(Author's Notes: First I would like to thank Mariann Hornlein for allowing me to use her character, Admiral Joel McKenna. He has helped to move the story along so well, and I am very grateful to Mariann. All of the information on Courts Martial comes from two sources - The Manual for Courts Martial online, and the Annotated Articles of War, revised ed. 1949, courtesy of Donna Sherland. Please be advised that there are broad interpretations of the statutes, and I have used some of them very broadly! I hope that you enjoy the story)
Doctor Will Jamison hovered over his two patients as they were as they were established in the rooms at the Sanitarium. It was an old established facility that specialized in caring for Servicemen who were victims of torture, physical and psychological. The top specialists on the West Coast worked out of here. He knew that the care and treatment the Admiral and Chip would receive was the best, and that the security was also the best. And considering the circumstance that brought both men here security was as important as the care. He held a great deal of hope for the full recovery of both men. He believed that Chip Morton's physical injuries would heal fairly rapidly, barring any complications. He was fairly sure that any problems he would have relating to being a victim of torture would also heal quickly.
He also knew that his larger problems would be in therapy for the broken legs, and the damage that he'd suffered to his face.
Harriman Nelson was another story. The Admiral was a very moral and just individual and witnessing the deliberate, brutal beating, in an attempt to bring about death, for the simple reason that Morton was Nelson's friend, was the most psychically damaging thing that could have been done to him.
Gamma knew that. Jamie was very worried about Nelson's mind.
Just then he heard a shout from Nelson's room and he ran in to see what the commotion was. The Admiral was fighting with the two nurses who had been trying to settle him into the bed. "Stop Him...Stop him, I tell you! Gamma, make this stop!! "
Jamison was at the bedside and took a hypodermic from the nurse, all the while beginning a steady stream of talk to the sick man. "Easy, Admiral, easy... It has been stopped. You and Chip are okay, Harry. You're at a hospital where you're going to get some help. Chip is across the suite from you. He's going to be ok too. It's going to take him a while to heal, though. It's going to be ok!"
The sedative started to calm him down and he looks Jamison and for the first time in days, he began to really see where he was, "Will..? Is that you ? How..? Where..?' Then more agitated..."Chip?!! Where's Chip?"
By this time, the light restraints that he had ordered were in place and holding Nelson's arms to the bed. Nelson pulled and tried to raise his arms, "what...what is this?"
"Restraints, Sir. Just for a while, until you're a bit better. You're in a Sanitarium, Admiral, outside San Diego."
"Chip, Will, where did you say he was?"
"He's here... across the suite. "
"Here? Where..? " The recognition started to fade, and the sedative started to work, "Chip...Chip...just hang on, lad...just hang on...I'll get you out. I’ll get you out!" the rest became incoherent mumbles, as he drifted off to oblivion.
Jamison was encouraged by the brief moment of recognition that the Admiral displayed. He would be pleased to tell Lee Crane of this moment. It was at least a start towards recovery. He made some notes on the chart at the foot of the bed and after looking back once more at the Admiral, he left the room and crossed the sitting area to go to Morton's Room.
As with Nelson, two nurses were settling the Seaview's XO into the hospital bed. With the passage of some time, the swelling on Morton's face had decreased a little and Jamison thought that he was looking a little better. As for the rest of his injuries, well time would tell with that, too. Jamison sincerely hoped that the damage he had seen on the X-rays to Chip's throat would heal quickly. Morton Still could not make a sound, and that worried him. He couldn't tell how Chip's vision was yet, since there was no way to communicate but by squeezing a hand, and Chip was easily exhausted by any prolonged effort to communicate. Jamison mused that it must be incredibly difficult for Morton, who prided himself on his communication skills, not to be able to communicate! As the nurses left, Jamison went to the bedside, took Chip's hand in his and began talking to him.
"Chip, it's Jamie. You and the Admiral are in a Sanitarium outside of San Diego. This is a good place. They'll be able to help you here. It will be more comfortable that the Boat. They have a big therapy department. So that when you're ready, you'll get the help you need with walking. I'm going to be staying on the base here in San Diego, to supervise the care you and the Admiral get here. Lee said to tell you he'll be here tomorrow, and Matty said to make sure that you knew that she'd be coming in as soon as she could. Are you in pain, Chip?"
Morton squeezed the Medic's hand. "All right. I'll give you something now. "
His hand was squeezed again. He patted the XO on the shoulder. "I know that this is hard, Chip. But you're already making some progress! I'm leaving orders for the painkillers to be administered every six hours for the next two days. By then you'll have settled in here and the staff here will takeover. I'll be here every day, at least for the next two weeks to check up on the both of you. " He felt Chip squeeze his hand again, and hold it tightly for a few moments, and then felt it relax. He made some notes on the chart and went into the sitting room.
Two doctors entered. One was tall, 50ish and graying. The other was a younger man, perhaps 35 and just as tall, but with a nervous manner that made Jamison little ill at ease. The older man introduced himself, "Dr. Jamison, I'm David Bricker, and this is Dr. Ray Gold. I'm the head of the Psych department, and I'll be caring for the Admiral and Cdr. Morton in that department. Ray here is the orthopedics man who'll be seeing to Morton's therapy for the broken bones. The general practitioner and the neurologist will be here shortly, as well as the throat and face specialists. It seems that your men have had quite a go round!"
Jamison cringed at the light way the man spoke of the events that Nelson and Morton had been through, "Why don't you both sit down and let me go through some of the particulars of this incident with you...."
Admiral Joel McKenna couldn't have been happier. After all the time he had tried to get Harriman Nelson and destroy him, an entire scenario had presented itself, and he hadn't had to lift a finger to do anything. Sometimes patience paid off!!
Now he had Lee Crane in his brig ( and receiving the attention McKenna felt he deserved, for saving Nelson's hide the last time they met, from some of his specially trained men). According to the statutes he could keep him there incommunicado for up to 8 days, until the charges were formally presented.
He also knew that Crane would probably plead guilty, it would be the 'Right " thing to do. He almost giggled when he thought of Harriman Nelson in a Sanitarium because of a nervous breakdown. And that sanctimonious XO of his in the same place because of severe physical injuries!! He almost clapped his hands in glee! And there was no one to save Crane! He would go to Leavenworth, for the next 20 years at least, if they didn't order a hanging, and it was up to him, Joel McKenna to see that Crane was properly looked after! And look after him he would! He rubbed his hands together, and thought, Joel, it's worked out after all!! You didn't get Nelson, but someone did! And now you've got Crane and not even Jiggs Starke can get him out of this one! Thank goodness the President is an old friend, and trusted me to see this was done quickly and quietly, with no press. After all the UN and Angola were not happy with the Captain's actions! A few private words, and proof that it's been handled, and the President looks good, and is very happy, and I'm ready to get my fourth star!
Lee Crane was beginning to believe he knew what Hell was. And what made the whole situation worse was that he also knew that this one was one of his own making! After McKenna's men had given him a beating, he had been thrown into this tiny cell, still handcuffed. There was no light, there was nothing but the pitch blackness. He was thirsty, but something told him that neither food nor water would be forthcoming. McKenna was going to make him pay for being, what had he called them? 'Guardian Angels' for Admiral Nelson at his Promotion ceremony.
He shifted uncomfortably on the floor, and pushed himself towards the wall. Using the wall as a support, he pushed himself to a sitting position. He leaned back against the wall. He tried, in his mind's eye, to imagine a way out of this situation, but the more he thought about it, the more he believed that there was no way! At least, the Admiral and Chip were safe and would, he hoped, eventually recover.
Robert would be okay with his mother and Angie and Chip. The boat and the men, well Matty was there for now, and he could sign papers according to Nelson's legal papers, that would put Edith and , maybe Jiggs Stark, in charge until the Admiral had recovered. That would about cover everything! Except his own situation...but he could probably resolve that, too. The only 'right' thing was to plead guilty! He did it! The men were innocent... they had only followed orders. If he pled guilty, then they were off the hook! That was it then, that was the only way, and the best for every one! He wondered what it would be like to spend 20 years or more behind bars....
"But Ma'am, what are we going to do? We just can't leave the Skipper all alone!! We have to do something!!"
"And what would you propose, Sharkey? That I let you go up that gangplank one or two at a time and get shot and killed? That certainly would help the Skipper, wouldn't It?"
Dejectedly, he replied, "No, Ma'am. That wouldn't help at all! Not at all!. But, Ma'am, what are we going to do?"
"Exactly what the Captain told us, Chief...Sit tight and wait. Call the Institute, call his home, and call Jamie. I have a few other calls to make myself. " She smiled at Sharkey, "Don't worry, Chief, we'll get Lee out of this.. Right now I don't know how, but we will!"
There was a knock on the cabin door.
Kowalski opened the door, "Ma'am..."
"Yes, Ski, what do you want?"
"There's something you ought to know about the place that they're holding the Skipper. Doc can confirm everything I'm gonna tell you..."
Will Jamison went into Chip Morton's room wearily. He knew the news that he had for the young officer would not be easy to give him, but knowing Morton's temperament and personality, Will also knew that he had to tell him everything, let Chip digest, and accept it, and then move on with it. Will checked the chart at the bottom of the bed and then moved next to the Exec.
He took Morton's right, casted hand in his, and spoke softly to him. "Chip, it's Jamie, can you hear me?" He felt the pressure change in the hand. "Good. Chip, listen to me. I've a lot to tell you. If you want me to stop at any point, or repeat myself, just squeeze my hand, ok?"
He felt the grip tighten and release. "Good. Here it goes. I've just been going over your injuries with the staff, here. You're going to be under the care of a number of physicians, because of all your injuries. You'll also probably be here for , well, quite a while. To begin, with, you'll be having some surgery to wire your jaw shut, it was fractured in two places, it'll have to be kept immobile for at least 8 weeks, and then they'll have to see how it's coming along. You're also going to have some surgery on your legs. They're going to put pins in to stabilize the fractures. The legs are broken in the weight bearing area, and they don't want to take any chances with the bones shifting. They're going to put hard casts on both wrists, and hands for the broken wrists. And a hard cast on the left arm for the double break in the radius and ulna. The open wound in your other arm is healing. The infection is responding to the antibiotics, and all we have to do is watch it. Your shoulder was dislocated, but the Admiral did put that back in place and it's healing You've six cracked ribs, which will be re-taped. That will take about a month to heal. And now to the serious injuries...your eyes, your neck, your throat. You were pretty badly beaten about the head and face. I know you know that. The optic nerves indicate some severe bruising, and there is pretty severe swelling around the nerves in both eyes. Right now, even if your face wasn't so swollen, I doubt that you'd be able to see. Your sight should return in a month, it may be little longer, and we won't know if there's any permanent damage until then. You were hit pretty hard around the neck and throat. There is swelling of the tissue around the spinal chord. Once that goes down, they'll be better able to tell if there is any real damage. And your voice. There's a trach tube in there right now, so that you couldn't talk even if you wanted to. There was fracturing of the larynx itself and some pretty massive swelling of the tissues as well. Your voice should come back, after the surgery heals." He paused, to allow Chip to absorb some if what he was telling him, then continued, answering the questions that Morton was unable to answer.
"How long, I don't know. Healing should take three to six weeks. After that, well, we'll see. In the mean time, communication is a problem. I think that the therapist has hit on an idea. You know Morse Code." Chip squeezed Jamie's hand, and Doc continued, "the therapist suggested that you use it to communicate. Use a finger or hold a pencil and tap put a message. It'll take a while, but at least, You'll be able to communicate!"
Jamison opened his palm and waited . Very slowly, Chip tapped out a pattern, two doubled dots, a single dot and three dots together "Y-E-S."
Jamison smiled broadly. "That's it, Chip!" Both of his patients had taken steps today that he should be jumping for joy about, but he felt so uneasy, and didn't know what it was. Chip began to tap out a series of letters that broke Jamison's train of thought.
"Chip, the Admiral's here, across the hall. He'll be ok, it's going to take a while, but he'll be ok."
"He's going to come here tomorrow. So is Matty. And I'm sure that the rest of the crew will be up too!"
Chip clenched a fist, and then relaxed his hand and tapped out "P-A-I-N."
Jamison took a hypodermic from the cabinet in the room , and filled it with a clear liquid. "I'll give you a shot now, Chip. They'll be coming in soon to take you and do the surgery I told you about. I'll be in to see you later."
He injected the liquid into the IV line and waited until he saw Morton's hand relax. He made a few notes on the chart and went into the sitting room. The phone rang, and he picked it up.
"Yes, this is Will Jamison...Yes, I'll take the call from the Nelson Institute." he waited while the call was connected. " Yes, Angie, what is it? ... He did what? Lee is where? The boat is what? Matty Weaver? Wait…wait a minute. Did you contact Legal? They have two on staff. Lee will need all the help we can give him, Angie. I'll be back in touch. No, I won't tell either one of them. The Admiral won't know, and Chip doesn't need that kind of news!" He hung up the phone and shook his head in shock.
Lee Crane had been arrested by Joel McKenna for Insubordination!
The bastard! He would do anything he could to get back at Harriman Nelson!!
Matty Weaver paced the Observation Nose. What a mess! Lee arrested by a man out to get the Admiral! And that was another Admiral! She'd heard about Joel McKenna, through the ONI grapevine. The man was ruthless and totally amoral.
No wonder he was out for Harriman Nelson! They were complete opposites!
And Nelson had gone further and done better than McKenna could have even hoped for. And according to Kowalski, since Crane had gotten himself in the middle of it, Crane was now going to be McKenna's latest victim.
Well, not if she could help it!! She slammed her hand down on the intercom box. "Sparks!" she shouted into the speaker. " Have you gotten my call to ONI through yet?"
"No, Ma'am. I'm still trying"
She slammed her hand down on the desk in anger, "Dammit, Sparks, I need to talk to my boss!"
"Yes, Ma'am. The circuits have been tied up for the last two hours. I don't know what's wrong. Is there another wavelength or circuit that I can try? "
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I'll come to the Radio Shack and give it to you."
Bright, harsh light poured into the cell as the door opened. The figure of a large man was outlined in the doorframe. After the hours spent in the pitch blackness, his eyes hurt from the light. The figure advanced toward him, and he saw the arm reach out and he was pulled to his feet.
"Well, Crane…how do you feel about my hospitality now? Better than the last time?" He released Lee's shirt. "I have a paper here for you to sign, the first of many. If you plan to do the 'right' thing!" He sneered at Seaview's Captain, "And NO ONE can get you out of this! 20 years in Leavenworth at the least. I hope you'll get used to dry land!"
Through the diatribe, Lee didn't flinch, or move, or say a word. Crane's silence angered McKenna, and he reacted as he usually did when angry...He struck out! He hit Lee twice in the stomach, and Crane doubled over. McKenna called two of the guards over to Crane. "Pick him up! " They dragged Crane to his feet. McKenna held out the paper.
"An Admission of Guilt, Crane. Stating that you knew exactly what you were doing when you disobeyed the orders of the Commander in Chief. You did yourself in this time...and for what...? Nelson is bonkers and your Exec, well from what I've been told he isn't going to be worth much, if he recovers!!" And McKenna laughed, a laugh that held obscene delight and pleasure at the pain that the two men would be going through.!
