From the Deep

by

EmmaLynn Rose & GrayLady Sharon

 

 

 

 

 . . . follows the events of “the Cave”, by Emmalynn Rose

 

*    *    *    *

 

“Gentlemen, we don't have thirty-six hours. In twelve hours, his respiratory system will start to shut down. We'll have to keep him on a respirator and we can't transport him without a portable unit, which we do not have. We simply don't have time to wait for a chopper to rendezvous with us to airlift him out. If we're going to save Chip's life, we have to move now.” Jamie's speech was delivered in low serious tones, as he and the two other men stood in Sickbay, all eyes unable to tear away from the deathly ill figure of Chip Morton.

“But the anti – toxin we synthesized worked fine with Lee and Sharkey. What happened with Chip?” Nelson asked, raking his hand through his auburn hair. He dropped the same hand onto the shoulder of the exec, feeling the heat radiating from his pale form. His skin was cold and clammy, sweat beading up on his  forehead and glistening against the hollow of his throat. The muscles in his throat convulsed as he swallowed. In what Nelson could only figure as an escape from the fever's heat, Morton had pushed the thick blankets off his bare chest and torso. The broad, well defined chest was also beaded with sweat and the tracks left by the mysterious creature's clawed tentacles were raw and angry red. Infected. Even as Nelson watched, Chip seem to have to claw for breath, the deep ominous rattle as he struggled to  breathe audible to everyone in the room.

“That Chip's physiology makes him difficult for me treat, is no secret. Injectables with preservatives are out of the questions and I have to keep a number of dye free meds on hand just for him. What ever this is, Chip is having an adverse reaction to the toxin,” Will explained in detached medical tones.

“An adverse reaction? Jamie, you just said he was dying! That's not adverse, it's . . . it's killing him!” Lee exclaimed, his own molten amber eyes shadowed with worry. His hands clenched into tight fists, Lee began to pace, his persistent need for action pushing him into moving.

“I've tried everything. The fever won't come down and I can't get a handle on his infection. This is some form of a neurotoxin, attacking his respiratory system. His lungs are filling with fluid, like a bacterial form of pneumonia. But it's not bacterial. I can't fight this, I'm not a toxicologist. Chip needs help that we can't give him.”

“Is there a toxicologist in Pearl that can help Chip? It's not going to do us any good to take him there if they can't help him either,” Lee asked. He forced himself to stop, wrapping his arms around his chest, griping his upper arms hard enough to bruise.

Nelson looked up from Chip's bunk. “Dr. Greenwell. Lance Greenwell. One of the best. We only have one choice then. Lee, have the Flying Sub ready for launch. We'll fly Chip out, and have him in Pearl by morning.”

Lee pulled the empty chair over and sank down. He reached out and rested a hand on Chip's bare arm, feeling his sweat damped skin, but at the same time the heat from the fever that coursed through him. To have come this far, only to lose his friend now . . . Lee closed his eyes. All they had been through, everything they stood for. He couldn't sit back and let Chip fight this alone.

“Admiral, I want to be the one to fly Chip to Pearl,” he said finally. He raised his head to stare into his own commanding officer's eyes. He found himself pinned by that sapphire blue gaze that gaze that time and time again took Lee back to his days on the Nautilus. He was expecting Nelson to agree with him and was surprised when Nelson broke his gaze away and jammed his hands deep into his pockets.

“I can't let you do that, Lee.”

Crane exploded out of the chair, ready to take Nelson on. “Admiral! I'm the best choice to get Chip to Pearl as soon as as possible,” he began, but Nelson cut him off with him a wave of his hand.

“Lad, if we were anywhere else, I wouldn't hesitate in a heart beat. There's no one I trust more, but this close to the Peoples Republic, I need you here. We've been ordered to finish monitoring the pollution levels, and if there is the slightest chance we can gather enough evidence to prove they're breaking international laws, we need to continue monitoring these waters,”

Lee feel the knot of tension in his gut tighten. Monitoring pollution levels in this area was what had gotten them in this situation to start with. Technically, they were in international waters, but that had never stopped the rather unfriendly nation from acting before. Deep down, Lee knew Nelson was right. He couldn't leave Seaview if there was a chance her activities were being monitored. That didn't mean he had to like it. Nelson put a hand on Lee's shoulder.

“If it means anything, I'll take him myself. I know what he means to you. I accepted your friendship when I brought you aboard. It was one of the things I was counting on to make you and him the best command duo in the Navy. I'm not going to give up on him either.”

