DANGER!  GAMMA is LOOSE!!!

by

Linda A. Delaney

 

 

The early morning lead story on the CNN broadcast would give anyone watching who knew the details a cause for alarm...

'Dr. Gamma, World's greatest Criminal Scientist gives World Leaders Ultimatum!! -- Surrender or be Destroyed!!'

Harriman Nelson sat in the Observation Nose of the S.S.R.N. Seaview, watching the view screen as the news anchor read the headline. "Turn it off, Chief. I know exactly what he's going to say!!"

Sharkey turned off the monitor with a vengeance.

"I'm afraid that we have our work cut out for us, Francis... how many men on shore leave?"

"About a third of the crew, sir. Most of the leaves are for at the least three days."

"Then Morton will have to get them back here. Go and wake up the Skipper and Exec. We have to make preparations to get underway by 0800 hours."

"Admiral, that's only six hours, sir. I don't think we can round up all the men in that time."

"Then we'll sail without them! Get Morton and Crane down here fast.!"

"Aye, Sir!"

 

 

Lee Crane chose to ignore the rapping on the door. He burrowed deeper into the pillow, trying hard not to hear Sharkey's voice calling his name. In port for the first time in several months, he had hoped to get a bit of prolonged shut eye. Somewhere in his mind, however he realized he couldn't do it. Very wearily he sat on the edge of his bunk, and called out, "Come."

Sharkey carefully opened the door. "Skipper..?"

"Yes, Sharkey, what is it this time?"

"Admiral's orders, Captain, he wants you and the Exec in the Nose ASAP."

Crane began dressing as the CPO gave him the sketchy news.

"Something about Dr. Gamma, Skipper. There was a call for the O.O.M. just about an hour ago from Washington. He came into the Nose, turned on CNN and sent me for you and the Exec. Shore Leaves are canceled and Mr. Morton’s tracking all the men on leave. We sail a 0800 hours, sir. Any man that isn't back by then won't make the cruise, sir."

Crane finished tucking shirt-tails into his pants, and started out the door, "Chip's already there?"

"He went straight to the Radio Shack, sir, and he has three shore parties on their way to collect our men."

Crane allowed himself an inward smile at Chip Morton's usual efficiency. Trust Chip to be three steps ahead of them all when it came to the details of the boat.  The Captain hurried down the Control Room to the Observation Nose. Nelson was sitting at the table, notes and papers spread all over it.

"Ah, sit down, Lee." He picked up the mike, "Chip, will you join us in the Nose?"

Morton came foreword and quickly pulled up a chair.  "Admiral, we've accounted for all the crew but three men. They should be back on the boat by 0600."

"Good, Chip. Well, here's what happened so far. First and foremost, we are under the direct orders of 'The Crossing Guard."

Crane's interest was even more acute, as the title 'The Crossing Guard' was used by the President only in matters of the utmost security and international interest.

"We sail to these coordinates and pick up a courier," he handed Lee a paper with the rendezvous site.

Crane glanced at it and handed it to Morton.   "This is a mid Pacific site, sir," Lee looked at the admiral; "Highest security when we set sail?"

"Yes. Submerged all the way to the site. Flank speed. No outgoing radio transmissions, incoming only. The courier has the rest of the orders from the 'The Crossing Guard'. He is most concerned that we follow the orders to the letter."

"Admiral, there's more to this, isn't there? Something that you're not telling us."

"Yes, Lee, there is. It seems that Dr. Gamma escaped from the maximum security prison he was being held about six months ago…. It was a 'need to know' situation, Lee, obviously since we didn't, the 'powers that be' felt that we didn't need to."

Crane quirked an eyebrow at that, considering their many encounters with Dr. Gamma and his minions, and was a little surprised that ONI didn't feel that Seaview's command officers should know.

Nelson continued "They have no idea where Gamma is, but he has given a threat of using an ultimate weapon to the Security Council of the UN and has given them a week to reply. Basically he wants the surrender of the nations of the world to his control. If no surrender is coming, then he will use the weapon. What it is, he has given no information. And as an additional demand, he wants the Seaview, her crew and officers to be surrendered to him, so he can use her as his command headquarters."

Both men looked hard at the Admiral. Finally, Morton said "And the President said, 'No' of course, sir."

"Not at all, Chip. He said he'd consider the demand."

Crane slammed a fist on the table. "He has no right, sir!!"

Extremely calm, Harriman Nelson corrected his Captain. "He has every right , Lee. Ultimately, we all work for him. "

"But Admiral, Seaview's your boat! It's your crew! Your command!"

"And as you very well know, 'The Crossing Guard' has the final decision."

Calming his rising anger at the situation, Crane asked, "What are your orders, Admiral?"

"Prepare to get underway, Lee. Plot a course for those coordinates, and have Sharkey make preparations for a mid - Pacific pickup of the courier."  As both men rose to attend to their duties, Nelson continued, "And Lee, make sure the watch schedule gives you and Chip the time to catch up on the lost down time."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Crane and Morton moved to the Plotting table, both the men moving efficiently to get the boat underway. Morton leaned over to the Captain, "I don't like this, Lee. The Admiral seems to be taking this too calmly!"

" I know. But, we both know, the bottom line is that if the 'The Crossing Guard' gives the orders, we follow them!!"

 

 

During the next few hours, Seaview prepared to set sail. Stores were laid in, last minute checks were done, and crew reported back from leave. At 0630 hours, Morton was standing at the base of the ladder in the Control Room, clipboard in hand. A pair of legs appeared at the top rung, and Electrician's Mate Walker came down the ladder .

"You're the last man aboard, Walker."

"Ah, Mr. Morton, this time shouldn't count, sir. This is an emergency call back. Your 'Last Man Aboard ' rule should be lifted, sir."

Morton raised an eyebrow, a clear indication that he was annoyed. "There are no rule changes on his boat, sailor, because of emergency call backs. Stow your gear, and report to Chief Sharkey for the first Duty Watch!"

Walker uttered a reluctant, "Aye sir" and headed below to the crew's quarters.

Morton was vigorously writing away on his clipboard, when Crane joined him. "Trouble, Chip?"

"No, not at all, Lee. Just a little bit of an attempt by Walker at making this boat more of a democracy! Seems he feels that 'last man aboard' shouldn't apply to him because it's an emergency cancellation of leaves."

"Well, then, I guess that he'll learn quickly that it does!"

Morton merely nodded, and then turned to the Plotting table. "Chief, I have all crew accounted for. Are all stores loaded?"

"Aye, sir. All stores and equipment stowed and we're ready to answer bells. Navigation is ready to answer bells, as is Communications, and the Missile Room, sir."

"Very good, Chief." He turned to Crane, "All stations manned and ready to answer bells, Skipper. We're ready to get underway at your command."

Crane nodded at him and picked up the mike. "Admiral Nelson, The boat is ready to answer bells, and get underway!"

"Very good, Lee. Let's sail!"

"Aye sir. Mr. Morton, get us underway. Come to course 173 relative, take her down to ninety feet, all ahead flank. "

"Aye, aye, sir."

Crane watched the smoothness with which his crew got his boat in motion. The beauty and strength of the Seaview, and the dedication of her crew never ceased to make him extremely proud to be her Skipper. The thought of his boat being in anyone else's hands made him extremely angry, and the idea that the O.O.M. was so calm about it only puzzled him more. There had to be more to it. Nelson wouldn't give up Seaview without a fight, and certainly wouldn't expect her crew to 'go over' to the other side without a blink of an eye. Crane hoped that the courier's orders would make the matter all the more clear!

 

 

Seaview arrived at the rendezvous site, well ahead of schedule. By the time the other ship arrived, she was waiting to pick up her passenger. Much to the surprise of the Senior Officers, they learned that there were two passengers to be picked up instead of one.  But more of a surprise awaited them. Crane was the first one up the hatch of the FS1 with the courier. Nelson was waiting for him.

"All go well, Lee?"

The Seaview's Captain had a rather strange expression on his face. " I think you'd better see for yourself, sir."

As Nelson looked over the hatch, a rather slender hand reached for the last ladder rung. He instinctively reached over to lend a hand, and looked into a pair of absolutely stunning turquoise eyes. He hesitated a split second, and then continued to help her up.

As the owner of the eyes came onto the deck, she saluted smartly, "Commander Matty Weaver, reporting as ordered, Admiral. "

Before Nelson had time to respond another woman came up the hatch. "My aide, sir, Jess Burke," she added. Burke also saluted smartly. By now, the entire Control Room crew was watching the activity in the Nose.

"Well, " Nelson took time to clear his throat, and collect his thoughts, "Pleased to have you aboard, Commander, although I must admit, I'm a little surprised."

Steel glinted in her eyes. "Surprised that the 'The Crossing Guard' would send a woman on this job, Admiral ? I assure you, my credentials for this type of work are as strong as your Captain's." She reached into the belt at her waist and handed Nelson a large packet. "I believe that you’re waiting for this, sir! "

Crane was standing behind her and he was grinning at the O.O.M.'s discomfort. She's either a strong support, or an indefatigable adversary! he thought admiringly. "Admiral, why don't we show our guests to their quarters where they can change into some dry clothes?" Crane was also acutely aware of the effect that two women in wet suits was having on his crew. To Chip, he added, "Mr. Morton, would you please escort the Commander and her aide to their quarters?"

"Aye, Sir!" was the Exec's enthusiastic reply. "This way, please" and the two women followed him to Officer's Country.

I must be getting old, Crane thought, Chip’s looking on this as a challenge...all I see are complications!

Nelson's voice snapped him back to reality. "Lee, meet me in my cabin, in ten minutes, will you? We'll have to go over these orders. And see if you can get Chip to join us!"

The Exec's uncharacteristic enthusiasm for a mundane job did not go unnoticed by the Admiral.

Crane returned to the Plotting Table and to O'Brien, the Second, he said, "Bob, hold her steady at this position until you hear from the Admiral or me. Maintain Alert status. I'll be in the Admiral's Cabin if you need me."

