*WARNING-Medically Graphic Image Below*
From: patti keiper (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tue 11/11/14 11:20 PM
Subject: If You Can't Take The Heat....
Captain Ty Masterson turned
suddenly to the officer of the deck who had run into the bridge, still
dripping wet from the rogue
wave. Ty saw that he was breathless, but unshaken. "All twelve current
topside crew are accounted
for. No injuries there. Sir!" said the deckman firefighter.
"As you were, sailor. Thanks for the
report. Continue your operations." the ship's captain ordered.
Hurrying, the man made tracks
back out into the fog and smoke, sealing the water tight
bridge bulk head solidly behind him. The
man's short visit had irritated the emergency
geiger counter on the nav table into an angry snarl
of radiation clicks. It drew Ty and his
officers' attention to a sharp point. "That much outside?"
Lt. Connelly remarked, startled.
Masterson eyed up Rick. "How much time do we have before we're
forced to go below decks?"
he said, picking up the chattering instrument.
"About an hour.
If you go by the safety specs." said Rick.
"Let's make that hour count." Ty growled, gripping
the fireboat's department HT that had been
hoisted aboard and delivered at a cost. He lifted its
receiver to his mouth. "U.S.S. Blue Ridge
to Fireboat 110. We've one dead from the wave, one injured
which we can handle. Heads up.
We're registering another climb of clicks on our deck. The hot zone
may be spreading."
Dixie awoke with a start at a sharp knocking at her apartment door. Hurrying from her
she threw on a light blue terry cloth robe and ran to the door, still groggy from
a half remembered
nightmare. She pulled her front door open. "Kel.." she gaped
in surprise. "Your shift's not over
for another four hours yet. What's happened?"
Dr. Brackett ducked under her arm and into the living
room, heading for the kitchen
and the breakfast bar where a glass decanter of cognac rested. "May
asked, hefting up an empty brandy snifter.
"Why are you here?"
"Call it seeking
comfort in a crowd? Call it whatever you like. I don't know why
I'm here. I probably needed a break.
Go ask Dr. Early if you don't trust me
with an answer." he defended.
Dixie frowned at him
sternly. "Coffee's a better choice this time of night. It's almost
dawn." she said, crossing her arms
"Yeah?" countered Kel, helping himself to a finger height of liquor into his glass.
it doesn't matter what time of day it is, Dix. The whole pier situation is spiralling out of
control." he snapped. "None of us are ready to handle a full fledged nuclear disaster
of this scale
and you know it." he said, loosening a tie that suddenly seemed too tight
around his neck. He tore
it off, not caring that it ripped his shirt collar in the process.
McCall grew tender instantly,
fingering the ripped shirt softly. "Now look what you've
done, Kel. Your father gave you that tie
the day you became head of the emergency
department." She stood up on her toes and reached for him
with a smile.
Dr. Brackett dropped his head against her shoulder in weariness and gave into her
comforting hug. "The tie's just fine. It's got silk like steel, and I don't care about the
It's hot outside." he grumbled.
"I can fix that." she said, grabbing the Mueller ice bag off
the table that she herself
had been using for her headache, while she slept. She handed it over coolly.
Kel took it and began icing down his neck and face gratefully. "Just how in H*ll did
I'd need this?"
"I didn't. Stress is stress. It effects nurses equally as bad as doctors. You
aren't the only one
with a pounding headache." she surmised, collapsing them both onto the couch with
a deft twist.
"Gimme that." she said once they were seated, capturing his brandy glass. "I've only
aspirin." she said, anticipating a doctor warning lecture, slamming back half of what was
Dr. Brackett finally smiled. "Digressing back to your college days of bingeing?"
"Hardly. As you can see, the rest of the bottle is inconveniently way over there." she sighed,
pointing to the breakfast bar counter across the room. "Drink up. That way, both of us are limited
half a shot." she said.
"You're an angel, darling." he sighed leaning back onto the cushions
as he sipped his portion
carefully, mindful of his responsibilities despite his prickliness.
I'm not, see what I'm reaching for?" she said, pulling up a back couch cushion and feeling
underneath the one they were sitting on. "Ah." she said in discovery, finding something.
on her face was impish. "Got a match handy?"
Dr. Brackett sighed, got up, walked over, and reached
into the pocket of his suit jacket that he had
left on the entryway table along with his car keys.
"I have a lighter, but it's not mine. It's Johnny's.
He left it in my office yesterday and I thought
I'd have time to give it back to him sometime today.
But as you already know, that never happened."
McCall raised surprised eyebrows. "Johnny smokes?"|
Kel chuckled. "He tries to. Not very successfully
I might add. Can't ask many nurses out on dates if
you keep smelling like an ashtray."
a firefighter. He smells worse than an ashtray, Kel." Dixie shared frankly.
"He doesn't know that."
said Brackett, deftly parking the frosty ice bag onto his steaming head.
"Well, bless him for
trying to quit. Wish I had as strong a will power." she said, slumping down
on the cushions again
and flashing gimme fingers at Kel for the cigarette lighter. She finally pulled
out the rumpled,
stale, mostly empty pack of cigarettes that she knew her Uncle Max had left in her
couch last New
Year's Eve. "These aren't mine." she defended. "They belonged to a relative."
and hungrily swiped a finger around the inside of the drained brandy snifter to lick
up the last
drops of sugar filming a layer inside of it. That done, he snatched the Pall Mall pack out
fingers and shook it, peering inside. "There's only one left." he said, drawing it out and
up the pack and tossing it on the floor. He inhaled the gray cigarette's musty fetid
his nose with all the lack of enjoyment a fine cigar usually delivered following a
"Halfsies." Dixie declared. "The lady gets the unfiltered end. I need it."
neatly broke the mummified smoke in two and handed it over like a surgery tool
into her palm. "Guess
we can both fool ourselves a little without breaking any--"
"..rules." she finished acidly. "You
better have been starting to say rules rather than yearly
resolutions because I just broke mine about
a second ago." she said, puffing eagerly on the
disgustingly cob webbed cigarette he was lighting
up for her.
That made Dr. Brackett smile even wider. "If you suddenly keel over with lung cancer,
a fresh oxygen tank and a resuscitator sitting in the trunk of my car, Miss McCall."
smacked him on the shoulder. "Don't get funny. I want to be crabby." she groused.
