by George Miller
The President of the United States stood by his window looking out over the west lawn. It was a fresh new morning and he could see people moving about, beginning their days. As beautiful as the day was, it was mostly going unnoticed by the President. He had hardly any sleep last night. Truth be known... he had not slept well for the last several months.
The past few months had become a nightmare for him as well as many other individuals that were aware of the events that had been occurring. He had attended meeting after meeting with his top military advisors. He had been kept informed of all that was happening on the open seas. He simply could not accept the explanation he was given about all the problems he was facing.
The disasters were no longer limited to the United States either. The past few weeks had brought him calls from every leader of the major world powers. The concerns they raised were all too real. They were beginning to demand action by the US government to deal with this situation.
He had been able to keep the news from the press and was glad for at least that much. The information that was being held to a select few was sure to cause a worldwide panic. He also knew that he would not be able to carry that bit of luck too much further. The media was becoming more insistent in their questions. He had to hope his people could hold them off just a little longer.
He checked his watch and shook his head, knowing that a major meeting was to begin in just a few hours. The world leaders who have been demanding action had all arrived in Washington for the conference. He began pacing his floor, thinking about all the reports he’d received. They were unbelievable, but there was more and more proof coming in every day.
He went back to his desk and sat down. He leaned back, running his fingers through his hair and began rubbing his forehead. He knew he was getting a headache that would be tough to kick. He realized it probably was his lack of sleep, but he felt it went deeper than that. This he was sure of. He began going through the notes on his desk and stopped when he picked up the list of everyone scheduled to be at today’s meeting.
The list was a virtual who’s who of world leaders. Many were from nations friendly towards the United States. The shocking part of the list was how many leaders from the enemies of the US were also here. This was the part that had shown the massive level of this problem. There seemed to be no separation of countries as to friend or enemy any longer. He was sure that if he did not accept the responsibility of this situation and take action, there would be no “friends” of the United States. This had become a world problem.
The phone on his desk rang and he hesitated even picking it up. It wasn’t going to stop. He picked it up... “Yes?”
The voice of his secretary was on the other end, “Mr. President, your meeting is to begin in less than an hour.”
“Yes. I’m aware of that,” he said.
“Your advisors request to see you before the meeting.”
“Yes, of course,” he said, trying to calm down. “Send them in.”
He put the phone down and stood to greet his advisors. He was not prepared for this. How, he thought, could any one be prepared for this...
The men entered the room and took seats around the conference table. The President moved to the table from his desk and looked at each of his men. He noticed that they too were lacking sleep. He was beginning to feel he would have rather been one of the general public... the ones who had no idea of what was happening to their world. But... he was here. He would have to deal with this.
“Well, Gentlemen... we need to go over this all again. This coming meeting is going to be brutal. Do you have anything new to report?”
The men around the table began to talk almost all at once. The stress factor was higher than ever here. What was to come later today would only be worse.
“Mr. President... the matter has worsened. You’ll remember last month that a vacation cruise ship based out of Florida was attacked. We were extremely lucky to save everyone on board. The passengers and the media were told that it was an on board explosion”
“Yes, yes” He responded. “Has the real reason for the sinking been released?”
“No, Sir” he was told. “But we all know that the ship was sunk by a torpedo attack.”
Another man added. “It’s not just our cruise ship that was sunk. We’ve got reports from countries all over the world. There have been others sunk.”
The President shaking his head asked, “Just how many have there been to date?”
“We have reports of six other ships being sunk. These include, as we previously discussed, freighters and fishing boats. There has been no sense to the selection of targets. There has been no pattern to the attacks.”
Another added, “We have not even been able to arrive at a motive. It’s simply the actions of a man or men surely insane.”
“Mr. President... there was another attack last night.”
“Where? Do we have details?”
“Yes, Sir.” His man added. “A European based vacation cruise ship was torpedoed and sunk. The passengers were not as lucky this time. There were several hundred lives lost in this attack.”
Another added, “Sir... a witness has reported to authorities that they recognized their attacker. We can’t keep a lid on this any longer. We know... You know... who is responsible for this killing. The entire population will know by tonight who is behind this.”
“Mr. President,” they added. “It’s time you accept the facts as we have them. We need to take action!”
The President, still unwilling to fully believe this was possible asked, “Have we had any luck in contacting them?”
“No, Sir. None at all. We’ve been attempting communication for several weeks with no results. It’s obvious that our calls are simply being ignored.”
“Sir... the world is going to demand you take action. By the time this meeting begins, you can be sure that they will all know about this latest sinking.”
“Will you give the orders?” they asked.
“No. There has to be an explanation. I will not give the orders at this time!” the President said. Looking at his watch, he added, “Let’s get to the meeting. We need to diffuse the hostilities and together come up with an answer to everyone’s satisfaction.”
The President stood and left the office, leaving his advisors standing around the table looking at each other. They all agreed what needed to be done. They felt they should have done more to convince the President to do what was needed... what they all knew needed to be done. Perhaps, they thought, the World leaders would convince him.
“Well, gentlemen... we’d better get in there. This isn’t going to be a good day!”
The large conference area was filled when the President arrived. When he entered he noticed immediately that the information about the latest sinking of the cruise ship had been made known. The room was full of people all speaking rather loudly among each other. They noticed the arrival of the President and turned their attention as well as their demands directly toward him.
The President, tried to regain some type of order in the room. He knew this was going to be almost impossible. He called over the voices “Gentlemen... Ladies and Gentlemen... if I can have your attention...”
He was not going to get their attention. He surely was not going to get them quiet enough to listen. Their minds were made up. The shouting was incessant. They were all calling for action. They also knew what they thought needed to be done and they were making their opinions clear.
The angry shouts were all directed at the President. “We demand action. What are you going to do about this?”
“My country is holding you personally responsible!”
“This man must be stopped! He’s gone mad!”
“How many more horrors must we endure?”
The complaints and demands were not going unnoticed by the President. “Please... Please... If you’ll listen... let me explain our position.”
“There’s nothing to explain! We demand to know what action you plan to put an end to this madness!”
Trying to calm the crowd, the President added, “I know how this must seem. I know lives have been lost, but before we condemn this man...”
“Too late for talk! The world can not be put in danger because of your feelings. We want these people stopped!”
Another voice shouted out, “You want us to hold off ending this problem? Have you even been able to contact him? Tell everyone here the truth. You have not been able to reach him. He is mad! He knows what he’s done and refuses to even talk to you... his own President.”
Cheers and applause for the speaker showed the crowds agreement. They were not going to be calmed.
“Yes... That’s right,” the President said, still trying to remain calm, “We have not been able to contact him. Every effort is still being made to do so. Until we do, I think we must delay...”
“No! No more talk! Let’s do what needs to be done. Now!”
While the shouting and shaking of fists continued, one of the President’s advisors entered the room and went to the president’s side. He whispered words into the President’s ear. There was continued talk in low tones for a few minutes. He then motioned for the Admiral of the Navy to hear the news. After a few more minutes of talk, the President simply nodded his head and several of the people around him left hurriedly for the exits.
The President then stood and slammed his chair against the table to get everyone’s attention. “Please... Please... Quiet... I just received important news. If I may have your attention!”
The crowd, stunned by the outburst from the President seemed to silence itself immediately. All eyes were now on him. The expression on his face took on a whole different look.
“Thank you...” he began. “There has been a major development in the situation.” He paused for a moment, trying to find the right words, “I must tell you all that I now agree with you that action is needed now! I have ordered the United States military to begin thier mission. I will be looking for help from all the countries represented here today. We were apparently wrong in delaying... but no longer!”
The crowd was obviously curious of what the news was that had turned this man’s mind to their beliefs.
He then continued, “I have been informed that a nuclear missile has been launched against the United States. The missile was targeted for New York City. We were fortunate this time. Our interceptor missile was able to stop the attack. We may not be so lucky next time, so there must not be a next time!”
The crowd began to buzz with conversation amongst themselves, but were again interrupted by the President.
“It is now obvious to me that this man is mad. There can be no more time for talk. I have issued orders that all available armed services put every effort to correct this situation. Their orders are quite clear. Locate and destroy the submarine Seaview and Admiral Nelson! The time for the world’s action is NOW and I just pray we’re not too late...”
Captain Lee Crane of the Submarine Seaview knew that his men were reaching their breaking point. He had been called on several occasion during the last few weeks by Chief Sharkey to deal with altercations between crew mates. This mission, at the direction of Admiral Nelson, was not like any other they had been on before. Lee knew that while he had the very best crew to have ever served on a nuclear submarine, he was also aware that the men had their limits.
The Captain was approaching the crew’s mess when he heard more shouting. This one was sounding worse than before. He could hear the Chief trying his best to stop the situation. He could make out the words very clearly as he neared the doorway.
“Patterson... Don’t be a fool!” Kowalski shouted. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You think I don’t, but I tell you something is wrong with the Admiral.” Patterson added, “We have never been to sea this long for a ‘research’ mission.”
“Well, Pat,” Kowalski fired back, “The Admiral must have a good reason to keep us out this long.”
“What possible good reason? There is no reason good enough to keep us out at sea for six months. Six long months under the ice. I tell you Ski, the Admiral’s lost it!”
That comment was more than Kowalski could stand. He lashed out at Patterson and landed a solid right to his jaw, knocking him to the deck. “I’ll show you who’s lost it,” he shouted as he dove for Patterson to hit him again.
Captain Crane entered the mess at that same moment to witness the fight. A crewman closest to the door shouted, “Attention!”
Crane didn’t give the men time to respond. “Enough! That’ll be enough!” he shouted. He pulled Kowalski off of Patterson. Pat tried to get a shot in on Ski, but was pushed back by the Captain. “Knock it off! You know I won’t stand for this on the Seaview.”
He was able to restore order in the room in seconds. He looked at both the men. These two were the best men he had on the Seaview. He knew they were usually the best of friends. He was also aware why the men were beginning to feel the way they were. He had to use his authority to keep order, because he too was beginning to question the need to be at sea and cut off from their families for so long.
“All right you two men... This discussion is over! Clean up this area and get back to your stations. One more outburst like this and you’ll both be able to continue your conversation in the brig,” Crane said. “Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Sir” both men said in unison.