"Aye, Aye, sir"

 

 

"Here it is, Lee. What Gamma has and what we intend to do about it!" he handed Crane a sheaf of papers. As the Captain scanned them, he went on, "Over the last six months since his escape, Gamma has managed to launch a dozen rockets into orbit. Each one was launched from a country known to be experimenting with space flight and not given much attention by the intelligence community. A major mistake on their part. It seems that the rockets contained satellites with devices, that if linked could envelope the entire Earth with an Electro-magnetic field. I don't have to tell you what effect that would have, do I?"

"No, sir. Nothing would work! Everything that depends on any electric impulse would shut down, from motors to transistor radios!"

"Right, not to mention that the only communications possible would be limited to tight band short distance...no radio, no TV, nothing!"

"Total, utter Chaos!!" Morton exclaimed.

"That's right, Chip"

"And where exactly do we fit into his plan?"

"Well, according to what ONI has found out so far, the final satellite needs to be launched from here." he pointed to a spot on the map over the Marianas Trench, "and the only way to launch from that site..."

"Is to use the Seaview's missiles!"

"Exactly! So he wants us to surrender the boat, officers and crew at 1000 hours tomorrow, at those coordinates and the 'The Crossing Guard' is going to go along with it. We are to give our fullest cooperation, and to do all in our power to disable the last missile. This boat, her officers and crew are all expendable to defeat Dr. Gamma!"

"Where do Weaver and Burke fit in?"

"Weaver has been with ONI about five years, and her dossier tells me that she has the scars to prove it. She's a top notch electronics expert, and her specialty in post grad work was EMFs. She'll be onboard as an electronics officer. Burke is to be assigned to the Sick Bay as a corpsman. Her ONI time is less than Weaver's but they've been together for three years, and their record shows that they make quite a team." He handed Crane a slim file, which the Captain glanced over briefly.

"And how," Crane asked, "do they fit into the picture, in terms of Command?" he passed the file to Morton, who showed a more than cursory interest.

"They follow your orders and mine when it comes to the boat and the mission, Lee. They are assigned to our command."

"And just what do we tell the men, sir? You know I believe that they should be appraised of the mission from the get go."

"On this mission, its' 'need to know' only! You, Chip, myself, O'Brien, Weaver and Burke, Sharkey, the senior ratings, Kowalski, Patterson, Rodriquez, and of course, Sparks. That's it! The rest of the crew only needs to know that Gamma is on board, and we will handle the situation."

"I'm not comfortable with the situation, sir."

"Right now, Lee, none of us are, but it's the best plan we can come up with so far. And let's consider it a plan in evolution!!"

"Aye, sir. Shall I send the rest of the Senior staff to you sir? Yes, and Chip, will you escort Weaver and Burke here?"

"It'll be my pleasure, sir!"

Nelson smiled at the Exec, "I thought that might be the case, Commander!"

Morton left the cabin, and Crane picked up the intercom "This is the Captain. Mr. O'Brien, Chief Sharkey, Sparks and Kowalski, Patterson and Rodriquez please report to the Admiral's cabin, immediately!"

A chorus of "Ayes" followed on the speaker, and shortly after, several knocks on the door, as the summoned crew arrived. Crane and Morton stood in the background, leaning against the wall, as Nelson went over the details of the mission with the assembled crew and officers. He finalized the presentation with "... any further questions or problems, you are to seek out Captain Crane, Mr. Morton, or myself. You are dismissed. Weaver, Burke, please stay!"

The others filed out of the cabin, and Weaver and Morton remained seated. "Commander, Ms. Burke, if you would now inform my Senior officers and myself of your specific orders in relation to the mission."

Weaver spoke "We’re here to make sure that Gamma's plans do not succeed, Admiral, whatever the cost! And if that means the loss of the Seaview and her crew, well, so be it!!"

"Now wait one damn minute..." Crane shouted angrily. "You're not talking about just any boat, here... And you're playing a game with 125 lives !!"

"Captain, I have orders from the 'The Crossing Guard' himself! It's a no win situation for Gamma. His plan will not succeed, and if it costs the boat and the lives of her crew, then the world and millions of lives are saved! 'The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few!"

"I'm well aware of 'the needs of the many', Commander! But this is my boat and my crew, and I will make those decisions. You are under my command, Commander Weaver, not the reverse, and while I intend to stop Dr. Gamma, I do not intend to loose my boat or my crew!!!!"

"That’s all well and good, Captain, but we shall see what happens, won't we?'

"I will not lose one man, or one rivet on this boat, Commander, I won't!!"

Nelson shouted at the two of them, " Lee! Weaver! Enough!! Stop it!! We’ve got a mission to accomplish and we will accomplish it, by working together, not by fighting with each other!!! Our overall goal’s the same. Now…let's just get it done!"

"Very well, Admiral." Crane picked up the intercom on Nelson's desk. "Mr. O'Brien, get us underway, come to course 255 relative, 10 degrees up bubble, all ahead standard." He continued, "Admiral, I'm going to the Control Room. Chip, will you see Commander Weaver to Electrical Engineering, and Ms. Burke to the Sick Bay. I hope that you’re settled in quarters. If there’s anything that you need, please feel free to call on Chip or myself." He turned on heel and left the cabin. Weaver and Burke nodded to Nelson, and followed Morton out the door.

Matty Weaver was wearing Officer's Khaki, and Chip Morton couldn't recall when Khaki ever looked so good to him.  She turned to him, after Jess Burke was shown Sick Bay, "Tell me, Morton, is Crane always so gruff and tight-assed about this boat and crew?"

"Only when it comes to his boat and his men, ma'am. Lee always puts them first. Your crack about the 'needs of the many has been a driving force in his life wherever his commands have been. He always puts the needs of the many first!"

"Protective, isn't he?"

"Yep, that too. I can't begin to tell you how many times he's put all of us first, often at the risk of his own life!!"

"I see," she was thoughtful for a moment. "Say, what's the standard protocol on this boat, amongst officers. ?"

"Rank in front of the E.M.'s; first name basis in private, except toward the Admiral…and sometimes the Captain."

"Okay then…I'm Matty, and you're...Chip?"

She shook his hand, and he grinned. He couldn't help but notice how the color of her eyes changed depending on her mood. This might be an interesting cruise after all!

"Well, Matty, here we are...Electrical Engineering. You'll find the senior ratings here; Patterson and Kowalski. They'll help you get familiar with the boat. And if you need anything in down time, my cabin’s two doors from yours in Officer's Country."

She smiled at him. "Thanks for all your help, Chip," and went into the E.E.section. He turned and headed for the Control Room, and the few crewmen he passed turned to look at him, surprised. The Exec was whistling!!

 

 

In the time it took for Seaview to reach her rendezvous, several things had taken place on the boat, the most noticeable, the growing relationship between the Exec and Weaver, but also the continuing coldness between Weaver and the Captain.  While she continued to seek Chip's aid and advice regarding the activities on the boat, she continued to 'butt heads' with Crane about the mission. Their differing philosophies about the value of the men, and the boat, continued to create conflict. Weaver's only concern was a successful conclusion of their assignment, at all costs, where Cranes' was to complete the assignment safely, and bring the boat and her crew back to port safe and intact!

It became very noticeable to all that the Skipper was going out of his way to avoid the new Electronics Officer, while the Exec was relishing in her company.

Lee Crane sat in his cabin. On his desk, a portrait of his late wife holding their son, stared at him. He still could not believe that Cathy was dead. True, it had only been 3 months, but he still was having difficulty dealing with.. It wasn't so bad here on the boat, he could forget the pain and drown himself in the business of the boat. He didn't have to sleep, didn't have to dream, he could keep himself so busy that when sleep did come, it was dreamless. But at home, Robert, his son, was a constant reminder of Cathy.  Not that he didn't love the baby, and didn't spend every possible moment with him, but it was so difficult….

Cats, I still miss you so. Every day is so hard without you. Sometimes I feel you so close, it's almost like you're here in the room with me, that I can reach out and touch you, and then I turn and try and you aren't there at all. The Admiral says that it's supposed to be this way, that as time passes, it will be easier for me to accept that you aren't really there. I don't know about that, Cats. Somehow, I don't think it will ever be easy! But then again, nothing in my life has ever been easy!

The Admiral says that's why I'm as pig-headed as I am, only he calls it a few other things too!! And you know, it's been hard watching Chip with Matty Weaver, the ONI officer. He really likes her and I know why. She's a lot like you in a number of ways...full of Spit and Vinegar, like you. Calls it as it is, and is so sure she's always right!! Just like you!!! That's why I guess I'm so hard about her. Maybe I should let up, just a little... '

Sparks voice on the intercom broke his reverie. "Skipper, incoming message for you, and the Admiral, coded "Eyes Only'"

"Very well, Sparks I'll be right there. " He rose from the desk, looked again the picture, sadly shook his head and left the cabin.

He met Nelson in the companionway. The older man didn't like the way his Captain looked. That haggard and overtired expression that he had worn since Cathy's death seemed more magnified these last few days. Never one to tread lightly where Crane was concerned, Nelson plunged ahead, "What's bothering you, Lee?"

Crane hesitated a moment. In these last few months, he had opened up more to Nelson than ever before, sharing the kind of pain the both men experienced, one's still so new, and one's older and enduring. Oh well, there's so little the O.O.M. doesn't know.…

"Just thinking about this conflict I'm having with Weaver. It's counterproductive, and could hurt the mission. I just think that maybe it's because she reminds me of ..."

Nelson looked carefully at the younger man. He placed a comforting hand on his shoulder "...of Cathy? I was wondering when it would hit you, lad. Looks like it just did."

Crane nodded slowly. "I was just thinking about Cathy, and I, ...well, I realized that Weaver’s a lot like Cathy, especially when we were first getting to know one another." He smiled, "We argued...a lot...about the boat, her missions, everything. Any time I made a decision she didn't like, or agree with, she questioned me. "

"And Weaver is doing the same thing that 'Irish' did."

