MARINER II

by Jason A. Miller ©1998

Chapter 2: Late In The Evening

"The first thing I remember, I was lying in my crib. You know, I couldn't have been much more than one or two..." Saja began, and they both giggled.

"Somehow I don't think that's quite how it happened, Saja."

"Ah, the mysteries of the unformed mind," he'd said. "Who can endeavor to know what the child knows?"

"You'd know, I'd bet," said Callie. She giggled at him, showing a glint of maddeningly straight white teeth.

Then he'd clasped his hands together in front of him, and tried to give a bow, all mystical-like. It didn't come off very well. The bandanna slipped off his head and floated down to the oil-stained floor. She picked it up for him.

"Ah, in those days I was merely Bobby the Crying Baby. Servant of the Milk Bottle."

"Lord of the Three A.M. Wake-Up Call?" She wrapped the bandanna back around his forehead, unable to suppress her grins. Her cool hands brushed his forehead, and he lost track of himself. Again. Don't take them away! More hands, please.

"Ah, let me think," he said. Darnit, his train of thought had gone the way of Water.

She stepped back and hoisted herself up onto the main workbench on the Tool 'n Die floor. Slender arms providing leverage. She hadn't even needed to look behind her -- she'd stared straight ahead at him the whole time. He'd thought about joining her, perched up on the edge of the table, but that would've seemed too forward. So he started pacing.

"It wasn't until Bobby was four years old that the first of the secret identities came to the surface. He looked at the world around him and saw that it was good. And then he became King Friday the Thirteenth."

"Ah, with the hint of power and royalty to him even then!"

"Well, even the good King Friday was no match for the wicked Lady Elaine Fairchild. And there were giants on the Earth in those days, and the King lost many great battles."

"Sophia?"

"Lady Elaine herself."

"And she's still winning her battles even today," Callie said. The rash of giggles faded from her face, and Saja's hope faded with them. He knew what she meant. All too well.

"It is my solemn hope that the Lord of the Warriors can help you vanquish your opponent," he said, but she didn't answer him. His words curdled in the air, the memory of them growing louder with each passing, empty, silent second. He reached back in time with his mind and tried to snatch the words back, but they were painted on the air in intimidating black letters, and he shrunk from them. When he returned to the present, Callie wasn't even there, though he could see her after-image sitting on the counter, amidst a pile of broken engines and soiled cotton balls.

Oh wait, she was back now, her own thoughts returned from the not-too-distant past. She'd brought the memory of Jimmy back with her, he saw. A great switch clicked off in his head, and all the joy drained out of him. Or maybe it wasn't a switch being cut off, so much as a blast-shield being removed from his eyes. This reality was colder and darker, and he wouldn't have a Callie in the future it brought.


That had been two months ago. The sky had been opened like a ruptured bladder, and rain fell in sheets, painful to the touch. The blackness of the clouds had glowed almost green. The afternoon was angry that day, my friends. He and Callie had been left stranded in the Tool 'n Die, Barek and Jimmy out of town visiting a parts warehouse somewhere. The weather was too dangerous for the two of them to run over to Swans to join the rest of the gang. So they'd sat in the Tool 'n Die and swapped stories about their past lives. Saja before he'd become Saja, Lord of the Warriors. Callie before the submarine docked at Swans Crossing. Callie the boarding school student in Jakarta. Callie from Bayside ("Tough Callie!" she'd mocked in her best neighborhood accent, and they'd both laughed themselves silly, being a long way from Queens). Callie the lost little girl trapped under the waves, with her half-mad Captain Nemo father playing sonatas of emptiness on his cosmic organ.

He even reached back in time to comfort her, but the years and fathoms proved too effective a barrier. All he could do was console her present, pledge himself to stay by her side, if she'd only let him.

But she hadn't let him. Now it was two months later and she was seeking out an altogether different kind of destiny.


Swans' decor was tiled blue and pink. The soda shop doubling as a nursery. Of course, most nurseries didn't have the same floor layout as Cheers ("It is a perfectly logical copy," its proprietor Jazz had deadpanned the day it opened). They didn't have banks of video monitors all playing an identical image -- twelve Crowded Houses, at the touch of a remote control, something so strong.