Crane tried to charge at the Admiral, but the burly guards held him back. McKenna laughed again, this time at Crane. "Frustrated, Captain?" and he laughed again, as the Seaview's Captain continued to struggle. "What's wrong, Crane? Don't you have anything to say? "
"Not to the likes of you...sir!" was the retort. Lee tensed his body, waiting for the blow he expected from the burly officer. He didn't have to wait long. McKenna landed three hard blows to his prisoner's midsection, and then signaled the guards to let him go. Crane collapsed to the floor in a heap. McKenna spoke loudly to the guards, so that anyone in hearing would be aware "Uncooperative prisoner! We'll have to make him cooperate! " He kicked at Crane, as he lay on the floor, and said in soft and malicious whisper "And I will enjoy every minute of making you more cooperative! " and he stormed out and closed the door.
Lee Crane let the beginnings of hopelessness take root...
Joel McKenna sat back in his chair and let out a low purr of satisfaction. He was going strictly 'by the book' with Crane. Article 69 of the M.C.M. allowed that an officer can be confined if he is thought to be at a risk for escape and that fetters could be used of it was thought that the prisoner may escape. Well, Crane was an Intelligence officer, so that the confinement and restraint were justified. He certainly had escaped from many different places if his dossier was to be believed! In addition, he was allowed 8 days to formally present the charges to the accused. In eight days, he would have Crane signed, sealed, and delivered to the Court Martial ready to be put away for a long time!! Eight days... he hoped that Harriman Nelson would recover enough to be aware that he, Joel McKenna, had won this round! He 'd put Nelson's precious Captain out of reach, and done it within the Military Law that Nelson revered so! He was one step closer to destroying Nelson!
Harriman Nelson had a recurring nightmare. Gamma laughing as the Sergeant hit Morton again and again. He couldn't stop the beating! Morton was calling out to him to make it stop and he couldn't, he was trying and he couldn't. No one would listen to him. But it had to stop! He had to make them listen! He had to!! He woke with a jolt, and slowly looked around at his surroundings. None of it was familiar to him! Where was he? What was this place? Why couldn't he remember how he got here? He tried to raise his hands, and found them tied down. He looked down and saw the restraints, and also the cast on the right wrist, and couldn't remember Why or What?
He called out, but his voice, hoarse and dry wouldn't do more than low croak. He tried to clear it and saw the nurse at the foot of the bed look up from the magazine she was reading.
"Admiral Nelson?" She asked him softly, as she came to stand close to the head of the bed. "Admiral Nelson, sir? "
He could bring his voice to no more than a whisper "Where...is...?'
"You're in the Oceanview Sanitarium, Admiral. Your Doctor Jamison had you and Commander Morton admitted here yesterday."
"Yes, sir, you're in the same suite, sir. He's just across the sitting room. I'll call for Dr. Jamison, if you want." Nelson nodded, tears of relief streaming down his face.
Chip's here, across the hall...then he must be safe...but ... how badly is he hurt? And the Boat... what about the boat... and where's Lee? Where did that woman say Chip was? What's wrong with him? Why can't I remember?
Images started to come together. Faces that he didn't know bending over him, and some that he knew, but couldn't call up their names. He was puzzled. His arms were tied to the bed, his right wrist hurt abominably!
Why can't I think clearly? Why is it all so blurred? Then the image of the Sergeant hitting Chip Morton about the face and head slammed into his consciousness, and he gasped aloud. Morton hadn't made a sound through it all not until the end...The Sergeant took such pleasure in what he was dong to Chip...He had to talk to Chip...He had to know...surely Chip blamed him, Nelson, for all the pain he was had gone through, for all the pain he had to be in now!!.
It's all my fault! How will I ever make amends for it? will he be able to forgive me? There was no reason for it…only friendship... Is his too high a price for friendship? I wouldn't blame Chip if he never wanted to see me again!
Will Jamison stood in the doorway of Harriman Nelson's room, watching the play of emotions on the Admiral's face. The tears took him off guard, but he should have expected them. It just was unusual for Nelson to display any emotion. He kept himself in such tight control! Well maybe in the long run, some good would come out of it. He moved toward the bedside wearing his best 'bedside manner'.
Very softly…"Will... ?' A long breath, then.." Will, what is this place?...What's going on?" He pulled at the left restraint..."Why these..?"
Jamison pulled a chair to the bedside...."It's been a long haul, Harry... Let me fill you in."
Chip Morton was suffering. And pain wasn't the only thing that he was feeling. Considering what he'd been through, that was a given. But there were so many other things! He was on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. And making the situation worse was the fact that he was totally unable to communicate how and what he was feeling. He had a real concern for the Admiral. I'll bet the O.O.M. is blaming himself for this! I wish I could let him know that its' not his fault! I'll have to let Jamie know!! He has to let him know what I feel!' He heard movement in the room. Nurses? Doctors? God this is frustrating!! Whomever it was had come to the bedside. He heard papers rustling. He felt hands touching his face and probing his jaw and then he felt them move off, and he heard papers rustle again.
Then a voice said "Commander, this is the oral surgeon, Walter Andres. I did the surgery on your jaw, and did the wiring as well. Will Jamison asked me to keep you appraised of what is going on with you. He said that you can tap out responses in Morse code. Sorry, but I don't know it. He also said that you can squeeze the right hand in response. We'll have to make do with that method."
He reached for Morton's hand, and Chip squeezed it in response.
"Good! At least we can relate a little bit! Now...here's the entire picture. Your lower jaw was fractured in three places, fortunately, the fractures were not too severe, but they had to be stabilized, and I wired the jaw in place as well as wiring the lower jaw to the upper. You won't be able to speak or even eat too much of anything or about 8 weeks.I know that it sounds like a long time, but it is necessary for you to recover the complete use of the jaw. You'll be looking at some physical therapy as well as well as some work with a speech therapist. I'm working with the throat specialist, who did some work on the larynx while we had you in the OR. You had some pretty severe damage to the cartilage in the throat, and the vocal chords were badly traumatized. But he'll be in later or tomorrow to explain all of that to you."
Morton squeezed the doctor's hand in acknowledgement.
"I take it you understand all that I've told you?"
Chip squeezed the doctor's hand again.
"I've ordered some pain medication for you. They'll start it shortly. I've taken into account all the meds you're already on...but when the anethestheic wears off, you'll be grateful to have it. “At that moment, a nurse came into the room, and the doctor started to talk to the nurse. Chip heard them, and heard the nurse move to the side of the bed and talk to the doctor again. A soft warmth began to spread over him, and the voices faded away...
Will Jamison looked carefully at Harriman Nelson. The Admiral had been listening carefully to everything that the Doctor was telling him. Jamison was feeling more relieved that Nelson was being so calm as the story was being retold. Bricker, the psychiatrist, had told Jamison to inform Nelson of everything, if he asked. Knowing Harriman Nelson for many years gave Jamie an additional insight into the man that Bricker didn't have. Bricker believed that Jamison would know when to stop.
"That's the whole story, Harry. I can't tell you anything else, because there isn't anything else to tell!"
Very softly and in measured tones, "I have two questions Will. When can I see Chip, and when do these restraints come off?"
Jamison smiled as some of the Admiral's usual gruffness began to creep into his voice, " I'm not sure, sir. I have to talk to Doctor Bricker."
Weakly, but angrily. "Dammit, Will. I've heard all that you've said! But I've got to see for myself! I've got to, don't you understand?"
He patted the Admiral's shoulder. "Yes, I do. But do you understand? This could trigger a relapse into where you've been for the last week. And that you may not come back from it, Harry!"
"I know, Will, but I have to see him for myself. I have to see that Chip's alive! I'll deal with it! "
"Then let me talk to Bricker, you're his patient when it comes to this!"
Jamison got up and went into the sitting room. Nelson heard Jamie's low voice on the phone line and in a few minutes he came back to the bedside!. "Bricker left it up to me, Admiral."
"We'll give it a try, sir. I called your nurse. She's bringing a robe for you and a wheelchair. But the moment I feel it's too much for you we stop!"
Nelson pulled again at the restraints, "And these..?"
"I'll take them off now, but they have to go back on once you're back in bed. For your safety, sir."
Instead of his usual blustering at the news, Nelson quietly accepted Jamison's pronouncement. Chip's not as well as he'd like me to believe, after all! “Well, let's do it and go from there!"
The nurse came in with a wheel chair and a robe. Jamison undid the restraints on the Admiral's arms and helped him to sit up in the bed. "You're going to have to take this slow, sir. You've been flat on your back for a week, and you're likely to be a little dizzy, not to mention a bit weak."
Once again, Jamison noted that instead of shrugging off help, the Admiral accepted it quietly. Once he had the robe on the Admiral, the nurse handed Jamison a black sling. He put it over Nelson's head, and slid the Admiral's casted arm into it.
Nelson looked again at Jamison, and raised the arm "Will, how did this happen, again?"
"Lee said that when they found you, the chair that you were bound in had fallen and lots of debris had fallen on it and you. He felt that it took a hit the wrong way, and I agree. The wrist is broken in two places. You'll have the cast on for about 8 to 12 weeks." Once again, Nelson nodded quietly.
Jamison helped him into the wheelchair, and then asked "Are you sure that you are ready for this, sir?'
"I'm not sure about the ready part, Will, but I have to do this, and I have to do this now. "
"Very well, sir. " He pushed the wheelchair through the door into the sitting room. Nelson was quiet, deep in thought, as Jamison pushed the wheelchair to the door to Morton's room. "Admiral...?"
"Will, I'm ok...I'll be ok!!" Nelson said softly.
"Chip looks very bad, Harry. He can't see you, he can't talk to you, he can't move. Harry, it will shock you. Hold his right hand. He can tap out Morse code in your hand, that's all. And its' difficult for him. He's being given a lot of drugs for the pain, and to keep him well sedated. "
"Enough, Will! Just get me to his bedside!"
Slowly, Jamison wheeled the Admiral to Chip Morton's bedside. The older man slowly looked over the Exec, and surveyed all of the injuries. He shook his head in grief and disbelief.
Tears came to his eyes and streamed down his face. He reached for Morton's hand, squeezed it, and spoke, "Chip, lad, ... its' Nelson. Are you awake?"
Chip squeezed the Admiral's hand and held it. Jamison leaned over the Admiral's right shoulder, "Open your palm, Harry. Let Chip use Morse..."
Nelson however seemed to have tuned Jamison out. He was totally focused on Chip, and communicating with him.
Morton felt Nelson's open hand and took a breath and tapped out "A-D-M-I-R-A-L. "
Nelson answered him, "Yes, Chip...I'm sorry, so sorry for all of this!"
"N-O-T Y-O-U-R F-A-U-L-T."
Tears were streaming down Nelson's face. "But it is Chip... It was because of our friendship that you're here, that you're in such pain! It is My fault!"
"N-O N-O-T Y-O-U-R F-A-U-L-T A-D-M-I-R-A-L."
Nelson looked at Jamison, "Will... Take me ...Back!!!" he let Chip's hand go and Jamison wheeled him out of the room.
The nurse was waiting and helped Jamison get Nelson back into the bed. Totally distraught, Nelson looked at Jamison, "Chip said its' not my fault, Will...but I know it is...I don't understand him. How is it he doesn't blame me...? How??? How??"
"Because Chip wouldn't blame you for something that you had no control over. Because he is, like you and like Lee, a moral man that doesn't place blame where it doesn't belong...and because, he is your friend, Harry, as you are his!"
Nelson was shuddering with the emotions that were flooding his being. Jamison was fastening the restraints on the Admiral's arms. He didn't protest. He meekly let the doctor arrange them. "Just for a while longer, Harry."
Nelson didn't hear him. He was lost in his own nightmare, again. This time bewilderment and disbelief were added to the nightmare. Jamison, took a needle from the nurse, and spoke to the Admiral as he gave him the injection.
"This will help, Harry. It'll let you sleep. Dr. Bricker and I will be in to see you later."
"Will...just help me…help me... understand...why...?"
"We'll try, Harry...we'll try"
He waited until Nelson went into a deeper sleep, and then went to the room across the suite, to Morton's side.
He placed his hand, palm open at Morton's right hand...
Chip Morton was confused. The admiral was here! That meant he was ok, he hadn't been hurt! but he didn't sound like the Harriman Nelson he knew for these many years. He was hesitant and unsure of himself , in fact the raw emotion in his voice was unsettling to the Exec. And after Chip had told the Admiral that it wasn't his fault, the O.O.M. had suddenly left!
Now Chip heard someone enter the room and recognized Jamison's step. Maybe I'm getting better at this! Maybe they are right when they say that the absence of one sense is compensated by the others! Maybe Jamie can answer my questions!
"W-H-A-T H-A-P-P-E-N-E-D T-O O-O-M?"
"Just too much at once, Chip. He's still in very fragile shape emotionally. It will be a long time. He has to accept that he's not a t fault for what happened to you, and he has to accept that you don't blame him. That's not going to be easy for Harry. I think that you know that."
"S-E-E-M-E-D D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T U-N-S-U-R-E.'
"He was. This is a different Harriman Nelson, to be sure... How are you
"D-O-N-T K-N-O-W H-U-R-T A-L-L O-V-E-R!"
Jamison laid a hand on Chip's shoulder. "I know. I’ll give you something for it. Try and sleep, now. The medication will kick in quickly...I'll be back..."
Matty Weaver paced the length and breadth of the Observation Nose. She made the decision to become active again, in spite of Lee Crane's orders to the contrary! Waiting around for the answers to come to her was not her style!
She'd find out the answers herself! She still couldn't get through to ONI from the boat. So she'd get OFF the boat! She had to find out about Lee Crane, Nelson and Morton... Chip...how was he? WAS he starting to recover...that man in the brig would get his due...she's see to that!!... A plan, regarding him sprang to mind, but she pushed it aside, for now...the threat from the SPs to shoot to kill!!...Could she allow that to happen?...Not now, Matty...Later... She looked over to O'Brien at the Plot Table.
"To my quarters, immediately! Bring Chief Sharkey and the senior ratings!” and with that, Matty went up the Spiral stairs to Officers' country.
"Yes, Ma'am!" O'Brien picked up the mike, "Chief Sharkey, Kowalski, Patterson, Rodriguez report to Cdr. Weaver's quarters, immediately!"
Ten minutes later, O'Brien and the other men were at Matty's door. O'Brien knocked.
Matty sat at the desk. "Sit down, men. " The five men entered and sat in the chairs in the room. Matty rose and walked around the desk, sitting on the edge of it. "O'Brien, Chief, men...I have a plan to explain to you. I intend to leave the boat shortly."
"But Ma'am, the SPs have shoot to kill orders!"
She smiled at the Chief of the boat. "I know Sharkey. I don't intend to leave in the conventional way. I need a wet suit, Chief, and all the necessary equipment to make a dive...."
"A dive Ma'am?"
"Yes. I plan to leave the boat by way of the hatch in the FS1. NO one will see me leave through there. I intend to swim up the coast to the beach by the Institute cottages. I'll go ashore there and make my way to the Institute from there. Our advantage is that McKenna, or whoever it is that arrested the Skipper doesn't know I was on the boat. I can operate out of the Institute and come and go, and they don't know my connection. "
Francis Sharkey smiled for the first time in days. "I'll get on it right away Ma'am. In fact, there's gear stowed in the FS1!"
