by Chris Allen
Admiral Harriman Nelson sat down at his desk and consulted the thick envelope of papers he had removed from the safe in his cabin. The words TOP SECRET were boldly stamped across the front of the envelope which was to be opened only after Seaview had cleared the harbour at Santa Barbara. He opened the seals on the envelope and spent a few minutes perusing the contents. He then pushed the button on the intercom on his desk and asked Captain Crane to report to his cabin immediately.
A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door.
“Come in, Lee.” Nelson knew that his captain would waste no time in reporting to the Admiral’s cabin. Captain Lee Crane was as anxious as Nelson to find out what all the secrecy was about. Government officials had spent an entire day going over the submarine from stem to stern the day before they had left port. Each member of the hand-picked skeleton crew had been thoroughly checked out before they reported for duty that morning. All supplies and personal belongings had been searched. Even Nelson had not known why there was so much security, until now.
“Have you got our orders, Admiral?” asked Lee.
“Yes, Lee. Take a look at this.” Nelson handed the documents to Crane who looked them over and then looked up at the Admiral.
“No wonder they tripled security on the Seaview,” said Crane. “I had no idea we were going to be hosting so many important people all at the same time.”
“According to these papers, we are to rendezvous with five different ships from five different countries. Each ship will be carrying a VIP. The Seaview will be providing bed and breakfast for two prime ministers, one defense chief, two ambassadors and our very own president.” Nelson grinned at Lee. “You had better inform the crew to start polishing the silverware. We are going to have a summit meeting right here aboard the Seaview!”
“Aye, aye sir!” Crane headed for the door and quietly closed it behind him. He thought that Nelson was in an unusually good mood considering the big job they had ahead of them.
The Captain headed for the Control Room and apprised Chip Morton of the situation. If anyone could get the Seaview in shape for the influx of guests it was Chip. The Seaview’s Executive Officer was as efficient as they come.
The first rendezvous was at 0800 in two days time. They were to pick up the President of the United States from a carrier at a predetermined destination. Crane looked up from the charts at the plot table as the Admiral descended the spiral staircase into the Control Room.
“Well, Lee, ready for the inspection?”
Crane smiled. “Chief Sharkey has been having the men go over the boat from top to bottom. He’s been like a Mother Hen herding the chicks around, getting everything ready for inspection. He’s waiting for us in the Missile Room.”
Nelson laughed at the comparison of Sharkey to a Mother Hen. “Well, we’d better not keep the Chief waiting any longer than we have to.”
“Aye, sir.” Crane looked over toward Chip Morton. “You’ve got the conn, Chip.”
Crane grabbed his clipboard and followed the Admiral through the hatchway and toward the Missile Room.
The dignitaries were piped aboard the Seaview with all the pomp and ceremony that the crew could muster. The President was accompanied by his secretary and one of his bodyguards. As space was limited on the Seaview, each dignitary was only allowed two others to accompany him. The President was shown to one of the executive suites and no sooner was he settled in than the Seaview headed toward the next rendezvous point.
Within 36 hours all five representatives were safely aboard the submarine. Nelson’s orders were to proceed to predesignated coordinates so that the summit meeting could begin.
The men of the Seaview were used to receiving visitors from many parts of the world. The President of the United States had sailed with them twice before but they were a little overwhelmed to be hosting so many important people all at one time. Sharkey kept the crew on their toes making sure that proper protocol was observed at all times.
“Hey Chief,” inquired Kowalski, “What’s going on with all these important guys being on the boat at the same time? From what I read in the newspaper, not all of them are on friendly terms. What are we going to do if they start fighting each other?”
Sharkey rolled his eyes, “Ski, the only part of the newspaper I’ve ever seen you read is the funnies. So why don’t we let the Admiral and the Skipper worry about the visitors and you and I will just stick to minding our own business?”
“Sure, Chief. I was just wondering.”
“Just make sure you do your job and let the big brass do theirs. OK?” Sharkey glanced at his watch and glared at Kowalski. “And aren’t you supposed to be in the Control Room right about now?”
Kowalski could see he wasn’t going to get any information out of Sharkey. “Aye, Chief. On my way.”
A large table with chairs had been set up in the Observation Nose, Nelson’s “front porch”, for the meetings. The crash doors that separated the nose from the Control Room were kept closed to ensure privacy. Admiral Nelson had the honor of chairing the meeting. It was an impressive group of people that sat around the table.
The crew in the Control Room knew that something important was happening behind the closed doors and they continued to perform their duties to ensure the smooth operation of the submarine. Lee Crane and Chip Morton stood at the plot table discussing the day’s events.
