Title: Flying Under the Influence
Author: Kim Q
Flavor: drama, humor, h/c, angst
Summary: Mr. Morton's wild ride.
Author's Notes: This little roller coaster ride is the result of a rather
determined plot squid that attacked me via the Seaview yahoo list and is my
first try at a somewhat longer story. Many thanks to my wonderful beta Fidelma
for her patience, thoroughness and invaluable input, to Lin and Helen for their
help with Nelson and to my chat friends for letting me bounce ideas off of them!
Any mistakes are mine and mine alone. Set in the early fall of 1978, a year or so
after "Death Ship" which I have set in late '77 because it works for my timeline
and the canon dates of certain second season episodes don't match broadcast
order anyway. :) Slightly revised from the posting on Sub Pen.
Short Cuts to Part 2
• Part 5
**Part 1 **
Wreathed in a pungent fog from countless chain-smoked cigarettes, Admiral
Harriman Nelson paced incessantly back and forth in Seaview's
Observation Nose, the forceful sound of his steps providing a counterpoint to
the nervous tapping of a pencil by his captain, Lee Crane. Tension was high
throughout the control room as the faces of the crew reflected the concerned
mood of their commanding officers. After a last drag on his current cigarette,
Nelson crushed the butt in an ashtray and strode over to the plotting table.
Slapping his hand down on the scattered charts, he swore, "Damn it, Lee! The
Flying Sub's five hours overdue! Where could Chip be?"
"I wish I knew, Admiral." Crane forced himself to put down his pencil, his
concerned hazel eyes meeting Nelson's worried gaze. "General Rizal was the last
Oceania peace conference member he was to drop off. All the others arrived
safely in their respective countries, but we've gotten no response from Palau or
the Flying Sub. It's going to take us at least 48 hours to get to Palau even at
Nelson snorted, "Blast Admiral Starke and his 'piece of cake' missions! They
almost always backfire." He started pacing again, concerned as to the fate of
his exec. He'd known Chip Morton since the lad had entered the Naval Academy.
Nelson had been serving a tour as an instructor and had been very impressed with
the sharp mind, calm leadership ability and remarkable organizational skills
that hid behind Morton's unassuming personality. Having kept track of the young
officer's noteworthy sub career, he had hand picked Chip to serve as
XO even before her keel was laid.
He looked over at his captain, knowing that Lee was having an even more
difficult time dealing with Chip's disappearance. The deep friendship between
Lee and Chip had started back when they were roommates at the Academy. Back
then, the Crane and Morton team was nigh unbeatable, whether excelling in
academics and athletics or leading their fellow midshipmen through some of the
most elaborate pranks the Yard had ever witnessed. The two men had become as
close as brothers, a relationship only enhanced by working together on Seaview.
It was that brotherhood which forged them into a matchless command team, able to
face the most difficult of missions with supreme confidence, allowing Nelson the
freedom to concentrate on the scientific projects that he so loved.
Watching Crane prowl around the control room, needlessly double and triple
checking various stations, then return to the plotting table only to begin
drumming his fingers on the charts, Nelson had to chuckle. Lee stilled his
fingers and frowned at his boss. "Mind sharing the joke, Admiral? I could use a
laugh right now."
"Sorry, Lee," Nelson apologized with a dry smile. "It's just that Chip is much
better at hiding his concern while waiting for you to return from off-boat."
"Well, he's had a lot more practice," retorted Crane, twisting his Academy ring
in a telltale sign of anxiety. "I detest waiting! No wonder Chip hates it when I
go on missions for ONI..."
"Skipper! I've got the Flying Sub on radar!" interrupted Patterson, beckoning
his superiors over and pointing to the signal on his screen. "It just appeared
out of nowhere!"
"It's about time!" Crane stared at the screen, tilting his head slightly in
puzzlement. "Strange! Chip's flight path seems very erratic!"
"Captain! I've got Mr. Morton on the radio!" Sparks' excited voice called from
the radio shack.
"Sounds like our luck is changing! Put him on the speakers!" Crane quickly
turned back to the plotting table and grabbed the mike. "Seaview
to FS-1. Chip, can you read me?"
"Hellooooo, Skipper, ol' buddy, ol' pal! Howwwwzit goin'?" The intoxicated
sounding salutation from the wayward XO caused total silence to fall upon the
control room as officers and crew alike traded incredulous looks. Though Morton
and Crane's shore leave exploits were legendary, it was unthinkable that the
principled exec would have indulged while on duty.
Lee frowned in disbelief at the mike in his hand. "Chip! Where have you been?
Why haven't you answered our calls? And why the blazes do you sound like you've
had too much liberty?"
"Hey, not my fault this time, bro. I've been drugged! Hmm, I probably shouldn't
be flying but I couldn't figure out any other way to get home. Don't worry, I'll
try not to scratch the paint on your lil' yellow baby." A tipsy snicker was
heard over the speaker. "About the radio... um..." Chip's voice took on a
slightly embarrassed tone. "...I kinda forgot to turn it on 'til now."
Nelson quickly grabbed the periscope island mike. "Sick Bay, this is Nelson.
Doc, I need you in the control room on the double!" Turning to the Chief of the
Boat hovering at his shoulder, he growled, "Chief, stand by the retrieval system
for the Flying Sub. It sounds like the exec is going to need our assistance."
"But, Admiral, sir, the magnetic retrieval system only works at close quarters,"
protested Chief Sharkey. "Mr. Morton is way out of range!"
"I know, I know! Just make sure it's ready to go the instant he's near enough."
"Aye, aye, sir!" The chief bustled over to the retrieval controls and ran
through a full diagnostic, checking and double-checking that the system was
Crane ruthlessly suppressed the instant panic his friend's words had produced
and asked calmly. "Chip, who drugged you? What happened?"
"It's all that nasty General Rizal's fault. He's really a very bad dude, Lee. As
soon as I opened the rear hatch to the Flying Sub to let him off, his guards
rushed in and beat me up!" Chip's Chicagoan drawl, much more evident than usual,
was tinged with indignation. "Then they knocked me on the head with a rifle
butt! Next thing I know, I wake up with a nasty headache, strapped down on a
cold metal table with some weirdo Dr. Frankenstein coming at me with this
The Chief Medical Officer made it to the control room in time to hear the last
part of Chip's transmission. "Oh Lord! He's got a possible head injury in
addition to an unknown drug in his system??" Jamieson groaned in dismay as he
took the mike from an anxious Crane. "Commander, do you still have a headache or
any dizziness? How long were you unconscious? Do you have any idea what drug
they used on you?"
"Hey there, Jamie! Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m too far away for you to
stick an I.V. in me this time," Chip chortled with child-like glee. Despite
their worry, the crew couldn't help grinning as they knew the exec was one of
the few people who hated Sick Bay as much as the skipper.
Jamieson shook his head. Morton was difficult enough to deal with at the best of
times and this was definitely not the best of times. "Oh, you'll be in my
clutches soon enough, Commander. Now tell me what sort of symptoms you have due
to the drug."
"Hmm, maybe I should take a detour then, Doc. I've always wanted to take the
Flying Sub supersonic over Miramar and buzz the Airdales*!" A very evil cackle
crackled over the speakers, causing more than a few quickly stifled laughs from
the avidly listening duty watch.
Sharkey turned towards the plotting table and his commanding officers, his eyes
wide. "Skipper, Mr. Morton wouldn't really do that...Would he?"
Remembering a few of the choicer pranks his friend had dragged him into over the
years, Lee shuddered. "Unfortunately, Chief, in his present condition, it's a
distinct possibility." Crane took a deep breath and grabbed the mike back from
the doctor. "Sorry, Chip, the Top Gun base is off limits! Just put the Flying
Sub on autopilot and tell Doc about the drugs they gave you."
"Aw, man! I don't wanna go on autopilot." Chip's voice whined. "I'm having fun!
First I flew low and slow over a pod of dolphins, but the waves started getting
too rough, so now I’m playing tag with a black-footed albatross waaaay up in the
"It's no wonder we couldn't pick him up on radar if he was skimming the water's
surface until now," grumbled Nelson as he peered over Patterson's shoulder at
the exec's irregular flight path.
Crane checked his charts, calculating quickly. "Chip, put the Flying Sub on
autopilot and enter a course of one eight three. That's an order, Mister!"
A resigned "Okay, you're the skipper," was heard followed by a quietly muttered,
"Spoilsport... I never get to have any fun..." Despite his concern, Lee had to
chuckle at the sulking 'little boy' tone of his friend's voice. It would be a
long time before he'd let his buddy live this one down.
After a few minutes of assorted clicking noises and more questionable
mutterings, Chip's voice spoke again, "Sorry, Skipper. No can do. I can follow
that course easily enough, but that blasted bullet seems to have knocked out the
autopilot. Probably wouldn't take long to fix it, but I can't fix it while I'm
flying and I can't stop flying to fix it because the autopilot isn't working so
I can't fix it and... um... what was I saying?" Morton's voice trailed off in
"Bullet? What bullet?!"
"Probably the same one that winged me."
"You've been shot??" Crane turned his stricken gaze towards Jamieson.
The doctor quickly took back the mike and, with a calm professional voice that
masked his inner agitation, asked, "Exactly where were you shot, Commander?"
"In the Flying Sub, Doc."
Resisting the temptation to pull out what was left of his hair; Jamieson raised
his long-suffering gaze towards Heaven, a deep sigh emanating from the very
marrow of his bones. Turning away from the plotting table to avoid looking at
his commanding officers, who were torn between laughter and anxious worry, the
doctor enunciated very slowly and distinctly, "Where... were... you... shot...
on... your... BODY!!"
"Oh! The bullet tore across my left side. Didn't even realize I'd been hit until
I saw all the blood on my uniform and flight jacket. It bled a whole lot at
first, but I managed to plug it with the first aid supplies that we started
carrying in the Flying Sub... you know, after Lee kept getting hurt on
missions?... and that has slowed the bleeding down some. A couple ribs creak as
though they might be cracked, but it didn't hurt when it happened or even now.
Matter of fact, I feel really, really good. Kinda like that last shore leave in
Hong Kong. Remember that one, Lee? The one where you and that exotic dancer
named Passion Fruit..."
To the utter disappointment of the crew, their captain, a hint of desperation in
his voice, snatched the mike back from the doctor and quickly interrupted his
unusually talkative exec, "Ah... that's enough, Chip! So... you're telling us
that you've been beaten by guards, knocked in the head by a rifle butt, creased
by a bullet and are presently under the influence of powerful unknown drugs
which make you feel no pain whatsoever?"
"Yup! That's about it, oh Captain, my Captain!" A slight pause, then Chip's
voice resumed with a definite forlorn tone. "Oh, man, Kaia's gonna be mad at me.
For some reason, she really likes it when I wear my black flight jacket on our
dates. Boy, women are strange sometimes, aren't they? But now my jacket's all
soaked with blood. Damn."
"Kaia? You're dating Dr. Kaia Winters?" A small grin broke through Crane's
apprehension as a surprised murmur made its way around the control room. Lee had
found it very entertaining to watch Mr. "No Commitments" Morton fall hard for
the new Director of Computer Systems at the Institute. Now it seemed that his
buddy had finally managed to broach the formidable defenses of the lovely Lt.
"Yup. But s'okay, Skipper, she's not in the same Chain of Command and you still
have the rest of your Institute harem to flirt with."
"My WHAT?" The control room crew swiftly found their instruments to be
completely and totally engrossing, while Nelson and Jamieson suffered sudden
simultaneous coughing spells.
"You know, you ol' sea dog..." Chip's voice said slyly. "Crane's Cuties... Lee's
Lovelies... the Captain's Cupcakes..."
"There's Katie and Angie and Lola and Tish and Diane and Carol and Sue and Lin
and Linda and Rita and..."
"CHIP!" Lee thundered as a flood of red crept up his neck, noticeable even with
his olive complexion.
After a few heartbeats of total quiet, a small hurt voice was heard over the
speakers. "You didn't have to yell, Lee."
Chip's sudden and somewhat extreme change in mood forcibly reminded Lee that his
friend was not exactly himself at the moment. Feeling as if he'd just kicked a
puppy, he softened his voice, "I'm sorry, Chip. Please, you've got to tell the
Doctor more about the drug they gave you."
"Well..." came the subdued reply, "I do have Doctor Frankenstein strapped down
in the Flying Sub rack and could ask him if he wasn't still out cold..."
Nelson grabbed the mike and interrupted, "Chip, are you saying you brought the
creator of the serum back with you?"
Chip's voice brightened, "Yessir, Admiral Sir! The joker tried to sneak aboard
the Flying Sub as I was getting ready to take off. He's the one who shot me
before I could knock him out. I thought you'd want to talk to him, Admiral,
'cause he is a scientist like you, even if he's kinda crazy and wants to take
over the world and you're not. I mean don't. Crazy I mean. I mean you're not
crazy but he is... but... that is...oh hell, sir."
"That's okay, Chip, I understand," Nelson's voice was warm with affection and
amusement. "Now tell us what the doctor said about the drugs he used on you."
"Well, the Doc - not Jamie, I mean the evil bad guy Doc - rattled off a bunch of
really, really long names of stuff that was in his drug cocktail but all I
remember is that there was a funky stimulant mixed with his latest and greatest
experimental truth serum that no one could resist and that they'd find out all
super duper top secret stuff from me then the general and
doctor could overthrow the Palau government and then Rule the World..."
Nelson looked at Crane in shock and saw his own horror reflected in the
captain's hazel eyes. There could be devastating consequences if any of
classified data fell into the wrong hands.
"...but don't worry, sir. Every time they asked me a question, I told 'em that
they didn't have the proper top secret clearance for that kind of information."
Running one hand abstractedly through his thick auburn hair, Nelson asked in
disbelief. "You... You told them they didn't have the proper clearance?"
"Well, sir, the drugs made me tell the truth and that was the truth," replied
the matter-of-fact voice of the exec. As their commanding officers sighed in
relief, the crew traded smug smiles, proud of their devious XO.
Jamieson chuckled dryly, "At least it doesn't sound like the experimental drugs
have impaired his mental faculties. The inebriated effect should wear off as the
drugs work their way out of his system." He frowned and tapped his ubiquitous
stethoscope lightly on the side of the plotting table. "Though he's not
complaining of dizziness or nausea, I'm still not happy about the blow to the
head he received, let alone the bullet crease and possible cracked ribs."
A happy, melodic humming now emanated from the speakers as the doctor looked
with concern at Nelson and Crane. "Since he doesn't know what was in the drug
cocktail, we don't know how long the effects will last or how rapidly the
stimulant part might wear off. When it does, all the pain and fatigue will
return with a vengeance. To make matters worse, if the bullet crease is deep
enough and still bleeding, he could lose enough blood to go into shock. Perhaps
we should let him land the Flying Sub on the surface and go meet him?"
Lee shook his head, "Sorry, Doc, but he seems to be in control at the moment and
I'd like him to get a lot closer first. Topside conditions are much too rough
for a surface landing so he'd have to dive below. In his present state he could
easily misjudge the angle of entry. If he does lose control and crash, I want
him to be near enough for us to be able to rescue him quickly."
