|To Do My Duty
Author: Edina Clouds PM
On an ONI mission Crane falls into the hands of a torturous despot who is determined to extract vital information from Seaview's Captain. Nelson fights to rescue his friend - will he get there on time?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Hurt/Comfort/Drama - Words: 4,620 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 2 - Published: 09-19-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6336164
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Originally posted a long time ago on the "Uncharted Waters" website as a competition entry. Thought it would be nice to include it on my story page over here.
Hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing my one and only VTBS story.
To Do My Duty
He couldn't raise his head, even if he'd wanted to. Three days of constant torture had taken their toll. Every part of his body burned with pain; every muscle, every nerve ending. And still he hadn't talked, hadn't told his tormentor what he wanted to know. Years of training with the ONI had proven their worth, since he had mastered ways of dealing with most forms of interrogation, from the pain wracking devices to the modern day, drug induced hell. Still – he didn't think he could take any more.
He tried to close his mind to the pain in his wrists - hanging as he was with feet barely touching the ground he knew they must be bloody and raw. Closing his eyes, he forced himself to think about other things. What would he be doing if he were on Seaview right now? Standing in the control room giving out orders, monitoring depth and speed, or walking through the boat, entering familiar compartments, carrying out routine checks?
The sound of the cell door opening brought him sharply back to reality. He felt his heart pound faster, felt the sweat beginning to form on his brow, it was time to begin again!
All they had to do was sit back and wait. For Admiral Harriman Nelson that was easier said than done, especially where it concerned a certain Lee Crane. They'd received reports that the Captain of Seaview had been captured by enemy troops, whilst on a mission for the ONI. Nelson's immediate reaction had been to mount a rescue operation, but he'd been ordered explicitly to wait for the ONI Head of South American Operations, Fergus Munroe, to join them. Nelson argued that time was of the essence, but had been overruled, and now he prowled the control room like a caged tiger, despite the fact that Munroe would be rendezvousing with Seaview within the hour.
Those who did not know Nelson well would believe the outer appearance of an Admiral intensely annoyed by the actions of an over-zealous submarine Captain, who caused major inconvenience every time he accepted an ONI mission. Those who knew him better realized the outer appearance masked not only Nelson's deep concern for Crane, but also the fear that one day he might lose him.
"Kowalski," Nelson barked, unable to hide his frustration, "I'll be down in my office … ask Mr. Morton to bring our visitor to me as soon as he arrives."
General Rodriguez, the self appointed President of San Paulo, smiled down at the man that lay before him. This man had proven to be his greatest challenge yet, since all the others he had interrogated had cracked under torture shortly after capture. Captain Lee Crane on the other hand had not only failed to crack, but had also refused to utter a single sound during the long days of torture.
All those who knew Rodriguez knew him to be a cruel man. From early childhood he had enjoyed torturing and killing the animals on his father's small farm. It was almost inevitable that in adulthood this obsession would extend to the torture of human beings. To assist with this he had installed what he lovingly called a "hobby room," deep in the cellars of the Presidential Palace, which had been furnished with many torture devices. The one that Crane now lay upon was Rodriguez's prize possession; the wooden framework bore close resemblance to a medieval machine of torture known as a rack.
"And so here we are again Captain Crane. I do appreciate our time together." General Rodriguez smiled down at the man spread eagled before him.
"Can't say the same… for myself," Crane retorted, trying to hold his speech steady, unwilling to let his tormentor know how scared he was right now.
And he had every right to be afraid, bound as he was, waiting for the interrogation to continue. So far his time in this room had always followed a similar pattern, a clever technique, since knowing what was coming next heightened his fear.
"You know you could make it so much easier on yourself if you would only co-operate," Rodriguez continued, "surely giving me the location of the rebel base should not matter to you or your country."
"It matters… that I keep… bastards like you… away from… good people," Crane gasped, attempting to control his breathing.
"Very well, if you insist we will continue… I have told you many times that what I do here gives me great pleasure. After all these are my toys and they are designed to be played with." He ran his hand lovingly along the side of the rack and leaning in close to Crane, so that the Captain could smell his fetid breath, he whispered. "And you, my good Captain, make an excellent play mate."
Turning to the man standing behind him he barked, "Miguel, continue."
