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   The Long Hot Summer
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Page Three

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From:  patti keiper (
Sent:  Mon 6/16/14 11:42 PM
Subject:  Bedside Manners

A faint occasional crackle roused Dr. Morton from a maelstrom of nightmares.
"Oh." he moaned softly once he identified the noise with the sound of a geiger
counter being swept over him from head to toe over the cocoon of blankets
he felt wrapped about him.

A trio of blurry faces a few inches away welcomed him to full consciousness.

"Dr. Morton?" asked DeSoto's voice. "Are you in any pain right now?"

"Easy, doctor. You've had a rough time." said an unfamiliar voice, which was
immediately followed by a pair of fingers pressing down on his carotid artery in
a pulse quality check. "My name's Bron Reese. I'm the ship's medic. Don't move
your right arm. You've an I.V. in place." he warned.

Dr. Morton's unfocused vision sharpened and took in Bron's curly hair and chistled
features.  "I'm a five, Roy." Mike mumbled about his pain scale. Dr. Morton licked his
dry lips, tasting his saliva inside of his mouth. To Medic Reese he replied. " Sweet
and salty. Ringer's Lactate, I'd guess. Antecubital?"

"Wide open. How do you feel?" Gage grinned, checking the flow of Mike's oxygen
through the mask placed tightly over his nose and mouth.

"Like I jumped out of a plane.." rasped Morton, controlling some ragged breathing.

"Didn't quite make it that far." Roy reminded. "Do you remember?"

"No.."  replied Morton, whispering through the swollen places on his face.

Roy and Johnny exchanged unhappy glances with each other.

"Can it!" he snapped at the two. "I am oriented to now." challenged Morton.
"Turn up the audible on my EKG. I wanna hear it. Something's off...
I'm... growing short of breath."

"We think early cardiac tamponade, doc." said Reese, flipping a switch. "But you
went off the bag twenty minutes ago, regaining your respiratory reflexes once
I began pushing your fluids."

"Rally ho.. *cough* ". Mike grinned slightly, sweat sheening his forehead.
"That was the lungs, now it's time to work on the... old ticker." he said, concentrating
on the warbling song of the cardiac monitor to see how it was faring. "Alternans."

"1:2." DeSoto confirmed. "How's your sensation of pressure?"

"Rising.. But not... bad. Don't think I'm... ballooning pericardially yet. Let's hold
off on that tray tap, Vampire Gage. I'm not in high crisis yet." Morton said no nonsense.

Johnny Gage guiltily dropped a sterile vacuum syringe fitted with an I.C. needle that he
had been holding out of Morton's sight, back onto the table. "Damn. I hate informed
consent laws."

Morton chuckled weakily. "Read it and weep. Learn the lesson now. Gotta love anyone
alert and oriented times three. Always." he said, flexing his fingers and toes, testing
their grip and flexibility. He frowned when he felt that his right hand was a little tardy
in reacting to impulses. "I've detriment?" he asked.

Bron just shrugged in his tan navy uniform. "Babinski's is negative."

"Could just be temporary swelling. I didn't feel anything out of alignment." Roy added.

"We're setting up our Xray to take some films." Reese promised.

"Good. Uh,... good. Did you get orders for mannitol?" Morton asked him.

"Yep. Got it right here." said Reese, holding up a box. "A Dr. Welby's already told
me to piggy back it once we were sure you were fully awake enough to confirm or
deny any medication allergies."

"I don't have any, Mr. Reese. Pump away."

"Done." said the sailor, stringing up a second I.V. with its orange warning label. He soon
connected its needle flow into the injection chamber on the Ringer's bag and began to
run it in.

Morton closed his eyes, too tired to monitor the process. "If my involvement's not a
spinal compression, that steroid should do the trick to undo this lag." he said waving
shaky fingers on his effected hand.  "How're my rads doing?"

"Uh, Dr. Morton.. I really.. uh,.. they're just a ...little teeny tiny bit ....more than ours."
Gage said, seriously reluctant to spill any numbers.

"That's understandable, Gage. I'm not stupid. I was in it far longer than you." Then he
turned to the sailor minding him. "Report, Lieutenant!" Morton ordered Reese. "These
two civilians are mincing their feet!"

"160 mSv. Before decontamination, sir!" snapped Bron obediently.

Johnny fired off an irritated look at the sailor for betraying them. The consequences were
not long in coming.

Morton's face fell into surprise, stunned. Then he pursed his bruised lips. " *Whew*. Ouch.
Guess my afro's gonna be even curlier for a while.  Uh,.." he blinked in concentration.
"Got that iodine water?"

"Sip it." Reese warned with a finger, despite his lesser rank to Morton. "Choking on a P.O.
is not better than a thyroid storm."

Morton raised the open silver bottle handed to him in a mocking bright salute. "Cheers."
he said, before he pushed up his oxygen mask to the top of his head to drink from it carefully.

Roy and Johnny rose from their stools next to Morton's patient bunk. "Well, looks like
you're well handled, doc. We're... gonna go get some chow. The ship's cap has invited us
to grab some dinner..." Johnny preambled.

"...and a show. Got it. Let me know what radiation is going to make me puke in an hour.
I'd appreciate it." Morton grimaced, drinking more of his vile tasting preventative.

"As soon as yesterday." Roy promised.  "Reese, can you send a man up with his
vitals signs every five minutes?"

"Will do." Reese grinned, neatly catching the iodine thermos when Morton finally succumbed
back into grogginess and it slipped out of his fingers. "I know how you land based rescue medics
like to keep patients under a close microscope. Consider it done." he replied, returning the
oxygen mask to Morton's face quickly.


Once out in the ship's main passageway next to sickbay, DeSoto and Gage let out their
real feelings about Morton.

"We're gonna have to knock him out." Johnny insisted, ansy with worry.