"I understand, Skipper. In that case, we've got to keep him awake and talking as
long as possible."
"Somehow, I don't think that will be very difficult," said Nelson with a snort.
"These drugs seem to make our normally taciturn exec quite loquacious!" The
admiral turned to Crane. "Lee, how much time do we have?"
"At our respective speeds, only about fifteen minutes before Chip will need to
"Very well. Shouldn't be hard to keep him talking that long." Clicking the mike,
Nelson interrupted the exec's tuneful humming and asked, "Chip, why don't you
tell us how you escaped from the general?"
"Sure, Admiral! Whatever you say, Mr. Boss Man, sir!" came Chip's cheerful drawl
over the speaker. "The general and the evil doc weren't very happy with me
'cause the doc thought his precious serum would make me spill my guts, but I
threw up instead. Not exactly the guts they wanted me to spill." The exec's
wicked chuckle found an echo in more than one listening crewman. "But I threw up
all over the general. That's how I was able to grab his gun."
"Wait... Wait a minute. Earlier you said you were strapped down on a table!"
"Well, I was, sir, but when they gave me the second dose of drugs 'cause the
first didn't work the way they wanted, I told them I was going to throw up so
they let me up so I wouldn't choke to death. I really wanted to throw up all
over Doctor Frankenstein but I needed the general's gun to escape so I threw up
on him instead. Then I grabbed his gun and shot the two armed guards but not the
general because he didn't have a weapon anymore."
"You shot the guards?"
"Yessir. I knew I couldn't bluff my way past 'em 'cause of the truth drug, so I
had to just take 'em out. I had to shoot more to get away after I blew up Dr.
Nelson's eyebrows rose as he exchanged surprised looks with Crane and Jamieson.
"You blew up the doctor's lab??"
"Well sir, I didn't want him giving anyone else his stupid serum, so I figured
his lab had to go. Oh, yeah, that reminds me, Admiral, you'd better tell the
Office of Notorious Ineptitude that they'll need a HAZMAT team to clean up the
mess. I smelled some really funky odors coming from what was left of the lab."
Nelson's sapphire eyes sparkled at Morton's creative renaming of the Office of
Naval Intelligence and the corresponding sour look on Lee's face. The XO's
extremely low opinion of the ONI - due primarily to their continued drafting of
Lee for dangerous missions from which the captain seldom returned unscathed -
was common knowledge on the boat and had been the cause of more than one
vigorous 'discussion' between his command officers. "I'll take care of it, Chip.
"Ooo, sir! Tell Lee that, considering his usual condition after a mission, maybe
'ONI' should really stand for...Officers Needing Ibuprofen." A peal of
infectious mirth cascaded out of the speakers causing the duty watch to struggle
to suppress their laughter before the heat of their skipper's glare could scorch
them into small steaming piles of ash.
Having serious trouble containing his own amusement, Nelson wordlessly handed
the mike back to Crane. The captain turned his glower from his crew to the
inoffensive instrument connecting him to his still snickering exec. "Very funny,
Chip! Now tell us about the lab."
"Okay, Mr. Grumpy! Sheesh! I didn't blow up the lab right away. I had to release
the prisoners first."
"Well, duh, Lee. I couldn't very well blow up the lab without releasing the
general's prisoners that the doctor was using as lab rats first, now could I?
Man, those poor guys were in pretty bad shape! That nasty doctor liked to
experiment on them! And I was to be next if I didn't talk!" Revulsion filled
Chip's voice, sending chills down Lee's spine as he realized what a close call
it had been for his friend.
In another quick change of mood, Chip's voice continued in a much lighter tone,
"Luckily the Palau loyalists had wanted to take down General Rizal and his evil
doc for a long time so they were happy to help me free the prisoners."
"Loyalists?" asked Lee with a groan, leaning on the plotting table and rubbing
his temple with his index finger. He wasn't entirely sure he could handle too
many more revelations from his friend.
"Yeah, they were a pretty nice bunch of guys. They helped get the sick and
wounded prisoners to safety which provided the diversion I needed to raid the
weapons storage locker where I found the explosives I needed to blow up the lab
after I grabbed the data disks that I needed to prove that the general and the
doctor were bad guys."
While Chip paused to take a much-needed breath, Nelson grabbed back the mike and
interjected, "Data disks?? You managed to steal their data disks?"
"Yessir! They used those newfangled 5 1/4" floppy disk thingies so it was easy
to tuck a bunch of them into my flight jacket after I planted the explosives. I
just hope I didn't bleed on 'em. Man, you should have seen their computer set
up, sir! Kaia would have loved it! I'd really like to put some of their ideas to
work on Seaview's
computers. You know, Admiral, we could really boost
her processing speed out the wazoo if we just... "
"We can discuss updating our computers later, Chip." Nelson interrupted, smiling
indulgently at the enthusiastic tone of his resident computer buff. As
passionate about Seaview's
computers as Crane was about the Flying Sub,
Morton was constantly bugging the Admiral for the latest in equipment upgrades
and gleefully adapting programs to the sub's unique needs. "Now how did you get
away after blowing up the lab?"
"Well sir, after leaving the destroyed lab, there was a whole lot of fighting
going on between the loyalists and the general's men so I decided to get back to
the Flying Sub and get it out of there. Knew Lee would never forgive me if
anything happened to his lil' yellow UFO," A smirk was quite evident in Chip's
voice. "But the general sent four of his nastiest thugs out to recapture me and
they managed to cut me off from the landing area. Luckily I had picked up a
rifle along the way so I snuck through the rainforest and neutralized them one
at a time so I could get away."
"You sniped four enemy soldiers as you escaped through a tropical rainforest
while drugged?" asked an incredulous Nelson.
A slightly affronted snort was heard in reply. "I might not have Lee's super spy
training, sir, but I did go hunting with my dad every year when I was growing
up. Gotta be able to sneak around pretty quietly if you want to bag a
white-tailed deer with a single shot muzzleloader. Much easier to hunt a human
than a deer, even if the deer isn't trying to kill you." Chip's voice snickered.
"Though the ground kept moving real funny, like I was at sea! Made it hard to
evade the bad guys left standing after I'd shoot one of 'em. But I eventually
got 'em all plus the one guarding Lee's toy."
The control room duty watch traded astonished looks. They knew Morton had the
reputation for being the best shot on the boat, though he seldom wore the Expert
medals he was entitled to*. But shooting on a target range wasn't nearly the
same as shooting under combat conditions and it usually was the admiral or the
skipper that led any shore parties, leaving the calm, dependable XO behind to
. The crew's respect for their quiet exec's abilities
"You've done a great job, lad," said Nelson with a pleased smile, proud of
Chip's resourcefulness under such challenging conditions. "I'll call Vice
Admiral Johnson and let ONI take care of the clean up details in Palau." He
traded grins with Crane. "I can't wait to tell Admiral Starke how his little
'piece of cake' mission actually went down!"
"Oh no, sir! Please don't tell Admiral Starke!" Chip's voice wailed from the
speaker. "He'll try to give me my own command again."
The control room once again became deathly quiet as Crane slowly took the mike
back from the stunned Nelson. "Chip, are you saying Admiral Starke offered you
your own command and..." Lee paused a moment to clear a lump from his throat.
"...you turned him down?"
"Oops. He didn't want me to tell anyone." Chip's voice turned pleading. "Please
don't let him know I told you, Lee, or he'll yell." The voice dropped to a
worried whisper, "He yells even louder than our admiral and that's saying
Crane quickly coughed to cover his chuckle as Jamieson turned away from the
plotting table to hide his own grin. "Don't worry, Chip. I won't tell him
anything." The angry glint in Nelson's eyes told Lee that Admiral Starke would
be hearing about it anyway - admiral to admiral.
"Thanks pal! Admiral Starke did tell me that my years of service on Seaview
definitely would count as my PCO tour*, especially considering all the times
I've been left in command when you and the admiral were off the boat. Boy, he
wasn't very happy when I told him I'd rather be the exec of Seaview
than return to the Navy to command my own boat. Hell, Lee, if I'd wanted my
third stripe and a command of my own that badly, I would have stayed in the Navy
a couple more years like you did. But I wanted to be a part of the admiral's
dream and serve as his exec so I left and I'm glad I did, so there!"
The skipper sighed in relief as Chip's voice rambled on. "Besides, it would be
hard to give up Seaview
. I'm a plankowner so I know her every rivet and
weld...every complex circuit of her computers. You of all people know how she
gets into your blood. She may be the admiral's creation and your Lady, Lee, but
she's my baby! After all, the crew and I are the ones who take care of her day
to day and make sure she's ready for all the weird adventures we get dragged
into. Speaking of which, the regular Navy would be awfully dull after all the
pushy aliens, mutant plants, super-sized sea creatures and megalomaniacal
villains we've dealt with."
As the duty watch chuckled, Lee's lips turned up in a wry smile. "I'll remember
you said that while we're counting species of plankton, Chip!"
Losing some of its original ebullience, Chip's voice began to fade slightly, "I
get all the command time I'd ever want when you and the admiral are off playing
with the Office of Nosy Infiltrators, I get to help the admiral run the
administrative side of the Institute when we're in port, I work with the finest
crew in or out of the Navy, and I've got my best friend and bro as my skipper.
Couldn't ask for a better billet." A weary but contented sigh was heard over the
speakers and found its reflection in the warm smiles of the listening officers
"Glad to hear it, buddy!" Lee said with an affectionate grin then turned to the
patiently waiting O'Brien. "All Stop! We don't want the exec overshooting us."
As the young lieutenant passed on the order, Crane clicked back to his friend
and said, "Okay, Chip, it's time for you to dive the Flying Sub and come home."
"Good, 'cause I'm hungry."
Lee rolled his eyes in disbelief as amused snickers rippled around the control
room. "Chip, you're always hungry. You can have something to eat once Doc checks
you out in Sick Bay. Now dive the Flying Sub and come aboard. That's an order,
"Aye, aye, sir. Closing off external air intakes..." Chip's tired voice began to
take on a pained tone causing Crane to trade concerned looks with Nelson and
Jamieson. "Switching to on board air revitalization system... preparing... to
submerge." They heard the exec's breath getting progressively more labored as he
continued, "I don't want any of that icky ... Sick Bay slop... Want...
brownies... the ones Cookie makes to temp you... Captain... Fussy Pants..."
The tension in the Control Room grew as Morton's voice weakened. Evidently the
stimulant was wearing off much more rapidly than they had hoped. Crane ran his
hand nervously through his dark curls, watching the approaching Flying Sub on
radar as he commanded, "Chip, focus! Concentrate on your speed and angle of
entry! You're coming in too fast!"
The increasingly strained voice continued unheeding as Chip made his final
descent towards the ocean's surface. "...ribbon of fudge... chocolate chunks...
inch of chocolate... buttercream... frost... oww!" A deep groan of pain was
heard over the speakers as the Flying Sub slammed into the water less than fifty
yards off Seaview's
BACK TO TOP
"Chip! Are you all right? CHIP!" asked Crane, his voice rising with anxiety as
his friend failed to respond and the Flying Sub drifted without direction
towards the murky ocean bottom. Lee had Seaview
until she was directly above the motionless vehicle, opening the docking bay
doors. Turning to Sharkey, he ordered brusquely, "Chief, I want him aboard,
"Aye, aye, sir!" The chief engaged the magnetic retrieval system and began the
gradual process of berthing the Flying Sub. Jamieson and his corpsmen hovered
around the hatch in the observation nose; ready to pounce the moment pressure
had been equalized.
It seemed to take forever for the docking clamps to finally engage and release
the lock on the hatch. Crane spun the wheel quickly, opening the hatch for the
medical team who descended the ladder in record time. A firm hand on his arm
halted his own descent.
Lee turned, a protest dying on his lips as he met Nelson's unyielding yet
compassionate gaze. "Easy, lad! Give the doctor room to work." Only years of
ingrained military discipline and his deep respect for the admiral enabled Crane
to obey. Sighing, he nodded his acquiescence and contented himself with staring
down the ladder into the Flying Sub, hands anxiously gripping the railing around
The admiral kept one hand on his captain's arm as he gestured to the waiting
Master-At-Arms. "Mr. Lopez, take charge of Mr. Morton's prisoner." Raising his
voice slightly he called Sharkey over. "Chief, I want you to secure the Flying
Sub and find the disks Mr. Morton mentioned." The two men acknowledged,
studiously avoiding their skipper's resentful glare as they edged past him to go
down the ladder.
Dr. Will Jamieson's breath caught at the sight of a familiar tall figure slumped
in the pilot seat harness, blood steadily dripping from the exec's side, wending
its way down the leg of the chair to form a wide crimson puddle on the deck
beneath. "John, you go check out Mr. Morton's prisoner while Frank and I tend to
Steeling himself for the worst, the doctor reached out a hand toward the side of
Morton's neck, exhaling in relief as his touch confirmed that a weak, rapid
pulse still beat beneath the pale, clammy skin. Jamieson gently turned Chip's
head, revealing vivid bruises on the blond's ashen features, extending down his
neck only to disappear under his torn shirt; silent testimony to the beating
he'd received from the general's guards. A large purple knot above the exec's
temple oozed blood down the right side of his face, presenting a stark contrast
to his almost colorless skin. Jamieson winced in sympathy. "They really did a
number on you, Commander," he muttered. Turning to his corpsman he said, "Frank,
help me get his flight jacket off so I can get to that bullet wound and you can
take his vitals."
As the two men unbuckled the safety harness and carefully eased the torn jacket
from Morton's shoulders, the movement caused Chip to rouse, his bleary gaze at
first unfocused, then getting sharper as he realized what was happening.
"Nooooo! Don't... Wait!" Chip groaned in pain as he futilely attempted to twist
his battered torso out of Jamie's grasp, waving one bloody hand towards the
crimson stained flight jacket Frank had tossed in a heap on the deck. "Get the
disks... pocket... give to Admiral... so he won't yell..."
"Stay Still!" Jamieson ordered as he gently reached under Chip's torn uniform
shirt to examine the blood soaked dressings the exec had haphazardly applied to
the gaping wound in his left side. He firmly pressed fresh gauze on top of the
crimson bandages, causing the cracked ribs to creak alarmingly.
"Owww! That... hurt... you big... meanie!" Wounded azure eyes, shimmering with
unshed tears of pain, stared up accusingly at Jamieson.
"I'm sorry, Chip, I know it hurts but I've got to stop the bleeding," Jamie said
gently as if to a child; realizing that the truth serum must still be affecting
the exec even if the stimulant part of the drug cocktail had worn off.
"Don't worry about the damn disks, Commander!" Jamieson growled in exasperation
as his deft hands continued to pack more and more gauze into Chip's wound,
stemming the crimson flow from Morton's side. A gasp from behind him caused the
doctor to look up from his work.
A stunned Chief Sharkey stood at the foot of the ladder with the Master-At-Arms;
both men staring in silent dismay at the bloody tableau. "Chief! The data disks
are in a pocket of Mr. Morton's flight jacket."