Crane braced himself as the torture on the rack recommenced and, as Miguel forced the wheel around one more time, he couldn't believe it was possible for his arms and legs to be stretched out as far as they were right now. He anticipated that at any moment they would be pulled from their sockets, after all that was what this machine had been designed to do. He gritted his teeth as he felt the ropes tighten further, cutting deeper into his wrists and ankles. And then the stretching stopped and he held his breath, waiting for the next stage of his torment to begin.
There was something about Fergus Munroe that Harriman Nelson instantly disliked. His whole demeanour seemed wrong somehow. He had barged past Commander Chip Morton as he entered Nelson's office as if he were Admiral of the Fleet, and seemed to be expecting to be treated that way. Although that had irked Nelson somewhat it was not the reason that he felt wary of the man standing before him. After all, in order to have reached such a high ranking position in the ONI, Munroe would have needed to be very self assured.
No it was something else entirely, but for the sake of Crane he decided to give Munroe the benefit of the doubt and work with him. The only thing that was important right now was to find Seaview's Captain.
"Welcome aboard Mr. Munroe," Nelson said as he shook hands with the man standing before him. "I take it you've had a chance to go over the proposal I sent to you yesterday afternoon."
"I have," Munroe replied sternly.
"Good, then when will you be able to make contact with the rebel leader…. the sooner we can move on this the sooner we can get Crane out of there."
"I'm sorry Admiral, but I think you misunderstand me. We're not getting Crane out."
The smell of burning flesh filled his nostrils as he bucked against the ropes that held him. He knew he would not be able to take much more as the red hot poker was pressed hard into his chest. Despite his best efforts he could not suppress the scream that erupted from within. He felt ashamed; up until now he had been able to manage the pain enough to bite down any sound.
"Good … good, you begin to express your pain," Rodriguez gloated, "we are making progress. Is there anything you would like to tell me? …Give me the name of the rebel base and we will stop."
Crane turned his head weakly towards the General. "Go… to… hell," he croaked.
"Very well… we will continue to the next level. Miguel you know what to do… it is time to see how far we can really push our good Captain."
Nervously Crane tried to moisten his cracked lips, trying not to think about what was coming next. Rodriguez was adding something new to his afternoon's entertainment, something that Crane was in no doubt would cause maximum discomfort. And as Miguel began to insert small splinters of wood under each of his finger and toe nails Crane soon realized that he was right.
At first the Captain felt reassured, although the process was painful, it was not the agony that Rodriguez had promised. But then as Miguel held up a burning splint he understood. He knew what was about to happen, and closed his eyes tight, bracing himself as each splinter was lit and began burning slowly towards each finger and toe. Minutes later he was screaming uncontrollably as the fire burned under each nail. Even when the flames had died down the pain was so severe that he continued to writhe in agony.
"Well Rodriguez," Crane thought as he felt himself drifting into blessed oblivion, "you certainly are the expert you claim to be."
Harriman Nelson had never been so angry in his life. He was utterly appalled by the callousness of the man who had just finished explaining the rationale behind leaving Lee Crane in the hands of a torturous despot. Munroe's words still reverberated in his head and he felt compelled to repeat them, just to be certain he had correctly understood.
"So you're telling me that Crane's mission all along was to be captured by Rodriguez… to pass on details of the rebel base under interrogation… but why Crane?"
"Because it had to be someone with experience of torture who would not crack too soon and make Rodriguez suspicious… we're setting up a trap here, Admiral, and we want him to walk straight into it."
"And you expect us to just leave Captain Crane behind?" Chip Morton questioned, unable to believe what he was hearing.
"Commander Morton, you don't understand. The rebel leader is a man named Janos Montoya… he's pro-democracy. With him in power we can ensure stability in this area for many years to come."
"You mean you can manipulate him like a puppet… have him do your bidding," Nelson sneered.
"If you put it like that… yes… What are you saying Admiral? That you would rather leave someone like Rodriguez in power?"
"What I'm saying is that I can't understand why Lee Crane would knowingly volunteer for this mission… knowing what was expected… I'm sure he…" and then suddenly Nelson stopped talking. He looked at the stunned expression on Munroe's face and he finally understood. "Crane didn't know did he? He didn't know what the actual mission was. You set him up… You bastard, you set him up didn't you?"