"Ok, Chief. You and Kowalski see to it for me. Bob, You'll have charge of the Boat unless you hear otherwise, from the Captain or myself. The only other individual that you will take orders from is Admiral Jiggs Stark. You will keep the boat here in port, but I want her at the ready. She should be prepared to sail on 5 minutes notice and if you have to drill the men until they drop, then do it! Patterson, I want you and Rodriguez to come up with a radio that I can keep in touch with the boat. I want it to be able to send over long distances as well as short, and I want you to build into it a mechanism that prevents jamming of the signal! Can you do it?"
"Yes ma'am. Give us a half hour! and ma'am...?"
"I'd like to check it all out with Sparks when we're done"
"Fine, Pat, now get to it!"
The two men left. She focused on O'Brien. "Bob, here's what I plan to do..."
Matty Weaver strode into the suite at Oceanview Sanitarium, and looked around for Will Jamison. She was anxious to see Will Jamison and how Nelson and Morton were faring...better she hoped than Lee Crane! She pushed thoughts of Seaview's Captain out of her head, she'd deal with that later. Jamison came in behind her.
"Matty? I thought that you were restricted to the boat?!"
"The crew is. But I'm not crew, and since McKenna didn't know that I was aboard, I left!"
She smiled, "My secret, Doc. Just say that I'm here and I've taken a few matters in hand!" She nodded towards the two doorways. "How are they?"
"Progressing, slowly. This is not something that we can fix quickly."
"Do they know about Lee?"
"No, I haven't told them. It wouldn't do either one of them any good. I will tell them, hen the time is right, not before!" he said defensively.
She laid a hand on his arm in reassurance, "I'm not questioning you, Will. Just asking.
He smiled back at her, 'I'm sorry, I'm just a bit defensive, right now. Do you have any word on Lee?"
"No, none. I've tried the San Diego Base, and McKenna's office, but I keep getting put off. I'm going there after I leave here. I'll find out what I need to know! Both Michael Taylor and Richard Blake at ONI are doing some checking for me, and they are appraised of what's been going on!"
"A woman with a Mission!"
Matty laughed. "Most assuredly Doc! I will get to the bottom of this!..." she paused, "Can I see Chip now?"
"I think so Matty. He's been using Morse code to communicate. It's painful for him, but, it works. At least we can answer some of his questions this way! He's in here."
Will led the way to Chip's room, and Matty followed. With all the tubes, wires and other Medical paraphernalia she had to look hard to see Morton in the bed. As she approached the bed, she thought again of the prisoner in Seaview's brig. She would see that he was taken care of...Look what he'd done to Chip! Her heart gave a lurch she hadn't felt in a long time...she was fighting feelings that were coming into play that were long dormant, and although she knew that it wasn't the time or place, there they were anyway!
"Chip!" She leaned over the bed and said softly, "Hey, Sailor!" and she slid her open palm under his right hand.
Chip heard a voice that pulled his mind from the drugged stupor that he was feeling more and more trapped in. Matty! Matty 's here! He felt her hand slide beneath his, and heard her greeting. He was glad that she was here!
"How're you doing, Chip? No, don't try to answer that. I can see how you're doing!"
"N-O-T A P-R-E-T-T-Y P-I-C-T-U-R-E."
" I didn't come here to see pretty pictures, Chip Morton! I came to see how you and the Admiral are doing! Jamie says that you've had some surgery on your jaw and your legs. Said that the throat man looked at the damage there and repaired that too. Jamie says that all things considered, you're doing ok!"
"T-H-A-T-S H-I-S O-P-I-N-I-O-N."
She laughed softly, and gently ran her fingers over his forehead.
"Of course. As long as you'd like. He squeezed her hand, and tapped "T-H-A-N-K-S."
She leaned over and gingerly kissed him on the forehead. "No thanks necessary. I want to be here."
A short time later she came into the sitting room and found Will Jamison waiting for her. She sat hard on a couch.
"You okay, Matty?"
"Yes, Will. It's just hard seeing Chip, like that, you know. I want to cry for all the pain that I know he's in. But he doesn't let on, you know. He's worried about the Admiral, and he was asking where Lee was. I just told him a few things had come up on the boat. He seemed to accept that. I believe he's sleeping now. The nurse came in a few minutes ago and gave him a needle in the IV. "
"We're trying to keep him pretty well sedated, Matty. I know his tolerance for pain is above average, but if it all hit him at once, it would be unbearable. Studies tell us as long as a patient is in pain, and the meds relieve the pain, addiction to the meds won't take place. So we're working hard at keeping him out of pain. We'll gradually reduce the level of the meds as we go along."
"How's the O.O.M.?"
"I'm not a psychiatrist, but I think he's made some improvement. He went into see Chip last night."
'It was rough on the two of them! Harry was devastated by the look of Chip, and Chip told him that he wasn't to blame, and Harry had a hard time accepting that. But at least he saw Chip and spoke with him. Harry's mind began healing then. It's just going to be a long time! But then again, being the kind of men they both are, they may surprise me!"
"May I talk to Nelson?"
"Go ahead. He's a lot more lucid than when you saw him last! "
She rose and went into Nelson's room. She nodded at the nurse sitting at the foot of the bed, and stood at Nelson's bedside. He appeared to be resting, eyes closed, but when she approached him, he turned his head and faced her.
She was struck by the clearly visible confusion in his azure blue eyes.
"Weaver...What are you doing here? How..."
"Hello, Admiral..."she leaned forward on the bed rails, "I came to see how you and Chip are doing. I was there to help Lee get you both out. I came back on the boat with you."
"Oh," was his reply. "The boat...where's Lee? He should have been here by now!"
"A few things came up on the boat, sir, as a result of the mission. I'm sure you'll hear from him soon."
"Soon! I...I should have heard from him already" he whined, like a petulant child, "...He's a friend...Doesn't he care? Where is he?"
She laid her hand on his arm. "Easy sir. You'll hear from him soon, I'm sure. He does care, very much, Admiral. He just has a lot going on right now..."
After 3 days in the dark cell with very little water, no food, and no rest, from the relentless pounding of Joel McKenna, Lee Crane had decided that he would sign anything that the Admiral presented him with.
He intended to plead guilty. It was the 'right thing' to do. What difference did it make if he admitted guilt before hand? He was going to prison for a long time. Maybe he would at least get to spend a little time with Robert if he gave into McKenna.
That was a failure he would never forgive himself for. He had failed his promise to Cathy! He wouldn't be able to care for their son! I'm sorry, Cats! I failed Robert! I failed you! I tried to do the right thing by my friends, and I've failed our son! Forgive me Cats!
He allowed the despair of the last months to overwhelm him. He was ready to give up. There was nothing left! He's lost the Seaview because of his act of defiance. He'd had no choice. Nelson and Morton were two good men and good friends, he'd had to save them...But the cost to himself was great! Not only the boat and the crew that he loved and would give his life for; but his son, that living breathing link to his beloved wife!
And he had no idea if Nelson and Morton would be whole again! That little kernel of doubt festered and was growing in Lee Crane. He was beginning to doubt all that he believed in! He had always done the right thing! And now, he was going to be punished for it for the rest of his life! The door to the cell opened, and Joel McKenna's bulk filled the doorway....
An hour before....
"Admiral McKenna, there is a Commander Matty Weaver here to see you, sir."
"I don't know any Cdr. Weaver...Who is he?"
The door burst open..."She, Admiral, who is she?... I’m Cdr. Weaver, sir. ONI, on temporary loan to the Nelson Institute of Marine Research!" She came to attention at the front of his desk.
"Well, how can I help you, Commander?" He leaned back in his chair and asked her, rather sarcastically He gave her an instant appraisal, and like so many before him, disregarded her almost immediately. She was tall (at 5'11) and of slender build. He looked at her face, and was struck by the color of her eyes, but he failed to see their steely set.
"I believe that there is, Admiral. You are holding Captain Crane on charges of Insubordination, and others, and you have the Seaview's crew restricted to the boat. Well, sir, I here about lifting the restrictions and seeing the Captain!"
He laughed at her, "I'm afraid that nether is possible, Commander! You see Crane is a prisoner with a risk factor, because of his ONI status, and frankly, I wouldn't allow you in the same room as him, since you, too, are an agent. Crane stays where he is and you may not see him. As far as Nelson's damn boat is concerned, the orders remain until Crane signs his confession and takes the responsibility from that crew. Only then will the restrictions be lifted. I have the President's complete backing in all of this I might add! And this is all within the law!"
Matty relaxed her position and leaned forward against the desk. Very quietly and calmly she spoke into the Admiral's face. Her demeanor was without emotion, and she made McKenna uneasy with her absence of feeling. When she spoke to him, it was in a calm, soft, and almost deadly voice. "Let's drop all pretense of civility here, SIR! I know that you, for some reason have a grudge against Admiral Nelson, Captain Crane, and Cdr. Morton."
McKenna started to speak, and she silenced him with a gesture. "I'm not finished! I also know what went on here, and at Nelson's promotion ceremony. I know that you are delighted with the turn of events, and that you have taken every advantage of them. I know that Lee Crane is your prisoner on the orders of the President, and that everything that you are doing is within the letter of Military Law. Only slightly within, but within. I can't stop you from pursuing a Court Martial of Commander Crane, but I will see him and talk to him and make sure that it s all done according to the proper military procedures, sir! I will return tomorrow at 0800 and I intend to see Crane at that time and I will have appropriate legal counsel with me at that time! The Order of incommunicado until presentation of charges is bull, sir, and you know it! I will also tell you this, sir... There are a number of people out there who know what is going on here. If I don't return to them by a specified time, the entire story will be leaked to the media. Then you will not be able to keep all of your activities here under wraps! If this goes public, it will, I promise you…go public in a big way, sir!" With that she turned on her heel and left the room.
Joel McKenna was surprised and little concerned. While she couldn't help Crane in any way, she could make trouble for him with her threats. He'd have to find out if she really was who she said she was and just how much trouble she could cause!
Matty Weaver entered the conference room in a defensive stance. Everything about Crane's situation screamed of a personal vendetta, but there was no way, at least as yet, that she could prove it. McKenna made sure that he kept within the law!
First things first, Matty. See Crane, find out what he needs, tell him about Nelson and Morton and then proceed from that point!'
She glanced over at the JAG officer that had accompanied her. Captain Sandra Murray was an old friend of Matty's, a few years older and ready to take on any one or thing that didn't do the right thing in terms of the law. The two women stood at one side of the table in the room, waiting for Crane to be brought in. Matty didn't like the fact that McKenna was so willing to cooperate, so quickly. The man's record didn't indicate that he was easily cowed. She knew that he had to have something up his sleeve! She glanced at her watch. Crane was already late. Ten minutes late!
What was McKenna up to? As she began to pace the room, Murray sat down and opened her briefcase on the Table. Matty muttered under her breath, "I don't like this!"
At that moment the door opened and two guards escorted Lee Crane into the room. Matty was startled by his appearance. Crane was pale, and drawn. His eyes were angry, yet his bearing was anything but angry. He almost stumbled through the door, the shackles on his legs preventing him from his normal stride. She saw immediately that his wrists were handcuffed behind him and the thought went through her mind that he'd been held that way since his arrest 4 days ago. She leaned over and spoke to Murray, who looked up from her papers, directly at the guards, and said, in a softly commanding voice, "You can release the Commander, gentlemen. He won't be leaving here and he certainly won't be trying to harm Commander Weaver or myself. "
When no move was made to unlock the cuffs and shackles, she asserted, "I said release him now!"
The guard took a key from his pocket and pulled at Crane' wrists to put the keys in the locks. As Lee stretched his arms in front of him for the first time in four days, she saw the red, angry, circles where the 'cuffs had chaffed and rubbed his wrists raw.
Damn McKenna to hell!
Lee gingerly touched his wrists, and somewhat stiffly walked across the room to the conference table. He seemed, to Matty's sharp eyes, to be favoring his left side, She wanted to ask him a thousand questions, but didn't dare until the guards were out of the room. She bent over to Murray again, and said something in a whisper.
Murray addressed the guards. "Ensign, I want coffee, a pitcher of water, and I want you to leave!"
"Sorry, Ma'am our orders are to remain with the prisoner at all times!"
"Well, I'm sorry, ensign. You will go and get what I requested, and bring it here and then you and your companion will leave the room! My client and I are entitled to a private conference. That is the law, and you can inform Admiral McKenna of that! Now go!!" Reluctantly, the guards scurried out of the room. Crane had reached the table by this time and was reaching for the chair. Matty wanted to help him, but resisted the impulse. She knew Lee Crane well enough to know that he would not want to appear to need any help at this time. As she continued to observe him, she was becoming more and more convinced that Lee had received some rough treatment since he'd been in custody. But she kept her own counsel for the time being. Sandra Murray extended a hand to Lee, which he accepted, as he slowly sat down.
"Captain Sandra Murray, Commander Crane. Our mutual friend here managed to get my superiors to have me appointed as your counsel. If you'll accept me to represent you."
Lee gave her a small smile. "Any friend of Matty's... and I believe that I can use all the legal help that I can get! Matty, what about the boat? The men? And the Admiral and Chip? ... My son?" He moved suddenly and gasped.
With that, Matty moved around to his side of the table, perching herself on the edge opposite him. She looked at him long and hard. She took both of his hands in hers and spoke to him in almost a whisper. "The boat is fine, and so are the men. I've been to see the Admiral and Chip, and they're doing better, at least comparatively speaking. The Admiral is more lucid, and much more aware. And Chip, well, Jamie says that he's seeing improvement. Seems Will figured out that maybe Chip could use Morse code to communicate." She smiled at the memory, "It's working!" She paused for a moment "I also took the liberty of going to your home and talking to your mother. She knows exactly what is going on. She is concerned for you of course, and she is quite concerned about Chip and the Admiral. She gave me a message to give to you. She said 'Tell Lee to remember the night after Cathy died, and he talked to me about the baby and Cathy. He was worried about failing the baby. I told him the only person that he had to worry about was Lee Crane. As long as he didn't fail Lee Crane, he wouldn't fail anyone! Tell him that. Tell him to remember not to fail Lee Crane."
Crane winced at the memory, but it hardened his resolve to do the 'right' thing.
While he was remembering the conversation, Matty was looking more closely at him. His wrists were red and swollen, and the skin was broken and weeping in several places. His face was pale, and she thought that she could see bruises on his chest, where the shirt was open at the neck. He was holding his left arm close to his side, almost for support. , "Lee, I know all about Joel McKenna."
He looked back at her, the unspoken question 'How?' mirrored in his hazel eyes.
She smiled at him, "Kowalski gave me an earful on the boat, he told me about the Admiral's arrest, yours, and the beating that you took, and about the attempt on the Admiral's life at the promotion ceremony and Jamie filled in the missing details."
"Then you know that this is a no win situation! And the irony of it is that I've given him all the cards!"
"I don't think so, Captain Crane. " was the comment of Murray who had decided at this moment to join the conversation "We have a few cards of our own, which we will discuss at length."