"Aye, sir! I'll take care of it after I secure the Flying Sub." The COB tore his
eyes from the unsettling sight of the wounded officer and turned off various
switches, powering down the little submersible. After securing the sub's
systems, Sharkey carefully knelt down beside the gory jacket, searching the
pockets for the data disks.
Turning back to his patient, Jamie wrapped a pressure bandage around the exec's
torso; securing the packed gauze as best he could without further damaging the
cracked ribs. "There. That should hold until we get you to Sick Bay and I can
stitch you up."
Lt. Lopez headed over to where John was finishing his evaluation of the
prisoner. "Doc, it looks like this guy only has a light concussion," reported
the corpsman. "Should be coming around any time now." John held up two sealed
vials. "I found these in his pocket. Might be the same stuff he gave Mr.
"Good. Bring them down to Sick Bay along with our mysterious doctor. The
Master-At-Arms can guard the prisoner from there. Hopefully he and the vials can
give us some answers. But we need to get the exec out first." Turning his
attention back to his groggy patient, he continued, "Now, Commander, since the
disks and the prisoner are taken care of, it's time to get you to Sick Bay."
"No! Don't wanna! Gotta take care of... boat..." Ignoring the stabbing pain in
his side and his throbbing head, Morton gathered his last tattered remnants of
strength, desperately pushing back the darkness that hovered at the edge of his
consciousness. Determined not to be taken to the hated Sick Bay, he grabbed
tightly on to the arms of the pilot's chair and attempted his best XO glare, the
one that sent even the crustiest sailors scuttling for cover. Unfortunately, it
didn't seem to work on Jamieson.
"You've got to take care of yourself right now, Commander," replied the doctor
soothingly; reluctant to force the confused man out of his seat and chance
reopening the precariously plugged wound, yet unwilling to administer a sedative
with all of the unknown drugs flowing through Morton's bloodstream.
"You don't... understand. My job... to take care of boat... so skipper 'n
admiral don't have to worry... Can't take care of everyone... from Sick Bay..."
CMO tried one more time to get through to the befuddled exec.
"Chip, believe me, I do understand. But you have to be well to take care of
everyone and that means you need to go to Sick Bay right now."
Jamieson played his ultimate trump card. "Chip, if you don't go to Sick Bay, the
skipper will worry about you and won't be able to rest or eat properly. You
don't want that, do you?"
Morton dropped his eyes in defeat and mumbled, "No. You win... for now."
"Very reasonable of you. Now, let go and we'll get you over to the ladder."
Sighing in resignation, Chip released his death grip on the arms of the seat.
Jamieson carefully helped him up, keeping a close eye on the pressure bandage as
Frank provided support on Morton's good side
Chip wobbled unsteadily on his feet, the supporting arms of his shipmates all
that kept him from falling face first on the deck of the Flying Sub. "Hey, tell
Lee to stop the boat from rocking!"
"It's not the boat that's rocking, Commander, it's you," said Jamieson as he
helped his corpsman assist the exec over to the access hatch. "Oof!" he grunted
with the effort of supporting Morton up the ladder. "Remind me to bug the
admiral about that aft hatch access he's been promising."
Crane watched anxiously as a disheveled blond head appeared in the narrow
hatchway. His exec painstakingly hauled himself up, supported closely by
Jamieson. Kowalski and Patterson reached down and grabbed Morton's arms,
hoisting him up the last few rungs. Crane had seldom seen his usually immaculate
friend look so battered and bedraggled. But what concerned Lee the most was the
copious amount of blood that stained his friend's tattered and filthy uniform
and oozed through the fresh white bandages decorating Morton's left side. Chip
asked with a tired grin, "Permission to come aboard, Skipper?" Before Lee could
respond, the blond's eyes rolled back into his head and he sagged back
unconscious into the crewmen's arms.
"Damn it! He's going into shock!" swore Jamieson. The doctor quickly applied
more pressure to the red spotted bandages as Ski and Pat gently lowered Morton
onto the lightweight stretcher waiting beside the hatch. "Sick Bay, now!" The
ratings stepped back to allow the two corpsmen to lift the stretcher and head
towards the aft hatchway. The worried eyes of the crew anxiously followed the
bloodied figure of their exec as Frank and John carefully carried him out of the
silent control room.
Crane was still staring numbly at the hatch through which his friend had been
carried when he felt Nelson put a sympathetic hand on his shoulder. "You go down
to Sick Bay, Lee. O'Brien can handle things here. I'll contact Johnson and
Starke to let them know what happened then I'll join you."
"Thank you, Admiral." Turning back towards the plotting table, Lee said
brusquely, "Mr. O'Brien, you have the conn. Hold our position until further
notice." The dark-haired officer's acknowledgement was barely heard as Crane
spun on his heel and hurried out the rear hatchway.
Low muttered grumblings from Ski behind him warned Nelson that the mysterious
"Doctor Frankenstein" was being hauled up from the Flying Sub. Nelson turned to
see the Master-At-Arms roughly pushing the prisoner towards the rear hatchway,
followed closely by an irate Chief of the Boat.
"Admiral, I am Dr. Haruo Salii and I demand you release me!" The indignant
Palauan blustered as he stopped in front of Nelson, straightening his white lab
coat in a futile attempt to regain some dignity after his less-than-gentle
Nelson's deep blue eyes flashed with barely suppressed fury. "After what you've
done to my officer, you're in no position to demand anything." Waving a hand at
the Master-At-Arms he growled, "Mr. Lopez, take him to Sick Bay and keep him
under close guard. I'm sure our doctor has many questions for our... guest."
As the protesting prisoner was escorted out the aft hatchway, Nelson took a deep
calming breath, pushing back his wrath for the moment so he could deal with the
myriad details left by the recent events. Turning back towards the plotting
table, he saw his COB standing uncharacteristically silent, staring down at a
handful of flat objects clutched tightly in one fist, a crimson stained rag in
his other hand.
As Nelson approached, Sharkey looked up, his sea-green eyes like saucers, his
voice rough with distress. "Man, oh man, Admiral, sir! You should have seen all
the blood! The pilot seat is soaked with it and there's this huge puddle on the
"It will be all right, Chief," soothed Nelson, knowing that Sharkey took any
attack on his officers very personally. "The exec's in good hands. Are those for
"Oh, yes sir. Here's the data disks he was talking about." Sharkey gave the
bloody handkerchief to a rating for disposal and handed Nelson the floppy disks.
"I cleaned 'em up the best I could. I sure hope whatever info is on these things
is worth the price Mr. Morton paid, sir."
"I hope so too, Chief. Get a detail to clean and repair the Flying Sub as
quickly as possible in case we need to medevac Mr. Morton. I'm going to check
out these disks and report to Johnson and Starke." Nelson headed towards the
main computer console.
"Aye, aye, sir." Sharkey paused a moment, shifting from one foot to another,
then blurted out, "Admiral?"
Nelson turned and looked at the COB with a resigned sigh. "Yes, Chief?"
"If you need any help interrogating the prisoner - any help at all - I want a
crack at him, sir."
The admiral smiled dryly at the offer. "You'll have to get in line behind me and
the captain, Chief. But I'll keep it in mind." The stocky figure of
creator turned back towards the computer and inserted one of the
Sharkey turned to the watching duty crew. "Okay. Kowalski. Patterson. You
goldbricking swabs just volunteered for Flying Sub detail. Move it!" The rest of
the crew quickly returned their attention to their instruments. Satisfied that
order had been returned to the control room, Sharkey nodded to Lt. O'Brien and
hurried off to carry out the admiral's orders.
Lee stood unmoving in the doorway of Sick Bay, watching anxiously as Jamieson
barked out a litany of orders, working quickly to stabilize his unconscious
patient. Chip's shirt was cut away; revealing soaked crimson dressings
contrasting starkly with paper white skin. An oxygen tank, IV bottles and other
medical paraphernalia appeared as if by magic as the corpsmen responded to
Jamie's orders with a smooth, efficient professionalism, preparing the exec for
emergency surgery. The doctor turned to him and said something, but all of
Crane's attention was riveted on Chip's motionless bloody body. He'd never seen
his friend so pale! Jamie's second, more emphatic request broke through Lee's
distress. "Captain! I need blood donors right away!"
Never taking his eyes off his much too still friend, Lee reached for a mike.
"All hands, this is the captain. B+ blood donors on the port watch report to
Sick Bay, on the double!"
As he slowly hung the mike back up, the door to Sick Bay opened, causing him
whirl around in surprise. There hadn't been enough time for the donors to
respond to his call. The skipper's eyes narrowed as the Master-At-Arms appeared
pushing a harried man in a rumpled lab coat through the doorway. His wrath grew
as he viewed the man who had caused his friend, his adopted brother, so much
trouble. "So this is Chip's 'Doctor Frankenstein'...."
"Yes, sir, Skipper." Lt. Lopez turned his struggling prisoner to face the
captain. "He says his name is Dr. Hauro Salii."
Seething with controlled rage, Crane growled, "Salii? Sounds more like Dr.
Mengele to me, experimenting on helpless victims...."
The prisoner straightened, staring down his nose at the captain's fury. "Those
men were our enemies and destined for extermination. The pitiful wretches should
have been honored that my experiments on their worthless bodies advanced the
cause of science!" Salii declared, dark eyes glittering with maniacal fervor.
Incandescent green sparks appeared in Lee's hazel eyes as his hands tightened
into fists. "Advanced the cause of science? That's never an excuse for using
innocent men as guinea pigs! You're lucky I don't have you keelhauled..."
"Captain!" Jamieson looked up from his patient, his pale blue eyes flashing with
impatience. "I'm going to have to ask you and your guest to leave." As Crane
opened his mouth to protest, Jamieson interrupted him, his voice calm but
insistent, "Lee, I don't have time to argue if I'm going to save Chip's life. If
you want to be useful, get some information from that damned doctor about the
drugs he used!" He waved a bloody gloved hand towards a nearby tray where the
two vials of Salii's serum had been placed.
"Very well, Jamie." Crane stalked forward with a purposeful stride, backing
Salii into Jamieson's office alcove, pausing only to grab one of the vials off
the tray. The MAA followed closely behind, closing the folding partition behind
the three of them. Lee's eyes took on a feral gleam seldom seen outside of his
intelligence missions for the ONI. "Now, Salii... It's time for you and me to
have a nice little...chat."
Lighting up yet another cigarette, Nelson again paced back and forth in the
observation nose, waiting impatiently for his call to go through to Admiral
Starke. His conversation with Vice Admiral Johnson hadn't improved his temper
any. The head of ONI had been quite peeved that Morton had disrupted their
months-long investigation of General Rizal and Doctor Salii in such spectacular
Harry shook his head in disgust, knowing that the vice admiral was mostly
annoyed because Chip's anything-but-covert actions might have succeeded in
uncovering proof on Palau where ONI had failed. Back at the Institute, Dr.
Winters was working on the encoded data he'd uploaded from the purloined disks.
He had every confidence in Kaia's ability to break the data's encryption and the
resulting information should be enough to satisfy even Johnson.
A slight smile flitted across Nelson's face as he pondered Chip's inadvertent
admission regarding Dr. Winters. Luring the gifted engineer away from the
regular Navy to head up the Institute's Computer Systems department had been
quite a coup in and of itself. Now it looked like it might just bring some
long-needed balance to the personal life of his workaholic exec.
Nelson sighed as he remembered his own brief, yet warm, relationship with Kaia's
mother, the now deceased Ava Winters, who had helped him design Seaview
Though the calm, professional façade of Ava's daughter had held firm during the
briefing about the disks, Harry knew the young officer well enough to see the
fear and concern that flickered in her crystal blue eyes when he told her why
Morton wasn't going to be able to help with the decoding. He dreaded the thought
of bringing Kaia any more tragic news concerning someone she cared about.
Ceasing his pacing and rocking back on his heels, Nelson stared balefully at the
monitor as if he could conjure up Starke by strength of will alone. Damn it!
What's taking him so long! Chip's in Sick Bay, possibly bleeding to death, and
I'll bet Jiggs is having a drink at the Officer's Club!
stabbed his cigarette out in the nearby ashtray.
The monitor finally flared to life, the craggy face of his old Annapolis
classmate filling the screen. "What can I do for you, Harriman, you ol' pirate!"
Starke said with forced joviality.
"Oh, I just thought I’d let you know how your little 'piece of cake' mission
went down." Nelson said in a deceptively mild voice. "I don't suppose you knew
that ONI had been investigating Palau when you asked me to use the Flying Sub to
transport VIPs there, hmmm?"
Starke straightened as he recognized the storm warnings inherent in his friend's
dangerously quiet tones. "I might have heard something about that, Harry," he
replied cautiously. "But it was just scuttlebutt!"
"Well, that damn scuttlebutt might just cost me my XO!" Harry exploded, stomping
closer to the monitor and planting his fists on his hips. "General Rizal proved
to be a traitor! Chip's in Sick Bay with a bullet wound and pumped full of
experimental truth drugs, either one of which might kill him! If you knew there
was something suspicious about the General, why the devil didn't you give us any
Starke paled, slumping back in his chair in shock. "Your exec? You mean Crane
wasn't flying that blasted contraption of yours?"
Anger sparked in Nelson's sapphire eyes. "Ah, so you DID suspect something might
happen and thought that the ONI trained Crane would handle it!"
"Everyone knows that Flying Sub thing is Crane's baby! I'm surprised he let
Morton fly it on such an important mission!"
"Chip is one of the few people aboard who comes close to Lee's skill as a pilot.
But then, you should know what Morton is capable of... considering you tried to
steal him from me!!"
"What the blazes were you thinking?" Nelson interrupted, his furious glare
pinning Starke in place like one of his biology specimens. "Going behind my
back... Offering him command... Ordering him to remain silent when he turned you
down...!" With each charge, Nelson's voice increased in volume until he was
On the other side of the crash doors, the duty watch flinched as the barrier
seemed to vibrate with the force of Nelson's rage. Riley leaned over from his
sonar station to whisper to Malone. "Man, the OOM is really hacked at ol'
Spit-N-Polish for trying to bag our exec!"
"You said it!" Malone shook his head in disbelief. "Boy, I can't believe Mr.
Morton chose us over his own command!"
"He'd change his tune if he saw you two yammering away like a couple of old
ladies instead of doing your jobs!" Sharkey interrupted, his annoyed glare
causing the two seamen to straighten up and turn their full attention back to
Inwardly the COB was relieved that Mr. Morton had turned down Starke's offer.
Though the officer certainly deserved his own command, Seaview
very special boat that needed an exec with his kind of calm strength to balance
the admiral's scientific genius and the skipper's passionate leadership. In all
his years in the Navy, Sharkey had never seen an XO who knew his boat and crew
the way Morton did. Heaven help the crewmen who endangered the boat by
inattention to their duties! They'd be served a sharp-tongued XO Special they'd
never forget! The chief smiled to himself as he casually checked various
stations, slowly maneuvering his way closer to the crash doors. Not that he was
nosy or anything, but it was always smart to know which way the wind was blowing
when it came to the admiral's mood.