“Lee,” Chip inquired in a low voice, “what exactly are they here to discuss? I don’t mind telling you that I’m a bit uneasy about having all these VIPs on the boat.”
“Well, most of what they are talking about is top secret but the Admiral did say that the other countries are trying to convince the Prime Minister of Tragua to join with the Alliance of Nations. He’s the one who consented to meet only if the talks could be held on Seaview. He had refused to attend any meetings in any of the other four countries and he didn’t want to meet in Tragua because of the threat of the rebel forces in his country. It seems they would do anything to prevent him from agreeing to join the Alliance. That’s about all I know.” Crane looked over at his Executive Officer. “I have to agree with you though, Chip. I’ll be glad when the meetings are concluded and the VIPs are safely back home in their own countries. I’m not happy about having only a skeleton crew on board. If anything should happen . . . .”
“The Seventh Fleet is not too far away. They are on standby alert in case of trouble.”
“Remind the men again, Chip. If there’s any contact on sonar that could mean trouble, they are to sing out right away. I don’t want anything getting anywhere near the Seaview.”
“I’ll see to it right away, Skipper.”
Nelson thought that they were finally making some progress. The Prime Minister of Tragua was almost convinced that his country would benefit greatly by joining with the other countries. The Prime Minister had sent his bodyguard in search of some papers that he had left in his cabin, but the man had not returned after ten minutes so he then sent his secretary to find out what had happened to the first man. While they were all waiting for the two men to return they decided to take a break for coffee and sandwiches.
Lee Crane glanced at his watch and sighed. Another two hours before Chip was to relieve him. He surveyed the Control Room and was pleased to see that the men were busy at their stations and everything was running smoothly. The Seaview had remained at neutral buoyancy since the talks had begun. They were lying a hundred feet below the surface with another three hundred feet to the bottom.
It had been a very uneventful watch with just the occasional interruption as food and coffee were delivered to the Observation Nose every few hours. This necessitated opening the crash doors to allow the men delivering the food to enter and leave as quickly as possible. From time to time, Crane was afforded a glimpse of the Admiral who seemed tired but was obviously quite involved in the proceedings. The crash doors were secured once more and there had been no further interruptions in the last hour.
Crane ran his hands through his hair and felt the beginnings of a headache. He suddenly realized that he was extremely tired and was actually beginning to feel unwell. Must be coming down with something. Maybe I’d better call Chip and go off watch early. Crane’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a dull thud. As he turned to look in the direction of the sound, a wave of dizziness struck him and he grabbed onto the edge of the plot table to steady himself. The room started to spin as he turned to see Kowalski lying on the floor and the rest of the crew staggering about, falling to the deck, gasping for air.
The blackness began to engulf him as Crane tried to stay on his feet but couldn’t. Oxygen, emergency oxygen. Have to reach it. Crane lay on the deck trying to focus on the cabinet where the emergency oxygen was kept. He began to crawl over to the cabinet, struggling to pull himself along, unable to see anything but a swirling haze as he fought to stay conscious. Almost there, got to get the oxy. . . . As Crane finally reached the cabinet and stretched his fingers out towards the handle, a sudden sharp pain shot through his arm and the last thing he was aware of was the sight of someone’s foot pressing down on his arm, pinning it to the floor. . .and then something hit him on the side of the head, more pain. . . . and then there was nothing.
It was dark, very dark, and the fog was thick, muffling the sounds nearby. There were whispers and mumblings and the pain and something else. . . . .movement, vibration. Another voice, louder now, calling, anxious.
“Skipper, skipper. Can you hear me?” Dr. Jamieson looked over at Chip Morton. “He’s coming around, Chip.”
Lee Crane opened his eyes slowly and immediately wished he hadn’t. As consciousness returned, so did the pain. He tried to move, to sit up and regretted that decision also. The pain worsened. Someone held him down, preventing him from trying to get up.
“Lay still, skipper. Take your time.” Doc loosened his grip on the Captain’s shoulders and watched his patient carefully. “You’ve got a nasty cut on the head and your wrist is broken. I’ve done what I can but until they let me get you to Sickbay you’ll just have to lie here and try not to move too much.”
Crane began to take stock of his surroundings. He was lying on the deck in the Control Room. He looked up into the concerned faces of Chip and Doc. Crane struggled to sit up again. His right wrist was bound tightly with what looked like heavy cardboard and two uniform ties, his own and Chip’s from what he could see. Doc helped him to sit and had him lean against the wall for support. He still felt light-headed and was having difficulty figuring out what had happened.
