Day of Evil Epilogue

by

Sue Kite

(A WHN from the 3rd season episode)

 

 

 

I have tried to keep this into the confines of the show, since it is always the endings that seem rushed and a bit flippant. This is what I believe should have been at the end of the show rather than ending it with that alien disappearing in a puff of smoke. And this was written for the subpen anniversary but was eaten by email gremlins. I guess it’s just as well, as I have looked it over again and made some corrections and additions…..

 

 

“Okay, Captain, spill it,” Admiral Nelson’s deep voice commanded.

Lee Crane looked up in surprise. He, Chip and Nelson were taking a short lunch break in the nose, watching the foamy waves through the herculite windows that made the admiral’s lady so unique. “What do you mean, Admiral?” he asked.

Chip sat inscrutable. Nelson snorted. “Lee, take a sip of coffee and then tell me what’s been eating at you for the past ten minutes we’ve been out here watching the ocean.”

Ten minutes? The cup was cold. His plate of food virtually untouched. “Uh, Admiral….”

“Lee, it’s been exactly a month since that alien tried to get us to blow up Kingdom come (Day of Evil, 3rd season episode). You’ve been moping most of the time since,” Nelson said, not unkindly.

Crane bristled. He opened his mouth to deny the accusation, but the admiral motioned that he had more to say. 

“No, I am not saying you haven’t done your duty or that you’ve been shirking in any way. If anything you’ve been more diligent.” He smiled, but it was not with much humor. “To the point where some of the newer rates quake when you walk in a room.” He paused and when he didn’t get a response, he took a deep breath and continued. “I know we’ve just completed a very strenuous and stressful mission, but I also know you haven’t been sleeping well.” He pointed at the plate of picked-at food. “You haven’t been eating well, either.” Nelson held his hand up when Lee started to say something. “I can tell, Lee. I didn’t get four stars for ignoring the subtle mood changes in my men, especially my senior officers.” There was still silence. “Lee, don’t make me command you. I think Chip is owed an explanation, as well. He’s as worried as I am.”

Lee started, glanced at his XO, noted the intensity of the blue-eyed gaze and looked away. Had Chip gone to Nelson? Had they planned this? He didn’t see anything but concern in either man’s countenance. He hated it when they ganged up on him like that. 

Chip’s voice was soft but clear in its intensity. “Maybe not an explanation as much as simply clearing the air. A hell of a lot happened during just a few confused hours,” Chip interjected. “And some of us were left in the dark.”

Nelson winced at his XO’s comment. That explanation later. “Besides, lad, Doc threatened to put you on medical leave if whatever was eating away at you wasn’t resolved.”

Fire flashed in the captain’s eyes as he spun back around. “You just said I’ve been doing my duty and been diligent, so why should he do something like that?”

“Because he says you are beginning to show symptoms of several physical ailments.” Nelson shrugged. “Doc wouldn’t tell me what, but I can guess. A little more cream in your coffee, the antacid tablets. Need I go on?”

Crane shook his head.

“He did promise he would invoke his authority. He also mentioned you were beginning to show signs of depression.” Still no response. Nelson’s voice rose in his anxiety. “For heaven’s sake, Lee, set aside rank and Navy protocol. We’re your friends. If you can’t talk to us; if we can’t work this out as comrades in arms . . . you’ll have to talk to a stranger.” Left unsaid was the kind of stranger he meant. They all knew. “And nothing goes beyond these doors.” He gestured toward the closed crash doors.

Lee was silent for another minute. Finally, as the great Gray Lady continued to slip through her twilight realm, he got up and set the cup of still untouched, now stone-cold coffee on the small table near Chip’s elbow. He walked to the thick windows and without looking back at either man began, “I fired the missile.” The sentences came choppily as though the man had to force them out. “I almost destroyed the world.” Crane sucked in a deep breath. “I didn’t resist him….  I sold out humanity for pain relief. If you hadn’t….”

“Lee….”

Now Crane spun around to face his two colleagues. “Admiral, let me finish. You told me to spill my guts, so at least hear me out.”

Nelson nodded, seeing the unrelenting anguish in his captain’s eyes.

“If you hadn’t come in and pushed the destruct button, the world would have been in flames, untold people would have died; maybe everyone. All because I was too weak to resist . . . whoever that monster was.” The proud shoulders slumped. “If he hadn’t made his grand departure, Admiral, I’d have thought I was dealing with the devil. Not that that would have made what I did any easier to bear….” Crane paced several times before continuing. “You were able to resist him. You refused to give in. You were strong.  I . . . I can’t help but wonder if . . . I wonder if I should even be in command anymore.”