Lee rose and slowly began to pace the room. "Captain, I appreciate what you are trying to do, but the bottom line is that I did disobey the direct orders to the Commander in chief!"
"Yes, you did. But the rest of the reasoning is the 'Why' of it. Your actions were that of a commanding officer trying to rescue his men. That is a defensible position, Commander!"
" The Right thing to do is to plead guilty serve my time and get it over with!"
"The right thing is to get you out of here, permanently and back on your boat!! And Commander, that is just what I intend to do! I haven't looked at all the information yet, but I think that we have a good defense. I also know that the good Admiral McKenna is pushing the powers that be to make this a capital trial, Commander. Under certain conditions Insubordination is considered a hanging offense, and I know that McKenna would like to get that kind of a verdict! He's tried it once, arresting you for Mutiny, I understand."
Lee nodded numbly, and reached for the table, suddenly dizzy and weak in the knees. This time Matty reached out to grab him, and helped him sit. "Lee!" she said, alarmed. He sat hard in the chair, and slowly shook his head. At that moment, the guards returned with coffee and the water, placing the tray on the table, and leaving quickly. Matty pulled a glass from the tray and filled it with water.
She offered it to him and he drank it down almost greedily. Matty stared at him, for a moment, and then said, in a voice quietly edged with building anger, "Lee, when was the last time you had something to eat, or drink?"
"Eat? On the boat. Drink? Sometime within the last twenty four hours...I think!"
"The bastard! You're not a POW or a difficult prisoner! He can't do that!"
"Joel McKenna can so anything he wants to as long as he keeps it within the letter of the law! I can't prove anything, and he can get anyone of his people to testify to anything…He said, I said...and who'd you think would be believed?"
"While we're talking about things ... Your wrists...how long were you 'cuffed? "
He gingerly touched them again…"Since the boat."
She looked at Murray, who nodded slightly. "You're favoring your left side...What's wrong?"
"I... fell...into a bunk." He replied flatly. "Gave myself a good bruise."
"I think that we should have Jamie come by and take a look at you..."
"In fact," interjected Murray, "I'm going to insist that you get admitted to the Sick Bay here, right now!"
He reached out a hand to stop her from reaching for the Phone. "No!"
She looked at him, surprised by the strength of his rejection. " No, don't. Get Jamie here, that's ok. We can keep it quiet. If any of this leaks out, McKenna will go after the Admiral and Chip. He's got a couple of the doctors and orderlies in his pocket at the Sanitarium. "
She looked at him in disbelief.
"One of the times that he came into my cell, after he'd finished interviewing me, as an 'uncooperative prisoner', he told me, not to let anyone know what was going on, or he'd get to the Admiral and Chip. I believe that he can! NO Sick Bay!"
"But you'll let me call Jamie? " He nodded. She reached for the phone and called the switchboard. Speaking softly into the phone, she handed it to Murray. The Captain had a few curt words for the person or persons on the other end, and hung up the phone.
"Your Doc Jamison is expected here within the hour. McKenna is not pleased, but he can't say you can't have a physician... You haven't eaten in four days, Captain... and I'd venture to say that your fluid intake has been severely restricted. Have some more of that water, I'll get some food for you, and we'll see what your doctor has to say!"
Lee gave her a small smile. "I can probably tell you what Jamie will have to say...!"
Will Jamison was muttering under his breath. For the first time since he had known Lee Crane there was very little he could do for him medically. Not because he didn't have the skills, but because he couldn't get anyone in the room to cooperate with him! He had been angered by Lee's condition, aware that it was caused by a fellow officer! When Will had ordered (that was the only way that he had gotten Crane to cooperate) the Skipper to take off his shirt, he was appalled by the condition of the Captain's torso.
On his left side, there was a large purple and black bruise that extended from the bottom of the rib cage to under his arm, and it had to be just as wide. When he had tried to gently probe it, Crane had pulled away from him.
"Leave it, Jamie!"
"Lee how did...?"
Flatly, "I fell."
"And all these other bruises?"
"I fell a lot!"
"Leave it, Jamie! You know how it happened!"
Matty and Sandra Murray were standing in the other corner of the room, surreptiously watching Crane and Jamison. As they watched the exchange between the two men, their heads went together in an animated discussion.
"Lee, I can't help you if you don't let me!"
"Will, just wrap the wrists, and see if you can get me something to eat... It's been a few days..."
"I'd like to get you in Sick Bay on an IV, but I'm sure that that isn't going to happen! I'd like to tape those two ribs, they are cracked, you know! "
"Tape away, Will!" Crane raised his arms while Doc wrapped an Ace bandage around his torso.
When he was finished, he told Crane, "Lower your arms, Lee, and let me see those wrists!" As Crane extended his arms toward Jamison, Murray crossed towards the two men,
"Doc, a question..." Both men turned to look at her, "Can you certify that Commander Crane needs to be in a Sick Bay facility?"
Jamison stepped back and looked at her sharply, "Can I certify that he needs to be in a Sick Bay?! Let's start with mild dehydration, two cracked ribs, vertigo, and blood sugar levels completely out of whack! He's down at least 10 pounds from his ideal weight; he's suffering from a mild depression... Do I have to go on, Captain?"
"No, Doc. Commander Crane, if I can arrange for you to be transferred to a secure facility, with a Sick Bay, and I can also arrange for Nelson and Morton to be 'protected' will you cooperate with me, and accept my word that I will not let anything happen to your two friends?"
"Do I have much of a choice here?"
She smiled at him, and nodded to the doctor. Jamison looked at her with an expression akin to relief on his face. "No, Commander Crane, you don't! You just leave it to me to arrange it, safely! Dr. Jamison, please give me a written report and we will get the plans moving." Crane stood up, and started to move toward Matty, when he suddenly felt the room start to pitch sideways and collapsed to the floor. Jamison knelt at his side and quietly said to Murray, " I don't think that a written report is necessary, now, Captain!" He turned his attention to Crane...
Joel McKenna was furious! Crane had gotten away from him! Again! Damn that JAG Officer! Damn that ONI Officer! And damn that meddling Seaview doctor!!!!
His hands were tied. He couldn't go after Morton or Nelson at the Sanitarium, that would be too obvious to those who knew what was going on! He had to keep within the law! At least he could see that the charges were pursued, even if Crane wasn't in his custody! Maybe he could get appointed to the five-man panel...
Lee Crane's awareness of his surroundings came slowly...Soft and warm were the first sensations he felt... 'nice'...he thought, and he attempted to burrow down further into the blankets...when he sought movement, a sharp pain shot into his side, and he gasped... that wasn't too smart, Crane! ...He went to move an arm and found his right arm taped to an IV board, with several lines running into his hand, and another inside his elbow... he raised his left arm and then realized that both wrists were heavily bandaged, and that he had several layers of ace bandage running around his chest and back. Then, suddenly the reason that he was here slammed into his mind, and he let out a low sigh.
Suddenly, Will Jamison was hovering at his side. "Welcome back, Skipper,” he said as he fussed with the IV line and the bandages on his wrists.
"Mmmnn, Will... where...?"
"The Institute Med Facility. The only place that I could guarantee that you couldn't get out of. Matty and I are going to take turns being here with you and in San Diego with the Admiral and Chip. We've gotten you released into our custody. And you are here for the duration, Skipper! Once you're up and around again, we've converted the office into a...”
"Cell, Will? You can say it! Where's the guard posted?"
Jamison reluctantly pointed to two SPs inside the door. "And there are several others in the corridor and outside the building."
Lee shifted uncomfortably in the bunk, "Don't worry, Will...I won't try to get out! There are too many reasons for me to stay put! Listen, since I'm here, and not going anywhere for a while, do you think that you could arrange for me to see Robert? I would appreciate that!"
"Already arranged. Matty spoke to your mother last night, and she's waiting for a call from here and there's a car waiting to pick her and Robert up, when I call... but not just yet!"
"How long have I been out?"
"Well, Lee," Jamison revealed, "after you keeled over in San Diego, I gave you a little help along in order to convince the 'good' Admiral McKenna that you needed to be hospitalized immediately! Captain Murray took over from there, and the JAG office was a big help. Seems that McKenna is not well liked, but he stays within the law! Anything that they could do to help...! "
"Looks like they helped a lot. What about the Admiral and Chip? Their extra security?"
"Captain Murray is in San Diego as we speak. Matty sent Ski, Patterson, Riley and Rodriguez down there with her. Sharkey took them in the Flying Sub. As soon as she sets things up her way, she'll return here, and as soon as you're up to it, she'll begin working with you on the trial."
"There's no need for a trial! I told her, I'm going to plead guilty!"
"Well, apparently the good Captain other ideas! She claims that you can't plead guilty to a capital offense, and she got word yesterday that the charges are being filed as a capital offense!"
"Yesterday…how long have I been asleep?"
"38 hours, Captain!"
"38 hours?!! Will, I didn't think I was that ill! "
"Lee, when I get you in my Sick Bay and you don't, or can't complain about it, I take full advantage of the circumstance! And you won't be leaving that bunk quickly, Skipper. In fact, if you don't sleep on your own, I'll have to take a hand in it! I'd suggest that you try to sleep now."
"I'm not going to fight you, Will. That's part of the agreement, isn't it?"
Jamison laughed..." When you're back to feeling yourself, I'll see if you still agree with me!"
Matty Weaver took a deep breath and entered Chip Morton's room She went to the bedside and reached for Morton's hand. She spoke to him softly, "Chip, are you awake?"
He squeezed her hand in response.
"You're looking better, Chip. "
He squeezed her hand again.
"I was talking to Will and he gave me some good news for you. He wanted to let me be the messenger. First of all, Chip, your face is healing very well! The swelling has gone down, and all that's left are some black and blue bruises." She ran a soft hand over his face, and paused at his eyes, "And two black eyes." She paused and continued in a gentle voice "The infection from the wound in your arm is cleared. He's going to keep you on the antibiotic for another 24 hours, and then take you off the IV. Your arm is almost healed, too. The doctor, Andres I think his name is, said the first x-rays of your jaw look good and he hopes that in a day or two they can start you on some liquid through a straw. He said that the throat man, Jacobs, wants to take another x-ray today, and if it looks good to him, he's going to take out the trach tube. Then he says you can take some liquids. I told you that you were making progress! Once they have all the tubes unhooked, we can get you into a wheelchair and get you out of this room."
He wanted to reach out and touch her face, to thank her for the time she was spending with him, to tell her how he felt...But his body refused to cooperate in any way!! Between the casts, bandages, tubes and wires he was still unable to move much! He had opened his eyes earlier that day, when he'd been awake.
Though he knew that Jamison had said that he wouldn't be able to see for a while yet, the very idea that his eyes were open, but all was dark was devastating to him! He had lain there for a while, wondering what he would do if he could never see again!!
Then Matty had come in. Stop the self-pity, Morton! What will be will be! Jamison said that the sight will come back, then it will come back! After he had taken in all of Matty's news, he did feel better! Maybe in a day or so he could touch her face! Her face, with those incredible eyes! He'd like that! Would she?
Later that afternoon, Matty went into the Admiral's room. Dr. Bricker had allowed that the Admiral would only need the restraints if he became agitated or upset, so as long as he remained calm, they weren't needed. They lay on either side of the bed, however, not far from Nelson's sight. Matty blanched at the thought of that brilliant mind being damaged in any way.
Harriman Nelson was sitting in the bed, a book open on his lap, but he was staring out the window, at the sea. Oceanview sat on a hill above the ocean, and the view from all the rooms was a beautiful one. Nelson didn't hear her enter and she went to the bedside, and touched him gently on the arm...
He looked at her and recognition came almost immediately. "Matty... how are you today?"
"Fine sir, I was here to see Chip, and I wanted to come in and see you as well. How are you?"
He lifted the right arm in a sling..." This is a real bother. Will tells me at least six to eight weeks of this... " He gestured around the room, "and he has no idea of how long I'll be here."
Matty pulled a chair up to the bedside. "I'd think that Will knows what's best, sir. You and Chip will get all the help you need here."
"You said that you saw Chip. How is he today?"
"Much better, sir. Will says that there is definite improvement, and I can see it too. If the doctor's allow, he may be able to get out of the room, in a few days."
"I'd like to talk to him again, maybe I can...." he drifted off for a moment. "Matty, he doesn't blame me! He doesn't blame me for what happened to him! I don't understand, Matty... It is my fault that Chip is the way he is right now! If it hadn't been for the friendship that we share..."
She put a hand on the Admiral's arm. "Admiral, you've know Chip Morton for a good many years. In all that time have you known him to blame anyone for something that wasn't their fault? I've not known him that long, but I don't see that Chip would change his ways over one incident, no matter how horrible it was. And I think if you think about it, Admiral, I think that you'll realize that I'm right!"
Nelson continued to stare out the window..."Matty, where's Lee? I thought he would have been here by now! Chip's his best friend, and he and I..."
"Lee had some problems on the boat. He'll get here when he can, sir... He'll be in touch..."
Lee Crane was sleeping when a sudden slap on the face brought him awake. He opened his eyes into two merry green ones. Small fingers were trying to pry his eyelids open and the fingers were accompanied by gurgles, squeals and an incessant "Dada...Dada...Dada...!" He reached out and grabbed at the little body that was crawling on the bunk that he was laying in.
Robert Crane was almost 20 months old, and the very picture of Lee's late wife, Cathy Connors Crane. He had the same green eyes that Cathy had, and the same smile. Crane smiled and hugged the toddler, who squirmed to get free. The baby continued to climb all over his father and the bunk, as the other adults in the room looked on.
Helen Crane sat in a chair near Lee's bunk. Will Jamison stood behind her. Lee Crane's mother watched her son and grandson without speaking. Her relationship with Lee had been difficult after he'd chosen the Navy for a career, over her objections. She had been afraid for her only child, and many times in the later years, her fears had come close to coming true. But Lee had been so happy when he and Cathy Connors had been married, and she herself had been overjoyed when they had informed her of the impending birth of their child. Lee's world had been shattered six months after Robert's birth when Cathy had been killed in a car accident, planned by the revolutionary government of a foreign country hoping to keep Lee from participating in an undercover mission.
She and Lee had come to an agreement and she had moved to Santa Barbara to help him raise his son. Robert adored his father, and Lee was in turn the most loving of parents. But each separation was hard, and now, Helen wondered what was going to happen to all of them. The idea of someone being so ill and depraved to torture Chip Morton because he was Harry Nelson's friend! And poor Harry! She would have to go visit the both of them, when time allowed and, Lee and Jamison would think that it was a good thing!
Lee lay back in the bunk, and let the baby climb and crawl all over him and the bunk. Once or twice a foot or a fist hit a tender spot, and he let out a small sound, but he was enjoying watching his son! He knew that this may be one of the few times that they would have left to spend in relative freedom.
And Robert was having a grand time exploring the unknown turf. He finally seemed to tire of his explorations, and crawled into his father's arm. Snuggling down, he stuck his thumb in his mouth, and promptly fell sound asleep. Lee held him close and stroked his fine, light brown curly hair that was also so much like Cathy's. He looked over at Jamison, "Thanks Will."
Helen reached out and rested a hand on his arm. "How are you feeling, Lee?"
