A WHN to Shadowman

 

Okay, this is a crossover. It was a kind of challenge to cross the Voyage universe with another fandom someone told me wasn’t possible to mix with Voyage. I think it was a discussion on a chat. So here it is… you find out when you get there. J I do want to thank Helen for her most wonderful beta work. She kept me and my universes in line. Thanks!!

I put this at the end of the voyage episodes, after Day of Evil, etc……

 

 

“But I did!” exploded Crane, leaning on the admiral’s desk. “I shot Patterson and left him to die. I shot you! I could have killed you.” His fingers clutched the edges so tightly he could feel his joints pop. It didn’t matter that Chip and Sharkey had been with him, had held guns just as he had, and were just as willing to use them. He had pulled the trigger. He had tried to kill the admiral, shot him and had felt no remorse over it at the time. Only the fact that the admiral had been wearing a bulletproof vest saved him.

It didn’t matter that he didn’t remember anything of his time under the Shadowman’s control.  He cringed when he remembered going in to see Patterson, consoling him, and wondering at the anxiety in the rate’s face. That was when he had talked to Chip, who didn’t remember anything either, and to Sharkey. He had finally coerced information from Ski and returning to see Patterson, had received the information he had both feared and figured he would get.

It didn’t matter that he’d been controlled by the alien entity….  Damn, it was always some alien or mad scientist or foreign enemy agency. How many lives had he snuffed under someone else’s control? Not many, thank God for that, but even one was too many. And how many people had he hurt? The recriminations continued to jerk and spin like squirrels in a wheel.

“Lee!”

Crane snapped his attention back to the admiral but didn’t say anything.

“Lee.” The admiral’s voice was much softer now that he held his captain’s eyes. “You were under the alien’s control. Chip was, Sharkey was, Kowalski was. Hell, Kowalski tried to kill me, too.”

Lee shook his head. “But….”

“No buts about it, Lee. You were all controlled,” Nelson pointed out. “I don’t blame you for the bullet in my shoulder,” he added, gesturing to the bandaged arm in its sling. 

“That’s just it, Admiral, I was controlled. How many times? How many hurt? What happens next? Who dies next time? When does….”

“Enough!!” Nelson bellowed. Again, his voice softened. “Lee, that’s enough. You can’t let this cripple your mind, your abilities.”

“I think it already has.”  And Crane felt the veracity of that statement in his heart.

Nelson sucked in a ragged breath and ran his good hand through his hair. “I disagree. I disagree with your . . . conclusion.” The silence in the room was deafening. “So what do you propose to do about the guilt that is crippling your mind? And let me reiterate that I don’t think your ability to think and act is permanently affected either. I think this is temporary, based on lingering effects of your having been possessed.”

“No, Admiral, I respectfully disagree,” Lee said with a groan. He released his grip on the desk and turned from his mentor. “I know we’ve had this conversation before. We had it after I had tried to kill you on that island. I accepted your explanation then. We talked after that damned alien tried to get us to blow up the world. I have accepted that one, too, but it’s getting more and more difficult when people have become seriously hurt. It’s unbearable when I think of who may have died as a result.” 

“Dammit, Lee, I’ve tried to kill you while under someone else’s control! I almost succeeded that last time.”

Crane turned back toward the man he respected more than anyone else in the world. “Once, twice maybe. There’s more in my case. There is something that makes me a target, a magnet. I don’t know!”

“Lee, you’re the captain. You are the person in charge of this vessel. Even I, the builder, have to defer to your judgment in matters affecting the running of this boat. Why wouldn’t you be the target?”

Lee shook his head. “No, I don’t buy that. Not entirely, sir. There’s something more. Something that makes me a liability to you, the crew and the vessel.” Crane noticed his hands shaking as he came to the awful truth. “You’ll receive my resignation this afternoon, after my watch. Sooner if you deem it necessary.”

“I won’t accept it,” came the simple statement.

“Admiral, you don’t have a choice. I will not let another person suffer because of what I have done, what I might become. Who I might be the next time.”

“Lee, please….”

Again, Crane shook his head. “My mind’s made up.”

“What if there might be a way to figure out your . . . your propensity to these kinds of things?”

Lee did a double take. “What?”

“I still think you’re wrong, but there is a scientist….” 

“Oh, no, I’ve had too much experience with that, too.”

Nelson scratched under his ear, stifling a chuckle. “Lee, forgive me. I’m not trying to make light of your . . . concern. It’s valid. We’ve had about as many encounters with egotistical, self-important or mad scientists as we’ve had encounters with monsters and aliens. But David O’Day is a very respected and trusted friend in the scientific community. You can check him out. I actually let him test me.”

“You did?” Lee asked. “Okay, suppose I agree with his trustworthiness. What would he be able to do? What did he test you for?”

“He was simply studying my brain waves. That’s part of his work. He studies the brain, trying to see what it’s capable of, how it works.”

Crane leaned against the admiral’s desk. A sardonic smile crossed his features. “And what does that have to do with my alien and monster magnetism?”

“Supposed alien and monster magnetism,” Nelson corrected. “Part of his research is trying to figure out why some people seem to have various sensitivities, like ESP, precognition, force of will. It’s all part of his main research, the brain.”

Crane was still dubious. “And he’s going to be able to not only figure out why this is happening to me but be able to figure out how to stop it?”

Nelson shook his head. “No, at least not right away. But if there’s something in your brain waves that show up different than the norm, whatever the hell that might be, maybe the data will tell him how to help you….” He let the comment die.