"About what?" he said, lighting up his own pathetically rotten tobacco stick.
"Oh, the usual.
I can't stop the big disaster. I can't stop our patient count from climbing out of
drew in a huge, emotion laden breath and held it, before she met his eyes
miserably. "I hate the
fact that I was ordered away from the pier, Kel." she finally said with
alacrity, the first sign
of fear filling her face. Her voice broke. "I just had a nightmare.." she
he said, taking the side of her face into a warm palm in a soft caress. "You know
better than to try
and sleep during a Condition Orange alert. I'm sorry, Dix. Truly I am. But
nobody hospital is being
allowed to go. Not even me, and I'm usually the head of triage of
choice. The feds ultimately decide
who responds to any radiological emergencies. This whole
thing is entirely out of our hands."
Dixie coughed suddenly like an old woman. "G*d, this tastes like toilet water..*hack*..." she
"I told you they would after you hadn't smoked in a year." he warned, wincing as his own
cigarette stuck unpleasantly to one of his lips. He tore them both away
from their mouths and unscrewed
the cap to his icebag where he unceremoniously dumped
in their smokes, extinguishing every scrap of
poisonous fumes in its swirling ice water
depths. He twisted the cap back on the bag with relish
and started shaking it back and
forth furiously. Then he returned the cold remedy back on top of his
head. He spent
the next minute rubbing McCall's back sympathetically as she fought for her stolen
Dixie finished gagging like a fish under his ministrations and settled for curling up
little ball with her head hidden under his arm. He froze in amusement.
he said, peering down into the shadows.
"Not by a long shot." she mumbled, barely audible, her
usual alto now a bass with
"Good. Neither do I. I'll give you five minutes emulating
an ostrich. Then both of us
are headed back to Rampart just as fast as I can get us there." he declared.
"We may not be able to do anything at the scene for anybody, but we sure as
H*ll can once they cross
our threshold and enter back into our authority."
A facemasked and hazmat suited Roy pressed against the floor of the hallway beneath
to sickbay at the beckoning of Alpha 1. She barked out an order.
"DeSoto! Gage! Medical Supply is
behind this next hatch. It's the only place your
friend can possibly be in all this mess. We've determined
that everything else is
pancaked flat. Now I want you to listen to Stanger's every order as we go
eighty feet leading into that chamber. Crawl one foot, and then use your geiger.
it spikes over any size puddle, retreat immediately back to the stack's ladder.
I won't risk a civilian
on this mission."
Johnny and Roy both nodded through their faceplates.
"Slap the deck
twice if you find yourselves in trouble. Two of our team will
lead you back out to safety."
was impatient. "Look, we know this isn't a burning building. It's very clear
that your ship's trying
its best to be an underwater, radioactive death trap. There
isn't a landside certified firefighter
alive who's dumb enough to do that."
Roy grinned at Johnny's backward logic. "Those that did are
already dead." he joked
at the rescue team leader.
Alpha 1 had the grace to smile back. "Point
taken." she smirked through her foggy glass
plate. "Let's move."
Inch by inch, Cole Stanger,
Roy DeSoto, and Rescue Team Alpha dragged themselves
closer to their goal.
The smattering of
clicks from their geiger counters rose and fell irregularly amid the
drops and streams of water around
which they had to weave to avoid getting contaminated.
Then the lights went out, leaving them
in complete darkness.
In an above deck shelter, Alpha's monitoring sailor toggled her radio.
"Alpha team do you read
us? Port generator is off line due to sea water
inundation. Scrambling to commit emergency batteries."
The communicator marked off another minute on her accountibility
chart before she attempted another
hail. "Alpha 1, do you cop-"
##Mole 7, 10-4. We encountered a pocket of radiation we had to cover
with remnants from the hull. Can we proceed?## asked the rescue team
says still a go." she replied, seeing that the steady light above her was
still green. "Activate a
ping if talk signal strengths get too weak. We'll triangulate
your position using full automation
as back up from here on out."
##Understood.## came the reply.
On the table the bridge radio
snapped into life in the authoritative bark of
Captain Masterson. ##Seven, what happened down there?
We're canting again.
"Just a slosh. Our water volume's no longer increasing." answered the damage|
control monitor, Mole
7, with a shake of her tawny head. "We're on the bottom.
That loss of power was anticipated with our
current wet down. Alpha 1's
still in contact and mobile."
##Keep me posted.## replied Ty.
On the bridge,
Rick Connelly was having birds. "Captain. We got lucky.
It may seem like we have time enough but
that's an illusion. Engineering says the
loss of water over the rods has doubled in the last five
minutes. If we don't
find and stop that broken water pipe's drain on the reservoir, we're--"
eyed up his officer evenly. "..dead in half an hour. Yes, I know. I just
heard the updated figures
from Garcia. We'll do what we can. Just let those
firefighters out there know the stakes have not
yet risen beyond our control.
Last thing we need is a frontal attack by civilian firefighters who
through our hull's the only answer."
"But that'll let in too much ocean. If we
lose any more of our electrical network,
the rest of the reactor fuel pumps will fail." Connelly frowned.
"And the heat will rise in the core up to runaway melt down levels. We know
that. But those hose
jockeys can't possibly." Ty grimaced. He picked up his
walkie talkie to Fire Boat 110. "Fireboat
110, this is Blue Ridge. A black out
occurred, but we're able to cope despite our new leaning pitch.
any ultimatum response from your incident command chain. The AEC
gives me final authority
over this ship on that matter."
##Will relay.## came back the boat.
"Torches!" hollered Alpha 1 to her team. Soon, light flooding from flashlights in
hands filled the space through which they wormed with care.
Gage took in a deep breath of bottled
air. "Not a fan of the dark."
Roy patted a glove on his mylar suited back. "A smoke filled warehouse's
just as dark." he said, his flashlight casting eerie shadows underneath
his partner's chin.
but it's not underwater." Johnny grunted, following the heels of
the belly dragging navy firefighter
crawling ahead of him in the gloom.
"You can't drown in a palette maze."
"But you can burn
in one. Dead is dead."
"But I'd still be able to see that coming. Makes a huge difference."
scoffed, pulling ahead of Roy in exasperation.