Lee winced at the use of Nelson's pet name for his late Executive assistant. "There's a further complication, though, isn't there?"

"Aye, sir."

"Chip?"

"Aye, sir"

"Seems our Exec has fallen hard for the Commander."

"Yes, sir"

"Well, Lee, now that you've identified the problem, maybe you can deal with it."

"I hope so, Admiral. I sincerely hope so!"

They had arrived at the Radio Shack. Sparks had the coded message waiting for them. As they proceeded to the Nose to decode it, Morton looked up from the Plotting Table.

"Come into the Nose, Chip. We've got further orders from the 'The Crossing Guard'."

"Aye, sir. O'Brien, you have the Con!"

The three friends sat around the Nose table. Nelson quickly decoded the message and shared it with his Senior officers.  “According to 'The Crossing Guard', his information states that we have at least one, if not more of Gamma's men, on the boat already. His informant can't identify them for us, but he has a positive confirmation that they are onboard."  Crane and Morton exchanged significant glances.  "Any one have a suspect?” Nelson asked.

Morton answered first. "Well, we've taken on only three new crewmen in the last six months, sir. And they were all thoroughly screened, by Lee, me, and you, sir."

"And when was the last hiring done, Chip? "

Morton ruffled through a clipboard. "Three months ago sir, just after..." he paused, and said very quietly, "Just after Cathy died."

They grew very quiet, and then Nelson cleared his throat, "Well, perhaps we weren't as vigilant as usual. It was a,  uh...demanding time. Who are the two men?" he asked, trying not to linger on the time frame.

"Electricians Mate Walker and Corpsman Marino..."

"Lee, have you scheduled or held the onboard interview with them, yet?"

"No, sir. I wasn't... on... the last research cruise," he said pointedly, " and I haven't had time to schedule them on this one yet."

"Well, why don't you make it a priority to schedule them and then we'll see what comes of it... Chip, what's the ETA to the coordinates?"

" 0830 hours , sir. That's just about 14 hours from now."

"Chip, schedule the interviews for 1900, and 1930 hours and let me know how well it is received by the men. And bring Weaver and Burke up to date, on this.

Is there anything else, Admiral?"

"Just a caution from the 'The Crossing Guard', that we can not fail to stop Dr. Gamma...and to spare nothing, to achieve that goal! "

"Aye sir, Chip, will you also inform Commander Weaver that I'd like to see her in my cabin as soon as her duty schedule allows."

"Sure, Lee. In fact, Matty, ur, um Commander Weaver is off duty now. I'll see her to your quarters if you'd like."

Some of the sternness from Crane's manner of late slightly faded. "Thanks, Chip, I'll appreciate that." He rose, "I'll be in my cabin, sir. Barker and O'Brien have the next watch."

Nelson nodded in acknowledgement and watched him go through the Control Room. He knew just how badly his Captain was feeling, and he wanted desperately to help him feel better. And he also knew there was no way he could! Lee had to work his way through these particular demons himself. All he, Nelson, could do was to be there for support when the battle began!

 

 

There was a soft knock at Crane's door. He called out "Come" and as the door opened, Chip Morton's voice said, "Right here, Matty."

Morton stuck his head in the doorway, Commander Weaver, Lee."

"Thanks, Chip" to Weaver "Sit, down, won't you Commander?" She sat in the chair at the edge of his desk, and crossed her arms on her lap.

"I'll be right with you, I just have to finish this report."

"Of course, Captain" was her icy reply. She sat and looked around the cabin taking in every detail. She finished her appraisal by looking at the picture of Cathy and Robert that sat prominently on Crane's desk.

As he finished writing, he looked up at her. He was struck again, as he'd been when she came aboard the FS1, by the incredible color of her eyes. To him, they looked like turquoise gemstones sparkling in the sunlight. He shook his head. He really shouldn't be so taken by her eyes, or anything else about her, especially when Chip had already 'marked' her as 'his'.

Put those thoughts right out of your head, Lee, he thought. She's Chip's . And besides, it's too soon. Where's your head at? Cathy's only gone three months and your not only thinking about another woman, but a woman that your best friend has his eye on. Where's your loyalty?

After all Chip's done for you? how could you? And what about Cathy? How would she feel?... How would she feel?... She'd be telling me to go on with my life. She'd be telling me to feel again... to open up my heart again... But I don't want to feel that kind of hurt again. Not ever!..'

He cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, Commander. I lost my train of thought for a moment."

"Not a problem, Captain. I was just about to remark to you that your wife is a beautiful woman."

He felt a dagger go through his carefully shielded heart. He replied softly " She was…she died three months ago."

Weaver was startled by the revelation. "I'm sorry, Captain, I didn't know."

He smiled sadly at her, "Looks like ONI didn't give you all the particulars on this mission."

"They didn't say anything about it in the briefing."

"They probably thought it was irrelevant. Anyway, I called you here to apologize to you for the outright animosity I've been showing you. You’re only doing your job, and I'm sorry to say that I haven't given you a fair chance. I've been trying to figure out why, and came to the conclusion that it's a rather personal feeling on my part, and I am sorry that I've made things so difficult for you, " he extended his hand to her, "can we call a truce, and try to start over again?"

She reached for his hand, and saw, in his amber eyes, a pain so deep she couldn't even describe it. She then realized why he had put her off so strongly. "Of course, Captain." She paused a moment. "Chip tells me protocol on the boat is a first name basis with almost all the Senior staff. I'm Matty..."

He smiled a boyish smile at her and disarmed her defenses completely.  "And you sir, are..?" she hesitated.

"I'm Lee, and I'm glad to meet you Matty..."

An hour later she left his cabin. As she was closing the door, she said, "Thanks, Lee. I appreciate the help," and closed it.

Chip Morton was casually lounging in the corridor. "Looks like the frost has lifted!"

She looked up sharply" Oh hi, Chip. Frost lifted?"

"Yep, between you and Lee."

"Oh, yeah, well, we talked.." Her eyes grew a little opaque. "I didn't know he's a recent widower... No one told me."

Morton's mood became subdued, " I, that is, we, try not to talk about it too much. It's still too...new. Cathy was the O.O.M.'s Executive Assistant. They'd only been married 18 months when she was killed in an auto accident."

Matty drew her breath in sharply. Chip continued, "But it turned out that it wasn't just an accident. ONI was about to call on Lee to get a man out of an eastern European country with some nuclear secrets. Lee was the only man that he'd even talk to. A leak in the Underground there found out their plans, and figured if they killed Cathy, Lee wouldn't be able to go on the mission... It almost worked…. Lee's been in overdrive since, here on the boat, and at home, with the baby. It's like he's trying to prove to all of us that it doesn't hurt, that he doesn't need the love and support of his friends and family, and when someone or something gets too close, or reminds him of Cathy or how things were with the two of them, he tries to shut them out , or turn them off."

"And where does the battle we seem to be having fit into this?" she asked him warily.

"You're so very much like her! No, I don't mean that you look like her, not at all! Cathy was tiny, dark, brown hair, green eyes. But a spitfire! When they first met, she was always giving Lee the 'what-for'. And he gave it right back to her! Well, you did the same thing to him, in the Nose, when you came aboard. And then, you had the audacity to tell him that as far as the 'powers that be' are concerned, his boat and men are expendable! Well, I can tell you right now that the one thing that Lee Crane will not lose is his boat or crew! Especially now!!"

Chip watched as Matty digested all that he'd just told her. He hoped that he hadn't said too much. He carefully studied her as she analyzed the whole story. 

Uh, oh, Morton, looks like you've done it again! Talked your way out of a great girl and practically threw her into your best friend's arms! Isn't the first time! but should you have done it this time? Does Lee really need this kind of complication in his life now? Do I...?"

Unfortunately, Chip wasn't going to have much time to think about the situation. At that moment the boat shuddered. He was slammed into the wall, and Matty Weaver was slammed into him. His last thought was Damn! Another time, another place…and then the companionway exploded into a shower of smoke and shorting circuitry.

Lights blinked out to be replaced by the red of the emergency lighting. Voices were shouting over the loudspeaker, calling for Damage Control. At the head of the companionway, several men appeared, dressed in black, holding weapons. One of them slammed open the door to the Captain's cabin, the other two came forward towards Morton and Weaver who were struggling to their feet.

The lead gunman gestured with his weapon, and Matty scrambled to her feet. Morton was slower to come to his feet. He leaned heavily against the wall. The gunman again gestured angrily at him. Matty was watching him, and trying to determine what he was going to do. She knew that his concerns were for the Captain and the boat. As he stood, he took several halting steps and then dove for the gunman, who fired off two shots and Morton fell to the deck.

"Chip!!" Matty moved toward him, but was caught by the gunman's arm, and held tightly. He gestured with his gun. She was torn, but realized that to go with the gunman would be better for all. He pushed her into the Captain's cabin. Crane was being held back by the gunman in his cabin and Weaver was pushed into the desk chair.

Lee moved toward her, "Chip?"

"They shot him! In the companionway!"

Lee moved toward the door, but both gunman waved him back. The third man gestured for one of his cohorts to come outside. The third man remained holding the gun on Crane and Weaver. The other two dragged Morton's inert form into the cabin and put him on the bed. They gestured toward Crane and Weaver, who wasted no time in going to his side. Two stains of bright red crimson were spreading on his uniform shirt, one at his right shoulder, the other at his right side  Crane was ripping at the shirt to open it and try, first to staunch the bleeding at the wound sites.

"Matty, grab some towels from the head!"

She pushed past the gunman and grabbed at the towels on the wall rack.

"Tear them into strips, and fold some into pads. We've got to stop the bleeding!"