Lee turned to leave the room and Sharkey followed him out into the corridor. “I’m sorry, Sir. I tried to stop it.”
“I know Chief. It’s getting worse. The men are tired and want to get home.”
“Yes, Sir. I can agree with that!” Sharkey said and then nervously added. “Skipper... can I ask you something?”
“What is it, Chief?”
“Well, Sir... We have been under the polar ice for six month now. Do you have any information at all as to how much longer?”
“I wish I did, Chief.”
But Captain, the radio silence the Admiral ordered... we’re not even permitted to receive outside communication. It’s all so strange.”
“Those are the Admirals orders! I’m sure he has a good reason for the order. Remember though... It’s not for you or me or the crew to question those reasons.”
You’re right, Sir.” The Chief replied. “At least it’s been a safe and easy six months. I’m thankful for that.”
“Right, Chief,” Crane added although he didn’t hear all of Sharkey’s last comment. He was lost I his own thoughts about this mission. He felt as his men did that it was time to get back to base.
With Chief Sharkey going off to work on a detail in the missile room, Lee made his way to the observation nose of the Seaview. He usually found it relaxing to watch the stillness of the ocean. However... after the last six months of boredom he found himself actually wishing to see some kind of creature or anything that might offer something of a reprise from doing nothing.
His daydreaming was interrupted by his Morton who had seen his friend standing there staring at nothing.
“Captain,” Morton said. “Are you all right, Sir?”
Startled, Lee turned away from his thoughts and to Chip. “Yes... yes, Chip. I’m fine.”
“It’s just... well, I’ve seen you spending quite a lot of time here...”
Lee interrupted, “Thanks for your concerns. I’ve been thinking about this research mission that the Admiral has been on. I know nothing about the details... and there is nothing wrong with that, but I’m starting to understand how the men feel. They are all bored out of their minds. It’s time we get moving,”
“I agree, Lee.” Chip responded, “But you know the Admiral... He cares about the men. He does seem though to get deeply involved in whatever idea he’s working on during any research projects.”
“Yes, I know that,” Lee added, “but it’s my job to take care of the welfare of the entire crew. The men are starting to snap at the boredom. Six months under this massive ice cube is even starting to get to me.”
Chip could notice that Lee was beginning to show his own aggravation with the situation. He thought that maybe Lee was going to do something irrational. His thoughts were quickly proven right...
“That’s it!” Lee said slamming his fist down on the console. “I’ve had enough of this waiting. I’m going to see the Admiral.”
“Lee, please... calm down before you do. Are you sure you want to do this?” Chip asked.
Turning to leave he simply said, “I need to. The men need me to try and put an end to this mission. It’s been long enough!”
Before Chip could say anything else the Captain was gone. He only hoped that his friend did calm down before seeing the Admiral... but he doubted it very much.
The activities at the Nelson Institute were anything but ordinary the last few weeks. All projects were stopped. The entire complex was under guard from the military. Little explanation was given during the takeover. The scientists and researchers along with any other staff members were being questioned as to the location of Nelson and the Seaview. Everyone had the same response, to the dismay of the interrogators, that they had no details of the current mission.
Many of the personnel at NIMR tried to explain that a number of the Admiral’s projects were classified and only a select few were advised of the details. The orders from Admiral Nelson were quite clear to his employees. He would contact them when his current project was completed. There would be no contact prior to that time.
The questioning continued throughout the previous few days. The army personnel assigned to keep control of the Nelson Institute would tell no one the reasons for the intrusion except that it was an order from the President. Several officers were stationed in the radio room at the institute. They were ordered to cease any attempt at reaching Seaview. If the Admiral’s mind had indeed snapped there would be no purpose in talking with him. The actions of the Seaview and her crew spoke for themselves.
Orders had been radioed in from Washington that the soldiers were to remain in command at the institute until word was received from Nelson. Upon receiving radio message from the Seaview, they were not to allow any reply. The repeated attempts by Nelson to reach NIMR would allow the naval fleet to acquire the position of the submarine.
Every available ship and submarine was stationed in either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Included were ships from all other world powers. Regardless of their country of origin, their orders were all the same... Once the Seaview was located it would be destroyed. No one was willing to take the chance of another nuclear missile being fired.
Reports had been filed on continued attacks by the Seaview. Major underwater missile silos were being destroyed. A number of US submarines were sent to investigate these damages, but were always too late to stop the Seaview. Their only hope was to intercept a message from Seaview and lock on a location.
The employees of the Institute were sure this was all a nightmare and that their Admiral would be able to explain it all. At least... they all had hope...
Captain Crane made his way to the lab to have words with Nelson. He was determined to put an end to this and get his men back to base before they all snapped with the boredom. Lee expected to have to convince Nelson to even let him into the lab. It was to his surprise that the hatch to Nelson’s lab was already partly open.
He opened it further and leaned in calling, “Admiral... are you in here?”
Nelson looked up from his notes and samples and answered, “Yes, Lee... come in.”
Lee was not expecting to interrupt Nelson’s work so easily. Perhaps he would be able to convince the Admiral of his desire to get underway. Lee entered the lab, amazed at the numbers of samples that Nelson had acquired over the last six months.
He turned his attention back to Nelson, “Admiral, Sir... We need to talk about something.”
“Sure, Lee. What is it?” he asked while sorting and closing up his notebooks.
“It’s the men, Sir. They’re beginning to get edgy and honestly, I can’t blame them. We’ve been here too long and...”
“Easy Lee,” the Admiral said. “I’m aware of how long we’ve been stationed here under the ice, but I assure you the research I’ve been doing will make it all worthwhile.”
Lee, a little aggravated, interrupted him, “I’m sure it will... but when will we be getting back. The men have the feelings of being cut off from the world. I mean, I can understand the restriction of radio transmissions but to also limit any incoming communication...”
“Listen, Lee.” The Admiral started. “I was just about to call for you as soon as I had put away all my notes. I have, in fact, finished my work here. There’s still much to do, but that can be done at the institute.”
“So we’re ready to get underway?”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Get to the control room and have Mr. Morton plot a course for Santa Barbara.”
“Aye, aye, Sir,” Crane responded then added, “The men will be glad to hear this news.”
“Fine, Lee. I’m going to my cabin now. I need some rest and better get it before the Doc demands it.”
“Yes, Sir. About the radio silence?”
“Sorry Lee, that order still stands till we get out from under this polar ice cap. When we clear the ice, notify me and I’ll be contacting the institute. There’s some project changes I want done before we arrive.”
Still upset with the silence order, Lee was thrilled to have been given the orders to get underway. He rushed to the control room with a new urgency in his step. He wanted to give this command to Chip and the men in person. They’ve waited a long time for this order.
Captain Crane entered the control room to find the men all just sitting at their stations. He spotted Chip at the plotting table and went over to him.
Chip saw Lee coming over and asked, not really sure he wanted the answer, “Well... how did your meeting with the Admiral go?”
“I’d say it went pretty well.”
Chip saw an expression on Lee’s face that was not there when he’d left the observation nose. “You look like you’re in a better mood than the last time I saw you. You’re holding back, aren’t you? You’ve got good news?”
Lee couldn’t stand to make Chip or the men wait a second longer... “Yes, Mr. Morton,” he said in a raised voice so all the men could also hear, “Plot a course for home. We’re getting underway!”
The men, all forgetting for a moment that the Captain was in the control room, let out a cheer of delight and began slapping each other on the backs. It was not the way men should react in the control room, but their Captain fully understood. Inside, he was cheering right along with them.
Mr. Morton responded quickly, “Plot a course? I’ve had the course plotted for days!”
“Well, Mr. Morton... give the orders to get underway. Let’s go home.”
“Aye, aye Sir” Morton said as he turned to the crew and barked out the orders he had wanted to for weeks. The men all got down to business in a hurry. They were all ready for this part of their trip.
“One more thing, Chip,” Lee added. “The radio silence order is still in effect. Notify me the instant we break free from the ice pack. I’m going to pass on the news to the rest of the ship personally.”
Just as Chip was about to answer the Captain, he was interrupted by Chief Sharkey rushing into the control room... “Is it true? We’re finally getting underway?”
Lee had to laugh at the winded Chief standing there trying to confirm the news. He would always be amazed at how fast news traveled aboard a submarine... even one the size of Seaview.
“Yes, Chief. We’re on the way home. Make sure everything is functional on Seaview... we wouldn’t want any delays.”
“Delays, Sir?” Sharkey responded, “No, Sir. No delays. You can count on it. I’ll have the Seaview in perfect shape. My guarantee!”
Lee looked over the control room area with a great satisfaction. He had not seen his men this upbeat in many weeks. He joined them in their exuberance in going home. He could use a long shore leave as well as the Seaview’s crew. He decided to go off to the observation nose for a quick cup of coffee and some time to relax.
The surveillance at the institute continued at the direction of the army command. They still had hope that the Admiral would contact his people. He couldn’t stay out to sea indefinitely. The communication’s room was still a major point of interest.
Questioning of the other personnel was drawing to a close. It had been decided that they were telling the truth in the fact that they did not know the location of the Seaview.
The news of what was actually happening was slowly making it’s way to the public. The media could no longer be prevented from broadcasting reports of the alleged acts of the Seaview and her crew. The missile attack on New York did not go unnoticed by the press. High ranking officials were leaking more and more information, partly due to their disgust in not being able to address the problem.
The workers at the Nelson Institute could not believe the things they were hearing. They knew Admiral Nelson and also knew he was incapable of such deeds. At least most of them felt they were sure this was impossible. There were a few who were beginning to doubt their beliefs.
The search at sea was continuing. With no direct clues as to where to search, it was simply a prowling of the oceans hoping to come up with any clue. Any information to stop this madman was looked into. Never before had so many ships been put to sea with one common objective.
Admiral Nelson was awakened by a knock on his cabin door. He was quickly up to his feet. Having spent so many years in submarines, he was a light sleeper. He knew things could happen fast in a submariners life.
He answered the door to find Lee standing there. “Admiral, you wanted to be advised as soon as we were free from the polar ice cap.”
“Yes, right, Lee.” The Admiral was putting on his shirt and tie and was ready in a moment. “Let’s get to the radio shack. I want to get my message to the institute right away.”
