|This is a wonderful story by Lin that I am very pleased to be able to put on my site. Her Cathy Conners is a much stronger character than we saw in the movie and Lin manages to meld the film version and the television version quite adroitly.|
"Just what do you mean by that statement? I can do anything I want to and you’re not in a position to dictate policy to me anymore. I am of legal age with a college degree and intend to do something with my life other than play ornament for some playboy’s arm who wants a ‘cute dumb blond act!" she screamed.
Cathy A. Conners was exerting her independence from home and family with defiance. She had endured all she could stand and her father’s remarks were the last straw on the camel’s back.
"You can’t join the Navy and be with those men. Nice girls don’t join the military. The men do the fighting and women say at home and have babies," screamed her father, just loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear. In fact, the newly installed storm windows of the Connors’ household trembled at the rumblings within.
"If I only had a brain, da - da, da, da, da!" Cathy sang as she strolled out of the house, bag in hand, defying her father’s orders. "I’m going places and doing things you never dreamed of doing and giving something back to this world! I don’t need you to tell me how to run my life. Do you think I’m an idiot?" Miss Connors’ temper had gotten the better of her and she did regret the scene at home, but now was the time to leave or she would be stuck with a man she did not love, in a town she loathed, at a dead end job with no future prospects. Besides, she would choose the right time and right man for herself, damn it!
"Raise your right hand and repeat after me," came the instructions of the Naval recruiter.
Cathy took her oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and her surroundings began to seem surreal! She was on the bus to Great Lakes Naval Station for basic training and then Officers Candidate School at Norfolk, Virginia. Time passed so quickly and she was very efficient in her duties. Ensign Connors was transferred to the Pentagon and placed with a fast tracker working on classified medical documents with top secret or better clearance. Cathy proved to be a great organizer for Captain Harlan Baker, M.D., so much so that the good captain requested that Cathy be permanently assigned for the duration of his project. The man could lose a chart before he read it and this guy was going full speed ahead up the chain of command with something in the works. Dr. Baker was very connected with that new project and the ‘hush-hush’ project involved an Admiral what’s-his-name…Nelson. Whatever this project was, it required long hours, work and silence and she took her job very seriously, so much so that she become lost in her work until she stumbled into her first encounter with the man who would alter the course of her life.
"I’m sorry, sir, it was entirely my fault, let me get your papers," Cathy stammered. She looked into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. His eyes were like the ocean, dark and mysterious with such wonders hidden behind them.
"Harlan, come here and rescue the Ensign. I don’t believe she’s ever been this close to an admiral before. Tell her I only bite when annoyed," laughed Harriman Nelson.
"Harry, sir, it’s good to see you again. May I introduce you to my assistant, Ensign Cathy Connors, U.S.N."
"So this is the prize you pilfered away from the Pentagon. Hrumpf! Are we taking her with us?" quizzed Harry with his usual candor. Nelson was succinct and straight to the point. No frills attached.
"Admiral, you seem to have a way with the powers that be, but I’ll tell you, she’s the best assistant a man could ask for. She keeps me together, knows the files, keeps up with the computer maintenance and hounds anyone who attempts to get near me without an appointment…except you," quipped Captain Baker.
"She’s hired!" laughed Admiral Harriman Nelson and Cathy Connors’ fate was sealed.
Catherine Amanda Connors from nowhere U.S.A had just been assigned to one of the most brilliant minds of the time. Cathy knew Dr. Baker kept his assignment close to the vest, but this was over the top. She did a little checking into this Harriman Nelson’s background and found that he held several degrees in science and engineering and also had quite the service portfolio. Harriman’s college vita could rival any of the professors she had encountered in her academic pursuits and the good Admiral had such an engaging smile, Cathy was chomping at the bit to find out what she was getting herself into.
"Harlan, get the lieutenant the materials to work on the grant money I want. We can arrange a videoconference this afternoon so she can do a meet and greet with Dr. Emery," grinned Harry.
"You finally persuaded Lucius to join our little party, Harry?" Dr. Baker asked. "This should prove to be very interesting!"
"Lucius Emery would never be left out of the excitement and Captain, get the lead out now! I want the both of you in California by month’s end. This should give you enough time to finish business here and take care of any loose ends. Put a move on…the clock is ticking and so is my patience," grinned Harry. With that, the ‘Irish Tornado’ was out the door leaving Cathy awash in his aftermath.
"Captain, sir, shall I phone the lieutenant for you? I’ll need a list of materials you require, the requisite forms with signatures and an approximate time frame for your departure," said Cathy.
"Connors! Admiral Nelson just secured your promotion and transfer to Santa Barbara to be a member of staff for his pet project. Wait until you see this baby," yelped Baker. Dr. Baker gave Cathy a file marked "Eyes Only" and waited for her reaction.
"Yes, sir, very good sir!" was her only reply.