Cole Stanger grinned behind them. "Gotta admire that man's logic."|
A loud banging sound of metal
on metal brought their conversation to
a halt. It was from one of the rescuers."I've got something.
steam cloud. It's coming from above us." that rescue sailor reported.
"How bad?" Alpha
"I think it's one of the sources, ma'am. Not too bad. A crack."
"All right." she
said. "Let's all stand up and take a better look.
But slowly! Last thing we want to do is stick our
heads into any
"..pipe soup." finished Gage, the first on his feet. "I see
a midline split. Patchable." he reported, showing what he was
seeing in the light beam
of his flashlight.
"Any rads jumping?" asked a navy firefighter, cautiously coming closer
where Johnny was pointing with his glove.
Roy aimed a geiger counter at the spot. "No change from
already here." he replied, aiming a probe near the steam.
"All right. Structural integrity
crews. Make rapid repairs. Shore up
that bracing and clamp it tight. Then paint it with sealant. Figure
you're going to divert that escaping water flow in the meantime.
Avoid all run off."
Alpha 1 said swiftly, pushing button on her
radio. It sent off a marker ping with a loud reverberation
carried through the ship and out like sonar.
"I have an affirmation ping from Alpha 1." reported Connelly
to his captain.
asked Ty, snatching up a ship's map off the navigation
"Here." replied a sailor, pointing
to an elaborate diagram of pipework
that surrounded sickbay's vicinity. "Juncture 9-B."
Supply." Masterson read off.
"Uh huh. Just outside." Rick nodded.
"That new breach is
awfully close to the Armory." Ty peered, studying
the map of his ship's circulation. "What would
KA-bbOOOMMMmmmm...mmm! came a colossal explosion
that threw everyone on the
bridge off their feet as the ship jolted
horizontally. Sickeningly, the horizon they could see through
Miguel Garcia leaped on the radio console. "Alpha 1, report!"
##Bridge. It's a torpedo room fire. Must have been smouldering since the
plane crashed. One just
launched itself through the hull and out to sea.##
"Self destruct!" ordered Masterson, casting
through snatched up
binoculars until he found the tell tale bubble trail streaking away
the surface of the waves. "It's headed for the fire boat!"
From: patti keiper email@example.com
Sent: Sun 11/16/14 10:38 PM
The duty officer lifted a cover and hit a bright
red button on a console.
The runaway torpedo disintegrated about 100 feet away from Station 110's
crew and geysered up a sharp column of sea water in a concussive blast
that rained down water in a
fountain of froth.
Fireboat 110 abruptly switched its approaching course to avoid the backlashing
seawater, increasing its distance from that side of the ship.
##U.S.S. Blue Ridge. We note
a fire in the amory hold. What is your
current status?## the captain of the fireboat radioed in.
Captain Ty Masterson toggled the County HT. "Torpedo Room. Six
weapons in storage. The fire suppression
system has activated successfully."
then he grinned a gallows grin. "Sorry we missed."
try harder next time.## replied the fireboat man, his relief equally as
evident in his voice. ##Moving
out to 500 yards until full containment is verified.
We have four divers around your boat assessing
radiation levels at the waterline.##
"We'll monitor their progress and safeguard your men from
any further accidents."
##They know the risks. Fireboat 110, out.##
Gage nearly bumped into Alpha 1 when she stopped in mid
crawl when the ship's hull shuddered in a
familiar way. She pulled off a glove
and pressed a hand against the wall. "Oh, sh*t! Ordinance just
cursed. Then she toggled her shoulder radio. "Alpha 1 to Alpha 2, tell me
travelled to yesterday and that was just a friendly blue on blue
exercise maneuver with a dud shell."
##Wish I could, Dorothy.## the captain of the deck quipped. ##But the Wizard of
Oz has other plans.
Brief flare up in the armory, completely chem suppressed. We're
working our way in to mothball the
five remaining fish so we can stop trying to wipe
out the POGs.## he replied. ##How many zoomies have
you got?## the XO asked.
Alpha 1 checked her dosimeter. "Just under 100. The civvies have less."
about Roy and Johnny's radiation counts.
##Continue your operation. Let me know when
you're checks-five-oh on dealing
with your casualties.##
"Roger that." she answered back.
Hastily, she put her hazmat suit glove back
on her hand. "Let's go." she said to her team.
tapped her boot. "What's the cap on these again?" he asked, flicking a finger
at the dosimeter on
his silver fire suit. "How will we know when enough's enough?"
"There isn't any." she replied, blandly. No emotion showed on her face whatsoever.|
her next comment. "Yep."
"What?"Johnny was confused. "I'm not Navy. Spell it out for me." he spat
"There isn't one for us, Mr. Gage. Didn't you hear the broadcast about
a minute ago?
We've been signed and sealed. You can retreat back to safety. But we can't force
you to do that on captain's orders. No one ever expected either of you to do this kind of
Hotel." she said, dragging her charged fire hose along the deck a little further.
"Ahhh. So what?
I'm a bachelor. He's married with kids." Johnny said, pointing to
Roy's bulky shadow following behind
him in the murk. "I'm staying. Just ask him.
I'm one who never turns down a date once it's offered."
"That much is true." Roy smiled knowingly. Then he noticed some bulkhead markings
above his head.
"We're here. It matches my map. Anybody got a baby beater?"
"Huh?" Johnny grunted, looking up,
still a bit overwhelmed and out of his element.
DeSoto angled his head at Johnny. "A sledge hammer.
For signalling through the wall
until we cut our way in." he explained. "Thank you." he said at
a firefighter who shoved
one at him across the floor. "Listen sharp." he said before he gave the
solid bulkhead a
single pair of loud whacks with all of his strength.
All the navy firefighters
froze in place in the gloom, ceasing any noise and turning down
A minute later,
there was a faint, feeble reply: a double knock, likewise, on metal.
A cheer rose that steamed
up everybody's masks at the definite sign of life behind the
"That wasn't Morton."
Gage grinned. "No trademark shave and a hair cut like he always
does outside of closed doors at the
"His mother hen's good enough." celebrated Alpha 1. "That means our Mr. Reese is alive
and kicking and probably still able to do for your down curving friend." she said no nonsense.
hastily moved aside for the structural integrity crews so they could start in with their
and saw tools. Then she roared. "I want in, in ten minutes. Mark! Stretcher
crews at the ready."