“Seaview has been taken over, Lee,” said Chip matter-of-factly, in answer to the questioning look on the Captain’s face. “They piped in some nerve gas that knocked everyone out. When we came to, there were two of them standing over us with gas masks on and carrying guns. Most of the crew is locked up in the Crew’s Quarters except those needed to run the boat. And yes, we are underway. They brought Doc here. One of them said that they want all the senior officers here together.” Chip looked down at the incredulous look on Crane’s face. “That’s about it.”
“The Admiral . . .?”
“We don’t know, Lee. They opened the crash doors but there was no one there. I don’t know what they have done with the Admiral and the President and all the others.”
Crane glanced toward the weapons locker and Chip quickly read his mind. “No use. They took all the weapons. They said if anyone left the Control Room then they would go to the Crew’s Quarters and shoot one of the men. Oh, and the radio is dead, too. They seemed to have kept themselves quite busy while we were all taking a nap.” Crane managed a weak smile at Chip’s comments.
“Well, Captain Crane, you are finally awake. Good.” The voice belonged to a man dressed in dark clothing and carrying an automatic rifle. As he descended the spiral staircase he checked the Control Room carefully before entering. Crane recognized the man as the bodyguard to the Prime Minister of Tragua.
“I hope you have all been behaving yourselves. I really don’t want to have to shoot anyone, especially since we need most of you alive to help run this submarine.” The man continued to keep a watchful eye on his prisoners. “I must congratulate you for only having a small crew on board this trip. It makes our job a lot easier.”
“What do you want with us?” Crane struggled to get to his feet and leaned heavily on the plot table. Doc stood next to him, anxiously watching.
“We are taking your submarine and everyone aboard to an island that our forces presently occupy. There, you will all be kept safe until the ransom is paid. I’m sure each of the countries will pay dearly for the safe return of their leaders. Once we receive the money, you will be allowed to return to your own countries.”
“You expect us to believe that you will allow us to go free?” Crane retorted. “The minute the Seventh Fleet lost contact with the Seaview, they would have begun a search for us. You’ll never be able to get away from them. They will track you right to this island of yours.”
The man seemed unaffected by Crane’s words. “That, Captain Crane is where you and your men come in. The Seaview is capable of eluding even the fastest destroyers and can outrun any other submarine in the world. You will get us safely to the island.”
“And if we refuse?”
“Then we will begin the execution of all unnecessary personnel.” The man handed a sheet of paper to Crane. “These are your instructions. Follow them carefully and everyone will remain safe.”
As the man turned to head back up the spiral staircase, Doc Jamieson called out to him. “You have to let me take the Captain to the Sickbay so I can set his arm. He won’t be any use to you in the condition he is in right now.”
The man looked back at the Captain who was barely able to stand. He thought for a moment and then addressed Doc, “No, I wish him to stay here but I will allow you to go and fetch any medical supplies that you may need.”
“I need to X ray the arm and put it in a cast . I can’t do that here!”
“You will have to make do, doctor, just don’t try anything that you may regret. You have five minutes to collect what you need and return here or this man . .” A gun was pointed at Kowalski who was manning sonar. “. . .will be permanently off duty.” The man smiled at his own joke and motioned for Doc to hurry on his way.
Doc looked over at the Captain who indicated for him to go and get what was needed.
Doc quickly left the Control Room and headed for Sickbay, fully aware that he didn’t have much time.
Doc Jamieson quickly gathered the medical supplies he needed for the Captain and added some extra bandages and pain killers just in case. He knew the Skipper wasn’t about to let these men take the Seaview to the island without a fight but he hoped there wouldn’t be any more casualties. Checking through the medicine cabinet he gathered a few more supplies that he thought might come in useful. A plan began to form in his mind but the more he thought about it the more he realized it might be very risky and could cost the lives of some of the crew. Realizing his five minutes was nearly up he quickly headed back to the Control Room.
As Doc entered through the hatchway he was immediately stopped by the bodyguard.
“Let me see what you have there,” ordered the man. Doc laid his supplies down on the plot table and the man checked through them carefully. He picked up a bottle of medicine and examined the label.
“What is this for?” he asked.
Doc looked at the bottle in the man’s hand and answered, “It’s pain medication for the Captain.”