"We can't. We don't have the orders. We can't force treatment on him until he's passed
out again and showing serious signs of circulatory decompensation, pericardial tapping
or no." DeSoto reasoned.

"We can always pinch off his O2 flow's tubing."

"No." Roy said, holding up a no nonsense firm finger with an iron stare. But then his
resolve crumbled. "Although that'd be pretty sneaky, I'll admit."

"So let's get back in there.." Gage said, turning on his heel to grab the hatch's wheel
that they had just sealed.

Roy grabbed his arm and stopped him with an iron grip. "Ah, ah." he chided. "Chet's the
funny one. Not you. Let's go eat before you land yourself in the brig."
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From: patti keiper
Subject: The Glow Factor
Sent:  Thu 7/17/14 3:14 PM

Dawn was just rising when Dixie McCall snuck into the nurse's lounge to
take a well served break time cat nap. She was about to sit down wearily on
the couch in the dimly lit room, when a lump under a blanket announced itself
there with a contented masculine sigh. McCall checked herself from sitting
sharply from a startled half crouch an instant before she smiled.  "Don't tell
me, you gave up your bunk to an orderly who was the walking dead." she
addressed the lump.

Joe Early snuffled awake and hesitated as mental processes caught up with
what his ears had taken in a few seconds ago from dreamland. "Uhh. Yeah.
Max was death warmed over when he staggered into the doctor's lounge
around nine o'clock last night. He was the one assigned to Mrs. Burke as
she came to in Recovery."  

"Oh, boy." Dixie tempered into sympathy. "I'll bet she was an armful."

"More than one from what I heard from Kel." Joe shared. "He said the
anesthesiologist got his consciousness baseline vitals set for his chart in
record time after he had her extubated. Then he lit out of Dodge." Early
grinned, sitting up in his blanket sleepily. He patted the cushion next to himself.
"Come on. I've had my.." he broke off to look at his watch "...twenty minutes
of oblivion. And we both know the couch is all yours." He stood up and draped
the quilt over Dixie's shoulders. "I'll even prepare a new coffee pot for when
you snap out of it."  

Dixie tumbled sideways into the body heat warmed spot, protesting. "Don't
you dare. The aroma of brewing java'll make the whole hospital come running.
Then where would I be?"  

"Without a couch?" Joe guessed.

"You said it." she murmured groggily from deep within the pillows.

"There's always the chapel. No one would dare barge in on you there." Early
chuckled, glancing down at the new lump. "Dixie?" There was no reply. Wisely,
Joe slunk out as quietly as Dixie had snuck in to avoid a deadly accurate pillow
lobbed at his back for lingering.  As he closed the lounge door gingerly in front
of him, Dr. Early almost leaped out of his skin when he backed into a waiting Kel.

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"Watch!" Dr. Brackett grumbled as he danced back a few steps to avoid getting
his toes stepped on.  

"Oh, sorry, Kel." smiled Joe.

"Don't tell me, she's fled to in there." Kel motioned with his eyes over Joe's rumpled

"Yep. It's her break. Give her one." Joe said, his face levelling instantly from friendly
amusement into a firm dead pan challenge.

Brackett was nonplussed. "Hmm. I guess. It's only going to get busier later on I

"Oh?" Early asked.

"A new brush fire's popped up near Hancock Park on its own and its got anybody in
a white helmet all in a fuss."

"Oh, no." Joe said following Kel as he made his way back over to Carol, manning
the main E.R. desk and the county wide scanner that was activated there.

"I'm afraid so. Nothing like a little fire near the La Brea tar pits."  

"Has Fire rolled on it yet?" Joe wondered.

Brackett noddded. "Just as fast as they heard about it. And for good reasons."

"How many companies? That might give us a heads up on future casualty numbers."
Joe asked, planning ahead.

"Two so far. Everybody else is still at the pier site."

Early's kind features twisted into worry. "They still don't know?"

"Not yet. I can see Battalion not telling any of us what kind of radiation's leaking
to prevent the public from learning about it too soon through the media." Brackett

"They're not going to be able to hide it for long.  People are going to noticed folks
running around in full hazardous materials gear on the beach." Joe added. "Any new
word on Mike?"

Kel nodded. "He's better. Vitals are holding as well as can be expected considering
that he came down in a plane that smashed into a naval ship. But yeah, I still wish
I could talk to him. Directly. And as soon as possible."

"I can probably arrange that." said a new voice from behind them. Kel and Joe whirled
around to see a very tall brawny bear of a man with dark slicked back hair, in a doctor's
coat, grinning at them.  "Hi, I'm Dr. Steven Kiley. The state recruited my boss's family
practice to help handle things as long as this.." he hesitated, mindful of some nearby
public passing by, "... environmental emergency lasts."  he held out a hand in greeting.

Drs. Brackett and Early shared handshakes with Dr. Kiley quickly.

Kel smiled back. "Just the man I want to see. I heard from my best medic that your
boss's handiwork is already in the mix for our trapped intern. What's his name again?
Dr. Marcus...."

"Welby." Steven replied.

"Good name." Joe chuckled.

"He thinks so, too." Kiley laughed. "Works with the kids when they finally get it. Now
about reaching your patient. Uh,...can we talk a little more privately?"

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"Let's use my office." Kel offered, heading that way.

Once they were all seated with the door closed, Steven Kiley spilled the beans.
"It's grade three tritium escaping from the ship. It's just been confirmed."

Brackett let out a deep sigh of relief. "From what I've read, tritium emits only very low
energy beta waves."

Joe nodded. "Won't even get through bare skin, even dusted on."

Kel eyed him up. "Yeah, but breathing it in or ingesting it's another story. Everyone on
that ship won't be able to eat or drink anything until they get out of there. Not without
contaminating themselves into health threatening levels."

"That's why I'm here." Kiley shared. "Can your three get by living on injectibles for a few
days? It's the only option Marcus and I can come up with that'll maintain them
comfortably in the interim."