Roy and Johnny slumped against the opposite wall and just watched, their long term
beginning to take its toll. They gratefully accepted a hand out of fresh air bottles
from a support
sailor and changed into them. And then at long last, they began to talk
paramedic in a full preparation
plan, for what they needed to do, when they finally
got to Reese and Morton.
Captain Masterson was on the radio with Captain Stanley.
"Somebody's alive." he reported.
Then he fended off a sharp barrage of questions
with a very patient sigh. "My teams are keeping your
men in the action every step
of the way. No one is going to get hurt."
##Anything I can do
from my end? The fog's pretty much smothered any hope of an
air pick up for the two of them.## said
"I've been thinking about that." said Ty, eyeing up Garcia, who was still shaking his
in a firm lack of recommendation. Masterson chuckled. "We're already
surrounded by the best radiation
protection envelope known to man. It would be
stupid not to take advantage of it."
I don't follow.## said Cap, resting a foot on the rear runner of Engine
51, trying to see the great
hulk of the ship through the fog bank.
"Like that luckless torpedo, Mr. Stanley. We'll flee off
ship under water. Any tritium
from the exposed rods isn't be able to penetrate down beyond two feet
or so. My
bilge rats have just confirmed it."
Hank was eager. ##Workable. Except for anyone
unconscious. I don't suppose
you have a diving helmet just lying around a bulkhead closet somewhere.##
"We're not a sub."
##Hmmm.## sighed Cap. ##I wonder if an established airway can keep out water|
rubber survival hood and duct tape? I'll ask my medic, soon as I see him."
##I'm sure my men can
come up with something if that idea doesn't work. They're
used to improvising on the job. They once
used I.V. tubing to free up a guy's hand
from a drain pipe. Speaking of pipes.....##
making progress. So far, my first team's located two breaches. Our
water pressure's low but now holding,
suggesting that there's only one compromise
left along the system. Once that's rectified, the danger
will be over. We'll be able
to fill the reactor pool to the top in a continuous siphon, running circulation
using a portable back up pump. Then we'll get emergency repairs enough to get
out to sea away from land until the rest of our mess is handled. I've a heavy
tug with mobile shipyard
capabilities on the way." Ty shared, his voice almost
devoid of hope despite his words.
left a sick feeling in Stanley's stomach when he finally realized what the navy man
was saying. Hank
sat down to engage in a closer intimacy with his counterpart. ##Sir.
A manual pump means there has
to be a manual fail safe. Operated by...##
"..this ship's captain.. Yes. I am fully aware of that.
I can tell you that I'm definitely not
very popular with my ship's engineer at the moment for the
decision. He'd throw me in
irons for even suggesting it, if he could."
Captain Stanley shot
to his feet. ##Sir, let my engineer talk to your engineer. There's
got to be another way. Perhaps
the two of them can come up with another option
that can accomplish the same thing. A..a..a dead
man's switch, or..a..a feeder hose
from a landside fire engine laid as a supply line. We've got pumps
that can read
pressures and automatically cut themselves off at a distance!##
face seemed to age decades as he took his bridge chair, without feeling it.
"There's not enough time
left to arrange things. We've considered even your possible angles.
Something has to be done within
the next twenty minutes or come sunrise, nothing possible
will be left to do except pick up the pieces
of what's left of a couple of nuclear fired cities
for the next few thousand years. I've decided
the only priority now, is getting the rest
of my people out. Captain, will you help me do that within
that time frame we're given?"
There was a long pause on the other end of the communications channel
as Station 51's
commander dealt with his emotions. ##We'll throw out multiple buoys and lifelines
your swimmers to grab. We'll winch them in. Consider one for yourself.##
Ty closed the
channel without replying. He turned and carefully handed over Fireboat
110's handy talkie to Garcia
with all of the dignity he could muster. Then he
abandoned the bridge and his command. His plan
was to go below decks to meet up
with Alpha Team 2 to make good the sacrifice that he would never
ask first of one
of his crew.
Miguel saluted him and Masterson returned it with no tears.
He left in haste
for the lower, mangled underside levels, that used to be part of his ship.
Alpha Team 2 never saw their unsuited captain sneak by them for the reactor room.
They were too
engaged with checking and double checking the control wires needed
to link up the portable pump's
electrical system to the pipeline's control panel that
they had just rapidly soldered back into one
"Advance! Cover that last hot spot!" shouted their lead firefighter as they fought their
way through the final bit of flame jeopardizing their position. A crack team followed
up with liberal
water hoses, pushing bits of fallen debris away from themselves and
the sparkies setting up the new
wiring for the emergency reactor pump.
They had met up with Alpha Team 1, meeting in the middle
ground between disasters
to offer assistance in man power.
One of the newer firefighters stumbled and was caught by Johnny who recognized |
that he wasn't paying
attention to his low air warning siren on his tank set. "Whoa..
whoa. Sit down. Don't you hear your
SCBA going off? Hey..." he shouted, snapping
his fingers before the young man's mask. When the struggling
began, Johnny tripped
and lowered him to the deck, pressing his own facemask over the sailor's nose
and mouth firmly. "Just suck this in.. you're blacking out. You've run out of air, man."
2's leader noticed. "Is he okay?" the big navy firefighter asked, turning his way.
him a minute. He just needs a trade out. He buzzed for a second."
Johnny told him. He whistled for
a support crew to handle it.
The young man finally shook his head and grabbed for the air Johnny
with both hands.
"What's your name?" Gage shouted, still holding air over the
man's face, testing
his awareness level.
"An..Anders. What happened?" asked the recovering
firefighter sailor, his face
awash with sour sweat. His pupils were dilated from near hypoxia.
"You decided to kiss a deckplate. Feel better yet?" Gage asked, smiling as
he studied the color on
his patient's face. "Here's your new tank. I'm
taking mine back." he warned. "Ready?" A small tug
of war battle between them
ensued until the dizzy man's instincts let go in favor of higher reasoning
at the urging
of his team mates. Johnny got his air back on and then rapidly made sure Anders'
breathing mask was secured properly for his extrication.
"Get him out of here!" ordered Alpha 2. "I've just received orders that we're to|
evac the entire
ship from the splash deck in ten minutes."