"Admiral Nelson may I remind you that Crane is an operative of the ONI and as such is briefed on a 'need to know' basis. We couldn't tell him what his actual mission was… Do you think he would have acted in the same way if he'd known? Of course not…. Rodriguez is an expert interrogator… he would have known from the start that he'd been set up and that would have jeopardized the mission… and all that matters right now is the mission."
And at those words Chip finally snapped. This man was talking about his best friend as if he were some kind of disposable item, something to be thrown away without a moment's consideration, and Morton, normally cool, calm and collected just couldn't take it anymore. He lunged at Munroe, pushed him up against the cabin door and with choking pressure held him in place with his right arm. Then as Nelson tried in vain to pull him away he looked incredulously at the man who had betrayed Crane.
"Didn't you look at Crane's service record Munroe?' he said. "Didn't that tell you what kind of man he is… he'll never give up Montoya… he'd rather die before that happens… you've just condemned Lee Crane, the finest man I know, to death."
The deluge of cold water that swamped his body forced Crane to awaken. It also offered some relief for his parched lips and tongue as he lapped at the liquid running down his face.
"Welcome back." Rodriguez beamed at Crane, who was once again hanging from chains in the centre of the room. "As you can see we have moved on to the next phase of our "entertaining" afternoon together."
Crane couldn't find the energy to respond, as he closed his eyes and hung his head. "God help me," he thought, "this mad man is breaking me!"
"However," the General continued, "now is the time to eat… for me that is… you on the other hand must go without."
Soon the smell of food filled the room, reminding Crane that he had not eaten since his capture, and he watched longingly as an elderly, slightly built man began placing various dishes in front of Rodriguez.
"Pedro," Rodriguez addressed the servant. "Bring me some water."
At the very mention of the word Crane felt his body tense and, as he watched the liquid being poured, he couldn't stop himself.
"Water," he begged, despising himself for his weakness, but responding to an automatic need for self preservation.
As tempted as Rodriguez was to withhold the water he knew that without it Crane would soon die and he was enjoying their sessions too much to allow that to happen just yet, especially as he had much more in-store for the Seaview Captain.
Rodriguez looked up at his servant and nodded his head towards Crane. "Give him water," he commanded.
Pedro felt relief that he had been allowed to offer respite to the man hanging before him. He had seen how much Crane had suffered and he greatly admired his courage. He was also grateful to the Captain for withholding the information, since many of his friends, forced out of their homes by Rodriguez's brutal regime, now sought protection with the rebels. Many had turned against him, bitter that he continued to serve the hated despot. But Pedro was a man of duty and as such he couldn't leave the Presidential Palace, and he couldn't tell anyone why.
He held a cup of water to Crane's lips and allowed him to gulp eagerly at the cool, refreshing liquid. Within moments the cup was drained and Crane looked pleadingly for Pedro to provide more. But Rodriguez had other ideas. Now that he had eaten his fill he was ready to resume play.
"Come, come Captain… this will not do," Rodriguez crooned, as he grabbed Cranes hair and forced his head back. "Obviously we need to liven things up… Miguel," he called, "bring me the whip."
Releasing Crane's head he took the whip from Miguel and, walking behind the suspended man, flicked out the long strands. Crane closed his eyes, bracing himself for the first stroke, but when it came he wasn't ready for the force of it. As the whip cut deep into his back he cried out in agony and fought to catch his breath. Then even before he'd had the chance to recompose himself the second stroke wrapped around his body like a hot knife. Within minutes Crane's back was awash with blood as Rodriguez increased the intensity of each lash.
For Lee Crane the pain was unbearable. Not only was his back on fire, but the rest of his body burned from the countless tortures inflicted on it. Soon he knew he would talk, and that frightened him more than anything because he knew that if he did talk hundreds of men, women and even children would die. And so in an attempt to control the pain he closed his eyes and, as Rodriguez continued the brutal flogging, began his mantra.
"My… name is… Lee Crane… Captain… Serial… Number… 1 … 2 … 8 … 2 … 6 … 3."
Nelson still found it difficult to believe that Munroe's superiors in the ONI had been unaware of his mission and his plans for Lee Crane. Fortunately, however, they had been able to provide exact details of how to contact Janos Montoya, with whom he had just established a radio link.
"Senor Montoya," Nelson began, "thank you for agreeing to talk with me."