“And you’re really sure about this guy?” Lee asked hopefully.

Nelson nodded. “Yes. He hasn’t even asked to take a cruise with us.” The admiral ventured a thin smile at his lame joke.

Crane returned the smile, knowing what the admiral was doing. He was trying to buy time. However, Lee was ready to grasp at it. He didn’t really want to give up Seaview. This boat was in his heart; the beat of her engines pulsed through his veins. He felt he knew every beam, every rivet. Seaview was his sister, mother, daughter. Abandoning her would be like ripping his heart out. No, he didn’t want to leave; not this way. If this doctor could figure something out, Lee was willing to take a chance. Even an explanation would be a start.

“Okay, I’ll at least meet with him; feel him out.”

“Good and in the meantime, there will be no talk about resigning,” Nelson said with finality.

“No talk, but that doesn’t change the way I feel,” Lee replied.

Nelson huffed slightly around his unlit cigarette, before tossing it in the garbage can. “Go try to get some sleep. I’ll get in touch with David tomorrow morning and we’ll see him the day after we get back home.”

Crane knew he had to leave it at that for the moment. On his way to his cabin, he slipped into sickbay to check on Patterson—to apologize to him again.

 

                                  --------------------------------------

   

Dr. O’Day’s suite of offices was chilly and Crane had to repress a shudder. There were no extraneous pieces of furniture, no pictures on the wall. The nurse/assistant was also the receptionist. It was as though the scientist had only received minimal funding and he refused to use any of it for extras or window dressing.  That could be a good sign.

He wasn’t alone. The admiral was right next to him. He had been declared completely well the day they reached Santa Barbara.  He addressed the woman in the doorway. “We’re here to see Dr. O’Day. We have an appointment.”

She asked them to wait and then walked away from them down a long, dimly lit hallway. They waited. Crane suddenly had the insane desire to bolt and run, but he didn’t. The conviction that someday these possessions/takeovers or whatever would escalate until he destroyed the men he considered brothers kept him here in this ratty office.

It wasn’t long before a very tall, thin man strode down the hall to greet them. 

“David!” Nelson called out jovially. The two men clapped each other on the shoulder, grinning.  “I brought you my captain. He has an interesting dilemma.” 

That’s an understatement, Lee thought.

“No details of which you told me over the phone,” O’Day grumbled. The gleam in his eyes told Crane he wasn’t too upset about that lack.

Nelson sobered immediately. “I thought it would be much better for Lee to explain what’s been going on. You know a few of the experiences I’ve told you about, but Lee, as captain, has really been the brunt of the various phenomena. I hope you can make some sense of all of this.”

“Sounds like the opening dialogue to a therapy session. I am no psychiatrist.”

“Not asking you to be,” Lee growled. He frowned, as much at his own display of emotions as the implication O’Day’s statement had made. “The admiral seems to feel that your research might shed some light on problems we’ve had . . . on some of our missions.” He wondered just how much the admiral had told this guy. 

O’Day raised an eyebrow. “And being the brunt bothers you,” he said.

“Yes, it does, especially since it puts the men under my command in danger. Men have been injured due to my . . . uh, experiences.”

“Let’s call a spade a spade, Captain,” O’Day said with a wave of his hand. “From what the admiral told me—and I wasn’t lying when I said he hadn’t revealed enough to fill a shot glass—you have had more experiences with this ‘phenomena’ than anyone else.” He waved his hand expansively. “Aliens?”

Crane nodded. “And ghosts, mutated creatures and other things that go bump on the boat.” He gave the scientist a lopsided half-smile. He didn’t feel particularly joyful, though. Crane went on to explain some of the more memorable events of the past half dozen years.

O’Day looked at the floor and rubbed his chin. All three men were silent for a long time. At least it seemed that way to Crane.

“You know, I can’t promise anything. All I do is take readings of brain waves and compare. I have hundreds of scans. I have taken readings of people like the admiral. When I asked for specific populations I found some interesting anomalies….”

“Populations?” Lee asked.

“I’m sure the admiral told you I’m interested in the paranormal and what makes one person more capable of extrasensory abilities than other people.”

“Yes, he did,” Crane replied, glancing at Nelson.

“I have done brain wave readings of people claiming to have paranormal abilities and have gotten some interesting data,” O’Day began. “I can almost pick out the charlatans from the real thing. It’s proved my theory, but that’s about it.”

“What is it you’re trying to accomplish, David?” Nelson asked. “Ultimately.”

Lee figured the admiral was asking that for his benefit.

“I started out hoping that knowing the different types of brainwave patterns would help me isolate those of those with extrasensory abilities and enhance them.” When O’Day got no response from either of the two officers, he continued. “I would guess you could imagine the benefit of those who have the ability to predict the future or solve crimes from minimal clues. Then I found some who felt those abilities were a curse and wanted to be rid of them.” 

“How about the ability to be . . . uh, possessed?” Lee ventured.

“I can only measure your brain waves and see if there is something that would point to that . . . ability.”

“Curse,” Lee corrected. “In my case, it’s a curse.”

“But you aren’t the only one on your ship, are you?” O’Day asked. 

“Boat, and no, but I am the most frequent recipient of the—privilege,” Crane grumbled.

“Why don’t we start the official test then.”

Crane was still wary. “I would like to know exactly what you are going to do before you hook me up to anything, if you don’t mind.”