##Abandon ship.## came the captain's voice over the
intercom as the emergency klaxon
horn started sounding. ## I repeat. All hands abandon ship by 0520.
"Did that come from the bridge?" asked the groggy Anders as he was being borne
arm supported, by a couple of his firefighter friends. "It sounded a-awfully close by."
On the intercom, Crewman Rick Connelly began a verbal countdown for everybody
as he hurried on his
own way to get off the ship, through his HT. ##T-minus nineteen
minutes, fourteen seconds, thirteen,
Cole Stanger looked up from his spot near Roy and felt a chill in his fire
suit. Pausing for
a minute on a door hatch frame, he shouted to the others. "I'll be back. I'm going
check to see if our escape route is still open."
Alpha 1 nodded, her petite form quickly
folding into the group that was battering their
way into Medical Supply after Bron Reese and Dr.
Stanger found him easily. "Ty. Let it be me. Don't play a hero. We're not on
a battlefield where you
have to go down with the ship. That's fantasyland. Let's all
get out and let the real experts handle
Masterson looked up from the glowing reactor pool that was slowly steaming in the
light of the nuclear hold from where he was leaning on the console.
He was waiting for the sparkies
down the hall to finish turning the power back on
all the way. "Are you willing to gamble thousands
of innocent lives based on what a
single elected panel of board members tell you? The AEC are just
a figurehead. They
make recommendations, pass policies. They've never handled a catastrophe on this
We have. Many times. This is war now. Against mother nature and physics." He jerked
over at the overheating reactor rods bubbling away in their emergency
siphoned ocean water bath. "They
are the enemy, Stanger. And they won't wait."
Cole stepped forward quickly but Ty anticipated
him, setting one hand lightly on his firearm.
"Care to draw your weapon, Cole? We could shoot it out
but the sand's running away from
the hourglass. Don't throw away our friendship like this. Allow me
my choice. You know
it's the right thing to do. Especially for me." he begged. It was half sobbing.
Stanger saw their long careers and lives as shipmates, flash before his eyes as
up. His resolve crumbled in the face of fate and his face twisted up
with sudden, fresh grief.
Masterson finally cracked, his voice breaking. "Don't tell the others where I am.
do something stupid. Take these. They're my final orders." he
said, handing over a hastily written
sheet on the back of an engineer's log.
"It's been said. Now go finish your job, Cole. Lock the door behind you and leave me
your gun so you aren't tempted to try and save me again."
Without turning around, Stanger did
so as the comm officer on the bridge continued
to drone out the abandon ship countdown clock.
"Yes, sir! Now, sir." Masterson's first officer shouted energetically, with all the
pride and honor
of a true sailor in his voice. Then he left, his every step an
aching hole in his heart.
Alphas 1 and 2 were highly focused on their rescue when Cole Stanger returned to their
It took all he had to appear natural and normal amid all of the activity. "Progress
report?" he snapped,
"We're almost through. Air's breatheable in there." Alpha 1 replied.
hot is it?" he asked of the radiation in their chamber.
"Barely anything registering. Radiation
levels have been falling from almost from
the first second the new pump started up." she said happily,
almost dancing in
her hazmat suit. "We can take these things off." she said, happily peeling
::Oh, Ty.:: Stanger quailed mentally. ::You're the one doing that.:: But out loud Cole
said. "Get those two land medics in there. They know what has to be done!" he
said to the two rescue
teams at large.
Miguel Garcia suddenly appeared in the doorway where the teams worked and
he and Stanger passed a look that spoke volumes as each became aware
that they alone knew the secret
of their deliverance from a meltdown.
"Sir," said Miguel to Cole. "The bridge is secured. It's time
to go." he said
meaningfully. ::Masterson might not be successful in filling the reactor core.::
his eyes said.
Stanger nodded. "Clear the area! Only the Alphas, commanding officers
the two civvies stay to get the injured out. Muster! To the splash
deck with dive suits and tanks.
Leave the ship now!" he snapped.
Dutifully, every firefighter sailor, through with their emergency
fire work, fled.
Roy DeSoto was the first into the crawl space ahead of Alpha 1. All |
the medical machinery around
them had been destroyed in the
explosion. He headed for the nearest smoking body to him, Bron
and reached for his head. The medic had large patches of
blood soaking the shirt of his uniform.
Alpha 1 addressed Roy as she watched Johnny Gage scramble
quickly by her and over to Dr. Morton.
"Is he breathing?" she asked
DeSoto about Reese, trembling despite herself.
"Yes." said Roy.
"Looks like a hit in the head caused this black out."
These cuts are superficial." he said, sweeping
arms and legs, looking for fractures.
"Good." she sighed in relief, leaning over
to vigorously kiss her
boyfriend Bron full on the lips. "Wake up, honey! I'm home!"
happy to see him. Then she straightened up and started
swiftly binding any wounds she found on him,
using supplies from
her first aid bag.
Her antics surprised only Roy and Johnny. The others
Reese's eyes cracked blearily open. "No 13 buttons saluting. The kids
he groaned. Then he startled the rest of the way
awake, remembering his patient. "Dr. Morton?!"
"Alive." said Gage, working fast with two hypodermics of Propofol
and Succinylcholine. "I'm knocking
him out for an RSI so he won't move
during his pericardial tap."
Reese forced urgent clarity
into his voice, even as the room spun.
"Hurry.. Last I found.. he had clear jugular distension and
fluid regurgitation into his lungs. He wasn't ventilating well on the bag." he
grimacing, as Roy tore open his shirt to expose a few more
lacerations on his neck. "...oh.." Bron
sighed, finally feeling pain.
He blacked out.
DeSoto managed him with an oral airway. "There's no heavy hemorrhaging.|
Or serious injuries." he said,
packing what was bleeding with dressings.
"He can go. He'll wake up once he's on oxygen."
minced Alpha 1, suddenly torn with personal feelings.
"Get him out now! I'll meet you there."
Roy promised. "Take these." he
said tossing a small O2 tank and non rebreather mask her way.
##Abandon ship. T-Minus
seven minutes fourteen seconds.## continued Connelly
over live intercom from his place with Fireboat
110 on the splash deck.
Soon, Reese was bundled up warmly and carried off by the last of the
They were half way to the swim deck when young Anders gave a startled cry,
to his knees before a grille set into the deck that was situated above
the reactor room. "Oh, my G*d.
