Our super computer mission completed, I
sat twiddling my thumbs as I waited for the last of my officers to report for the debriefing in the conference room. We’d be on a video conference call which
would include Jiggs, senior NCIS operatives, and of course, the SecNav.
Jiggs complained, which was only natural
for him, about Lee’s tardiness. I had to admit that I was getting a bit irritated myself. I was tired and wanted to
go home. In the end, I began the debriefing without him. Not a good way to win friends and influence folks in Washington.
“Where the devil is he?” I hissed
“Last I saw he was helping the engineers
rip the thing out.”
“Sure bet he’s glad help!”
O’Brien butted in.
“What the blazes are you whispering
about Nelson?” the SecNav asked me. So I began to explain about our inability
to delete the voice over programming.
“Of course you couldn’t delete
it,” the SecNav interrupted me, “that would mean a sequence code
even the help desk doesn’t have…but why over ride it? The voice over was part of the programming. We went to great
lengths to find the perfect voice for all of our trials . Isn’t that right Special Agent Gibbs?”
“ Our lab spent a lot of man hours
working to get Walter Cronkite just right.”
“Oh, we didn’t mind ‘Walter’,”
I told him, “It was the other ones.”
ones? I wasn’t aware that there would be additional voice overs, at least not for the military trials, were there, Gibbs?”
the SecNav asked him, confused.
“I know I just assumed it would be the same test as ours…one voice.”
“Well, it wasn’t, boss,”
McGee said, “ There were two additional voices. Both female. One was Captain Crane’s mother, which was a bit syrupy toward
him, and the other one was kind of sexy. Believe me, we were all kind of impressed
with that one. Except the Captain, of course. ”
“Well, this is no damn good, ”the
SecNav said, “so either somebody goofed in setting things up for Seaview,
or the artificial intelligence is more intelligent that we thought, and it reprogrammed itself. Not a good idea either way.
Especially aboard a submarine.”
“I’ll speak to Abby to see what she did or didn’t do for these tests,”
“Abby?” Chip paled, “as in Abby in Forensics? Oh gawd. Lee’s going to kill me…Admiral,
it wasn’t the artificial intelligence…it…it was a ‘favor’.
“Care to explain yourself Chip?”
“I uh, er, well, you see,” Chip
stumbled over his words, “ when I’d visited NCIS and met Abby, she told me about a
lot of new computer programs using voices, I uh, well, kind of mentioned…well, that it might be fun to have one talk to
the Captain as if it were his mother or maybe even a sexy girlfriend..…I
guess she thought she was doing us a favor,” Chip said. “I’m really really sorry Admiral.”
happened,” the SecNav said, “ should I consider this test a failure or not? I really need to speak with your
sure he’ll be in touch with your shortly sir,” I responded and ended the debriefing session on a sour note.
“It must have been an accident,”
McGee told me as we headed to Seaview with Chip, “she wouldn’t do anything like that deliberately.”
couldn’t help notice he had crossed his fingers behind his back.
The engineers were just carting the last
of the computer components off the boat as we entered the Control Room. It was
silent except for the intermittent hums and beeps
of our regular computer as Lee insured it was properly powered up.
“Atta girl, all better now?”
I heard him say as he patted the bulkhead, and brushed himself off.
“Glad to have things back to normal,
Lee?” I asked.
“Sure am, Harry.”
“You missed the debrief. The SecNav’s
a bit po’d.”
“By the way, Chip has something he
wants to say to you. McGee and I will be
in the nose,” I added, glad to have a place to be out of earshot. As it
turned out, we didn’t need earplugs at all. I was surprised that Lee had apparently taken it all so well.
A few hours later Lee and I were happily
digging into some barbequed ribs and fried clams when the call came. Morton wanted his presence aboard Seaview and he wanted
it now. Ordering ‘doggie’ bags, we hurried back to NIMR.
“Now ours is talking!” Chip pointed to the onboard computer.
“Of course it is,” Lee said
calmly. “After speaking with Abby, she called to apologize. I felt kind of obligated, you know…one good turn deserves
another? Don’t worry, your voices have no artificial intelligence on our computer, just some verbalized answers to questions
we’d get in a printout anyway. In fact, I programmed the computer to assist in your work on the radar and sonar this
shit,” he replied
“Shit. The excrement of….”
“It sounds like Elmer Fudd!”
Chip exclaimed aghast.
“By the way, when I speak to the SecNav,”
Lee said calmly, “ I’m telling him that I’d consider the trials
a success. But that at the first hint of installing something like that super computer aboard Seaview for real, and I’m
high tailing it out of here, along with the boat.”
“Why Elmer, Lee?” I asked. Even
‘mom’ would be better than that.
“Revenge. Sweet, sweet revenge.”
Chip groaned audibly.
“Of course,” Lee smirked, “he
could just as easily switch it to this,” Lee turned a dial.
Our computer was still discussing Seaview’s waste disposal system,
but this time in a sultry, sexier voice than the one he’d endured. In fact, our tongues were nearly hanging out panting
from our fevered imaginations.
“Lee, there’s something wrong
with this one,” Chip said.
“Yeah, just couldn’t bring myself
to have Abby add all those extra little terms of endearment….even if you
sure seemed to enjoy them when they
were used on me. ”
“Gee thanks,” Morton said sourly.
“Just when it’s s gotten me in the mood to be called ‘Stud Muffin’…or something else.”
Lee patted his arm sympathetically and took
his leave of us as the voice was so sultry it made one think of candlelight and red satin sheets. I really must remind myself never to get on the wrong side of Lee Crane.