“I don’t mind at all, Captain.”

O’Day’s openness set his mind at ease. Evasiveness, arrogance or overabundant effusiveness seemed to be the normal order of the day with scientists onboard Seaview, Crane thought.

The scientist led him to a small office near the end of the hall. They passed a larger room that was filled with a variety of machines. Lee figured this was where the tests took place. He glanced but didn’t slow his pace. There would be time to do a more thorough study later. The admiral remained behind at O’Day’s request. The scientist poured each of them a cup of coffee and proceeded to ask questions.

An hour later, they emerged from the little room. Crane felt as though he had been through the Navy psych, one of Jamie’s physicals, and boards, all at the same time. It had been a thorough questionnaire.

“If you don’t mind, let’s have a small bite of lunch so that you’ll be rested and relaxed for the actual scan,” O’Day suggested.

Lee didn’t mind that at all. He looked at his watch and saw that it was a bit early for lunch, but he hadn’t had more than a cup of coffee and a couple of bites of toast for breakfast, so he was ready for a bit of brunch. The admiral was waiting in the reception area and he joined them as they headed out the door and to a little corner restaurant.

Regardless of messages his stomach was sending him, Crane was still too tense to do more than nibble on his burger and eat a few fries. He knew O’Day was sneaking peeks at him, trying very hard to be surreptitious about it. The admiral made small talk, including them both in the conversation as he ate his roast beef sandwich. Lee knew the admiral was aware of his anxiety, but made no indications of it.

A half an hour later, they returned to O’Day’s laboratory. “So all you’re going to do is just take brain wave readings,” Lee prompted. 

O’Day smiled sympathetically. “Sorry, Captain, that’s all I’m going to do. The readings may suggest a course of action, but I can’t even guarantee what the readings will tell me.”

“Fair enough,” Crane replied, but he felt something would come of this. He was on edge. He wasn’t sure if it was simply anticipatory jitters, precognition of something unanticipated, or what. Either way, he was ready to get this over with.

“Do you still want to do this?”

“Of course,” Crane growled. He reined in his emotions. “Sorry, it’s just been a bit tense lately.”

“Understandable and there’s nothing to be worried about. It’s another test, like an MRI, only quieter, or a CAT scan, only it will be quicker.” Then O’Day began a discourse on how his test worked. Lee followed some of it, but lost the details. Mainly, it was non-invasive, used only minimal radiation and he would be awake for the entire procedure. His only requirement was to relax, lay still and let O’Day do his job. That seemed simple enough….  

Shock ran through his body. It wasn’t what Crane imagined with electrocution; it was more like a tingling in his extremities flowing and increasing strength inward through the core of his body and back out again. Then he felt a sensation he had felt before. No, not quite, but it was like what he had experienced with Pem’s revenge. Could O’Day be Pem, related to Pem or somehow gotten the technology? It was the nauseating, jerking sensation; the feeling of being turned inside out. Then freezing, burning, freezing, burning. This was no short jaunt into the past. He was being ripped somewhere, some-when distant.

Crane heard shouting, O’Day’s and the admiral’s, the blaring of mechanical alarms. The sounds grew more distant and then faded. For a moment he felt the urge to kill O’Day, and he might never speak to the admiral again.

The freezing and burning sensations seemed endless; the journey forever, but he could not tell exactly how long it was. His anger was jerked out from under him in a sudden arrival into something wet, warm and slimy. Screeching deafened his eardrums for an instant and then there was a short silence.

Crane opened his eyes and wiped goop off his face. He was on his hands and knees, almost up to his chest in a warm, noxious smelling muck. Oh, hell, he thought. Am I stuck in some primordial past? That would be something Pem would really appreciate.

A light touch and a quick, sharp pain on his wrist. Crane jerked upright, coming to his feet in an instant. Soft, gliding caresses slithered around his ankles as noises started sounding in his ears. The noise was low at first; squeaks, chirps and creaking groans that gained in volume as the denizens got used to the surprise of his arrival. Sounds weren’t what concerned him, though. He looked around in the twilight of the swamp, hoping to see some dry ground. About twenty feet away, he spied small hillocks that appeared reasonably safe. Lee felt another nibble just above one ankle and resisted the urge to kick out. Somehow he felt that might simply aggravate whatever was lurking in the muck. Scum and vegetable debris parted reluctantly and Crane waded slowly toward the nearest hummock. Moss covered trees loomed, disappearing into the gloom above. Various plant forms wrapped around tree trunks, dangled from limbs or thrust out growths at strange angles.

Whatever creature had tested his flavor didn’t impede his progress, but Lee was ever mindful of possible holes or obstacles in the muck. Better to get nipped than drowned in a hidden sinkhole.

He finally made it to the hummock and used one of the vines to pull himself up to the relatively drier land. Even that was spongy. The humidity was cloying; the air stifling and the heat oppressive. As the water moved with unseen activity, Crane studied the rest of this twilight world. He listened for noises but continued to hear the various sounds of smaller animals. That didn’t mean there weren’t other larger creatures out there, but there was nothing to indicate it right now. He looked at the bite on his wrist. Certainly didn’t mean that the little creatures couldn’t be deadly, either. Not that he could do a thing about it.