"Not at all Admiral Nelson, it is a pleasure," replied Montoya. "Munroe has told me of you… how can I be of assistance?"
"If you don't mind I'd like to get straight to the point. Fergus Munroe is currently under arrest for gross misconduct in connection with this mission. Were you aware of his entire plan, Senor Montoya?"
"Not all Admiral, he only told me that within a day of Crane's arranged capture we were to have our trap ready for Rodriguez and his troops. As of yet, however, they have not come… I can only assume that something has gone wrong."
"Yes, Senor Montoya, something has gone wrong. Munroe did not tell Captain Crane that the interrogation was part of the mission; that he was supposed to give away your location."
"My God," Montoya was incredulous, "so that explains it."
"Explains what?" Nelson asked.
"We have a man on the inside Admiral Nelson… someone close to Rodriguez. He has told us that despite severe torture Crane has refused to give away our location. I couldn't understand why… I thought maybe that this was all part of the plan… that Munroe had decided to give us more time to make ready, but now it makes sense… all this time Crane has been protecting us."
"That's about it," Nelson replied sadly. "And so Senor I desperately need your help to get Lee Crane out."
"Of course we will help, Admiral Nelson… your Captain Crane is a very courageous man… how quickly can you reach our waters?" Montoya asked urgently.
"We'll be off your coast within the hour."
"Good, then we will rendezvous in two hours."
So this is what dying felt like. Somehow it wasn't as painful as he thought it would be. In fact, in some ways, it was a blessed relief, since he felt it was the only way he was going to get away from Rodriguez.
He lay naked on the floor of the cell, pressing his body into the cold stone in an attempt to cool his fever wracked body, but his actions did little to the provide relief. Not hanging in chains allowed some respite, but he knew that the next session would be the last, and he prayed that death would be swift, after all, better to die than to give away the rebels location.
He was beginning to drift away when he felt tender hands roll him onto his back and place a moist cloth against his fevered brow. Opening his eyes he looked up into the face of Pedro, who smiled at him as he placed a cup of water against his lips. He drunk greedily, urged on by a sudden reminder of agonizing thirst.
"Slowly Senor," Pedro said softly, "you must not drink too quickly."
"Why… are… you… helping… me?" Crane croaked, throat sore from the hours of screaming.
"For the same reason that you have not told Rodriguez the location of the rebel base; it is my duty," Pedro replied.
It was well after midnight when a small group of men silently approached the Presidential Palace. As they crept towards one of the side gates they meticulously observed the movements of the two guards on patrol. Five minutes later both guards had disappeared from view, which was the cue for the observing group to run to the gate, where a cloaked figure stood waiting to let them in.
Once inside they were ushered into a small out building located inside the kitchen garden. There the leader of the group, Janos Montoya, introduced the cloaked figure to the key members of his group: Admiral Nelson, Lt. Commander Will Jamison and Senior Rating Kowalski.
"Gentlemen," said Montoya, "I would like to introduce you our inside man… this is Pedro Montoya… my father."
For Crane, screaming had become as natural as breathing. It was the only thing that had gotten him through his pain, the only thing that he had left to focus on. But now he'd lost even that macabre comfort, as he lay chained once more to the rack. On the orders of his sadistic General, Miguel had pushed Crane's body to its limit, turning the wheel of the archaic torture device until Crane's shoulders had dislocated. Now, as he lay in agony, lacking even the strength to scream, he watched as Miguel pulled a red hot poker from the fire and walked towards him.
For the first time in his life Lee Crane was terrified. Not of the agony that he knew would be inflicted by the burning metal, but by the realisation that he was ready to give in; was ready to beg his tormentor to stop – was ready to divulge everything he knew.
And it was in that moment Seaview's Captain found a new resolve. For the sake of the people he had been protecting he would carry on fighting, even if it meant he would soon be dead. Better to die than to give in to terror and betray everything that made him the man he was. So he closed his eyes and re-focussed his mind. "See you in hell Rodriguez!" he thought as Miguel began lowering the poker.
Pedro had confirmed that Rodriguez and a large percentage of his troops had left the palace to deal with a disturbance in the town. So far then their plan was working since Janos had arranged the disruption to coincide with their entry into the palace.