The Admiral added as they were headed towards the control room. “There is a lot of things that I need done to proceed with my project. How’s the Seaview?”
“Seaview’s first rate. No problems,” Lee then added “We’ve got Sharkey’s personal guarantee on that.”
“Well... if we have Sharkey’s guarantee, that’s good enough for me!” the Admiral laughed as they walked.
They reached the radio shack and the Admiral told Sparks to open communications and put a call into the Institute.
“Aye, aye, Sir” Sparks replied as he through the switches to bring his radio back to life after all those months. “Seaview to Nelson Institute... Seaview to Nelson Institute...”
The Admiral seemed anxious to speak with the institute and looked over Sparks shoulder at the radio. “Try again, Sparks”
“Yes, Sir” Sparks keyed the radio again. “Seaview calling Nelson Institute... Admiral Nelson calling Nelson Institute... please come in...”
Lee turned to Admiral and asked, “What’s wrong? Why haven’t they answered?”
“I wish I knew.” He turned to Sparks and said, “Try our secret frequency. We should get a response there.”
Sparks made some quick adjustments to the radio and tried again, “Seaview to NIMR... Seaview calling NIMR... Come in... Do you read me?”
The radio room at the institute became a flurry of activity. Nelson’s radioman automatically tried to respond, but was pulled back by army personnel. “You were told there would be no response. We need the Seaview to keep trying to reach you.”
One of the other soldiers went to notify his Captain of the attempted call. Information was sent to all ships in the search for Seaview to get a fix on their location. It was important that the Seaview keep sending out radio signals until their location could be pinpointed.
The voice continued to come across the radio at the institute... Seaview calling NIMR, Come in Nelson Institute...
Reports were coming in from the various ships and submarines stationed at strategic locations in the worlds oceans. Men were surrounding a world map making quick calculation from all the directional signals received.
“We’re getting preliminary readings, Sir,” one of the men called out. He continued marking the map. “We’re getting readings that the Seaview is located in the North Pacific ocean. We’re still waiting for more readings to pinpoint.”
The Captain thought, Keep trying Nelson... Keep trying a little longer... and we’ll have you!
Seaview to Nelson Institute... Seaview to Nelson Institute... Admiral Nelson calling Nelson Institute... please come in...
After a few more moments one of the men working on the map slammed his fist onto the map. “We’ve got him!” he shouted. Pointing to a location on the map indicating where the Seaview was sending their signal from he added, “Right here! Just south of the polar ice cap.”
“Of course,” the Captain said. “A perfect hiding spot. Nelson’s smart. He knew he couldn’t be located there.” He turned to his men and demanded, “What ships are the closest? Can we intercept?”
A quick check of the deployed ships and the projected direction of travel of the Seaview pointed out an area of possible intercept by the greatest number of vessels. Orders were radioed to the ships in the North Pacific of the rendezvous point. They were to proceed at flank speed. The Seaview must be stopped!
Admiral Nelson was beginning to show signs of major concern. He knew that his people at the institute were receiving his message. Why weren’t they answering, he thought. He ordered Sparks to continue trying.
Captain Crane returned to the radio shack to see Nelson, “Any contact, Sir?”
“None as yet,” Nelson answered.
“I don’t understand this at all. Has Sparks checked the operational condition of the radio?”
“Yes, Lee.” Nelson added, a little irritated at the question. “I’ve checked it myself! The transmission is fine!”
“Then why aren’t they responding?” Lee asked.
The Admiral slammed his fist down on the radio, shocking Sparks, “That, Captain, remains to be the question if the day...” He turned back to Sparks and ordered, “Keep trying until further ordered. I’ll be in my cabin.”
The Captain and Sparks both watched as the Admiral stormed out and then just looked at each other. Their expressions showed that they both had the same questions and comments in mind. Nothing needed to be said.
Lee turned away and moved towards the Control Room with a parting order to Sparks... “Well, you heard the Admiral... keep trying.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
Chip Morton was at the plotting table, checking on his course for home, when Lee arrived.
Chip said, “The Admiral seems to be very upset about our inability to contact the institute.”
The Captain just ran his hands through his hair and stood they nodding, “Chip, that could very well be the biggest understatement I’ve ever heard.”
Kowalski called out his report to Mr. Morton, “Sir, I’m picking up readings on sonar.”
Chip moved over to sonar to have a look. “Can you identify the ship?”
“The ship, Sir?” Kowalski asked. He added to his comments, “I’m picking up seven contacts, six surface ships and one submarine.”
Chip leaned over Ski’s shoulder to have a look for himself, “Seven readings? How long have you had contact?”
“Just for a moment, Sir. They appeared all at once.” Kowalski rechecked his readings, twice. He had a suspicion of the readings. Convincing himself, he turned to Mr. Morton, “Sir, this is strange...”
“What is strange?” Chip asked.
“Well, Sir. I’ve rechecked all seven ship’s courses...”
“There all on an intercept course with the Seaview.”
Morton called out, “Captain! You’d better see this, Sir. I think we’ve got a problem.”
Captain Craned hurried over to the sonar station, “What kind of a problem?”
Chip quickly explained the seven reading along with their anticipated intercept courses.
Lee was also concerned. This was too unusual. He called out orders, “Helm, adjust course twenty degrees to port.” He grabbed the mic, “Engine room, increase speed to two thirds.”
He received acknowledgments to his orders and returned his attention to the sonar. His trained eye told him what he needed to know with out hearing it from Kowalski.
“They’ve all corrected their course. They are all still on an intercept course.”
To be sure, Lee ordered another course an speed change. He was sure now that they were indeed being tracked. He had no idea why, but all ships changed their courses once again.
Lee had seen enough. He reached for the mic, “Admiral, this is Crane. Please report to the Control Room. We have a problem, Sir.”
The admirals voice came over the speaker, “What sort of problem?”
“It’s sonar, Sir. All indications are that we are being tracked and definitely followed.”
“I’ll be right there!”
Chip and Lee were still looking at the sonar readings when the Admiral arrived in the Control Room. They were just filling the Admiral in with what they knew so far.
“Have we determined the nationality of the seven ships?” the Admiral asked.
Kowalski, proud of his ability to interpret the readings replied, “Yes, Sir. Three of the surface ships are American Battleships. Two of the other are Russian and the last is Japanese. The submarine appears to be on of ours,” he added.
Nelson, Cane and Morton were huddled in a discussion as to just what the ships from three nationalities could possibly be doing as a group. Not one of the three could come up with a reason why they would try to intercept Seaview.
It was during this discussion that Kowalski called out the words that sent a cold chill through every sailor in the Control Room... “Torpedo’s approaching!!!”
The words snapped Captain Crane into action. Lee received the needed information from Kowalski on the torpedo’s direction and speed. He called out orders immediately... “Battle stations... battle stations... Left full rudder, twenty degree dive, engine room... Emergency full speed!!!”
Crane looked to Kowalski, who called out the closing distances, “1,000 yards, 800 yards...” The Seaview made the quick maneuvers... “400 yards, 200 yards, 100 yards...”
“This is the Captain!!! Stand fast for torpedo impact!!!” he called to his crew.
“50 yards...” Kowalski called out. There was no need to call out any more numbers. The entire crew of the Seaview could hear for themselves how close they were. Everyone seemed to look up as though they could see the torpedoes as they passed over them. The sounds they made proved the fact that they missed Seaview by only a few feet.
There was a general sigh of relief with the passing of the two torpedoes. The calm was soon interrupted with an explosion followed by another and yet a third. The Seaview rocked viciously, throwing many of the crew to the deck. Electrical fires were breaking out in the Control Room.
Captain Crane reached for the mic as he tried to pick himself up, “Damage Control... Report!”
The report was almost immediate, “Flooding in frames 35 and 36... can control...” Another voice called out, “Engineering here... We’ve lost all power. Circuitry room reports all systems down.”
“Get repair parties working on the double,” the Captain ordered. He tossed the mic across the plotting table in disgust. “Depth charges... We were so busy tracking the torpedoes that we totally missed the depth charges from the surface ships.”
The helmsmen called out to the Captain, “We’re losing trim, Sir. We’re going down. Can’t hold trim.”
Crane ran over to the controls and found they were indeed locked. He turned to Sharkey who was coming in with a report, “Chief, effect manual override of helm controls. We need to keep moving.”
Aye, aye Sir,” Sharkey said while stuffing the report back into his pocket. Nothing new in it anyway... it can wait, this can’t!
“Patterson,” Sharkey slapped him on the back as he was passing, “Come with me... We’ve got to free up the controls.”
Patterson wasn’t as quick as the Chief thought he should be... “Come on, sailor... get the lead out... let’s move. You heard the Skipper!”
As Patterson and the Chief left the Control Room, Captain Crane turned to Admiral Nelson, “We need to load torpedoes and return fire.”
“Lee, we can’t do that. Those are our country’s ships.”
“Well, that didn’t seem to stop them. It’s obvious they were going for a kill.”
“I know Lee, and I’ve no idea why. But we can’t attack.”
Kowalski called from sonar, “Captain, the submarine has pulled off, but the six battle ships are closing in on our position.”
Nelson acknowledged Lee’s look of apprehension, “They must be planning another depth charge attack. That’s the only reason the other submarine would have left the area.”
“We can’t take another attack like the last one,” Lee said.
Just as he said that, the power was restored. “Engine room. Here... we have maneuverability...”
“Great,” the Captain called back into the mic. “Let’s get underway!”
Nelson pulled the mic from Lee’s hand, “This is the Admiral... Belay that order... stand fast.”
“Admiral, we’ve got to get out of here. They’re going to attack again!”
“Lee, hold on a minute, we can’t outrun those destroyers.”
“Maybe not, but we can’t stay here either. What are we going to do?”
“I’ve got an idea, Lee... let’s get to the missile room.”
Nelson continued working out the details to his plan as the two men ran down the corridors towards the missile room. He knew that in the days of the diesel subs, they could have sent up an oil slick to fool the attacking ships into thinking they had a successful hit. This would not work in today’s Navy. This just had to work, he thought as they entered the missile room.
Several sailors stopped what they were doing when their Admiral and Captain entered. The Admiral was the first to call out orders, “Men, get over here with the crane hook,” he said, indicating the closest nuclear missile silo. Nelson began removing the silo casing to expose the missile.
