A/N: This chapter takes place directly after the events of "Dinner First". I thought about it for a while and decided to just keep this as the third in that sequence. I'll probably add an author's note to chapter one stating briefly the events of "Dinner First" and "Those Nights" so that any new readers won't have to also read those, even if they're short. But because of that, here's a few things to remember about those two stories:
The UEO ended the war which had gone on for at least a year following the end of Season 3 by asking Lucas to make a biological weapon. Their aim was to kill most of the Macronesians, but Lucas being Lucas diminished its effects in order to save lives. And yes, it was smallpox Because he did that, the Macs retaliated. The UEO ended the war, but the Macs won it by getting the last laugh: they destroyed seaQuest during the final battle.
With seaQuest gone and the war over with, the UEO strongly suggested that Lucas disappear and take a nice, long vacation until they could decide what to do with them. Lucas wanted to tell everyone what really happened, but knew that he'd get stuck in the middle because he's the one who made the weapon in the first place. So he abided by their rules.
At the end of "Dinner First", Bridger finds Lucas and asks for his help in locating Robert. Lucas eventually agrees, and that is where this chapter picks up.
**Apologies for the long delay in updating with this chapter, by the way. After finally deciding on how to proceed, my state was hit with both Sandy and now Athena last night. Good times. We're all doing fine; we were lucky where I was that Sandy didn't hit as badly as it did other areas. We did get enough of the wind, however, to take down all the leaves so that Athena didn't hit as hard as Alfred did last year during the SnowOcalypse of October 2011.
I hope you all enjoy it now that it's finally here:)
Former Lieutenant Lucas Wolenczak barely looked at the letter when Captain Nathan Bridger handed it to him. He saw the UEO gold seal and knew what it was. "You can open it if you want."
"I figured you would want to read it first."
"It's a decommission letter," he waved it off, refocusing his eyes on the computer terminal in front of him. "A, 'you're fired, here's your goodbye package, sayonara'."
"You don't know that," Nathan insisted, now sitting down next to him. "Have you found anything?"
"Yes I do, and no, I didn't. You're son's record is locked pretty tight," Lucas told him. "I don't know how deep I can get, but if there's anything you know or just haven't told me about him, it'd probably help."
"Anything in particular?"
Lucas shrugged. "Anything you thought was generally out of the ordinary but never gave a second thought to."
"You mean aside from finding my grandson on my island by himself."
It wasn't a question. "Yes."
"How about the fact that I got a phone call from Dr. Westphalen after I told the UEO I claimed him in my care?" Lucas looked to him and instantly felt betrayed. His looked conveyed everything to Nathan, who backtracked, saying, "I got it sometime after I left seaQuest, and when I came back to solve the biologics problem, there wasn't time."
Lucas looked back to his computer without saying anything. How was there not time? He had so many questions, but he couldn't quell the anger inside him long enough to ask them. Sure, she was probably fine if he didn't yet saying anything to the contrary (which was really all that mattered) but the fact that he didn't say anything to him still hurt. "You didn't think the rest of the first tour crew would have wanted to know?" he asked.
Nathan blinked. "It was the wrong time."
"Well did she at least tell you something useful?" It came out more venemous than it should have.
"Just—no," Lucas said. "It's fine. I understand. What did she say?"
"A lot that didn't make sense at the time because Kristin never had the full picture." He only answered the question in hopes of Lucas calming down and forgiving him in the interim. "Like that she watched over Michael for years with Cynthia, but brought him back here for safety after the Macronesians ran through it."
"And your son?"
"Kristin hadn't seen Robert or his wife in years by the time they came back here," Nathan said. "In fact, she said the last time she talked to Addy, his wife, was when she was with one former Lieutenant Benjamin Krieg."
Lucas took a breath and leaned back in his chair. "So Ben lied, too."
"We all have secrets, Lucas," Nathan said. "There must have been a good reason to keep this one."
"That or he forgot," he told his old Captain. The fact that Krieg had been on seaQuest shortly before its demise was no secret to Nathan. Lucas and he had already talked about that before the sun came up this morning. "So Krieg keeps a secret for his old friend… then what?"
Nathan shrugged. "I don't know."
"Robert never told you what he was doing right before he disappeared?" he asked him.
Nathan thought about it for a moment or two. He remembered Robert asking him questions, what his opinions were on certain things like time and space. He remembered Robert asking him what to do about a higher officer he wasn't fond of. But nothing about that seemed out of the ordinary. "I don't think he could have," Nathan finally said. "Whatever they had him doing, it was too top secret even for me."
Lucas wasn't sure what to think of that. At the time, Captain Bridger wouldn't have had the same security clearance he had on seaQuest, much less now. "Is there any way you can contact Doctor Westphalen now so we can talk to her?"
"I knew you'd say that," he said, pulling out a piece of paper. "She said she may not answer, but that we can try."
