NIMR Reports is a Fan Fiction Magazine on the World Wide Web for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea starring Richard Basehart and David Hedison.


TREACHEROUS PASSAGE

by

Carla Keehn


Commander Chip Morton looked around cautiously before reaching for the hatch to the Missile Room. A tingling sensation suddenly traveled up his spine. I feel like I'm being watched . . .

Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a shadow darting out of the darkness of the corridor towards him. Too late, he reached for the gun holstered at his side.

"You didn't really think you could get away with taking over the ship, did you?" The Seaview's Captain grabbed Morton's wrist before it could reach the holster, then twisted the man's arm roughly behind his back.

Morton grunted as Crane pushed the pistol into his back. "I already have. I've taken care of the Admiral. Once I get rid of you, there won't be anyone left to stop me."

"The crew is loyal to me -- not you!" the Captain hissed contemptuously. "I just want to know one thing before you die. Why -- why did you decide to move against me?"

"I don't owe you any explanations!"

"I asked you a question. And I expect an answer unless you want to die right here and now!"

Morton took a sharp breath as Crane twisted his arm harder. "Because . . . I had to." He turned his head and glared at the Captain defiantly. "I finally realized that your cozy little friendship with the Admiral was keeping me from the captaincy. So I decided that the time had come to do something about it."

"We'll see about that -- I'm in charge of this ship and there isn't anything that you or anyone else can do to change that!" Crane released Morton's arm, then waved the gun towards the entryway in front of them. "Undog that hatch and get in there -- now."

Morton pulled open the watertight door.

Crane began to move forward, then stopped suddenly. "You first," he ordered, giving the Exec a forceful shove. "Just in case any of your mutinous friends are waiting for us in there." Once inside, the Captain glanced around; his eyes came to rest on the torpedo tubes.

The two men had served together on Seaview for many years; it wasn't difficult for Morton to figure out what his commanding officer had in mind. There's only one way to get a body off this ship without a trace . . . "It won't work, Lee. One of the others will only take my place -- you can't win!"

Crane smiled. "Getting nervous, Chip?" He leveled the gun at Morton. "I've heard enough of your talk -- get moving, over there -- now!"

Morton swallowed hard, then took a step forward. Suddenly a soft popping sound broke the tense silence. Crane's body stiffened momentarily as the drug-filled dart penetrated his back. He spun around angrily and found himself face to face with the Admiral.

"You?" He glared at Nelson. "You tricked me -- Chip said you were dead! You're both in this together!" Crane staggered as the drug began to take effect.

"I'm sorry, Lee." Nelson lowered the gun slowly. "It was the only way we could get you the help you need. Believe me, I wish there had been some other way . . ."

Morton saw a look of pain flash across the Admiral's face. He knew it had been difficult for Nelson to pull the trigger given the strong bond of friendship that existed between the Admiral and his Captain.

"Traitor!" Pulling himself up, the enraged man raised the gun.

The Admiral tensed as Crane's fingers tightened on the trigger. Instead of a gunshot, they heard Crane moan softly. The gun clattered to the floor. Then the Captain's knees buckled and he fell to the deck, unconscious.


Later, in Sick Bay . . .

Lee Crane swallowed hard, then shifted uncomfortably on the examination table as the voices filtered into the darkness around him.

"How is he, Doc?"

"He's lucky, Admiral. You just barely got the antidote to him in time."

"The drug didn't do any permanent damage?"

"No, sir, not that I can see."

"Chip, what about the rest of the containers we retrieved from the undersea storage facility?"

"I had them secured in one of the storage lockers, sir. There's a guard at the door -- no one gets in unless he has your written permission."

"Good. I don't want anyone else to have to go through what Lee did. Set a course for Santa Barbara at once. I want to get to port and get those things off Seaview as soon as possible."

"Aye, sir."

The voices stopped. The darkness suddenly gave way and Lee Crane squinted a moment as his eyes adjusted to the Sick Bay's bright lights.

"He's coming around now, Admiral." The Doctor looked down and gave the patient a satisfied nod. "Just lie still, Captain. You're going to be fine."

"Can I talk to him, Doc?"

"Just for a minute, Admiral." The Doctor left the two men alone in the examination room.

"Admiral . . ."

"Easy, Lee," Nelson soothed. "Doc says you'll be as good as new in a couple of days."

Crane nodded. "What happened? The last thing I remember is leaving the ship with a work detail, right after you left for Washington."

"Nothing after that?" The Admiral smiled. "It's going to be difficult for me to reprimand you, Captain, for failing to follow safety procedures if you can't remember what happened." Nelson paused, noticing the look of confusion on Crane's face, then continued. "I learned from our security people in Washington that the metal containers housed in that underwater facility contained a virulent chemical weapon. Washington believes that one of our 'allies' had planned to use the weapon to contaminate the major water supplies of the world."

"But how did I get here?"

"According to Kowalski, once you got to the storage facility, you disregarded your own orders about wearing protective gear. Because of the weight of the containers and the fact that some of them had been damaged, the protective gear was making it difficult to work. Some of the liquid from one of the damaged containers made contact with your skin. That was all it took." The Admiral gave his friend a serious look. "By the time I returned from Washington with a sample of the antidote, you were already experiencing a violent paranoiac reaction; you even suspected that Chip was trying to take control of the ship. I couldn't take the risk of you hurting yourself or the crew if we cornered you in the Control Room so Chip and I had to come up with some other plan to get the antidote into you."

"How could I suspect Chip of something like that . . ."

"Don't be so hard on yourself, Lee. While I was away, you and Chip were pulling some long shifts together. In your drugged state, your mind took that fact and turned it into something else."

"Next time, I think I'd better follow my own orders."

"Sounds like sound advice to me." Nelson patted Crane on the shoulder reassuringly. "Get some rest, Lee -- you know how I feel about my officers malingering in Sick Bay."

"Yes, sir, I will." The Captain settled back against the pillows and drifted off to sleep as the Seaview continued on course towards home.

The End


Copyright 1998 by Carla Keehn


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