April 1, 1970, Lt.Jg Cathy Connors was standing on the most beautiful piece of real estate she had ever seen…except for all the bull dozers, construction ‘hard hats’, wolf whistles and mud. She had never experienced the Pacific Ocean and the view from the partially completed Administration Building was breath taking. This would be home base for her and the beginning of her memorable adventures. Admiral Nelson had left a directive to have a command staffer show Connors the ropes.
"Good morning, Lieutenant, follow me and I will assist you through the processing phase. You will need updated prints, photo, new tags…the works. Follow me, Captain Phillips is waiting with grant information for your files," smiled the officer. "My name is Charles Morton and my friends call me Chip…but you may call me sir!" he snickered.
Chip Morton hit the one nerve in Cathy’s body that would prove to be her Achilles heel. "Mr. Morton, sir, if we are going to work together, sir, I would appreciate the same respect I afford you, sir! Besides, sir, I am as blond as you are, sir!" Connors was at parade rest position and awarded Chip the full feminine fatale. "Eat stuff and die, she thought. What a jerk! This is just what I needed, another chauvinist with rank. Oh, God, I’ve put my foot in it now and not here a day!"
"Lieutenant, I’m sorry, I was way out of line. I needed to know if you could hold your own with the rest of this motley crew. You came well prepared," Chip smiled and extended his hand. "Welcome aboard!"
Connors returned the smile and Morton did his drop dead gorgeous routine. Chip liked her. She was obviously smart, had moxy and no patience for skirt chasers. Yep, the Lieutenant would do well here. Besides with all the paper work Captain Phillips had for her she would never see the light of day, at least in this lifetime.
"Lieutenant, have you met Dr. Emery yet?" quizzed Chip. "I’ll take you to him and then to John Phillips. He’s the skipper of this project, then we can have some eats. It’s Friday and the pizza is on the Admiral and me. Just don’t let Commodore Emery fill your ear with all the stats for his latest invention." Chip led Cathy to meet all of the command staff and find her niche among the mess.
Captain John Phillips was a soft spoken man in his mid forties with the gift of picking every piece of machinery apart and putting it back together blindfolded, which was the standing joke at the base. He required a constant refueling of coffee and ham sandwiches. His wife provided most of the food, Cathy always kept a pot of coffee for the Admiral and Captain Phillips was almost always with Nelson. Phillips had a command style that was almost genteel in its approach, yet with one raise of his eyebrow everyone came to attention, which brought chuckles from a certain Admiral. John always said hello to Cathy each morning and told her "the miles of piles of paper are shrinking…Harry is slipping," and rewarded Cathy with Danish from a nearby deli. They developed a very close working relationship that helped in the months to come when the real work began.
Dr. Emery loved to tease Cathy with fish jokes and introduced her to his latest project…sharks. Connors, being a landlubber, did not have the appreciation of the beast that Dr. Emery enjoyed. Dr. Baker and Dr. Emery had worked with sharks and the rapid recovery of shark cartilage in young sharks. It could be very promising for medical applications, especially in patients with joint disease and Dr. Baker was thrilled when someone suggested co-authoring a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. Cathy realized she had made the cutting edge of science, but the best was yet to come.
Late in December Chip Morton called Connors to come to the office in the evening for a meeting with the Admiral, Captain Phillips, Dr. Emery and some representatives from General Dynamics, General Electric and Dow Chemical, Industrial Division.
"Lieutenant Connors, you need to be prepared for a long meeting, bring an extra uniform and keep your eyes open on this one…OK?" commanded Mr. Morton in very formal tones. Chip was extremely serious and Cathy answered in kind with a "yes sir!"
With all parties assembled at the Administration Building, Admiral Nelson handed the final contract to General Dynamics, complete with timetable and liquidated damages clause. Sub-contracts were awarded to other parties and Catherine A. Connors saw latest advances in Marine Science on paper.
"Let’s get moving, gentleman," smiled Nelson.
"Harry, I couldn’t agree more and congratulations on this latest achievement. This is an engineering marvel and is screaming Nobel!" noted the chief engineer from General Dynamics, Richard Bard.
After an all night session with the engineers and lawyers, Cathy was so exhausted she just wanted to find her bed and crash. She headed to Admiral Nelson’s office to close up for the night and found a file opened with a picture of…was it the light, or was she just imagining things. Connors cleaned the coffee pot, folded the papers and put the contracts in the file cabinet, and waited for the Nelson to come, and lock the safe. The mysterious file called to her.
"Lee B. Crane, U.S.N., Subdriver, Groton, First in Class, Graduate, United States Naval Academy, Sum Cum Laude, awards fill the page, above and beyond the call of duty, those eyes can pierce your soul…they smolder so. Stats: 6’ 1" and brown hair, what are golden gloves? Who is this man?" Cathy read on.
"Miss Connors, let's call it a night, shall we?" smiled a very tired Admiral.
"Yes, sir, right away. Admiral, where shall I put this file?" inquired Cathy.
Nelson looked at the file and smiled. "Caught your attention didn’t he. I am building the lady for him, when he’s ready, Cathy. Lee is too young and needs some time. Fine young man," and with that Harry took the file, placed it in the safe and gave her one of his ‘fatherly’ looks.