The man rummaged through the rest of the supplies and seemed content with what he saw. Doc gathered the things together again and quickly went to examine Crane who was sitting on the deck again, leaning up against the wall. He seemed to be in quite a bit of pain so Doc immediately gave him some of the medicine he had brought. He then reexamined the Captain’s wrist and with Chip’s help managed to immobilize it using the splints and bandages that he had brought. He then checked the Skipper’s head wound and bandaged the cut.
The man watched the proceedings with interest but continued to keep a watchful eye on the rest of the crew. He then wandered over to the Observation Nose and remained there, looking out the windows and occasionally glancing around the Control Room.
Crane was beginning to feel a bit better now that the pain in his arm had lessened. He still felt a bit weak from the blow to the head but he realized he’d better figure out what to do about the situation they were in. They still had no idea where the Admiral and the dignitaries were being kept. He assumed they were probably safe for now since they were going to be held for ransom.
Doc glanced over at the man who was standing in the nose. His back was turned to them and Doc saw his chance. He nudged the Captain who looked up at him curiously. Doc reached into his shirt front pocket and produced a hypodermic needle filled with liquid, being careful to keep it hidden from the bodyguard’s view.
“Perhaps I can get him to take a little nap.” Doc grinned at Chip and Crane who immediately became very interested in what Doc had to say. “I need to get close enough so I can get this into him. The only problem is that the medication will take about thirty seconds before it takes effect. He could do a lot of damage with that gun in thirty seconds.”
“We’ll have to chance it, Doc,” replied Crane, looking at Chip who nodded in agreement.
“Skipper, if you can stage a relapse and get his attention then if he comes close enough, I can get the needle into him and maybe Chip can try and get the gun away from him.”
Before they could settle on the details of the plan, the man came back towards them shouting and brandishing the rifle, “What are you talking about over there?”
“I’m just checking on the Captain,” said Doc in a calm voice.
The man looked at Chip. “You, get over there!” He indicated for Chip to go over to the periscope island. “And stay there!”
Chip slowly moved over to the periscope island and sat down on the steps, keeping his eyes on the man and the rifle that was pointed at him.
“And you,” said the man, pointing at Doc. “Move away from Captain Crane and sit down over there by the window.”
Doc quickly pushed the syringe into his medical bag and started walking toward the Observation Nose carrying his bag. “You don’t need that,” said the man pointing at the bag. “Leave it there with the rest of your supplies.” Doc hesitated and then put the bag down and walked over to the window.
The man then turned to Crane who was still sitting and leaning against the wall and sneered at him, “And you, Captain, stay right where you are. Relax and have a good rest. I am going to need you very soon.” He walked away, laughing to himself, then glanced at his watch and took out his walkie talkie.
All eyes were on the bodyguard as he checked in with his accomplice who was standing guard outside the Crew’s Quarters. They had agreed to call each other every ten minutes.
Crane closed his eyes and leaned against the wall. His wrist was throbbing again. He had to try and clear his head to think. The medical bag was on the floor by the plot table, about ten feet away from him. If I can get to that bag and find the syringe, maybe I can get the needle into him. He opened his eyes and looked at his injured right arm. He couldn’t move his fingers; Doc had bandaged his hand and wrist. I guess not. Chip will have to do it. He glanced up and saw that Chip was looking at him. It was almost as if Chip could read his thoughts. We’ve got less than ten minutes before he checks in with his friend. Well, there’s no time like right now. Crane looked up at Chip again and nodded. Chip nodded to indicate he was ready.
Crane slowly got to his feet and began to groan and stagger towards the plot table. He put his hand up to his head and groaned again and began to sway and then fell heavily against the plot table, inches from the medical bag.
The man began to carefully make his way toward Crane, who was lying on the deck and wasn’t moving.
“Stay where you are!” said the man, as Doc and Chip and some of the men in the Control Room started to get up to help the Captain. “All of you!”
“I have to help him!” pleaded Doc.
“No! I told you to stay where you are!”
The man cautiously approached Crane’s inert body and bent over him. Doc began to walk slowly towards them but stopped suddenly when he saw the rifle pointing at him.
“I’m warning you, Doctor, don’t come any closer!”
Seeing his chance as the man was busy with Doc, Crane slowly slipped his fingers inside the medical bag and grabbed hold of the syringe. He quickly tossed it over to Chip who was watching him and waiting. The man saw the movement of Crane’s arm and quickly swung his rifle around, pointing it at Crane. At the same time Chip lunged forward with the syringe in his hand and plunged it into the man’s shoulder. The man swung out wildly with his rifle hitting Chip across the side of the head. Chip dropped heavily to the deck. Crane scrambled to get up and grabbed hold of the rifle with his one good hand. The man pushed Crane down and pointed his rifle at the fallen Captain. Kowalski lunged forward and swung the man around and shoved him to the deck. Soon the other crew members were in on the fight. The man quickly began to weaken as the drug took effect. Then he lay still.