The two of them worked on Morton quickly and with very little discussion, until some ten minutes later, Crane looked over at her. Chip lay on the Captain's bunk, a large white makeshift bandage on his shoulder, another on his abdomen. He was pale, paler than Crane had ever seen him. Lee took two pillows from under the bunk, and put them under the Exec's legs, and pulled a blanket up to his waist. Chip moaned at the movement.

"Sorry, Chip." he said softly.

Matty put a hand on Morton's forehead, and his eyes struggled to open. A small smile played on his lips... "An angel..." he whispered.

She took his hand in hers, "Some guys will go to any length to keep a girl's attention, Chip." She smiled at him. He closed his eyes.

"How are you feeling, Chip?" was Crane's concerned question.

"You tell me," he rasped.

"I'm not Jamie,...But I don't think it's very good. You've got a bullet in your gut and another in the shoulder. It's not the shoulder that worries me!"

"Mmn," he let a groan escape. "Hurts... a lot...tired, too... thirsty..."

"Sorry, Chip..no water..."

" I know..think I'll...sleep..." he closed his eyes and Matty looked at Crane.

"He needs Jamie, now!" he said to her quietly. "He's getting shocky..." He looked at the growing stains on the bandages "Bleeding hasn't stopped." He finally acknowledged their captors. "What is the meaning of this? Who are you?"

The group pulled the black masks from their heads.

"How could you!" Weaver asked angrily.

Jess Burke smiled cruelly at her, "Why not, Commander? You have to admit that the money on this side is much better! And the chance for advancement is much easier!! If anyone gets on your way, you can just kill them!!"  She nodded toward the bunk. "How's Morton?"

"He needs Doc Jamison!"

"He'll have to wait. You and the Captain will have to do what you can until I receive further orders! You'll be staying right here!!!! Marino, lock the door....Walker watch the Captain while we talk to Nelson..." she picked up the intercom on the desk, and passed it to Crane. "Here..get him on the 'comm."

Crane took it in his hand "Admiral, this is Crane"

An exasperated Nelson answered "Lee, where in the blazes are you?! We need you in the Control Room, there's been sabotage in the Circuitry Room, and…."

Crane cut him off..."We have a situation in my cabin, sir. Chip's been shot."

There was dead silence on the other end of the intercom. "What's going on..?"

Jess Burke took the speaker from Crane..." I'm sorry, Admiral, but I'm in control right now. Walker took care of your circuits. We’re waiting for Dr. Gamma to arrive. We have Crane, Morton, and Weaver in Crane's cabin, and we're going to be here for a while. The Doctor needed a strong hand, and with two kings and a queen, I think we hold the major cards."

"How bad is Morton?"

She handed the speaker back to Crane.  "He's got a bullet in the shoulder, and in his gut, sir...no exit wounds. Bleeding has slowed, but not stopped...he's pale, skin is cool, pulse is rapid but weak, breathing is shallow. I'm afraid he's going into shock."

"Burke!" the admiral's voice boomed.

"Yes, Nelson?"

"Let me send Jamison down there! You can't let Morton die!"

"Why not? One less trouble maker!!"

"What would Gamma say?"

She thought for a moment. "No doctor. Marino is here. He can do whatever Jamison says needs to be done to keep him alive for now. Have your radioman connect me to Sickbay after I'm finished with you. You will execute your repairs. You will stay right here and wait for Dr. Gamma to arrive. Captain Crane and Commander Weaver will remain right here with us. Don't try anything Nelson. I won’t hesitate to kill any one or all three of them. Gamma will be here within the next six hours. Our assignment was to ready the way for him. I believe that we've done just that! Now…connect me to Sick Bay!"

"Wait...Let me talk to Crane!" Nelson demanded.

"Why?"

"He's still the Captain... the second officer can't run the boat alone!"

"Very well... Just one minute, or I don't help Morton!!"

She handed the intercom back to Crane.  "Sir?"

"Lee, O'Brien needs to know the procedure with the new board in Circuitry. It's the one tied into the Navigation Panel here in the Control Room. The boards' blown. Where are the plans?"

"Plot Table sir, second drawer down." They heard some rustling of papers...

"Got them, Lee. Sit tight. We'll get Chip the help he needs....Sparks switch this line to Sick Bay!"

"Jamison here, what is it, Skipper?"

"It's Chip, Doc......" Crane quickly outlined the situation for Jamison.

"Can I speak to Marino, Skipper?"

Lee looked at Burke who waved the Corpsman to the intercom.  "Marino .." the doctor gave him several orders, and he turned to Burke, "They're going to leave the medical supplies outside the door in ten minutes. I'll need someone to help me. I've got to do a thorough check on him!"

Matty Weaver spoke up....."I'll help. "

Lee stood at the foot of the bunk, as Marino did his own assessment of Chip's condition with Weaver helping him.

"Jamison said he's sending IV's, antibiotics. bandages, and pain meds... He also wants to know, again, if you'll let him come in and check it out for himself.... Maybe remove the bullets."

"No! If you can't help him, then he gets no help!"  There was knock on the door.  "Answer it, Crane."

"Who is it?"

"Sharkey, Skipper. Doc sent me with the supplies for the Exec, sir. They're right outside here!"

"Since when is the Chief of the Boat a delivery boy, Crane?"

"When he's Francis Sharkey, and he's appointed himself watchdog of the Senior Staff! It's just his way of checking on Morton and me, Burke...There's nothing else to it!"

"Marino, open the door, Crane you get the stuff.  No tricks, or Morton gets the first bullet.  Keep him covered, Marino."

The door was opened and lying in front of it was a box of Medical supplies. As Crane reached down to get the box he saw Sharkey at the end of the corridor. The Chief gave him a 'thumbs up' sign which he acknowledged with a slight nod of the head. At that moment, Marino jabbed him in the back with the gun barrel. "Hurry up!" Lee stood and turned back into the cabin., carrying the supplies. he placed them on the desk, and after Marino relocked the door, stood staring at him, arms folded across his chest.

"Well? Are you going to help or not?"

He looked at Burke. "Go ahead.  Weaver, Crane, you help him, but no funny stuff, or I shoot to kill."

Lee lifted the box and set it at the foot of the bunk. Then he moved to the head of the bunk, and leaned close to Morton's head..."Chip...Chip, can you hear me..."

It seemed to take a very long time for the Exec to respond, but finally, slowly he turned his head toward Crane, and opened his eyes. Their usual bright blue color was dull, and they were pain filled..."You're...no angel!"

Crane laughed in spite of himself...."Not last time I checked," he said softly.

Matty Weaver's face came into Morton's field of vision...

"Now..." said the injured man, "That's...an angel"

She grabbed at his hand. "Stop this angel nonsense, now, Commander," she said gently. "I'm flesh and blood, just like you!"

"We've got some supplies from Doc, Chip. We're going to try and make you more comfortable. He told Marino what to do, and we're going to help."

"Marino..?"

"Marino, Walker and Burke are working for Dr. Gamma. "

Morton nodded in acknowledgement....Marino's face joined the other two.

"First off , Doc said to give him a shot of this..."  He held up a drug filled needle. "He said this is going to be bad in terms of the pain, so that you'd be better off being out of it." He leaned over to give the shot, when Chip's left hand came up and held his tightly.

"No! I don't want it!" His grip on the corpsman's arm began to loosen, against his will. "Lee..!"

"Yes."

"No shots! ...Please...!"

"All right, all right, Chip..at least for now..." Matty looked at Crane..."Look, we're going to have to move you around a bit. If it gets too bad, let me know, and Marino will give you the shot then."

Morton nodded. His strength was fading fast, and Crane honestly believed he would lose consciousness before the shot would be needed. He also knew his friend hated to relinquish control of himself to anything. Matty moved aside as Marino began to set up an IV.

She went to put Chip's hand down, but he continued to hold onto it. He moved his head, and looked at her. "Stay...?"

"Sure."

She shifted her position so the corpsman could take the other arm and insert the needle for the IV.

"What's in it?" Crane asked.

"Simple saline in one bag and three different antibiotics in the other, for the belly wound." He hung the bags from the curtain rods at the top of the bunk. Then he bent over and took the bandage from the shoulder wound. It was no longer bleeding, but the skin around the entry was puckered and purplish. He probed the wound lightly. Morton grunted with the pain and squeezed Matty's hand tighter.

Marino looked toward Crane. "It's not a deep wound. I can feel the bullet. I'll put a topical ointment on it and rebandage it. "

He worked quickly and then moved to the wound in his side. He looked over at Crane whose face was all concern for his best friend. Frankly, Marino was afraid of what the Captain would do if he hurt Morton any more, but he steeled himself, and set to work. He unwrapped the wound, and let out a low sigh. It was bad. Not just a simple puncture , but a jagged tearing entrance wound, again with no exit wound. The area around the wound was hard to the touch, and the skin was discolored. It was still bleeding, although it was not a pumping flow, but rather more like a slow steady trickle. He didn't have to probe it to know that the bullet was somewhere inside. It was a wound that could very easily be fatal, if it wasn't handled well, soon.

He turned to Burke. "Listen, Burke, Commander Morton will die if he doesn't get more than some simple first aid. This wound is a real bad one. I don't know how pleased Gamma will be if that happens!"

"Just shut up, and do your work.!!!"

Marino bent over the Exec..."Morton, I'm going to have to move you in order to redo the bandage. There's no way that this is gonna be easy. Let me give you the painkiller."

"No!" he said again through gritted teeth.

"Very well." the exasperated corpsman replied. He moved him slightly and Chip's grasp on Matty's hand tightened and then went slack. She looked at him.

"He passed out, is all. Probably the best thing for him."

She moved over next to Crane, and they watched as Marino cleaned the wound and dressed it, putting a new bandage on it and wrapping the gauze around his waist several times to keep the bandage in place. He looked at Crane and Weaver. "That's all I can do. He really needs Jamison. That bullet has to come out and he needs to see what kind of internal damage's been done! If we wait until Gamma gets here, it may be too late!"

"Finished, Marino?"