“Lee, over at the supply rack... get me an SOS marker buoy.”
The Captain was not quite sure what the Admiral had planned, but he had the trust to carry out the order. He was returning with the marker buoy and cable as the Admiral was completing the removal of the silo housing. He had one of the men attach the crane hook to a band of steel he wrapped around the missile.
The missile was removed from it’s silo and Nelson went to work on the nuclear warhead.
“Admiral, Sir... If I may ask, just what are your plans?”
While continuing to remove the nuclear warhead he said to Lee, “We need a decoy. We need to let them think they’ve destroyed us.” He removed the warhead and called to one of the men... “Quickly, get me three torpedo warheads...”
The man nearest the torpedo rack was there in seconds with the warheads from the torpedoes. Nelson placed them in the nose of the missile. “Lee, hand me the marker buoy.” He attached it to the side of the missile and set a remote timer for five minutes to activation.
Swinging his arm towards the diving bell hatch, Nelson called for it to be opened. The crane picked up the reworked missile and carried it to the now open hatch. “OK, men, carefully now... lower the missile”
The missile was lowered as ordered and disappeared into the ocean’s waters. Nelson watched the depth gauge and when the missile was about 10 feet from the ocean floor, he ordered the cable cut.
“OK, Lee... you wanted us out of here... this would be a good time!”
“Aye, aye, Sir!” Crane replied as he grabbed the mic from the wall to issue the orders.
“Oh, one more thing, Captain.”
“Let’s be quick, but silent. For this to work, they can’t see us leaving.”
Still not totally sure what the Admiral expected to happen, acknowledged the request and issued the needed orders.
The Seaview began to move away as the Admiral and the Captain returned to the Control Room. Nelson went directly over to Kowalski and the sonar station. Looking at his watch, he knew that the marker buoy would activate within the minute.
“Ski, what are the surface ships doing?” Crane asked.
They’ve just closed in on our original location.”
The SOS marker buoy, attached to the dropped missile, activated on schedule and broke the surface, sending it’s signal for help to any surface ship. In only moments, three of the ships dropped what must have been every depth charge they had on board. With a stationary target, they were able to set the charges far a direct hit.
Kowalski was watching the screen with Nelson and Crane as the charges made their way towards the missile. There was a major underwater explosion as the charges detonated the warheads that Nelson placed in the missile’s nose.
Captain Crane reached for the mic and spoke quietly to his men, “Prepare for shock wave from an explosion. Continue silent running...”
The ruse apparently had the effect the Admiral was expecting.
He looked over to the sonar and was pleased to see that none of the ships was breaking formation to follow the Seaview. They were sure the Seaview was now gone. While he still had absolutely no idea why they wanted the Seaview destroyed, at least now he had bought time to try to figure it out.
Word spread quickly through all the command posts. The message made it to the President’s office. The print out was hand carried to the President. It was short and to the point... Mission accomplished... The Seaview has been destroyed!
The President asked his people to leave his office and told his personal secretary that he was not to be interrupted. After everyone left and closed the door behind them, he sat down at his desk and reread the message... reread it several times... The Seaview has been destroyed!
He still could not believe this was all real. His thoughts ran deep. Was he justified? Did he do the right thing? He had personally known Admiral Nelson and also had met Captain Crane on a few occasions. He still did not think the Admiral was capable of inflicting the damage and killing that was reported to him. He knew the facts and reports stated that there was no doubt. Still... he wondered... could there have been another way?
There were two completely opposite attitudes at the Nelson Institute. The men in charge of the mission were thrilled at the completion of their mission. They followed their orders and stopped the madman Admiral Harriman Nelson. The world was again safe. The soldiers began to gather their materials and packed up to leave. The constraints on the radio room were no longer necessary. There was no more Seaview to try to contact the institute.
It was a different feeling for the others at the institute. The employees, the families and the loved ones of the men of the Seaview were still in a daze. There were tears everywhere. The thought was common between so many of the people there... What happened? The Seaview gone? Nelson, Crane and all the others... gone? It was totally unbelievable.
There were so many questions to be answered. No one believed, even now, that their Admiral Nelson was responsible for any of these things. No questioning... no trial... it was unthinkable.
How were they going to go on? How were they going to get through this? There was no words of comfort that could take away any of the pain... maybe in time...
The Seaview was safely away from the area of the ships that were sent to destroy her. Kowalski reported that the screens were clear. The orders for silent running and radio silence were still in effect. They could not afford to let their location be known now, not until they knew what this was all about.
Admiral Nelson was in his cabin when there was a knock on the door.
“Yes? Who’s there?”
“It’s me, Crane, Sir.”
“Come in, Lee.”
Lee Crane entered the cabin and Nelson asked him to take a seat. He could see that the Captain was just as confused about the recent turn of events.
Lee took a seat and asked, “Admiral, have you come up with any possible reason for any of this?”
“No’ Lee... I’ve tried to think of every possibility... but nothing at all comes to mind.”
“That idea of you had about dropping the missile... When you removed the missile’s main warhead... you knew that they would ignore the SOS message.”
“Let’s just say that I had a strong feeling. If they would have set down a depth charge with the full nuclear warhead, it would have indeed destroyed the Seaview.”
“Are you going to try to get a message to the institute again?”
“Not now, Lee. The way I have it figured is that there must have been a force at the institute stopping our people from responding. They needed our repeated signal to locate us. They must have had ships in every part of the oceans to have arrived at our location so soon after transmissions.”
“You’re right, of course. We will maintain radio silence.” Lee added, “But where can we go? We can’t show ourselves at the institute.”
“We’ll continue in that general direction. We’ve bought some time to investigate what really is going on.”
Lee stood to leave, “Well, I’ll go talk to the men. They all have questions. I just wish I had some answers for them.”
“Don’t worry, Lee. I know we’ll find those answers. The Seaview has a good crew. They will understand.”
“I just hope it’s soon!” Lee added as he closed the door behind him.
Nelson, left alone again with his thoughts... I hope so too, Lee... I hope so too...
There was yet another individual that took the news of the Seaview being destroyed with a little skepticism. While the destruction of Nelson and his glorious Seaview was his ultimate goal, he thought that it went all a little too easy. The reports from the Navy did not agree with what he felt Nelson would do to avoid destruction.
The reports from the Navy that Nelson had ordered the SOS buoy released after being attacked made no sense to him. He knew Nelson. This was not what would have been ordered. Somehow, he believed the Navy had actually failed in their mission. No problem... he thought. I can finish the job.
The man trying to figure out what to do next was Ben Wilson. He was the Captain of his own submarine he called the Seawolf. Wilson was not actually a Captain, but rather a self promoted ‘captain’ since he was never in the military. He had stolen the submarine he was in and after several years of refitting on a private concealed port, he had been ready to begin his mission.
He had planned this one mission for many years. It had become an obsession for him. He was not going to call his mission a success until he was absolutely sure that Nelson was gone. He only wished he would have had the chance to see Nelson face to face and let him die knowing the real reason. He felt that with the scant reports from the Navy, that he may still have his chance.
There was a knock at his cabin door.
“Yes? Who’s there?”
“Oh, come in!”
Don Fletcher was Wilson’s designated Commander aboard the Seawolf. Again, another assumed title of authority. Ben Wilson had been able to put together a crew that knew only one loyalty... money! They were a hardened bunch that could do almost anything with no second thought. Other peoples lives meant nothing to any of them. This was the perfect crew for this one mission... the only mission this submarine and crew would ever see.
Fletcher entered Wilson’s cabin with a satisfied smile on his face. He was glancing at the reports he’d seen on the desk. “I guess that this deal is finished. Are you ready to put the plans in effect to get the men off the sub and send it to the bottom?”
“Don’t be so quick. This mission may not be over.”
“Of course it is! You have the report right here!” He grabbed the report of the Seaview’s destruction and waved it in Wilson’s face. “What more do you need?”
Ben pulled the report out of Fletcher’s hand and threw it back onto the desk, “You just relax, Fletcher. This is over when I say it’s over.”
“Listen to me... Nelson’s dead... you’ve won... we’ve won! Let’s wrap it up!”
Wilson was becoming very aggravated with his Commander. He grabbed Fletcher’s shirt and almost lifted him off the ground and spoke in a low stern voice, right in Fletcher’s face... “No... you listen to me! I’ve paid you good money to complete a job. I’ve paid everyone on the submarine top dollar for a job to be done and I’ll be the one to tell you when that job is done. I don’t have the proof I need that Nelson is dead.” He picked up the intercepted Navy reports with his free hand and threw them across the room. “These are meaningless! The Navy is so full of themselves in their desire to receive their ‘well done’ that they will say anything. There is no proof... no proof at all that the Seaview was actually destroyed. No wreckage was found... no bodies were found...:” He tossed Fletcher back into the chair, “I want that proof! Do you understand me? If you want off this sub so bad, I’ll let you off. In fact, I’ll personally throw you overboard myself! You think you can swim to shore? It’s only... what... about 100 miles!”
Fletcher seemed to take a different view of things quite quickly. “No, Sir. I’ll stay aboard. Just tell me what you want done.”
“That’s better!” Wilson answered. “Here’s what I need done... You have, from our intercepted Naval reports, the Seaview’s first identified location as well as the coordinates of the ‘assumed’ sinking of the sub, right?”
“Yes, I have all that information, but what good does it do us now?” Fletcher asked.
“I’ll explain it for you... again.” Wilson sighed, wondering how he had picked Fletcher for the command position. Wilson pointed to the map on the wall, “We’re right about here, in the southern Pacific just off the coast of South America. Let’s assume... for a moment... that Nelson and the crew of the Seaview was not destroyed in the attack...”
“But, they were...” Fletcher interrupted.
“Fletcher... are you going to shut up and listen to me, or do you still prefer to take that swim?”
“OK... OK... So, we have all the locations plotted... what now?”
“Well, assuming that Nelson did indeed escape, we can also assume he will not try to make radio contact with any one. He must realize that that’s how they were found. So, what do you think his next move will be?”
“Sorry, don’t know...”