J.T. and Glory sat at a corner table, enjoying breakfast. Her first, his third. He still wore his baseball jersey. She wore a white blouse and flower-print vest. His hair was matted from the morning's excursions, sorely in need of a baseball cap. Her's glowed strawberry red, as it always did. He couldn't take his eyes off her.

"So how was your game with Jimmy this morning?"

He smiled around a mouthful of hash browns and eggs. "I won, naturally, before he gave up and left."

She raised an eyebrow, grinned through a mouthful of little, perfect white teeth. "That doesn't sound like the Jimmy I know!"

"Yeah, old man Adams must've been too strong for him!" He shovelled a pile of scrambled eggs into his mouth and chased it down with a soda, as if to prove with just what old man Adams fortified his colossal strength.

Glory's voice grew quieter. "He's out looking for Callie, isn't he."

J.T. put the fork down, pausing briefly to frown at his breakfast plate. "Um. Something like that."

"I thought so," she sighed.

He pushed the plate away from him. The ceramic clacked against the two other empty plates he'd already pushed away. He put his elbows on the table and leaned forward. "Why did you think so?"

"Oh, come on, J.T., you don't think Callie and I talk about... baseball or.. football in our spare time, do you?"

He blushed. "Well. I'd be happy if you did!"

He always knew how to make her smile, and here the old Adams magic worked again before she slipped back into her pensive tone of voice. And he knew the pensive tone of old -- that was the one that always presaged her doing a good deed for the day. So, without even realizing it, he leaned forward again to hear more.

"Ever since.. well.. you know.. last month, she's been so quiet. The submarine just isn't home anymore."

"Jimmy mentioned. I really thought the... um... that what happened would bring the two of them closer together."

"It would have been nice, but maybe it's up to us to give them a boost now."

"A boost?"

Glory paused, chose her words with care. "Can you remember what Swans Crossing was like before the submarine docked? Before Callie came?"

He shrugged ruefully. "Actually, I can't."

"Exactly! It's like she's always been here."

"It's comforting to know she's here, yes."

"But more than that, J.T.! I mean, she's the most unselfish person I know. Well," she broke off, and blushed. "Present company excepted."'

"No, no, go on. Please"

"Well, then. After the time I was kidnapped. She stood behind me the whole time. She protected me that night. Made me breakfast in bed the next morning."

"Before your brother ate the whole thing."

"Well, yes. And even after that. We'd just talk, for hours. We're like sisters, in a way."

"But then after last month..." he let his voice trail off. It wasn't easy to put into words just what had happened to him and Jimmy last month. And he hadn't even been there for what happened to Glory, or to Saja and Callie.

"Exactly. When the Doctor brought her back from... the 18th century, with that weird story about the Captain on the boat..."

"It must have thrown her life upside down."

"Exactly. Everything she thought she knew about the submarine. About her dad. About her family."

"But what about you, Glory? If Callie's the most selfless person we know, then you'd have to be the... the strongest."

She blushed, ducked her head down, covered her eyes with a cupped hand.

"No, I mean it! While Callie and Saja were off on the boat, you'd been stranded off on your own. That bird-woman playing tricks on you."

"But that's different. When the Doctor made that... that thing.. bring me back to Swans Crossing, he fixed it so that I wasn't so traumatized. It's almost like it never happened. I can barely remember!" Barely remember.

"But there's the key to it, Glory, don't you see?"

"N-no, I don't. But wait, let me finish!"

"OK?"

"Well. What I'm saying is, we really have to do something for her. Something to cheer her up. Something to convince her that life has gone on. Something to convince her that all the friends she's made are just waiting to do whatever they can for her. That we're going to help her through this."

He looked at her for a few moments, just soaking in her presence. "Oh, Glory... Glory... you're so wonderful."

"Stop! It's not healthy for my complexion to blush more than three times a day!"

They both giggled again. "Well. Anyway."

"Anyway. So what I'm saying is, you and I are going to plan a surprise for Callie, something to bring her mood back to where it was. And Jimmy has to be involved."

He snatched back his breakfast plate, and started nibbling thoughtfully on a dry, crunchy strip of bacon. "So Jimmy's the answer?"

"Trust me, J.T. She and I have talked about this for weeks. Jimmy's the answer."

Just at that moment, the answer walked through the door of Swans. Both J.T. and Glory leapt up and called him over to their table. He acknowledged them with a grunt, and sat down next to J.T.

"What's up, guys?"

"Where you been, my man?" asked J.T.

"The Tool 'n Die, the library, the shopping center. I saw Sandy there and she sent me over here."

"Have you found her yet?"

"Nah. Barek hasn't seen her either."

"And he wouldn't tell you, if he had seen her," Glory mumbled angrily.

"Now now," J.T. admonished, "he's also the one who managed to get the F.B.I. here so fast after you were kidnaped."

"Well, I just don't think she'd go to Barek for comfort, you know?" Glory added.

Jimmy stood up again. "Well, she isn't here. That'd mean it's down to the docks again."

"Back to the submarine," said J.T.

"Exactly. And I haven't been to the docks since last month. So it's time to head on over."

"Jimmy, wait!" Glory stood up as he started making his way towards the door. "We wanted your advice."

He turned around. "My advice? Are you building a Muffin Meets Moonbeam Moon Rocket for Katie?"

"Oh no no no, not yet, anyway. But we're throwing a karmic mood party for Callie, and we want you to plan it for us. You know what she'd like."

J.T. interrupted her. "Oh, and speaking of `karmic mood parties', I think I've had an idea!"


The warrior let his mind drift back to the present day, but didn't summon himself awake from his meditations, yet. Callie was out here, on his plane, and it was imperative he find her before he woke up.

When he'd first run into Sandy that night early last month, he'd told her, "At least you're not afraid of the dark." It was a comment borne of jealousy, of unrequited hero-worship. Among other unrequited things. He'd in that moment seized upon Sandy as the quick fix for his longing for Callie. And it had worked. Sandy had opened up whole new dimensions, literally whole new worlds for him. The Inspiration worked both ways, he often told Sandy.

But the quick put-down of Callie, the one that cause his pulse to surge and his fever to spike, had grated on his nerves afterwards. The remark had been bitter and angry and it just wasn't something the Lord of the Warriors was supposed to do. So he'd meditated, a lot, and he'd met Callie out here on the plane a lot. She wouldn't talk to him, but she'd smile enigmatically, or just glow at him from her tangle of deepening auburn curls. It wasn't the real Callie, of course -- the real Callie couldn't venture out this far consciously, couldn't *really* speak for the Callie On the Planes. Not the Callie he'd longed for in the Tool 'N Die. But this one was enough for his purposes, and she gave him her wisest counsel.

He'd sensed in the air that the Doctor was coming back. He'd dream about the Mariner, about the albatross, about the doomed sailors and Callie's doomed dad. He'd dream about them even while fully awake, not on the plane.

So he had to make a connection with Callie, now. First, with the extension of Callie on the planes, and then, with the real Callie. Of course, not the same kind of primal connection he'd longed for at the Tool 'n Die, and all those other times, but a more soulful connection. They could move worlds together.

Worlds moved beneath Saja's crossed legs, and he found himself tumbling through the black void of the plane again. Crazy Tetris shapes plummeted before his eyes, and he built them up into crazy geometrical towers.

There was someone out here, now. Something *big*. It was haring across the plane, coming straight for him. It was *huge*.

Saja found himself quite paralyzed. His knees turned to vinegar. It was as if he was in a nightmare, facing nemesis and completely, spectacularly afraid and powerless.

Here it was -- it was going to swallow him whole --


J.T. and Jimmy shook Saja roughly. He was sitting cross- legged on top of a table in one of the booths against the wall of the soda shop. Surrounded by four geometrically placed Signs of the Zodiac placemats. Saltshaker to left of him, pepper to right of him.

"Mamba-jamba boy, wake up! We need your help!" Jimmy rattled Saja's shoulders. It was impossible to talk to him when he got like this, and you never knew how long he'd be zonked out for.

Saja jumped with a start, and the placemats skidded through the air and off the table. "Great mamba-jamba!"

"Great is right. You're awake. Now hop on down and come with us," Jimmy said.

"You don't understand! It was out there! It was after me!"

Jimmy caught J.T. flashing him a look, and he returned it.


Christopher Cwej and Roslyn Forrester trudged through the late morning sunlight and across the green quadrangle of grass. Swans Soda shop lay at the other end. Early '90s dance-pop music wafted through the doors and across the square to them. For the two former 30th century policemen, the scene was not a familiar one.

Roz caught Chris' grin as they approached the doors. "Think we'll find anything suspicious in there?"

"Not according to what Benny told us. It's all supposed to be rather... young in"

"That's what I was worried about," Roz grumbled.

Chris gave her a sidelong glance. The forty-something former cop was cynical and unprepossessing at the best of times, although opposite his young optimism and sunny disposition (ha! he thought to himself), the two made a good law-enforcement team. Tweedledum and Tweedlee. The hot and cold approach. And now to see what they could ferret out from a group of fifteen year-olds under surveillance from Eastern Bloc rogue scientists and spies.

As they crossed the lawn to the front doors of the establishment where Benny and the Doctor had assured them that the bulk of the town's teenagers (well, the ones they were interested in, anyway) congregated, Chris mentally summed up the Doctor's instructions.

"The two you want are Atwater and Adams. There'll be a core group of about nine or ten other schoolkids around them at all times. Don't even bother trying to separate them, since it just isn't going to happen. But pay most of your attention to Atwater and Adams"

"The agents who're chasing after Atwater and Adams are from a small republic called Rodavia. You'll not have heard of it. It's barely on the maps of the time as it is. Their government exported a small amount of highly concentrated ores to our young scientist friends, and now some rogue agents within the hierarchy would like to know just what two American teenagers are doing with such a potent energy source."'

"They're easy to spot. The operatives of this rogue group all have shaved heads, dress in black, and have a tendency to bump into things and swear loudly in foreign tongues. They're a well-meaning group, really, and they're very partial to food. That's why I'm sending you to this Swans diner."

"The spies you're after are a genial bunch, and rather inconspicuous. They're also accident-prone. If you see someone bang their heads or moan in agony, you'll want to question them. Discreetly, Roz!"

They reached Swans' main door. Roz wrinkled her nose in mock disgust. Chris, however, noticed that his heart was starting to thump in anticipation. Durned if he wasn't going to have fun reliving his teen years on this trip!

With a long, shuddering breath, Chris opened the doors, and the two of them stepped inside.


Saja paced up and down, J.T. and Jimmy anxiously trailing in his wake. The young mystic spoke loudly and rapidly, so that everyone in the room could hear him over the pulsating video screens (though, to Jimmy's dismay, Vanessa Williams didn't seem to notice, and plowed on regardless).

"The great mamba-jamba. I knew it was out there!"

J.T. and Jimmy traded another exasperated glance. Jimmy grabbed Saja's elbow as he completed another circuit of the main bar.

"Saja, you're gonna have to start translating for us. I mean, you don't just start climbing up on tables in public and have nightmares."

"You're failing to understand! This wasn't a nightmare. This was real. There was something actually out there. It was charging for me while I meditated. It was big!"

"And what was `it'?" Jimmy asked.

"The great mamba-jamba!" As Jimmy rolled his eyes, Saja added, "I've never felt its presence before. At least, not on this level. But I have sensed it at the Walker Estate. And when those bald guys were chasing me. It's dark! It's evil, and now it knows that we're -- that I'm chasing after it!"

"Oh, great," said Jimmy, "so now your own personal spirits are chasing after the rest of us."

The door to the shop clattered open, and two adults walked in. Jimmy caught a confused glimpse of an impossibly large young man with blonde hair, and a very short black woman who's hair was greying around the edges. The male was wearing a loud turquoise suit, while the woman was in a charcoal gray jacket-and-trousers ensemble. Adults in the soda shop were not unheard of, but not common either. Still, he had more important things to worry about.

His attention went back to Saja, who was in the middle of a long, elaborate speech about the spirits he'd sensed out at the Callie's ancestral home.

" --and the first time I sensed anything there was the day we found Glory covered by a white sheet. You can't get much traditional than the white sheet in American ghost mythology, can you? And then when we were on stakeout last month, I felt it again, when the knife vanished. And finally, not to mention the Specter and all those apparitions we noticed when the Doctor was here." Jimmy winced at the mention of the Doctor, but Saja didn't seem to notice.

"And then after that there was time I stayed out there alone all night, meditating, hoping to find-- "


Sandy entered the restaurant and immediately noticed J.T. and Glory standing near the bar. Jimmy and Saja -- her pulse rate quickened at the site of the latter, though he didn't appear to be paying much attention at the moment -- were talking rapidly to each other on the far side of the room.

She tapped Glory on the shoulder, and the diminutive redhead turned around.

"Sandy! It's so good to see you!"

"Good morning, Glory. Hi, J.T."

Glory's forehead creased in puzzlement. "I thought I was going to meet you here for breakfast tomorrow, not today? Aren't you with Owen this morning?"

Sandy rolled her eyes. "Yes, but he got distracted again."

"Distracted?"

"I should have known from the minute he suggested we stop by the record store, that he'd just totally ditch me and start scouting out `the competition'. I mean, we weren't in there for 45 seconds before I lost him."

Glory giggled, and then blushed. "Sorry, I didn't mean to laugh at you. Or at Owen. But it just sounds so typical, I couldn't help it!"

"I don't blame you! The last time I saw him, he was carrying an armload of compact discs and pestering some store salesman about the latest dance-pop records."

"Well, isn't that good in a way? It's good to know what kind of music you're trying to keep up with."

"But it's not just that. I want to make my own music, not just copy what Mariah Carey's doing. The idea was always that Owen and I would form our own sound."

"Right."

"And then.. he just completely ignores me in the store! I mean, just think how much worse it would have been if Mila had been there! Twenty seconds with her and he doesn't even remember my name!"

"You're right," Glory giggled. "He probably wouldn't remember his own name, either!"


"I'm starting to feel just a little conspicuous in this suit," said Chris. He and Roz had immediately ducked into a booth by the door, and now sat studying greasy menus. Chris was playing with the little sugar packets, squeezing them between his massive fingers and feeling the grains shifting from one end of the square to the other.

"A turquoise suit. Of course you feel conspicuous."

Chris glanced self-consciously down at his lapels. "Well. If we'd come in here in T-shirts and jeans we'd have looked a little more like the locals."

"Cwej, there's simply no way I'm dressing up like a fourteen-year old."

"Wait! Hold it a second. I think they're on the move!"


"That's it!" Saja had shouted, and he charged for the door. Jimmy grabbed his elbow again and pulled him back.

"That's what?"

"The Doctor! I knew it!"

Jimmy jumped back, as if he'd been stung. So did J.T..

"What do you mean, he's back?" asked J.T.

"I knew there was a reason I pictured the Doctor in my mind just now. He's *here*. He's landed!"

Jimmy suddenly found himself short of breath. If the Doctor were back, that meant Callie was involved.

J.T. moved closer. "So where are they?"

Saja raced for the door again. "Down by the docks! Quickly! There could be grave danger!"

Saja stormed out. Jimmy and J.T. followed closely after. Sandy and Glory were simply left standing alone, looking puzzled.

Jazz, the proprietor, leaned over the counter. "Hey, don't worry about them. Boys will be boys."

Glory still looked concerned, but sat down at the counter anyway.

In the rush, no-one noticed the two over-dressed grown-ups sneak out the door behind the boys


Saturday 20 September 1992 Urgent Communique Have staked out the Adams boy. He is on the move. Racing toward the submarine. Suspect spy connection between Adams/Atwater and the red-headed child. He is delivering message from Professor Vann. Suspect submarine will then deliver message to Professor. Will infiltrate the submarine and follow it to this Professor van. Will uncover Professor Vann through his screwball child agents. Will trace the Utranium. Injured head while making pursuit. Require further medical attention at earliest convenience. Kerim out. COMMUNIQUE ENDS Saturday 20 September 1992 REPLY TO COMMUNIQUE Agent K Imperative do not apprehend youthful spies at this time. Simply infiltrate. Do not be seen. Do not make presence known until you can isolate Adams boy from his friends. At that time, abduct Adams boy and Utranium if possible and return to base. COMMUNIQUE ENDS

The agent who chose to be known as Kerim, pocketed his palm-sized computer screen. The Adams boy and two of his friends were far into the distance on their minibikes. He'd have to follow them on foot and hope he arrived at the submarine before it departed Swans Crossing with its enemy secrets.