It annoyed him that he knew he'd say it. It annoyed Lucas even more as he took the paper from him that he was once more reminded that the Captain hid her from him. There was probably a reason (ie. everything going on with seaQuest and the Macronesia Alliance) but come on. This was Dr. Westphalen they're talking about! She was the closest thing he had to a mother.
They dialed the number, but no one picked up. Lucas tried to hide his disappointment enough to leave a message saying, "Dr. Westphalen. I know it's been a while. I've missed you. When you get this, if you could give me a call back at this number, it would mean the world." He was going to cut it off then, but added, "I've really missed you." He flashed the screen a smile and then ended the call.
The smile left his face as he looked back to Nathan and asked, "What now?"
Nathan hesitated, and Lucas repeated the question with knowing eyes. Nathan released a breath. "You should know my intentions in returning to Banaba were not solely regarding the deletion of that period of UEO history from record."
"You mean the erasing of yours and the Commander's history from record," Lucas corrected.
"Don't let your anger at me keeping Kristin's calls to me a secret from you."
"I'm not just annoyed about that," Lucas said evenly. "Try all the other secrets you've been keeping ever since we got back from Hyperion. Working for Section 7, returning to Banaba, Michael, Kristin—all of it— and for what? Who are you trying to keep in the dark here, and consequently, who are you trying to fool and manipulate?"
"I just want to know what happened to Robert," Nathan defended himself. "If I said that I thought Robert was involved in Banaba, the UEO wouldn't have okayed the mission to go there on personal grounds. But offering the erase that part of history was enough, so they let me seize seaQuest and Commander Ford to go do it myself. Unfortunately, I don't think Robert was ever there."
"So we know whatever he was doing was much higher up the chain than GELF experimentation," Lucas reasoned.
Nathan nodded. "Yes."
Lucas returned his eyes to the screen and started scrolling through the list of case files he had brought up earlier. Every now and then, a name would pop up. He always assumed that this name was tied to Banaba, but now he was unsure. He looked back up to Nathan when he found it. "Does the name Captain Theodore Matthews sound familiar to you?"
"No," Nathan said before he thought about it. But the more he did, the more he recognized it. "That was Robert's CO."
Lucas brought up the file. He had to hack his way into it but it was nothing compared to the World Bank. "Lucky for us, his file isn't wrapped quite so tightly." Then he saw the flag. "Well, not anymore at any rate. This file says Captain Theodore Matthews is dead."
"He's listed as KIA."
"So was Robert."
"Yeah," Lucas said. "Except Matthews' KIA date is in 2022."
"Eleven years after Robert," Nathan said, doing the math out quickly in his head. "The original report said all hands on deck were killed in action in 2011." Nathan had always suspected something was amiss, but this was truly unsettling. Either Matthews wasn't on board when whatever happened, happened, or his crew was silenced for some time and then brought back onto the scene still gag-ordered. Nathan relayed these thoughts to Lucas.
Lucas thought about it and then asked, "Why would they do that?"
Nathan shook his head. "Hell if I know." He looked at his watch. "We've been at this for fourteen hours. Why don't we just take a break and get some sleep."
"I'll go after I clean this up," he said. "I don't need anyone tracing us."
Nathan nodded and headed for the spare bedroom Lucas had given him. Lucas followed suit shortly thereafter, heading up to his room and laying there for hours, just thinking. Between all the lies and all the cover-ups, Lucas didn't think his spinning head would ever find sleep again.
It seemed Nathan had the same problem, because two hours later he swung open the door to Lucas' room and asked, "Ever wonder why the UEO just accepted the report I filed about getting sent hundreds of years into the future by CenSys?"
Lucas didn't have to recall much to remember that day. CenSys was the most beautiful computer he had ever laid eyes on. "I didn't know they just accepted it. I figured Noyce and McGath thought you were lying."
"And what about when we came back from Hyperion?" Nathan asked. "Did anyone ever really question anything?"
The more he thought about it, the weirder he realized all of it was. Lucas sat up. "seaQuest recently made another time-jump, and this time the Macronesians picked it up and freaked."
Nathan let the realization hang in the air a few moments before he asked the million-dollar question. "Why would the Macronesians be upset over something the UEO has accepted for over ten years?"
Lucas looked him directly in the eyes. "You don't think…" He couldn't even bring himself finish the sentence that should have been impossible.
"Top secret enough that Robert couldn't tell me," he said. "Top secret enough that the government would mark Matthews' crew MIA presumed KIA in order to silence them."
"Top secret enough that if Kristin and Ben knew, they'd keep it from us because they both had no way of knowing that we already know about them," Lucas said.
The silence that followed hung heavy and stagnant until finally Lucas had the guts to say it out loud. "If they were working on mobius holes, Captain—"
"They'd have been traceable."
Lucas hopped out of bed. "I can find any that they made. The records on seaQuest were mostly destroyed when she was, but I was able to grab the most important files. Even if they're not there, the data has to be somewhere on file with the UEO."
"Let's find them, then."
Lucas nodded and the pair headed back downstairs.