The monitor in the observation nose crackled as Starke recovered enough of his
natural bluster to counter Harry's charges. "Now wait a minute, Harry! Who was
the one who poached the top submariners in the Navy to staff Seaview
Leaning in towards the screen, Harry shook his finger at his friend. "You know
very well that I never went behind ANY CO's back for any of my personnel! And
you also know how difficult a position you'd be putting Chip into, bringing him
out of the Reserves to command a Navy boat."
In a transparent attempt to defuse Nelson's temper, Starke adopted a more
conciliatory tone, "Harry, please. I know it wasn't quite proper protocol, but
have you ever thought that perhaps Morton deserves a chance to get out of
Crane's shadow?" He waved his own hand in frustration. "As to him being
Reserve... Damn it, Harry, if you add up all the times over the years that you
and Crane were off the boat, Morton's had more command time than many of my
current sub drivers!"
"Don't you think I know that?" Nelson growled through gritted teeth. "But he's
never given any hint of wanting to leave Seaview.
" Exhaling his breath
in a deep gusty sigh, Harry grudgingly brought his temper under control. "Look
Jiggs, all I'm asking is that the next time you get the urge to grab one of my
men, you go through me first. And that you brief me fully on any missions you
give us, no matter how innocuous they may seem. Now if you'll excuse me, I want
to check on how my exec is doing."
At Starke's subdued acknowledgement, Nelson reached out and turned off the
monitor. Though he was still angry with his friend, the blustery old sea dog did
have a good point. Perhaps he had been selfish to keep Chip from a well-deserved
command in the Navy, but Morton's recent words certainly supported the idea that
he was exactly where he wanted to be.
Deep in thought, Harry walked over to the plotting table and opened the crash
doors. He harrumphed, not at all surprised to see Sharkey hovering close by.
"Chief, make sure you let me know the moment the detail finishes cleaning the
Flying Sub and fixing the autopilot." Turning to the Officer of the Watch, he
snapped brusquely, "Mr. O'Brien, I'm expecting Dr. Winters to contact me as soon
as she's got something from those disks. Let me know as soon as you hear
anything. I'll be down in Sick Bay."
"Aye, aye, sir." came the dutiful reply. The entire control room duty watch
breathed a collective sigh of relief as Hurricane Harriman stalked out the aft
BACK TO TOP
Jamieson removed his surgical gloves and gown, flexing his cramped fingers in
relief. He shook his head ruefully as he realized the last time he'd had to do
such precise work was on the skipper. Considering how often one or more of
command team ended up in Sick Bay, it was no wonder that Harry
had hired him as a full time doctor for the boat instead of depending on
corpsmen alone as some older submarines did.
Returning to the gurney where Chip lay unconscious, Jamieson made minute
adjustments to the flow of whole blood then reached out to gently brush an
errant lock of fresh-washed hair from the young man's damp forehead. With
Morton's usual controlled intensity absent, he looked far too young to be exec
of the finest boat in or out of the Navy. He didn't look that much older than
Will's own son, a trauma resident at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. The doctor
couldn't help chuckling as he considered how Jiggs Starke liked to complain that
Harry was robbing the cradle when he chose Morton and Crane for his precious
boat. But even the gruff admiral had to admit that the two men, so very
different in appearance and personality, formed one of the best command teams
the Silent Service had seen. Jamieson could swear that there were times when Lee
and Chip communicated via some sort of telepathy!
Angry voices coming from his office alcove caused the weary doctor to raise an
eyebrow. Lee and Chip's close friendship did have its downside. Though it was
usually Chip playing the concerned 'big brother' role - despite only being two
months older - Lee could be just as protective of his friend. Jamieson hoped the
skipper would be able to restrain his more ruthless side while dealing with the
man who'd caused Chip such pain. As Crane was a very compassionate and caring
commander towards his crew, the men sometimes forgot the darker side of their
captain that made him such an effective ONI agent.
The folding doors to his office alcove opened abruptly, the MAA pushing a cowed
Salii towards Jamieson, followed closely by a triumphant Crane brandishing a
scrap of paper. The CMO was intrigued to see that there were no outward signs of
physical damage to the evil doctor yet Salii had obviously exchanged his defiant
attitude for one of abject defeat.
"Here's the list of drugs in his cocktail, Jaime!" Lee hastily shoved the paper
at Jamieson then hurried over to Chip's side, carefully laying a hand on his
friend's shoulder. Looking back at the CMO, he asked quietly, "Is he going to be
"I really need to know what side effects to expect from the drugs he was given
before I can give you an answer, Skipper." As Jamieson turned his attention to
the hurriedly scribbled list of drugs, his anger grew. Turning to Salii he
exclaimed, "My God! How on earth could you even think about combining these
drugs?" He shook the list in the other doctor's face, his usual dispassionate
demeanor completely shot. "One or two are dangerous enough, let alone mixing all
of these!" The uncharacteristic ire of the doctor brought Lee quickly back to
"What do you mean 'dangerous'?" Alarm crept into Crane's voice as his hazel eyes
sparked with renewed rage.
"It means that we're damned lucky our esteemed exec isn't dead with the amount
of junk this maniac pumped into him!"
Salii cowered under Jamieson's furious glare, replying defensively, "I was
interested only in the truth serum's effectiveness, not the survival of the
subject." As his scientific curiosity got the better of him, he turned his gaze
towards the man on the nearby gurney. "I'm quite impressed by the level of
functioning he was capable of under the influence of two full doses of my serum.
No other subject ever reacted that way. If only I could do some further
tests..." his voice trailed off wistfully.
"The only thing you're testing is my patience!" Jamieson's eyes glowed with
indignation. "If I wasn't a doctor I'd..."
Jamieson's desired actions would remain a mystery as a pained groan indicated
that his patient had regained a tenuous grasp on consciousness.
Chip Morton floated in a nebulous dark haze, occasionally disturbed by odd
visions that flashed briefly into view, then faded back into the mist. Garish
neon lights in Hong Kong...a smoke filled bar echoing with the strains of an old
blues tune... clouds of foul-smelling gas billowing out of a blasted building...
a dark haired woman with sparkling blue eyes and a smile full of promise...dank
overgrown tropical foliage hiding a dangerous prey that must be neutralized...
Voices, both concerned and irritated, began to pierce the haze, pulling him
towards awareness. They seemed to be arguing about something. One voice sounded
somewhat familiar and reassuring, but the other one was harsh and frightening,
resurrecting confusing images of an evil man in a stained lab coat wielding long
sharp needles. A burning fire in his side and sharp, stabbing shards of pain in
his head dragged him further out of the comforting darkness. Chip's nose
twitched as a strong medicinal smell dissipated the last of the fog. Medicinal
smell? Where was he? Exerting a mighty effort, he cracked his leaden eyelids
slightly and peered up at the blurred faces surrounding him. The first one to
come into fuzzy focus was cruel. Chip's eyes widened in fear as he recognized
the man who had caused him so much pain.
"No!! Not you! I escaped! It can't be you!" He tried to sit up in a futile
attempt to get away from his tormentor. Pain exploded throughout his body while
the room decided to spin in a most disconcerting manner. His struggle pulled out
the I.V. in his left arm spattering the clean white sheets with crimson.
"Damn it! Get Salii out of here, NOW!" shouted a voice that sounded much nicer
than the cruel one even if it was yelling. A firm hand grabbed his now bleeding
arm while another pushed him back down. "Frank, hold him! I don't want him
reopening his wound!" Somehow, Chip felt like he should know the kind face that
went with the voice but the excruciating pain made it hard to think very
clearly. He only knew he had to get away! The speaker turned to a dark, shadowy
figure behind him. "Skipper, talk to him! I can't risk giving him a sedative so
you have to convince him he's safe!"
Cold hands continued to put firm pressure on the place where the nasty needles
and icky tubes had been stuck in his arm, trying to stick the sharp things back
in. Chip didn't want any more needles! But a weight on his legs wouldn't let him
up and the pain in his chest and head was getting unbearable. Tears pricked the
corners of his eyes as he realized that he was in no shape to make another
escape attempt. All he could do now was to try and resist the voices. He had to
protect his friends and his boat regardless of what the cruel doctor would do to
him. Giving up his ineffectual outward struggle, he focused his remaining wisps
of strength on the battle within. "I won't tell you!! You don't have proper
clearance!" he muttered, closing his eyes to the pounding drummers in his head
as he repeated his stubborn mantra of defiance. "No clearance... Won't tell...
Two hands gently but firmly cradled his aching head. "Chip! Look at me!" Morton
frowned at the sound of a well-known voice. It couldn't be... his friend was on
the boat... not in this horrible place...they were trying to trick him! He
screwed his eyes shut even tighter...afraid to hope. "Chip! You're safe aboard
!" The voice was persistent and demanding, keeping him from
retreating back into the quiet darkness. "Mister Morton, look at me, that's an
Responding at last to the familiar note of command in the voice, Chip slowly
opened his eyes and struggled to focus his bleary gaze on the blurred shape
hovering only inches above him. Relief flooded the blond as the blur resolved
itself into the worried face of his best friend. "Lee? Seaview
you rescued me?"
Warm hazel eyes sparkled as Lee released his grasp and smiled down at his
friend. "Actually, you rescued yourself this time, Chip."
"Oh." Chip pondered that a moment, eyes narrowing as he tried to sort through
the jumbled images in his memory. "But...I ...I saw the bad guy doctor...thought
he was going to stick me with more needles. I hate needles!" He tried to glare
over at Jamieson, who had just finished cleaning Chip's left arm where the IV
port had been restored, but the sudden movement of his head caused the drummers
to start up again. He winced and reached an unsteady hand up to his throbbing
right temple, fingers tracing the outline of a gauze bandage. Hazy memories of
being on the receiving end of a rifle butt floated through his muddled mind as
he lowered his hand and reached out for his brother, needing the contact to
reassure himself that he was indeed safe at home aboard their Lady. "Lee?"
"Easy, Chip!" said Lee soothingly, seemingly reading his mind as he grabbed his
friend's hand in a firm, comforting grip. "Doctor Salii was just here to give us
some information about the drugs he gave you. He's our prisoner and can't hurt
you any more."
Chip looked up at the concerned face of his friend, able to admit to him what he
would have tried to hide from anyone else. "But it already hurts, Lee." As the
pain once more surged, his grip on Lee's hand tightened. "Tell Jamie to make it
go away!" he pleaded, tears welling up in his eyes, spilling unheeded down his
face as a cascading wave of intolerable pain broke over him, tearing a deep
groan from his lips before the darkness again engulfed him in its soothing
"Jamie!!" Crane's worried shout brought the CMO to his side in a second.
"What's going on?" Nelson demanded as he entered Sick Bay in time to hear Lee's
Tucking his stethoscope back into his lab coat, Jamie sighed and reassured his
anxious commanding officers. "Easy, gentlemen. Chip's vital signs are still
"But he's unconscious!!" Lee protested, his amber eyes flashing with concern
Jamie looked with compassion at the distressed young man. "Lee, I hate to say
it, but it's actually for the best right now. Between the concussion and the
drugs from Salii's cocktail that are still in his system, I can't risk giving
Chip anything more than a moderate analgesic for the pain. Don't worry. We'll
keep a very close eye on him."
"How bad is he, Will?" asked Nelson with concern as he gazed down at Chip's too
pale face. The worry in Harry's voice reminded Jamieson that the bond of
friendship also ran deep between the gruff admiral and his longest-serving
"The concussion wasn't as bad as I'd feared, though he's going to have a horrid
headache for a few days. There are contusions and cuts all over his torso from
the beating he received from the General's men, but there were no internal
injuries or broken bones. Again, very painful but not life threatening. The
worst problem was the bullet crease. It gouged a deep furrow between two of his
ribs, cracking them here." Jamieson indicated the spot with his hand, gently
skimming the blankets tucked around Chip's chest as he continued. "He actually
did a good job of packing the wound and slowing the blood loss, but the jolt
from his abrupt entry into the sea caused it to bleed heavily again."
Jamie looked over at Lee who had gotten more upset with each new revelation.
"It's a good thing you had him get as close as possible before trying to dive
the Flying Sub, Skipper. Probably saved his life, though he still lost enough
blood to go into shock. Luckily, suturing the crease was straightforward though
I had to use a local due to the possible dangers of mixing Salii's drugs with
general anesthesia." The CMO shot a glare towards the door where Salii had been
taken away. "That's also why I can't risk sedation until the drugs wear off.
Chip is just lucky that none of them were addictive and that his activity on the
island burned off some of the nastier stuff." Jamieson shook his head and said
with a snort. "That's one way Salii was right." At the questioning looks from
Lee and Nelson he continued with a wry smile, "It really is amazing that Chip
was able to function as well as he did on the island with all that junk in his
"I should have hurt that monster instead of just intimidating him," Lee
muttered, his eyes narrowed in anger, his grip on Chip's hand tightening briefly
before he realized he could be causing his friend more pain. Releasing his
grasp, Lee tucked his friend's cold hand under the sheet, carefully smoothing
"Easy, lad." The admiral laid a comforting hand on his captain's shoulder. "Chip
wouldn't want you to do anything so drastic on his behalf."
"But..." Crane tensed up for a moment then slumped as his troubled eyes met
those of his mentor. "It's just..." Lee's voice trailed off as he looked back
down at his too still friend.
"It's just that it's hard to see him in pain." Nelson finished, his sympathetic
blue gaze fixed on his friend. He continued in a kind voice that would have
surprised those who did not know him well. "Now you know how Chip feels when you
returned battered and bruised from one of your ONI missions. It's difficult to
be the one keeps the boat and crew together while waiting and worrying."
Lee sighed and managed a rueful smile, "Yes, it is." Turning back to Jamie, he
asked again, needing the reassurance, "So Chip is going to be okay?"
"Yes, Skipper, the prognosis is quite good, though he's going to be in
considerable pain for a while. We're building up his blood volume, pumping him
full of antibiotics to stave off infection and will push liquids once he's awake
to help flush the drugs from his system." He looked down at the exec and said
with a wry smile, "If I know our XO, he'll be fussing to get out of here in no
time." His commanding officers both snorted at that, their tension easing
slightly as Jamieson had intended.
"So you don't anticipate needing to transport him back to Santa Barbara once the
Flying Sub is cleaned and repaired? We still need about one more week to finish
our original charting mission."
"I don't think so, Admiral. I'd rather not jostle my handiwork by trying to
transport him to the Med Bay. Besides he'd just be plotting his escape the
moment he woke up. Those baby blues of his have far too many of the Institute
nurses under their spell." Jamieson frowned at the understanding grins that
briefly flitted across his commanding officers' faces. "No, our soon-to-be very
grumpy exec can recover just as well here where I can keep an eye on him."
"Very well, Will." Nelson paused for a moment, his brow furrowed in thought. "Do
you have any idea how much he'll remember of all this? Admiral Johnson is going
to want a full report."
Mentally reviewing the list of drugs Salii had pumped into the exec, Jamieson
shrugged. "No way to know. I'd be willing to predict that his memories after the
drugs wear off will probably be somewhat confused, but there's always the
possibility that he might remember every single embarrassing detail."
Lee blanched at the latter possibility. "Might be a good time to take some of my
accumulated shore leave," he muttered under his breath, causing Nelson and
Jamieson to trade wry smiles.