“I think he’ll try to sneak back into Santa Barbara unannounced. With the thought that the Seaview had been destroyed, Nelson will feel it safe to return there. What we’re going to do is meet him half way. I want you to plot a possible intercept course. I want two men on sonar at all times... special extended range programming. We will continue to avoid every vessel, but you will notify me as soon as your men get a reading on the Seaview.”
“Right away, Sir!” Fletcher added. He stood to leave and get the possible courses plotted. He still had the feeling that this was all a wasted trip, but he was getting paid well. That’s all that mattered to him.
When Fletcher had left his cabin, Wilson picked up the report of the Seaview’s demise and read it again, thinking... I know you’re still out there Nelson... and I’m the one who’s going to find you. You’re going to wish the Navy had destroyed you and your submarine.
Admiral Nelson had spent the last few hours in his cabin, trying to make some sense out of everything that had happened. Why United States Navy ships were sent out to destroy the Seaview, he had no clues. None of it made any sense.
Captain Crane was in the Control Room discussing the very same topic with Chip Morton, also coming to no sensible conclusions.
Speaking in very low tones at the plotting table, Chip asked, “Well, Lee, since we don’t know why any of this has happened, what’s our next move?”
“I wish I knew, Chip. I’m sure the Admiral’s working on some ideas to get us home.”
“I’m beginning to think that it would have been safer to have just stayed under the ice cap. It was boring, but at least no one was out there to kill us all.”
“I don’t think it would have mattered how long we stayed. It was almost like they were waiting for us when we broke free of the ice flows.”
“Right, Sir.” Morton added, “It makes sense that it was our transmissions to the institute that led them our way.”
Nelson walked up to the two men and overheard the talk of the transmissions. “That’s right, Mr. Morton. That’s how they found us. What still amazes me is how quickly they were on us.”
Crane said, “I agree. It seems that there would have had to be ships stationed all over the oceans looking for us. Even our people at the institute had no idea where we were.”
“Well, we need to get some answers. I checked with Sparks on my way here to see if he’d heard anything on the Naval radio frequencies.”
“Nothing at all... just the repeated message that we’ve been destroyed.” Nelson then looked at his watch and turned to Kowalski, who was back on sonar duty. “Any ships on your screens?”
“No, Sir. The waters are clear for over fifty miles. No submarines or surface ships in the area.”
“Fine,” Nelson turned to Patterson then, “How about radar? Anything flying in the area?”
Nothing to report, Sir. The skies are clear.”
“Good!” Nelson said, turning back to Lee. “Captain, I want the Seaview surfaced. Bring the ship to a full stop on the surface. Chip, get Sharkey and rig a satellite link to broadcast television.” Looking at his watch again, he added, “I need this completed within the next fifteen minutes.”
Chip responded, “Aye, aye Sir.” Turning to the Chief who was just entering the Control Room, “Come on Chief, we’ve got a job to do...”
“Paterson,” Nelson ordered. “Keep a sharp eye on your radar screen. Shout out any thing you find. We’ll make an immediate crash dive.” Turning to Lee, “If the Navy thinks they’ve sunk the Seaview, it’s sure to make the evening news report. You know reporters... this has to be big news for them.”
“That’s right!” Lee exclaimed. “We may be able to find out just what’s going on.”
“Well, it may be a start. We can only hope...”
In a few minutes, the Seaview broke the surface for the first time in many months. In the dark of night, Nelson hoped that would provide cover for long enough. Chief hurriedly came down the ladder from the conning tower.
“All connections made, Sir,” He reported. “We should have a signal now.”
“Sparks,” Nelson called. “Activate receiver and put it on the monitor.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”
Lee cut in, “Sir, how about the other monitors throughout Seaview? The men have the right to know whatever we find out.”
“Yes, Lee. They do, indeed. Sparks, send signal to all on board monitors.”
In moments the monitor came on with a newscast originating from Los Angeles... “This is KCLY evening report and I’m Jill Woodward... Our top story this evening is that the world is once again safe for mankind. We’ve received reports from top Naval officials that the Seaview, which has been the object of a massive worldwide search, has been destroyed. The Seaview was sunk with all hands aboard.”
The screen behind the newscaster showed a picture of the Seaview. The picture then changed to a shot of Admiral Nelson. “The world will never know what caused the Admiral to go mad. The destruction caused by Nelson and his crew has bought world powers together in a common cause, friends and enemies alike. It appears the problems are behind us now.”
The reporter then began recapping the atrocities that had been committed by the Seaview and her crew. “The Seaview has been responsible for the sinking of several fishing boats and cargo ships. Many undersea missile locations have been destroyed, but will be rebuilt. The Admiral was also responsible for the sinking of two vacation cruise ships. The death toll of the European cruise ship now stands a 347. Many witnesses from the attacked ships have declared that it was the Seaview that fired it’s torpedoes on them. We have also received some amateur video from surviving members of the European cruise ship sinking. We show that tape now...”
The screen went to a distance shot of what appeared to be a submarine. The men on the Seaview were staring at the screen in disbelief.
“Our technicians were able to freeze frame this shot and through computer enhancement we can clearly see that the ship...”
Nelson, Crane and the rest of the crew was motionless. They could not believe what they were seeing.
“...was the Seaview.”
“It was reported that the President of the United States had held most of the world powers at bay for as long as possible. He claimed that knowing Admiral Nelson personally, that he was incapable of these kinds of actions. During the World Summit meeting in Washington DC, which several possibilities of action to be discussed, there was a reported interruption that persuaded the President to change his stance.”
The screen switched to a view of the New York skyline, looking out over the ocean...
“Captured here on our sister stations weather remote cam, in the distance, you will see a flash of an explosion. That flash is the early detonation of a nuclear missile that was fired from the Seaview. The city of New York as well as the rest of the world was fortunate to have been able to prevent Nelson’s missile from reaching it’s designated target.”
“If I may take a moment to reflect, as I’m sure so many others are doing at the end of this crisis... This has been the worlds darkest moment. A man that was so revered in the past to have turned so evil in the end should be a message to us all. We will never know what turned the great mind of Admiral Nelson into a deranged killer. We must all remember Admiral Harriman Nelson, not as a hero, but rather as the cold blooded murderer he was at the end.”
“We switch now to our remote location at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research and our reporter Glen Roberts... Glen?”
The screen changes to a long shot of the institute...
“Thank you, this is Glen Roberts, and I’m coming to you from the main gate of the Nelson Institute. The mood here is understandably somber. We have attempted to reach someone in charge after Nelson’s death, but have not been able to gain access through security. We can see from our vantage point that the military personnel that were stationed here during the initial search for Seaview have almost all left the area. The military leaders have left earlier by helicopter and were unavailable for comment. The enlisted men leaving past our location have told us that they are contented in their ability to do their part to save the nation as well as the world from further catastrophe.”
The camera picked up a number of civilians entering through the main gate...
“Behind me, you can see a number of people being ushered through the main gate by security. We are not able to reach any of the people for comments, but we are informed that they are the family members of the crew of the Seaview. We will continue our efforts to gather more information from the Nelson institute and will keep you informed... Back to you, Jill.”
The camera then returned to Jill Woodward.
“We do have a statement from the President of the United Sates, recorded earlier...”
The screen shows a very somber President as he begins to speak... “To the people of the United States as well as the world... We’ve just been through a terrible ordeal. It was with great sadness that I issued the orders to hunt down the Seaview. I offer my deepest apologies to the families who lost loved ones in the earlier disasters at the hands of Admiral Nelson. I should have responded sooner...”
“The nation's hearts and prayers are also with the family and loved ones of the crew members of the Seaview. We the people of the United States want you to know that we do not hold your family members responsible... that responsibility lies with one man, and one man alone. While we will never know why...
The President looks down in obvious pain as the camera goes back to Jill Woodward at the station.
“In other news...”
The Admiral signaled to Sparks to cut the transmission. The entire crew of the Seaview stood motionless in front of the blank monitors. Not one person on board believed they actually saw and heard the news report.
Captain Crane broke the silence, “What was all that about? That was not the Seaview!”
Nelson answered, “Well, Lee, we may know it wasn’t the Seaview, but it seems the world believes it was.”
Sharkey cut in, “It has to be trick photography, yeah that must be it, generated as part of a massive frame up.”
The Admiral laid his hand on Sharkey’s shoulder, “It’s possible, Chief, but pretty remote.”
The Captain added, “If it is a frame, who or what could have the power to convince the entire world of it’s truth? You heard that reporter. The world has been told that you’ve gone mad? It’s absurd!”
Chip spoke up, “We know it’s all untrue, but what do we do now? The Navy thinks we’re dead already. If we are intercepted again we will be killed before we get to explain anything.”
Lee was still shocked at the turn of events. “A nuclear missile shot at New York City? Why? How? You all do realize that even with a fantastic explanation, if we’re caught again, we do have a missile missing...”
Nelson responded, “You’re right about that, Captain. But I think that if we’re caught we won’t have time to explain anything.”
Lee slammed his fist down on the plotting table, “Well then, what the devil do we do now? What about all our families at the institute? They all think we’re gone. You saw them on the screen... and we can’t even tell them we’re all right.”
“We can’t tell them right now, but they’ll be all right. We can not expose ourselves by a radio transmission, but we can show up in person.”
“What about the troops?”
“You saw the report. There too busy celebrating their success. They’re done at the institute. We can get into the dock area unseen.”
“OK, we can get back to Santa Barbara, but what does that do to prove our innocence?”
The Admiral looked thoughtfully at his men, “I wish I had an answer for that, but at this point, I don’t. If anyone has any suggestions... I’ll be in my cabin. Maintain course for Santa Barbara.”
“Aye, aye Sir,” the Captain responded. “Kowalski, keep your eyes peeled on that sonar. We don’t need any surprises.”
Don Fletcher was in the Control Room of the Seawolf giving orders to the helm to begin another turn. Once they approached the southern coastal area of California he had ordered the sub to run a ten mile wide zigzag pattern while continuing north. He had two of his best men manning the special extended range sonar. The special sonar system which Wilson had installed prior to their departure was capable of covering close to one hundred miles. The destruction mission they were on throughout the world’s ocean, along with their plan to incriminate Nelson, required that they be able to spot any ship long before they were within range to be detected themselves.