Joe spoke up. "No diabetes on any of them if that's what you mean. Neither our
paramedics nor Mike is on any kind of regular medication for existing conditions.
They should be fine doing that."

"Do they know?"  Kel asked Kiley.

"Not yet. I just found out on my way here to talk to you."

"I'll tell them." Kel said, getting up to go to the alcove station. "What's the big option for
talking to Mike Morton? You said you had one."

"Television. Two way. Not the same as a radio frequency. That kind of signal will get
through the radiation cloud."  Kiley replied.

"Brilliant idea." Kel smiled. "Who thought of that?"

"My wife. She was watching the news when I called her an hour ago. She was
wondering why she could see their footage so clearly on the air even with the ship's
communications black out going on." he replied ruefully.

Joe snapped his fingers. "They can run wires from the beach to and from the ship!"

"Exactly. Shouldn't be too hard to set up. Frogmen could do it, using seawater to
shield themselves." Steven answered as he watched the door close behind Dr.
Brackett. "Now I think we should get started with treatment plans for when your
three get out of there. You know their medical histories better than I do."

Early nodded. "That's a truth. Come with me, we'll roust up their patient charts from


In the mess hall of the Blue Ridge, Roy and Johnny sat down before a laden table full
of food.

"I wish I could offer you better clothes, gentlemen." began U.S.N. Captain Ty Masterson,
his rugged fifties features dimpling his square chin underneath a long crew cut of blond
hair.  The ship's C.O. rose from his chair, his plate still empty, showing respect to his
arriving guests.

Roy and Johnny shook his hand, hiding left over phlegm from their voices as they
introduced themselves. "These are fine, sir. A far sight better than our uniforms.
Those are probably still glowing." Gage quipped, taking a seat after the captain
gestured to two chairs placed opposite his over the dining table.

"They'll be decontaminated, dried, pressed, and returned to you shortly. Decorum's
one thing, but for identification's sake by eye for my crew who haven't met you yet,
I have to ask that you put your civvies back on as soon as possible so we can avoid
any confusion."
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"Yes, sir." replied Roy, saluting in a proper way. Johnny just looked and felt out of
place. "Uh, I'm not Navy. Sorry for not knowing how to act." he confessed to Ty.

"This is an emergency situation. I don't expect unnecessary formalities if it wastes
time. Be yourselves, please. Mr. Gage, Mr. DeSoto, a few of my men." Masterson
indicated from those who were serving up their meal items into stainless steel
bowls and trays around them."Private Miguel Garcia, communications officer.
Lieutenant Commander Cole Stanger, my second C.O., you've already met Bron
Reese, ship's medic. Here's Crewman Rick Connelly, ship's executive information
officer, he's our link to the outside press. I'm afraid our ship's engineer is dead and
therein lies our most immediate problem. He was one of the few who knew the
nuclear areas of the ship like the back of his hand. The rest of us are muddling
through. We're on our own fixing the radiation problem. At least, until the powers
that be figure out a safe way to get in an expert team to take over for us."

"Any active fire working, sir?"  DeSoto asked, unable to fall out of Navy form of talk.

"None. Just a little smoke, which we're venting.  Anyone with fire crew training's still
sweeping the ship in protective gear looking for hot spots. Anyone else freed up has
a geiger counter in one hand and a respirator in the other, analyzing our situation
thoroughly." Ty replied.

Second-in-Command Cole Stanger, a rugged Italian, spoke up. "We were docked
when your friend's jet hit us. We have just a skeleton crew of twelve. It was only
bad luck that our engineer was in the cargo hold when it came down on top of him."

"We didn't see him but we probably knew he was there." Johnny said reluctantly of
the odor they had noticed while getting Dr. Morton out of the plane.

"Body recovery is last priority." agreed a pudgy, brown eyed, receding banged, short
man. His name tag read Rick Connelly. "You three, became the first in the captain's
eyes. Eat up." he said tightly, trying to keep hold of his emotions of grief. "Sorry.
Engineer Stevens was a good friend."

Gage and DeSoto remained respectful as Connelly pushed the first steaming
plate full of roast beef before them after passing off a serving fork to them.

"Guests eat first." Stanger replied, trying to smile at the paramedics.

"Thank you." Johnny said soberly, taking the utensil.

Miguel suddenly leaned into the portable head set he was wearing plugged into
a wall.  He pushed an attached microphone in front of his mouth. "Understood."
he said suddenly. He ripped them off to address Masterson. "Sir, a doctor
from a local hospital's on the line. He says it's urgent."

"Pipe it speaker." Ty said calmly, rising to his feet to get rid of some nervous
anticipation as he readied himself for anything.

Garcia flipped a switch and turned up the volume.

##Do not eat or drink anything. *static* Tritium's your culprit. You'll stay healthy if
the contaminant stays outside your bodily systems. Do you *crackle* read me?##
came Dr. Brackett's voice.

Gage dropped the bite of meat he had just been about to put into his mouth.
Hastily, he shoved away his meal in shocked horror. "Too close." he mumbled.

Roy spoke up. "We heard, Rampart. Any further guidelines?"

##Absolutely nothing P.O. Initiate I.V.s and glucose if anybody weakens appreciably
in the next few days.  A Steven Kiley beside me is still being sent advice from the
Nuclear Board, but what he knows now is critical about what this stuff is and how to
handle it. Listen to *static*--m carefully.## Brackett began, his voice full of concern.

"I know the word but not what it does to the body, doctors." said Masterson to
the air. "I do know where it might materialize on my ship as a danger.  It's made in
our heavy water-moderated reactors whenever a deuterium nucleus captures a

Dr. Kiley's voice came over the air waves. ##Like ordinary water, water containing
tritium, tritiated water, is colorless and odorless. So avoid any standing water. You
won't know the difference between sea water and the HTO H20. On a side note, this
tritium is the same stuff that makes any diving watch numbers and hands glow.##

In distaste, every sailor in the room eyed up theirs in a new light.