"Yes, Burke, I just have to watch him for signs of fever or shock. And I have to monitor the IV."

"Let them do it! The two of you, sit down." She gestured toward the bunk with her gun. "There, next to the bunk. Those two chairs"

Crane pulled the chairs over to the bunk. Matty pulled hers up close to the head of the bed, Crane positioned his near the foot.

"The two of you still not getting along? What's the matter, Captain, Weaver here not the kind of officer you'd expect on a mission like this?"

Lee realized that Burke had no idea that he and Matty had talked things out and had spent time planning how to outflank Gamma, once he came aboard. He looked over at Matty who was giving him an appropriate scowl. 'Good girl! She picked up on that right away!'  "Let's just say that we can't agree on procedures."

"I can't take to a commander that's soft when it comes to his men and his mission. If you know anything about me after these three years , Jess, you know that I'm hard-nosed!"

"You're a real bitch, Weaver!! Crane, don't ever tangle with her on procedure. You'll lose!"

She reached into a backpack, that she had on the desk, and tossed a package to Walker. "Tie the two of them up."

He undid the package and took out several pairs of handcuffs.

"Cuff them to the chairs. They won't be able to go anywhere." Very quickly, Walker attached the 'cuffs to the arms of the chairs and to the wrists of the two prisoners.  "There, now that's better. You can put the weapons down. Marino, We have a clearly controlled situation here. Marino, what about Morton?"

"He's not going anywhere. Seems like a fever 's beginning , but you've gotta expect that with a belly wound. Antibiotics aren't enough, you've got to get the bullet out, and close up the internal damage. I still think that you should let Jamison in here to look at him and maybe get the bullets out!"

"Marino, you and Walker aren't paid to think. That's my job...You're only paid to take orders!"

"You know, Jess, if they're going to give a 'bitch' award, I don't stand a chance…you'd get it hands down!!!"

Burke walked slowly over to Weaver's chair, clenching and unclenching her fists… "You know Commander, I've waited a long time for this..." she was rubbing her fists together.

"You don't scare me, Jess. Go ahead, take your best shot! After all, I can't fight back!"

Burke pulled back her arm and punched Matty in the jaw. Her head snapped back, and then fell foreword, a thin trickle of blood ran down her chin.  Burke turned around and looked at Crane, a malignant smile on her face. "That felt real good!"  She marched back to Crane's desk. Matty looked up and slowly focused. Crane could see the glint of steel in her eyes. It was matched by the anger in his.

"Matty, are you okay?"

Softly" Yes, Lee. It looks worse than it is. " even more softly, "What are we going to do?"

"Whatever it is we do it carefully.... Right now, wait and see what the Admiral comes up with, and see what we can do here. Gamma is the unknown element in this picture right now. And then, what ever we do we have to think of Chip!"

From the bunk, next to Matty, Morton spoke softly..." Skipper... don't. Do... what ever...to save the boat...the crew......You..you say it best...'the needs of the many... "

Matty leaned toward him, "Listen, sailor... stow the bilge... and let the Skipper make the decisions. Just rest, Chip. Just rest."

He tried to move and gasped with the pain the movement brought. "Lee...remember..." There was another gasp, and then silence.

"Chip! Chip, don't do this! Marino, get over here-quick!"

The man hesitated for an instant, then moved to the bedside. Crane was struggling with all of the emotions of the last three months, as well as his frustration with their imprisonment . He had to do something! Chip, don't you go and leave me too! I couldn't take it! It's been hard enough losing Cathy, but not you too! Don't Chip! Please God, Don't!!!!

Matty Weaver was watching Crane carefully. She knew he was angry, and also apprehensive about is friend. As she watched him, she saw a wide range of feelings cross his face, and in those few moments, understood Lee Crane far better than she ever thought she would. He was struggling to get loose from the restraints, and then he calmed himself and stopped. "Marino...?" His voice was harsh, and raw with emotion.

"He just passed out again, Crane. Looks like he tried to move and just passed out. He's not dead...yet! Looks to me though, like his time is running out. That bullet has to come out soon! And like I said, we don't know what kinda shape he's in inside..."

 

 

In another part of the boat, Harriman Nelson sat working the same formulas over and over. He slammed a clenched fist onto the table. "It will work, Francis! We have to get the enabler code into the satellite that Gamma plans to launch This code will fry the link, and disable the entire system, instead of activating it!"

"But how do we do that . sir. You know damn well that Gamma’s only gonna have his people handle that missile."

"Then we have to have one of our people replace theirs, now won't we? "

"Yes, sir, but who?"

"Commander Weaver. We'll have to disable their people and get Gamma to release Weaver to work it for him. Fortunately, Burke is unaware of what we are doing here and that should work to our advantage. As long as Lee doesn't try anything foolhardy..."

 

 

At that moment, something foolhardy was the farthest thing from Lee Crane's mind.

For the first time that he could remember, he was frozen into inaction. He just couldn't take any more loss... losing Cathy was the worst kind of loss he could ever have imagined ... in his heart, he didn't think he'd ever get over it ... he knew he would break if he had to deal with the loss of his best friend, too...he couldn't...he wouldn't... let Chip go without a fight! There had to be a way to get Jamie here, to Chip...the mission be damned!...Gamma be damned...he had to come up with a plan...some kind of plan!!

The intercom suddenly came alive, and drew his attention..."Burke, are you there?"

"Yes, Nelson, what is it?"

"We've just received word that Gamma will be boarding in ten minutes. We were instructed to inform you."

Lee looked over at Matty and saw her listening as carefully as he was. There was an ugly bruise on her chin, and the trickle of blood had dried to a harsh brown. But her face was impassive and her eyes, well, their turquoise color had turned to a steely gray, and he knew he didn't want to be on the receiving end of that kind of anger...All flint and steel..

"Gamma sent a coded message. We will deliver it to you...and I ask again...Let Jamison in for Morton."

"Nelson, you can ask ‘til hell freezes over...Unless I get orders from Gamma, the answer’s still no!"

Just then a sheet of white paper slid under the door. Walker picked it up and handed it to Burke. She looked at it, wrote furiously and then sat back to savor the contents.  "Here you go, Weaver... Gamma has all the details of ONI's plan to stop him... Won't happen now that you're effectively removed from the picture... I have Crane and Morton here ... that's making Nelson cooperate... the launch’s scheduled for 1200 hours, whether or not the Security Council surrenders - -"

"And why do I think that that's what the Doctor's plan was all along... create chaos, and disaster, and then rise from the ashes with a new order...God, I hate maniacs like him!!!"

"He says to offer anyone who wants a place with him to join him now, but I suppose the two of you are too noble..."

Her remarks were met with stony silence form her prisoners. The Cabin became heavy with silence. Then the 'Comm blared. A deep voice resonated in the speaker.  "Burke!"

"Yes, Dr. Gamma?"

"Congratulations on a job well done! You have three hostages?"

"Yes, sir. Crane, Morton and the ONI agent, Weaver."

"Good. Very, very good. And the status of the prisoners?”

“Morton was shot during the capture. Marino says the wounds are bad. There's a reasonable possibility if surgery isn't performed soon, that he'll die."

"I see. Nelson informed me of that circumstance as well. A dead hostage is no hostage at all! Are Weaver and Crane any problem?"

"No, sir. They've been restrained. Nothing I can't handle."

"I will send the doctor to the cabin. He can remove Morton, if he deems the surgery necessary. You will keep Crane and Weaver there with you until I have further need. Send Marino with Morton so he can keep everything in order in the Sick Bay. You have the rest of the materials."

"Yes, sir. You'll appraise me of what to do?"

"Most certainly, Burke, most certainly."

She looked over to Lee, "Looks like Morton is going to get the help he needs, Crane."

"No thanks to you..." he twisted his arms again to try to loosen or free them.

"Give it up, Crane. You won't get out of those unless I let you!"

There was loud rapping at the door. "Burke...Burke...Let me in ... It's Jamison!"

Walker went to the door and unlocked it. The companionway was filled with men. Jamison pushed his way into the room, and made directly for the bunk. Burke stepped in front of him, gun drawn and aimed. "Not so fast, Doc. Walker, check him for any weapons of devices!"

Very slowly, almost leisurely, Walker checked Jamison.

"Well?"

"Nothing that I can tell.”

She gesture her head toward the bunk, "Go ahead."

He took the last few steps to the bedside, and quickly bent over Chip Morton. As he moved and checked the injured man, he groaned and came to a painful consciousness. He had difficulty focusing... "Doc...?" he asked hoarsely.

"Yes, Chip, it's me. Gamma's given us permission to move you to the Sick Bay and do some surgery."

"Good.....It's...pretty..... bad,...?"

Almost sadly, "Yes, Chip....pretty bad..."

"Lee..."

"Yes, Chip....remember... your call...'the good of...the .....many..."

"I know,' outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.' Hang on, Chip...hang on!!!"

Morton's grasp on consciousness was fading. "I'll...try...Skipper..I'll…"

"He's unconscious again, Lee. You know that we'll do our best, but..."

"I know, Jamie." was Crane's weary reply.

Jamison had a real concern for Crane. The Captain had been through so much in the last three months, he felt that he was very close to the edge, it seemed as if the fight had gone out of him. If Morton died... Well he'd certainly do his best to prevent that... He called in the stretcher team and the carefully moved the Exec from the bunk to the stretcher. As the left the cabin, Jamie laid a hand on Lee's shoulder..."I'll let you know..."

Crane nodded his thanks. and the cabin was quickly emptied of all but four. Silence descended again…

In the Missile Room, there was a great deal of activity. Gamma had come aboard with a crew to mount his missile-head on a Seaview missile. Once mounted they had to program the missile with the accurate information to activate the satellites. Nelson had to disable Gamma's expert so that Matty Weaver could be called in to change the code to the disabling one. Fate was with the Seaview crew, for there was a sudden listing of the boat, first to port, and then starboard. Anything not fastened went flying, including several bodies.