Jamieson sobered quickly. "Skipper, I think we'd better limit access to Chip for
the next 24 hours or so, until the truth serum wears off. As we've already seen,
our normally stoic exec is very vulnerable right now. He's a very private man
who prides himself on a tight self-control which will be practically
non-existent until the drugs leave his system."
"I understand, Jamie. I'll make Sick Bay off limits for all but actual
emergencies. The crew won't be a problem."
The doctor heard the fiercely protective note in his skipper's voice and smiled
inwardly. Seeing the amused sparkle in Nelson's eyes, Jamie knew that the
admiral had also recognized the same 'mother hen' note heard in Chip's voice
when the two men's situations were reversed.
Nodding his thanks to the corpsman who had brought over a chair from Jamieson's
office, Nelson settled in beside the gurney. Looking up at his captain with
deliberate calm he said, "I'll sit with Chip for a while, Lee. Why don't you go
back to the Control Room, give the men an update on the exec's condition and get
us back on track for our current mission? Make sure O'Brien hasn't navigated us
into the Bermuda Triangle."
Lee snorted, "That would be quite a trick, Admiral, seeing as we're in the
Pacific Ocean." He heard the underlying command in Nelson's 'suggestion' and
appreciated that the admiral hadn't made it an order. Though he hated leaving
his friend, he knew Chip would be the first to acknowledge the demands of duty.
As he headed for the door, he turned his head towards the admiral. "I'll be back
after this watch is over, sir."
The CMO stepped forward, blocking Lee's path. "Commander, I don't want you back
here until you've had something substantial to eat. And I DON'T mean coffee and
cookies!" Jamieson glowered at the young officer who matched him glare for
"I've got more important things to worry about right now!" Lee ground out
between clenched teeth.
The admiral - long accustomed to defusing heated 'discussions' between the
doctor and his command officers - calmly asserted his considerable authority.
"Lee, make sure you follow the doctor's orders. You'll be no use to Chip if you
don't take care of yourself!" His voice took on a mildly threatening tone as he
continued, "Or we might just have to discuss your adventures in Hong Kong
concerning... What was the name? Ah, yes... Passion Fruit?"
Lee's hazel eyes widened in shock at Nelson's blatant blackmail threat. He
responded with a touch of anxiousness, "Umm, that won't be necessary, sir. I
promise I'll get something to eat after this watch is over." To Nelson's
amusement, Crane bolted out the door as if the General Quarters alarm had
The admiral and the doctor traded indulgent smiles. Despite Lee's renowned
abilities as a superb sub commander and experienced ONI agent, every now and
then Harry saw a reminder of that very young ensign who had served with him
aboard the Nautilus
so long ago. "That must have been one heck of a
shore leave, Will," Nelson shook his head as Jamieson handed him a fragrant mug
of fresh coffee.
"Wonder if we'll ever know what happened..." Jamieson mused as he retrieved his
small bottle of 'medicinal' scotch from his desk drawer. He poured a tiny dollop
into his own mug followed by a more generous amount into Harry's.
"It's probably better that we don't." Harry chuckled then fell silent, gazing
into the dark, steaming depths of his cup as if searching for an answer to
Jamie raised an eyebrow, recognizing that something was bothering Nelson above
and beyond Chip's injuries. Though Jamieson's training was primarily in the
field of trauma, he had a minor specialization in psychology that stood him in
good stead as an informal counselor to the men of Seaview. As he was a decade or
two older than most of the crew, Jamie was seen as a sympathetic father figure
with a ready ear to listen to their concerns. But his relationship with Harry
had slowly evolved over the years into that of contemporary and friend rather
than simply boss and employee. Jamieson felt honored that he was one of the few
people that Nelson felt comfortable enough with to take off his admiral's stars
and just be Harry. Reaching into his pocket, he dug out a coin, flipping it
gently into Nelson's lap.
Nelson was startled out of his reverie and swore under his breath as the hot
coffee in his mug sloshed over his hand and splashed on his khaki pants. Jamie
cheerfully endured the resulting glower, feeling that it was a small price to
pay if he managed to pry Harry out of his dark mood. He watched with carefully
hidden amusement as Nelson picked up the offending coin, turning it over in his
hand as he raised a wry eyebrow at the doctor. "My thoughts probably aren't
worth that much, Will."
The doctor countered with a slight smirk. "True. They're usually worth much
more," he said, obliquely referring to the many marine inventions and patents
Nelson's active mind was unable to stop creating.
Harry snorted and took a deep drink from his mug, allowing Doc's special brew to
work its relaxing magic. "It's Jiggs," he admitted with a sigh.
"Why am I not surprised?" Jamieson muttered, invoking a small grin from Nelson,
which soon faded.
"He thinks I'm being selfish keeping Chip as XO of Seaview
. Thinks I
should let him step out of Lee's shadow and have a command of his own."
"Hah! He's just trying to make you feel guilty so he can cover his six about
trying to steal Chip away without telling you."
"But what if Starke is right?" Nelson leaned back in his chair and turned his
concerned gaze towards the exec. "Perhaps I have been selfish, grabbing Chip
away from the Navy before he had a chance at command."
Waving one hand towards the gurney, Jamieson retorted, "Harry, we heard from his
own mouth that he's perfectly happy to be Seaview's
"But what if that's just loyalty speaking? Chip must know how much Lee depends
on him. He's loyal enough to sublimate his own wishes and goals if he feels it
is best for Lee." Harry sighed and drained the dregs of his mug. "Chip's style
of leadership may be quieter than Lee's, but damn it, Will, there's not a man
aboard that wouldn't follow him willingly into battle! Maybe Chip should go back
to the Navy...command a boat. He'd make it to flag rank in no time! He deserves
A slight stirring on the gurney caught Jamieson's attention before he could
reply, causing him to rise up and check on his patient. He thought about upping
the level of pain medication since Chip's sleep seemed so restless, but he hated
to add more drugs to an already overloaded system. Sighing, he made a slight
adjustment to the flow of antibiotics then settled back into his chair. Turning
to his stubborn friend, he said, "Harry, may I remind you that Chip was speaking
under the influence of truth serum on his way back from Palau?"
Getting nothing more than a moody harrumph in reply, the exasperated Will
slapped his hands on his legs and leaned forward, meeting Harry's worried eyes
with his own glare. "Think about it! To a plankowner like Chip, no sub launched,
not even the new Ohio class boomers can compare with Seaview
! The only
thing I can see luring him away from this boat would be..." Jamieson trailed off
deliberately in a move guaranteed to pique Nelson's curiosity.
"What?" Harry frowned. Jamie could almost see the man's lightning quick mind
considering various possibilities.
The doctor chose his words carefully. "You've always wanted to build a true
sister ship to Seaview, but you scrapped the plans when..."
was lost." Nelson's face reflected the still-bitter
sadness of her loss. "I just couldn't face building another boat after losing so
many good men." he admitted.
"Understandable, Harry," said Will in a gentle voice. "But maybe it's time to
rethink the possibility. Build the next generation of Seaview
Chip the command..."
Their musings were interrupted by Sharkey entering Sick Bay. "Begging your
pardon, Admiral," the COB said, moderating his usual strident tones out of
respect for the wounded exec, "Sparks has Dr. Winters on the line for you, sir.
She's finished decrypting the files from Palau. And the repairs to the Flying
Sub are complete."
"Thank you, Chief." Nelson stood up, setting his mug down on his chair. "We'll
talk more about this later, Will." The admiral headed towards the door with a
Sharkey lingered a moment, his anxious green eyes flickering over to the wounded
exec. "Is Mr. Morton really gonna be okay, Doc? I know the skipper said so, but
Ski and Pat cleaned up a whole lot of blood from the Flying Sub and that
stinking louse of a doc has been muttering all kinds of stuff about the drugs he
Jamieson raised his hand to stop the flow of words and stepped forward to get
the chief headed out the door. "Mr. Morton did lose quite a bit of blood and he
is going to be in considerable pain for a while until Salii's drugs work their
way out of his system. So pass the word to the men to be extra quiet around Sick
Bay." Jamie allowed himself a reassuring smile as he continued, "The XO should
make a full recovery, but he's going to be very grumpy until those ribs heal."
"Thanks, Doc, I'll warn the men." Relieved, Sharkey grinned at the CMO and
headed out the door, closing it softly behind him.
Jamie picked up Nelson's mug and sighed reflectively. He'd been waiting months
for the perfect moment to broach the subject of another boat. As the Institute
had grown over the years, so had the demand for Seaview's
second boat would not only help relieve some of the load, but it would also be
the final step in his friend's healing from the loss of Polidor. The fact that
it would give Chip a well-earned command without having to give up the Institute
to which he'd dedicated so much of his life was an added bonus. Jamieson knew a
new boat might not happen for years, but at least the seed had been planted in
Nelson's fertile mind.
A subdued moan from the gurney behind him brought Jamieson's focus back to the
Once again, the sound of voices pulled Chip out of oblivion and into an
awareness of excruciating pain. Though they sounded quiet and comforting this
time, the increasing pain throbbing throughout his torso and head made it
difficult to understand what they were saying. His confused mind was only able
to grab at tiny bits and pieces of the conversation that was taking place beside
him. But those bits threw him into a tailspin of despair. The damning words
"should go back to Navy" and "crew wouldn't follow him willingly" reverberated
over and over. Did he foul up that badly on Palau? Is that why the admiral
didn't want him anymore? Sorting frantically through his drug-clouded memories
Chip tried to make sense what he'd heard. But his mind just wouldn't work right!
Why couldn't he think clearly? Shouldn't the drugs be out of his system by now?
More voices came and went but he couldn't make out what they were saying.
The pain surged anew, tearing a groan from his lips despite his best efforts to
A blurred face came into view and resolved into the kind face of Seaview's
doctor. "How are you feeling, Chip?"
Still unable to dissemble, Morton responded sadly, "It hurts, Jamie... I have to
leave but... it...hurts..." Once again, traitorous tears threatened to spill,
filling him with shame at his uncharacteristic lack of control.
Jamieson shook his head. "I don't think you have the energy to pull off one of
your usual escape attempts this time, Commander." The doctor's glare gave way to
a sympathetic smile. "But I can do something about the pain." He turned a valve
on one of the IV bottles hooked up to the port in Chip's left arm. "I'm sorry
that I can't give you anything stronger until Salii's drugs fully wear off, but
this should help. Now try to get some sleep."
Relieved that the doctor had only heard the obvious meaning of his words, Chip
closed his eyes and settled his aching body back into the soft pillows of his
Sick Bay rack. Thoughts of all he'd have to leave behind kept swirling through
his throbbing head. The boat he helped build, the crew he helped train...his
mentor, his best friend...the girl he'd just found...but he didn't want to stay
where he wasn't wanted. The crew deserved better than an officer who had lost
Nelson's trust. Eventually the combination of exhaustion and analgesics lured
him back down into the one place where his anguished heart could find a few
hours of blessed oblivion.
BACK TO TOP
Lt. Frank O'Brien* suppressed a frustrated sigh as he worked on the duty rosters
for the upcoming week. As Operations/Diving Officer and fourth-in-command of
, part of his duties were to assist the XO in managing the myriad
details involved in the day-to-day operations of the boat. Normally, he loved
being part of the command team of the best boat and crew in or out of the Navy.
He shook his head, stifling another sigh as he made notes on a clipboard nestled
amid the scattered charts and papers on the plotting table. Since Mr. Morton was
out of action, the Chief Engineer, Lt. Commander Mark Lukela* was the acting XO.
He'd be taking over the late watch in about an hour and Frank wanted to have the
rosters ready for his review. But it wasn't the thought of working with Mr.
Lukela that was bothering him. The Hawaiian engineer was much easier to deal
with than that blivet* Bishop who had been 'encouraged' to return to the Navy
years ago. No, the current Cheng* had proven himself to be an easy-going leader
as well as a gifted engineer. It was dealing with an anxious and fretting
skipper that was going to turn O'Brien's jet black hair prematurely grey!
With Mr. Morton's calm and steadying influence absent, Captain Crane was
flitting all over the Control Room... snapping at Sparks... fiddling with the
fathometer... hovering over the helmsmen... Because the charting mission was
proving to be excruciatingly uneventful and O'Brien had the paperwork well in
hand, there was nothing to distract the skipper from worrying about his wounded
friend. He knew that the captain hated the crew's diligent attempts to 'mother
hen' their CO, but Frank was almost ready to invent some sort of minor glitch
just to give the skipper something to do! But before he could do anything that
he'd probably regret later, a smooth mellow voice heralded the Chief Engineer's
arrival in the Control Room.
"Good evening, gentlemen!" Lukela smiled cheerfully at Crane and O'Brien then
settled himself at the plotting table. "Looks like you've made great progress
with the rosters, Frank."
The skipper cast a suspicious eye at the dark haired engineer. "Aren't you a bit
early for your watch, Mark?"
"Just thought I'd lend Frank a hand, Skipper, though it looks like he's got
everything under control." Innocence shone from Lukela's handsome face and
sparkled in his warm brown eyes. Looking down at the rosters, Mark continued in
a deliberately casual voice, "Everything seems quiet tonight, boss. Why don't
you go grab a bite to eat and check on the XO?"
Frank watched with carefully hidden amusement as his captain's hard hazel stare
failed to put a dent in the engineer's serene composure. Mr. Lukela had
definitely learned a thing or two about skipper management from Mr. Morton, the
boat's resident expert! Captain Crane shook his head, a wry smile crossing his
lips as he made a graceful retreat out the aft hatchway. O'Brien exchanged
triumphant grins with Lukela as the two men turned back to the pile of paperwork
that kept their Lady running smoothly.
Lee strode towards Sick Bay, his shoes softly tapping out a worried beat on the
well-polished deck. Concerned crewmen offered murmurs of support as Crane
hurried by. He knew they found it unsettling for their seemingly indestructible
exec to be incapacitated. The crew depended on the XO to be Seaview's
solid anchor...steady and unflappable despite the chaos that was so often tossed
The few bites of Cookie's famous shrimp au gratin he'd managed to swallow - in
fulfillment of Nelson's direct order - sat uneasily in his churning stomach. He
just wasn't used to seeing Chip in such bad shape. Even through their craziest
pranks at the Academy, Morton usually breezed through with minimal wear and tear
to his pristine uniform while Crane himself looked like he'd been through a war.
But it was the disturbing image of the terrified Chip, thinking he was back in
Salii's hands yet still determined to protect his boat, which haunted Lee most.
Oh, he wasn't surprised at Chip's resistance to the truth serum. He knew his
friend's strength of will and his dedication to duty, but, damn it! It should
have been HIM risking capture and interrogation, not the spook-hating Chip! But
when the 'easy' mission ferrying diplomats came in from COMSUBPAC, the blond had
insisted that it was his turn to escape their humdrum charting assignment.
Opening the door to Sick Bay, Lee was surprised to find Chip precariously
perched on the edge of his rack. "What do you think you're doing?!"