## It's safe enough, but try not to breathe in any dust or smoke if you don't have
to.## Kiley advised. ##My informant says if you do, it is quickly and uniformly
distributed throughout the body, going directly into soft tissues and organs. The
associat--*static* dose to these tissues is generally uniform and dependent on
the tissues’ water content.##

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"But we can't drink to dilute anything." said Stanger.

"We'll run in I.V. solutions." Gage told him. "We don't have to swallow."

##That's right, Mr. Gage. ## replied Kiley. ##*crackle* Anything you have absorbed
so far, will be excreted out into your urine along with the water. Easily. No special
treatments past the usual. HTO has a short biological half-life in the human body
of 7 to 14 days. The only trick is to avoid accumulating levels high enough to
jeopardize your lives until it dies off.##

Connelly dipped his head. "Oh, thank G*d." he whispered.

"Glued to a geiger. Got it. Thanks for the intel. We'll keep you two posted, doctors."
said Masterson, gesturing for Garcia to terminate their reception.


A warm, partially pocket melted granola bar was slammed into the garbage from across
the room from Dr. Morton's beside.  

Mike snickered at the unhappy, partially angry expression on Medic Bron Reese's face.
"So the rest of you joined my club of no food or water. It's not so bad. How good are
you at starting your own I.V.?"

Reese just rolled his eyes.

"I could start yours for you. Only something wrong with one of my hands." Mike offered
in amusement.

"Suck wind, sir. Respectfully, I hate needles." Reese grinned after his tirade.

"But you use them all of the time." Morton gestured in amazement.

"It's my own personal little secret."

Mike fell serious. "I'll keep it confidential. So who's the one you picked to do it?"

"Not Gage. He's too twitchy for me."

Morton giggled.

Medic Reese glared at him.

Morton held up a hand in surrender. "Sorry, but Gage is a funny man to everybody."

"I pick DeSoto. He's Navy. He knows what he's doing. He was practically dripping it
from when first I laid eyes on him through the hatch before decontamination."

"You're right about that. DeSoto was Gage's mentor and main instructor." Morton
winced suddenly at a pain in his chest. "Ow.."

Bron's eyes shot up to the cardiac monitor. "Is that new?"

Morton panted a few breaths under his oxygen mask. "Yeah. Just now."

Reese rose from his stool and leaned over Morton's bed. "I'm... going to get
a double set of B.P.'s on both arms. If they're different..."

Morton sighed, short and tight, the sweat returning to his brow. "It's tap time.
I can tell by inhaling. Call the calvary.." he grunted.

"On it." Bron promised.

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From:  patti keiper
Subject: Escalation...
Sent: Thu 8/14/14 2:27 PM

A large BOOM shot through the mess hall, its concussive vibrations making the overhead
beams rattle alarmingly.

"What was that?!" shouted Private Miguel Garcia as he shot to his feet from his chair.

"Nothing good." said Ty Masterson. "All ears on!" he ordered to the room at large.

Immediately, general quarters sounded and the intercom next to the radio crackled
to life. ##Deck B, Armory. Explosion. Possible fire. All fire grade are responding.
We're seeing structural damage!## came the duty officer's report from the bridge over
the speakers.

Masterson slammed his fist against a talk button control. "Tell me more when I get there!"
he barked.

##Yes, sir.## replied the sailor on the air.  

Ty started to rush out of the room when Roy spoke softly enough to grab his attention.
"We know confined space rescue. Can we help?"

Blue Ridge's captain pursed his lips tightly, considering. Then he shook his head. "Your
responsibility is to your patient first. You have my permission to do whatever you have to,
to secure his welfare and safety, according to the training you already know. My men and
I will handle the ship and its own personnel. That way, there are fewer ways for us to blunder
into making any critical mistakes. Stanger, you're with them. Keep in touch with me at all

"Thank you, sir." replied DeSoto.
"Understood." said Cole at the same time.

Soon, the dining table was empty except for the steaming plates of served food left behind
that would never get eaten. On the desk, the tritium geiger counter's clicks continued to
get stronger and more frequent in a steady rise of radioactivity.


As they ran along the upper deck of the ship, headed for the hatchway stairs that led
down to sickbay, Gage trailed a bare hand along the metal hull of the ship. "Nothing's hot. And
I'm not feeling any more sound waves. Whatever it was is over." he gasped, thinking hard about
what might be happening.

"We hope." nodded Cole, running close behind. "Takes an awful lot to shake the ship as
much as that concussion did."

Finally, they were there. Stanger reached for the hatch wheel to open it. It sizzled in his
palms. "Ahh!" he yelled, letting go. "Stay back." he warned. "Why is this boiling?" he frowned,
wincing as he shook his hands in the air to cool them more quickly.

Roy stepped up. "Are you burned bad?"  

Cole shook his head, spitting on his hands to speed
up their cooling in the tainted wind and smoke surrounding them.

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Johnny carefully felt around the doorway. "It's just the hatch. It can't be active fire, Roy, or this
whole wall would be hot, too." he reasoned.

Cole agreed. He ran over to a deck side emergency phone and picked it up. "Sickbay hatch
top deck's in the red!  Two men inside. We need a muster!" he shouted to the communications
officer on the bridge who answered his line. Then he hung up and jogged back to Gage and
DeSoto. "Help's on the way."

"Johnny, it's got to be a water pipe." Roy pegged. "Something's heated and ruptured it."

"D@mn. I think you're right. Boy, do I hate steam." Gage grimaced. "Maybe we can crawl in
under it once we get this open." Grabbing a nearby pry bar, Johnny pounded a few times
on the hatch to alert Dr. Morton and Medic Bron Reese below that they were there and
understood the problem.