Time has a way of fading memories especially with the events happening at the newly formed Nelson Institute of Marine Research, but that man haunted Cathy Connors' very being. She wondered what kind of man he would be. Yet others came to call and Miss Connors refused them all, as she was devoted to the Institute and her new charge, Project Grey Lady.
"This ain’t Kansas, Dorothy! Thought Cathy, but it sure fits Oz!"
Admiral Nelson had hand picked each man for this project. All were former or active Navy with impressive records and multiple certifications. The SSRN Seaview was a demanding lady who required much attention to detail. Lieutenant Connors was actually assigned to the boat as a specialist in Communications and as the Admiral’s attaché. Cathy kept the grant money flowing and the best technology kept coming. Nelson had brought a favorite--Master Chief Curley Jones to assist in the transition phase of having a female brought aboard a nuclear submarine, and to remind the men of the job they were there to do.
"She’s just one of the guys," laughed Curley.
"Yeah Chief…just real cute," snickered one of the rates.
"Just remember who she works for boys and that rank on her collar!" snapped Jones.
Admiral Harriman Nelson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Engineering that provided more money to the coffers at the ever-growing Institute. The main lab was completed, officers quarters, apartments for families, Administration and the under ground cave and sub-pen for the Seaview was nearing completion.
Miss Connors enjoyed her life and friends even if they were mostly male. The Admiral brought Angie Pierce on board just before the Seaview arrived, as Cathy’s responsibilities would have been overwhelming with the paper work alone. Support staff was added for the Science Department, Research and Development as well as Administration. Mr. Morton was getting into the act too, having the officers bring Danish to all the ladies on Friday. Captain Phillips was very pleased with his executive officer.
Seaview came through her shake down cruise, crew and boat in one piece, and she was getting basic assignments. Harry was ready to test his dream.
Connors and Pierce had been working another grant for the Institute when the news flashed a crossed the screen on the TV set in the office.
"There have been reports of an accident on the mountain highway involving two motorcycles and a vehicle. Early reports indicate a possible survivor…film at 11," came the reporters’ voice.
"Angie, didn’t the Admiral and Captain Phillips take that route to avoid notice?" asked Cathy.
"I haven’t been able to raise them, Cathy. If something has happened we’ll know soon!" replied a very somber Pierce.
"Unless the admiral has called Starke for back up," stated Cathy flatly. "Jiggs Starke has a nasty habit of making things and people disappear."
"I know Cathy, that’s his job and like it or not, he does have some say here," replied Angie.
About a week or so later Cathy had all of her answers. Captain Phillips was dead and so were four security personnel. John Phillips was a horrific loss and the entire Institute was temporarily at a standstill. Admiral Nelson had already found a replacement. Maybe it would be Lt. Commander Morton. Chip was well qualified and respected by all. Even Lucius tolerated him and promised not to feed him to Bessie. Nelson looked somber as he disembarked from Seaview. Cathy didn’t recognize some of the gentlemen accompanying the Admiral. The blond gentleman with the buzz haircut was telling the khaki to get the ribs looked at and wishing him luck. She could not see the new ‘Captain’. It wasn’t Morton, but Chip was smiling…why.
"Come on ole buddy, let’s get you settled in and get your gear stowed till Doc can give you the once over," grinned Morton.
"How generous of you Chip. Going to show me your state-of-the-art medical facility are you? Was that Jamie’s idea of a joke? I’m not amused. You know how I feel about sick bay," came the unidentified voice in the uniform.
The officer turned to leave the quay, took his leave to disembark the boat with Mr. Morton and turned his eyes upward toward Cathy Connors. For one moment time seemed to stand still as their eyes locked for the first time. Cathy snapped a salute and Commander Lee B. Crane returned it. Chip made the formal introductions.
"Commander Crane this is Admiral Nelson’s assistant and our grant writer, Lieutenant Cathy Connors," Chip was doing his best officer imitation complete with the ‘blue rays of death’ stare.
Lee Crane was so much taller than Cathy, but Connors had enough of the officer types at the Pentagon. She was not impressed by rank but by actions. Cathy was formal but pleasant.
"Very nice to meet you, sir, and welcome to the Nelson Institute," she replied.
Inside Cathy’s heart almost went thud. "What a disappointment," she thought, until he turned and smiled at her, extended his hand as he took off his cover.
"Thank you for the welcome, Lieutenant. It’s nice to be here. I’m looking forward to working with you," as he looked down at her lovely no, make those beautiful, stop you in a heartbeat, gorgeous eyes. "What a delicate creature of beauty here. I shall have to pay attention to my new assignment more closely. I’ve been at sea too long!" thought Crane.
"Careful Lee, that one bites!" snickered Chip. Morton was pulling Cathy’s chain again, just as always, but Connors did not rise to strike. She only smiled and reminded the officers of their itineraries for the next week and walked away.
"He is everything I imagined he’d be. He’s kind, gentle and proper. I wonder," thought Catherine A. Connors as she floated back to the Administration Building to work.
end of part one