A loud screech sounded high in the treetops, startling him. It cried out again, but no closer. There was a hiss, some scrabbling above, and a bird about the size of a small pony flew overhead and out over the water. Crane reassessed the creature even as he listened for any others. It didn’t have feathers, except for something fringe-like on top of its head. It was reptilian, supporting his initial idea of being very, very far into the past. He couldn’t tell if it had scales or was smooth-skinned. However, Crane had no desire to get close enough to find out. He saw it lunge toward the water’s surface, long talons extended, viciously serrated, sharp bill dipping as though eager to tear whatever prey was scooped up.

When the prehistoric creature swung around and made another pass over the turgid water, Crane was very glad he hadn’t seen whatever had been nibbling at his legs. The flying animal snatched something long and sinewy. A water creature whipped the lower half of its body. A spiky fin extended almost the entire body length. It looked totally lethal. The creature also didn’t look anything like a known prehistoric creature.

“Selective of its prey, it is,” a low, gravelly voice said.

Craned jumped and spun around. He saw nothing at first, but then he looked down and noticed a very short, gray clad, gray skinned man. Huge ears stuck out on either side of his head, which appeared bumpy and lumpish. His eyes were large and very expressive. The little man’s small and compact body was out of proportion to the large head. The clothes blended in with his surroundings and he carried a knobby stick. While the man looked ridiculously fragile, Crane didn’t doubt his ability to survive in this place. At the same time, he realized this could not be primordial earth. Somehow, Crane had been transported to another planet.

“Where is this?” he asked the small creature, wondering at his ability to speak English. Or was he hearing something else, he wondered?

“On Dagobah, you are,” the alien replied. “I felt a movement of the Force.”

“Force? Dagobah?” Crane repeated, confused.

“Answer a few questions first, you must and then I will explain.”

After his initial shock, Crane felt curiously dispassionate and removed from what was going on. Was it because so much had happened to him already? Had he become casual with the weird and outlandish? Or had he simply given up? Lee nodded but had one more question. “What is your name?”

The creature hesitated a brief moment.

“What do I call you?” Crane insisted.

The ears swiveled slightly and the small mouth quirked into a ghost of a smile. “Yoda, I am called. Your name?”

“Captain Lee Crane.”

“Ah, a captain you are.”

“Captain of a submarine. United States Navy. I was undergoing some scientific tests,” he began and then stopped. What in the world would a creature on a swamp planet know about science or submarines? Of course, Yoda had known what a captain was.

“Determine force, the tests were?” Yoda asked.

Crane was startled out of his complacency. How did this pint-sized little alien know that? Had Yoda jerked him across time and space to this forsaken swamp? “Just who are you? Did you bring me here? If so, what the hell for?” His voice had risen in its anxiety and taken on a hard edge.

Yoda was totally unphased. He continued to study the disheveled human. “Unexpected you are.” The little alien closed his eyes and held out his hand toward the confused captain. Crane was almost positive he could hear a soft humming. He felt a tingling sensation like he had stepped into an electro-magnetic field. His anxiety and irritation eased even as he wondered how. It could only be Yoda.

Abruptly the tingling went away and Yoda opened his eyes. “Not from the emperor. Jedi, you are not. Nor strong in the Force. And yet….” He cocked his head slightly. The bat-like ears twitched again. “Some Force resides in you, it does. Strange . . . strange.”

What kind of power did the diminutive alien hold? “You keep talking about some kind of force,” Crane prompted. “What is this force? Do you know how I came here? Or why?”

“Surrounds us, the Force does. Penetrates us, is part of us. It is energy. Part of all things, it is also. Of you, of me. Used for good, it can be. Also for evil.” 

“Huh? Wait a minute, you could be talking about electricity, or nuclear energy,” Lee protested. “And used how?” The anxious feelings were returning. He didn’t like where this was going.

“Hmm, mind closed, it is,” Yoda replied, not unkindly.

Still it seemed like a rebuke, like a patient schoolteacher with a recalcitrant child. Again, the alien closed his eyes in what Lee assumed was concentration.

“In the swamp, you will look,” Yoda instructed, pointing a gnarled finger.

Lee looked. In a spot about twenty feet in front of them the water boiled and bubbled and then exploded in a shower of spray as a thrashing, nightmarish cross between an octopus and a crocodile rose out of the swamp. It squalled and roared, still gyrating as though caught in a net. It slowly levitated toward them and it took all of Crane’s concentration to not pull back. The huge beast stopped in mid-air, still protesting, but with much less energy. It seemed resigned to its fate. When it was three feet from them it stopped.

“The force, harnessed can be. Used against one’s enemy. Harmless, the enemy is and harmed it is not,” Yoda told him, his eyes open and gazing at Crane. Still the octi-crocodile hung in mid-air, now watching them with tiny, black eyes. “Destructive, it has the power to become.”

Yoda turned his full attention toward the beast and it floated back toward the swamp. It was released from Yoda’s force and fell into the water with a resounding splash. Only a small ripple marked the passage of the animal’s flight.

“Hmm,” Yoda mused, studying him with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “Understand the Force a little more, you do?”

“I think I do. So this force is like some kind of energy you can draw upon. And you said, I had some of it?”

Yoda nodded and motioned him to follow. “Think I must. Come with me. Dark it will be soon and more dangerous.”

After seeing Yoda’s demonstration, Crane figured the alien was suggesting that more for his benefit. The little creature moved easily through the vegetation. Lee followed him, watching for low hanging branches and vines.