Slowly Lee backed down, easing back into the chair. Chip stirred, obviously trying to pull out of his near coma like state. “Easy, Chip. Just relax. We're gonna get you some help, I promise,” Lee whispered. Slowly, one sky blue azure orb opened and looked up at him

“Lee?” the voice was rusty and weak, barely a shadow of the voice that could make junior officers shake and cower.

“Right here, Chip. Just relax. I promise we're gonna do our best for you,” Lee promised, trying to keep his voice from cracking.

“Been a good . . . run. I hope . . . we're even.” Chip closed his eye and tried to take a deeper breath. The rattle grew worse as Chip fought for air. “Jamie?” Lee spared a glance to Seaview's doctor, a desperate plea for help in his voice.

Will moved forward, stethoscope in one hand. With a frown he listened closely to Morton's heart and lungs, then turned back to Crane and Nelson.

“We can't wait much longer. We have to move him while we still can.”

Lee stood and straightened his shoulders, heading for the door. “I'll have the Flying Sub ready for launch in ten minutes. Have Chip ready to go.”

*    *    *    *

Nelson made another check on the Flying Sub's position, pleased with their position and speed. They were just coming up on the Challenger Deep, that dark drop into the deep soul of the sea. Once they were past the Mariana's Trench, he could angle up and take to the air. They'd make better time then, but for the moment, it was safer to stay submerged. Behind him, Will was keeping a close eye on Chip's vitals.

“How is he, Doc?” Nelson asked.

“Stable, for the moment. We can't reach Pearl soon enough to suit me. I don't like the sound of his lungs. He's not any worse mind you but, he certainly not getting any better.”

Suddenly the craft lurched wildly to port and Will was thrown hard to the deck. Nelson grabbed at the control, fighting to regain control. Nelson heard the engines whine, felt the craft shake and second later a powerful jerk sent the craft careening toward the sea floor.

“Hang on, we're gonna hit bottom!” Nelson yelled, fighting with the controls as the engines sputtered and then died completely. With a thud that rattled every nut and bolt on the submersible and every bone in the admiral's body, the Flying Sub hit the bottom and was still.

For what felt like hours Nelson simply sat in the pilot's chair, trying to understand what had sent them to the bottom. Behind him he could hear Will climbing to his feet. Checking the instruments, Nelson addressed the doctor without looking up.

“You alright?”

“Fine, admiral. What happened?”

“If I had to take a guess, something hit us. But what, I don't know.”

“Maybe it was that thing,” Will's voice shook, and he gripped the back of the second chair, staring out the front view ports. Nelson glanced up and felt his heart skip a beat.

Illuminated in the still functioning running lights of the submersible, a pale ghost-like form rose up from the abyss.  it profiled like a Great White, but never in all his years had Nelson ever see a shark of this size. The thing was easily seventy feet from the tip of it nose to the end of its tail. It circled lazily, almost as if stalking them. The backwash from its tail sent up silt and sand as it maneuvered closer to the down craft. Nelson's mind was in a whirl, denying that such a thing could exist, but they already had the evidence, held it in his hands. The teeth collected from the cave of the monster that had taken Chip. As big as the palm of his hand, those teeth had obviously come from a smaller specimen than the one trolling the waters around them.

Will sank into the co-pilot's chair, his knees going weak and shaky. “Admiral, what is that?”

“Something that should have died out a million and a half years ago. Carcharadon Megalodon. You might call him the Great White's grandfather.”

“Where on earth did it come from? Why hasn't anybody seen it before?”

“The same could be said for that creature that attacked Chip and Lee. We're on the edge of the Challenger Deep. There has been speculation for years that such a creature could have existed at those depths. It seems we have living proof.”

“I don't suppose we can get out of here,” Will asked weakly.

Nelson was already flipping switches, trying to get some kind of reaction from the engine. But there was no answering hum and the Flying Sub remained still. Nelson went for his throat mike and resorted to his last chance.

“Nelson calling Seaview. Seaview, do you read me? Come in Seaview, this is Nelson calling,”

*    *    *    *

“Skipper, incoming from Admiral Nelson,” Sparks' clear voice got Lee's attention as he stood over the plot table. He snatched up the mike, his mind still on Chip's condition, his last view of him as they loaded his still, corpse like body onto FS1. Pulling his mind and thoughts back to the issue at hand, he answered the call.

