Foam on the Large Wave
(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)
“Coded message, Admiral,” Sparks called out.
Nelson quickly walked the length of the control
room and grabbed the piece of paper.
As he read, his hand began to tremble.
“Dammit,” he whispered. His
worst fears had been realized. Despite
all the precautions, it had happened….
“What is it, Admiral?” Chip Morton asked.
He had seen the stricken look on his superior’s face.
“Are you all right, sir?”
“I’m fine,” Nelson answered hesitantly
before continuing. “But
Captain Crane was abducted from the Taipei Airport,” he added,
tonelessly. At the same
time he crumpled the paper and threw it onto the worktable.
The only sounds in the control room for the next
few minutes were the clicking and pinging sounds of the machinery.
“What are your orders, sir?” Morton asked quietly, his stomach
churning from sudden anxiety.
“None,” Nelson responded tonelessly.
“What do you mean, none, Admiral? Shouldn’t we be heading to Taiwan?” Morton asked angrily.
Then in a quieter voice, “Did he get the information?”
The admiral chose to ignore the first questions;
the outburst had been a knee jerk reaction of a man fearing the worst for
his friend. “Yes, he
Morton looked at him curiously for a moment.
“Did you know this was going to happen?”
He tried to keep his voice as emotionless as the admiral’s, but
he couldn’t keep his suspicions from his face.
there was an apprehensive pause before the admiral continued. “I had believed, hoped all the precautions would have
prevented this,” Nelson said, his eyes still on his hand, willing it to
stop trembling. He closed the
fingers into a fist.
“You mean that two plus weeks of no contact,
The admiral finally looked into the XO’s face, saw the doubts.
“Chip, I didn’t know much more than the rest of you.
This was planned by different people at ONI and I had only minimal
input. They wouldn’t have
given me as many updates as we got, had I not raised holy hell.”
Nelson stopped, aware that he sounded like he was making excuses.
Am I? Probably.
His conscience had been jerking his stomach into knots from the
moment Lee had rowed the raft away from the Seaview.
“But it was a pretty sure possibility, wasn’t
it, Admiral?” Morton said accusingly, his eyes hardening.
Then he gasped and opened his mouth to speak.
“Don’t, Commander,” Nelson said warningly.
Morton closed his mouth but still gazed at his
superior, struggling to temper his anger.
Nelson was pretty sure he knew what was on
Morton’s mind. Lee was
set up. He was sacrificed to
stop another crackpot dictator, spy, government.
And Morton was right. Harriman
had been deluding himself if he had even hoped otherwise. The information was so very vital that he had believed that
this was the ultimate, the penultimate goal; that nothing else mattered.
However, it seemed that there were those in the government who felt
that the information was secondary to finding out who had killed Anderson,
and who had been stealing scientific and weaponry secrets for the past
year. Was it? No, it
wasn’t. A man’s life is
never worth that kind of sacrifice. Damn
them! Harriman could only
hope that the safeguards he had been told about would keep Lee safe until
they or someone else could rescue him.
He walked over to the chart table and gazed at the map of the
Pacific Ocean. He quickly found Taipei, Taiwan and looked over the expanse
where Lee might be right now. “Commander,
give me a bit more time, then I will be able to explain everything I know
about this operation. I’ll
be in my cabin.”
“Aye, sir,” Morton said, his anger under
control for the moment. He
avoided the surreptitious glances of everyone in the control room.
The XO didn’t often lose his equilibrium like that—and Chip had
lost it quite spectacularly. A
half an hour later, one of the mess hands brought a tray with fresh mugs
of coffee. After everyone had
gotten a cup, the commander took the tray.
There were two mugs left.
“Take the conn, Mr. O’Brien.”
Quickly making his way to the admiral’s cabin,
he knocked. At the tired
sounding ‘come in,’ Morton entered and approached a desk littered with
memos, blueprints and innumerable scrawled notes.
“Coffee, Admiral. It’s
fresh.” His anger and
frustration had cooled considerably in the past thirty minutes.
Nelson nodded, but didn’t look up. He was trying to put together what he had of the new
propulsion unit specifications, but he wasn’t able to concentrate.
Lee held the missing piece; the part that would make this all work.
Why can’t I figure it out from what I already have? he
where are they taking Lee?
“I’ve been thinking about what you said,
Admiral. I apologize for
being so, uh, rude.”
Nelson finally looked at the steaming mug, then at
Morton. Everyone had been on
edge lately. Everyone was
worried. “No, Chip, I
don’t blame you for your frustration.