With the utmost urgency Nelson, Jamison and Janos Montoya followed Pedro through the Presidential Palace cellars to Rodriguez's "hobby room." It had been agreed that once there Janos would kick open the door and rush Miguel, whom Pedro had confirmed would be alone with Crane. But as Janos prepared to carry out this action a loud, guttural scream emanated from the room.
Nelson was horrified. "Oh God," he cried out, "Lee… quick Janos… the door."
Immediately Montoya kicked it open and rushed into the room, gun at the ready. What he found there totally appalled him: Miguel was standing over Crane with a red hot poker in his hand. In an instant the Captain's torturer lay dead on the floor.
And then the silence in the room was palpable. All stood looking at the man on the rack. Despite the feedback that they had received from Pedro they were all totally unprepared for what they now saw. But for a small number of tell tale signs it was difficult to recognize this man as Lee Crane.
Jamison was the first to move to the man stretched out unconscious on the table. He placed his fingers around one of Crane's wrists, checking his vitals.
"We've got to get him back to Seaview right away Admiral," Jamie said looking completely shocked. "He's not going to last much longer."
Unchaining him from the rack Nelson lifted Crane into his arms and hurried out of the room, following Pedro back towards the palace kitchen. There Kowalski was waiting along with several of Montoya's men. It had been a miracle that not one of Rodriguez's men had heard the shot deep within the cellar and, as a result, they were able to escape from the Presidential Palace without incident.
Back on the beech they gently placed a fever wracked Lee Crane into the dinghy and prepared to cast off back to the waiting Seaview.
Nelson took Montoya's hand. "Thank you Janos," he said quietly, "I owe you a great deal."
"It was nothing Admiral Nelson," Montoya replied, "I was pleased to help such a brave man."
Casting off, Nelson waved to the small group of men they had left on the beach. But for their help he knew that Lee Crane, his Captain and friend, would be dead.
Within ten minutes they reached Seaview where Chip Morton was waiting anxiously for their return. Mortified by Crane's condition he led the way to sickbay and helped Jamison lift his best friend on to the examining table.
"I suggest you wait outside," Jamie said softly to Nelson and Morton. "I need to work quickly to get some fluids into Lee, bring his temperature down and run some tests. Once I've done that I'll call you with an update."
Reluctantly Nelson returned to his office and asked to be patched through to Janos Montoya.
"Just checking you got back safely to your base Janos," Nelson said.
"Yes, thank you Admiral," Montoya replied. "How is Captain Crane?"
"Jamieson is working on him now… we'll know something very soon. What's your next move… how are you going to deal with Rodriguez now?"
"My father has returned to the Presidential Palace. Rodriguez has no way of knowing that he was instrumental in Crane's release… he will not suspect… he thinks my father is a lowly peasant… incapable of thinking. And then we shall think of a new plan to get Rodriguez out."
"Your father is a brave man Janos… I hope he remains safe!"
"Yes… my father is brave. It is he who inspired me to lead the rebellion… it was also his idea to remain at Rodriguez's side in order to provide valuable information. Unfortunately his friends think he is a traitor and sadly, until we overthrow Rodriguez, I cannot tell them the truth."
"Well I hope you win soon Janos… in the meantime keep safe and if there is anything you need then please let me know, Nelson out."
Two hours later a very tired Will Jamison called both Nelson and Chip Morton down to sick bay.
"Well I can't quite believe it Admiral, but barring complications I think he's going to be alright. We've managed to bring his temperature down and get some fluids into him. He's not out of the woods yet, he's got some serious burns and lacerations, as well as the dislocated shoulders. But we've popped the shoulders back into place and with several weeks care and attention he should be on the way to a full recovery."
Both Nelson and Morton smiled down at the pale figure lying on the bed before them. Both knew that they had very nearly lost Lee Crane this time.
"I've arranged to hand Munroe over to ONI when we get back to port," Nelson informed Chip, "I think he'll have a lot of answering to do. I've also asked them to bury the details of this mission under a whole pile of red tape… I don't want Lee to ever find out that Munro betrayed him and that he was tortured for nothing."
"Maybe it would be a good thing if he did find out Admiral… I mean it might stop him volunteering for anymore ONI missions."
"Do you really think so Chip?" Nelson asked. "You of all people should know our Captain is a man who, regardless of the cost, will always do his duty!"