He gave her a small smile. "Much better now, thanks. How has Robert been doing, Mom? "
She smiled at her son and grandson," He's doing fine, Lee! Just fine! Look at him! He's growing by leaps and bounds, and he's intensely curious! If I turn around for a moment he pulls out six different things and then tries to take apart every one! He is a patient and happy baby! "
He continued to hold the toddler tightly to him, and he seemed to draw strength for the child's presence. "Matty told me that she spent some time with you two the other night, and that you talked for a long time!"
"Yes, Lee, we did. She's a lovely girl!!! And very concerned about the three of you!"
"She's been working very hard for all of us since this whole mess started! None of us would be in as good a shape as we're in if it hadn't been for all her efforts!"
At that moment there was a knock on the door of the room. Captain Sandra Murray stood in the doorframe. "May I come in, Commander?'
He struggled to sit up, holding tightly to Robert, and trying not to disturb the sleeping child. “Of course, Captain."
Jamie moved to bring a chair over near to the bunk. She sat next to the bunk, as Crane bent toward Helen. "Can you take Robert? Take him home, and I'll try to be in touch..." He kissed his sleeping son lightly.
Jamison took him out of the Captain's arm, and stood by the door, Helen Crane leaned over and kissed the Captain on the forehead. "Try and rest, Lee. I'll be in touch. Remember, you haven't failed anyone, as long as you don't fail yourself!" He nodded, and she turned and left the Room, followed by Jamison, with Robert.
"He's a beautiful child, Commander."
Lee looked at her and she could not help but notice the look that passed over his face. "Thank you Captain Murray. He looks like his mother. " Lee shifted again in the bunk, trying to find a more comfortable position. He was reluctant to admit to himself that the short visit with his mother and son had made him very tired. And Robert had managed to find a few tender spots to poke at!
Sandra Murray used the time that Crane was getting settled to get a better appraisal of her client. She knew what kind of man Lee Crane was, his record told her that... she was more interested in who he was. She was pleased that she had come in while he was visiting with his son. It had given her a huge insight into the man. And she was more than ever convinced that this was not going to be a hard case to win!
"Captain, I need to talk to you about this case, but first, I want to make sure that you're in better shape than when we first met!"
"Thanks to you, Matty, and Jamie, I think so! "
She smiled at him. "That's good news, Commander. Now we have a big project ahead of us, and I need to know your spin on all of the events of the last two weeks..."
Harriman Nelson stared out the window. The ever-present ocean continued to call to him. He wanted to spend time there in the boat that he'd built. She was a beauty... she commanded the attention of every one who saw her! He longed to return to her, and spend time with her. But he was stuck in this place. At least the restraints had gone. That was a step... a big one. His wrist, still in a cast, and supported by the sling didn't hurt as much. He'd spent time today with Chip Morton...the lad had had good news...They had taken the ventilator tube out and the doctor, Jacobs he thought was the name, promised him that if all went well, they'd try to get him some liquid tomorrow. Nelson had promised Chip that he'd be there for moral support when he tried to take some liquid... He promised Chip that he'd be there whenever he needed him, that he'd help him as much as he could. He hoped that it would help Chip recover a little faster. It certainly would help him, Nelson feel like he was accomplishing something positive for the younger man! After all no matter what anyone said the whole situation was his, Nelson's fault!! No one said they blamed him for what had happened… but they could see why he felt that way!
Surely they could all see it!! If Chip didn't blame him, Lee certainly must! That could be the only reason that he hadn't been in to visit them! No problem on the boat could be that serious! He'd have to ask Will the next time he came in…
Chip Morton was feeling much better! Nelson had been in to spend time with him, and he had been there when the doctor that was working on his jaw and throat had come in to remove the ventilator tube. He also had promised that the next day he'd allow Chip to have some liquid, through a straw. Nelson had promised to be there for moral support! He promised to be there to help whenever he needed it. That was a good sign…maybe the O.O.M. was starting to feel better. Of course, the best thing that he could have was a visit from Lee Crane...Chip himself would like to have his best friend visit! Where in the hell was Lee?
"Well, Commander, is that all?"
"Yes, it is Captain Murray. The only part about all of this that will be difficult is that anything that we have discussed about Admiral McKenna cannot come out in any way in an open court. We both know that the man has too many friends in too many very high places and he will come out the winner, not me!"
"Then you've decided to take my advice and plead not guilty?"
He smiled at her a little sheepishly, "Matty Weaver said that you were the best. If I don't take the advice of the best...."
"I'm glad that we've come to an agreement, Commander. It would be difficult if we couldn't agree on the way to conduct your defense...I'd best be going now. You still need to get your rest... My visit on top of that of your son's must have tired you out!"
"I'm afraid it did, Captain," he admitted ruefully. "Robert is very active and I wasn't ready for that quite yet!" he ran his hand over the ace bandage that covered his torso..."An active two year old and cracked ribs, in a small rack, do not make a very good mix!"
"Then I'll return tomorrow and we can discuss what tactics we will use...Commander, after seeing that little boy of yours, I am all the more bound an determined to get you out of this!"
In the dark of the enforced night on the Seaview, a lock was turned. A cell door was opened and shackles that held a prisoner were removed. The prisoner didn't move or react, but waited until the holder of the keys had left. He wasn't sure if he should leave or not, but here was the opportunity! That crazy woman officer had threatened his life, but he's heard the scuttlebutt that she'd left the boat! She was only a woman, what could she really do to him? He crept out of the cell and made his way down a companionway, following the soft sounds of a boat docked and at sleep! Like a cat from the jungle he had crawled out of, he crept along the corridors, seeking an escape from the boat! He finally found a ladder leading to an escape hatch above.
He climbed up and looked around. Two SPs stood on the dock. He didn't believe that they would be a problem, so he climbed out of the hatch, and began to inch his way along the hull of the boat. He reached the gangplank, and started up it when one of the guards turned and saw him.
"Halt! Who goes there?" there was no answer from the person on the deck..."Halt! Who goes there?' he called out again. There was still no answer.
The Sergeant dropped flat to the gangway, and began to crawl back towards the boat. When he reached her, he stood and began to cross her, going from the port side to the center of the craft. At that moment, the sentry fired a single shot at him; he clutched at his chest, and pitched backward into the water. At the same time, huge lights came on wharf side, illuminating the dock like day. O'Brien, Sharkey and several other men came out the access hatch of the sail...
"What's the problem?"
"Someone was up on the gangway, sir...We have our orders... when he didn't respond, we fired. I believe we hit him. He fell overboard! "
Bob O'Brien turned to the Chief of the boat. "Get some men into the water, Chief... I want to know who and I want to know why!!"
Sharkey answered, "Aye, sir" and started to issue orders to several of the men on the deck.
The Master at Arms came up onto the deck, and over to O'Brien, "Sir, we have a problem."
O'Brien looked at him, exasperated. What more trouble could he possibly have?
"Go ahead, Dickson...What is it?"
"The prisoner, sir...he's gone. "
"Gone as in broken out, escaped."
"Yes, sir...but the funny thing is, the door and the cuffs were unlocked, not damaged in any way, sir! It looks as if someone just set him free."
"Set him free?!! Or set him up! ... Chief, I think I know who we're looking for! Double the search...I think the man who went over is our prisoner!"
During the next week letters were delivered to a number of officers, from the Judge Advocate General's Office. Admirals Tobin, Crawford, Stark, Parker and McKenna were to sit on a five-man panel. Commander Lee B. Crane, U.S.R.N, of the S.S.R.N. Seaview, was to be Court Martialed for Insubordination, by order of the President of United States. The charges were to be considered Capital Charges, and the verdict, if guilty, would mean a sentence of death. And the trial was to be held under the utmost cover of secrecy!
Jiggs Stark was shouting a lot more than he usually did at his aides, as well as any Junior Officer who managed to cross his path. Enlisted men didn't stand a chance!
"I tell you I want to talk to the President, and I want to talk to him, now!!! ...Yes it is Admiral Jiggs Stark, Commander of COMSUBPAC!! I want to know why I'm being told that the trial of Commander Crane is a Top Secret action!! Of all the Cock-eyed, harebrained, absolutely lunatic stunts that I have ever heard of!!! I don't care if the President wants it this way. That officer saved the lives of his commanding officer and his exec! He did the 'right 'thing in disobeying orders.... What!!!! Of course I intend to serve on the panel!!! Now you listen to me, you incompetent excuse for an aide!!! I want to talk to the president!!"
Stark stood in the middle of his office and stared at the phone while his aide quietly worked at his desk, waiting for the next explosion...it didn't take long!
"He hung up on me!!!!! Raines, he hung up on me!!! Get me that line to the White House!!! Get me the Judge Advocate's office!!! Get me Dr. Will Jamison, Harriman Nelson's physician!!! Now!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Jiggs Stark stormed into the suite at the Oceanview Sanitarium. "Jamison! Where is Harriman?"
Very quietly, Will Jamison answered the Admiral. "Yes Admiral Stark?"
"Well, where is he, Lt. Commander...Where is Harriman?"
"If you insist on bellowing like a bull in heat, I'll have to ask you to leave, Sir!"
Stark was taken aback by Jamison's stance. Will Jamison continued - "If you will sit here sir, I will give you all the pertinent information!"
"Very well, then, doctor...will you please tell me what the Hell is going on!!"
........... An hour and a half later...
"Do you have any questions, sir?"
Jiggs was shaking his head in disbelief...."You've told me the facts, now how are they doing, the three of them?"
Jamison rose and started to pace the sitting room "In a few words, sir...they are recovering, in one way or another. Neither the Admiral nor Chip Morton know what is going on with Lee. I don't think they need to know yet. Lee was pretty badly abused by one of our own, and that angers me more than anything else that has happened. - He too is recovering. The 'right thing' in his situation would be for the charges to be dismissed, and his mistreatment forgotten. Then we could all move on. However, since that doesn't seem to be happening, then we have to deal with the trial and what ever the outcome is."
"And how is Crane dealing with this?"
"With a great deal of difficulty, sir. His concern for the Admiral and Chip is paramount, but he also is extremely concerned about his young son! Robert is only a baby. Lee is a widower. That baby stands to be without any parent if Lee is convicted! You are a parent, you can imagine how Crane is feeling!"
Stark shook his head, knowingly. Ha sat quietly for a few moments and then said, "Can I see Harriman, Doctor?"
Jamison looked at him knowingly, "Yes, sir, if you can promise not to excite him. The Admiral is a making strides in his recovery, but the balance is delicate. I don't want you upsetting him in any way! If you do, then, sir, you are out of here! Understood?"
"Yes doctor, I do! Which room is he in?"
Jamison pointed to Nelson's Room. "In there sir, and remember…don’t upset him!!
The older officer nodded curtly, and disappeared into Nelson's Room.
Harriman Nelson was sitting in a chair, staring out of the window, at the sea... he didn't look up when Stark came in, it was as if he was unaware of his friend's presence. Stark stood in the room quietly for several moments, and then he said softly, “Harriman?"
Nelson turned and looked at him. A smile split his face, "Jiggs, its good of you to come so far to see an old friend!"
"Why didn't you have Jamison let me know before I found out by way of the grapevine? I would have been here sooner! Harriman, we go way back! We've been friends for too many years."
"You're a busy man, Jiggs. I didn't want Will to bother you! I'm getting better, or so I'm being told."
Stark pulled up a chair next to Nelson's. ''Really Harriman, I wish you'd have let me know!"
"There was nothing that you could do, Jiggs, and to tell the truth, I wasn't too aware of what was going on until recently."
"Better, much more aware, feeling very guilty about Chip's condition. And guilty because he doesn't blame me for what happened, Jiggs. He says that it's not my fault."
"Well, he makes a lot of sense, Harriman. Your officers always do! That's why you handpicked your senior staff. And you were right on the mark with them. A finer team doesn't exist anywhere in the Navy or out of it! Of course he doesn't blame you for what happened! It wasn't your fault! It was the fault of that madman, Gamma!! You had nothing to do with it! Circumstances, Harriman, circumstance...If you remember, I warned you about friendships interfering with actions when McKenna had Crane beaten when he arrested him for Mutiny. I did warn you!"
"Yes, Jiggs, you did." Nelson said quietly. "But frankly, even after all this, I think you are still wrong. The friendship that we share is what makes Seaview unique. There is no other ship, or crew like her! And as expensive as this has been emotionally as well as physically, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world!"
Stark was just as quiet in his response. "I understand, Harriman, I understand."
Lee Crane was beginning to believe that Sandra Murray could accomplish what he had thought impossible. Perhaps she would be able to get him free. She had a remarkable legal mind, and was more than thorough with her investigation into the facts. And she was determined to do the right thing by him! He had to admit that Matty Weaver had done a good job...again! That was another remarkable woman! Lucky Chip! She was traveling daily between the boat and the Sanitarium, thanks to Sharkey and the Flying Sub. Admiral Nelson never planned for the yellow ship to be a shuttle, but she certainly was doing a grand job!
He would have to tell Nelson when he was recovered enough. He dearly wished that he could visit the O.O.M. and Chip as well, but that was beyond the bounds of his limited parole. Perhaps he could talk to them on the phone...he'd have to ask Jamison. His mood lightened considerably when he realized that his mother was bringing Robert today for another visit. At least Will had taken out that damned IV! And he'd let him out of bed. But he also had to admit that Will was right, he did feel weak, although he would not let the doctor know! He'd throw him back into bed if he told him. No, he'd just sit in the chair, and rest a bit before his mother and Robert arrived. His chest was still very sore. And as much as he loved his son, he didn't think he could take more of sharing a narrow bunk with the inquisitive Toddler!
Matty Weaver tapped her foot and waited impatiently for the doctor to finish in Chip's room. She didn't want to make Chip feel awkward with her presence when the doctor's were testing, but she really wanted to spend some time with him! She had surprised herself with the feelings she had for the Seaview's XO. She was finding that the more time she spent with him, the more time she wanted to spend. She had come to San Diego to check on the both men in Will Jamison's care, and to keep him informed on the progress of Lee Crane's legal difficulties.
Unfortunately, Joel McKenna had gotten his way and the President had convened a Court Martial with a capital offense status. He had also gotten himself appointed to the five-man panel that would sit in the trial. Fortunately Sandra Murray had gotten wind of the maneuverings and had contacted her office with suggestions for the panel based on a conference held with Crane. The panel would have men at least familiar with Nelson and Crane and the boat. That had to give Lee a fighting chance in this mess! Just then the doctor came out of Morton's room.
"Ok Commander, you can go in now. I think Cdr. Morton is anxious to see you."
"Thank you, doctor, " she went through the door to Chip's bedside. He was sitting up in the bed, and as she entered he turned his head towards her.
He looked so much better, many of the tubes and wires of the last weeks were gone. He still could not speak, with his jaw still wired and healing, but at least the throat tube was gone, and he could move his head. His right arm had healed, but the fractured wrists, and the fracture of the left arm were still giving him some difficulty. He still had to deal with the therapy due to the leg fractures, and she knew that would be long and painful for him.
She also knew that he couldn't start that therapy until his arms and ribs has healed further. And then of course the bigger question was his eyes... she wondered what was happening with his eyes, She took his hand in hers.