Yoda ducked into a small, rounded dwelling and Crane almost had to go in on his hands and knees. He sat on the floor near the doorway. Yoda had a small fire going in a stove on the opposite side of the house. A kettle emitted tiny puffs of steam. Lee noticed a nook with a raised pallet that he took to be Yoda’s bed. Various small bundles of what appeared to be herbs or food hung from a few hooks on the wall near him. There was little else. If the alien had other belongings they were stored in places Crane couldn’t pick out. He thought space was at a premium on a submarine!

Yoda quietly moved to the small stove and pulled out two mugs from a small shelf beside it. He poured the contents of the kettle into them and handed one to Lee. “You are tired. Much we have to discuss. Drink.”

Crane gazed into the dark contents of the small mug and then sniffed it.

Yoda snorted and said, “Poison you, I would not.”

“We are different species. No offense.”

“Not offended.” Yoda took the other mug and sipped the contents.

Crane was assured that Yoda knew what he doing, so he followed his example. The brew was different from anything he had ever tasted, but it was not unpleasant. Slightly sweet, yet there was a tang he couldn’t identify. He finished the cup.

“More?” Yoda asked.

Lee nodded. “Yes, if you have enough.”

“Plenty, there is,” Yoda said with a chuckle. The alien poured some more of the steaming brew into Lee’s mug.

 

***

 

Nelson stared, thunderstruck, at the still body on the couch, but only for a second. He rushed over to Lee, checked for a pulse and finally found one. It was shallow, but there. He was barely breathing. Haze from the malfunctioning electronics hung several feet from the ceiling.

“How is he?” O’Day asked, his voice tremulous.

“He’s alive, but just barely,” Nelson growled. “Do you have any oxygen?”

“A small canister.”

“Get it!” Nelson barked. “And then call for an ambulance.” Crane was pale, almost transparent. It was almost as though he was a ghost. Harry touched him again, lifted his hand and noticed how light he was. It was like part of him wasn’t here. As though…. As though some … Nelson paused in his thoughts. It was some kind of out of body experience. It had to be. He heard O’Day returning. “What did you do to him?” the admiral demanded without looking around.

“Nothing! I swear it, Admiral. I didn’t do anything different. I don’t have a clue what went wrong,” O’Day protested. He held a small tank with an oxygen mask.

Nelson grabbed it and placed the mask on Crane’s face. He turned the oxygen to the correct level and watched. Lee’s chest rose and fell rhythmically, but there was no other change. “Did you call the paramedics?”

“Got the phone here,” O’Day replied. He stood motionless for a moment, studying the unconscious man on the couch. “It’s almost like he’s not here.”

Nelson noticed the translucency of Crane’s normally olive toned skin. “That was my thought as well. Whatever your machine did, I think it sent him somewhere else.”

“But he’s here!” O’Day protested. “How could he be here and somewhere else?”

“Ever heard of an out of body experience?”

“I’ve heard of it, but never seen it,” the scientist mused. “Do you think that’s what this is?”

“Do you have a better explanation? I admit it’s farfetched, since most out of body experiences don’t seem to rely on medical tests to trigger them and most who have had them simply come back of their own accord. Somehow, though, I think the machine is the trigger and the key to Lee’s return.”

“That’s as good, or better a theory than I can offer.” O’Day scratched his head. 

“Can you get your machine running again?”

“Ambulance first?”

“No. He’s breathing all right and his heartbeat is regular. If we can bring him back then a trip to the hospital will be unnecessary. Besides,” Nelson began and wondered if he was playing with the life of his captain and friend. “Besides, if it takes your machine to bring him back, we certainly won’t be able to do that if Lee is in the hospital. Let’s wait a while. At least until we know if you can get your machine working again.” Harry fixed O’Day with a pointed stare. “Can you?”

The younger man set the phone down and examined the electronic panel. He pushed several buttons and switched dials. Next he did a quick examination of the wiring and dials on the couch where he had been running the test. “Yes, there seems to be only minor damage. I need to replace a couple of wires and it should be operational.”

“Can you do that now?”

O’Day nodded. Within the hour, he declared the machine ready.

Nelson turned off the oxygen and Lee continued to breathe regularly on his own. He knew what Doc would say, but something inside told him he was right. As long as Lee’s vitals were within normal range . . . and as long as O’Day’s machine might be the catalyst to get Lee back, there would be no hospitals. It was ironic. Lee would have wholeheartedly agreed were he conscious. “Okay, let’s try it.”

 

****

 

As he raised the steaming mug to his lips, it seemed to become translucent. Lee felt the world inside Yoda’s gnarly little house recede, waver and pitch. The feeling that brought Lee here pulled at him, but didn’t jerk him like before. The world spun and darkened, but didn’t disappear. Were the admiral and O’Day trying to bring him back? Was Yoda doing something?

When everything snapped back into place, Yoda was standing in front of him fixing him with the intense scrutiny Crane was becoming used to. The mug was resting near the stove and Lee was feeling the pounding of his heart in his temples. “Did you have anything to do with that?”

“You are here and not here,” Yoda proclaimed, ignoring Lee’s question.

“What do you mean?” Crane asked, wondering just what the alien had discerned. He didn’t doubt Yoda’s abilities in the least. The demonstration earlier in the day had proved that.

“The Force has made it possible for you to come here in a form that allows your body to remain behind.”

Lee looked at his hands. They appeared solid enough. He poked his leg with one finger and certainly felt solid enough. “How can that be?” he asked and wondered what form of address he should use with Yoda. Somehow just calling him Yoda didn’t seem appropriate. “And how should I address you?”