The system worked flawlessly in keeping their locations secret. Wilson was sure that it would work just as well in locating the Seaview. Fletcher, while not doubting the effectiveness of the equipment, still felt they were looking for something that wasn’t there to be found. He still believed the US Naval reports of the Seaview’s sinking. But, he thought, it’s Wilson’s money. If he wants to pay extra for a leisurely cruise out in the Pacific, he’d be willing to take it.
“Contact!” the sonarman called out.
Fletcher answered back from the plot table, “Do you have an identification on the contact?” He expected it to by just another of the US submarines returning from the search mission. They had encountered over a dozen so far and have avoided contact with them.
“Yes, Sir, I do! I don’t believe this myself, Sir, but it’s pattern on the screen indicates it’s the Seaview.”
“Are you sure?”
Checking and rechecking the readings and confirming the findings with the second sonarman, “Yes! It is the Seaview. No doubts!”
Fletcher, rubbing his hands together, hoping for a battle, “Should we load forward torpedoes?”
Wilson looked back to his Commander, “Torpedoes? Just what is it you think we’re going to do?”
“Well, blow her out of the water... that’s why we’re here,” Fletcher replied, then added, “isn’t it?”
“No, Mr. Fletcher,” Wilson answered with a grin. “I’ve got a much better plan for our friend Admiral Nelson...”
“I still say, let’s sink her now... while we’ve got a chance!”
Ignoring Fletcher, the Captain turned to the sonarman, “What is the distance to the Seaview?”
Rechecking his screen, “Still about 80 miles, but closing.”
“That’s fine.” Turning to his diving officer, “Let’s put the sub down on the bottom. We’ll wait silently as the Seaview approaches. When she’s 200 yards away, I want the Seawolf brought up to a matching depth of the Seaview.”
Fletcher felt he had to argue the Captain’s decision, “Two hundred yards? She’ll attack as soon as she sees us!”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Fletch. I can assure you that they will be frozen in awe at the sight they’ll see through Nelson’s ‘great’ observation nose. That’s when we’ll make our move... not before!”
“What move?” Fletcher asked quite loudly. “Just what do you plan to do?”
“Calm down Fletcher, let’s go to my cabin and I’ll explain everything to you...” Looking back to his crew, he added, “I do want torpedoes one through four loaded and ready. They will only be fired on my command!”
Captain Wilson left the Control Room with Fletcher right on his heels. Fletcher was full of questions and he thought Ben had better have the right answers... He still thought the best idea was to attack now!
Captain Crane was at the plotting table with Chip, checking on their progress towards Santa Barbara. He was pleased with the progress they were making, but still had no idea what they would do when they got there.
The entire crew was upset with the feelings they knew their families were going through, thinking that the Seaview was sunk and that they were all killed. Lee, looking around the Control Room knew that even if silent running was ordered, it couldn’t get any more quiet. Several of the men had come to him and asked if there was any way that a message might be sent to the families, but they were reminded of the incident with the Naval ships the last time they broke radio silence.
Lee knew that for the time being, they could only continue on their trip home with the hope that the Admiral would come up with a solution. The Captain had every faith that Nelson would find a way out of this... he just had too...
“Sonar contact! Range two hundred yards!” Kowalski shouted out to anyone who could hear him.
The Captain immediately ordered full stop. Going over to sonar, he asked, “Two hundred yards... and you’re just calling it out now?”
“Sorry, Sir.” Kowalski tried to explain. “It wasn’t there before. It just seemed to appear out of nowhere.”
“That’s impossible! Readings do not ‘just’ appear. You must have missed it before.”
“No, Sir! It was not on my screen before.”
“Do you have an identification? It’s surely seen us first.”
At that moment, Sharkey call came over the intercom, “Captain, this is Sharkey. You’d better get to the observation nose... and bring the Admiral with you!”
“What is it, Chief, I am busy right now... We have sonar contact and...”
Sharkey keyed the mic, cutting the Captain off, “Oh, I’m aware of the contact. I... I... think you better hurry, Sir.”
Crane looked at Morton and in a moment were on their way to meet the Chief. Hearing the communication, Nelson was coming down the spiral staircase as Lee and Chip passed. What they first saw was the Chief standing by the window with a blank stare. He was slowly shaking his head back and forth repeating and pointing... “Look.... look... it can’t be...”
Running up to Sharkey, the Captain was demanding, “What is it? What did you see?”
But the three men having just arrived at Sharkey’s side did not need an answer. They were all shocked by the vision. It just seemed impossible... they were looking at... the Seaview.
Nelson and Crane looked at each other, both wanting to ask the obvious question, but never had the chance. They were interrupted by a call from Sparks, “Captain, I’m receiving a short range radio transmission. Must be from the contact.”
The Admiral grabbed the mic and spoke before the Captain could, “Short range signal?” Looking back at the sub just 200 yards away, “I’ll take it here!”
The voice came over the intercom, “This is Captain Wilson, of the submarine Seawolf.” After a short pause, “or should I say Seaview?”
Keying the mic, “This is Admiral Nelson... of the Seaview, but I’m sure you know that. What’s the meaning of this?”
“In due time, Admiral... in due time.”
“Explain yourself , NOW... while you’ve got the chance.”
“Admiral, please... no threats. Especially one’s you can’t keep. You see, Sir, we’ve seen your approach for quite some time now. We already have four torpedoes loaded and ready. One indication that you have made a move against us and they will be fired.”
Lee looked to Nelson for some sign to begin an attack. Nelson shook his head, “No Lee, not yet. He’s right. We wouldn’t have a chance.”
“Admiral, are you still there? I hope you’re not doing something stupid.”
Looking angrily at the other sub, he replied, “I’m still here! What is it you want?”
That’s better, Admiral,” Wilson said in a sarcastic tone. “What I want is very simple... I’d like your permission to come aboard.”
“Come aboard? Why?”
“Let’s just say that there are some things we need to discuss... I’m sure you have just as many questions for me, also.”
Realizing that this man was right about the question he had, he agreed, “Fine, come alone and we’ll talk.”
“Alone? I don’t think so Admiral. Doesn’t sound like a smart move. I will bring my Commander along. Just the two of us. Of course you can’t deny me that!”
Nelson saw Lee nodding his approval, “Two men against the full crew of the Seaview... we can handle that.”
“You have our permission to come with your Commander,” Nelson said in an equally sarcastic voice.
“Thank you Admiral, you’ve made a wise decision. We’ll be there in five minutes.”
“We’ll be ready,” Nelson added, tossing the mic.
The men continued to stare at the other submarine as if they were looking into a huge mirror. Even having seen the reports on the newscast with the pictures of the sub, it was still unbelievable to see it right there.
They stood in silence as the bubbles rose from the hatch of the “other” Seaview as the two divers began their trip. Nelson thought, at least there is only the two of them. He issued orders for Patterson to come to the observation nose and keep an eye on the hatches, on the chance others may try to join their Captain.
Sharkey and Kowalski were sent to the missile room to greet their visitors and bring them to the observation nose for the meeting.
The two men from the Seawolf entered through the hatch in the missile room and were allowed, under the watchful eye of the Chief, to remove their diving suits.
The Chief reached for the mic and announced, “Captain, Sharkey here, our guests are aboard.”
“Please escort them here. Don’t let them out of your site.”
“Don’t worry, Sir!”
Captain Wilson could see the intensity in Kowalski’s eye. Seeing that look and the clenched fists, he said, “Easy sailor, you don’t want to do anything stupid.”
Kowalski’s response was short, “Just give me a reason.. come on... let’s move out.”
Nelson and Crane stood as the two men entered the room.
Nelson spoke first slamming his fist onto the control panel, “Who are you and what’s the meaning of all this?”
“If it isn’t the great Admiral Nelson. You really must learn to relax.”
“I don’t need to relax, I need answers and I want them now!”
Admiral... Admiral, I see you haven’t changed. Still demanding and never listening.”
“I am listening... I just haven’t heard anything yet. Are you going to tell me what this is all about? What do you mean, I haven’t changed? Have we met before?”
You know, Admiral, that hurts me... that hurts me deeply. You really don’t remember me?”
“You can see I don’t. Now who the devil are you?”
“Think Admiral... go back. Go back about twenty five years. You mean the name of Wilson has no meaning for you?” Ben just shook his head at Nelson’s confusion, “I’m surprised Admiral... with a keen mind like yours... and you don’t remember.”
Lee could see that the Admiral was deep in thought, trying to go back those twenty five years. Knowing the Admiral as well as he did, Lee was the first to see the expression on his face that indicated he was remembering the man.
It was coming back to him now. “Ben Wilson... Ben Wilson... Twenty five years ago... You’re Roger Wilson’s boy.”
“You are good, Admiral. I’m proud of you for your memory. However, it should come as no surprise that you would remember the name of a man you killed.”
Both Mr. Morton and Lee turned too look at the Admiral after this accusation of killing a man. They were still both very confused.
“I killed no one!”
“Oh, but Admiral, you did. I’m sure you can remember the details, if you only try hard enough.”
“I do remember. I never killed your father.”
“So you say...”
Your father was killed by his own negligence. His actions killed four of my best research scientists. These men were also my friends.”
“There was no negligence, Admiral, admit it!”
“Your father, I remember him well, was stealing ideas from the institute. He knew we were looking into the matter. It happened during some tests we were running on the Seaview during construction. In his desire for stealing plans, he overlooked several safety procedures that killed him as well as the other men.”
“Yes... yes... I’ve heard all those lies before.”
“It’s the truth!” Nelson stated. “There was a full investigation of the accident, implicating your father’s negligence as it’s cause.”
“Ah, yes... the great and thorough investigation. Let’s see now, An investigation done by your hand picked investigators, done within the confines of your institute... what other answer could they find that would allow you to continue the building of your glorious Seaview.”
“What does that have to do with all you’ve been doing? It’s safe to assume, that you are the one responsible for all that’s been going on?”
“I see you’ve heard the news. Yes, Admiral... it was me... or was it?” Wilson pointed to his submarine, “You haven’t told me what you thought of ‘my’ Seaview. What you see out there is the work of five long years. Yes, it is amazing what a man can do with a small amount of sheet metal as a disguise. You know, Admiral, I think it’s a pretty good likeness, don’t you? Come on, now... you must admit that it’s very convincing. After all, it has fooled everyone who had the misfortune to see it.”