"Y-O-U L-O-O-K G-O-O-D."
She looked at his face, and he smiled at her...
"Oh, Chip!!! You Can SEE!"
"H-A-Z-Y Y-O-U L-O-O-K G-O-O-D."
"When? How Long? What..."And she started to laugh and cry at the same time.
He raised his right arm and tried to pat hand that rested in his, but all he managed to do is to hit her with the cast.
She laughed through the tears, "Easy there, Morton. You're not supposed to hit the hand that helps you! "
His face looked alarmed..."S-O-R-R-Y."
"Oh, no. I didn't mean anything, Chip! I'm so happy for you! So relieved. Did the doctor say that everything is alright?"
Chip wished he could tell her exactly how all right it all was! Earlier that morning, when he had awakened, he opened his eyes, and was surprised to see that there wasn't blackness there any more, but shades of grey, moving and shifting. He had blinked several times and tried to focus, and the grey had begun to coalesce into shapes, fuzzy hazy shapes, but shapes. Jamison had been in to check on him and he had tapped out "E-Y-E-S."
Will had looked at him, startled, but realized that Chip was actually following his movement with his eyes. Excitedly, Jamison had run out of the room, telling him, "I'll be right back! Let me get the eye specialist!!"
Chip lay there appreciating as never before, the pure pleasure of seeing what was around him. Not that he could see very clearly, but he could SEE! He was saying a prayer of thanks when Jamison and the other doctors came into the room...
Matty's voice brought him back to the present. "Chip, does the Admiral know?"
He shrugged, indicating that he didn't know!
"Let me find Jamie, and ask. Maybe you let him know yourself!"
Will Jamison came into the room at that moment. He was smiling broadly at his patient. "Guess you're having a good day today, eh, Chip? How are you Matty?See that you've heard the news!"
"Yes, Will. I was just asking Chip if the Admiral knows."
"No, he doesn't. Why don't I go and get him and bring him in here?"
Chip nodded in the affirmative, and Jamison left the room, to return a few moments after pushing Nelson in a wheelchair. Nelson was complaining to the doctor, about not needing the chair, and Jamison was just as adamant about it's use! Nelson’s face brightened when he saw Matty standing next to Chip's bed.
"Matty, it's good to see you again! You’re becoming a regular visitor to our Exec here! How do you feel today, Chip? You certainly look better!"
Matty stepped back and let Nelson take Chip's hand. Nelson saw him turn his head and look at him.
"G-O-O-D T-O S-E-E Y-O-U."
"See me! You can see me, lad?"
"Oh, thank God, thank God." Nelson lost any pretense of control and began to cry. "Thank God, Chip!'' He grasped the younger man's hand strongly and then turned to Jamison. "Will, take me back to my room,” he requested softly. He patted Morton on the hand, and Jamison wheeled him out.
In Nelson's room, Jamison offered the older man aid to his bed and he took it without complaint. Jamison settled the Admiral and then reached for the cabinet that contained medications. Nelson's hand shot out.
"No, Will. I'm ok!"
"I just want to give you a mild sedative, sir. It will help."
"No I don't need it. I'm all right. I'm just relieved that Chip's sight is back. I didn't really think that this would all resolve itself."
Jamison hesitated, and then he came back to the bedside empty handed. In his usually quiet voice, he said, "Harry, I'll take your word for it. I don't like to use medication unless it's necessary...you know that, but if you are the least bit agitated..."
"I'm not, Will...I'm not. I'm just grateful that Chip's sight is back. It makes me believe that he will be ok. That makes me feel a great deal better. I apologize for any lack of control, I seem to have very little of that lately!" he smiled slightly,' But then I guess you have been aware of that haven't you?"
"Yes, sir. And with good reason! We all have been through a great deal!"
"Yes, Will, we all have. And speaking of all, where in the hell is Lee? After all this time, where is he? We haven't heard from him! What's up, Will? Tell me."
"I don't know, Harry. There are some things..."
"Dammit, Will! Tell me! I don't understand why I haven't heard from him! And since I'm asking questions here, why do I see Ski, Patterson, Riley, Rodriguez around here?"
Jamison looked at him, slightly surprised, and then smiled to himself.
Looking Nelson straight in the eye, he said" I should have known. No matter how ill you are, you would notice anything to do with the boat!"
Nelson merely nodded. "Now are you going to answer me, or am I really going to get agitated?"
"That's not a threat I'd like to deal with sir, on either of our parts. Admiral," he addressed him, "Lee was arrested by Joel McKenna the day we docked."
"Arrested, for what?" he asked, with surprising calm.
"Insubordination, Harry. You weren't aware of what was going on. The President ordered Lee not to go after you and Chip, for whatever reason, and of course, Lee wouldn't hear of it. He knew that he would have to pay dearly for it, but he wouldn't hear of not going for the two of you. He told the entire boat, and to a man they all volunteered to go with him. Not surprising, but then you know your boat and her crew."
Nelson gave him a small smile, and then he continued, "After Lee located the FS1 and had it repaired, he located where you were being held. He came back to the boat and called in a few favors, from ONI."
"That's where Matty came from?"
"Yes, sir. Anyway, Lee mounted the rescue, and once we had the two of you safely back on the boat, we sailed for home. He didn't leave your side, sir, once I let him into the Sick Bay, except to serve his watch, and catch a shower and shave. Otherwise, he stayed with you the entire trip back to Santa Barbara." He leaned over to the Admiral," Harry, I had to tell him about the papers that you signed making him your guardian and giving him control of the Institute. He had to sign you in here, I honestly didn't know if you were going to come back to us. He was rather overwhelmed with it all! In fact in order for you to be released he has to sign the papers! As we were taking you and Chip to the Sanitarium, McKenna's men came for Lee, and arrested him. Considered him a flight risk and cuffed and took him off the boat up here to San Diego. McKenna put him in isolation, kept him cuffed and shackled and beat him up pretty good!"
Nelson's face became angry, "The sonofabitch!!"
"Relax, Harry. Let me finish! Anyway, McKenna had the crew restricted to the boat, with orders to shoot to kill if anyone left her. However, he didn't know that Matty Weaver was aboard! She left the boat, I don't know how, and frankly I don't want to! After four days, she got to McKenna, and we got to Lee! He was in pretty bad shape emotionally, ready to plead guilty and get put away for twenty years. His physical condition wasn't much better. With McKenna treating him as a flight risk and difficult prisoner, he kept him cuffed the whole time, with little water and no food. He also got a few arbitrary beatings from it and wound up with a couple of cracked ribs. His counsel, who is a friend of Matty's and a very good attorney so far, started the works to get Lee out of there. Lucky for us, he passed out and she, her name is Sandra Murray, pulled the appropriate strings to get Lee away from that madman!"
"Where is he now?"
"In the med facility at the Institute. Captain Murray got him paroled to our, Matty's, and mine, care. He can't phone out. He can't have any contact with anyone that can't come to him. One of McKenna's parting regs. He's enjoying this, believe me, Harry!"
"Oh, I believe it, Will...What else is there?"
"Lee is doing much better. He knows how you and Chip are progressing. The panel for the trial has been appointed. McKenna is sitting on it." Nelson quirked an eyebrow at that, "As well as Admirals Tobin, Crawford, Parker, and Stark!" Doc continued.
Nelson laughed aloud, "Who set up that stacked deck?"
"I believe that it was Murray, sir. She had studied the records, and wanted men who were familiar with the boat, and the men. A good counterbalance to McKenna's insanity."
"When dos the trial begin, Will?"
"Right now, I don't know, sir. Capt. Murray is doing all she can as much as she can to delay the beginning of the trial - Lee being in our Sick Bay does help, of course, as I can certify a relapse, but I think that we all wasn't to get his whole mess over with as soon as possible!"
"Will, " Nelson asked in a deadly serious voice, "Can I testify for him? Will you and the doctors here allow that? Can you let Lee know that I know what's going on?"
"Admiral, " he paused, choosing his words carefully, "Harry, -- I'm not your psychiatrist. I don't think that it would be a good thing, for you or Lee, your mental condition is still too ... fragile."
Nelson was at first startled and then a look of acceptance passed over his face.
"I see...then how can I help him, Will... I have to something! He's in this mess because he came after me, and Chip... Its my fault, Will!"
"No, it's NOT, Harry! Lee is in the situation because he chose to do the 'right thing' in a wrong situation! There is no one to blame but the man who planned this horror, or the man who gave the very wrong order to Lee not to try and rescue you!"
"I know what you're saying is true, Will, but..."
"No 'buts', Admiral. Thanks to Matty Weaver, Lee has a damn good attorney! Thanks to whatever God we may believe in, you and Chip are recovering. The only way to help Lee now, is to get better! That's the 'right thing' for you, and I know that Murray is doing the 'right thing' by him!"
Matty stayed at Chip's bedside after the Admiral left... She could see that the XO was extremely frustrated, and she knew why. He had many questions for her, and he was finding it difficult to use Morse. He had so many questions!
"Chip, how clearly can you see?"
"Maybe you could write things out now that you can see!"
He nodded his head in affirmation, and she went out to the other room to get pen and paper. When she returned with the fruits of her mission in her hand, she was smiling as she placed the pen in his right hand, and the paper beneath it.
He began to write a message slowly. Because of the cast on his wrist, his movement was slow, but it felt better to be writing!
When he finished, Matty reached for the pad. "How's Admiral? Where's Lee?"
Matty looked at him, and tried to choose her words carefully. "The Admiral is ok, Chip...Just a little overwhelmed by the fact that you really are recovering, Chip. He's going to be ok...Jamie says that it will be a while, but that he'll be ok!"
Morton hit the bed with his right arm. She knew he was getting angry because she was avoiding his other question. Through the wired jaw and with a great deal of difficulty, he croaked out "Lee!"
She took his hand in hers, "I guess there's no way to tell you this, Chip. Lee's been arrested for insubordination, by Admiral McKenna, and the President has ordered that a General Court Martial be convened."
"What?!" She saw the alarm and concern on the XO's face, and tried to reassure him.
"Don't try to talk, Chip...please, your voice isn't healed! Just listen...I was able to get him the best JAG that I know for his defense counsel. Sandra Murray is an old friend, and she hasn't lost a case as long as I've known her! She's taking good care of the situation. Will didn't want you and the Admiral to know what was going on with Lee until you were both better. I don't even know if I should have told you now!"
He took the pad and struggled with the pen. She straightened it in his hand and he gave her a grateful look. He wrote just one word "When?"
"Soon, McKenna's pushing hard. Lee's been in the Sick Bay at the Institute for the last week, and Will can't keep him there much longer as a patient!"
"Patient?" he wrote, his face alarmed.
"Let me tell you the whole story on this end after you and the Admiral crashed...."
The President of the Court, Admiral Jiggs Stark called the court to order. "Know all men by these presence that this court is called to order! The defendant stands accused of Insubordination, violation of the U.N. Charter, Violation of the Sovereign rights of an Independent State.... How do you plead?"
Sandra Murray and Lee Crane stood at the defense table. Murray spoke.
"The defendant pleads 'Not Guilty' sir."
"Very well. Is the Prosecution ready, Captain Adams?"
"Is the defense ready, Captain Murray?"
"Very well then. Let the record show that the Prosecution and the Defense are ready to begin, Let the record also show that the Court Martial of Commander Lee Crane convened on this date at 0900, and that the presiding members of the Court are Admirals Crawford, McKenna, Parker and Tobin. The President of the Court Is Admiral Jiggs Stark. The Trial Judge Advocate is Admiral Conor Delaney, JAG office. Captain Adams, you will make your opening statement..."
Commander Lee Crane, Captain of the S.S.R.N. Seaview sat at the defendant's table in the Court Room. It was a very strange feeling to be sitting there, on trial!
Captain Sandra Murray, U.S.N., his defense counsel was making her opening statement to the panel of Admiral's that were going to decide his fate. His fate! If Joel McKenna had his way, he'd be hung within the month! He's never seen such hate on anyone's face as McKenna glared at him from the panel. Well, he couldn't dwell on that now! Murray seemed to think they had a good defense and that he would get him out of this! He hoped so! She came back to the table and sat.
"How are you holding up, Lee?"
"Well enough, I just would like to get this whole thing over with as soon as possible!"
She nodded her head. "I think that we will, Commander. I think that we will!"
"Sirs," the prosecution asked, " I'd like to call my first witness."
"Go ahead, Captain"
"The prosecution calls Chief Petty Officer Francis Sharkey"
Sharkey rose from the small sitting area and stood in front of the Witness Chair.
"Chief, do you swear that the evidence that you shall give in the case now in hearing shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? So help you God?"
"Please be seated...Your full name, Chief?"
"Francis Ethelbert Sharkey, sir."
"Thank you Chief. How long have you been on the S.S.R.N. Seaview?"
"Since 1978, sir. I replaced Chief Jones who had passed away after one of the cruises."
"And how did you come to be called to serve on her, Chief?"
"I had served with the Admiral before. He remembered my service, called and asked if I wanted to resign from the Navy and come to work for him on his boat. Well, sir, I don't know too many men who, given the opportunity to serve on a boat like the Seaview would pass it up! I was happy to take the Admirals' offer! And to be honest, sir, I haven't regretted one minute of the time I served on her. She is the best boat afloat, Navy or non-Navy!"
"That is commendable chief, but I want to ask you a few questions about the Incident that we're talking about here in this court."
"Is there any question in your mind that Commander Crane fully intended to disobey the orders of the Commander in Chief of the United States?"
Sharkey hesitated and looked over at Crane and Captain Murray. She nodded at him imperceptibly.
Reluctantly he said, "No, sir. The Skipper got on the speaker and told the whole boat that he had gotten orders from the President not to go after the O.O.M. and the Exec, and that he fully intended to disobey them anyway. Then he told us that we didn't have to help him, that we could all stay at the boat with Mr. O'Brien. He said that if we did volunteer to help that we could get into a great deal of trouble, and he informed us of the consequences. Well sir, you know that the entire crew, Officers and enlisted men volunteered. Begging the Captain's pardon, sir, but what was the president thinking? That we wouldn't go after the Exec and the Admiral? He doesn't know the Seaview, sir! If I may say something here...?" He looked over at the Panel of Admirals...Jiggs Stark gave him and affirmative nod. "I've been in the service most of my life. In all the years that I spent in the Navy, I never served with a crew and officers like Seaview's! She is a unique boat! Most of the crew has been together for years, and the Senior Command staff almost since she was commissioned. Sir, the Skipper is the heart of the boat - we'd go anywhere, and do anything for him! And the same goes for the Admiral and the Exec! The Skipper, he's the heart of the boat, the Admiral's the soul and the Exec, well, he's the glue that keeps it all together and running smoothly! If we were to loose any one of them, then she'd never be the same boat, and with all respect she'd not work as well."
He turned to the Admirals at the table, “Why, I've been on the bridge, in the middle of a mission, and I've never seen any set of officers know and anticipate what the other needs or is going to do as these men, sir. They're a smoothly moving machine. Now, I know that in the Navy, commands change every 18 months, so that there is no attachment to fellow officers and crew, but maybe the Navy should study the Seaview! We have almost no morale problems, and our success ratio is unparalleled! And the Senior Staff...well sir the entire crew, to a man would give their lives for them down to a rating." In a lower voice he said," In fact, some have!" He glanced over at Crane and saw the mix of pride and embarrassment in his Captain's face at his revelations.