Yoda blinked and cleared his throat. “Two questions, you ask. The last, first. When I had pupils, I was called Master Yoda.”

Like a Kung Fu master, Crane thought.

“Taken a solid form, your inner force has. Drawn from the Force in this place.”

“That is definitely a different out of body experience,” Crane murmured.

“There is a reason,” Yoda said with finality.

“Yeah, Dr. O’Day’s fantastic body snatching machine,” Lee grumbled.

“No! The power of the Force, this is. I feel it. You are here for a reason.”

Lee was silent for a moment after Yoda’s outburst. “Then how did I get here? How could this force just arbitrarily snatch me from one place and bring me here? And how do I return?”

“The machine was the conduit for coming. To accomplish some purpose will return you when they try to rescue you again, I believe.”

“What purpose?” Lee began, but Yoda held up a hand. He waited.

Yoda grunted something incomprehensible before continuing, “Tell me how you got here. In detail, you must explain.”

“If I knew that….” Crane began a facetious reply, then realized Yoda was gathering all the information he could to try to help him.

“Help you, I will. Your people are trying to rescue you, they are. We must help them.”

“With the Force?”

“Yes. Tell me.”

Crane did, including all that preceded the decision to try O’Day’s brain wave readings. He finished the mug of tea long before he finished his narrative. Yoda interrupted him with only a few questions. 

“Hmm,” was the only response for several minutes.

Lee knew enough to bide his time. Yoda, like the admiral, was a long thinker when the situation warranted it.  He figured Yoda might even have the admiral beat. The minutes passed by with only the beating of his heart and the glowing fire to show life in the small house. About the time Lee was beginning to doze off, Yoda spoke.

“Two problems, there are,” he said.

“How to get back being the main one.”

Yoda shook his head. “No. Protecting you is the main one.”

“Huh? Say that again, will you?”

“Home will come when you learn to control that which draws other entities to you.”

Crane almost ground his teeth together in frustration. Instead he simply said, “Explain, please, Master Yoda.”

“Your force is different. Control it you must. If you do others will have no means to influence you. Repel them, you can. The path to your home, clear it will be.”

“So I have to learn some kind of paranormal self defense before I can go home?” This was beginning to sound more and more like something from Oz. You must see the Wizard before you can go home. Get the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.  “How the devil does that correlate to my coming here?”

“I am a Jedi master. Teach you, I can.”

Lee did a double take. “What?” Then he calmed down. He had to learn several kinds of physical martial arts techniques to protect himself. So this was just a different kind of self-defense. But was Yoda claiming that he was sent here to learn from him? And what the hell was a Jedi? Lee asked the question.

“Master of the Force, a Jedi is.”

That was simple enough. What that had to do with his returning home, he didn’t know, but as before, he trusted Yoda. He really didn’t have a choice. “Okay, Master Yoda. What do I need to do?”

“Close your mind to those who would use or destroy you, you must learn.”

“How do I do that?”

“Your ship goes underwater, it does. How does it protect you?”

Seaview has a very strong hull, made of the hardest materials possible. There are other factors that make it stronger, but it would take too long to explain,” Crane said.

“Learn to protect your mind as the builders made the ship to protect you.” Yoda’s ears swiveled and his eyes lit up. “Picture your mind building a hull to protect itself, you can.” 

Yoda couldn’t be serious, Lee thought.

Yoda’s ears twitched again and the large eyes bored into his. “Use what one is familiar with, if one is wise. Close your eyes, Captain Lee Crane.”

“Call me Lee, please,” he requested, then complied with Yoda’s instruction.

“Everything but my voice, you must shut out. Your protective hull in your mind, you must build. Reinforce it to protect your mind.”

Yoda repeated himself. The singsong voice became the only thing he heard.

“Construct your protection. Layer by layer.” Yoda paused and the night sounds began to infringe on Lee’s efforts.

Lee sighed, but before he could relay his frustration, the Jedi continued.

“Visualize, you must. The beams, the metal, the space between, braces….” He named off the layers of the sub’s construction. “Visualize your mind with all these things around it. Concentrate.”

Everything else receded. Lee tried to do what he was told, but wondered how in the world he could do this and still be aware of his duties on board. He opened his eyes and found himself sitting on the lower limb of one of the swamp giants. Yoda was gazing up at him. Light from the house told him he hadn’t gone far, but still….  How had he gotten here? Yoda! As he climbed down, he growled, “Did you do this?”

“No, Lee. You did.”

Lee could have sworn the alien sounded smug. He rephrased his question. “Did you take over my mind and, uh, suggest I go climb a tree?”

“Difficult, it was not. Block your mind, you can learn.”

“I don’t understand how, though.”

“Think everything through on your submarine, do you?”

Crane opened his mouth to make a retort, but closed it again. Some things he didn’t think about, he just knew them. He had become so entrenched in what he did on Seaview, he didn’t think out every action, every movement, every order. Sometimes it just happened.

 “I realize this has to become automatic like much of what I do, but I still don’t understand how. It’s all so foreign to me.”

Yoda motioned him back into the house. “Sit down.”

Lee sat, even as he heard Yoda’s breathing slow and soften.

“Trust me to look into your mind, do you?” he asked.

Lee only paused a moment. “Yes.” After all, his country’s enemies didn’t have a clue about this place.

“Think of the first time a traveler took over your mind.”