"I have to go to my cabin, Lee." A grimace crossed Chip's face as he fought the
nausea resulting from sitting up. He tried to focus his bleary gaze on the
corpsman who was valiantly attempting to keep the IV tubes attached to his left
arm. "John, stop the room from spinning and help me up. That's an order!"
Lee hurried over and grabbed Chip's shoulders before the disoriented man could
tumble off the rack. "Chip, you're in no condition to be sitting up, let alone
giving orders. Now lie back down!"
"Lee, I have to GO!"
"So use the portable urinal!"
"That's not what I mean, Lee. I..." Chip paused a moment. "Well, I do need to
use the head. I'll use the one in my cabin." He pushed ineffectually at Lee's
restraining hands, wincing as his cracked ribs and wounded side protested
vigorously. "Now let me up!"
Keeping a gentle but firm grasp on the obstinate XO, Lee looked around for some
backup. "John, where's Doc?
The corpsman continued adding several extra layers to the tape securing Morton's
IV port as he replied. "There was a minor emergency in the Missile Room,
Skipper. I'm not sure when he'll be back. Shall I call him?"
"No, we'll deal with Mr. Stubborn ourselves." Lee turned his attention back to
his friend. Though he could certainly sympathize with Chip - having plotted more
than his own fair share of Sick Bay escapes - Lee had no intention of letting
his brother in all but name damage himself any further. Perhaps a compromise...
"Okay, Chip, tell you what. John and I will give you a hand over to the head,
but then you have to get back in bed!"
A frigid blue glare, only slightly less intimidating than usual, stabbed at the
captain. "I don't need help to take a piss, Lee!"
"Of course not, Chip," he replied soothingly, suppressing a smile out of
consideration for his friend's already battered dignity. "But you do need some
A frown creased the blond's pale forehead, wrinkling the gauze on his right
temple as he pondered the offer. "Hmm, I guess I'm still a bit dizzy. Okay then.
Help me up."
Grateful to have won the first challenge, Lee exhaled in relief. He carefully
slung Chip's right arm over his shoulder and slowly helped him over to Sick
Bay's tiny head, followed closely by John with the IV stand. Once there, the
corpsman went off to change the bedding in the just vacated rack while the
skipper provided stable support for the still unsteady exec.
After Chip finished his ablutions, Lee tried to steer him back to bed, but he
wobbled in the direction of the door instead, knocking into the IV stand and
throwing Crane off balance. "Lee, my cabin's this way!"
"Damn it, Chip!" Lee struggled to support the exec's shifting weight as John
made a spectacular diving grab of the IV stand before it could crash to the
floor. "Behave and you'll be in your cabin in no time. Right now, you're getting
back in bed! That's an order!"
With a weary sigh, Chip obediently - if reluctantly - gave up his struggle. His
pained, shallow breathing as Lee carefully helped him back to his rack was a
clear indication of how draining the short walk to the head had been. "Now stay
put or Doc will have my hide!"
"Please, Lee!" A hand reached out to tug insistently on the skipper's sleeve.
"You don't understand. I... I have to go pack."
"Pack? What on earth for?" The confused Lee was shocked to see moisture form in
his friend's intense blue eyes before the blond head turned away.
In a hushed whisper that Lee had to strain to hear, Chip said sadly, "The
admiral doesn't want me anymore. He said I should go back to the Navy."
To Lee's horror, his stalwart exec choked back what sounded suspiciously like a
sob as he rubbed his eyes with the back of one hand. "He...he said the men
wouldn't follow me willingly... said that I should go back to the Navy."
The despondency in his friend's voice broke Lee's heart. "Chip, you must have
misheard. You know how much the admiral values you!"
Chip's ashen features took on a familiar mulish expression. "He doesn't want me
anymore, so I need to go pack. The men need an exec that Nelson can trust. I
have to go..." He made one more attempt to sit up despite his weary body's
Having seen that stubborn expression many times since their earliest days
together at the Academy, Lee knew the futility of arguing with Morton in his
present mood. "Look, Chip. You barely made it to the head. Just relax and get
some sleep. Build up your energy. If you feel the same way tomorrow, I'll see
what I can do about springing you from Jamie's clutches."
"Well, I am tired," Chip admitted grudgingly as he settled back into the
pillows. "Thanks, bro..." Chip's voice trailed off as his weary eyes slowly
"Get some rest, buddy." Lee patted his friend's hand and tucked a blanket
securely around him, watching with concern as Chip slipped into an uneasy sleep.
He just could not understand where Morton had gotten the idea that Nelson didn't
want him anymore! Though the friendship between the exec and the admiral was
seldom verbalized, Crane knew that it was strong and deep. After all, Chip was
one of the very first people Nelson chose to help found N.I.M.R. and be part of
Lee had to admit that he'd felt the occasional touch of jealousy at his friend's
new billet, especially after getting a few letters from Chip during Seaview's
construction. Oh, Crane knew it was his extra years in the regular Navy with a
promotion and command of the Archerfish
that gave him enough experience
to be tapped as a replacement for Captain Phillips. But sometimes...sometimes he
wondered wistfully what it must have been like to help build Nelson's dream.
He scratched his head in puzzlement as he left Sick Bay. It was that very
history that made it impossible for Lee to believe that Nelson didn't want Chip
as XO of Seaview!
He had to confront the admiral and find out exactly
what he had said!
As he closed the door to Sick Bay, he saw Jamieson returning from the Missile
Room. "Doc, what was the emergency?"
"Oh, nothing serious, Skipper. Seaman Stubbs just sprained his ankle tripping
over a SCUBA tank. I wrapped it and sent him off to the Crew's Quarters with a
bag of ice and an analgesic. Chip doesn't need that idiot around while he's
trying to fight off the effects of a concussion and Salii's drugs."
"Stubbs! I should have known," Lee said with a rueful shake of his head. Seaman
Ron Stubbs was one of the most accident prone seamen he'd ever met with a real
pain-in-the-six attitude. If it wasn't for the fact that the man was a wizard
with machinery, he'd have been off Seaview
years ago. "Glad it wasn't
anything worse, Doc, because we've got a much bigger problem! Come with me!" He
headed up the passageway towards Officer Country, beckoning the doctor to
"But I need to check on Morton!" Jamieson protested.
"Jamie." Lee stopped and turned to face the CMO, his voice quiet yet insistent,
"He was sleeping when I left and John's keeping a close eye on him. This
concerns Chip and I need you with me." Reading the determination in Lee's hazel
eyes, Jamieson nodded and followed his skipper's lead.
BACK TO TOP
Harriman Nelson absentmindedly rubbed above his ear with the eraser end of his
pencil then jotted another note in the margin of one of the many papers
scattered across the desk in his cabin. Working out the precise wording for his
report to the Palau government was a bit of a challenge. He knew the Palauan
president would NOT be happy when he saw how deeply Dr. Salii and General
Rizal's web of rebellion extended into the complex workings of the government.
Luckily the proof that Kaia had extracted from the data disks was indisputable.
Financial records, interoffice memos, weapon supply lists, phone contacts...the
evidence was overwhelming.
Pushing back his chair, Nelson stood and stretched the stiffness out of his
stocky frame then poured himself a fresh cup of coffee. Cookie had refilled the
pot on his desk when he'd brought by a dinner tray. The temperamental chef
wouldn't be pleased at how little he'd eaten. Normally Cookie's shrimp au gratin
was one of his favorites. Unfortunately, reading Salii's records of
experimentation on human beings had quite taken away his appetite. As a
scientist, he could appreciate the intense dedication to detail and
documentation of the Palauan doctor but, as a principled human being, his soul
was sickened at the terrible crimes perpetrated against helpless victims. And to
think that Chip had come so very close to joining their ranks...
Harry quickly shoved that chilling thought away. Not only had Chip survived but
he had managed to completely disrupt the evil duo's plans even while under the
influence of Salii's noxious brew of chemicals. He lifted his cup in silent
toast to his young officer's strength of will. An urgent knocking on his door
interrupted his musings. "Come."
Crane strode in, followed closely by Jamieson who carefully closed the door
behind them. A feeling of dread crept over the admiral as he observed his
captain's anxious demeanor. "What's wrong, Lee? Is Chip all right?"
"That depends on what you call ‘all right,’" Lee replied grimly, his face taut
Jamieson shrugged helplessly. "I'm in the dark as much as you, Admiral. Last
time I checked, Chip’s condition was stable. I did have a minor emergency in the
Missile Room but the skipper assured me that Morton was sleeping when he left
Sick Bay. That's when he told me that we needed to see you right away."
Nelson set his coffee cup down on his desk. "All right, Lee...what's going on?"
he demanded brusquely.
To Harry's dismay, Crane uncharacteristically avoided his gaze, rubbing the back
of his neck with one hand. “Well…when I went to visit Chip after I got off
watch…” Lee paused a moment to glare at Jamieson. “…and after dinner…” The
doctor smirked. “...I found Chip trying to leave Sick Bay.”
"You neglected to tell me that little piece of information, Commander!"
Jamieson's glower and formal use of rank told Nelson that Lee was definitely in
the doctor's bad graces for that omission. "How far did he get? Was any further
damage done? I'd better check with John..." He reached for the intercom on
Lee quickly intercepted Jamieson’s hand. “He really was sleeping when I left
Sick Bay, Jamie. I was able to convince him to let me help him to the head
instead of going to his cabin. After that, he was worn out so it wasn’t hard to
get him back into his rack. No damage was done.”
“Worn out? Of course he was worn out!” Jamieson retorted. “Need I remind you
that he’d lost enough blood to go into hypovolemic shock earlier today? It
wasn’t that long ago that I stitched him up and we're still pushing the whole
blood to rebuild what he lost. I swear sometimes…”
“Easy, Will.” Nelson interrupted smoothly, an upraised hand stemming the
well-deserved diatribe. “Lee wouldn’t be this concerned about one of Chip’s
normal Sick Bay escape attempts, there must be something more.” He nodded
skipper. “Am I right, Lee?”
“Yes, sir.” Crane paused to take a deep breath. As if facing a disciplinary
review, he squared his shoulders and said in a rush, "Chip thinks you want him
to leave Seaview
"What?" Nelson's eyes widened in shock. "Where the devil could he have gotten
Lee began pacing around the small cabin, anxiously ruffling his dark hair as he
replied, "I don't know. He just kept saying that he had to leave Seaview
Turning back towards Nelson, he threw up his hands in obvious frustration.
"Somehow or another, Chip believes that you think the men won't follow him and
that you want him to return to the Navy."
Recalling his earlier conversation with Jamie, Harry's shock shifted into rueful
understanding. Sinking back into his chair, he passed his hand over his face and
groaned, "Chip must have overheard me talking with Will about Starke's offer of
command." His apologetic gaze met that of the doctor who appeared to be equally
stunned. "We thought he was sleeping! What I really said was how Chip deserved a
shot at command, even if it meant his return to the Navy. I also said that the
men WOULD follow him into battle, but he must have only heard part of our
“Well, he’s convinced that you want him off Seaview
and…um...” Lee paused, looking down at his feet and rubbing his temple with two
fingers as he admitted sheepishly, “I sort of promised Chip that I’d help break
him out of Sick Bay if he felt the same way in the morning…”
"Look, Jamie," Lee replied defensively. "You know how stubborn Chip can be! I
needed to buy some time..."
“Of all the misguided, bone-headed…”
Harry inwardly flinched at the now thoroughly ticked off tone of Jamie's voice.
Lee and Chip's constant conspiring together to escape the good doctor's watchful
eye was one of the few things that could rile the normally unruffled medical
officer. “Gentlemen! Now is not the time for this.” His bark caused instant
silence between the two combatants. Looking at the still fuming Jamieson, he
asked, “Will, I know you’ve had a chance to analyze the vial of serum found on
Salii. Is there any possibility that he'll have forgotten what he thought he
heard by morning?"
After one last glare at his skipper, Jamie made a visible effort to regain his
professional equilibrium. “I still can’t say, Admiral. Though I’ve identified
most of the substances in the serum and matched them to the list Lee gave me,
there are just too many unknowns. Even Salii himself admitted that Chip had an
unusual reaction to the serum. I just can’t predict what he will or will not
remember. But I’m worried."
Nelson frowned and pushed back his chair. He desperately wanted to light a
cigarette but as Jamieson was already annoyed enough with Lee he settled for
tapping a pencil as he pondered. “Why? Why should a few misheard words be such a
problem? He was able to resist Salii’s far more diabolical interrogation.”
Sighing, Jamieson allowed his lanky form to slide into the extra chair beside
Nelson's desk. "Most truth drugs work by suppressing the higher level functions
of logic and reasoning. Everyone, even our calm and emotionally stable exec, has
inner doubts and fears that can be freed by mind-altering drugs such as Salii
used. While Chip’s strong sense of duty and honor enabled him resist the twisted
questioning of an unknown enemy, words of apparent condemnation from someone he
holds in very high regard have the ability to wound deeply.” He paused, fixing
Nelson with a piercing blue gaze. “In short, Admiral, Doctor Salii is not and
never could be a figure that Chip trusts at a deep, visceral level the way he
Harry felt a slight flush cross his face as he digested Jamieson’s perceptive
words. Trust and loyalty were a given between officers who had served together
any length of time and the quiet, talented exec had been with him since before
Seaview’s keel was laid. There wasn’t anyone he or Lee trusted more with their
Grey Lady. The fact that such trust could be twisted to cause emotional pain and
distress made him despise Salii all the more. “I’ll deal with it right away, of
course,” he said gruffly. “I’m not about to lose one of my most loyal officers
over a drug induced misunderstanding.” Tossing his pencil down, he stood and
turned towards the door.
“Just a moment, Admiral,” said Jamieson, hauling his weary body out of the chair
and positioning himself between the admiral’s desk and the door. “The main thing
Chip needs right now is to rest. I recommend the same for both you and the
skipper.” He gave both men one last glare for emphasis. “I don’t want to see
either of you anywhere near Sick Bay before oh eight hundred.”
“Don’t worry, Will. I won’t wake Chip up if he’s sleeping.” Gathering together
the pile of papers from his desk he slapped Jamieson on the shoulder. “I need to
finish this report and I can do that just as well from Sick Bay.”
“Well, I should be used to at least one of you three keeping vigil in my Sick
Bay," Jamieson said with a sarcastic snort. "Though it’s usually you or Morton
hovering over Commander “Ignore the Broken Bones, I’m Fine” Crane.” He took a
deep breath and sighed. “All right. You can use my desk. At least I have enough
sense to get some sleep.”
Nelson caught Crane’s rebellious look and shook his head, wordlessly warning his
friend not to challenge the exasperated doctor. “Lee, I want you to get some
sleep then come to Sick Bay around oh eight hundred. If you show up any earlier,
Chip might take it into his head to make a break for it. Hopefully I will have
had a chance to talk some sense into him by the time you arrive.”