“All those innocent people... why? If you had a grudge against me, why all the things you’ve done? Why not just come after me?”
“You don’t know?”
“No! I don’t! I ask you again Wilson... Why?”
It’s really simple, Admiral. You see... twenty five years ago, your little investigation destroyed the good name of my father. He was a great man... it was unfortunate that he became involved with the likes of you.”
Wilson reached into his pocket and withdrew a small black box with a red button. He placed his finger on the button and held it down.
Pointing to the box, Crane asked, “What is that?”
Looking down at his hand and the box, “Oh, this? Let’s just call it my insurance policy.”
“What do you mean... insurance policy?” Nelson asked.
“You must realize, Admiral, that I have little trust for your actions. This little box is my ticket for a safe journey off Seaview... when I’m ready.”
Turning to the Chief, Nelson asked, “Did these two have the chance to place a bomb on Seaview?”
Sharkey shook his head, “No, Sir! They were never out of our site!”
“Relax, Admiral.” Wilson added. “There’s no bomb aboard. You remember earlier I informed you that my submarine had her torpedoes loaded and ready?”
“Well, when I pressed this button, I activated a red light on the firing panel. Should I, for some unfortunate situation, release this button, that light goes out. Ten seconds later, those four torpedoes will find their way to your Seaview.”
“But, you will die too.”
Laughing, Wilson answered, “You still don’t understand, do you... It doesn’t matter. Some people never reach all their goals in life... I have!”
“Wilson, you’re mad!”
“No, Admiral... not at all. I would say that it’s you, Nelson, that has gone mad, or so the world thinks! You saw the news reports... The entire world believes you’re crazy. You sank all those ships. You sank those two cruise ships, killing all those innocent people. You must remember... that the world saw your Seaview actually fire a nuclear missile at New York.”
Nelson started to lunge at Wilson, but Wilson simply held up the small black box, “Please Admiral, sit down. There’s more...”
Lee reached Nelson and urged him to sit down. “What do you mean... there’s more?”
“Very good, Captain. You control your Admiral. We wouldn’t want any accidents...” Looking back at Nelson, he continued, “Yes, Admiral, there is more... What I’m sure you don’t know is that after you destroyed my father’s good name and took his life, my mother was never quite the same. It was only a few months after the events at your institute that she took her own life.”
“Surely, Wilson, you can’t blame me for that!”
“Oh, but I did... and still do! I was totally alone at ten years old. I made a resolution then that you would pay for your crimes against my family. My goal was not to kill you... that would have been too easy... but rather to destroy your great name. To turn the world against you.” With a look of pride in his eyes, “... and I have done that!”
“The world will find out it was you. You will not get away with this!”
“I already have, Admiral. Have you forgotten? The Navy ships destroyed you and your Seaview, and you don’t think you’re ever going to get back to shore. Even you are not that foolish.”
“So, you do intend on killing me. If that is your plan, why not get on with it?”
“Admiral, please... you still don’t understand... I’m not going to kill you and none of my men are going to either. Because, you see, Admiral, your own men right here on the Seaview will kill you.”
The Captain spoke up, “That’s absurd! What makes you think any man here would do something like that?”
Laughing at the men of the Seaview, Wilson tried to explain, “Easy, Captain... You see, Captain, all I’ve done so far... the ships, the innocent people and the missile... were all done to avenge my father’s death through the destruction of your Admiral’s reputation in the world.”
“We know all that! That doesn’t tell us why you think a crew member aboard Seaview would ever lift a hand against Admiral Nelson.”
“You didn’t let me finish, Sir. Nothing I’ve done so far has begun to avenge my mother’s death. I have a special plan that will satisfy that need. Once that portion of my plan has been completed, trust me... your trusty seamen will be lining up to get their hands around Nelson’s throat.”
“There is nothing you could do that would cause that!”
“Ah, but there is... I remind you of the news footage that I’m sure you saw earlier. Right now, back at your Institute, the family members of all your crew have gathered in there sorrow at their losses.” Looking at his watch, he added, “What you may not know is that there will be a memorial service starting in about five hours.”
“So... the Seaview... my Seaview, is going to put in an appearance. It will make a rather ‘loud’ appearance. You must remember, I only fired one of my nuclear missiles, leaving me with seven more. Those remaining missiles will be wired on a timer to detonate one hour after surfacing at the institute.” Looking directly at Nelson, “You took my family away from me... and I’m going to take the family of every member of your crew. Now... are you still so sure that not one man here will not look forward to killing you? After all, Admiral... this is all your doing.”
The Admiral stood waving his fist at Wilson, “You are insane! You won’t get away with this!”
“Oh, but I will! I’ve thought of everything. I’ve covered every possibility.”
“No... you haven’t! We could kill you right here... right now.” Wilson started to talk, but the Admiral continued, “Yes... yes... I know... the torpedoes. I can assure you that there is not one man on board that would not sacrifice there own lives to save their loved ones.”
“Such a noble thought, but you are mistaken. I told you, my life goal has already been reached, so death does not bother me. However, your men would die right here and it would not save their families. You must understand, Admiral... the course of action will continue... even with me gone.”
“But why? If you’re dead, your crew will surely not continue your insane plan.”
“I assure you they will! You might say that I don’t have what you would call a regular crew. I’ve made it a point to pull together a special breed of men for this mission.” Looking to Fletcher, “No offense, Fletch, but you might say, Admiral, I have gathered the most heartless individuals I could find. They only have one motive for a successful completion of their duties... money... and lot’s of it! There is a sizable amount waiting for each of them after they are through.”
“OK,” the Admiral said, “so you think you can still pull this off. But when you detonate seven Nuclear warheads, how will you ever be able to get your men off the submarine and safely away from the blast? You may feel your life is complete, but are your men ready to die this way?”
Captain Wilson, looked at the Admiral with a sense of pride on his face. He was indeed proud of the fact that he had thought of everything and was glad to share this plan of success with him. “Nelson, your thinking is so naive. My men will not be in any danger. They will be safely aboard a cargo ship, scheduled to meet my sub before we enter your harbor. Fletcher, here, and I will take the Seawolf in alone. Once we begin to surface, we will leave the sub ourselves in a mini sub that has been modified for high speed. We will be a safe distance away before the blast. It is unfortunate, for you, that all those people at your memorial will not be able to get out in time.”
“We’ll hunt you down! We’ll stop you as soon as you leave here. You said it yourself... you’re not going to kill us. You will live to regret that choice.”
“You’re right Admiral... I said that I would not kill you here... but it is here that you will die. But, before you do... you will feel the blast that ended the lives of so many loved ones...”
But, if you aren’t going to kill us, then how...”
Checking his watch one more time, “Admiral... We really must be going now. We have so much to do.” He turned to Fletcher, who had been quite the whole time of the meting, “Fletch, do you have it with you?”
“Yes, Sir! Right here,” he said reaching into his pocket.
“Very well, then. You may take care of it now.”
Fletcher pulled out a small grenade from his pocket, went over to the hatch to the flying sub and proceeded to open it.
Captain Crane and Chief Sharkey started to make a move towards Fletcher, but were stopped when Wilson held up his little black box.
Fletcher pulled the pin and tossed the grenade into the flying sub and slammed down and secured the hatch. There was a muffled explosion felt throughout the Seaview.
Nelson called out, “What the devil was that for? You could have blown up the Seaview with a move like that!”
“No Admiral, just a small blast to disable your flying sub. We wouldn’t want you to decide to leave your men here to die alone. It’s only right that you be here when they come looking for you. I assure you they will! Now we really must be leaving. There is one more thing we need to do before we leave.”
“And just what is that?”
“Come along, Admiral and see for yourself,” Wilson said as he led the way from the observation nose.
Admiral Nelson, along with Captain Crane and Sharkey, followed Wilson and Fletcher on their way back to the missile room. On the way they came to the circuitry room.
Wilson stopped and said, “Well, we’re here,” as he opened the door and followed Fletcher into the room.
Crane was looking for a chance to get to Wilson, but was reminded to keep his distance by that little box. Fletcher began looking over the various panels and shortly located the ones he was interested in.
“Found them, Sir,” he said to Wilson. “Should I proceed?”
“By all means, Fletch. You know what to do.”
Fletcher reached into specific panels and pull out large sections of wires. The sparks flew from the panels. The Seaview shuddered as the power shorts cause a loss of power to engineering. It was clear to the Admiral that the sub was losing trim and was heading towards the bottom.
“There, Admiral... that should take care of any plans you had for following us.”
“It won’t prevent us from hunting you down... only delay us. But rest assured, we will find you!”
“I’m afraid not, Admiral. Your men are going to be too busy with another repair. One they feel will be far more important.”
“What repair” Nelson asked, knowing he didn’t really want an answer.
Wilson nodded approval to Fletcher who went to one more panel of wires and pulled almost every wire out of it’s harness. Once again, sparks began to fly and the electrical panel burst into flames.
“I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, Admiral, but that was your air revitalizing system. Don’t you agree? I’m sure your men will want to spend time trying to repair the air system. But, you can’t surface and you will never repair the system before the air runs out...”
Fletcher shoved Crane away from the door as he and Wilson continued their trip to the missile room to suit up and return to their sub. Wilson carefully handed the black box to Fletcher after he was into his diving gear. In a few moments, Wilson was also ready to leave.
“Well, Admiral, I’d like to say this was fun... well, maybe it was for me. I’m really kind of glad that you escaped the Navy ships. I think it’s better this way. A condemned man should always know the reasons for his death.”
With that, Fletcher and Wilson entered the chamber. The rush of water could be heard as the outer hatch opened and they left the Seaview to continue with their mission of death.
Within moments after the men had left the Seaview, the Captain and the Admiral jumped into motion. Nelson turned to Sharkey, “Chief, you saw the damage in the circuitry room... how long do you think repairs will take?”
The Chief, who had already been thinking about repairs, said, “About four hours, Sir. I can have crews on the engineering controls and the air revitalization systems in a few minutes.”
Nelson shook his head, “Chief, forget the air system. We need power to engineering and we need it soon. We have about six hours of air left. We don’t have that much time if we are to save those at the institute.”