It only matches the frustration I’ve been feeling.”
Morton was looking at the blueprints.
“This….” Morton began, his finger tracing
the outline of an ion conversion generator.
A call on the intercom, along with Nelson’s warning look, cut him
“Yes, Sparks,” he said.
“Another message, Admiral.
They request it code private, your eyes only,” Sparks said, his
Nelson nodded and motioned to Morton.
This was too soon. Something was wrong and the time for absolute secrecy was
over. He had allowed himself
to be pulled along in the ebb and flow of this mission for too long
without giving his men any kind of information, regardless of what ONI had
told him. “Stick around,
Mr. Morton,” he said. Then
Nelson motioned for Chip to lock the door as he strode over to the
communications panel in one corner of his room.
“Send it through, Sparks.”
Nelson gave his high priority, top-level security code and waited.
It didn’t take long. The
combination of Cyrillic and alpha-numeric figures began printing and he
started translating in his head even as the printer continued sending the
message. His breath caught in his throat and he lost his train
of thought. Mentally shaking,
Nelson forced himself to concentrate.
Finally, the machine stopped and lay silent.
Nelson jerked the communiqué from the printer and
took it to his desk. He
pulled a cigarette from the pack by his elbow, but didn’t light it.
The paper lay in front of him, accusing him. He rubbed his sleep-deprived eyes and sighed.
Morton had stood quietly, knowing that information
would be forth-coming since he had been admitted to the “inner
sanctum” as the men were want to call Nelson’s cabin.
“A bit of background, Chip and then I’ll give
you the update,” the admiral said, as he lit the cigarette and took a
steadying drag. Morton looked
surprised, but Nelson ignored the XO’s gaze.
Jamie would dress him down later for backing down on his vow to
quit smoking, but right now, he didn’t really care.
“I, and several other scientists have been working on a highly
secret project for some months. When
we first began we were able to meet together publicly.”
“The Helsinki Conference, sir?” Morton asked.
Nelson nodded, feeling a quick touch of pleasure
at the astuteness of his men. “That
was when we found out we were all working on the same project. Then one of the scientists, Henderson, was attacked; a
kidnapping attempt, we believe.” Another
puff of the cigarette. “We
began meeting two at a time, using couriers to compare notes when we
couldn’t meet. Then the
couriers started disappearing. Dr.
Delacroix was killed in yet another kidnapping attempt.”
He paused and looked steadily at the younger man.
“It was quite apparent that someone wants this information quite
badly—and with good reason. What
we are developing is so revolutionary, so radical that the government,
company or man who owns it could very well become the most powerful entity
“Does it have to do with the proposed changes in
the Flying Sub’s propulsion system, Admiral?” Morton asked softly.
Again Nelson felt that bit of pride.
“Very astute, Chip. It
became harder and harder to compare notes.
Very highly trained espionage experts were involved by now, but
even then there were problems. Henderson
went under cover and then the spy who contacted him disappeared.
“So the captain was tapped to be the next
courier,” Morton said.
“Yes, Chip, he was, but for more than just a
trusted courier. This was Dr.
Mendez Lee was to contact; the man, I believe, who has the key to breaking
the roadblock that I and the rest of us have experienced.”
He paused again, then crushed the half-finished cigarette in an
ashtray. It shredded under
the force of his frustration. “The
last time we had been able to meet was at the institute about three months
ago. I had told him my
problem and Mendez began thinking right there. I got word last month that
he had found the solution.”
“But that wasn’t all,” Morton prompted.
“No,” the admiral said softly, looking again
at his message. “The
government felt it imperative that whoever was getting this information,
whoever was killing couriers, spies and scientists alike, was highly
dangerous and needed to be caught.”
“It’s not the Republic?”
“No, not this time.
At least I don’t think so. The
ONI thinks this person or persons is some new threat.”
“So Lee was supposed to be abducted,” Morton
“I didn’t want to believe it. I was told that wasn’t the ultimate goal, only a
possibility.” He pulled out
another cigarette. “But I
contacted ONI just a little while ago.
Raised hell and was told that they had more or less hoped Lee would
be contacted by these unknowns. So,
I’m afraid it was. I saw
the signs, but didn’t want to believe them,” he added, his voice tight
“Did Lee suspect?”
“Probably had a better handle on what would happen than I did.”
“Why Lee?” Morton asked, his voice rising in
anger again. How could
they do this? Damn them!!