Two of Gamma's people fell and one struck a head, the other fell into the torpedo racks. Both men were knocked out. Corpsmen were called and the two were transported to Sick Bay, opening the door for Nelson's plan to begin.

 

 

Gamma was in a rage, storming about the Nose. Nelson was standing , calmly, as the madman raged. When he stopped, Nelson asked him, "Now what do you plan to do?"

"Do? Why I plan to launch my missile. Surely you have someone aboard who can set the missile. "

"No one that will volunteer!"

"Then there must be one who you can order!"

"No one. The only missile officer on board with that kind of expertise is Weaver."

"The ONI officer!"

"That's right...and I doubt that she'll cooperate!"

"Perhaps, perhaps not!"

"There may be a way...."

 

 

"Burke!" Gamma's voice blasted into the room.

"Yes, Dr. Gamma?"

"I want to talk to Weaver!"

"Get her over here, now!"

Walker took several strides to the chair, released the restraints, and dragged her over to the desk. He kept her right arm twisted tightly up behind her back, and his other arm tightly around her waist. Burke held the intercom out to her. "Talk to him!"  When Matty refused, Walker twisted her arm tighter. "I'll break it..." He hissed into her ear and tightened it more.

"Matty, do as they say!" Crane admonished. "It won't hurt to talk!"

She let herself relax in Walker's grip, and nodded her head. Walker held her a little less tightly.  "Gamma..?"

"Commander Weaver.? It seems I am in need of you special services."

"You can go to the blazes, Gamma! I'll never help you!"

He laughed, "Oh, I think you will. You see if I don't launch my satellite on time, certain other plans of mine will go into effect. And there is a certain house in northern California that will suffer a very bad fire, fatal to the occupants, unless I send a certain code..."

Matty stiffened. Her whole demeanor changed. "All right, I'll help....but I have to have your assurances.."

Very condescendingly... "Of course, my dear... Have Walker escort her to the Missile Room, Burke... You stay with Crane."

Walker picked up a gun, and held it to her ribs, keeping her arm twisted behind her back.

"You don't have to worry, I won't try anything. " as they left the room, Matty shot back at her..."Thanks, Jess. I won't forget this one!" and he pushed her out the door.

"Well, Crane, just me and you, now!"

"I'm supposed to be impressed, Burke? I'm not. Traitors don't impress me! "

"Maybe this one will. After all, I captured you and the other two with no trouble!"

"That's not impressive at all...Just dumb luck. "

"Well, I think that your luck, and the luck of this boat is about to run out!"

"I'm not too sure of that!! You don't know the Admiral and this crew too well!!"

"Oh, but I do know what Gamma can do! I have no doubt that we'll come out on top!!"

"I'd prefer to wait and see..."

"Well maybe, Captain, you won't have to wait too long!"

Walker pushed Matty through the hatch to the Missile Room and towards a small group clustered about a missile. A tall bald man looked up at their arrival.  "Ah, Commander Weaver! Welcome to our little party for the beginning of the end..."

"I'd really rather not be here,"

"Most of these men would rather not either. But you are, and here is my difficulty. Like most men with glorious plans, I can design them, but I need others to make them work. My Missile co-coordinator had been injured along with his assistant.... I need you to make this work. I also know that to protect those dear to you, you will do this. Nelson here has the encryption code from my man. He's the only one that could decipher it... it must be installed in the missile to activate the system. Once the missile is in orbit, it will the activate the whole web, and chaos will begin. I've installed a system here on this boat that will shield it, so that she can continue to function in spite of the field. We will be perfectly safe and able to function. Here over this side...the computer for the code."

Matty moved to Nelson's side. He paused and looked at her face. "It's okay, Admiral...really. Jess felt she had to get her shot in. She did. I won't forget!"

"Lee?"

"He was okay when I left, sir"

He nodded curtly at the information. "This is the site for the code encryption..."

He put his hand over hers, and she felt a piece of paper slide through her fingers.

She palmed it as Gamma went on.

"And once this little bit of business is done, I would like a complete tour of my new command ship. I hope that you will oblige me, Nelson. Weaver, how long will it take? "

"Five, maybe ten minutes...I'm not totally familiar with your design...."

Gamma handed her a paper..."Here is the code...Remember, my dear, it is a pretty little house, according to Burke!"

"This is to protect them from he likes of you, Gamma. That's the only reason to co-operate. To protect them. !"

Nelson watched her as she carefully programmed the palmed code into the missile, making it look as if she was using Gamma's paper.  She's good, thought Nelson, Cool and calm. No wonder ONI sent her!

She looked up at Gamma several minutes later . "It's finished."

"Very good, Commander. Now if you and Nelson don't mind standing aside while we mount this and launch it."

Walker grabbed her arm, and shoved toward the hatch door next to Nelson. Kowalski exploded with, "Hey! " and Walker brandished his gun at the rating. 

"It's alright, sailor... Don't worry about it."

"But Ma'am..."

"I said, it’s okay!"

"Yes, Ma'am"

The crew, led by Sharkey took the missile and loaded it into a silo.

"Prepare a launch sequence."

"Admiral, has your President lifted Failsafe?"

"I believe he did.." Nelson went over to the Launch Panel, and the War Light was blinking ominously. He stopped. "I need Crane and Morton's keys to activate the firing mechanism."

Gamma picked up the mike... "Marino....Burke...your prisoners have the Failsafe keys, get them to me at once!!!"

In Sick Bay, Jamison indicated with a nod of his head where the Morton's key lay on the table, and Marino took it and headed for the Missile Room.

In Crane's cabin, Burke got up and came over to the Captain. She yanked his tie open, pulled at the neck of the shirt and reached for the chain he wore the key on. She gave it a malicious yank, and when it didn't break, pulled again. He didn't flinch, though he felt like she wanted to choke him. It broke with the second try….”Too bad Captain, I might have enjoyed slowly cutting off your air supply, just for a little while!"

He cleared his throat, his neck throbbed, "Sorry to disappoint you, Burke, maybe you'll have another opportunity."

"Certainly hope so, Crane, I certainly hope so!"

She reached for the intercom." I have it, Gamma! Send one of your lackeys!"

Walker returned to the Missile Room with the third key, handed it to Gamma who handed it to Nelson. He inserted the key into the slot and the launch door opened.

"Splendid, Nelson, Splendid. now, fire it..." He looked at Walker and then at Gamma, hesitating. Gamma hissed, "I said, fire it!!"

Nelson pushed the appropriate button, the sub shuddered and the missile lifted off.

Gamma beamed at him... "Well done, Admiral! Now, the tour of the boat..."

"Wait!" Matty called out to him, " the call…"

"The launch, my dear was the signal. All will go according to my plan!"

She stood aside, nervously twisting her hands together.  At that moment, Jamison's voice came over the loudspeaker, "Admiral Nelson?"

Gamma nodded his permission.

"Yes, Doc?"

"I would like to inform you that the surgery is over. Chip came through it fine. Now we have to watch and wait. The next 24 hours can be critical. But I think that the outlook is good.

A genuine smile of relief spread over Nelson's face..."Thanks, Will... that's good news! Really good news."  He turned and saw the pleasure that the news brought to his men in the Missile Room. Matty Weaver smiled at him.

Sparks called on the 'comm, "Admiral, that message you were waiting for…it's on the screen, sir."

"Turn on the screen, Sharkey."

The CPO turned the dial, and the screen jumped to life.  "Word has just been received from government sources that Dr. Gamma's 'Ultimate Weapon' has been destroyed.."

Gamma's voice became shrill and he began raving "Destroyed!?? What do they mean, destroyed?...I saw you put in the code... I …."

"You saw me enter a code, but it wasn't yours…Admiral Nelson slipped me a counter code. The satellite system is fried!"

"Then your family is..."

"I don't have a family! ONI has known for over a year that Jess Burke was working for you. The idea of a family that you could harm was planted to make me seem more vulnerable at critical moment. It worked…. I'm sorry that Chip Morton was hurt, Admiral. It couldn't be helped. And now we've got to get to your Captain. Jess doesn't know what's going on down here.."

"Admiral, this is Patterson..."

"Go ahead."

"All stations secured, sir, save Officer's Country."

"I'll be right down there."

He turned to Gamma. "Suffice it to say that your stay with the World Governments won't be as pleasant as your last stay!! Sharkey, take him and his men to the brig. I'm going for the Captain."

 

 

In Crane's cabin, Jess Burke felt the launch of the Missile and looked again at Lee.  "Well, now, Captain, my job's done. Just on little bit of business to take care of, and I'll go meet Gamma and I'll be out of here, and on my way to spend my money!!"

"And not care about the bodies that you leave behind? I guess that you are one of those people that don't have a conscience."

"Oh, I have one, Crane....It's just not as noble as yours. Mine lets me do what's best for me and only me! Yours, on the other hand if your actions are any indication, put yourself last, and others first. Not good if you want to get ahead, Crane!"  Lee didn't respond...she took a case out of the backpack... a needle and a vial...  "Know what this is? A parting gift, from me to you. You'll never see another watch on this boat, Crane. Roughly, 30 minutes, and then you've had it. It's a mix from Gamma's lab. Does a few things, slowly... so that you know that you're dying and can't do a thing about it. Just mixed to be slowly and totally toxic to the human body."

She slung the backpack over her shoulder and walked over to the chair. She ripped his sleeve, jabbed the needle into his arm, turned and walked to the door. She turned off the light switch and fussed with it to disable it. "Goodbye, Captain Crane" and she closed the door.

Nelson didn't wait for the master at arms to take Gamma away. Instead, he hurried toward Officer's Country, intent of freeing Lee and getting Burke put away, with the rest of the conspirators. He was surprised when he rounded the corner of the corridor and there was no sound, no movement coming from Crane's Cabin.

He called out, "Burke...It's all over. You've lost...Let Crane go, give yourself up!" He pounded on the door.... "It's over, Burke!!!" There was still no response, so he pushed at the door, and finding it unlocked, swung it open.