“Right, Sir!” the Chief said. Reassessing his plans of repair, he continued, “One hour, Sir. You have my guarantee. We’ll be ready to move on your command, Sir!”
Nelson slapped him on the back, “That’s what I wanted to hear. One hour... I’m counting on you. Everyone’s counting on you!”
“Yes, Sir, Admiral,” he said as he rushed of to get volunteers to begin the needed repairs.
Nelson turned back to the Captain, “Let’s go get our plans in order. We still have a chance...”
“A slim one, Admiral,” Lee said.
“Maybe so, Lee, but it is a chance... Let’s go.”
Nelson and Lee went to the Admiral’s cabin to work out the details. Chip Morton met them in the corridor as they approached the Admiral’s cabin.
Lee stopped Chip, “Good, your here... I need you to set down a course to Santa Barbara. I need the most direct course you can plot.”
“But, Sir, we have no power to engineering, we can’t move off the bottom.”
“That’s being taken care of. I need that course set and I’ll need the men to be ready to move as soon as power is restored!”
Chip turned to return to the control room, Aye, Sir!” As he was leaving, he heard the Admiral say to Lee as the door was closing... here’s what we’re going to do...
Chip felt he still had a sense of hope. He was sure that the Admiral and Captain Crane would find a way to get out of this situation.
The Admiral and Lee were still in the Admiral’s cabin when the call came over the intercom, “Admiral, Sharkey here, Sir.”
“Yes Chief, how’s it going down there?”
“We’ll have full power back to engineering within five minutes, Sir.”
“Fantastic news, Chief. Well done!”
“Thank you, Sir,” Sharkey said as he hung the mic on the hook and passed on the congratulations to his men. He knew he had a great crew and they proved it again today.
Lee checked his watch and said to Nelson, “Well, look at that.”
“What’s that, Lee?”
“One hour, almost to the minute!”
“You mean you had your doubts?”
“No, Sir! Not me.”
“Come on Lee,” Nelson said, “That’s only the first step. Let’s get to the Control Room.”
“Aye, aye, Sir”
They came running into the Control Room and several of the crew had to jump out of their way. Cranes first stop was at the plotting table where Chip was waiting.
“Mr. Morton,” Lee asked, “Is the course plotted?”
“Yes, Sir! Plotted and assigned to the helm. We’re ready to move as soon as power’s restored.”
With that, there was a shudder along the entire Seaview as the engine came back on line and the submarine began to lift from the ocean floor.”
Lee questioned the Admiral, “Do you think it’s safe to begin following him yet?”
Nelson checked his watch, “Yes, Lee. He should be setting his crew off onto the cargo ship right about now. With just the two of them on board, there will be no one manning sonar. Let’s get underway”
“Aye, Sir,” Lee said, giving orders to Chip, “Mr. Morton, let’s get moving! Full Speed ahead.”
“Yes, Sir!” Chip replied. He then passed on the commands to engineering and helm to move on the preset course. The Seaview snapped to life. All the men in the Control Room as well as at every station throughout the submarine, knew this was the most crucial mission they would ever be on. They performed at their very best.
After about an hour of full speed, Kowalski called out a report, “Captain. Sonar contact.”
“What is it, Ski?”
“Surface ship, reads like a cargo ship.”
“She’s moving away from us at about ten knots. Our course should take us past her unnoticed.”
“Fine. Any sign of the Seawolf?”
“No, Sir, no signs of any submarines in our area.”
“OK, keep alert!”
“Yes, Sir,” Kowalski said, turning all his attention back to the sonar.
“Well, Admiral,” said Lee, how’s our schedule look? We going to make it?”
“Lee, we have no choice. We have to make it.”
Another hour passed... then another... The memorial service was to begin within the hour. The thoughts of all the men were with their families back at the institute. There seemed to be an extra surge of power to the Seaview as she continued on her way to the harbor.
Kowalski, once again shouted out, “Sonar! Another contact, Sir!”
“What is it, Ski, another surface ship?”
“No, Sir. It’s a submarine... readings indicate a minisub. Moving at a high speed.”
Nelson looked to the Captain. They both knew what it was. Everything was now going by their plan... and not Wilson’s. They felt a rush of encouragement that they would indeed be in time.
She’s coming out of the channel, she’s coming right at us. Range 1,000 yards and closing.”
The Admiral turned to Lee, “This is it... Let’s get to the observation nose!”
“Yes, Sir, “Lee said, already running to keep up with Nelson.
Lee passed him and reached up for the laser beam control. He checked out the controls and the power level.
“800 yards, and closing,” Kowalski called out.
“Remember, Lee... you’re only going to get one shot.”
Lee with his palms starting to sweat, pulled all his attention to the laser controls, “Yes, Sir... I know...”
“600 yards... 400 yards... still closing... 200 yards...”
Lee could now make out the shape of the minisub in the distance.
Lee locked on the target with the controls. He could swear he could see the look of surprise on Wilson’s face as he saw the Seaview coming right at him. He tried to make a quick maneuver, but it was too late...
Lee fired the laser... with a resulting explosion of a direct hit. The minisub along with it’s occupants vanished from view.
Nelson gave Lee a sharp slap on the back.. “You got him! Great shooting!”
“Thank you, Sir, but missing was defiantly not an option!”
“OK, Lee. Let’s go... we’re not out of this yet. We’ve got to get to that sub!”
Lee ran back to the Control Room with Nelson right on his heels. “Chip, we’ve no time for a general surfacing... thirty degrees up bubble... full speed ahead!!!”
“Aye, aye, Sir!”
Chip relayed the commands to all needed areas.
Lee added, “Mr. Morton, we need to be as close as possible to that sub... within fifty feet if you can.”
“No problem, Skipper! Chip added, We’ll put you right next to her.”
The Seaview was on it’s way into the bay and moving towards the surface at full speed. All the crew members were hanging on to anything to maintain balance as the Seaview broke through the surface and crashed down level on the surface. She came to a complete halt, almost instantly.
Nelson and Lee, with grappling hooks in hand made there exit onto the deck of the Seaview. They could see the crowd of people, all the families and friends of her crew looking on in awe as a second Seaview surfaced.
Crane was very proud of his friend, Chip, who had placed the Seaview less than forty feet away from the other submarine.
Lee swung the grappling hook around his head and tossed it to the deck of the other sub. It caught successfully on the first attempt. He then tied his end off on the Seaview and turned to Nelson.
“As ready as I’ll ever be... Let’s get over there...”
The Admiral followed his Captain over the rope towards their destination. In only moments, they were standing on the deck, looking at the crowd waving to them in disbelief.
They started for the hatch, “Let’s go Lee. I don’t know how much time we have.”
“Right behind you, Sir.”
They lowered themselves into the Control Room. “Quick, Lee. We’ve got to find the detonator.”
“The missile room, Admiral. It’s got to be there.”
They were running through this strange submarine towards the missile room. While she looked like the Seaview on the outside, it was a whole different submarine under the shell.
Once in the missile room, they began their search.
They could see the wires running to all the nuclear missile silos. Nelson knew instantly that Wilson was intent on blowing up the institute and everyone there.
Lee shouted out, “Admiral... Over here!!!”
Nelson was beside Lee in seconds. “You found it?”
“Do you see a timer?”
Lee looked around the device. He froze when he saw the other side, revealing the count down timer.
“Yes, Admiral... here it is...” He looked at the Admiral, “We’re too late... it’s reading three minutes.”
“We’re not to late... yet, Nelson replied.”
The Admiral made a quick scan of the device and decided it was time to move. He reached down and ripped off the stamped steel cover exposing a mass of wires. Lee continued to watch the timer.
“Less than two minutes, Admiral”
The Admiral didn’t respond. His attention was on the wires and trying to locate the key wire to deactivate the unit.
“Uh, Admiral... thirty seconds... can you do it?”
Lee watched the counter tic the seconds away... 20... 15... 10...
The Admiral, hoping he made the right decision, reached in and grabbed the wire of his choice and pulled it totally out of the unit...
Lee was holding his breath, not sure if he’d breathed his last. There was a moment of shock when the counter stopped... on 6 seconds...
There was a moment of silence with Lee and Harry just looking at each other. They both broke out in a loud laughter... enjoying their success. Lee returned an earlier favor , slapping Nelson on his back.
“Great job, Sir... but don’t you think you cut it a little close?”
Nelson leaned over to take a look at the timer, “Oh, Lee... we had plenty of time...”
With another surge of laughter to relax from the stress of a few moments ago, they began to make their way back out of the sub. They wanted to report to Chip and the rest of the crew that the danger has been removed. They knew the crew had no idea that the missiles had been stopped.
Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane were now standing side by side on the conning tower of the Seaview, which was now properly place in it’s dock. They were both just enjoying the site before them...
“You know, Lee... I seen many sites throughout my time on the Seaview, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything as wonderful as this.”
Lee didn’t have to ask what he meant by that. Yes, Admiral, I must agree with you. Seeing the crew reunited with their loved ones... it’s what it is all about.”
“Yes, it’s wonderful...”
“Admiral, what about the men from the Seawolf?”
“Oh, I had Sparks radio the ships location to the Pacific Fleet. By now I’m sure they are all in custody and will pay for their crimes.”
Lee looked out into the harbor at the “other” Seaview. “Well, I’m glad we still have the best evidence possible to clear your name with all the people in the world.”
“No argument there, Lee. You know, it really is strange.”
“What’s that, Sir?”
“What about him?”
“Well he had everything planned... left nothing to chance... he was missing one major fact in his plans, though...”
“What’s that, Admiral?”
It’s simple, Lee... He had no way of knowing the most important feature of the Seaview... the one thing he hadn’t counted on...”
“The crew, Lee! The men of the Seaview.” They returned their gaze to the crowd on shore.
“That’s right, Sir. They are the best!”
“What do you say... let’s join the reunion.”
“I’m right with you,” Lee said as they started to leave the Seaview.
“Oh,” the Admiral said, “one more thing...”
“This is going to be the last mission...”
With a questioning look, Lee asked, “Last mission?”
“Yes, Lee,” the Admiral replied. “The last mission we take without telling someone where we’re going....”
Both men laughed in agreement as they went to join their men and their families... it was going to be the best shore leave the men of the Seaview had ever had...
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