Then all three men threaded the bar into the hatch wheel's spokes so they would be able
to turn it safely without getting scalded by its superheated metal.

"Get ready. That steam behind the door could be under a huge amount of pressure. Stay
low when this pops open!" Roy warned Stanger as he and Johnny strained on the bar
to turn the wheel.

The hatch blew out and rebounded on its hinges as the door released into open mode.
A monster cloud of steam billowed out of sickbay. When it cleared, only a tangle of
stairwell railing, twisted pipes and a fallen deck beam were visible. But the way in was
completely blocked by buckled bulkhead and a continuous wall of incredible heat.

Gage yelled down into the darkness over the loud angry hiss of steam coming from
two ends of the violated pipe line near the top of the hole. "Dr. Morton! Bron Reese!
You guys okay down there?!  Hey! Can anybody answer?!"

There was no reply.

Roy kept his gloves hovering over his face to protect it from wisps of shooting steam.
"Maybe they can't hear us over all the noise."

"Maybe Reese got him evacuated out into the maintenance lock." Stanger countered.

"By himself?" DeSoto asked.

Cole shrugged. "Nothing like a little adrenaline to get motivated."

"Lieutenant Commander, is there a phone down there in the medical bay itself?" Roy

"No, it's in the hallway. Under all of that." he gestured, pointing to the scalding debris
filling the sickbay stairwell.

"Where else can we try, sir? You know our time's critical now." Gage asked, keeping
a firm gaze of worry anchored onto the lieutenant's face.

"I've got an idea."
Stanger spun around in his tracks as full hazmat suited fire trained sailors began to
pour over to their location from every other port hatch of the ship. Cole grabbed
DeSoto and Gage's arms, dragging them out of the way so the crews could begin
their assessment of the collapse above sickbay. He ran to a ventilation stack,
a monstrous horn shaped curve of apparatus that was across the deck towards the outer
railing of the ship. "There. An extrication crew can get through to at least their outer hallway
on the far side of the compromised stairwell. I used it for the last fire drill we conducted a
month ago. It's a tight fit in gear, but doable. You! Team Alpha!" he shouted to a member
of the suited fire team he knew to be the leader. "Use the stack! Remember?"

"I do, sir." she replied through her air mask. She shouted fast orders to her bustling deck team.
They abandoned the blocked sickbay hatch and quickly disassembled the ventilation horn for
the air shaft it offered below decks. "Should you three be up here without a mask?" she said,
waving a suited arm in their direction. "The ship's mole reports our clicks are rising by the

Stanger nodded his head. "We're leaving. We were ordered to try sickbay ASAP. That civvie
down below is a friend of theirs."

"We'll get him out." she promised Roy and Johnny. "If we can't, we'll get one or both of you in.
Hang tight by a comm station, preferrably on the bridge, sirs." she warned Stanger. Her rank
now newly exceeded his for the duration of the sickbay emergency scene.

"We're gone." Cole promised, recognizing her authority with a grin. "Let's go, boys. We'll bite
our nails alongside the captain."

Quickly ducking into air bottles that other sailor firemen offered to them, Stanger and Squad 51's
paramedics abandoned the main deck's wide expanse for the stairs leading up to the bridge
off in the distance.
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Ty Masterson had shuttered the glass around the elevated command deck and the room
was bathed in a bloody tinged red from emergency lighting. He was in a tight huddle with
his braided crew, getting reports rapid fire.  "Armory's secure. No nuke heavy payload's
been damaged. All torpedo tubes are intact."  "Cargo bay 3's interior ballast wall is
torn and collapsed."

"How about the containment room?" Masterson asked the acting engineer. "If those rods
get exposed...."

The man was silent for a moment. "The water level's falling, Captain. We don't know why."

"Did that cause the explosion we suffered just now?" said the rugged ship's master.

"No, it's a direct result of it." said the sailor with certainty. "We think it was lingering fuel fumes
from the jet catching fire that did."

"Can we flood the jet's compartment? Snuff out the danger of further explosions?"

"That'll tip us over, Cap." said Crewman Rick Connelly. "You know the ballast equations
as well as I do. We're pier side, but we've taken on water because of the jet crash. Only
mooring chains are keeping us upright. They will tear free and we'll roll to a thirty degree pitch
before the sand bottom stops us if the strain on them increases any more. Who knows
what that'll do to the nuclear heart."

Masterson's face flickered an array of powerful emotions and doubts. Then he spoke.
"Launch all helicopters and jets, emergency priority. Get them off our top deck. I'm declaring
ship's status to full salvage mode as of right now. No sense dumping perfectly good airplanes
and birds into the sea if we can avoid it."

"Are we abandoning ship, sir?" asked the second at the meeting table, as was his rightful
duty to ask.

"No." replied Ty, his heavy eyes watching the rescue efforts unfolding around
sickbay's vicinity on the top deck hundreds of yards away. "We've an atomic fire
to put out, first, mister. Our duty is to civilian lives. As it has always been. Return
to your posts, gentlemen. Looks like our long day is going to get even longer." he

Behind them, Private Miguel Garcia piped the whistle to the ship's new sitcom status.

Only then did Stanger step up to his captain. "Sir, the direct way is blocked down to sickbay."

"Are they still alive?" asked Masterson, reading from copies of reports being placed in his
hands from various damage control crewmen returning from their emergency scouting runs
throughout the ship.

"I'd say, yes." Gage spoke up. "It was only a steam pipe that blew. And that's
at the very top of the stairwell. A bulkhead's down, but it's very localized."

Roy added more. "Your L.C. seems to think Medic Reese would evacuate sickbay as a first

"He would." said Ty evenly. "He's not a risk taker. He wouldn't endanger anybody else's life
knowingly. Cole, take our guests and be my eyes. Follow Team Alpha's progress and
send runners when they've reached our trapped men, but do not be involved. Observe only.
Consider yourself the onsite safety officer. You three are not the only ones wanting to know
their current fate and statuses. But I'll be damned if I'm going to risk any more casualties
than we already have in the sites. Suit yourselves up. Stanger, let me be absolutely clear.
You'll be the last one out of there. Whatever happens."

