hot shower and toothpaste….well, hello there!Small world!"Lee exclaimed as he saw Riley staring at him.
" Sick bay first Lee, all of you."Nelson ordered.
Reluctantly Lee nodded to his unit to head toward the companionway hatch, but stopped and turned. "Oh, Riley," Crane lifted the bent medallion from around his neck, " I was going to return this in better condition, after I'd explained about my deception, and I'll arrange for it to be repaired. It saved my life, you know," he said quietly, " deflected a bullet. It really was good luck."
Riley accepted the medallion, "Gee that's ok, uh, I guess we're even now, hu?" he smiled.
" Whatever are you two talking about?" Morton asked, still noticing Lee's bruised face, arms, and chest. Crane was always getting damaged somehow. "Never mind, it can wait, Riley you escort Captain Crane to Sick bay, don't let him conn you into a detour."
"Captain?" Riley asked, surprised, then green as he remembered his comments about Seaview's skipper." YOU're Captain of Seaview?"
"Well, I was when I last checked, oh, by the way, how did you enjoy your stint as a weekend warrior?" Lee asked as he led the boy out of the hatch.
"Like way out, man. Seaview's really groovy…uh, sir, …about some of the things I said…I..uh…"
"Forget it. Besides, I can always use an honest man….how would you like to be a regular?"
"Me sir?? Really? You'd want me to?" Riley asked, surprised and flattered.
"I can't think of anyone I'd rather ask the admiral to assign…after all," Lee winked, as they approached sick bay, " we 'weekend warriors' should stick together! Let me talk to the admiral…if you'd like, that is."
" Well then, Riley, welcome aboard." Lee clapped a hand on the boy's shoulder.
" You too sir, and welcome home."