Chip opened his mouth to say something but the admiral made a gesture.   

“Lee, I didn’t resist,” Nelson replied.

“Yes, you did.”

“No, not entirely.” Nelson got up and approached his friend. “Lee, the alien came to me right after you went into the reactor room. After I knew you were dying….” He laid his hand on Crane’s arm. “I didn’t tell you everything that happened.” Harriman turned to Chip. “And you’re right, Chip. There is a great need to ‘clear the air.’ A lot of mistakes were made, even if things turned out right.” When Chip nodded, the admiral turned back to Crane. The two men gazed into each other’s eyes. “Lee, you compared him to the devil. Well, I made a pact with him. I knew he wasn’t offering to save you and Patterson out of the goodness of his heart. Even though he had my face, made that generous proposal, I knew he was evil.” Nelson paused, remembering. It was hard to relive the shock of seeing ‘himself’ so arrogant, confident in his superiority, eyeing him as he would study a bug on a microscope slide. “It didn’t matter, though. It wouldn’t have mattered who he was. When he said he could save you…. I simply could not say no. Nothing else mattered….”

“And that’s why Patterson and I recovered almost instantaneously.” Lee had understood this only after the alien had left. “Still….”

“Still nothing! I had a very good idea what he wanted when I made the agreement and shook hands with him. I was overconfident in my belief that I could trick anyone, overcome any threat.” Nelson shook his head. “No, that’s only partly true.” He smiled humorlessly and reached into his pocket for a cigarette. When he didn’t find one, he dropped his hands into his lap. It was only a tiny bit true. He knew what was going on in his mind back during that horrible time. His co-worker, his friend, was dying and there was nothing he could do about it. He had been driven by his emotions. “I was desperate. I didn’t want you….  Screw the consequences, Lee, I . . . didn’t . . . want . . . you to . . . die!”

Stunned, Lee could only stand silent in his shock for several moments.

“And you said something about pain? Some have gone beyond pain,” Nelson murmured. Harry took a moment and remembered that instant when he realized what Lee had done in the reactor room. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. He looked away from his two comrades and blinked several times to get control of himself. When he turned back, both men were still watching him. “Lee, you seem to be disregarding just what you did a month ago.” When neither of the younger men responded, he continued, “Your willingness to sacrifice yourself for the entire crew.” He coughed to get further control and turned all of his attention to Lee. “The alien arranged all that. He stacked the deck. He thought he could win. After I left you in sickbay and went to my cabin….” Nelson suddenly turned to Chip. “And I know I should have said something to you, Chip; if for no other reason than it was your right as next in command. ….I’m sorry….” Morton didn’t say anything, but Harriman noticed understanding in the intense blue eyes. “It’s ingrained in all of us, but when push came to shove, I couldn’t come out and say the words that would declare Lee a dead man. I tried, but I couldn’t. A four star….” He shook his head in disgust. “I’ve made those kinds of pronouncements before, but this time I couldn’t. I had decided to call you to my cabin and talk to you in private, but that monster was there. Leering at me with my face….”

“Admiral,” Lee began but Harry cut him off again.

“So I made the deal. It was burned into my hand just as your mark was burned into yours, Lee.” Nelson gazed at his palm, half expecting to see the hated mark there, relieved that it wasn’t.

“But in the end you resisted.” 

“No, I almost launched when he came back for his payment. I almost did it. His will was incredibly strong. I watched my hand reach for the launch button. I was within inches….”

“But you didn’t,” Crane said flatly, his voice filled with self-incrimination.

“Lee! You still don’t get it, do you?” Harry barked out. Chip looked startled by the outburst. Crane just stared at Nelson, confused. “Commander, do you remember the time period after you came out of the reactor until your miraculous healing? Any pain?”

Lee shook his head. “Nausea, mainly and weakness. Like all my energy had been sucked dry. I was kind of out of it and didn’t remember much.”

“The pain you felt later wasn’t natural for what had happened to you.”

“What?”

“Lee, that alien laid something on you that was ten times worse than radiation sickness. Not to demean that kind of suffering, but he augmented it with something of his own design. Didn’t you wonder at the pain you felt in the missile room?” Nelson willed the younger man to understand.

“Well, yes. I did. It was so sudden, so intense. Like being immersed into a furnace, like someone had stuck a knife into my side and twisted it. I don’t know. It was unbearable.”

“Then he showed up,” Nelson added, his voice low.