"Yes, sir." Cole saluted, in a way that made Roy's throat tighten in unbidden emotion.

They left the bridge, chased by numerous nightmare scenarios spinning out of control,
inside their heads.
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From:  patti keiper (
Sent: Sun 9/07/14 5:28 PM
Subject: Beach Bound...

Captain Stanley was chafing at the bit.  Everyone ashore had heard the loud
blast coming from the bowels of the ship. ::And only they know what's happened.:: he
thought with angry worry. "Marco, Kelly, Stoker. Front and center." he ordered.

Soon, all four were standing in front of him, their eyes equally glued to the sight of the
newly listing naval ship leaning away from the ravaged pier. They knew its hull was the only
refuge that Gage and DeSoto had available to them in the face of the rising tritium radiation
level that was blooming out into the atmosphere and into the surrounding seawater by leaps
and bounds on their geiger counters. But the ship did not appear to be sinking.

"I don't like it, Cap." Stoker said without preamble. "If that wasn't a fuel line going up, it
was a water pipe and both are critical to stabilizing the ship's nuclear core." he hissed
through his scba mask.

"I know, pal. But the chief says we're still going to be kept from responding directly
despite recent developments." Hank shared, holding up his H.T.

"Why the hell--?!" Kelly sputtered.

Cap cut him off sharply with a glare.
"Chet. Can it! That's why. We're too close to our men on the ship. If we go in there half
cocked we'll either end up maimed or dead for being emotionally distracted." Stanley told him.
"It's a policy that's as old as the department. It is binding especially on me. And I'm the one
in charge."

Marco was quiet, tense. "What can we do? We haven't been doing much as it is."

"That's why I called you over. I've got an idea. We can't go to the ship but that
doesn't mean we can't send somebody over there from Staging in our stead."

Kelly snapped his fingers. "Fireboat 110."

"You're thinking like a cap, Chet. Good man. And they're only 30 yards that way down
the beach. You three go grab a line and make like we're all busy anticipating future
complications." Hank told him. "What a coincidence that a fire hydrant is right next to
their crew.  Get them up to speed on the details and suggest a few things. Go."  Cap
nodded, clearing his throat meaningfully.

Hank's firefighters ran, snatching a token, uncharged hose from the back of the engine
into their gloves to fool Battalion's watchful eye from his vantage point on the cliff top
above them.

A minute later, their hose strung and connected to the hydrant, they returned.
"The frogs are croaking." Chet promised, handing Cap an H.T. radio that Station 110
had given him to provide a direct communications band scanner for Hank to use.

Hank smiled fiercely. "How many divers are in the water?"

"Four. They said they wanted to swim in a floating hose cannon to the ship anyway
on a stand by. They're going to look out for Roy and Johnny from the water."

"Hot d*mn!"  Cap shouted, whirling to the sea with a set of binoculars from his place
standing on the engine's rear bumper. "Stoker, get a spot light working. Light their way!"

From the ship, a bright yellow signal light began flashing in urgent visual Morse to the
shoreline. Mike Stoker noticed and grabbed up a signaler of his own to send any
necessary replies. "I got this." he promised Cap. "I'm fluent."

## .- .-.. .-.. / --- ..-. ..-. / ... .... .. .--. / -.-. --- -- -- ..- -. .. -.-. .- - .. --- -. ... / .- .-. . /
-.. --- .-- -. .-.-.- / -... ..- .-. ... - / .-- .- - . .-. / -.-. --- --- .-.. .. -. --. / .--. .. .--. . .-.-.- / -. . .-- /
-.. .- -- .- --. . / - --- / .--. --- .-. - / ... .. -.. . / -... --- .-- / .- -. -.. / ... .. -.-. -.- -... .- -.-- .-.-.- /
- .-- --- / - .-. .- .--. .--. . -.. / -... . .-.. --- .-- .-.-.- / -. --- / ..-. .. .-. . .-.-.- / ... - .- -. -.. / -... -.-- /
..-. --- .-. / -- --- .-. . / .. -. - . .-.. .-.-.- ##
( All off ship communications are down. Burst water cooling pipe. New damage to port side
bow and sickbay. Two trapped below. No fire. Stand by for more intel.) said the sailor
manning his light in code.

Seconds later, heavy smoke and morning fog drifted in from off shore and covered the ship in an
inpenetrable blanket that obscured the signalling.

Chet Kelly roared his frustration at the dawn sky, ripping up glovefuls of sand and throwing them
as far as he could over the water. The sound of his rage was muted by his air mask but not
his demeanor. That was evident to every firefighter within eyeshot.

Battalion's voice popped onto a loud speaker. ##It's clear up here. We can still see the messenger.
He's climbing up into a crow's nest. Will relay.##

##So can we, 51.## promised a frogman through 110's H.T. in Cap's grip. ##The fog's full of holes
above us. Hang tight for the rest. Sharing as soon as we get it.##

Cap and the others began to pace the sand in front of the trucks. On a thought, Stoker turned on
all possible emergency red lights on Engine and Squad 51 to offer encouragement to the frightened
sailors on the ship. Then he returned to aiming his spotlight just ahead of the swimming rescue
team to show them the fastest way to the ship.

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From:  patti keiper (
Sent: Sun 9/07/14 10:22 PM
Subject: Hot Water...

Cole Stanger, Roy DeSoto, and Johnny Gage had retreated back to the
bridge with the onset of the sea fog. It was an element of danger they
had not considered, and soon they were discussing the option of using
lifelines as guides in the murk so they could turn back and follow their path
from any search pattern they started at will without getting lost on the massive
expanse of the main ship's deck in the thick fog.