Doc rushed over to help Chip who lay unconscious and bleeding from a large gash in his scalp. Crane grabbed the bodyguard’s rifle and handed it to Kowalski.
“Come on, Ski. We have to get the other man before the ten minutes are up.”
Crane turned to the helmsman. “In exactly three minutes, Grady, I want you to make a steep dive, hold it for ten seconds and then level off.”
“Aye, sir,” responded the helmsman.
Crane then addressed the rest of the crew in the Control Room. “Men, in three minutes this boat is going to make a sudden dive. Be ready and hang on.”
He then turned to Doc. “Doc, I . . . .”
“Don’t worry, Skipper,” Doc interrupted, “I’ll take care of Chip. You just do what you have to do.”
Crane smiled at Doc with a look of thanks. He signalled to Kowalski to follow him up the spiral staircase to the Crew’s Quarters. They had three minutes to get into position. On the way, Crane explained the plan to Kowalski.
Crane and Kowalski crept quietly down the passageway that led to the Crew’s Quarters. The man with the gun had stationed himself right outside the door where the rest of the crew was held captive. Crane and Kowalski waited just around the corner. Crane checked his watch and then signalled Kowalski to hang on.
Just then the boat made a sudden dive. Even though they knew about the manouveur, Crane and Kowalski could barely stay on their feet. Kowalski had to hang onto the Captain who was having trouble keeping his balance with only one good arm. The guard at the door was thrown to the deck, his gun flew out of his hand and the Captain and Kowalski went into action. As the boat began to level off, Crane made a dive for the gun and Kowalski lunged forward, throwing himself on top of the man. He had no difficulty subduing the man and delivered a beautiful right cross to the jaw that ended the fight almost before it had begun.
Kowalski searched the man’s pockets and located the key to the Crew’s Quarters. There was a commotion inside as he unlocked the door and Kowalski had to step back suddenly as Patterson hurled himself at what he thought was the guard coming in. A cheer went up when the crew recognized Kowalski and the Skipper.
Crane raised his hand to silence the jubilant sailors. “We can’t celebrate yet, men. We still have to find the Admiral and the others who were in the Observation Nose.” He turned to Kowalski. “Organize a search party, Ski. We have to find them quickly.”
Within a few minutes, the Admiral, the President and the other dignitaries had been located safe and sound in a storage room on C deck. They had been bound and gagged but were unharmed.
Doc Jamieson had just finished stitching the gash in Chip Morton’s head when Admiral Nelson came into the Sickbay. He looked first at his Executive Officer who was trying to convince Doc that he was ready to go back to duty and then he looked over at his Captain who was sporting a cast on his arm and a bandage on his forehead.
“Well, gentlemen, the President sends his congratulations on a job well done. All three of you are to be commended for the part you played in foiling the kidnappers.” Nelson looked over at Doc and smiled. “And by the way, Doc, the Prime Minister’s ex bodyguard is still knocked out from your sleeping potion. He’s resting comfortably in the brig along with the Prime Minister’s secretary. It seems that the two of them were members of the rebel forces who were sent to prevent the Prime Minister from joining the Alliance. The plan also was for them to hold the President and the other dignitaries for ransom. The money was to enable them to strengthen the position of the rebel forces so that they could buy some powerful weapons to help in their cause. It was lucky for us and the rest of the world that their plan failed.”
Nelson looked again at his battle-scarred officers. “Well the summit meeting was concluded a few hours ago and the Prime Minister of Tragua has decided that his country will join the Alliance after all. So our little adventure has concluded on a positive note.”
Nelson continued, “I think we all deserve a little shore leave after this latest mission.” He looked over at Doc, “We’ll be heading back to Santa Barbara now. As soon as the Captain and Mr. Morton are well enough, the three of you will be visiting the White House so the President can thank you in person. Meanwhile, try to keep these two from convincing you that they are ready to go back to duty.” Nelson smiled and headed for the door.
“Aye, Sir. And if they give me any trouble I’ll remind them that I have a good supply of hypodermic needles on hand and I’m not afraid to use them.”
Nelson laughed as he left the Sickbay and headed down the passageway, looking forward to a relaxing cup of coffee on his “front porch”.
Return to story index,
The Story Index
Return to Home Page,
The New Captain's Log