“With my face. I thought it was pain induced. I wondered if I was hallucinating. I didn’t know what to think. He reached out, promised to take it away. I thought maybe it was a dream . . . I don’t know….” Lee’s voice trailed off as he remembered, too.

“He made a promise, just as he did with you, Admiral; a binding promise,” Chip interjected, astonished. “And that bound Lee to do exactly what he wanted.”

Nelson nodded. “Exactly as he did with me. He told me the mark bound our wills to his. But he had softened you up, Lee. He used the pain to strip away your will. And you couldn’t resist him.” Harry could see the wheels turning in the younger man’s mind. “You were weakened by that inhuman pain and that made his will stronger than yours. Otherwise, I believe you could have resisted him, too. In fact, I know you could have.” Again, he laid a hand on Lee’s arm. “Under those conditions, there was no way you could have opposed him.”

“Wait a minute! I remember now. He said something like that. It was like hearing a voice in a fog,” Crane remembered. “He said something about my will being weaker than yours. That the pain had weakened me.”

“Exactly, Lee. It dawned on me when the alien came in the control room looking like you that he wasn’t just trying to use your suffering to get me to change my mind. He was using you to launch this time. He tried to get me out of the way by having Chief Sharkey lock me up.” He paused. “And he gave the verification of what he was doing by saying he was going back to the missile room.”

“And you overpowered Sharkey and got down to there in time,” Chip stated.

The haunted look seemed to be retreating from Lee’s eyes, Nelson noted with pleasure. “Yes. His near success and his ultimate defeat was in trying to deal with us individually,” Harry announced exultantly. “He also tried to exploit our weaknesses, not realizing that what he perceived as weaknesses were really some of our greatest strengths.”

No one said anything for the space of several heartbeats. It was Chip who verbalized what each had concluded internally. “Loyalty and compassion.”

“For wont of a better definition—simple brotherly love. The alien understood enough to realize that humans would sacrifice for one another. He exploited it, but he didn’t understand the totality of that kind of sacrifice. He set himself up to fail.” Harriman stared out the windows watching the sea part for their passage. He felt the power of the water surging around them, holding them up. It felt more like a caress. It always had. Without turning, he continued, “He promised to return, but I venture to say that if he hasn’t learned exactly what makes us tick, he won’t succeed next time, either.” Nelson heard Lee walk up beside him. Still facing the windows, Nelson murmured, “I am in awe of what you did for the rest of us, Lee.”

“It was no more than you or Chip or anyone else would have done. I was just as willing to send Patterson in there as anyone. I was scared spitless when I went into the sickbay and realized Pat couldn’t do it. I, uh, I was afraid….”

“Of course you were afraid! Who the hell wouldn’t have been afraid? But you did it! And you are the one who’s been beating up on himself because you were coerced into a violent act?” Harry shook his head.

“But, Admiral….”

“No buts about it, Lee. What matters is that we won. You won. Even in your so-called defeat—you won! Humanity won.” He gazed at his command team in unabashed admiration and appreciation, marveling that he could have two such men not only as commanders on his vessel, but as friends. Harry lifted his now cold coffee mug in a toast. “To my friends; to the best two comrades-in-arms a man could ever wish for.”

Chip smiled and raised his mug while Lee looked self-conscious. It appeared that once again, Harry noted with satisfaction, Lee Crane was going to bounce back. They all were. He decided that was also one of the reasons this creation of his, his Gray Lady, was so successful. It wasn’t the nuts and bolts, the iron and steel, it was the resiliency, grit and guts that all of the men onboard had inside each of them. There wasn’t a one of them who wouldn’t sacrifice himself for the others.

No, with that kind of a combination, there wasn’t a monster, alien entity or foreign power that could defeat this team.

Then another thought thrust itself into his mind….  It was a frightening thought. Perhaps that was why Seaview seemed to attract so many of these horrendous extraterrestrial foes. Maybe their enemies knew that Seaview and her crew was the roadblock that prevented their conquest. Harry mentally shuddered, not wanting to believe it, but feeling at least a partial truth. It was a burden he didn’t want to consider and certainly didn’t want to share—not right now. Still, it was one that couldn’t be ignored.

Lee and Chip were still gazing at him, as though expecting him to say something else. It was time to move on. “Well, gentlemen, should we get back to saving the universe?” he quipped, half in jest, half seriously. He reached for the crash door controls.

Chip chuckled softly.

Lee’s smile was not forced this time. “I suppose so, sir. I guess we’ve been in here gold-bricking long enough.”

 

 

 

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