The captain's still down there! I did hear his voice!
I hear it now..." he cried, anguished.
Alpha 2's team jumbled clumsily with Reese's evacuation stretcher.
Those who let go of its handles,
abandoning their duty, were overcome with grief
when they realized what was happening. They pleaded,
huddled in a tight circle
around the grate, above Masterson, screaming at him to get himself out
"He's gonna flood the room!" sobbed Anders. "He'll kill himself."
Realizing the crew had found out the truth, Garcia had a couple of salties drag the |
from the hole, one by one, and then safely off ship. More experienced
sailors did what they had
to do by shutting the reactor bunker's bulkheads remotely
through their roof placed door hatch wheels.
"Ty. We're clear." said Miguel into the hole. "You can open the pump." he
came Masterson's voice from below. "...for my crew's lives.."
With a gush, Ty released fresh sea
water into the room through the repaired pipe's
spill doors in a noisy rush. Eerily, disturbed radiation
floated in blue clouds above
the reactor as the air pressure changed around him, making it hard to
Masterson's numb mind took in the glowing sight with amazed comprehension.
levels now if I can see St. Elmo's fire. How can something so beautiful be
so deadly?" he wondered.
He sat down into a chair at the pump's controls
and tied his hand to the lever with his belt, so
the valve would stay safely open later
on. "Semper Fi." he gasped, staring at the radiation's glow
as it finally died away
into harmlessness forever, under the cold water. Then so passed his head.
The water level rose, higher and higher, until no air spaces remained inside the large|
About a minute later, the grill's tiny hole upwelled water in a steady stream across
But Miguel Garcia had long since left the area, so he wouldn't have to see it.
Johnny Gage and Roy DeSoto worked fast. Cole Stanger knew just
enough medical care to help them
clean off Dr. Morton's chest with
Betadine in preparation for his emergency procedure.
paradoxus.." DeSoto reported, examining Dr. Morton rapidly while
Johnny continued to breathe for him
through the endotracheal tube he
had established, using an ambu bag and oxygen.
up at the portable EKG monitor they had found under
all of the rubble. "Hurrying.." he said. "I'm
definitely seeing low voltage
QRS complexes. This is definitely fluid or blood build up."
swore Roy. "Is that P.E.A.?!" he said, directing Cole to scrub the anti
microbial he had poured onto
Morton, even harder into the skin over his ribcage.
"I didn't even consider.."
a gasp of dismay, Gage reached out for Mike's carotid artery,
pressing a grip down over his sweaty
skin just under his jawline. "No. He
still has a pulse. It's fast, growing weaker, and irregular."
DeSoto himself was laying out all the equipment he would need on a sheet
hastily thrown over
his knees, evacuation syringes, a sterile spinal needle,..
and alligator clips, strung from their
wires connecting to the working EKG monitor.
"That'll work." Johnny said with approval. "Isn't
that Brackett's new trick?" he said,
suctioning out some saliva that was building in Dr. Morton's
mouth around the
"I learned from the best." said Roy, licking his parched
lips in stress.
Johnny leaned over close to one of the unconscious doctor's
ears. "Mike. Roy's
going with an EKG wire tap. That way, we can see exactly when we're deep enough."
Stanger was growing slightly pale. "Are you guys going to do what I think you're
gonna do? Open
"No. We're not cutting him open. Just a needle tap to evacuate the excess |
fluid building up around
his heart. There's so much inside of its pericardial sac
right now that it can't circulate his blood
effectively any more. His heart's
getting squeezed to death by all of the pressure. That's why his
so bad." Johnny told him. "See?" he said, showing the commander how blue
and gums had become.
"Okay, I'm done." said Cole, tossing aside the betadine and gauze pad. "What
else can I d---?"
## T Minus three minutes to abandon sh--- Break! Break!.... Radiation levels
to zero. We have containment. I repeat, the core has stabilized. ## came Connelly's
##Geiger counters have returned to normal readings.##
Immediately following, Miguel Garcia's voice
came over the intercom.
##Abort! Abort ship's evacuation. All personnel to assigned duty stations
up damage assessment. ##
Cole snatched for his belt geiger counter and drew it
out, waving it in the direction
of the hallway past the medical supply room hatch. "It's true." he
voice tight with emotion. "He's done it.." he whispered. "We're finally safe."
Wordlessly, Roy reached out and gripped his shoulder. "I'm sorry about Ty."
"What about Captain
Masterson?" Did he get hurt?" Gage asked, distracted,
while he re-evaluated breath sounds on Dr.
Morton as he bagged in his oxygen.
"Ty's dead." Cole told him. "A few minutes ago."
shut Johnny up. Shocked at his lack of attention to details, he glanced over
at his partner.
Roy filled him in. "He sacrificed himself to flood the reactor core, Johnny. There was
no other option.
At least, not one that would have been in time for the rest of us."
Stanger sighed, taking in
a deep breath to steady his nerves. "He was a good man.
Who knows how many lives he's saved?"
Gage nodded wordlessly, humbled. Time seemed to stop.
DeSoto got down to business. "Johnny?..
Johnny...." said Roy gently.
"Hmm." Gage murmured, still numb, still ventilating Dr. Morton on
the ambu bag.
"Is Dr. Morton down all the way?" he asked Johnny about Morton's sedation.
Let me check." Bending over, Gage dug a firm set of knuckles into Mike's
breast bone while he cracked
open an eyelid with his other hand in between delivering
breaths. "No pupillary response to pain.
I just topped off the paralytic again. He's a trauma
so I also gave him 1.5 mg/kg IV Lidocaine three
minutes ago to suppress any cough reflex
so he won't increase his intracranial pressure." Johnny
shared, suddenly very tired.
"That's what Dr. Brackett would have ordered. I'll give him 0.01-0.02
mg/kg Atropine to
prevent bradycardia as we tap. It'll increase his heart rate. Ready to hyperventilate?"
Gage replied. "Let's get this over with. No disrespect, Mr. Stanger, but I want to
the h*ll off this ship with my friend as fast as I possibly can." he said, getting upset visibly
as he flooded extra oxygen into Mike's lungs in preparation for pausing during the needle
"Go.." he said, setting down the bag and reaching for the alligator clips and
wires Roy had left
lying across Morton's bruised stomach.