The cabin was dark. When he tried the light switch, it wouldn't light. He eased his way to the desk, and felt for the lamp. He put a hand on it and found the switch, and put the light on. He quickly surveyed the cabin, found what he sought , and moved toward his goal.

Crane was slumped in the chair, his head resting on his chest. He was barely conscious. Nelson knelt to release the restraints, and Lee fell into Nelson's arms. He laid him gently on the deck, and just as gently slapped his face..."Lee..Lee...what is it lad?"

Crane tried to focus on the voice, tried to find a voice to speak...."Drug...some kind of drug...parting ...gift..." he took a deep breath and with difficulty asked..."Chip...?"

"It's over, Lee...He's..."

Crane heard nothing else...as his consciousness faded..."No...not Chip too!!" and he slipped into the netherworld feeling beyond all care. Nelson grabbed at the intercom,

"Doc! Lee's cabin! Drugs!" and kneeling next to Crane...In a soft voice.."Hang on, son...Chip's fine.. you just hang on..!!"

Lee Crane was beyond caring. He didn't hear the voice talking to him. He was searching for something that he couldn't identify....Colors... crystal blue and deep green...blending into turquoise gemstones, bright and glittering...where were they?..why couldn't he find them? and small golden brown eyes looking back at him... and they were pulling at him, pulling him back to some where that he didn't want to go.…

"If this next one doesn't work, Admiral...I'm afraid we'll lose him. If he doesn't fight this..."

Crane was lying on the floor of the cabin, an oxygen mask on his face. Jamison was kneeling at his side, a needle in his arm, slowly injecting a counter drug. Nelson knelt at the other side, talking a steady stream…. "It's over, Lee...Gamma's in the brig... Weaver put the destruct code into the Missile...the system is permanently disabled...Chip is okay, Lee...the surgery went well...C'mon, lad...think of your son...Robert needs you!...we all need you!"

Jamison listened for a heartbeat. There was none.  "Admiral, start compressions! " Jamison exclaimed, then to the corpsman, "Quickly, the paddles!"

They readied the paddles, Doc grabbed them, Nelson moved away, and Jamison shouted "Now!"

Crane' s body arched with the shock, and fell back...Jamison listened again. Still nothing, he muttered to himself.…

"Damnit, Lee...You've beaten worse...Come on!!...Again!" and the paddles made him arch again. Jamison listened. The heartbeat was there, slow, but there! Jamison moved into further action, "Bring that stretcher in here now!" he yelled to the corpsman, " Let's get him to Sick Bay! Fast!"

Reluctantly Nelson moved aside, and as he and Jamison got to their feet, Jamison answered Nelson's unasked question.  "I don't know, Admiral. I've got to do a blood screen to identify what she used. It may just be that I put off the inevitable temporarily. This time, I don't have an answer for you."

 

 

The cockpit of the FS1 was dark as the black clad figure came down the access ladder. A careful look around seemed to indicate no one aboard. A few steps to the pilot's seat, a few flicks of buttons and the sub came alive. Jess Burke smiled to herself. "Looks like I made it!" she said aloud.

"I don't think so, Jess" said Matty Weaver, holding a service revolver, coming out of the storage bin beneath the bunk.

Burke whirled around in the seat. "Weaver!"

"Always check the storage area, when you plan a get away! One of the first things they teach at ONI!"

Stumbling over her words in surprise..."What are you doing here? Where's Gamma? What's going on?"

"Simple, really..The good guys won...the bad guys lost, and that includes you! It's all over but the clean up!"

"But the missile..."

"While you were holding us in Crane's cabin, Nelson worked out an alternative code to fry the satellite links. Gamma' s men got hurt, He called for me and Nelson palmed me the alternative. I simply programmed it right under his nose! .. and thanks for sharing that bit about a family with Gamma...it was a good plant, don't you think? Once ONI confirmed that you'd gone over, they wanted you to have something to use on me in crisis. I think it worked real well..."

"But I saw you.."

"C'mon, Jess, actors get paid to play a part. We did that ourselves on a couple of missions. Don't you recall?"

"Yes, but ..."

"Let's go, Jess. The Master at Arms is waiting for you above."  A little sadly, "I thought I knew you well, Jess. I can understand the money thing, but to betray, not just the country, but the world… That I don't understand! "

"Well maybe, I just don't have the same values as yours, Matty. Maybe I learned long ago just to worry about me! Forget the 'good of the many...'  All I'm concerned about is the 'good of the one!' This one!!"

She spun out of the pilot's chair, and threw the backpack at the gun. It hit Weaver's hand and she fired wildly. The gun flew across the little cabin. Both women scrambled for it. Weaver reached it first, only to be kicked in the ribs by Burke, who reached for it. Recovering, Matty charged into Burke and slammed her into a bulkhead. She crumpled to the floor, the wind knocked out of her. Weaver reached for the gun, and Burke rolled forward, and grabbed for it at the same time. Weaver moved just a little bit more quickly, and snatched the gun. She came up on one knee, and aimed the gun at Burke.

"Don't make me fire this, Jess. You know that I wouldn't hesitate to use it. There you know me very well!!"

"Very well...But then again I have nothing to loose, I'm finished. It's all over for me. So go ahead, shoot..'.cause if you don't, I'll kill you!"

"Foolish call, Jess. You've got a lot to lose!"

"My perspective, Matty....is very different from yours!!" She reached around for the fire extinguisher on the wall and flung it at Weaver, as she let it fly, Weaver pulled the trigger. Burke collapsed. The tank hit Matty with a full force and knocked her over, stunned. She lay still for several seconds, and then rolled onto her side. She crawled over to Burke. Her breathing was light and shallow. Matty held her and tried to make her more comfortable.

"You always were the better shot." she said, " I'm ...not ... sorry. People get hurt all the time in life. Some die. Some choose to die. I made a choice when I joined Gamma.....I...just....You're a ...good operative....Matty...too bad....things weren't different!!!" She let go a sigh, and went limp. Matty just held her body and couldn't stop the tears that came unbidden to her eyes. Several men came down the ladder, led by Sharkey....

"Commander, you okay?"

She wiped at her eyes with her sleeve, and cleared her throat. Gently she laid the body of her former partner on the floor. "I'm okay, Chief...Just a couple of bruises.." she said softly. Recovering her composure, she continued..."What's happening on the boat, where's the Captain?"

"The Sick Bay ma'am. Seems that Burke here gave him a parting shot of some kind of drug. It's killing him! Doc's trying hard to save his life!"

"Chief, give me that backpack!"

Sharkey bent over, and picked it up and offered it to Matty. She was halfway up the ladder, when she grabbed it and shouted to him.

"It may be in here!"

The Control Room crew was startled to see Weaver run through the Control Room and knock over at least half a dozen crew men on her way through. She ran down the corridors, until she arrived, panting at the Sick Bay. Nelson was standing next to the doorway as Jamison continued to work on the Captain.

Matty shoved the bag at him as she gasped, "Jess...drug...in....here...!!"

Nelson snatched it and dumped the contents on the floor, shouting at the same time, "Jamie, this is Burke's pack ! The drug may be in here!" He shoved the contents around and let out a shout when he found the needle and vial. "Here!" he jumped up and ran to the small lab setup that Jamie kept in his office.

There was very little left in the needle or vial and his heart sank when he saw the size of the dose given Crane. He picked through some chemicals and started analyzing the contents.

Weaver caught up with herself and breathing more easily, asked "Is there anything I can do?"

Both men answered "No" in unison. So she stood back quietly against the wall....Nelson was working furiously on the drugs, as Jamison was trying to hold on to the Captain's life.  Time seemed to come to a halt, with the two men working to save that one life. After what seemed like a forever, but what was in reality minutes Nelson shouted "Got them Jamie...!Four of them!" He went quickly to the side of the gurney.…

"I can counter three right now, Admiral, but this fourth one...I don't have anything to counter it with!"

"You know what it is, what it does, don't you have something ?"

He had already signaled the Corpsman to bring him three vials from the med. closet, he drew three needles and gave Crane three injections one after the other, and the watched the monitors to see if they would help. He looked at with some hope...the monitor readings seemed to come within a more normal range...he looked again at the name of the fourth drug..."I'll have to see if I can make up something to counter this...I don't know if I have the right materials..." he looked at Crane..."Or if I have the time..."

"We've gained some time, Doc...I just hope it's enough."

He looked over at Matty, now leaning heavily against the bulkhead, and went towards her. "Thank you, you've bought us some time...How'd you get the sack...?"

"Jess. She was going to try to get away in the Flying Sub. I was waiting for her. We fought. She's dead," she said flatly.

"I'm sorry."

"I am and I'm not. She was on the wrong side. I've known about it for a while. She was sent here so that we could catch her. I did. And one person died, one almost did, and one we don't know about! Quite a toll for one person!" She shook her head, "I am sorry about Morton and even more sorry about the Captain." She paused for moment. "He told me that his wife had recently passed away, and he has a son?"

Nelson nodded.

"I hope he makes it, Admiral. I think he's a good man. "

"He is." Nelson swallowed hard. "And, because of you, he has a chance."

She brushed a hand over her forehead.  "I think that I'll go to my cabin and get cleaned up. Do you think that Doc would mind if I come back and sat with Chip? I think I owe him that much."

He gently put a hand on her shoulder. "I think it would be fine with Doc. And I don't think Chip would mind either," he managed a small smile of approval.

"Thank you, sir. I'll return shortly."

She went out the door and Nelson returned to Jamison's lab space. The doctor was hunched over a book on drugs, and shaking his head. "I can't find anything, Admiral! There's nothing in the books to counteract the one drug!!"

"Then we'll have to do something ourselves, Jamie. We can't give up on him!!"

"Harry, we can only wait and see, and try and treat the symptoms. We have nothing to counteract the drug itself! We're at an impasse, here!"