“Aye, aye, sir,” came the grudging reply. Nelson ushered his two friends out of
his cabin and followed the doctor aft towards Sick Bay. He was going to make
damn sure that Chip didn’t spend one more waking moment thinking that he had to
BACK TO TOP
A strange scratching sound penetrated the hazy fog that surrounded Chip as he
hovered at the edge of consciousness. What was that noise? Was something wrong
with the boat? He slowly pried open his eyes, the stabbing pain in his head
making it hard to focus. But an experienced submariner didn’t to see to sense
the pulse of his steel mistress, especially one who had helped bring her to life
as he had. Reaching out, he laid his hand on the smooth, cool metal of the
bulkhead to one side of his rack. The steady vibration reassured him that all
was well with his baby. His baby? The depressing words he'd overheard came
flooding back into his memory. Not his for much longer, he thought sadly.
Resolutely turning away from his bleak thoughts, he focused all his energy on
identifying the irregular sound. His sluggish brain finally determined that the
steady scratching was someone writing nearby. It must be Jamieson, but the sound
seemed closer than the doctor's office alcove. Damn it! The sneaky CMO was
probably guarding against any possible escapes! That would make it next to
impossible to get to his cabin unless Lee showed up as promised.
He shifted slightly in the soft sheets that cushioned his battered body, unable
to find a comfortable position. His whole body was one huge ache. A slight
tickle began to form in the back of his parched throat. Chip tried to suppress
the resultant cough, but without luck. His coughing caused an explosion of fire
in his wounded ribs and tore a groan from his dry, cracked lips.
Out of nowhere a straw was put in his mouth. Sucking reflexively, he allowed the
cool water to soothe his throat, calming the cough and easing his discomfort. At
least until he looked up and saw the face of his benefactor.
"Admiral, sir!" Chip's eyes widened and his jaw dropped, allowing the straw to
fall on the covers. He instinctively tried to sit up but his body protested
"Easy, lad." Nelson gently grabbed Chip's shoulders, encouraging him to lie back
down. "How are you feeling?"
Unbidden, the words of censure Chip thought he'd heard from his boss cascaded
through his mind. His tongue, still unguarded due to the drugs flowing through
his system, took over. "I'm so very sorry, sir. I know I must have fouled up the
Palau mission pretty badly for you to want me off Seaview
so I'll pack
my bag and be off the boat as soon as Lee can fly me home. I don't want to go
back to the Navy, not after serving aboard Seaview
for so long, but
I'll be fine because a couple of computer companies have been bugging me about
coming to work with them so I should be able to get a job and I'll move off
Institute property as soon as I can find..."
Chip could not stop the torrent of words that poured from his heart. "Please
think about promoting O'Brien and giving him the XO position. I know Lukela has
the seniority, but he doesn't want to leave Engineering and O'Brien has passed
his Chief Engineering quals with flying colors and so qualifies to be XO even
under Navy rules so that would placate Admiral Starke and Lukela and I have been
training him for it. But Mark will have to keep an eye on him until Frank
settles in because O'Brien is still a bit too intimidated by you and Lee but
he's getting more comfortable with the day to day requirements of the position.
Again, I'm so very sorry that I've disappointed you 'cause it's been an honor to
work with you and..."
"CHIP!" The full force of Admiral Harriman Nelson’s command voice finally
brought a halt to Chip’s drug-induced babbling. To Nelson’s horror, the exec’s
huge blue eyes were moist with unshed tears. For the first time in all their
years together, Harry saw his friend with absolutely no emotional defenses up.
Mentally damming Salii to an even lower level of Hell, he continued in a softer
but still insistent voice, “Chip! I don't want you to leave Seaview
He watched as a gamut of emotions played across Chip’s face, settling at last
into a quiet despair. “I heard you myself, sir.” Chip looked down and picked at
a loose bit of tape on his arm where the IV port was. “You said I should go back
to the Navy and I don’t even know what I did wrong.”
The hurt in Chip’s voice hit Harry hard. “You did absolutely nothing wrong! Not
on Palau and not on Seaview
! I am very proud of your courageous
actions, especially since you did it all despite the despicable drugs in your
system. I did say you should go back to the Navy but that was because I feel you
deserve a command of your own!”
Chip looked up, the surprise on his face liberally mixed with confusion. “A...a
command of my own? But, sir, you said the men wouldn't follow me! How can I command if
no one will follow?”
Running his hand through his russet hair, Nelson sighed. This was going to be
harder than he thought. “Chip, you didn't hear me correctly. What I actually
said was that there's not a man on the boat that would NOT follow you into
“Really?” A skeptical blond eyebrow was quirked at the admiral.
Nelson’s brow knit as he considered the best way to convince Chip. Perhaps the
past... “Do you remember when you turned down command of Seaview
Captain Phillips was murdered?”
Chip nodded. “Sure. I knew the Navy had demanded certain conditions
from you 'cause Seaview
carries nukes and is part of the Fail Safe
system, even if she's technically a civilian boat. All officers had to be Navy
reservists and qualified submariners and the skipper had to have command
experience. You grabbed me directly from being XO of NR-1
to being XO
. She hadn't been launched very long before we got the call
for the mission to the Arctic so I hadn't even had temporary command yet! Navy
brass would have been all over your six if I'd taken over, even just as a
'temporary' skipper and you didn't need more hassles then.”
“I know you, Chip," Harry smiled as he poured the blond another cup of water.
"If something had happened to me, I knew full well that you would have carried
on the mission to the best of your not-inconsiderable ability.”
Chip's fair skin reddened at the compliment, causing him cast his eyes downward
as he sipped the freshly poured water. “Thank you, sir, but my turning down
command was best for the boat and the mission. You know the XO handles the men
and the details of running the boat." Nelson nodded in agreement as Chip
continued, "Well, better a temp skipper borrowed from the Navy working with a
veteran XO who knows the boat than a rookie skipper with Bishop as XO. That
blivet had been aboard barely two months. There was no way he could have handled
the men under such desperate conditions.”
“He didn’t handle them much better even with more time on the boat,” said Nelson
with a disgusted snort. Bishop was one of his few failures. Taken on as a favor
to an old friend, Bishop looked great on paper. Gifted engineer, up on all the
latest technology. Unfortunately, the man had minimal leadership skills which
had directly contributed to Seaview
being sunk in an abandoned mine
field. Nelson had refused to let the man back aboard his salvaged boat, and
‘encouraged’ Bishop’s transfer to permanent shore duty due to his injuries. “I
understood your reasoning, Chip, but the men didn’t and they were very unhappy
that you were not put in command. Chief Jones in particular made his feelings
"That sounds like Curley," Chip’s smile was melancholy. “Did you know he called
me 'Skipper' when we rode the diving bell down through the mines? He always
believed in me, even when I didn’t.”
"Never forget that I believe in you too, Chip," Nelson answered firmly. "During
that first mission, the men looked to you for stability. Their skipper, their
father figure, was gone, brutally murdered and they depended on you to keep them
on course and together. I know very well that Lee would have had a much rougher
time of it if you hadn't been so supportive." He shook his head. "Of course, Lee
pulling that bone-headed stunt of sneaking aboard didn't help matters any with
the crew. They took his actions very personally."
To the admiral's surprise, a very evil grin flashed across Chip's pale face.
"Yes, I know. S'okay though, Admiral. I got him back for that one."
“How did you…?” Nelson paused a moment then smiled wryly. “On second thought,
it’s probably better that I don’t know. Plausible deniability and all that.” He
sobered. “Chip, that was five years ago. You've had plenty of command experience
since then and have proven yourself time and time again. That's why I feel you
should consider a command of your own.”
“Sir, I am thankful that both you and Admiral Starke think I'm capable of
command.” He smiled shyly, looking up through his pale blond lashes, reminding
Nelson of a certain captain's favorite mannerism. “I appreciate it more than you
could possible know, sir. Command is something all naval officers dream about.
It's a goal that we all strive to achieve. But I really do love serving aboard
. I helped you build her, sir! If anyone should understand how
she can bewitch a man, it's you! I've dedicated seven years to her and they've
been the best years of my life." He snorted, "Well, aside from the occasional
alien or rampaging monster... But it's not just her, it's the crew. We get to
pick and chose the finest officers and crew in or out of the Navy! There is no
other boat... there is no other crew like hers sailing these seas.”
“But what if there was another like her?”
“Sir?” The puzzled look on Chip’s face was priceless.
“What if we built another sister ship to Seaview
?” Nelson’s eyes began
to glow with enthusiasm as the seed Jamie had planted took root. “The Navy is
always demanding more time for experimental sub testing. With Seaview
focused primarily on marine research as well as her more secretive missions, we
certainly could use another boat. Especially one focused on even deeper diving
and exploration than Seaview
can manage.” He began to pace back and
forth beside Chip’s rack. “She’d be smaller, of course, but much more flexible
and self-sufficient than a traditional bathyscaphe.”
“But you’d always said you’d never build another after Polidor
Nelson stopped, casting a look over to where Jamieson was keeping a vigilant but
unobtrusive watch on his patient from the shadows, and smiled. “As a very wise
man told me, perhaps it’s time I allowed Polidor
and her crew to rest
in peace.” Turning back to the still befuddled Chip he continued, “It will take
us years to develop a new boat but she’s yours if you want her. What do you
The glow of happiness in Chip’s summer blue eyes and echoed in his huge grin was
answer enough. But the glow quickly dimmed, replaced by a dogged determination
that had Nelson totally perplexed. “It's a wonderful dream, sir, but I can't.
Not as long as....”
“Not as long as what?” Nelson was astonished at Chip’s reply! He could see how
much such a command meant to the exec… Why on earth would he turn this
The blond shook his head, wincing at the pain caused by the ill-advised motion.
"I can't, sir. Lee would kill me if he knew that..." He covered his mouth with
both hands in an obvious attempt to stop any more words from spilling out.
"Chip, please know that whatever you tell me will remain strictly confidential,
even from Lee, if you wish. I won't force you to tell me but I would like to
After a long moment, as Nelson was about to give up hope, Chip finally removed
his hands, looking everywhere except at his boss as he said in a low voice. “I
can't leave the boat as long as Lee keeps taking ONI missions.”
“What? What the devil does that have to do with anything?” Of all the possible
responses, that was one that hadn’t occurred to Nelson.
Chip looked pleadingly at Nelson, wordlessly begging him to understand. “Don't
you see, sir? As long as he’s still going on ONI missions I have to be there to
pick up the pieces when things fall apart, which they almost always do! Now that
and her skipper are becoming more famous, every time he goes on
a mission I'm terrified that his cover is going to be blown! Unlike the Navy,
most of us aboard this boat have served together for many years. Do you have any
idea what the loss of either or both of you would do to this crew, sir? I can't leave
that burden to O'Brien! Lee’s my brother. I have to watch his back and his crew
for him.” Reaching the end of his meager energy, Chip sagged back into the
pillows of his rack as he softly repeated, "I have to watch his back."
Harry shook his head in amazement. Most officers would kill for the chance to
command a new class of sub but Chip was willing to put his own ambitions and
desires on hold for the sake of his brother-in-arms and Seaview’s
Truly Chip was the epitome of Kipling's Thousandth Man
. "I do understand, Chip.
Better than you know." Nelson himself had been getting increasingly unhappy at
the frequency of ONI's poaching of Seaview's
skipper. After all, Harry
had some very special plans for Lee and the future of N.I.M.R. and they did not
include being sacrificed on the altar of Vice Admiral Johnson's machinations!
And he wasn't about to give up his idea of a new experimental boat with Chip in
A wicked grin spread across his craggy face. “Chip, I'm thinking that
captain might just be called upon to do more television press
conferences and other kinds of high publicity events over the next few years. Of
course, it could mean that the ONI might just find the good captain a bit less
'attractive' for their purposes..."
Chip’s answering grin was equally wicked. “It just so happens that I know a
bunch of ladies that would kill to be part of an Official Captain Crane Fan
Club. Should be all the rage in Hollywood… would get his picture plastered all
over the place.”
Their plotting was curtailed as their intended victim appeared in Sick Bay.
Nelson smiled at Lee in quiet reassurance that things had been worked out
between him and Chip. The relief on Crane's face was obvious. He sidled close to
Chip’s rack and asked in a mock conspiratorial voice, “So, Chip, are you ready
to escape this place?”
His eyes shining with gratitude, Chip shook his head and smiled up at
Nelson. “No bro. I think I’m going to stay right here.”
BACK TO TOP
Two days later, Lee Crane set his pencil down on the plotting table and sighed.
Pressing both hands to the small of his back he tried to stretch the kinks out
of his tall frame. Not that he'd admit it to anyone, but he was tired! As
captain of Seaview
, he normally didn't stand any watches so he'd be
free to be anywhere on the boat as needed or to act as a go-between with the
admiral and any scientists/guests they carried. However, with Chip still
recovering in Sick Bay, Lee was sharing the XO's watches with Lukela and
O'Brien, as well as attempting to control the endless reams of paperwork
required to keep the boat afloat. He shook his head ruefully, wondering, not for
the first time, how the heck Chip managed it all. His memories of his own time
as XO of the Narwhal
* were not the most pleasant ones of his sub
career. But his detail merchant of a buddy seemed to thrive on the complex
organizational demands of both Seaview and N.I.M.R.
"Sir! The Flying Sub is ready to dock," reported a relieved Sharkey.
"Very well, Chief." Rolling his head in a futile attempt to release the tension
in his neck, Lee strode over to the Flying Sub hatch to wait for the admiral to
finish docking FS-1. Crane knew the COB had been worried about the admiral
returning Doctor Salii to the Palau government with only Kowalski for backup,
but they had needed to get the man off the boat.
While in time-honored Navy tradition Seaview's
crew loved to grumble
and complain about their tough, taskmaster exec, in reality, they had a deep
respect and fondness for the man, knowing that his loyalty both to them and the
other officers was absolute and that he never demanded more from them than he
required of himself. Between the painful injuries their officer suffered, the
affect of Salii's drugs and an angry Ski and Pat reporting the amount of blood
they'd had to clean up from the Flying Sub, the entire crew wanted to administer
their own brand of justice to the Palauan doctor.
Lee's musings were interrupted by a head of tousled auburn hair appearing in the
hatch. As Nelson handed his briefcase to Sharkey and hauled himself up the last
couple rungs of the ladder he caught sight of his captain's weary expression.
His sparkling eyes belayed the innocent tone of his voice as he asked, "Tough
Crane tossed his best sardonic look towards his boss and friend. "Let's just say
that I'll be very glad when Chip is back on his feet."
That drew a chuckle from Nelson. "Admit it. You just hate all the extra
paperwork that piles up when our esteemed executive officer is not around." He
took the briefcase back from the chief and laid it on the plotting table then
shucked off his flight jacket.
"Admiral, Chip even has his dang paperclips organized! Do you realize what he'll
do to me if I mess up any little part of his system while he's recovering in
Sick Bay?" Lee knew his voice had more than a hint of petulance, but he was too
tired to care.
"Better you than me, Lee. When it comes to our Mr. Morton's organizational
system for Seaview
, even rank doesn't have much of a privilege." The
two men traded tolerant grins, knowing how very lucky they were to have Morton's
skills as XO keeping their beloved Lady ready for anything. "How is he?"