Roy placed the spinal needle attached to an empty saline
bolus syringe at a 45 degree angle
to Mike's spine just under the xiphoid process, aiming it toward
his left shoulder. Then he shoved
firmly. Once it had broken skin, Johnny quickly clamped the alligator
clips to the bare needle
as Roy advanced the hollow lance downward towards Dr. Morton's heart.
Stanger glanced at his watch. "Fifteen seconds since last breath." he called out,
needle tapping's similarity to normal emergency resuscitation steps.
Gage bent low and turned
the EKG monitor's screen towards Roy so they both could
see the distressed rhythm playing across it.
Roy held his own breath and slowly pushed
the needle in even further than how far his instincts were
actually telling him to go.
"There!" Gage shouted, pointing at the monitor. "A.. P.V.C."|
Roy locked into stillness, not daring
to move his hands, nor the long wires trailing needle
his gloved fingers were holding.
segment elevation. You're a little too far, Roy." Johnny said. "Back up a smidge."
"Did he stab
his heart?" Cole feared.
"No, he's just barely in contact with the myocardial surface. It's what
we want. That means
the needle's made it inside the swollen heart sac." he said urgently. Carefully,
reached out and pulled back on the plunger of the syringe, creating a back pressure of
power. Immediately the syringe's vacant chamber filled with a partially clear bloody
heavy with clots. He filled the large syringe as much as he could and then he
jerked it off the needle's
hub, only to replace it with a new empty syringe while Roy held
the spinal needle rock still and
steady. For the second time, fluid from around Dr. Morton's
heart gushed into the syringe with very
little encouragement. "There's a ton of this, Roy."
remarked Johnny, soon fitting on a third evacuation
"Not much blood though." said Roy. "I don't think his heart's torn from the crash like
we both thought it was. Just bruised enough to cause this fluid build up."
"Two minutes since."
said Stanger, fascinated despite his grief.
"That's it." said Gage, unsuccessfully pulling fluid
out with a fourth sterile syringe.
"I think we're done."
"Okay, I'm retracting it." Roy warned.
Johnny was careful to hold Morton's head and
neck perfectly still while Roy firmly tugged at the needle,
in reverse, in short stages,
through his cartilage and bone, and back out the way it came. Roy tossed
into a corner, wires and all, with a touch of horror.
Mike's feet twitched.
felt Morton's ribs. "He's started breathing. The medication's wearing off."
Several pink tinged
fluid drops appeared at the puncture site during Morton's first few
recovering ventilation attempts
through his endotracheal tube.
Stanger made a face at the sight. "Is that normal?"
gums had pinked up again, so Gage bent low to listen to breath sounds
with his head on Mike's chest.
"No crackling. I think we avoided pleural effusion."
"How about pneumothorax?" DeSoto asked,
studying the first heart fluid syringe he had
evacuated through a flashlight bulb. "I'm not seeing
any pus here."
"Good news. Breath sounds are equal." Johnny confirmed. "Twenty a minute." he
announced, fitting a regular on-demand oxygen valve to the airway's port so the
doctor could draw
off what he needed on his own.
"Entering normal sinus rhythm on the monitor..." Roy reported,
finally smiling.. "I didn't hurt
him." he said in relief. "Rate's slowing to eighty."
Stanger was surprised as he got a stretcher set for use next to them. "Your friend's|
gonna make it?
He's not dying?"
Gage chuckled. "That was the instant fix."
Beneath his hands, Morton groaned
and started popping through his tube, so
Johnny extubated him swiftly before he became fully conscious.
"Time to sail all of our butts out of here, Dr. Morton. What do you say?"
Gage asked turning him
onto his side to drain out.
"..Peachy...." Mike finally agreed groggily, happy that his heart
was still beating
in his ears.
Dr. Marcus Welby put on his best smile as Navy Medic Bron Reese open his eyes
in bed. "Easy, sailor.
You're still coming out of anesthesia for a lacerated liver."
"Where am I?" Bron asked, looking
around at the unfamiliar surroundings. "I'm
not on the ship any more."
The room was warm,
sunny, and green. It was strange not having bullet gray
surrounding him on the walls.
you're not. There's more crewman climbing all over that thing conducting
repairs right now than five
ships her size." chuckled the family doctor. "You're
at Rampart General Hospital. The second home
of those two paramedics firefighters
you met over the weekend. They came asking about you, but I turned
so you could get some rest." Marcus replied.
"And.. my girlfriend? Didn't she break
an arm or a leg of yours for trying to kick
"Oh, you must mean the lovely Dot." said
Welby, taking Bron's pulse.
"Alpha 1 to you." murmured Reese sheepishly surprised. "It's actually Dorothy, like|
the one with Toto
in that 40's movie? She hates her given name. Yet everybody
teases her about it anyway. How did you
pry her away from me?" Reese wondered.
"I told her lips only worked well enough for one, twenty
four hours a day."
Both men laughed.
"Actually, she made tracks once I planted an oxygen
mask over your face."
said Marcus with a grin. "She had nothing better to do after that."
in Torrance, correct?" Bron asked, still getting his official bearings.
"That's right." replied
"This place is pretty close to that pier and my ship. I take it the big nuke never
or else I wouldn't still be here by the ocean." Reese quipped, smiling and raising his
hands. "I wonder who the top brass was who solved all of our problems?"
Dr. Welby's amused demeanor
flashed away immediately. "Bron. I've someone
waiting just outside who'd like to talk to you about
what you've missed over the last
few hours. Can I invite him in?"
"Sure, doc." said Reese,
"If you'll excuse me..." said Dr. Welby. He left the room quietly, taking his chart
When he saw the look on Private Rick Connelly's face when he walked in, Bron Reese
he had never awakened out of his coma.
"Sir?" greeted Rick timidly. "They told me you were awake
and accepting visitors."
"I wasn't five minutes ago." Reese grinned, thinking black thoughts
about Dr. Welby.
"Never mind. That guy's gone." Bron said. "Have a seat." he invited,
pointing to a chair
that still bore the butt marks of his restless girlfriend.
"I appreciate the house call, Private. But why so glum? I'm on the mend!" Bron sighed
"Surely you can go back and tell everyone that I'm going to be fine. I'll
just bet the captain'll--"
Reese broke off when he saw the young sailor pale and direct
his eyes to the ceiling, hiding fresh
tears. "Connelly.. Hey.. Just tell me. I won't bite."