The monster that had almost killed him. He shuddered. “That was a very difficult time. I fought, but he was so . . . overwhelming, so powerful.”

“Trust me.”

“All right.” He remembered and felt his muscles go rigid; his thoughts scream their protests. It was like experiencing it all over again. When it was over, Crane slumped against the wall.

Yoda handed him another cup of the alien tea. “A natural defense, you had. Most of your kind has some kind of defense. Developed, it is not. Yours was stronger.”

Lee began to protest. “How….? I mean, I couldn’t even stop a mummy from influencing me!”

“Powerful the mind is, but not invincible. Stripped it, the creature did. Almost killed you, it did. The mind will not allow the organism to die. Made you vulnerable thereafter, it did to avoid death of the organism—you.” Yoda paused and thought again. “Gone it is not.”

“But you just said it was stripped,” Crane protested.

“Stripped from use, but hidden. The mind is tricky.”

“And you can restore it?”

Yoda nodded. “Teach you to make it better, I can, if you wish.” 

“Yes, I wish!” Lee curbed his exuberance.

Yoda chuckled. “Again, listen only to me. My face, you must watch. Concentrate only on me.”

Crane blinked and found himself laying on the floor, a light blanket over his torso. His head was cradled on one arm, which was partially asleep. Yoda was curled up on his pallet. What happened? he wondered as he sat up and shook the circulation back into his arm. Did Yoda succeed? The last thing he remembered was watching Yoda. Crane yawned. He felt as though he could go back to sleep. How long had he been asleep? He leaned against the wall.

“Ah, time is short, Captain,” Yoda told him. The alien was sitting in front of him.

Lee realized he had slept again. Daylight was showing through the windows. Yoda handed him a mug with a spoon in it. “Did I fall asleep while you were helping me?”

Yoda shook his head. “No. Coaxed your mind to rest, I did. Rested, I did, too. Eat, you must and then we will work.” 

“Did you succeed?” Lee asked, almost afraid of the answer.

“Yes, you should be able to defend against me. With practice.”

Lee tried the thick, pasty mush in the cup, found it as appetizing as the tea from the night before and finished it quickly. “I’m ready.” 

Yoda chuckled, but was soon down to business. Lee found it much easier to build the barrier now that the Jedi master had reinstated his former protection. He followed Yoda’s instructions explicitly. As he got better at protecting his mind from Yoda’s attempts, the little alien pushed him harder. It was frustrating while at the same time, exhilarating. There were certainly no more ‘tree’ moments. The worst time he had was when he came back to the here and now with Yoda sitting on his chest. Hours went by, with brief rests. Midday, afternoon, and only when the daylight began to fade did Yoda call a halt. Yoda hadn’t been able to breach Lee’s defenses during the last exercise.

“I believe you have gone as far as I can teach you,” the Jedi master admitted.

Crane grinned in self-satisfaction. Suddenly he felt his mind being invaded and he threw up the protections Yoda had taught him.

This time Yoda grinned. “Ah, good pupil, you are, Lee! Continue to practice you must.”

“Against who?” he asked, partly in jest and partly serious.

“Against me, while you are here. Alone, you will practice when you are back.”

“I will get back, won’t I?”

“Believe so,” Yoda replied.

They continued after a short rest. Crane noticed that Yoda appeared to be tiring. “Ready to quit for a while?”

“Are you?”

“I guess I’m just restless,” Crane admitted. It was then Yoda threw himself at his mind with a ferocity he hadn’t used earlier in the day. It took all of his concentration to protect himself this time. “That was tough, Master Yoda.”

“I did not do anything. The influence, I felt, though. From your world it was.” 

That revelation almost floored Lee. “You mean I just repelled the admiral?”

“Perhaps. Now you must open your mind, let your people pull you back. Follow the path of the machine, you will.”

Lee could have kicked himself for not realizing what that had been. “Will they try again?”

“Your admiral gives up easily, he does?”

With a chuckle, Lee shook his head.

“Then relax and wait for the summons, you must. I will wait with you and add my power. Rest you should.” Yoda fixed him with a stare and Lee felt himself relaxing, despite his anxiety.

Then he thought of something that had bothered him throughout the day. “Master Yoda, why do you live here in the forsaken swamp instead of somewhere teaching young Jedi? You‘re talents are wasted out here.”

“Wait I must, Lee. There are no Jedi, except two of us. Hiding we are. Waiting we are for the chance to train one able to break the Empire.”

“But how long will you wait. It’s got to be depressing here,” Lee began. He wondered just how long Yoda had been here in this miserable place.

“The end of my years I am. Wait patiently I will.” He shrugged. “Then into the beyond I will go.”

“And if this student doesn’t come?”

Yoda closed his eyes in contemplation or sleep, Crane didn’t know. “One will come. Feel their Force, I do,” Yoda finally murmured.

Crane decided on a different tack. “How far away is this place from Earth?”

“Very far away. Beckon you, your friends will. Now rest….”

 

 

Nelson checked the readings and then double-checked them. O’Day scrutinized the instruments at the same time. “It should work,” O’Day said.

“Should have worked the last time,” muttered Nelson.

“I agree, but at least nothing blew. It was almost as though nothing got through or it hit a barrier,” O’Day mused.

“Can you increase the power?” Nelson asked, already knowing the answer.

“Power is as high as I can get it. Surprised the power board hasn’t come calling after all this.”