Captain Murray leaned over to Lee and whispered to him, "Commander, if all of your men that the prosecution has called to testify against you, testify like your Chief then we won't have much to do in your defense!"
Captain Adams, the prosecutor, looked at the CPO. " Going back to my question, Chief...Is there any doubt in your mind that Commander Crane intended to disobey those orders?"
"No, sir, there is not."
"Thank you, Chief..."
"Your witness, Captain Murray."
"No questions, sir."
Stark quirked his eyebrow, "Very well. Call your next witness, Captain Adams."
"We call Senior Electronics Rating Paul Kowalski to the stand."
After Kowalski was duly sworn, Adams asked him "Seaman, how long have you been on the boat, The Seaview?"
"Since she's been in service, sir. The Admiral recruited me after I had served a hitch in the Navy. I've got senior diver status, and he wanted someone with experience on the boat. I'm also an electronics specialist and I'm trained on Sonar and hydrophones."
"And sailor, would you say that the Captain of the Seaview showed total disregard for the Orders of the President regarding the rescue that he mounted to save his friends?"
"Yes sir, he did!! Like the Chief said, who did the President think he was, telling the Skipper not to rescue the Admiral and the Exec?! The Admiral and Mr. Morton aren't just the Skipper's friends. They're part of the Senior Staff of the boat, sir! And sir, the whole crew would take the boat to hell and back for them and the Skipper. I've been on a few missions with the Skipper, and I've been rescued by him a few times too. The Seaview wouldn't be the same boat with out the whole Senior Staff! Why the Admiral and the Exec would have done the same for him! They have, sir! We have, sir. We've disobeyed the Skipper's orders not to rescue himself, several times. No one understands what goes on the boat unless you've been on the boat, sir. There was no way that the Skipper could have left the Admiral and Mr. Morton. Going after them was the 'right thing' to do. And one thing about the Skipper is that he always does the 'right thing!"
"Very nice, Kowalski...but tell me again, please. Did your 'Skipper' disobey the orders?"
"Why, yes, sir!"
"Thank you, Seaman..."
"No questions, Admiral"
Stark shook his head, "I hope that you know what you're doing here, Murray! "
She smiled at him, "Yes I do, sir!"
'Captain Adams, Call your next witness."
"We call Seaman Rodriguez..." and again, following the Oath...
"Sailor, I'm going to ask you if the Captain of the Seaview did deliberately disobey the orders of the President of the United States?"
"Yes, sir, he did."
"Good, sailor and you're not going to expand on that are you?"
"Well, sir, I have to say that I think that the Skipper did the 'right thing'...once when a group of us got into some trouble in another country and were thrown into jail, the Skipper, he rescued us, and he told us the Seaview always takes care of her own..." He looked over at Crane, at that moment, and touched his chest, where he always wore his beloved St. Christopher medal. Crane acknowledged him with a touch to his chest, and a nod of his head. "...That’s what he was doing! Taking care of her own! And the Admiral, the Skipper and Mr. Morton are as much a part of the boat, as the boat is a part of them!"
The prosecutor shook his head and muttered to himself..."this isn't going the way it should!" Then he looked at Rodriguez. "Thank you sailor, no further questions... "
"Call your next witness, Captain Adams"
"We call Senior Rating Paterson."
After swearing the oath, Paterson sat in the witness chair.
The prosecutor gave a heavy sigh, and began again.
"Seaman Paterson, I understand the you have been on the Seaview for a long time."
"Yes, sir. I came on after the maiden cruise."
So you know the Senior Staff fairly well?"
"Yes, sir, as well as enlisted men know their officers! "
"And did you witness the Captain announce that he was going to disobey the President's orders. "
"Well, sir, I was in the Missile Room, working on the electrical system at the time. I didn't see the Skipper, but I heard him on the PA."
"And what did he say on the PA, Sailor?"
"That he'd received orders from the President not to go and rescue the Admiral and the Exec, and that he was going to disobey them. Then he told us that we could stay with the boat and Mr. O'Brien and not help. Well, sir, there's not one man on the boat that didn't want to help! Our Senior Staff is the best, sir. We've come through a lot of things that other boats haven't because of them! They've saved our hides more often than I can count! Not go after them, the President had to have a couple of missing circuits somewhere to think that he could order the Skipper and the men not to go after them! I mean, how could we not? The whole boat volunteered to go with the Skipper! Everyone! Did we know we'd be n trouble? Yes! Did any of us care? No, sir! We did what we had to do!"
"But it was clear to you at the start that Commander Crane was disobeying the Presidential orders!"
"Why, yes, sir! But what else was he supposed to do? "
Sandra Murray leaned over to Lee, "I envy you and the Senior Staff of that boat, Commander. The love and loyalty of your crew is beyond any I've ever encountered! I'd say that there is no doubt that what you did was the 'right thing' and that the panel will have no choice to acquit you if the testimony for the prosecution continues in this fashion. This is just as we discussed, when we decided to use the 'not guilty' plea!"
Lee nodded at her. He was feeling overwhelmed by the emotions that the testimony was bringing out in him. He knew that the crew was loyal...they're actions spoke that! The unqualified belief in the Command Staff was what was astounding to him. He saw the crew really believed in him, Nelson and Morton! They really believed that he Command Staff would get them out of any situation! If he got back to the boat, he knew that he would have a great deal to do to maintain that belief!
Jiggs Stark spoke to the prosecutor, " Captain Adams do you have more testimony like this?"
Adams was a little disconcerted by he attitude of the President of the Court..."Why, yes, sir."...He was leafing through the papers on his table. "Most of the crew of the boat."
"And the point being...?"
"Why to prove that the defendant willfully disobeyed the Presidential orders!"
"Well, I think that it's been done, very well with the witnesses that you have presented do far, Captain! Are any other points that you have to make?"
Feeling very unsure of himself, Adams answered, "Not with testimony, sir."
"Then I think that we should adjourn for a half hour while you decide what your next step is!" He banged the gavel. "We will take a half hour adjournment! Court will resume at 1130 hours!"
Sandra Murray smiled at Lee Crane. "This is going very well, Captain...Very well indeed!"
A half hour later...
"Well, Captain Adams?"
"The Prosecution rests, sir."
"We have but one witness, and we have a videotaped testimony, that the court has already approved."
"Very well, begin with the videotape!"
"This tape was made by Captain Adams and myself with the witness. Because of his condition, he is unable to come into the court at this time. However he was duly sworn, in accordance with the rules and regulations of this court."
The screen came to life and Harriman Nelson's face came into view. Lee watched McKenna's face become first white, then red, with furious anger. He leaned over to Admiral Tobin, who was sitting next to him, and spoke rapidly to the Admiral, gesturing wildly until Tobin told him to be quiet. He then sat, his face beet red and angry, staring at Crane and then at the TV screen.
Lee studied the Admiral's face - he could see that the older man wore his dress blues, and he looked older and more haggard, yet he seemed to have a sense of peace about him that Crane did not recognize. When he spoke to the camera, his voice was softer and less gruff than Crane remembered. This was a different Harriman Nelson!
He heard the voice of Sandra Murray off-screen, administer the oath and then ask, "Your name and rank?
"Admiral Harriman Nelson, U.S. Naval Reserve, designer and owner of the S.S.R.N. Seaview, Director of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research."
"Admiral Nelson, how long have you known Commander Crane?"
"Since Lee's first year at the Academy. I was a Captain at the time teaching Marine Science. Suffice it to say that our first meeting was an impressive one. Our friendship began then. I watched the progress of his career, and when I was designing Seaview I wanted Lee for her Captain. He already had another Command at the time. I hired John Phillips. When John was killed and Lee was available, I called in a few favors and got Lee to the boat. After the mission was over, I put in a request for Lee to be put into the Reserves, so he could take over Seaview. It's been a perfect match since! I've not regretted that decision once since that day! I've put my life in his hands many times, and Lee has never failed me! He's become more than the Captain of my boat...He's become my good friend! There isn't much else that I can say."
Captain Adams, off screen, "Admiral Nelson, would Captain Crane disobey a direct order from a Commanding Officer?"
"Lee Crane would no more be insubordinate without a good reason than any man on the boat would be! "
Nelson's blue eyes pierced the screen and made at least one of the panel members uncomfortable. "Lee Crane will always do the right thing, regardless of the consequences to himself!"
"Admiral Nelson, are you saying that Captain Crane has been insubordinate before?"
Nelson huffed slightly and a small smile escaped. "Let's just say Captain Crane has always followed his gut instincts when it comes to doing the right thing and they have always, always proven true!! He has always put his own life last, and put doing the right thing first...Not fair, I might add, 'right'!"
Adams off screen again, "Admiral, have any of those times placed the boat in danger? Or the men?"
"No! If anything they placed us in a safer position or ended the danger completely! As I have said, the Captain always put the boat and the men first, regardless of the risks to himself!"
A somewhat disappointed Adams off screen, "I have no further questions, Admiral."
Murray also Off Screen said, "Nor do I, sir. I'd like to thank you for your cooperation, under the circumstances."
Nelson nodded and the screen went blank.
Sandra Murray stood, and addressed the panel of Admirals. "Gentlemen, the defense would like to call Commander Lee B. Crane to the stand!"
Crane stood tall as he approached the Witness chair. He turned and took the oath, and then sat down.
"Your name and rank..."
"Lee B. Crane, Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve, currently Captain of the S.S.R.N. Seaview."
"Commander, did you disobey a direct order from the Commander in Chief, on the dates specified in the charges?"
"Yes, I did."
"Would you mind telling the court why you took such an unusual action?"
"No, of course not. The President's order was the wrong one under the circumstances."
"Those circumstances were, Commander?"
"Admiral Nelson and Cdr., Morton had disappeared. We had a triangulation of where the Flying Sub would have gone down and planned to do a search of the area. Once we located the FS1, I determined that Chip and the Admiral had to be in the area. There was only one thing to do, and that was to find them and bring them back! " He paused for a moment and turned to the Panel, "Sirs, Admiral Nelson has served his country for a many years, and many times came close to giving his life for her. His devotion and loyalty to her is unquestioned. In addition, the Admiral is a true genius. His many inventions, both military and scientific are unparalleled! Could any of you, in the same situation, left such a man in enemy hands? And finally, as the men have said, the Admiral is the soul of the Seaview and the Institute. Without him, well, I don't want to think about what the boat or the Institute would be like!" He turned back to Murray, who posed another question to him.
"In other words, Commander, you chose to rescue your men, in spite of the Orders from the President?"
"Yes, I did. There was no other option in my mind. As commanding officer of the boat, every man on the boat is my responsibility and their safety and well-being is paramount! Whether they are the lowliest of the ratings or the Admiral himself! "
"Thank you Commander, I have no more questions."
"I only have one question, Commander Crane."
"Commander, do you deny in any way that you disobeyed the orders of the President of the United States?"
"No, Captain, I don't. But I have to tell you that when an order from a commanding officer is a bad one, it should be questioned, and acted on in the right way! And I have always encouraged my crew to do so!"
"I would think that would engender a lot of second guessing on the behalf of your crew, Commander!"
Lee leaned forward in the chair..."Not at all Captain. It gives the men the strength to believe that the decisions that are made are always in their best interest! Even if they are life threatening. They won't doubt you if you encourage them to speak their minds!"
"Thank you Commander. No more questions, sir"
"Very well, Commander you may step down."
Lee went back to the defendant's table, and sat. Jiggs Stark asked, "Captain Murray does the defense have any further witnesses?"
"No, sir, the defense rests."
"Very well, the court will adjourn until 1000 tomorrow for closing arguments".
Sandra Murray rose from the defense table looking very satisfied. Joel McKenna shot her a look of pure hatred, and Lee leaned toward her.
"I'm afraid you've made yourself a very bad enemy, Captain."
"He doesn't frighten me, Commander. I know too much about him for him to try anything with me!"
"I don't know, I'd still be careful if I were you!"
She patted him on the arm. "Let's worry about your defense, Commander. Then we'll worry about McKenna. Closing statements tomorrow, and then we'll see what happens. " She left and Lee was escorted away by two SPs.
The following morning Sandra Murray stood before the Panel of the Court, and began. She intended to be brief and to the point.
"Sirs, the defendant does not dispute the act that he did indeed disobey orders from the Commander in Chief. However, as you can tell from the evidence presented, the Captain did act in order save the lives of his men.
There is no question that if Lee Crane had not acted as he did, both Admiral Harriman Nelson and Lt. Cdr. Charles Morton would be dead, and as a direct result of that the services and the country would have lost not only a true hero, and genius and a good and reliable officer, but also the Seaview, and the invaluable help and resources of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research!
The Commander was acting as a Commanding Officer for the good of his ship, and his men! The action was successful! The men were rescued and there was no loss of life to our side in the action. That validates the Commanders' actions and I respectfully request the you find him not guilty and vindicate him of all the charges!!"
She sat and Captain Adams stood. "I too intend to be brief, Sirs. The fact that the defendant acknowledges he did disobey the orders of the Commander in Chief says it all for our case! He admits guilt. The why or the how of it does not exonerate the act. This is a poor example for a commanding officer to give to his men, since it leads men to question their commanders. That sirs, is an aberration to the service! Men should take their orders with out question, and follow them unquestioningly! I respectfully request that you find him guilty of the Capital offense of Insubordination and with the guilty verdict offer a sentence of death in the Capital Offense"
Adams sat and Joel McKenna nodded approvingly at him. Jiggs Stark banged the gavel and announced, "The panel will now go into conference. When a decision has been reached the court will be called into back into session. Court is adjourned until a decision is reached."
A day and a half later...
Sandra Murray entered the Sick Bay at the Institute, nodding at the SPs at the doorway. Lee Crane was sitting at a desk, dealing, half - heartededly with a pile of paper work. He looked up as she entered.
"Yes, Commander. The panel has reached a decision."
Lee sighed and leaned back in the chair. "This is it, then?"
"Yes, Commander, it is. I'm fairly confident that it bodes well for you! I really believe that it is a fair panel, save one member! I believe that the way we handled the trial was the right way!"
"When do they reconvene?"
"1400. Shortly after, we'll know...”
The gavel banged on the table. Jiggs Stark spoke.
"The defendant will rise and receive the findings of this General Courts Martial."
Lee Crane and Sandra Murray rose and stood facing the panel. Jiggs Stark looked directly at him. Crane wondered if he saw the faintest of small smiles play across the Admiral's face. While the rest of the panel remained impassive, Joel McKenna glared at him with undisguised hatred. That to Lee's mind was a very good sign! He gave his full attention back to Stark.
"Commander Lee B. Crane, the findings of this General Courts Martial are that you are not guilty of Insubordination, inasmuch as the orders that you disobeyed were not valid orders in respect to your command! In addition, since the other charges were related to the first, they are also dismissed. You, sir, are free to go!"
Lee released the breath he had been holding and Sandra Murray turned and shook his hand in congratulations. Stark banged the gavel once more.