Ty had already ordered folsum spots to illuminate the bridge tower
for use as a firm visual reference point beacon for the fire team working below.

In a place where the fog thinned, the second in command of firefighter team
Alpha toggled his talk button through his hazmat suit. ##Alpha Team 2 to the
Bridge. Respond!##

Captain Ty Masterson replied back on the emergency band transmitting.
"Alpha 2. Go."

##Sir, something's changed with the reactor. We're reading heat with
no smoke or flames evident, and we have rising rads showing up
on the deck of the ship..##

"From where?!" barked Masterson.

##Outside. Everywhere.##

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Rick Connelly, the information officer who was still struggling to reassert
the television link they had before with the Nuclear Board, gaped. "Oh,
no, no, no. That's got to be a cooling fault, sir. A very bad one. I've
been hearing them tell me to watch out for that all night."

Ty nodded tightly. "Alpha 2, understood.  The nuke boys are saying that's
broken cooling. Look for a way in and find the breach. Don't get fried. This
is your top priority over anything else. Last thing we need is a melt down
that we can't reverse.  Split the team. You have my authority to do so. Dedicate
Alpha 1 to locating our personnel in sickbay. Have her stay in contact with me
at every stage of the operation."

## Yes, sir. I'll tell her in person.## replied the hazmat suited ship's fireman.

Ty turned to Rick Connelly. "I've already contacted the civvies on shore via
flash. Your job now is to see what they're doing for us visually. It's
obvious that our video link has been lost."

"I'll circle the deck and glass the water." he promised. Connelly made
tracks for a protection suit and life preserver.

"Master of Communications!" yelled Masterson.

"Yes, sir!" replied Miguel Garcia, saluting.

"Find me a portable radio that works!" Ty said, throwing his useless one
onto a navigation map. "This one won't cut through the dirty air."

"Five minutes. I've some hams charging in reserve."
The young sharp featured Hispanic man gulped and hurried out the door to
ship's stores with a firefighter on his heels to safeguard him from danger.

Roy and Johnny felt helpless where they stood, out of the way. Then they
heard Fireboat 110's sirens punch through to the bridge and they buried their
faces into the window glass, trying to see where they were in the waves.
A nearby navigator sailor gave Roy a set of binoculars to use.

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Far below, on the main deck below the bridge,  Alpha 1, a strong boned brunette
Team Leader, gestured for her masked team to begin to enter the zones where
they had marked where steam was present. They were still on their way along a
second emergency route that led to sickbay that their C.O., Cole Stanger,
had pointed out to them soon after the pipes explosion had occurred.

"Lights!" she shouted, and soon two beams flanked her own and cut through
the hot vapor that they could feel even through their thick, chemical proof
fire gear.  Her breath whistled painfully in her throat as they covered each
other with cold salt water hoses in fanning sprays as needed to keep cool
as they advanced.

They rounded the last turn in the corridor and located the hatch leading down
to med storage, the compartment adjacent to sickbay that was one bay
away from the area of collapse and steaming ruptured pipes. They forced
the door open with a slam of solid metal and peered down below.
"Bronson Reese! Mike Morton! Rescue Team Alpha 1! Can you hear us?!"
she shouted down the steps through the boiling wall of heat.  Soon,
she had to turn away as scalding vapor from below billowed out. She scrambled
out of the way. "Pole scope. I want a 360 of the room ASAP!" she ordered
her men.  They hastily shoved the hand held periscope probe down the
stairs and into sickbay's main chamber. The man on the viewer's breath hissed
in his mask as he toggled the camera in a search, fighting the intense waves
of heat rising up through the hatchway. "Nothing at the 90. Turning...
turning.. 180....  270. Nobody on the floor.   360! Ah, they're not there, sir."
he told Alpha 1. "Sickbay's empty. Just like the captain thought it would be."

The lead female sailor angled her jaw.
"They're still alive if they're not here. All right. Next corridor over. Schematics
say if we cut through the wall of the armory, we'll be in the med supply. That's
the only other place they could have gone." she told her team through her air
mask. "Let's go!"

They abandoned the scope pole and ran to the next ventilation stack to begin
dismantling it for the emergency stairwell beneath it. Once down, one by one,
they thunked to the wooden floor of the ship's corridor and hurried to the
next floor hatch they needed.  One man pulled off his glove as they rushed
over to it and landed on their knees in a rush to get hauling on its wheel. He
touched it. "It's cold. No steam!" he said excitedly.
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Connelly spotted something over the side of the ship on the port side, it was a
frogman from Fire Station 110. "Ahoy there!" he shouted down.

The diver shouted up to Rick up the great expanse of the ship's hull. "Grab
the rope!  We've a radio for your captain! It's heavy shielded!"

From the fireboat, a firefighter shot a rope gun thread trailing off the end of a small
buoy that Connelly and a member of Alpha 2 caught and began hauling up on
board ship. It led to a net containing a bagged H.T.

Rick no sooner had the plastic bagged radio turned on and to his ear when
a sudden warning crackled from the Fireboat Captain. ##Brace yourself! Rogue

A deafening wall of ocean surf slammed onto and over the bow of the ship,
flinging a fourteen foot high curl of froth spilling onto the deck in a tremendous
flooding wash. Connelly barely had time to use the fire department's rope to tie
himself and the ship's firefighter to the railing, when it hit.

Thousands of gallons of water rushed by, sweeping them off their feet and snapping
them to the ends of their tethers, underwater.

They began to drown, violently.


The wave passed as quickly as it had washed aboard. Connelly staggered to his feet,
coughing."Let's get out of here." he told the fireman sailor who offered him some air
from his mask. "We have what we came for." he hit the radio's talk button. "Fireboat 110.
We're okay. Initiate a sweep for others! There were twelve on deck a minute ago."

##10-4.## came the reply from out of sight, over the railing.