“Anytime you’re ready,” Harry said, glancing at the clock on the wall. It was after midnight. He scratched his unshaven chin, ready to get this over with and get Lee back—soon. They would have to take him to the hospital if it didn’t work this time. O’Day had questioned his theory several times since they had tried the machine before. Nelson had also questioned his conviction, but it was the only thing that made sense, as crazy as it was.

O’Day nodded and flipped the switches that would turn on the equipment. The overhead lights dimmed, the machine hummed. Nelson could feel the hair on the back of his neck rise. He alternated his scrutiny between the machine and Lee. One minute, two, then it was three. Crane’s hands balled up.

“I think he’s back!” Harry cried. He took Lee’s hard-fisted hand in his. “Lee! Can you hear me?”

“Give it a rest, Master Yoda,” Crane murmured.

“Turn it off, David! He’s back.”

O’Day immediately cut power. The lights came up brighter and the room was as still as a tomb.

“Lee!” Nelson called out again.

Crane’s eyelids fluttered and then opened. “Admiral?” He tried to sit up, but Nelson stopped him with a hand on his chest.

“Relax a moment, Lee. You’ve given us quite a scare.”

“I’ve given myself quite a scare,” Crane muttered. “I’m all right.” He sat up despite Nelson’s protestations. Rubbing a hand behind his neck, he added in a barely audible voice, “What a ride!”

 

**Three months later:

 

And here it was. Two humans were standing serenely in the blasted shell of the undersea research station. Dr’s Branley and Workman. The only problem was that they didn’t have breathing equipment and they weren’t floating. They weren’t dead either, or at least they weren’t acting dead.  Damn, Harriman Nelson thought. Here we go again. Worry crept up his spine. If the men were ghosts, like Krueger, there was almost nothing they could do. If they were taken over by aliens, well….  They would probably have to kill the men—if they could. Nelson amended that assessment. In 300 feet of water, no tanks. They were already dead, he thought. So now what?

He had insisted on leading this dive team, over Crane’s objections. Lawrence Branley was a personal friend of his and he wanted to know what had happened to him. Save him, if it was possible. Lee over-ruled his objection and joined the dive team. Sharkey, Kowalski, Patterson, Davis and Porter made up the rest of the team. The damage was incredible with twisted metal scattered everywhere on the ocean floor. Then Branley and Workman walked up from the underground living quarters like they had just left their apartments on land. They didn’t swim; they walked. Nelson motioned them to stop about ten feet from him. This was just too weird. 

Branley smiled and took one more step. He spoke then. The mouth moved, but there were no bubbles and the words rang in his mind. ‘We have come for you, Admiral. We have come for you and your submarine. With your mind and that of your crew, there is nothing we cannot do on your world.’  

They started forward again, arms reaching for him, and Nelson backpedaled, ordering the men behind him to do the same. He was startled when he heard Lee order, “Hold your fire for a minute. Get the admiral back!” And then he swam forward.

“Lee! Are you crazy?” 

“Like a fox, Admiral,” Crane muttered. To the aliens/scientists, he said, “You’ll have to come through me first, boys.”

Nelson heard the men behind him groan, though they tried to hide it. He and they knew the odds of this coming off well. 

Very well, Captain….   And they were on him. Their hands grabbed his arms and reached for his head. 

What happened next was difficult to explain. There was a moment when the diving team surged forward to rescue their captain and the next moment there was a pair of high-pitched, agonized screams, swirling water and debris that clouded their vision.

Before the water around them cleared, Lee’s voice came through, not the least bit phased by being attacked. “Porter, Ski, I need you to buddy these men back to Seaview. They’re still alive, but will need medical attention immediately.”

Nelson scrutinized Lee but could see nothing the least bit less than professional and normal. He would definitely have to have a talk with his captain when they got back on board. A screeching hum stopped them in their tracks and as one they turned to see a long, sleek craft lift from behind a coral and rock formation nearby. It jetted toward the surface and was gone within seconds. “Let’s get back onboard,” Harry said.

   

“Lee,” Nelson said in his cabin after they had gotten underway. “Would you care to explain to me what happened back there?”

Crane had a smug and very self-satisfied look on his face. “I guess I owe you an explanation….”

“Damn right! You have called yourself an alien, ghost and weird entity magnet. What happened?”

“You remember that ‘out of body experience’ I had in O’Day’s office?”

“Yes, how could I forget? You never did tell me who this Yoda was.”

Lee related his experience with the little alien on the swamp planet, ending with, “And so when I got back, I did just what Yoda suggested. I practiced building a shield using Seaview as my example. Couldn’t know if I was having any success or not, but I worked at it anyway.”

“But you did more than just keep them from getting into your mind,” Nelson replied. “And congratulations, by the way.”

“Thank you. And yes, sir, I did. I went a step further….” He let the sentence hang a moment.

Suddenly, it dawned on Nelson what Lee meant. But before he could say a word, Crane finished.

“I repelled them with the only analogy I could think of.  I torpedoed them. You can’t imagine how good that felt.”

Nelson could only stare for the space of several heartbeats and then he began laughing. When he finally got control of himself, he wiped his eyes and said, “You have to teach me that trick. Too damned many aliens, ghosts and spies have been using my likeness lately. I’d like to torpedo the whole lot of them. Maybe a few senators in appropriations, while I’m at it, too.” That brought a new wave of laughter. 

“Maybe the word will get out and the aliens and monsters will leave us alone,” Lee suggested with a chuckle.

Nelson couldn’t think of anything better.

 

   

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