Nelson knew it wasn’t directed at him this time,
but at the situation. “I
was told it was because Captain Crane had proven himself so resourceful in
these kinds of assignments before,” he replied, gazing deeply into his
subordinate’s eyes. “I
have been thinking that there was more to it than just Lee’s ingenuity
and talents,” Nelson said. “I
suspect that it was mainly because of his position on the Seaview
and his proximity to me and the research.”
“A particularly rich prize,” Morton said
“I’m afraid so,” Nelson murmured. His stomach knotted as he admitted aloud what he had been
afraid to admit for the past two weeks.
Morton said nothing for some time. “If the captain was meant to be captured then there had to
be some kind of failsafe. Some
way to track him or find him,” the younger man said, his voice hopeful.
Nelson knew what close friends the two men had
become during Lee’s command. It
was even deeper than it had been when they were midshipmen at Annapolis. At times it seemed that the various components of the
two men’s personalities meshed and complimented one another perfectly.
Lee’s determined and courageous drive, his in-your-face devotion
to duty, incredibly defined sense of right and wrong, and Morton’s
cautious, measured, steady capability, his calm willpower.
It made the information he had all the more difficult.
But, again, Nelson knew the time for subversive secrecy was well
past. The admiral was afraid that it would take them all working
together to save Captain Crane.
“There were two things, actually,” he said.
“First, the information that Lee received was implanted in such a
way that conventional methods of extracting information won’t work.
And it was planted deep into his subconscious in a way that even he
has no earthly idea what it is.”
Morton started to pace. “The
other was a very tiny device, a transmitter, that would allow ONI, and
ultimately us, to track Lee’s progress and destination.
It was implanted the same time that the information was.”
“Then why aren’t we going after him instead of
sitting here off the South American coast?” Morton asked impatiently.
Lee was out there somewhere and he was in trouble.
“Because the supposedly undetectable tracking
device was discovered a short time after the kidnapping and destroyed,”
Nelson said bluntly.
“Apparently this power is more clever than the
“Are you saying that we have no way of finding
Lee?” Morton asked.
“I didn’t say that, Chip.”
Nelson lit the second cigarette, but immediately stubbed it out.
“We know that he was apprehended in Taipei.
Also we know that the plane was a small, private jet, one that
could fly only a certain distance.”
“They could change planes,” Morton
“They could, but I have several reasons why I
don’t think they did,” Nelson said, pointing to a chair.
Morton’s pacing was making him nervous.
“The previous courier, a CIA operative at the top of the game,
showed up dead in Hawaii. He
wasn’t killed there but the body was dumped on a remote beach to muddle
things. Personally, I
think that this unknown, while apparently wealthy, doesn’t have
unlimited resources. I
believe the jet is non-stop….” Harriman
stopped abruptly. “No, it
would have to refuel somewhere. We
can use that.” He rubbed his chin in thought, his eyes glittering with
laid tracks, trails and deep, dark spy scenarios enough to confuse the
Joint Chiefs of Staff. I feel
that whoever this is won’t do that.
He or she has been anonymous and very, very clever.
I think our enemy is in the Pacific somewhere.”
“But where, sir?”
“I don’t know, Chip, but I think if we do some
good old-fashioned research we’ll find some red flags and ultimately
find Captain Crane,” Nelson said fervently.
“But in the meantime, they’ll try to extract
this information in the conventional ways,” Morton said, almost
shivering at what his imagination was showing him.
Nelson shook his head.
“We are only assuming that.
Why would someone torture a person they depend on for important
information? They might use
truth drugs on him, but I doubt they would use anything so crude as
physical torture.” He
sighed and gazed intently at his acting first officer.
“And we all knew when we signed up for this duty what it
entailed. As well as what
“I know, Admiral,” Morton said, frustrated.
“We’ll find him, Chip,” Nelson said with
conviction. “We always
have. We won’t let Lee down now.”
“Do you want me to do some triangulation work on that jet’s
last known position?”
give you the data ONI has already sent me and I’ll get more details.
Use it’s direction and whatever information you can find on its
range,” Nelson directed. “I
believe we are talking about any place between the Indo China Sea and
southern New Zealand.”
Morton turned to leave.
Morton stopped in his tracks, his hand on the doorknob. “Lay in the quickest course to the Institute.”
“Old fashioned research has to be done in a
facility with enormous resources. The
Seaview is most likely being monitored.
I can’t risk requesting information electronically,” Nelson
“Aye, aye, sir,” Morton said, then he
“Carry on, Chip.
That’s all we can do for now.
That and pray.”
The XO nodded and left.
|Foam on the Large Wave Prologue|
|Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents|