returned to him slowly, like fine fingers of fog filtering through dark
city streets. With the consciousness came confusion.
happened? Where was he?
Then the memory
came back: the explosion, the horrifying sound of a hull splitting
open--the terrifying, gut wrenching feel of hundreds, no, thousands of
gallons of water pouring through the wound in Seaview’s hull--his
frantic race to the hatchway and his desperate scrambling to close the
hatch and save his ship.
His head was
pounding and when he reached up to touch his temple, his fingers came away
stained with blood. That’s when his vision waffled, telescoping in and
out. It was hard to tell if the lights were getting dimmer or his vision
eyes, Lee braced his back against the bulkhead, suddenly feeling the pain.
In the rush to save his ship, Lee had ignored the messages his body was
sending him until it could no longer be denied. He slid down the bulkhead
till he was sitting on the floor and wrapped both hands around his left
poured from the wound. The gash seem to start mid thigh and ended
somewhere just above his knee. Lee was no fool. He knew this time he
couldn’t beg his way out of Jamie’s clutches. He needed help soon,
before he bled out. He wasn’t ready to let go. Not yet.
around, trying to remember this particular hold. There had to be a mike
somewhere. He spotted it on the far end of the hold. It couldn’t have
been more than six feet away but it felt more like six miles. He clawed
and pulled himself to his feet, lurching for the opposite side of the
stay on his feet. The blood loss, the pain in his leg crawling up his body
like some kind of living thing feeding off his agony, everything conspired
to keep Lee from calling out for help. He collapsed in a heap on the
floor, two feet away from the mike.
paced the control room, unable to stay in one spot. Lee was missing and so
far none of the search parties had been able to locate him. The last time
anybody had seen him, he’s been down on C deck, right before explosion.
What if Lee was
dead?. No. It wasn’t possible. Lee Crane had more lives than a Siamese
cat. He’d come through one impossible situation after another. He
couldn’t be dead. Nelson refused to believe it. He refused to let go of
pulled Nelson out of his thoughts. “Sir, damage control reports a sealed
hold on the other side of the breach on C deck. If Lee is anywhere, he’s
probably in there.”
around to face the exec. “Then why the devil doesn’t the man answer
us? The least he can do is tell us where the blazes he’s gotten to,”
answer that. Tormented by the very same question, he knew that something
was keeping Lee from reporting his condition. Nelson was on his way out of
the control room. Chip followed. If Lee was dead, he couldn’t let the
admiral face that on his own.
“The door is
jammed sir. The whole corridor is out of square now and the hatch is
jammed tight,” Sharkey said, his dark eyebrows furrowed in concern.
accepting that as an excuse. “I don’t care if we have to blow the door
off it’s hinges. I want the hatch opened, no excuses. Get on it
as if slapped and almost saluted. “Yes sir! I’ll have the hatch
cracked in five minutes!”
was shouldering the door, ramming it with all his strength. The wheel was
unlocked but the chief was right, the corridor had to be out of line and
the frame of the hatch was now warped. The door wasn’t going to open for
son, let the chief in there,” Nelson said with a hand on his shoulder.
Chip did as ordered, letting Sharkey in to set the explosives.
In a few
minutes, the explosives were set and the three took shelter behind the
corner. With a nudge from Nelson, Sharkey detonated the charge.
Smoke filled the
corridor as Chip and Nelson rushed forward. Nelson hit the hatch with
everything in his build and the door creaked open, the hinges protesting
in mid step, Chip almost running him down. He heard the sharp intake of
breath from the younger man as both men took in the figure of the man on
A finger of
blood trickled down the right side of Lee’s face, his normally olive
completion almost bleached. The reason was clear.
The wide swath
of blood on the floor could only have come from the cut on Lee’s leg.
His trouser leg was soaked with it. The widening pool of blood reflected
back the crimson reflection of Harriman, staring in disbelief. Nelson felt
his own knees give out and he fell to Lee’s side, peeling back one
eyelid to look into Lee’s staring eye. He was aware of Chip on the mike,
calling for medical help but beyond that Nelson wasn’t paying attention.
Lee might be dying. He couldn’t have that, not when they had been so
hold on for me. Listen to me, I need you to hold on, that’s an order,”
Nelson pleaded. He put his hand under Lee’s dark curls and lifted his
head up, hoping for a response. Lee’s dark lashes fluttered and he
shifted his head back and forth as he tried to climb back to
Crane’s weak voice asked.
lad. We’ll get you to sickbay.” The relief in Nelson’s voice leaked
out. Chip heard it, but was
wise enough to keep it to himself. Nelson and Lee had a bond not of
brotherhood, but something more. Not for the first time, Chip was reminded
of the bond between father and son.
wasn’t sure…if you’d find me. Is Seaview safe?” Lee managed. He
seemed unable to open his eyes, the blood loss and trauma having taken a
deep toll on him. Nelson glanced up at Chip. In his worry about Lee, he
hadn’t really paid attention to the progress reports.
“The breach is sealed and we’ll be surfacing as soon as we get ballast
control back. Should be any minute now.”
weakly. One hand found strength to reach up and wrap around Nelson’s own
safe. I couldn’t… forgive myself…if something happened…to you, or
Chip…I had to try and seal the seal the hold. Was only trying to keep
That was typical
Lee, giving his last breath for his friends and his lady. Nelson didn’t
have the words to answer. As Jamieson arrived with an army of corpsmen,
Harriman stepped back, but Lee didn’t release his grip on Nelson’s
wrist. Jamieson noticed and raised an eyebrow.
look like he’s ready to let go, Admiral."
couldn’t stop the dry chuckle as even Chip had to smile. “No, it
doesn’t look that way. He’s not the only one.”
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