"There doesn't seem to be any sign of infection in the wound and it looks like
the drugs have finally cleared out of his system. Of course, that means he's
getting back to his usual charming self while in Sick Bay." Crane rolled his
eyes at the thought. Though most of the boat believed that their captain was the
most difficult of the CMO's patients, his buddy certainly ran a very close
second. "What's the word from Palau, Admiral?"
Nelson snorted, "The President was shocked when he saw the evidence Kaia had
recovered from the data disks proving that General Rizal and Doctor Salii
planned on overthrowing the government. But he froze both men's financial assets
and round up the remainder of the general's men. The ONI still has personnel
there helping stabilize the situation and clean up the mess left by Chip's
rather precipitous actions."
"Chip's not in any sort of trouble, is he, sir?" Lee's hazel eyes flashed with
concern for his friend. "I mean, he wasn't exactly himself during everything
Nelson shook his head. "No, no. He's not in trouble. Far from it." He opened his
briefcase and handed Lee a very official looking document. "Here, this will
explain it better than I can."
As Crane scanned the document, a devilish grin slowly spread across his face.
Wicked glee gleamed from his amber eyes as he finished reading and looked up at
the admiral. "You realize that he's going to hate this." Nelson's only response
was an equally roguish grin. The smirking skipper turned to his acting exec.
"Mr. Lukela, belay the current charting mission orders and set course for Palau.
All ahead full. That should get us there in time."
Confused by the unexpected behavior of his commanding officers, Chief Sharkey
was nearly dancing with curiosity over the contents of the mysterious document.
Finally, unable to control himself any longer, he asked, "In time for what,
"Read it for yourself, Chief." Nelson handed the document over to his COB then
turned back to Lee who was still chuckling. "Do you want to tell Chip or shall
Lee snorted, "I don't think I'd survive his reaction. You'd better do it, sir.
He won't shoot the messenger if it's you." Nelson grinned and nodded in
agreement, heading towards Sick Bay. With a final chuckle, Crane handed over the
conn to O'Brien and followed his boss out the aft hatchway. His last glimpse of
the control room was of the chief of the boat looking up from the document, his
expressive face torn between pride and concern.
Crane's nose twitched, savoring the delicious scent wafting out from under the
covered tray Patterson was carrying as they walked down the passageway. Cookie
had waylaid the captain as Lee passed by the Galley, gruffly shoving a
tray-laden Pat towards his commanding officer. "This is for the XO, sir. He's
gotta keep up his strength so he can sign my paycheck," grumbled the volatile
Lee acknowledged the gesture with due gravity while inwardly chuckling at
Cookie's obvious concern for his most appreciative customer. The man had
practically shoved the best cuts of steak at the exec as soon as Chip was
allowed to eat solid food, ostensibly to help him rebuild all the blood lost
from his wound. Since Lee was usually the focus of Cookie's over-solicitousness
when it came to eating properly, he was relieved that Morton was the target this
time. Lee inhaled the enticing aroma once more, deciding that he'd somehow have
to get his buddy to share this particular treat.
Approaching Sick Bay, Crane was surprised to see the admiral hovering in the
passageway outside. As he drew closer, he could hear loud angry voices coming
from inside the medical facilities.
"Sheesh, Jamie! It's just a scratch! I'm fine!" declared the irritated voice of
Doc Jamieson's acerbic retort floated through the half open door, "The truth
drug definitely must have worn off, Commander, because that's a lie if I ever
Nelson turned to grin at Crane and the now nervous Patterson, gesturing for
silence. It sounded like a classic XO vs. CMO verbal battle was underway and
obviously the admiral didn't want to miss a single juicy moment.
Lee smirked, the sounds of the quarrel reassuring him more than mere words that
his buddy would be okay. Having been through enough battles of his own with the
crusty CMO, Lee was always eager to observe others' conflicts. While he himself
tended to blow up like a volcano, he knew Chip generally used icy-edged logic to
pierce the arguments of his worthy opponent. Crane and Nelson quietly sidled
closer and peered cautiously around the edge of the door. Patterson remained in
the relative safety of the passageway until his skipper indicated that the coast
Crane and Nelson saw Morton standing next to the lower rack he'd occupied for
the last three days, one hand grasping the upper rack's rail for support. Clad
only in pajama bottoms, the exec's fit muscular body revealed a rainbow of
multicolored bruises crisscrossing his torso, a gauze bandage covering a large
section of his left side with a smaller bandage on his right temple. His wan
face still hadn't regained its usual light tan as his bright blue eyes flashed
with the intensity of his argument with the doctor.
Jamieson stood toe to toe with his recalcitrant patient, his own pale blue
glower strong enough to peel the paint off the nearby bulkhead. While he was
inwardly relieved that one of his most challenging patients was finally feeling
well enough to be his usual ornery self, he was not about to see all his hard
work go to waste. "Commander, you have twenty stitches in your side, two cracked
ribs, assorted bruises, a concussion, and you needed a blood transfusion to pull
your sorry six out of shock only three days ago! What part of 'not ready for duty'
don’t you understand?!"
Chip's reply was permeated with a chill frost, lowering the temperature in the
area by several degrees, as he mustered his defense. "I feel I must point out,
Doctor; the wound is healing cleanly with no sign of infection, the only thing
that will help the cracked ribs is time, the bruises are fading, I'm no longer
dizzy from the concussion and Cookie has been shoving enough rare steak at me to
feed the entire Navy football team!"
"I don't care if you've been eating raw liver! It takes time to rebuild what you
lost, especially after dealing with the side effects of the nasty drug cocktail
they gave you! Aside from trips to the head, you are going to keep your butt
glued to that rack for at least another 48 hours IF you want to be released to
light duty before we head back to Santa Barbara. And I do mean LIGHT duty,
Commander." Jamieson's finger stabbed at Chip's bare chest for emphasis. "NO
standing watches, NO crawling through access panels... nothing more strenuous
than pushing a pencil! I don't want any of your shenanigans messing up my fancy
Before Chip could do more than open his mouth to return volley, Nelson decided
it was prudent to intervene. His exec had lost enough blood already. Pushing the
door fully open, he bustled in, followed closely by his grinning captain.
"Sorry, Will, but the charting mission has been overridden yet again. That means
a few more days delay in getting back to Santa Barbara." Nelson's eyes sparkled
with humor as the two combatants jumped at the sound of his voice then looked
sheepishly at their boss.
"Another critical mission, sir?"
"That depends on your definition of critical, Will. It seems we have an
appointment in Palau two days from now." Nelson turned his sharp gaze on his
exec. "At least, you do, Chip, if the good doctor clears you."
"Begging your pardon, Admiral, but I'd rather not see that blasted island ever
"Not even to receive the grateful acknowledgement of the Palau people for
single-handedly defeating the plot against their government, complete with a
medal presentation and a formal reception with the President?" Nelson grinned
with a certain amount of evil satisfaction, knowing how much the reticent Morton
hated official functions, especially if he was to be the center of attention.
"Oh no!" The blond lost what little remaining color he had and abruptly sat back
down on the rack he'd been trying so hard to leave, flinching as the sudden
movement pulled at his bruised body and cracked ribs. Chip raised a forlorn face
up towards his thoroughly amused boss and begged, "Please, sir, can't you tell
them that I'm not well enough for all that fuss?"
"But I thought you said were fine, Commander," purred Jamieson in devilish
delight at the exec's obvious discomfort. "If you're going to be ready for LIGHT
duty in 48 hours, I don't see why you couldn't manage a nice peaceful reception
and award ceremony by then."
The exec's glacial blue stare could have flash frozen Mt. Vesuvius.
Unfortunately it only caused the doctor's smirk to widen. Deciding to shift his
attack to a more susceptible target, Chip mentally shifted gears, turning his
best wounded-puppy look on his oldest and closest friend. "Lee-e-e..."
Seeing the totally pathetic plea in his buddy's shimmering azure eyes, Lee was
almost ready to argue on his behalf until he felt the heated glares emanating
from both Nelson and Jamieson. Wisely deciding that discretion was the better
part of valor, Crane shook his head sympathetically, holding up both hands in a
gesture of surrender as he replied. "Sorry, Chip. It's out of my hands."
"But my memories of the whole thing are rather jumbled and confused due to the
drugs! How can I accept a medal for actions committed while I was under the
influence?" Chip complained with a sigh, shoulders slumping with the weariness
he wouldn't admit to the doctor.
Lee gently encouraged Chip to swing his legs back up onto the rack, piling a
number of pillows behind the tired man's back to prop him up in a more
comfortable sitting position. "Don't worry, buddy. You gave us plenty of details
on your trip back to Seaview
." Crane suppressed a smile as the reminder
of Chip's less-than-dignified behavior caused a deep blush to flood Morton's
still pale skin. "Add in the data disks you recovered, the testimony of the
loyalists and the stories about a 'yellow haired ghost' from the survivors of
your little rainforest adventure, I'd say the Palau government has a pretty good
idea of what you did on their behalf."
"Oh, great! Now I'm a yellow haired ghost," Chip grumbled half-heartedly. Lee
grabbed a blanket from the rack above and carefully tucked it around his
friend's bare torso. It was a mark of Chip's fatigue from the verbal battle with
Jamie that he allowed his friend to fuss over him without complaint.
Crane waved to the patiently waiting Patterson, indicating the coast was clear.
The rating entered Sick Bay, setting down his tray on a small table that had
been pulled to the side of the exec's rack and pulling off the cover.
Chip gazed with worshipful awe at the plate of heavenly confection that was
revealed. Thick warm brownies - threaded through with fudge and semi-sweet
chocolate chunks and frosted with an inch of Cookie's homemade chocolate
buttercream frosting - were piled high on the china plate. A pitcher of
preciously hoarded whole milk was nestled beside the desserts.
Morton's taste buds eagerly anticipated the wondrous feast. This was perfection.
This was Heaven! This was... This was a treat usually reserved for times when
his beanpole buddy wasn't taking care of himself! The exec glared daggers at his
captain. "Lee! Have you been eating properly? Cookie never makes these unless
you're not eating..."
"Begging your pardon, Mr. Morton, sir," interrupted Patterson smoothly as he
poured cold milk from the pitcher into a tall glass and handed it to the
concerned officer. "But Cookie made these especially for you." At the exec's
inquiring look, Pat grinned and explained. "Cookie figured some medicinal
chocolate might help your recovery, sir. He wants to make sure you're able to
sign his paycheck when we return to port."
Not fooled by the crotchety chef's bluster and touched by his concern, Chip
blushed again and cleared his throat. "Please give him my thanks." He looked
with suspicion at Patterson's calm, trustworthy face. "You're sure the skipper
has been taking care of himself?"
Pat - knowing that Mr. Morton's mother hen complex concerning the skipper and
the boat would be at its worst with the forced confinement in Sick Bay -
answered with a firm "Yes, sir!" As Crane turned away briefly to answer a
question from the admiral, Patterson leaned over to whisper quietly to the exec,
"He's a bit tired, sir, but now that the admiral's back, we'll get him to sleep
properly." Straightening up, he continued in a normal voice. "The chief's not
allowing anyone any slack while you recover, sir."
"Thanks, Pat. Tell the crew not to expect their vacation to last much longer,"
he said, trading smiles with the rating.
Without warning, long nimble fingers lifted two of the warm fudge brownies off
the china plate causing blue eyes to flash with indignant fire. "Hey, those are
MINE! Cookie said so!"
Hazel eyes sparkled with evil glee. "Chip, you called me 'Captain Fussy Pants'
in front of the crew! Not to mention the 'harem' remark! I think you owe me at
least a couple of Cookie's killer brownies for that!" Lee's smirk was quickly
obscured as he took a generous bite out of one of the small squares of Heaven.
"Well, why didn't you switch to a private line once you realized my condition?
That damn nitrogen narcosis thing was bad enough and now this..."
"Hey! There was no time..." More and more brownies vanished from the plate as
the two men relaxed into the familiar teasing banter that characterized their
A very amused Nelson interrupted brusquely, "Gentlemen!" Chip and Lee responded
instinctively to the command tone in the admiral's voice and quickly snapped
their crumb coated mouths closed. Harry had to suppress a chuckle at the sight
of his two ultra competent command officers looking like a couple of kids with
their hands caught in the cookie jar. The attempt to glare sternly at his boys
was hindered by the indulgent twinkle in his deep blue eyes. "Chip, follow the
doctor's orders to the letter or I'll authorize the use of restraints. You will
be ready for that award ceremony in two days. Lee, you may not help him escape
from Sick Bay before then."
Acknowledging their reluctantly obedient responses with a nod, Nelson snatched
his own square of the rapidly disappearing decadent desserts then grinned
mischievously. "I don't want to be disturbed by any complaints from our CMO. I'm
off to redesign the Flying Sub docking bay to include access to the rear hatch.
As the good doctor pointed out, we need a faster and easier way in than the
narrow top hatch while she's berthed especially as both of my command officers
seem to be....how did Will put it? ...major league trouble magnets." With that
parting shot, the admiral gathered up Patterson with a look and sauntered out of
Sick Bay, leaving Jamieson to the tender mercies of his now indignant command
Before Nelson could completely close the door to Sick Bay, he heard two annoyed
voices yell in unison, "Jamie!!!"
The admiral headed down the passageway, humming cheerfully. Things were getting
back to normal on his boat.
* Airdales - nickname among the Navy for Naval Aviators. The corresponding
nickname for surface ship personnel is skimmers, SEAL's are snake-eaters or
frogmen, ONI agents are spooks and submariners are bubbleheads. These nicknames
can range from somewhat affectionate to quite insulting depending on context,
intonation and the presence (or not) of an 'f' word modifier. <g>
* Navy Expert Rifleman Medal and Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal. Highest level of
weapons qualification in the Navy. There are two lesser levels, Marksman (plain
Marksman ribbon) and Sharpshooter (Marksman ribbon with 'S' device added), but
only the Expert level is a Medal. When worn as a ribbon, it is the regular
Marksman ribbon with an 'E' for Expert device added.
* Prospective Commanding Officer tour - months of formal training required of
all potential sub or ship commanders before they can report to their boat/ship.
During Department Head and XO tours, officers are expected to complete
requirements for command qualification. Not every officer gets a XO billet, let
alone a CO billet, as both are decided upon by selection boards. For more
detailed information on a submarine officer's career path see
* Ava Winters, a naval architect who helped design Seaview, appeared in "Death
Ship" and was played by June Vincent.
* O'Brien is called "Frank" by the skipper in Submarine Sunk Here.
* Lt. Cmdr. Mark Lukela was inspired by the following handsome actor/extra seen
* CHENG or Cheng- CHief ENGineer of a ship or boat. Usually third in command of
a boat. Must pass rigorous technical training before being selected for a Chief
Engineer's billet. All prospective XO's must have qualified as Chief Engineers
before they can be considered for an XO billet.
* blivet - a slang term for "ten pounds of manure in a five pound bag" or a
person with less than stellar qualities <g>
* U.S.S. Narwhal,
SSN - 671, a unique submarine that carried out many
classified/intelligence missions in the sixties and seventies. I have Chip as a
plankowner/OPS officer during his LT/Department Head sea cruise and Lee being
the XO during his LCDR/XO sea cruise, with both men earning their Bronze Stars
aboard her. <g>
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