" I don't have to remind anyone present that this proceeding was held under Top Secret conditions, and no one is to discuss anything of them with out Top Security clearance! The panel is dismissed and you all may go!"
The Admirals filed out of the room, McKenna lingering behind. He looked over to Crane and Murray and simply said to Crane, "It's not over yet, Crane. It's not over!" and he left the room. Jiggs Stark came over to the two of them, and clapped Crane on the shoulder. Lee looked startled.
"Congratulations, Crane! I always knew that Harriman picked his crew and staff well." he blustered. "I'm..." he seemed to be searching for the words. He cleared his throat, "grateful... for ...what you did for Harriman...We go a long way back together you know. I...well...Thank You." For a few awkward seconds the two men stood facing each other and then Sandra Murray interceded.
"Admiral Stark, if these proceedings have been Top Secret, Then am I to believe that no record will exist of them?"
"No Captain. There will be a record, but they will be sealed! There will be no mark on Crane's record, however, if that's what you are seeking."
She smiled a warm smile at him...."That's exactly what I'm looking for, sir. I don't want my client to have a mark on his record, if it can't be proven or disproved in any way! Thank you, sir."
Stark blustered a bit and said to Crane, "Tell Harriman that I'll be back out to see him in two weeks, Captain. I'm leaving within the hour and won't get to him before that. Tell him to contact me if he needs anything, Crane, anything! "
"I will tell him that, sir. When I see him!"
Stark saluted him and Lee returned the salute smartly, and Stark left the room. Lee turned to Sandra Murray. “I can't begin to thank you, Captain, for all that you've done."
"Stop right there, Commander. I took on your defense because Matty Weaver believed in you and your actions. I don't take on just anyone. It was an honor to defend you. Your actions were the right thing at the time. That was the only possible defense. It worked! You're welcome. Just don't let this whole incident change who you are. " She shook his hand again. "I'll be leaving. In a few days I'll contact you with any final details. Your man Sharkey is waiting outside for you"
Lee grabbed his hat, and hurried from the courtroom. He paused at the doorway for a second, involuntarily, not quite used to the idea that he was once again free to come and go as he pleased. As soon as he relaxed with the feeling of freedom again, he almost sprinted down the corridor to the car, and a grinning Francis Sharkey!
"Skipper! It's good news?!!"
"Yes, Sharkey! Now let's get to the boat as fast as we can!"
Lee stood at the head of the gangway to the S.S.R.N. Seaview. He was glad to be home! This was his home, as much as his ties to the shore may pull.
Seaview was home! He'd stopped at his house on Officer's row, to see his son and his mother, and held Helen Crane as she'd had her 'good cry', over all that had happened. Then he'd held his son, and played with the toddler until he'd fallen asleep. After that he'd changed into his khakis, and headed toward the boat. He had a lot of work to do and was anxious to get to the Sanitarium see for himself that Nelson and Morton were recovering.
As he moved (ran?) down the gangway, Matty Weaver came out of the access hatch on the conning tower. She came to attention and saluted him. He returned the salute.
"Permission to come aboard, Ma'am?" He smiled broadly at her.
"Permission happily granted, Captain!" she took two steps toward him and hugged him warmly. "It's good to have you back on board the boat, Lee!"
"I can't tell you how good it is to be back, Matty!"
"I can well imagine! Why don't we go below? Your crew is waiting!"
He grinned at her…"Sharkey?"
She nodded with a smile on her face "Sharkey!"
Lee followed her into the hatch and down the ladder to the Control Room. As he turned to toward the nose, the boson's whistle piped, and the Chief called out "All hands, 'ten hut! Captain is on the Bridge!" With a smart salute from Sharkey and the Bridge watch, the Chief smilingly announced, "Welcome back aboard, Skipper!"
And he and the watch applauded their Captain loudly. Then, just as brusquely, the Chief of the Boat ordered "All right, you knotheads, let's get back to work! Mr. O'Brien, sir, the boat is ready to sail at your command!"
O'Brien turned to the Captain, also smiling. "Ready for the word, Skipper!"
"The word is weigh anchor and sail, Mr. O'Brien! Come to course 153 relative, all ahead standard!" and more quietly to the junior officer, "And thanks, Bob, for taking such good care of the boat and crew."
"Aye, sir!" O'Brien moved about the Control Room with a confidence that Crane had not seen before, and he was pleased. Some good had come out of this whole ordeal! He turned slowly around the room, getting used to the feel of the boat again, with subtle hum of the engines, and the gentle tug as she moved away from the moorings at dockside. 'Yes, this was home, this was where he belonged, and it was good to be back! Now, if he could just be sure that Chip and the Admiral were going to be ok.'
He went forward to the Nose and sat in a swivel chair on the Admiral's 'Front Porch'. He always liked being here as Seaview pulled away from her berth, but he was savoring the moment now. He had come very close to not ever sitting there again.
Matty Weaver came into the Nose and stood quietly behind the Captain. After a few moments, she said quietly, "It's quite a view, Lee. It's no wonder she captures the heart and soul of every one who serves on her."
Lee smiled at her..."She's a witch and a magician and a heavy taskmaster, and once she owns you, she owns you forever!"
"I'll agree with you on that! She has certainly captured me! ... I've been offered a position, out of the Navy, and I think that I'm going to take it. "
When he looked at her, he could see a small smile playing at the sides of her mouth. "A position?"
"Yes. I go into the reserves and keep my ONI status. Keep my rank. The company runs a research facility. And they sail a research vessel."
"And they're based in Santa Barbara?"
"Mmmhnnh. How did you guess?"
"The Admiral offered you a job at the Institute?"
"And on the boat!"
"That's great, Matty! Does Chip know?"
She smiled at him again. "Yes, the Admiral apparently talked it over with him after he made me the offer." She sat on the edge of the window ledge. "The both of them are doing so much better, Lee! Chip's jaw is still wired closed, and his voice is still not completely healed. They've started the therapy to get him walking again. His face is healed; his wrists and left arm are healing. He'll be glad to see you! He's been so worried about you. He and the Admiral have spent a lot of time together, especially since Chip's been able to move about a little more. The Admiral's still not himself, but he's so much better. The nightmares are the worst, or so Will says. Just the idea that he's able to think of the Institute hiring someone for it is a big step according to Will. If you don't agree to it, I'll understand, but I do like the Idea of working for Nelson, and working with you and Chip here on the boat!"
"It sounds like the Admiral has a plan in mind and I'm the last person in the world to stop his plans.... I am looking forward to seeing them!"
"I know that they will be glad to see you! But now, we have a boat to get underway, Captain and as Acting XO, I have work to do!"
Lee sat back in the chair..."Then go ahead, Commander, and take us to San Diego!"
"Aye, aye, Captain!"
Lee Crane sat and let the sea and the Seaview work their magic on him...
The brief time at sea had been a catharsis to Crane. All the tension and anxiety of the last weeks washed away as the boat sailed the short distance to San Diego. The normalcy of the boats' operations helped to heal all of his self-doubts and recriminations about the past weeks! He was really looking forward to being with Nelson and Morton again!
He missed the easy companionship that he and Chip shared on the boat and on land, the never really appreciated, often underrated sixth sense that his friend, and XO had about the boat, the crew, and their many diverse and complex activities. He also missed the wisdom and grace of the Admiral. His friend and mentor had an easy wit and a genuine love of the sea and the world that never ceased to amaze Lee each time they sat and talked. He missed those talks. He looked forward to them again! He also knew it would not be easy!
Will Jamison had warned him to steel himself for the difference in the two men. He hoped that he was prepared enough!
He had the boat heave to off the beach at the foot of the Sanitarium, and had taken a raft to the shore. The walk up the hill had been invigorating for him. It felt good to be free again! As he reached the crest of the hill he saw the Sanitarium spread out before him.
It was an old building from the turn of the century, but Will Jamison had assured him that the care the two men were receiving was state of the art Medical and Psychological help! It definitely had a feeling of strength and beauty about it. He went into the large glass French doors that opened onto a patio. There was a reception desk on the other side of what looked like a large receiving room, with a very pretty young lady sitting at a French provincial style desk. She looked up at Crane and gave him a dazzling smile.
"Yes, sir. May I help you?"
He returned the smile. "Yes. I believe that Doctor Will Jamison is expecting me."
"Oh, yes. Captain Crane, isn't it?"
"Yes it is."
She rose and gestured to him, "Will you please follow me, Captain?"
They walked down a hallway that smelled of lemon oil and wood, and fairly gleamed with loving care. She gestured again through a doorway and said to him, "Right in here sir." He thanked her and went into the room, to find Will Jamison and several doctors waiting for him.
"Come in Lee. There's a lot for you to know before you see the Admiral and Chip!"
Will Jamison walked out of the Conference Room with Lee Crane. He was continuing to reassure the younger man about the condition of his friends.
"Their suite is this way, Lee. They have rooms looking out on the water. I felt that they would be the best for them. Harry has seemed to draw strength from the sea. He seems to have an almost psychic connection to it. He draws his strength from it!"
Crane nodded. 'They all drew their strength from Her. The sea. Their mother...their wife...their mistress...the sea.' Will knew. They'd all been together long enough for him to know that. A touch on the arm brought his attention back to the Doctor.
"Lee, they're in here. Harry's on the left, Chip's room is on the right. Both of them are expecting you."
He let out a deep sigh. "I just hope that I'm up to it!"
"You'll do fine, just fine! Go on in"
Lee hesitated at the door to the suite. And then his step became surer and he nodded to Riley, who jumped up when he entered. "Skipper!"
Lee gesture him to silence. He nodded, smiling broadly at the Captain, as the officer disappeared into the Admiral's room.
Lee stood in the doorway looking at the older man. He was not surprised that Harriman Nelson was gazing at the sea beyond his window. Seaview lay out there, within easy view of the facility, and the Admiral was staring at her. He didn't hear Crane enter, and he started when Lee finally laid a hand on his shoulder.
He turned. "Lee...! "
The two men regarded at each other, momentarily unsure, and then moved toward one another. Nelson clapped Crane on the shoulder, with his good arm. "It's good to see you again, son!" Nelson's eyes gave Crane a appraising look, and the Admiral was clearly satisfied with what he saw... a healthy, reasonably relaxed and happy Lee Crane! The younger man was more than gratified to see the clarity and sharpness in Nelson's look. When he had last seen the Admiral, that clarity had not existed!
Crane laughed nervously and ran a hand through his hair, "I can't tell you how good it is to see you, sir! I have to say that you had me more than worried, Admiral!"
"Well, sit down, and tell me everything…everything that happened, Lee. Everything, from the beginning, when we lost contact with you. Especially about the trial, and that bastard McKenna." They sat in the chairs facing the window, the two heads leaning toward one another, red-gold and dark brown relaxed in companionable discussion....
Nelson walked with Crane to the door of the room. He hesitated at the doorframe and Lee looked at him, concern mirrored in his eyes.
"I'm ok, Lee. I just have a hard time leaving the room, as much as I'd like to be out of it! Will says the feelings will pass! So does Dr. Bricker. Whether or not they are correct is up to me!" He laughed a little uncomfortably. "We'll see, won't we?"
"I have every confidence in you, Admiral!" Riley stood in the presence of the two officers, and Crane smiled at the seaman, "At ease, Riley."
"It's good to see you again, Skipper! You don't know how worried we all were about you! "
"I've just been told, Riley! By the Admiral here, and the whole boat! I appreciate the concern."
Crane turned to Nelson, "If you don't mind sir, I'd like to see Chip alone, first."
"Of course not, Lee. I'll just wait in my room. I can't seem to get enough of seeing the boat again!"
Crane smiled at the older man. "I understand, sir."
Lee took a deep breath and walked into Chip Morton's room. Seaview's Exec was sitting in a wheelchair, also looking out at the boat. He wasn't aware that anyone had entered the room, Crane had come in so quietly. His chin rested on his casted right hand. Both of his legs stuck straight out from the chair, resting on the chair supports. Crane couldn't tell if they were in casts or not, as they were covered with a blanket. Chip's left arm rested in a sling, against his blue robe. Lee couldn't see his face, but he believed that he was far off in thought. He was reluctant to disturb his friend's reverie, but was anxious to talk to him. Very softly, he said,
Morton turned his head. His lips formed the Captain's name, "Lee!” but his mouth barely moved and the voice was lower than a whisper. Crane was startled by the look of his friend. Morton was notably thinner than Crane could ever remember him being and even though his face had healed, there were still traces of black and blue around his eyes. Chip attempted to move the chair around, but the maneuverability of the chair escaped him, due to the casts on both arms and a look of renewed frustration crossed his face. Lee realized, at that moment what a true horror this had been for his friend! A man used to doing completely for himself becoming totally dependant for everything on others, and with no way to communicate half of those needs...and it wasn't yet over! He moved quickly across the room, and pulled a chair opposite Morton. He reached out and grabbed him by both shoulders.
"I can't begin to tell you how glad I am to see you, Chip!" he shook his head. "I really didn't think that...."
Morton laid his right hand on the arm of his Captain and friend. "Don't...” he whispered. "Just tell me what happened to you... I need to know, Lee."
Will Jamison looked at the assembled doctors. He knew that they were the best that he could have found anywhere for the needs of the Seaview's officers, but now he had to ask their help for an even more important decision...!
There was a great deal of activity on the slope of the Oceanview Sanitarium. Several dozen men in blue and red jumpsuits milled around on the patio and the hill, apparently waiting anxiously for something to occur. Then, the doors opened and several men went into the building.
In short order, several figures in Khaki came out of the door, each one of them distinctive in their uniforms. There was one female officer, her soft curves, and slender build a give-a-way to her sex. Two men, wearing Officers hats, one of them heavy with the ‘scrambled eggs’ of high rank, followed her.
A cluster of men followed them, carrying a stretcher that was followed by another officer in the familiar brown-hued uniform. The group made its way to the beach where there were a number of inflatables waiting. As swiftly as possible, the small crafts were loaded and they headed toward the sleek grey boat that was moored offshore. As the crafts reached boat, the occupants quickly disembarked and once the inflatables were offloaded, the boat slid gracefully under the waves.
Harriman Nelson stood at the Observation Nose of the SSRN Seaview. He hadn't felt such inward peace in a long time. He realized that he still had a long time to go to heal his mind completely, but what a lift being back on his boat was to his mind and spirit. He knew he would get well!
Matty Weaver stood behind Chip Morton in the Observation Nose. She laid a gentle hand on his shoulder. She was looking forward to being in Santa Barbara. She would be starting a new part of her life there. The work at the Institute would surely be challenge! And so would her personal life be! She was known that she was being drawn to Seaview's Exec, and she wondered where these feelings would lead her!
Chip felt the gentle pressure of Matty's hand on his shoulder and was very glad that it was there. He was very mindful of how far he had come in his recovery and of how far he still had to go, but he knew, now, that he would be back on the boat, as soon as was able, Jamison's calls for caution be damned!
Lee Crane stood at the Plotting Table and looked over the Observation Nose. He was back at the helm of his boat. The Admiral and Chip were well on their way to recovery, and they were all on their way home...to Santa Barbara... the Institute... their home port. It would be a while, but the boat and all their lives would soon resume the familiar patterns that made them what they were, and that was a very good thing!
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