"Bridge through the bow room." Rick said, letting the firefighter help him walk in his
sodden gear.  "We'll be safer there."

They were half way through the space when Cole Stanger popped out a hatch and met
up with them on the run. "We saw that. Are you hurt?"  

Both Connelly and the firefighter shook their heads. The massive anchor chains at their
feet groaned ominously as the ship began to tip farther over a few more degrees to port.

"We're taking on that water. Lord knows, but  it may help us out a great deal." Cole grinned.
Then he urged  them over to his side. "We had a report the Lookout was injured down here.
Go to the bridge with that radio. I'll find him on my own." Stanger ordered.

Soon Connelly and his firefighter escort disappeared back through the safe hatch and
into the safety of the ship's interior.  

Cole soon found the Lookout. The man had a head injury which Stanger began to attend.
"Can you walk?  A corpsman is on the way." he said to the sailor.
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"I think I can. Man, what a wallop. Now I know why deep water's so fine." he quipped,
groaning. "Wait a minute, where's Sanchez?" he asked.

"Sanchez, the Anchorman?"

"Yeah, he was right here." said the wounded man.

Cole turned around on his feet, eyeing up the whole forecastle chamber. Then he spotted
the broken porthole in front. "Oh, sh*t!" he remarked.


It was Captain Masterson who spotted the sailor casting about on the water amid a cloud
of debris left over from the wave.  "Man Overboard!" he shouted and immediately a klaxon
sounded on the bridge. "Muster a bird and a boat to one third port side from the bow. Forty
feet out!"

"Is his face up?" requested the Communications Officer, already on the horn to summon a
rescue scramble.

"Yes. He's on his back. And he's got his vest on, bless him blind!" Ty grinned. "All we have to
do is go get him."
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Soon, sailors ran to launch a helicopter with a winch basket.  From the stern, a rescue raft
with a powerful outboard motor launched.

The bridge spotter reported from his position keeping an eye on their victim through binoculars.
"He's not moving, sir. Might be unconscious or--"

Ty's face fell. "No firefighter suit. He's from below decks. Washed out through a porthole?
Multi trauma at the very least." the captain said quietly. "Won't be good if he survived that."

The bridge crew watched gravely as the rescue happened, first a diver drop and then
a physical hands on haul up onto the skiff rescue raft.  Ty watched his medical corpsman
cluster around the limp sailor in a tight ball. They did not look up.
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"D*mn." sighed Masterson. "A death, after we survived all of this craziness so far."

"I'm sorry, sir." came Connelly's voice behind him. Ty turned and saw Rick, bedraggled,
soggy, and still standing in his dripping shoes. "This came too late." he said, holding out
the plastic bagged fire department radio from Station 110. "They were beneath the fog and
saw the wave coming. They saved my life."

Ty took in a deep breath and forced strength back into his voice as he gently took the offering.
"I want a complete crew's head count in my ready room in two minutes. No one else is going
to die today. Mark my words." he grumbled.

His crew bustled into even swifter reaction around him.

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Commander Stanger met the raft on the ramp. He was not surprised that Roy DeSoto was
at the head of the tug of rope crew that helped the skiff gain topside on the splash deck.

DeSoto was about to rush over with a med bag when the Hazmat suited helicopter crew
waved him off from the limp sailor they carried.

Startled, Roy saw that their victim was already garbed in a full covering suit with gloves
and a sealed helmet to contain radiation.  He recognized a body recovery when he
saw it.  It stopped him in his tracks.

The corpsman climbing out of the chopper said. "Hangman's fracture. He was dead
before he hit the water.  Punching through the glass did it. Now he's too hot to handle
bare handed."

"What's he at?" DeSoto asked sadly.

"400 mSv. We're all headed for decontamination, sir. Don't get too close."

Roy took many steps back evenly. "I'm sorry. Sirs, if you hurry, you'll all be fine.
You've only been a few minutes contaminated.  It won't be fatal."

"Thank you for trying." said the Corpsman. Then he was gone with the rest
of his men.

Cole Stanger rejoined Roy at his side. "Ah, the stupid risks we take. And
we're not even at war."

"Aren't we?" DeSoto asked. "Nature was our enemy today. I'm sorry we lost."

"Let's go win another battle." Cole smiled. "It's not over yet."


Alpha 1 toggled her suit radio that was tied to the captain's frequency.
"Sir, route 3 is green. We're going down. If those two civvies want in,
they need to suit up to specs. But they're going to have get in line." she
said. "My people go in first with the med bags."

## Sending Stanger with DeSoto and Gage in full ship's fire gear to your
position. Keep working!## ordered Masterson. Then he signed off to
the fire team. He nodded at Miguel to keep monitoring their channel.

Captain Ty turned to Roy and Johnny. "I promised you we'd get you to your
man. Do you understand the risks involved as you've seen and heard so far?"
he asked formally.

"Yes, sir. We're firefighters. We know steam burns hotter and far faster than fire."
said Roy.

"And that any water may be tritium contaminated in the areas where we're headed."
added Gage.

"Okay. Considered yourselves drafted into the Fire Corps along with Team Alpha 1.
Follow their orders to the letter and listen tight. This may be a metal ship but
she still burns. Alpha 2 is seeking the extent of the pipe breach and where it
has to be repaired. We're losing serious water in the main reactor chamber. I
don't have to tell you gentlemen what will happen if we fail to keep water over
those rods?"  Masterson said, lifting his head seriously.

"No, sir. You don't." said Gage. "We'll improvise a new cooling system, using
hoses and seawater siphons thrown over the side if we have to. Some fire
technology's still the same, for land or sea."

"Good man." said Masterson, stepping out of the way.

Johnny and Roy hustled off the bridge with Cole Stanger rattling off advice
and asking questioning on their knowledge of firefighting procedures and what
would be modified because of the tight confinement configuration of the ship.

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Please Click Roy and Johnny
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   The Long Hot Summer
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