“Go ahead and pipe it through, Sparks.” There was a pause then Nelson's voice reverberated through the speakers.

“Lee, I need to know how fast you can reach us,” Nelson's tone was short and clipped, almost as if his attention was focused else where. Feeling his chest tighten, Lee was almost afraid to ask why, afraid that Nelson would tell him they hadn't moved fast enough, that Chip was . . . with fingers that shook with pent up tension, Lee clicked the mike.

“Admiral, what's wrong?”

“Lee, we're dead on the bottom, and we're gonna have to dock before we can make repairs.” Nelson relayed their coordinates and Lee grabbed for a pencil to made a few quick calculations. Another reminder that Chip wasn't at his side, where he belonged. The man could calculate distance in his head. He worked with numbers the way some people worked in oils or clay.

“We can be there within the hour, if we push it. What happened?”

Again, Nelson answered with that detached tone. “Something hit us. Something large and rather prehistoric. Have you ever heard of Carcharadon Megalodon?

“Admiral, you can't be serious! I'm not scientist, but the Megalodon is extinct. Isn't it?” The last was spoken weakly as Lee remembered the specimen's recovered from the creature's cave. Teeth the size of his hand, still sharp enough to cut flesh and bone.

“When you get here, you can explain that to the seventy foot shark currently stalking us. When I designed the Flying Sub and based her configuration on the ray, I never expected to be mistaken for one. Get here as soon as you can, Lee.”

“Aye, sir. I just might set a new record.”

“Very good, I'll be in touch. Nelson out,”

Lee engaged the mike again, his tightly controlled voice echoing through the sub. “Reactor room, I want every ounce of available power channeled to the engines. Today's the day we break our speed record. Engine Room, I want flank speed as soon as you get the power. Keep running till you hear other wise from me,” he barked out. Acknowledgments from the departments echoed back and Lee hung the mike back up. He braced both arms against the table, closing his eyes. He could almost feel the sub gathering herself, like a runner bracing just before he takes off down the stretch. There was a moment of release like a deep breath had been expelled then a very light shudder - unnoticeable to most people, but not to Lee – vibrated through the ship. Lee felt the surge of power and the slightest tug of gravity as the sub surge forward. Flank speed. There was nothing more he could do now until he reached the down submersible. Nothing but pray that is.

*    *    *    *

Will hovered over Chip's form, feeling for his pulse, checking respiration, and listening to his heart and lungs. He wasn't happy with what he was hearing.

Chip's respiratory system was slowly shutting down. The fluid build up in his lungs was getting so that if they didn't do something soon, Chip could very well drown from the build up. He explained this as clinically as he could to the admiral, trying to keep the emotion out of his voice. Nelson was out of the pilot's chair, tinkering with some of the instrumentation, hoping to restore power. With Will explanation, Nelson moved to stand by Chip's bunk.

“Lad, I need to to hang on for me. You've been in tough scraps before, I need to be strong again. I know a pretty archaeologist I would rather not have to explain all this to,” Nelson said softly. He heard Will's weak chuckle.

“Clever. You think it will work?” the doctor asked. Nelson shrugged.

“Can't hurt. His feelings for Serena run almost as deep as his bond with Lee. I'll try anything if it will make him fight.”

The craft shuddered, and Nelson felt a distinct sliding motion, pulling slightly to port. He darted to the nose, staring out through the view ports. Like a snake of immense proportions, a familiar claw encrusted tentacle writhed across the view point. With in seconds the rest of the creature slithered into view, Nelson glimpsing the ring of fangs encircling the gaping maw that was its mouth. Another of one of those creatures, thought to be destroyed, but far bigger than the last one they had tangled with. Writhing in a sea of arms, the creature moved across the sea floor. With a burst of its dozen or more appendages, the thing levered itself off the seabed, darting through the water and heading for the monster shark still circling the Flying Sub.

Clawing for the hand mike, Nelson rocked back into the seat, watching as the two monsters collided. “Nelson to Seaview, Lee, come in, Lee.”

Crane's response was immediate. “We read you admiral. We've got you on sonar, we should be in position to retrieve you in about ten minutes.”

“Lee, be careful. One of those monsters that grabbed you and Chip  just turned up. If you move in too quickly, Seaview could be attacked.”

Nelson heard Lee swear under his breath. “I see it, admiral. Just hold on, we'll think of something. How's Chip?”

“Holding on. You be careful. It's not going to do any of us any good if you're too damaged to take us up,” Harry advised.

“Understood. We'll hold back until we can get a clear shot at you.”

Nelson signed off and sat back, watching at the two monsters battled one another. The water was stained with tendrils of blood, and the giant shark twisted and writhed, catching tentacles between his jaws and ripping them free from the body of the creature. Enraged from the pain, the monster wrapped all its arms around the prehistoric shark and almost like a constrictor squeezing its pray, the monster tightened its grip. The action caused by the thrashing of these two behemoths send shock waves through the water, causing the Flying Sub to rock back an forth wildly. Just to their port side the dark of the Challenger Deep loomed ominously. Seaview was out of sight as Lee remained cautious, waiting for his chance to move over them.

Will moved closer to Chip's bunk, throwing an arm over the exec's body to keep him steady as the submersible rocked to and fro. He was unable to take his eyes off the life and death struggle playing out before them just off the bow. Suddenly the giant shark convulsed, and blood ran from its gills and mouth, floating dark in the water. Its jaws working out of reflex, the animal drifted, slowly sinking, spiraling down into the blackness that was the Challenger Deep.

“Admiral, hold on, we're going to try to bring you up,” Lee's voice called out from the speaker. The seabed was illuminated by Seaview's running lights, casting a shadow of the Flying Sub's profile.

Only the creature moved faster than anyone anticipated. The thing made straight for Seaview and Nelson could only watch helplessly as above them, the thing locked on to the submarine's bow.

*    *    *    *

Lee reeled backwards, grabbing onto the table as Seaview was thrown hard to port, then rocked uncontrollably to starboard. Around him control panels smoked and shot sparks as the circuits over loaded. The lights blinked on and off as the system struggled to stay online.  This thing had Seaview in a death grip. The hull creaked and groaned under the strain, and Crane heard the high pitched screeching scratching as those poisonous claws raked across the herculite windows. They had to break free of this thing before it tore them apart.

Lee grabbed up the mike once more, his defiant voice ringing through the submarine's intercom. “Reactor Room! Bring the reactor up to full power, route everything you have and get ready to shot a charge through the hull!” Lee held his breath, praying this would work. It had before, but there was always that first time. The over loaded circuits could just simply melt down the the reactor could exploded under the strain. He gripped the edge of the table, bracing himself, feeling the entire Control Room watch torn between watching him and the thing writhing on the other side of the great windows.

Power surged through the hull, the crackling of the barely controlled wave of energy audible to the entire watch. The smell of ozone filled the air and within seconds the great gray queen settle, finding her trim and stilling her heart wrenching convulsing. The mass of tentacles began to slid off the windows. Lee heard the collection expulsion of air from the watch, then felt his own breath catch as he realized where the body of the creature was heading. He ran forward, grabbing at the support beams for balance.

The Flying Sub was perched precariously on the edge of the deepest known spot on the ocean's floor. The carcass of the nightmarish monster was sliding down, tentacles washing across the yellow craft's hull, dragging it closer and closer to the edge of the trench. Without power, the Flying Sub would plunge over and be lost.

“Maneuvering, get us over the Flying Sub, NOW! Get the bay doors open and activate the magnetic recovery gear! We've only got one shot at this, we can't afford to miss!” Lee screamed into the mike, feeling his lady power forward. Lee watched in horror as the carcass of the creature slid over the edge of the abyss and the smaller craft over balanced, slowly tilting and sliding after the monster's corpse.

*    *    *    *

Will clung to the bunk as the craft tilted sharply to port. Chip's body rolled but stayed in place. The doctor felt the sub sliding, feeling the grind of the hull as it scrapped across the rock and silt of the sea floor. Nelson was on his feet, desperately attacking the controls in frantic attempt to coax some measure of power from the silent engines. The craft continued to slid, the pitch getting steeper and steeper. Will dug his fingers into the railing of the bunk to keep his balance. The deck seemed to drop out from under his feet and the Flying Sub was in free fall, drifting down wards into the dark abyss.

With a jerk and an almost audible snap the craft stilled and for a long breath simply hung suspended over the deepest point of the earth's surface. Shuddering and without the grace Will had come to expect from the craft, the submersible began to ascend, drawn upwards by another more powerful force.

Nelson dropped weakly into the chair, raking a hand through his auburn hair, tasseled now with the stress and tension of the last few chaotic hours. He couldn't stop the near hysterical dry chuckle as the craft was drawn up into to Seaview's open bow. “If I hadn't seen it I wouldn't have believed it. I think I'll give Lee a bonus.”  

*    *    *    *

Will dropped tired hands to the desk, reams of notes and still warm copies scattered across the surface. Across from him, Harriman Nelson had an equally tired and worn expression on his face as he began gathering up the notes, stuffing them into folders to separate and sort later. His voice was tired and weary as he addressed the figure of the man still on the video screen on the corner of Will's desk.

“Lance, I can't begin to thank you. Not many people would dedicate a five hour conference call for the life of one man.”

Dr, Lance Greenwell smiled. “Harry, I took an oath. My patient might not be in the same room, but I'd be a damn poor doctor if I didn't give you everything I knew. Your exec should start to come out of this in a few days. When you get the chance I'd like to look over his symptoms and treatment for future notes. You never know, this condition could turn up in somebody else and it would be handy to have at least on case on file to refer back to.”

Will stood and walked back to Chip Morton's bunk. The man's color was still a pale deathly pallor, but his breathing was stronger and he no longer seemed to have to struggle for breath. His heart beat was strong and his pulse was steady. Greenwell was right. At this rate, Chip would pull out of this in a few days and be yelling to be released back to active duty.

“Anything, Lance. I'll have everything ready in a few hours and have it emailed over. I owe you one. Without your expertise I would have been at a complete loss at how to deal with this. Toxins are not my strong suit,” Will said.

'It's never too late to learn a few tricks. Next time you happen to be in Pearl, stop by. Bring some of your people and I'll give you a condensed version of Toxins 101.  Admiral, you want to pay me back, a bottle of that fine old scotch you horde would be a lovely donation.”

Harry rubbed a hand over tired eyes, but the smile was strong. “For medicinal purposes, I take it?”

“Of course, are there any other uses?”

“Next time we're in Pearl, Lance I promise. I have a lot to do, I need to be going. Thanks doesn't even begin to cover it.”

'Anytime Admiral. Just all part of the job.”

Nelson cut the connection, then he too, rose to his feet. He no more than straightened his frame, ignoring the creak of bone and muscle when Lee appeared in the doorway, his eyes seeing only Chip.

“Lee, that was absolutely brilliant. The split second timing needed to maneuver and lock the recovery gear onto us, I honestly think you surpassed yourself this time.”

Lee pulled the chair out and dropped down into it, stretching his long legs out in front of him, crossing his arms over his chest. “Pass along the praise to the rest of the crew. I just gave the orders. They're the ones who did all the work.”

“I think once we get back home a nice extended leave will be in order.”

“I think this time I'll be ready to join them. Admiral, Chip – he's going to be alright now?”

Nelson dropped a hand onto Lee's shoulder. It was times like this when the bond between the two men was strongest. Together they formed something powerful and unstoppable, but when one was down, the emotion and feeling of brotherhood each felt for the other became evident.  He wouldn't have it any other way. He gave Lee's shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

“After a five hour video conference with Dr. Greenwell, we've isolated the specific component and we've been able to counteract it. Chip should be back on his feet in a few days and back to light duty in a week, according to doctors, that is.”

Lee turned back to Chip, taking up one hand in a tight grip. “Good. He can do my paperwork once he gets loose. Admiral, are we any where near done with this mission? I've about had it with mutant monsters and giant sharks,” Lee replied.

A real smile played across Harry's lips. “I think we've collected enough data from these waters. Why don't you sit down here with Chip for a while. I'll go up and have O'Brien set a course for Pearl. I have something I need to drop off there before we head for home.”

Lee nodded. “Thank you, sir. I'd like to be out of these waters before something else prehistoric or otherwise turns up from the deep.”

Harry echoed Lee's nod. “Lad. I really couldn't agree with you more. Take a few hours to relax, it's been a busy day.” Nelson said. Walking out of Sickbay, he saw Will at his desk, compiling the reports that Lance had asked for, and occasionally glancing over to Lee. A busy day indeed. Nelson paused as he watch the two men, a duo without compare, brothers with a bond that transcended the ties of blood. Lee had certainly earned his pay today, destroying one creature and plucking the Flying Sub from the depths of the Challenger Deep. Nelson felt that a few hours rest was hardly compensation, but it was the best he could do for his captain at the moment. He shared Lee's sentiment. It was high time Seaview made tracks out of here before something else unexplainable ascended from the deep.

 

~fin~

erh

srh

 

 

 

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