Nelson visibly aged in front of Will Jamison at those words. He looked at Jamison wearily. "There's a little boy in Santa Barbara that needs his father, Will. His mother just died, and he can't be left alone! We have to keep him alive. We have to bring him back to us!"

"Between the two of us, Harry, we'll do it! As you said, we have to!" He placed a reassuring hand on the older man's shoulder."We'll monitor him, and deal with any crisis that may develop."

"I'll sit by him for now, Will. I want to let him know that someone's here. That he isn't alone."

"Yes, sir. " He signaled the corpsman to bring a stool next to the gurney where Crane lay. Nelson sat and looked at all the hardware involved in trying to save this one life. This life that was so precious to him. He leaned over and began to talk to Crane, recounting all of the many things that they had shared....

 

 

Matty Weaver came into the Sick Bay, several hours later. She saw Nelson sitting next to Crane, and went into Jamison's office. She sat in the chair next to the desk. "Has he been here the whole time?"

"Yes, Commander. It's not the first time Harry has kept one of these vigils.'"

"Crane seems to inspire that kind of loyalty in everyone around him. What is it about him?"

"Lee's always put everyone and everything before himself. Putting his life at risk, giving 150%. Even after his wife was killed, he went on assignment for ONI. Any other man would have given up, but Lee's passionate and committed to what is right. That includes Seaview, her crew, his friends and family. And Harry, well, he's known Lee the longest of us all. They have a special bond. More like a father and son," he chuckled, "A very wayward, and stubborn son. He loved Cathy Crane like a daughter. It's almost been as hard on him, as it's been on Lee. And Harry isn't one to share his burdens easily. I've got to do everything I can and more to try and save that life. If I lose Lee, I could lose Harry, too!"

"Thanks for sharing, Doc. You explained a lot of what I saw of Crane in the cabin, when he was caring for Chip."

"Other than Harry, Chip's closer to Lee than anyone else."

"Classmates at the Academy?"

Jamison nodded.

"That explains a lot. The Academy either makes or breaks friendships." She rose. "Do you mind if I sit with Chip?"

"No, not at all. He should be coming around soon."

She looked over at Nelson, heard the soft murmuring of his voice, as she went into the Recovery area. Morton was on gurney. There were several monitors hooked up and several IV bags running into his arm. There was a large bandage on his shoulder, and a larger one on his side. She sat at he right side of the gurney, and reached over to hold his hand. He did look so pale, even to her uneducated eye. but he looked better that when she had last seen him. As she took his hand in hers, he squeezed it and turned his head slightly in her direction. As he slowly opened his eyes, she smiled.

"Hi, sailor." she said softly

"Hi, yourself,...angel."

"How are you feeling?"

"Like a couple of the O.O.M.'s critters had a fight in my gut, and I lost!"

She felt Jamison put a light hand on her shoulder..."Looks like my star patient’s awake!"

"Only kind of star this patient feels like is a falling one. What's the status of the boat?"

"All secure sir. Prisoners in the brig, and the situation under control!"

He shifted slightly and a groan escaped..."That... wasn't a wise move, was it, Doc?"

"Not too smart, Chip, but you'll learn. You're going to have to take it slow for quite a while."

"We'll see, Doc....Why's the Admiral here? What's happened to Lee?"

Jamison took a deep breath and explained, "Burke drugged him. It's touch and go."

Morton was very quiet, and for a moment, Matty and Jamie thought he'd drifted off.  "How bad?" his voice barely audible.

"Chip, we just don't know. The shot she gave him was a four-drug combination, and one of which could be lethal. Thanks to Matty here, we found out what they were. We were able to counter three of them, but the fourth one, well, it's experimental. We're trying all we can, but I just don't know. I'm sorry, Chip. There's no other way to tell you."

He nodded. Jamison fussed with the IV and the dressings. "I think that you'd better try to get some sleep, Chip. That's the only thing that's going to get you out of here."

"Sure, Doc. Sleep...If Lee....." and he drifted off.

"Rest easy, Chip. Doc will let you know.." Matty squeezed his hand, and then put it down. She looked at Jamison.

"He'll sleep for 8 hours or so. I've seen to that. We may know more about Lee by then."

She got off the stool and started walking with Jamison. She looked at the doctor and inclined her head toward the Admiral.  "Do you think he'd mind if I offered to sit with the Captain for a while? He looks exhausted."

"I don't think he'd mind, but don't get upset if he says 'no'"

"I won't." She walked over to where Nelson sat at Crane's bedside, and placed a hand on the Admiral's arm. "I'll sit with the Captain for a while, sir, if you'll let me. You look like you could use a break."

The Admiral looked up at her, for a moment not recognizing her. He looked haggard, and very tired. "Oh, Weaver!…I don't know, I'd rather...."

"I know, sir. But why don't you take a few minutes. I'll stay right here."

He released his grip on Crane's hand. "I'll be right back, lad. Someone will be here with you. You won't be alone, Lee." He slid off the stool. His eyes said 'thank you' without him saying it, and he walked over to Jamison's office, walked in and closed the door.

Matty slid onto the stool, and picked up Crane's hand. His face had a waxy pallor; he hardly seemed to be breathing.

She leaned over and began to talk to him. "Captain...Lee, it's Matty Weaver. The Admiral will be right back. He needed a break...he looked very tired, Lee...." She felt increased pressure in his grip, and watched his face intently. He seemed to be coming awake....

He opened his eyes and looked at her, but didn't see her. "Cathy...?" he squeezed her hand tighter. " I...I don't...Understand...You're ...you're dead. How...?"  He shook his head as if to clear it…."But you are here...Robert?!"

Jamison and Nelson had come out of the office at the sound of voices. They were watching her; she looked up at them and then at the back at the man on the bed. She smiled at him.… "He's fine, Lee. He's waiting for his daddy to come home. You know how he is when he sees you...he's still a baby, but he knows his daddy. He needs you to get home to him, Lee. You have to be there for him." She brushed her other hand across his forehead. "You have to get well enough to get home to him."

"But, you don't understand, Cats…I want to be with you...."

"But you can't be with me now, Lee. You have to be with Robert, not with me. He needs you."

Jamison gestured to her to continue.

"Everyone needs you, Lee. Doc said Chip will be okay, and the Admiral...and all the men on the boat. They all need you to be there for them."

"Cats, I need you…."

"I'm always with you, Lee. "

His voice choked with emotion..."I never got to say...goodbye"

"I know. Neither did I"

"If I say it, you'll leave me!"

"No, Lee, I'll always be with you, in Robert, and so many other ways! I'll say it first, Lee. Goodbye...I love you!"

"Good-bye, Cathy... I love you!"

She brushed her hand across his forehead again, and let his hand go. Nelson moved to the stool, as she left it. "Lee, " he called Crane's name "Lee! Come on, lad...talk to me."

This time, when Crane looked at Nelson, he saw the person at his bedside. "Admiral, I...Just had a dream..." his face was puzzled. "Cathy....Cathy was here...She... said ...Good-by! She said I had to get back to Robert..."

"You do, Lee. He needs you!"

"She said that Chip...is going to be alright..."

Jamison appeared behind Nelson. "The surgery went fine, Lee. If we get through the next day without complications, he'll be fine."

"Seaview?...the men? "

"It's all over, son. All over...all we need is for you and Chip to get well!"

"I'm tired, Admiral...tired."

"Then sleep, Lad...I'll be here when you wake up. You're not alone, Lee."

"I know, sir...I know…." He closed his eyes.

Jamison checked the monitors. "He is sleeping, Harry. Heartbeat and respiration's are stronger. Things are looking up!"He turned to Weaver. "I don't know how...."

"Don't say anything, Doc...I'll be in my ..cabin. I'm glad that I could help"

Matty went into her cabin and lay back on the bunk. She realized that she had some decisions to make. Difficult decisions. She's killed Jess! It shouldn't bother her this much. In her work, she'd killed before, and if she stayed with ONI, she'd probably kill again. But this time was different. Jess had been a friend. A close friend…at least until she had gone over to the other side! She would never understand that, and Jess couldn't tell her now. But she was a traitor! Traitors get their punishment. But why then did it hurt?

And then, the two officers on this boat! How could she be falling for both at the same time? A dangerous game she was playing. Each of them had qualities she could easily fall for. But no...she wasn't going to get that close to anyone ever again. She knew how Crane felt when he talked about loss. Once is more than enough! She felt like Chip was a kindred spirit in many ways. The both men were good officers...they cared...for their boat, their crew...they had a strong friendship....

"Stop this, Matty...you can't!! Too many risks!! You're not going to go through that again!!!"

 

 

The screen in the Sick Bay was positioned so that the patients could watch the news story.…

"Once again, Admiral Harriman Nelson and his submarine Seaview have come to the rescue of the nations of the world!!…." the reporter droned on, leaving the audience in the sick Bay to react to his report. Nelson had definitely turned several shades of red as the reporter went on about his credentials and heroics.

Then the spotlight turned on Crane, and he told Jamison to 'turn the damned thing off!" which, of course, Doc did not do. They then went into Weaver and Burke, and the parts they played in the whole affair, and closed with a report on Morton and Crane's injuries and how they were recovering.

At that point, Sharkey turned off the screen. There was a momentary silence in the cabin, the Crane asked Nelson, "What happened to Matty, Admiral? Sharkey said she's left the boat?"

"Yes, Lee. She got a message from ONI and requested transport to Santa Barbara. Of course, we obliged." Nelson couldn't help notice the disappointment in the faces of the captain and Exec. "She's a good operative. It seems to me we'll be seeing more of her. "

Both men exchanged glances, and sincerely hoped Nelson was right.

 

 

Matty Weaver drove along the Coastal Highway. She'd taken a month's leave. There were too many things that she had to resolve. Sausalito seemed like a good place to do some serious thinking. And she knew that Seaview and her two senior officers would play a big part in those thoughts..……..

 

 

 

 

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