"Oh, sir." teared up Rick. "The captain
saved us, just like he promised, but he
didn't survive it."
Bron Reese's whole world contracted
into a tiny little point at the news.
later, Roy DeSoto and Johnny Gage came to pay a visit to the man
to whom Dr. Morton owed more than
just a few drinks. Accompanying
them to Bron Reese's hospital room was Cole Stanger who came to
relate a tale or two himself.
"It was a fine memorial service, Bron. One of the best. All the
colors were out.
Even the civvies here, and their fire department, came in full regalia. I swear,
every grunt who's ever shipped on the Blue Ridge this side of Honolulu showed
up. And you know what?
I think we did the captain proud. They had his hat out
you know. Right on his table, in the old spot
where he'd park his coffee mug."
said Stanger. "Then they offered me command."
filled up as he regarded his fellow officer. "Did you accept?"
"H*ll, yeah. Ty would come back
to haunt me if I hadn't." Cole grinned,
wiping his eyes. "I'm sorry you weren't there, Bron."
"But we were." said Johnny Gage, one foot propped up against one wall
of the hospital room. "We took
a lot of pictures. I don't know if we got
everybody on your crew, Mr. Reese, but we made this photo
of the memorial service. You see, I'm a bit of a photographer and..
well, we wanted you
to have this." he said, passing off a book of royal
blue velvet, his ship's color.
a moment, Bron couldn't see, blinded by the tears in his eyes.
"Thanks, fellas. This means a lot.
Now I've got something to do to keep
me occupied for while, besides kissing."
"So when are they going to spring ya?"
"Next week some time. Say, who's that hot little blond
sexy phone voice who comes in here every morning to read my
That sounds like Dixie McCall and she's a particular doctor's
hot little blond if you know what I
mean." Johnny said, mincing on his feet.
"Dr. Welby's?!" Reese gaped.
He's the Ty Masterson around these parts. So hands off
if you know what's good for you. He's still
got his hands on your chart."
"I'll remember. Besides, Dot'll flay me alive
if I stray one iota."
"Well, we better get going. We've still got rounds to do.
We've one more
patient to see." Roy said in a hint.
"Dr. Morton? How's he doing?" Reese beamed despite his bruises.
"He's been kept in a protective coma all week. But today's the day
they're bringing him out of
it." he shared.
"We want to be there to see if he's lost any more brain function."
"I'm good. Nobody vegetables in my care." Reese defended. "I'm
an ace with resuscitations.
Just ask Dot."
Gage smirked and Roy waved. "We know. She told us. You're all
she talks about.
See ya." they said as they departed.
Bron Reese opened up the cover of his new photo album, but
he looked at it, he dragged the kleenix box from on top of his bedside
table into his lap.
::Be prepared.:: he told himself. ::There's nothing
like being a sailor.:: he thought. ::In life,
Johnny Gage intercepted
Dr. Brackett in a hallway on the same floor
as Dr. Morton's ICU room. "Are you sure we can go in
to see him?"
"No." he glared immediately.
"But... but, ..w- we came on break. We're radiation
free. So why
the H*ll not?" Johnny asked, surprised, setting hands on his hips.
a grin, and at the desk, a visiting Dixie just scoffed
at Brackett's paltry sense of humor. She snorted,
reassurance to the fussing paramedic.
Dr. Brackett raised two hands over his
head and made claw fingers.
"I am evil incarnate. Put me in a sack full of snakes and drop me off
a cliff before I unleash more terror upon an innocent globe." he confessed
before he cackled mightily
and headed off to the doctor's lounge for
a cup of coffee.
Roy leaned on the desk and made
woeful eyes at McCall. "He was
"Of course. He's still coming down from the
fact that we all aren't
bacon sizzling in a frying pan. Go on ahead. Go see Dr. Morton.
just finished up administering a few stimulants.
Could be fun..." she dangled, rolling her eyes.
took in a deep breath and let him have it.
"Dr. Morton. Dr. Morton. Wake up, Mike. Rise and shine
and all that sh*t."
On the bed, sans the wires and tubes that were in place the day before, the
head to toe bandaged Mike Morton slowly twitched up a sluggish eyebrow.
He still bore X's over both
of his eyes, lingering souvenirs from his chemical
hibernation. "Um huh?"
"He's not awake
yet." said Roy, peering closer.
"Wow, you sound more like Chet does by the minute, Mike." Johnny
taking Dr. Morton by the wrist in a pulse check. "Gee, would you look
at that? He's breathing,
but nobody's home."
Mike's other eyebrow rose to meet the first one eventually. He felt his
as they remained strangely cemented shut.
"That's tape." Roy told him. "Here, let me peel them
off." He said, performing
"Offfff ooowwppp!" Morton complained as the tape came
off along with a few eye
Johnny was unsympathetic and very very happy to see his sometimes
"When you get opposable thumbs and upright posture in a few days, you can
join us at the
station. We'll even let you hold a coffee cup."
"I have no coffee." mumbled Morton, not even trying
to ask for his glasses,
that were still hanging on the traction handle above his head in a plastic
"Your value to this expedition has greatly decreased." Johnny declared haughtily.
time is it?" Morton asked, squinting painfully in the dim light of his ICU ward.
seven." Roy answered.
"Why's it dark?"
"You slept all day. All week for that matter. It's
night now." Gage grinned.
"How come it's cold?" Morton shivered in his gown.
up the man's covers, showing sympathy.
Johnny was ruthless, playing on Dr. Morton's vulnerably
"Actually, the earth stopped rotating and the sun never came up. This side of the
earth is encased in a thick sheet of ice. We need you to go chip out some fish
frowned in confusion, half innocent, half doubtful. "I don't believe you."
"Suit yourself. But
I'm not sharing my fish with you." Gage answered.
He walked out without a sound.
Roy had the
manners to at least wave a goodbye big enough for Mike
to see without spectacles.
::Neural check complete.:: Johnny thought to himself as they headed back
to the station in the
squad. "You know what, Roy? I think Dr. Morton's
gonna make it out of that tailspin alive."
Please Click Roy and Johnny |
to go to Page Five